“I don’t understand it!” Barton cursed “How did he find her? No one knew she was here tonight, we even circulated a rumour that she was staying at her parents’ house” he paced up and down, Leon watched him calmly before sitting back and tenting his fingers.
“He won’t kill her, not yet anyway” he said slowly. When everyone looked around at him, he continued “She’s not a part of his plan. He’s targeting bullies and Olivia was not a bully. She was cold at times but she didn’t take pleasure in causing pain to people, those are the ones who should be scared and those are the ones that are dead this morning”
“And all from our year too” Chuck said, with an astounded tone “Billy Walsh used to beat the crap out of me on a weekly basis, and Sam Box used to help too, now they’re both dead”
“How many people has this guy killed now? Got to be almost fifty” J’onn said quietly “He mimics scary movies, just like Ghostface, he uses a hand claw, like Freddy Krueger, he started on Friday the 13th, like Jason Voorhees and takes the appearance of Jack the Ripper. This guy is twisted” The room fell silent. Leon sat and pondered alone while Barton fetched a drink and J’onn paced the room. The front door suddenly thundered and Mat moved to answer. It was Officer Bryson.
“I came to inform you that your friend, Chris Martin, broke himself out of the station last night” he began “Wondered if he’d contacted you at all, I’m sure you know about the killings in Park Barn again last night” Leon interrupted him with a stern voice.
“As I have thoroughly explained to my friends and you, Chris did not do it” he said coldly “It makes no logical sense, he wasn’t even slightly interested in Olivia, sure he hated animals but-” Bryson held up his hand.
“Why, what’s happened? Where is Miss Rockwell?” he asked, the group looked down at the floor.
“Olivia was abducted some time last night, and there was writing on the wall. It had to have been him” Chuck said slowly, Bryson sighed heavily.
“And no one thought to report any of this?” he sighed “I thought you kids were supposed to be clever” Leon held up his finger.
“Firstly, do not mock my intelligence!” he cursed “I have already figured out more about this guy than you could even dream of, so can it! Secondly, don’t call us kids! We are adults now and we are being attacked!”
“I know, I didn’t mean to offend you” Bryson said quickly, holding up his hands “So, if it’s not Chris, then who is it?” Leon walked away, his head shaking. The group stood, exchanging looks of confusion. Leon returned, holding up a large map with a series of ‘x’s all over it, forming a distinct image.
“These are all the locations the bodies were found and all of their homes, take a look” he said. Bryson studied it closely.
“That…that looks like” he began, but Leon was already there.
“Yin and Yang, the oriental symbol of good and evil” he said “But it is incomplete, the dot within Yang has yet to be formed. This can only mean that the next killings will occur there and there is…” he looked at the map closely “A large warehouse, still partially under construction, there used to be a Co-op there”
“Do you think that’s where he is? Where he’s taken Olivia?” Chuck stuttered, Leon shook his head.
“Too obvious” he said “He’d expect us to have noticed that by now, to give away his location would be foolhardy” he held his chin “Are there any clues as to where Chris has gone?”
“Well, yes” Bryson said slowly “CCTV footage shows him running to…that very warehouse” Leon looked at him with wide eyes, he leapt into the kitchen and grabbed his coat.
“Call everyone, tell them what has happened! Bryson, call for back-up!” he ordered before charging out the front door.
“Where’s Barton?” Mat asked.
“He’s asleep, don’t disturb him, poor guy needs some rest” was Leon’s reply as they slowly closed the front door and made for the car.
Pipes. Steam. All was a blur and there was a sharp pain in the back of Olivia’s head as she slowly lifted her eyelids in a daze. She went to feel her head, but her hands would not move, they were bound tightly behind her back, as her body was to the wooden chair on which she sat. Her legs were tied together on both sides of the knee and already she could feel the ropes grazing the skin around her wrists. She struggled to free her arms, then twisted her legs and wriggled, to no avail. She was dizzy, it was hard to keep her head up.
She opened her mouth to see if she had been gagged, it was free. She leant forward and bit at the ropes on her chest, but they were much stronger than her. Suddenly, she threw her head up with a gasp as chuckling and clapping filled the room. His tall boots thumping noisily on the wooden stairs, the Message Murderer descended into the room.
“Let me go you son of a bitch!” Olivia cried out, the man laughed and continued to clap with each footstep until he was towering over her.
“Now why would I do that? Hmm?” he sneered from behind his thin, dark mask “Ask yourself, why would I release such a beautiful little thing after taking such time to kidnap it?” he stroked his long index finger blade along her forehead. “Like the new glove? It has five blades now, which should confuse them, because this is the new nightmare! And it’s just beginning!”
“What do you want?” Olivia quivered, staring daggers up at him.
“I want the terror to spread like a virus among these people!” he said quietly “I want parents to fear for their children so much that they lock them in! I want to be alone with my other half, with no one to interfere”
“I would never touch you, you’re a murderer!” the man threw his head back and laughed loudly, his hands on his chest.
“You think it’s you, don’t you?” he sneered “You’re so self-obsessed that you think the world revolves around your big, sappy breasts!” his attitude changed violently as he came in close to her face “Well, you’re wrong! I’ve got bigger problems than some little whore, bigger and more important problems”
“Well then why kidnap me? Why single me out?” Olivia began to fail in her attempt to stifle her tears “Just answer me that before you…”
“Before I kill you?” he sneered “Well then, there’ll be plenty of time” she looked up at him “But I will kill you, know that, not yet but soon” the tears flowed from her eyes as she loudly repeated herself.
“Well why go to the trouble of kidnapping me now?” she cried.
“Because I’m sick of losing you” he replied “You just drop off the radar from time to time, so I figured ‘hey, if she’s here with me I’ll know where she is all the time’! Clever, huh?” he sniggered to himself, he turned to leave “You’re going to be down here for a very long time so, you know, get used to the surroundings and do me a favour?” he turned back to her “Keep quiet”
“Go to hell!” she snapped back before letting out her highest, most dreadful scream that she could muster and staring back at him. He sighed heavily and began to walk back toward her.
“Well, if you’re going to be a bitch about it” he sneered, reaching to a shelf as he walked. Olivia’s eyes widened as he came closer, the black duct tape unravelling in his grip, and she tried to move away as he ripped off a piece and wrapped it tightly around her mouth, he backed up and smiled at her “Enjoy your stay, bitch, I’ve got a meeting to attend!”
The police cars screeched to a halt outside the large, deserted warehouse. It was broad daylight and yet darkness seemed to emanate from the cold structure, they approached with great caution. Officer Bryson left his car and Leon ran to his side as they joined the others and surrounded the building. Within, Chris was tucked into a small and tight corner, his hands wrapped around his legs and cradling back and forth with wide eyes. Eyes that were stained with fear.
The officers did not hesitate to break down the already weak door and storm in, screaming the usual commands, only to find the empty room and the frightened man. Chris looked up, trembling and pointed over to the other wall. Dumbstruck, the police backed up as, though he was definitely not there before, the tall coated figure stepped from the shadows and crossed the room to tower over Chris.
“Back away from him! Now!” commanded one of the men, pointing his gun. With deliberately slow movements, the tall figure gripped Chris by the back of the neck and lifted him up, not in front of him but by his side, leaving him open to fire. Behind his mask, he smiled.
“I don’t think I want to” he sneered “This is my world now, officer, so act…before you have time to regret!” the officer trembled, he knew he should fire but the fear gripped him tightly as the figure continued to stare him down behind that dark shroud of a mask “Very good, let the fear take you, little man. Drown in its infinite darkness!” Bryson stepped forward.
“This isn’t about Chris” he said “You are trying to attack those who’ve betrayed you, am I right?” the figure nodded “So let him go” this time the dark shroud laughed in a dark and sinister tone.
“You simple minded fool!” he cursed “I have all those who betrayed me! Right here! So, if you are going to fire and betray me once again, do so, or I will kill him right here, right now!” Bryson drew his pistol and pointed it straight at the figure.
“I don’t want to hurt you, let him go” he said calmly.
“Again you presume too much!” the killer replied “You want me alive because you want to hear my side of it all, don’t you? You want to know why! Just like the rest of this pitiful race! So who will act first? You or me? Can you shoot me before I kill him?” Bryson began to shake, everything he was saying was true and he couldn’t understand how or why “Allow me to assist in your little enigma!” with a flick and a quick splash of blood, the claws travelled across Chris’ throat and into his chest. One of the officers shot, but he threw the body into the line of fire. “Too slow, my friend”
“You’ll pay for this!” Bryson cursed, lifting his gun once more.
“Do it!” the killer ordered as he wiped his claws on his glove. Bryson pulled the trigger, it clicked. “Now where did all that ammunition go?” the officers all tested their guns, they wouldn’t fire.
“What the hell have you done?” they cursed, but they were already screaming. In the confusion, the figure had swept forward into their ranks and began to slash at random. He swiped Bryson’s legs and sent him crashing to the ground before the body of his colleague landed on top of him. He hacked and he slashed as the blood began to pour and he let out a laugh of satisfaction as the bodies began to fall. Before long, Bryson was alone in a room of the dead and with the killer standing over him.
“W…why?” he struggled to say.
“Traitors must be punished!” the figure whispered in his ear “And they have been, now the real fun begins!” he rose and lifted his blades, Bryson closed his eyes and heard scraping. When he opened them, the figure was gone and the words engraved in the floor read ‘The Bridge is crossed, now stand and watched it burn!’
“This is getting worse” Leon said slowly, with a dark tone in his voice. The congregation looked up at him with watery eyes, to his right lay the six foot pine case that would carry Chris into the mystery of the afterlife “I curse myself for ever allowing my mind to doubt Chris, I was wrong and now he has suffered for it. We are all cursed in a way, cursed by doubt and insecurity. But some of us choose to break through the curtain that life has created around us and see every situation, every day, as a blessing, Chris was one of those people” The sadness in his eyes turned to a steaming flame of anger “I swear to you, my friend, you will be the last!”
His body committed to the flames and his soul travelling to who knows where, Chris was gone. His friends had said their farewells, but now there was work to be done. The authorities had proven incompetent, their friends were now targeted and there was a new message to analyse and address. Leon and Barton once more joined their thoughts and brainstormed together, the Toccata and Fugue put to new use.
“I don’t understand the reference” Leon admitted aloud “I’ve never heard it before” Barton looked up and began to hum a tune, one that was lodged in his head and had been all day “Wait, I know that tune!” Leon turned the organ music down and egged him on, the tune began to take shape, and words began to come into their minds.
“Nah, nah-nah-nah nah nah-nah” Barton continued “Nah final threshold…the bridge is crossed so stand and watch it burn” his eyes widened “We’ve passed the point of no…re…turn, that’s it! ‘Phantom of the Opera, the Point of No Return’! It’s…my favourite song from the entire soundtrack”
“Now, what was happening, do you remember? Because I’ve never watched that film, not my thing” Leon asked, Barton looked round.
“Of course I do, it’s the most iconic scene of the entire film” he said “It’s a part of Don Juan, I interpreted it that the Phantom is using the opera to effectively do everything he wants to Christine. It’s the dream of everyone who’s ever been obsessed with someone, to have them completely at their mercy. And offer them one last chance to make the choice…and pass the point of no return”
“So, what does it mean? ‘The Bridge is crossed’ what’s all that?” Leon had never sounded so dumbstruck.
“It means there’s no going back, the bridge is burning” Barton paused “Which can also mean the destruction of links, burning bridges! What does he mean? Ah damn it!” he thumped the ground hard, the stereo came on, full blast at one of the loudest points in the soundtrack, the organ was ceased and the track of which they spoke began to play. But over the music, a sinister voice began to snigger.
“Come on gentlemen!” it taunted “You can do better than this! Olivia’s life depends on it! Do you want to say hello?” Olivia’s muffled screams came over the speakers and Barton shot up.
“She’s alive!” he said with a great smile, which turned to a frown “Why hasn’t he killed her?”
“It’s not her turn, Barton, keep up! This is a game of wits!” the voice seemed to reply “Work harder, the game’s just beginning and yet the joke is starting to wear thin! I thought literature was your specialty!” the organ slowly came back onto the stereo. Barton flung himself back to the floor.
“Of course, how could I have been so blind?” he cursed “‘Bridge’, the ‘b’ is capitalised! Is there a bridge near here? Yes! The bridge near the cemetery! What time is it?”
“About eleven, why?” Leon replied, Barton stood and his face grew serious.
“He’s invited us to meet him and we’re going to attend!”