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Let Andy Come Home!
I couldn’t hear what the man on the phone said, but Mister Jonathan Thompson placed the revolver under his own jaw in compliance.
The effect on the room was immediate: all of our outcries sprung from our lips to form a single shocked, guttural cry. I seized the arms of my chair and bent forward, wailing “Mister Thompson!” all the while, though I found that my legs had forgotten how to stand, the very bones within gone limp. Missus Lucy shrilled, then fell from her chair completely and into a puddle of skirts and tears.
“Johnny! No!” Detective Ruth Thompson half snarled, half roared, as he lunged for his brother. The larger man shouldered him away easily, then danced away as far as the phone’s cord would allow, the gun kept trembling against the soft skin of his neck.
“He’s going to kill Andy! He’s about to right now - he says so. Unless I. . .” Mister Thompson blubbered, as he shifted the gun just enough for me to see the white ring indented in his reddened skin. Over the phone, I could hear the cry of what could only be a child.
“If I kill myself, you’ll let him go free? You’ll let my Andy come home?”
I could not hear what the voice on the phone said, but Mister Jonathan moaned, then sobbed in response. He hefted the revolver deeper into his jaw.
Detective Ruth caught hold of his elbow, and pulled the man down to his level, then pressed his ear to the phone’s other side. They stood together like this for a moment, then broke apart, the phone now in Detective Ruth’s trembling hand. He backed away as far as he could, the cord stretched taut, and held the receiver towards his brother, though turned himself away.
Mister Jonathan squeezed the trigger.
There was a small, decisive, metallic click, and for a moment, nothing happened.
In those last few seconds of Mister Jonathan Thompson’s life, our eyes found each other, just for a second. His jowls shook, his baby blue eyes were wet, and his face was stained a blotchy red. He stood there, with the revolver in his palm, and I remained transfixed in my chair, in a trance.
Then - CRACK - his eyes were blasted away along with the rest of his head.
We all howled as the red and grey mist was thrown to the ceiling, caught upon the blades of the ceiling fan, then spun back down upon us in a gruesome spray. I squeezed my eyes shut as the shrill report of the revolver’s last rattled through my skull, banishing all other thoughts.
The Detective had dropped the receiver, and it swung freely from its cord off the desk like a hanged man. Ruth himself - shaking like a leaf - crawled across the bloodied floor to Missus Lucy’s side, where they clung to each other.
I raised my hand to wipe my forehead of brains and bone, picked a stray tooth from my hair, then finally found my feet. I felt sedated even as I stepped over Mister Jonathan’s corpse, for the phone beckoned to me.
I nearly dropped the phone, for how slick it was with gore, though I still managed to raise it to my ear. For a moment, I stared straight ahead, waiting.
Then my ears burst, and the sound came crashing down upon me.
Detective Ruth was incoherent, and had collapsed on the floor beside Missus Lucy to frantically try to comfort her, as she was understandably in a state of sheer hysteria. Over them, I could hear the fan sputter, slowed by the weight of the brains that clung to it.
And, in the phone, I heard a voice.
“You did it! You did it! Johnny, you absolute madman!” The voice gleefully shrieked, absolutely howling in delight. I could hear the person slamming their fist.
A piece of brain slid off the fan, then struck the wall behind me with a wet smack.
“Is that it, then? Are you done?” I scarcely recognized that it was I who had spoken.
The laughter took a moment to die, but the kidnapper returned to the phone soon enough, out of breath and hiccupping. “Yes, that’s all I wanted. I just wanted to hurt him, somehow, and there’s nothing I could do to sweet little Andrew here that’ll be half as sweet as that,” he broke into another succession of giggles, then continued. “Put Ruthie on the phone. He’s there, isn’t he? Always lurking in his brother’s shadow, but no more of that now, hmm?”
I wordlessly offered the phone to Detective Ruth, and he came to me. I was terribly aware of how the blood stuck to my hand, then his, as he took it. He hesitated, then placed it to his ear, then somehow blanched even more. The specter of death was not half as pale as he.
Detective Ruth stepped over his brother’s body again, strode to the window, and with his sleeve wiped it clear. Then the phone fell from his fingers, and it sprung on the cord once, twice, then struck the desk to shatter into a million pieces.
I went to his side, as he began to weep in earnest.
On the street below, besides the public phone, was a man that waved with one hand on little Andrew Thompson’s shoulder.