State of Emergency – Chapter 14

March 5, 2011



“The dividing line is very thin, just like a belt of film… of delicate blue colour. And this fade from blue to black is very gradual and lovely.”

~ Yuri Gagarin, 1961

The CD case was hard and cold under Ian’s fingertips, uncomfortably real in the dreamlike haze that carried him from the bed to Dolly’s dresser. It opened her laptop, lowered him on to her makeup stool through mists that blocked out everything else in the room, opened the drive, dropped in the blank silver disc, closed it again, all with smooth, precise, unreal motions, gliding his hand from point to point without feeling.

No feeling at all. Not in his hand. Not in his head.

Windows blossomed on the screen and he clicked, once, twice to answer the urgings on the screen. The scent of his wife’s perfume was especially strong here; the sweet, innocent scent of vanilla that hung around her like a cloak. As the movie started to play, he picked up one of her lipsticks – a glass tube filled with metallic red paint. He unscrewed the lid, finding a long, thin wand tipped with a soft brush rather than the bullet of semi-solid paste he’d expected. It smelled of cherries. He’d tasted it on her lips, thinly glazing her nipples, gone out to train with the taste of it still in his mouth, the scent clinging to his neck and shoulders.

But of course, the details… she always put so much thought into the details.

The mist, the scent of cherry and vanilla, the jolt of her absence made a still, frozen place inside his head from which he watched the film unfold on the screen of her laptop. Watched his brother scream in the cold white beam of a maglight as drills and screwdrivers and tiny saws worked their black magic on his flesh.

Saw red and blue and black and grey. But mostly red.

In his detached state, he saw the steadiness in the masked torturer’s step, in his hands, heard the sardonic glee in every muffled word the camera picked out.

As the gory scene drew to a close, leaving his brother slumped and semi-conscious in the tiny, folding, metal chair, he watched the masked figure approach with a sleek, feline gait that left no doubt in his mind as to the man’s identity. The black of the mask filled the screen, only the white of the man’s eyes providing any contrast.

The glass tube of lipstick fragmented in Ian’s grip, blood mixing with the scarlet paint unnoticed in his palm.

“How much do you love your wife, Ian Carlyle?”

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