It’s only when I’m halfway down the stairs that I realise I don’t have a weapon. Now I’m crouched, peering through the gaps in the stairs. I’m squinting over in the general direction of the fire.
All I can see is Sarah, in front of the fire. Sarah, the mastermind of the whole operation. The operation of eradicating me. At a guess I’d say that the other two are somewhere checking the perimeter. At a guess.
My right hand is still a little slimy from the priest. As his grey matter dries it starts to become sticky. I can feel it around my mouth, making the skin tighten, sticking my lips together. Right now I’m thinking, I’m glad Emily didn’t find a mirror.
That rotten fruit smell from the priest’s room, it’s following me. I’m concerned it may give away my position. I creep, slow, down the stairs. The bathroom is not far from where I am and I slip towards the door.
When I grip the handle, my hand slips, from the slime covering it. The tighter I grab for it the more it slips. Just as I let it go the door opens.
It’s Emily. The look in her eye, says it all. She is terrified.
I put my hand over her mouth. Don’t worry, I say, I won’t hurt you.
I peel my hand away and the skin of my palm, when I take it away from her face, it’s like peeling a bandaid. Around her mouth is a slimy, red handprint. The priest’s slime. My handprint. The way it sits on her face, the position its in and how white her skin is, she looks a bit like a clown. Her eye sockets dark, her mouth red, her face white. My sad, sick clown.
I’m going to save you, I say, save us.
Emily says nothing, only blinks at me. I ask her if she’s okay, did they hurt her?
“Where have you been?” she says. “We were worried about you.”
I tell her that I have been with the priest, he’s dead, I tell her.
“Oh my God. Well I suppose it was just a matter of time.”
Listen, I say, I have a plan to get us out of here. Where are the others?
“Well,” she says, “Sarah is over there.”
Okay stay here, I tell her.
“Listen, there is something I gotta tell you. Its about Ben.”
Oh God, her and Ben. I should’ve seen this coming. I put my phone dialling finger up against her mouth, smudging the blood.
I don’t want to hear it, I say. And I walk off toward the fire.
Sarah, with her back still to me, is sitting still. As I get closer I can see she is huddled up. What I can hear, is the sound of her chewing something. When I look up I see what, I can only assume, used to be Ben. Strung up by his ankles, headless and naked. He is missing an arm. He is tied with the rope, the rope Emily found. From the church survival kit. The kit that had the matches, the knife. The kit that had the aerosol can, the fire extinguisher. The kit that had the batteries. The kit without a torch.
I creep toward her, crouched, so as my fingers are almost dragging on the floor. Before I can get close she spins her head around, Linda Blair style. Her mouth is full, her cheek, the one on the left, its stuffed and lumpy with food. With Ben. She’s spitting bits of Ben at me when she says, “Holy shit! Where did you come from?” She says, “You look like shit.”
No time for small talk, I’ve gotta act. The axe is nowhere to be seen. In Sarah’s hand is the remnants of what can only be Ben’s forearm, the skeletal hand dangling from the end, a bone white tarantula. Furry strands of cooked and torn meat. Sarah has polished it off to about the wrist, the rest lodged securely in her left cheek. Some of it, of him, is resting in tiny fragments on my face.
I’ve never hit a girl in my life. But then again, I’ve never had a murderous, cannibal trying to eat me before either. I throw a looping punch into her face, knocking her down. Bits of Ben go flying from her mouth into the fire and start sizzling. She hits the deck and I jump on top. I grab her by the throat with both hands and press my thumbs into her trachea. Sarah is clawing at my hands, then my arms, then my face. I can feel my skin piling up beneath her nails. I ignore the pain and I squeeze. When her fingers find my mouth I bite down. Her nails bite into my gums, ripping them. My teeth bite into her fingers and one of them makes a popping sound at the knuckle. What’s left of Ben, from her mouth, is smeared across my hands. And Sarah is turning red, turning blue, turning purple. Her eyes, swollen and bugging out. Then they are rolling up, and up, and up until I can’t see any colour. They are hard boiled eggs. They are tiny white snooker balls. They are minute moons. I can feel her lose strength. I can feel her go limp. Now I can’t feel anything.
Across my vision is a white flash and from the back of my head is what sounds like feedback. I’m knocked forward and it takes me a moment to realise that I’ve been hit. I try to focus my eyes but I’m seeing double. I’m seeing two Emilys standing over me each of them holding a fire extinguisher. When the two Emilys merge into one she is holding the extinguisher above her head. Standing there, the fire extinguisher aimed at my head, that look on her face with her distorted clown makeup, I can’t help but think she looks pretty. Pretty and tragic.
Behind me is the fire, in front of me, my executioner. My Emily. Caught between a rock and a hard place, the devil and the deep blue sea. She screams and brings the extinguisher down toward my head. She lets it go and hurls it and I feel the wind of it as it speeds past. The sound it makes as it hits the floor sends a shock wave through my head. My skull is a tuning fork.
I kick out at her legs and I catch her just above the knee, buckling her. Sending her backwards over Sarah’s body. I stand up, and the pain in my head, its as if my brain is too big for my skull. For some reason I think of the priest.
I try to shake it off, literally, and the pain, it shoots through me again and I’m dizzy. When I look back to where Emily fell, she’s gone. I try to run after her but every step I take sends an earthquake through my head. My internal Richter scale hits about a 6.4. I can feel the plates shift.
So, because I have to, because I can’t run, I slowly shamble after her, carefully, methodically. When ever my head throbs, I groan. I head toward the only place she could really be. The priest’s room. And right about now I’m thinking, I wish I had the axe.