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When your whole life has fallen apart, when you know it is pointless to live life when everyday is harder than the last, when there isn’t a minute of the day you don’t think about an easy escape from life, when you can’t sleep knowing that you could have done something to keep the only thing you ever loved alive, and when you are the main murder suspect for your missing wife’s death, then and only then will you know me. But sometimes I don’t even think I know myself or what people see me as. Maybe a loving husband to my wife, probably a great guy to my friends, and sure as h*ll a monster to the rest of the world.
Chills inched down my spine, my heart sent shuddering thuds throughout my body, the room spun uncontrollably as I remembered. That elegant golden hair, those stunning hazel eyes, that playful smile were unforgettable. A piercing sting brought me back to reality. Fists taut, head agonizing, mouth trembling I looked into her extraordinary eyes. The ones that made me fall in love with her at every glance. I looked at her hands, the ones I held whenever I felt hesitant or lost. I looked at her soft, rounded mouth. The delicate mouth from which all the exasperating lies came. I looked at her heart. The fragile heart I carelessly broke years ago. And I looked at her face. The dazzling, ivory toned face I would brutally beat when I let my resentment get the best of me.
Every night the soft chirps of seagulls would lullaby me to bed. They would soar gracefully over jagged black rocks which every now and then would be suffocated by a high tide. A gloomy overcast sky was always my only company. After working at an insane asylum on enigma cove for six years I have become very familiar with the dismal scenery and murky surroundings I am accompanied by. I looked out my window expecting to see an insipid grey sky. Eyes ample, I lost my train of thought looking into an abyss of darkness. The sky had lost any signs of clouds or even a mere grey shadow. As hard as they tried, the blissful sun rays couldn’t manage to peek through. With trembling hands I fumbled the television remote and instantly turned on the weather channel.
“Tonight there is expected to be a storm.” The weatherman said in a calm voice. I paused with a sigh of relief at the poise of his tone. Again his voice broke in. However, now it had lost the tone of relief. Instead it picked up a nauseating sense of urgency that left me with a feeling of malaise.
“Not the typical storms we have become proverbial with here,” he paused hesitantly “but the utmost perilous and treacherous catastrophe ever to strike the cove.” Before the deplorable news sunk in I was interrupted by a piercing voice.
“Levi!” the ground seemed to rumble as the single word escaped from my supervisor’s mouth. I turned my head cautiously, still awe struck by the recent news.
“Y-e-s… sir?” I managed to foolishly stammer.
“What’s wrong with you boy? You look frightened.” He said with a slight smile, although his eyes were bubbling with curiosity. After a moment of silence, realization must have dawned upon him.
“Ah,” he purred. “I see you have heard the news of the storm.”
“Yes.” I barely managed to whisper.
“Very good then,” He winked as he patted me on the back obviously sensing my tension. “Don’t forget to prepare for the lockdown.” My slight feeling of sereneness immediately became an overwhelming sense of worry with his last few words. All gears turning in my mind I struggled to recall the significance of lockdown. Lockdown, lockdown, lockdown I repeated subconsciously, hoping it would ring a bell. Involuntarily, my teeth clenched together creating a rather unpleasant crunching noise.
“Of course,” I mumbled to myself. “Total cove lockdown.” I thought back six years, vaguely recalling my briefing when I first arrived here.
My supervisor’s voice was still exuberant in my mind. “On rare occasions we have vigorous storms here. And as breathtaking as this cove is, and as lucky as I am to work at such a comforting place, enigma cove is a maze that you sure as h*ll do not want to get lost in. On this cove you must go around abrupt turns, between bulky ferns, and over staggering boulders that makes it nearly impossible to maneuver, especially if you’re chasing one of the most devious, most cunning, most dexterous, and deadly human beings ever to walk this earth.”
He paused for a minute letting me take everything in.
Then he continued as I sat anxiously, expecting the worst. “As an orderly you must do everything you possibly can in order to keep the patients tranquil. Lockdown.” At the time that single word made my hair stand up as it might when fingernails scrape a chalkboard. Even now as I recall that memory it sends ice cold chills slithering down my neck.
“In lockdown,” he patiently continued. “you must do everything you possibly can do to your utmost capabilities in order to keep the patients safe, calm, and in their cells.” He strained the last few words. “Walk around the cove, ensure there are no patients astray, make sure all cells and building doors are locked and chained, and be sure to do a patient check. Count them all. Once, twice, three times. And even after you have taken all the precautions, be aware of your surroundings. Oh,” he stopped abruptly, “and watch your back.” Every word he said sent another set of goose bumps curdling down my neck, every word he said made my heart drop further into my stomach, and every word he said made me regret ever coming to this cove.
By the time I had come back to reality my supervisor had already begun walking away. My eyes were locked on him though and something would not let my stare loose from him. I glared as his bowed head began to rise up slowly. He turned towards me once again. By the sincere look his eyes directed at me I could tell he was apologetic for what he was about to say.
“I hate to do this,” he began with a sorrowful tone, “but as of tonight you will be working in cellar… B.” Within seconds my eyes were on his back once again. Obviously too afraid to meet my gaze he kept his head tucked downwards as he sped away hurriedly. Tears filled my eyes as I began to believe that I was no longer on enigma cove, goose bumps crawled down my arms as I no longer wanted to be alive, my hands trembled painfully as I began to believe that I was in h*ll. Cellar B is anyone’s worst nightmare. The thought of it will send both poltroons and the most fearless people home shaking with fear. The orderlies that work in cellar B are permanently scarred and say they cannot speak of the horrifying things they see. Cellar B houses only the most dangerous and deadly patients that have unknown ways of escaping. And if a cellar B patient does escape it is neither to be free nor to run away. They escape seeking revenge. Revenge on the orderlies who see them as animals. They seek only the most painful and excruciating revenge. And now I was soon to be that orderly who the patients spent hours looking for, and I would be that orderly that was vulnerable from every direction every second, and I would be that orderly who would be in the most terrifying and rancid place to be during a lockdown.
I sat on my bed with my head enclosed safely in my hands with my eyes closed tightly. I thought to a place where life was much better, a place where I wanted to stay forever, and a place where life was like it was eight years ago. Head throbbing I looked upwards hoping to see Advil. Instead, I saw something much more interesting, something much more peculiar, and something that was extremely intriguing. Just a few feet away within my reach sat a neatly folded white piece of paper. Its bright red writing led my eyes to be locked on it. Slowly I read it.
Tonight secrets will be revealed
Tonight lips will fail to stay sealed
Look closely at cellar B
For you will be surprised at what you see
Look past the outside
For it will be a helpful guide
Because the real answer
Will come from the inside
So learn who lied
For there it will hide
And you will confide
That yet it has not died.
My body was frozen as I tried to decipher the meaning of the message. With a piercing pain in my head my thoughts were struggling to make sense. My heartbeat was offset and sweat trickled down my neck as I began to compose possible meanings. My breathing grew louder when one word came into my mind. Natasha - my wife. I desperately attempted to find out if the note was related to my wife’s death. But as hard as I tried my hand could not acquire the strength to pick up the inexplicable note. Maybe it wasn’t that I couldn’t find the strength to pick up the note, maybe I was just afraid that if I were to try and pick it up it would disappear. I was afraid it would be just a figment of my imagination, and I didn’t want to let any chance of finding my wife’s body disappear like that. So I sat there, motionless listening to the sound of my heart beat rapidly as I tried to decode what it meant. But soon enough the tears began to fall from my face, and soon enough I was back in my safe place with my eyes shut tightly, and soon enough I was fast asleep with no worries or care in my life.
The loud boom of thunder reverberated off of the jagged boulders sending an ear shattering echo throughout the island. The lightning pierced the thick air as it lighted the menacing sky. The howling wind whistled restlessly causing trees to fall over landing with a rumbling thud. With every relentless chunk of hail that crashed to the ground a raging vibration crackled beneath my feet. A huge pool of opaque blackness had flooded the cove and anything in sight. Nothing was seen more than five feet in front of you after the island had been swallowed by profuse fog. The storm was clearly here and I hadn’t even seen the worst of it yet.
Water trickled down my back making my neck hair stand up. I could have sworn the faint sound of footsteps pattering against the rigid, dull cement of cellar B. My arm was trembling uncontrollably as I nervously raised my arm to show my island ID.
The guard swiftly unlocked the 3 series of gates and turned off the electrical fence with such ease you could tell his many years of experience. Unfamiliar with my surroundings I cautiously walked up the long rickety staircase with each step making my heart beat louder than the last. I paced up and down the long halls desperately trying to avoid looking into the eyes of the patients. However, sometimes I let my curiosity get the best of me and I glared into the dark shadows of the patient’s cells trying to be careful to attract no unwanted attention to myself. Sometimes they would just laugh leaving their faces to be concealed by the darkness as if to be a mask. Sometimes they would emerge from the shadows to spot me out, probably envious of my life as a free man, even though they don’t know that I am trapped inside my regrets and my past. And sometimes I would even wish that I could be one of them. I would hope that I could be one of them that are so insane they don’t feel the hate or pain any other human would. And I would even pray that I could be one of them with no regrets or remembrances of the days that make me cringe.
“Levi” a weak voice called from behind me.
I turned around to be face to face with darkness and nothing else. I shrugged my shoulders assuming that it was my exhausted mind playing tricks on me when I was most vulnerable.
“Help, Le…” a delicate voice struggled to mutter over the boisterous thunder.
I carefully peeked over my shoulders with squinted eyes seeing nothing but blackness. Once again I shrugged it off taking into consideration my sleep deprivation. The roaring thunder and crashing thumps of rain had overwhelmed even the loudest of screams anyways. My legs were getting achy and my feet raw with blisters and I didn’t want anything more then to be placed gently in the arms of Natasha. Once 12 o’ clock had arrived the sound of silence was almost eerie after spending endless hours listening to malevolent laughter, furtive whispers, and gentle breathing. Soon enough the everlasting silence was broken with the pit pats of gentle footsteps that followed behind me as lightly as a moth’s fluttering wings. I looked down at my feet expecting to see an answer to the footsteps but instead my attention had been stolen by the bloody gashes and cuts that covered my arm leaving only little patches of skin revealed. Terror struck me and the last thing I remembered was the world spinning around me as I collapsed to the ground, the loose shards of my glasses reflecting brightly into my eye as they also fell to the ground laying almost as still as me.
Everything was frozen - myself, the earth, and time. And I almost wished it would stay that way forever, but the will to find my wife’s body was the only thing keeping me from closing my eyes and never opening them again. A sharp pain ran through my hip down to my calf causing my leg to tighten up. I reached into my pocket were the main source of my pain seemed to be. A velvet soft paper unraveled slowly in the palms of my hand. I looked in astonishment at the formal letter that inexplicably appeared in my jacket pocket. With my head resting lightly against the cool, brick wall I read over the letter carefully trying to decipher any hidden meanings or reasons for it.
By the time you have found this it will probably be incredibly late. We need to talk, immediately. Come right to the main building. Hurry.
Be careful. In the dark you can’t really be sure what you’re actually seeing and what you think it is.
Questions ran through my mind. How did he know I would find it late at night? When did he put this is my pocket? How did he get it in my pocket? What did that last sentence mean? As hard as I tried to focus on the questions one word caught my eye, and when I tried to ignore it I almost felt a sense of guiltiness. I folded up the letter with such care and delicacy as if it were my child I was carrying. I slipped it back into my pocket as I ran into the menacing storm. Previously I knew my life was a puzzle that wasn’t yet put together correctly, but now after losing any sense I had of the world, I knew that I would never put together a normal life that I was actually in control of.
I once again recalled my first briefing where I sat in the very same chair with same level of anxiety. Except now I had no idea why I was here. It was no longer to escape the loneliness or depression, but instead to face it. I thought to myself the possibilities of being here. Could it be about moving back to cellar A, or maybe even a raise? But why the urgency? My breath was taken away with a single thought. A single thought so powerful to make me cringe at just the name. Natasha. Could it be about her disappearance? I could feel my heart race faster as a snap of the door handle made me short breathed. Slowly, oh so slowly the handle twisted just the slightest bit now revealing a thin crack small enough to fit a bobby pin through. With my whole body shaking I reached for the door wishing to just thrust it open and snap the tension, but it continued just as slow as ever. Maybe even slower than it began. As the door opened enough to see half a face I let out a sigh of relief with the substantial process. A withered, fragile hand reached out through the door waving me in taciturnly. I stood up leisurely reaching for the door. I took one last deep breath before my life would be changed forever.
I stared deep into my supervisor’s eyes looking for any hint of relief, worry, or fear. He was unreadable. He sat erect with his chin held high and lips pursed tight. His eyes were charcoal black leaving no clues and his hands sat relaxed not even twitching the slightest bit. I had so many questions to ask but I knew now was not the time so I bit my lip hoping that would keep me restrained.
“This is detective Bobby.” He gestured to the man sitting next to him.
I didn’t even notice him until he was mentioned. He sat very poised and calm dressed nicely in a dark black jacket and trousers that contrasted his ebony skin tone. Before I could respond my supervisor continued hesitantly.
“He is here to talk to you about your wife’s disappearance Levi.” My supervisor said holding up a picture of Natasha.
Her stunning beauty still left me awestruck with my mouth hanging wide open. Seeing her still made my heart skip a beat. I grew red as I realized I was subconsciously smiling. I was certain they found her! They must have if they brought such a fine looking detective to such an isolated island in the middle of the night. It must be important if they couldn’t have waited until the storm had passed. Every second the excitement grew more noticeable in my eyes and smile.
“I’m sorry Levi. We know that you killed your wife.” He said choking over his words.
My whole body froze, and as hard as I tried to defend myself I was absolutely disgusted that they could even say such an appalling thing. My face grew red and my body grew tight. My jaw was clenched tightly shut as I attempted to stop myself from letting my anger get the best of me. I stared blankly into their eyes as tears escaped and slid down my cheek. My body still frozen, the tears continued until they hit the floor. An endless stream continued until I had no more tears to spare. With every tear came a memory. With every memory came a regret. With every regret came a tear, and so on. My head was no longer the only thing throbbing, my heart had shattered to pieces even though not once had I even thought that being possible after my wife left. Once I finally mustered the strength to open my desiccated mouth, I just let out screams and more tears.
“You were the last person seen with Natasha right before she went missing. Witnesses said you were always violent with her and there was no steady relationship between you and her. The neighbors even heard the fight you had the night of her disappearance.” Bobby sternly said.
Chills enclosed upon me as I remembered the night she went missing. The last night I ever saw that beautiful face. With my eyes shut tightly, the sight of her slamming the door with tears running down her face left me exasperated. I remembered the empty feeling in my stomach when I woke up the next morning to see an empty bed with no sign of it being used. I remembered the feeling of nausea when I walked to the kitchen without her returning my desperate cries. I remembered the feeling of regret and hate for myself when a week had passed and no one had heard from her. And I remembered the nights I stayed up crying when I had realized I would never see Natasha again.
“After eight years of unanswered questions we have come to the conclusion that you murdered Natasha.” Bobby sincerely said.
I looked upwards with bloodshot eyes meeting the gaze of my supervisor. He stared down at his hands too afraid to meet my gaze. What else could a man feel but pity for me? I attempted to once again open my mouth, this time creating no noise. Not even a cry, not even a scream, and not even a word.
“It would be better if you don’t ask any questions. There is absolutely nothing you can do to get out of this Levi. Anything you say can be used against you in the court of law. That is unless you were to refuse to believe this,” he paused seeing that it caught my interest. “Then you would remain here on enigma cove.” My fists slowly unclenched as I looked up to meet him apologetic eyes. I waited patiently hoping that he would continue.
“You’re histrionic Levi. You pretend that you loved your wife, you pretend that you hear her talking to you, you pretend you hear her footsteps behind you, and you pretend that she is still alive but just missing even though you actually killed her. You make up any memories of the night you murdered her missing to cover up the guilt you felt of killing her. You are insane. If you choose to deny that you murdered your wife then you would become a patient here… in cellar B. You would remain with the other criminally insane.” Bobby said empathetically. I knew I had caught my breath long enough to respond but I had no idea where to start. My whole life had fallen apart over a long stretched out period of time, almost like the way a bird’s feather gently falls to the ground in no hurry. But this second my whole life came crashing down and Bobby’s words repeated in my mind. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Remembering my uncontrollable anger and fury I let my lips loose and broke out desperately crying. And I denied that I murdered Natasha, not because I did not want to spend the rest of my life in jail, but instead because I knew that she meant the world to me and that I could never harm such a gentle and loving human being.
“I always loved Natasha,” just saying her name shattered my tender, aching heart even more. “We were soul mates and you don’t know how many nights I stayed up crying, how many days I spent looking for something to fill the hole in my heart, how many times I tried committing suicide just to see that delicate face one last time.” I squalled. Enclosing my hands in each other I tried to compose myself.
“I won’t believe it. She was my life, the only thing that made me come home every day with a smile on my face.” I muttered as the tears began coming back. Soon I was feeling faint and my legs collapsed beneath me as the world around me spun. The storm’s loud wind suffocated the last few words I heard before my head hit the floor.
“Take him to cellar B, now.” Bobby patiently commanded. As I felt the cool touch of a hand that sent an electric shock throughout my body I gently drifted off to sleep praying that it was all just a dream.
My eyes slowly opened leaving me in a daze of confusion. I let out a moan when my desiccated eyes, heavy legs, agonizing head, and throbbing heart proved that it was real. The pungent smell, malevolent laughter, and rattling cellar doors indicated I was in cellar B.
“Levi?” a friendly voice whispered from beside me. I knew I was imagining it so I squeezed my eyes tightly hoping once again for silence.
“Is that you?” the voice mumbled again, but now it sounded like my wife. I squeezed my head tightly between my palms knowing that my brain was playing tricks on me. Suddenly a shadow emerged from the darkness. I slowly backed away until my outstretched hands hit the wall. I slouched over gracefully sliding down the cellar wall shaking my head hoping it would send me back eight years ago. But now, the fragile figure was standing right in front of me. The single beam of light reflected off her sparkling skin as I ran my eyes up and down her bruised body.
Chills inched down my spine, my heart sent shuddering thuds throughout my body, the room spun uncontrollably as I remembered. That elegant golden hair, those stunning hazel eyes, that playful smile were unforgettable. A piercing sting brought me back to reality. Fists taut, head agonizing, mouth trembling I looked into her extraordinary eyes. The ones that made me fall in love with her at every glance. I looked at her hands, the ones I held whenever I felt hesitant or lost. I looked at her soft, rounded mouth. The delicate mouth from which all the exasperating lies came. I looked at her heart. The fragile heart I carelessly broke years ago. And I looked at her face. The dazzling, ivory toned face I would brutally beat when I let my resentment get the best of me. And when her lips curled upwards revealing the familiar smile I had longed to see I knew it was her.
“Natasha.” I said gently. I was left staring into her dazzling eyes. I outstretched my arms to grab her delicate hand.
“Levi,” She delicately answered with the same tone of anxiety as me. “I missed you.” Our eyes met and once again her lips curled leaving me frozen in time where I could have stayed forever.