The following short story was written for a competition, originally in Hungarian, where the task was to capture an evil character’s thoughts and introduce one of his or her crimes through their mind – showing motives and reasons. The story won the round of the contest and I really hope the English translation lives up to the original. If you spot any mistakes – since English is not my mother tongue – I will be glad to hear and correct!
Illustration by Krakatit. Thank you!
The torturer inspected his soundlessly wriggling prey with a satisfied smile. He was the master now. He had the power to do anything, anything. All just for his own entertainment.
The little body writhed. There wasn’t much else to do – even if it had any strength left, its shackles wouldn’t let it move. And without any doubt the figure towering above was faster and stronger. They both knew this too well.
The victim would have confessed or done anything for a chance to ease the pain, but no questions were asked and no orders were given. It had no information the giant needed. He wanted its suffering and it had no choice but to obey.
The boy liked causing pain with his bare hands. He didn’t think highly about the tools he sometimes fabricated, so he usually threw them away in the end. The pleasure of cracking bones spread from his fingertips through all his body.
He still had much to learn. He had already realized that building from small to large provided a longer-lasting feeling and sent the adrenaline pumping in his veins for a while. He must begin with the fingers, because by breaking the foot first all the joy of snapping each finger is lost in a second. This way, however, he had just got to the first limb.
His eyes closed ecstatically. Beyond the veil of trance a tiny part of his mind observed coldly what a good strategy he had chosen. He had also discovered that it was worth spending time with finding the right size of prey, because smaller ones were a waste of time, while too large targets caused more trouble with their loudness and difficult-to-hide traces. But this one… this was perfect. Ideal sized, silent, but every little sign of pain clearly visible about its entire body. The tiny, quivering motions on its skin expressed its agony exquisitely and its eyes turning without focus sometimes popped out unwillingly, showcasing all he wanted to see. And he dictated the rhythm of anguish, only he did. He was the master, the master of life, the master of the world… of the entire universe…
“Ted! Where are you? Hear me? Where’ you hidin’?”
The impatient voice pulled him out of the trance-like state faster than a bucket of cold water could have done so. He shook his head impatiently and tried to pay no attention.
“You hear me? C’me on out, I wanna tell you something!”
“Sure you want to,” murmured Ted. “I almost believe that. You always do this to find me.”
But now he could hear the hushed steps approach his hiding place and he knew that it was over. He would be discovered and he would have to share his secret with the newly arrived. Now that he thought of it, he didn’t mind so much. Maybe she will understand. It might even be more fun together. The little branches were snapping under her feet so close now that he straightened up and snapped at her: “What do you want, little one?”
The girl jumped in surprise.
“You just said that you wanted to ask something. What is it, then?”
“Ah, I just wanted to find you! You always hide alone, you’re so mean!”
“Maybe I have my reasons,” grumbled Ted and disappeared back into the bushes.
“What reasons?” said the girl in a high, irritated voice. “I’m your sister, what secrets d’you have?”
“Just secrets,” murmured the boy so that she would not hear him. “Go back to the house, Julie.”
Maybe he meant to say it too late. Maybe he wanted her, somewhere in his subconscious, to pop her head through the leaves and see it… Julie let out a muffled scream.
“I’ll tell mom that you’re doing that again!”
“Don’t be such a coward,” said Ted impatiently.
“I knew this was coming. Just leave me alone, tiny-Bundy!”
The girl threw back her blonde crown of hair angrily and sat down next to Ted with a curt sigh.
“If you send me away, I’ll tell mom,” she announced decisively. Ted scratched his head in annoyance and wonder, but said nothing. Sometimes he found Julie a little scary and he liked that. It made him feel that somewhere behind her innocent features the same blood was flowing in her veins. Maybe they can play together sometime soon. Julie leaned close to the victim and watched it for a while.
“But it’s so beautiful. Why d’you have to hurt it like that?”
“That’s why, ‘cuz it’s beautiful,” explained her brother with wide gestures. “It’s making it more beautiful, see? It will be just like I want it to be. Because it’s mine!”
“But it’s a lizard, then its tail will grow out again! And its legs too. They’ll grow out, won’t they? I prefer it like that, with legs.”
Ted shook his head wildly, but then with a sudden thought he bent closer to the mutilated little body, frowning.
“Will they? How long does it take?”
He stared at the space where the lizard’s tail used to be, half-expecting it to start growing out at once. When it didn’t, he flicked the shiny scales with his finger in disappointment.
“Next time help me search, but find one that grows out quickly,” he ordered Julie. “Then it could be torn off again and again,” he thought, but knowing Julie’s limits he didn’t add this aloud. He tapped the lizard’s nose instead and it moved its head around uncomfortably. Its movements were becoming sluggish. It was obviously losing its coordination, boring his torturer.
“Does it grow its head back, smarthead?”
Julie shouted out involuntarily. She jumped to her feet and ran away. Her perfect blonde ponytail was torn by the branches because she forgot to duck, but she wouldn’t look back. She ran towards the house where she had come from.
“Mom!” Back in the grove, her voice was no more than a buzz in the wind. Ted twisted his mouth, but his lips turned into his usual malicious smile by their own will, sensing the comic of the situation. This game would not be half as exciting without Julie. His sister’s hysterical outbursts were worth half a lizard and all the fun he had lost with the untimely execution.
Suddenly a new, unexpected emotion took over him; a strange warmth he had never experienced. As he gazed in the direction of the silenced steps, he was struck by brotherly pride. Julie took this game way better than the ant-burning before, even though those weren’t half as funny. She was improving rapidly. Maybe she would actually become something of a companion. One day they could play together – really together. He shivered at the thought. Belonging to someone who understands him, someone who feels the same – that would be perfection itself.
“Ted, come on inside and help your mommy!”
This call meant one thing. It was not the well known “Ted Bundy come here at once,” meaning that his sister didn’t betray him, despite her threats. She was just loudmouthed – she was really more and more like her brother. Ted’s experienced hands sprinkled some sand on the remains of the game.
“I’m coming!” called out the executioner, and then he rose up and strode towards the house, mumbling: “Next time I want more legs. Caterpillar, or something.”