Armitage - Chapter 4 - Revenge on the Mind (Part 2 of 2)
After Chris had parked his car in a more acceptable location he came back to find Madeline standing at the Reception desk with Ben and Abby.
‘What’s going on?’ he asked as he approached them.
‘I’m being discharged,’ said Madeline. ‘To be honest I was only here as long as I have been because I was waiting for you to show.’
‘I got here as fast as I could,’ replied her brother, sounding slightly hurt.
‘I know, don’t worry about it, but I don’t really want people knowing about what happened and you coming to my building wouldn’t have helped.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Nothing, I would just have rather not have had our conversation in the dorm with everyone trying to listen in.’
‘They should mind their own business,’ said Chris moodily.
‘Should but don’t,’ smiled Madeline. ‘Anyway, I’m almost ready; I just want to check on Mike before we leave.’
‘You guys don’t have to stay if you want to go and get some sleep,’ said Madeline to Ben and Abby. ‘I’m sure Chris can see me home.’
‘Well I am pretty tired,’ said Ben.
‘Shut up,’ said Abby. ‘We’ll stay with you Maddie, it’s the least we can do.’ She tried to stifle a yawn as she said this but Madeline wasn’t fooled.
‘No, you both look beat, go and get some sleep and I’ll catch up with you later. I mean it.’ Abby was about to protest once again but Ben had got the message enough.
‘Come on babe,’ he said, not trying to stifle his yawns at all. ‘I’m dead on my feet and Maddie’s in good hands.’ He nodded to Chris as he said this, Madeline’s older brother nodding back.
‘Alright, but you call me, okay?’ said Abby as she hugged Madeline goodbye.
‘I promise, now go.’
‘Say hi to Mike for me,’ said Ben.
‘I will.’ As Ben and Abby left the hospital Doctor Bradford emerged from a side corridor and approached Madeline and Chris.
‘Hi Madeline,’ she said warmly. ‘This must be your brother.’
‘Chris Jameson, nice to meet you,’ said Chris, holding out his hand.
‘Doctor Karen Bradford,’ said the doctor, shaking Chris’ hand.
‘How’s Mike?’ asked Madeline.
‘Sore, but he’ll be okay.’
‘Yes, would you like to see him?’
‘Please.’ The doctor led Madeline and Chris to where Mike was sitting up in bed, a violent bruise covering a sizeable portion of his face, his right eye swollen shut.
‘Mike, you have visitors,’ said Doctor Bradford.
‘Hi Mike,’ said Madeline.
‘Hi Madeline, how are you?’
‘I’m fine, but are you okay?’
‘I’ve got one hell of a headache but the doctor said I’ll be fine.’
‘Oh, this is my brother, Chris,’ said Madeline, stepping aside for a moment.
‘Nice to meet you Chris,’ said Mike.
‘Likewise,’ said Chris. ‘Listen, thanks for looking after my sister, I appreciate it.’
‘I don’t know about that,’ said Mike, trying to smile. ‘That guy sucker punched me good; I was out like a light.’
‘Yeah but you offered to walk her home, that counts for something.’
‘I’m glad you think so.’
‘I’m sorry about all this, Mike,’ said Madeline.
‘It’s okay. That guy didn’t hurt you, did he?’
‘No, thank God.’
‘I was just worried, what with those murders and everything.’
‘What?’ interrupted Chris.
Oh great, thought Madeline. Here we go.
‘There have been some murders in Armitage over the past few weeks,’ said Mike, not noticing Madeline’s perturbed expression. ‘That’s why I didn’t think it was safe for Madeline to walk back to campus by herself.’
‘Why didn’t you tell me this before?’ asked Chris, turning to face his sister.
‘Chris please, let’s not do this here.’
‘Maddie this is serious, you should have told me.’
‘Chris wait outside for me, I’ll just be a minute.’
‘But…’ began Chris.
‘Go!’ Chris slinked off to wait at Reception while Mike looked sheepishly at Madeline through his one good eye.
‘I hope I haven’t gotten you in hot water,’ he said meekly.
‘No it’s okay,’ sighed Madeline. ‘He just gets this way sometimes. Well, most of the time, actually.’
‘Not your fault.’ Madeline looked over her shoulder and back at Mike. ‘Listen I have to go, you take it easy, okay?’
‘You too,’ said Mike.
‘Bye.’ Madeline made her way out to Reception, knowing all too well what state her brother would be in when she got there.
‘Why the hell didn’t you tell me about this?’ he said as soon as he saw Madeline.
‘Because I knew you’d get like this,’ she said, trying to contain her annoyance at her brother’s insistent questioning.
‘I’m looking out for my sister,’ he said heatedly. ‘For God’s sake Maddie that nutjob could have killed you!’
‘Thanks,’ said Madeline coldly. She pushed past Chris and headed out of the main doors of the hospital.
‘Maddie wait, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to go off on one, I just worry, you know?’
‘I know you do, Chris,’ said Madeline, turning around. ‘But the last thing I need right now is you charging up here like the damn cavalry or something. I appreciate your concern but we don’t even know if the guy who attacked me is linked with the other incidents, it could be completely unrelated.’
‘But what if it isn’t?’
‘What do you want from me, Chris? Do you want my permission to go tearing off after this guy? You think I want to see you get hurt?’
‘Of course not,’ said Chris, who was starting to feel ashamed at his outburst. ‘Look, I’m sorry. You’re right; I’m jumping the gun as usual. I shouldn’t have come.’
‘Don’t say that,’ said Madeline, approaching her brother. ‘I love seeing you, you know that. I just want to see my brother Chris, not Mad Chris the Revenge Machine.’ Chris smiled and hugged his sister.
‘Can I drive you home?’ he asked.
‘That would be great, I feel like I could sleep forever.’
* * *
Somewhere on the outskirts of Armitage stood a large and impressive looking building. A looming concrete wall encircled the post-modern structure; blocking the outside view from every angle, save for a set of double iron gates that were currently locked. A fine gravel path led from the gates up to and around the house, and a short, well-trimmed hedge ran the circumference of the three-storey building. The roof was flat and the windows tall and narrow, the black slate of the roof tiles contrasting with the buildings’ off-white stone. Parked just outside the front door was a black Mercedes Benz, its engine having not long been turned off.
The house was silent; the rooms all vacant, except for one. In one room there was a nondescript door, through which there was a staircase. At the foot of this staircase was a long narrow passage, carpeted in similarly rich textures as the rest of the house. Light fittings hung from the ceiling at regular intervals and lit the passage all along its length, the very last one being suspended over a slightly larger, heavier looking door. This door, made of dark wood and iron hinges, sat covering the entrance to a secret part of the house, a vast expanse of underground chambers that existed far from the knowledge of the world above. The door, while heavy and very locked, was not sound proofed, and into the silence of the passageway echoed a string of agonising screams that would chill the blood of anyone who heard them.
The owner of these bloodcurdling cries was standing limply in a darkly lit room, his arms held above him by iron manacles. His eyes, tears of pain streaming from them, were closed tightly, his face contorted as he tried to shield himself from what was making him scream.
‘Again,’ came a voice from somewhere in the darkness. A painfully bright shaft of light erupted from somewhere on the other side of the room and cast itself on the chained man’s face, which instantly erupted with screams of pain. His haggard features twisted and contorted into grotesque expressions of excruciating agony, as the blinding shaft of light caught every line and contour of his face. As soon as it had started it was over, and the room fell dark once again, the man’s ragged breathing the only sound to be heard. As he stood there, hanging lifelessly from his shackles, great blotches smearing themselves across his vision, he heard a door open somewhere off in the distance and was dimly aware of a pair of approaching footsteps.
‘So,’ said a cool and calm voice. ‘I’m going to ask you again. Why her?’ The owner of the voice stopped a few paces in front of the manacled figure and placed his hands behind his back, waiting for an answer. ‘Well?’
‘I…I didn’t know,’ gasped the man.
‘You didn’t know,’ said the voice slowly. ‘And, when you found out, you didn’t think to apologise to me?’ The tone was formal and friendly on the surface, which belied the cold malice that dwelled underneath.
‘I was…I…’ the man faltered, the words failing him.
‘Yes?’ said the voice, not really caring what answer was given.
‘I was…afraid of what you might do to me,’ breathed the man quickly.
‘Ah, I see.’ The owner of the voice placed his hands behind his back and began walking slowly back and forth in front of his shackled prisoner. ‘So let me see if I understand the situation correctly. You’ve been gallivanting around this city for quite some time now, operating either on your own or with this…gang you spoke of,’ he spat the word gang out of his mouth as if it tasted foul. ‘Not only that but you pick the one person I have set my sights upon, try and attack her and then when you fail you don’t even have the decency to come to me and apologise.’
‘I’m…I’m sorry,’ stuttered the man.
‘Instead you force me to take drastic measures,’ continued the voice, completely ignoring the man’s belated apology. ‘Making it necessary for me to send my man here to fetch you.’ With a casual wave of his hand he indicated the silent figure standing a few steps behind him. He then turned his full attention back to the chained captive, hanging by his wrists like a sodden garment on a washing line. ‘This simply will not do.’
The owner of the voice turned on his heel and began walking back to the opposite end of the room. The silent figure followed, staying behind by a few paces, and when both sets of footsteps stopped the sound of door opening could be heard again. The dungeon like room was once again plunged into eerie calm, with nothing but the chained captive’s ragged breathing penetrating the silence. Seconds stretched into minutes, and then without warning the same blinding shaft of light came bursting across the room, again landing squarely on the man’s face, causing him to screw his eyes up in pain and wail ferociously as he squirmed and shook in his manacles. Behind a heavily protected door on the opposite side of the room, the two men watched their victim thrash and flail under the piercing scrutiny of the harsh, unforgiving light. The dark figure turned to his employer.
‘How long do we give him?’ asked Andreas.
‘As long as it takes,’ said Mason.
‘Yes sir.’ Mason watched intently through a pane of thick glass as his victim shrieked in agony, his body thrashing wildly.
‘Excellent work Andreas, I feel this clears the matter up quite succinctly. I feel like celebrating.’
‘I shall make the usual arrangements, sir.’