(This chapter was going to be longer. Much longer.)
(WARNING! Murder, cannibalism, and…actually, you know what? Just a general warning for this whole fucking chapter/arc. Proceed with extreme caution until this arc is finished!)
The entirety of Twinbrook was quiet. No one stirred to gaze upon the new arrivals that had just touched down into their sad, swampy little burg.
If only they had. The group that was here now had malicious intentions. Or at least one of their members did.
Some time after leaving, but shortly before coming to Twinbrook, The Builder stated they had to make a pitstop. None of them could figure out what syringes and bottles had to do with anything.
The Builder then stopped them, and sniffed the air. At once, a most wicked grin happened upon their face.
“Ohhh, yeah! You smell that? That’s the scent of imminent carnage!” They pulled out their hunting knife, then threw it upwards. The assistants ducked, in the event it came back down into one of their heads.
After it was caught mid-air, they continued traversing about town. The Builder kept the silence away by crooning vulgar showtunes.
“Builder, what is it we have to do here?” Horse-Face earned a knife swung at his face for his inquiry.
“Don’t interrupt me while I’m singing!” Now The Builder slumped, their reverie shattered. “Anyway, there was something I needed done here.”
Here, they sat on the ground, pulling out a cherrywood box. Opening it, they brought forth the aforementioned bottles and syringes.
“You guys all know the other name for a heliotrope, right?” With much reluctance, the assistants nodded. “Thought maybe I’d make something using the real thing. Can’t be too difficult.”
Standing back to their feet, The Builder handed the bizarre tools to their companions. “It’s more of an artificial hybrid between a heliotrope and a Philosopher’s Stone, but I think you get the idea.”
An early November morning seemed ideal for staying home and watching shows on Netflix. A certain engaged couple were doing just that.
Shark was leaning up on Sinbad, while eating leftover Halloween candy and some other junk food. Sinbad, to keep him placid, was rubbing his arm. Neither of them said much of anything unless it pertained to the TV show.
“Jeez, Gordon’s a real hardass towards these people,” Sinbad muttered while watching a random episode.
It seemed this was a point for Shark to argue. “You’d be cranky too, if you dealt with morons on a regular basis.”
“I do. It’s called ‘my job at the Bistro’.”
“Then why don’t you swear and get angry at the annoying customers?”
Sinbad reached over and ruffled Shark’s hair. “Because then I’d get fired. And at this point I don’t want that.”
Horse-Face really didn’t want to be back in this mansion. He knew the circumstances differed, but it didn’t make the situation better for him.
The Builder stated that the bottles were large enough to hold 20 syringefuls. His bottle was already on the verge of being completed. He swallowed, feeling himself tremble, lying in wait.
Despite the fact that this wasn’t the town he knew, it still wounded him to know this was being carried out. Already, he could feel the regret and shame from his actions.
Yet, there was another emotion that was swelling within him. A powerful one, that surely came from events from before.
All the other members of this home had been dealt with, and drained. Only one stayed alive. Now, Horse-Face could hear his bare feet approaching.
“I’m so sorry…” Horse-Face whispered, partially to himself. He could just barely keep his hands from shaking. The needle clattered against glass.
Keeping hidden from sight, he waited until the boy went ahead of him, to use the bathroom. When he was certain he was occupied with washing his face, he then entered.
“So are you going to be parked there all day, or are you going to be getting up?” Dennis was sticking his wallet into his pants pocket when he saw the two on the couch.
“We’ll get up at some point. Why, what did you need?”
Looking at his son asking the question, Dennis just shrugged. “Well, there are chores that the two of you could help with today. Preferably as soon as possible, and since Lolly’s in school right now…”
“Yeah, okay,” Sinbad interrupted without looking away from the TV, “start chores at some point today. We’ll get on it.”
Dennis was a bit perturbed at this uncaring display. “All right, then. I’ll be at the store if you need me, then.”
The questions were right there on his lips.
He wanted so badly to ask him, “Why don’t you run? Why don’t you try and escape me?”
Yet the boy, although evidently an exercise fan, just stood there. Watching him in the mirror.
Horse-Face was clearly shaking. Behind his mask, tears were streaming down his face. He struggled to regain his composure as he walked forward.
Still, the boy made no attempt to stop him. He finally looked directly behind him.
Out of fear and shame, Horse-Face stepped behind him. A bit too easily, he placed one hand on the top of his head. The other took a hold of his chin.
No doubt the other three were utilizing gorier tactics. Somehow, though, Horse-Face felt more at ease with mess-free methods.
“You can still get out of this, you know.” He didn’t add the desperate pleas for him to do so. “Don’t you want to live?”
There wasn’t any answer. Horse-Face expected the boy to bite his fingers, or something similar. But no attempt to run was made.
It was then that he realized what exactly he was doing.
He didn’t want to take the boy’s life, but he didn’t want to confront the Builder’s wrath, either. Yet somehow, in the unknown subconscious, this boy wanted to die.
With a single swift action, Horse-Face granted the young man’s unspoken wish.
He then watched as he collapsed to the tiled floor. As he bent down to collect the desired blood, he began visibly sobbing.
“I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…” The images that flashed through his mind now only made it worse. He tried to steady himself as he filled up his bottle to the brim.
“So are we actually going to start doing chores like Dad asked us to?” Shark and Sinbad hadn’t moved since Dennis left.
“We will! After this episode.” Sinbad then pulled away to let Shark sit back up.
For about a minute or two, they watched Kitchen Nightmares in silence. Then Sinbad decided to bring up something seemingly random:
“You sleep all right last night, man?”
Shark was confused by this. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you kept kicking me in the ass, and you kept jerking around. I thought you were having a really fucked-up nightmare or something. What was that about?”
Shark didn’t even think he’d done such an action in his sleep. “I didn’t even know I was doing that. Eh…” He slumped back onto the couch. “Sorry.”
He then reached over and wrapped his arms around Sinbad. “I’ll try not to do it again. If I do, though, then one of us can sleep on the couch?”
Returning his embrace, Sinbad nodded.
By the time the assistants returned with their filled-up bottles, The Builder had already gotten to the rendezvous point. All four of them were taken aback at them licking their hands, which were coated in blood.
“Well, you idiots took your sweet-ass time!” Next to their own bottle, there were two sets of very small clothes, and a bloody mass of something unidentifiable. This implication alone struck terror into the assistants.
“Eh? What’s got you dumbasses looking like shellshocked emus?” The Builder looked down at the clothes. “Oh, those. Yeah, they were too small to get a proper amount of blood out it.”
Here, they paused to suck their fingers. “Good eatin’, though. Speaking of which…” Picking up the unknown mass, they handed it to Moony. “Go find the nearest culinary establishment and channel Aunt Mei on this, will you?”
Clearly trying not to vomit, Moony complied. He ran off as quickly as he could. Next, The Builder turned to Ox-Head and Horse-Face.
“Go round up all the corpses. Then, I suppose, put them all outside town. Make it look livelier than it is.”
Finally, when they left, The Builder turned to Sunny. “You? Go find some lead for me. And a canine skeleton. Then bring them here to me. Hurry now!”
Sunny trudged off, but then shot a look at them, as though trying to curse them.
Alone again, The Builder gathered up all five bottles, and set them into the places they wanted. Pulling out their knife, they dragged it into the ground, making a perfect circle.
Seeing everything was in place, The Builder sat in the middle of their circle, and began speaking.
“I really don’t like doing laundry.” Sinbad glared at the rickety washing machine going now. “But at least it gives me a reason to take my shirt off.”
“Yeah. And we can always roll around or cuddle in the sheets after they’re dry, right?” Shark joined him at the post, just as shirtless as Sinbad was.
Sinbad nodded. “And we’re home alone, so…” Once again, he felt Shark’s arms wrapping around him. “Though, your dad might get home sooner than expected.”
“We can be quick, right?”
Knowing what he was really asking, Sinbad just shrugged and took hold of Shark’s hands. “Wouldn’t be the first time we’d have to have been, yeah?”
Things seemed ominous from the very beginning. Annette found herself in an even worse state than usual upon awakening.
First off, she noticed this looked nothing like the room full of alcohol she’d passed out in. Instead, it looked like a mix between a teenager’s bedroom, and a torture chamber.
“Ohhh…” Her groan came out hoarse and scratchy, presumably a combination of her age and what she’d drank earlier.
There were times she could’ve sworn she’d heard voices near her as she slept. No evidence of them remained, save for something tore open near the bed.
Dragging herself off the bed, Annette started approaching the bizarre portal. She tried peering in, but the rip in the air bore nothing to tip her off.
Figuring the others were gone, and deciding there wasn’t anything left in this place, Annette shrugged, and entered.
“There you are!” The Builder had seemingly been waiting for hours, upon Annette’s arrival. They sat upon a statue in the middle of the town park.
By the time she’d come, it was already becoming light with early morning. Said early morning brought sights and smells most vile. Numerous cadavers lay about the ground, many of them with their faces frozen in shock.
“You missed all the fun, Annette! Guess that’ll teach you to sleep off my Spirytus.” Jumping off the statue, The Builder ran up to Annette and slid their face close to hers.
“What did you do?” Her rough-sounding voice held a deeply accusatory tone.
The question caused the Builder’s smile to fade. Stepping back, they crossed their arms and tilted their head mockingly. “What did I do? Just thought I’d have a little fun, is all.”
Seeing that she wasn’t buying it, The Builder dropped the act. “Look, you took something of mine, so I took something of yours. Seems fair, wouldn’t it?” Annette could’ve sworn they were beginning to float in the air, of their own volition.
Glancing at their left hand, Annette saw a signet ring on their finger. The stone set upon it was black, with several streaks of red running through it.
“Ohhh, that caught your eye, huh?” The Builder lifted their arm upward, making a show of admiring the stone. “Yeah, I just made it! It’s quite the beauty. You want to know the secret ingredient I used?”
Fearful of the answer, Annette nodded once. The Builder’s wicked grin returned as they revealed their answer:
“It’s something that only an Omnipotent being could conjure up: The blood of a hundred sinners.”
This shocked Annette enough to fall onto her rear. Getting back up, she frantically scanned the nearby corpses for any signs one of them were alive…
“Yeah, don’t bother. My associates and I made sure no one was forgotten in this.” The Builder twirled their hand around as they spoke. “Anyone you knew in this here town? Yeah, they’re dead.”
Annette was still in disbelief. “You mean everyone? You’ve gotta be lying!”
“Nah. Everyone’s dead. The Rackets? Dead. The Knacks? All their throats slit. That old sculptor dude? Well, I highly doubt he stuck his head in the toilet for the hell of it!”
Seeing the horrorstruck expression on Annette’s face now gave The Builder an idea. They took a deep breath, and sighed loudly.
“Oh, all right. I’ll tell you what. Since you’re obviously distraught over this, let’s make a deal.”
The Builder waited for Annette to give her answer. When she turned, her lips were curled into a grimace.
“Yeah, fine. What kind of deal?” This was clearly the response The Builder wanted. Jumping into the air and suspending themselves, they looked directly into her eyes.
“Well, it’s not so much a deal. It’s more of a game. It’s like a mix of hide-and-seek and tag. Sound like fun, right?”
Fun was the last word Annette would use to describe the terms of this deal. The Builder sighed again.
“Let me explain. I’ll take you out of this miserable little ghost town, and into one less…dead. As soon as you touch down there, you have about five days.”
“Five days? To do what?” Annette watched as The Builder pretend to mull over everything.
After a few moments, The Builder gave their rules. “Five days to hide from me, in town. You can change your hiding spot as much as you want, just keep hidden. If you manage to evade me, until noon five days from now, hmmm…”
Now came thinking up a sort of reward. “I’ll leave you alone, and I’ll even resurrect the poor fools in this town.”
Trying to hide her true feelings, Annette agreed. “And say I lose, and you catch me. What are you going to do, then?”
Annette was shocked by the answer that came next. The Builder seemed a bit too gleeful in saying their words:
“If I catch you at any point before the five days are up? Well then Annette, I’m afraid you’ll belong to me. I know, not pleasant, but hey, beats the alternative. So what do you say? We have a deal, or no?”
The potential result of failure put a bad taste in Annette’s mouth. The potential result of success seemed quite sweet. She saw no other reasons to turn it down.
“Fine. You have a deal. When do we start this?”
The Builder fell back to the ground. “Well, officially, as soon as my last assistant gets back with what I ordered. But first, let’s change…that.”
Pointing to Annette’s aged body, they then turned and reached behind them for something in a small bowl. Grabbing it, they handed it to her.
“What is this?” Annette rudely questioned the small dumpling offered to her. “What, you’re gonna drug me before this all starts?”
Here The Builder facepalmed. “You’ve clearly never watched a lot of movies from Hong Kong, have you? Look, I’m not gonna tell you what went into that. All I’m gonna say is that it’ll make things a lot easier for you if you eat it. So…”
Hesitantly, Annette picked the dumpling up and stared at it. Pinching her nose shut with her other hand, she popped it into her mouth.