The man in the blood-soaked shirt and the screaming eyes didn’t look like a murderer. But then again, what did Frank know about murderers?
05/04/12: IMPORTANT; Okay, so when I first posted this chapter, it was how it was meant to be, then FicWad messed it up so as the ending got cut off- the proper ending is posted now. Please R&R and I should be able to update tomorrow.
The eyes of a killer
Year; October 7th, 2011
The woods were silent.
Nothing filled their gnarled caverns but the whispering October wind, rustling the corpses of mouldering leaves that shrouded the damp soil and filling the air with a rusted tang of decay.
Everything in the woods was crumbling. Dying. Spindly, moss-encrusted trees were shuddering away from life, callously shedding their leaves limply to the muddy ground, tears of amber and burnt-out russet, left to rot in silence. Any flowers or plants were hurriedly retreating into the cold earth, shivering away from the dark promise of winter.
Late afternoon sun filtered down through the skeletal trees, weak, watery ghosted gold fragments of a season falling into corroded hibernation. The only sign of life were the crows that pecked and jabbed at the muddy ground and mottled leaves with their hooked beaks, wings outspread, scraggly and ebony black.
Although the woods were dying, a strange kind of peace lingered in the rotting woodland. It lamented lightly on the branches clawing their way towards the tangle of sun and sky overhead, and ghosted its way round the serrated ribbons of crusty brambles curling across the earthy floor.
Autumn was the season of death. Everything withered away and fell silent.
But there was unquestionably something peaceful about it. Perhaps things were not so much dying, but falling into a long, safe, dreamless sleep.
Suddenly, the silence was shattered by the sound of rustling footsteps wending their way through the shrouding of decomposing leaves.
The crows squawked in alarm, taking off up into the jagged branches and towards the watery sun and curdled satin cloud, flapping their raggedy wings like frayed raven silk.
Seconds later, a teenage boy swamped in a navy-trimmed ‘Greystaines High’ blazer came meandering into view, his breath coiling up into the thicket of serrated branches above like cancerous smoke.
He was small for his age; not more than 5’4, and skinny to go with it. However, he was good looking too; smooth, ivory skin and floppy chestnut coloured hair that fell around his shoulders in loose waves, soft tendrils whipped askew from the wind that hissed its way through the spindly trees.
It was his eyes were what really gave him beauty, though- once you saw past the lenses of his glasses. They were heavily-lidded with long, sooty lashes, and the irises were a liquid, deep russet that shimmered almost golden in the rusted sunlight. There was a rare kind of innocence filming their depths, pure and untainted, as if he’d lived his whole life in a safe little golden bubble.
They were the eyes of someone who had nothing to fear and nothing to lose; the eyes of someone who’d been sheltered from reality their whole life. Trapped, unknowing, in the dark.
The amount of pure innocence hazed through the russet was unnerving- because there was only so long someone could retain that kind of trust in the world.
There was only so much time remaining before their gold would be tarnished.
“Hi honey,” Linda Iero looked up fleetingly from her cooking as the back door of the farmhouse swung open, bowling in a rather windswept son and a few stray autumn leaves.
“Hey,” seventeen year old Frank Iero greeted, fumbling with the latch on the old oak door to shut it on the gnashing jaws of October that had left his usually soft hair in a turmoil of chestnut tangles.
“Good day at school?” Linda asked cheerfully, going back to chopping carrots and onions while the radio crackled away in the corner of the steamy farmhouse kitchen.
“Yeah thanks,” Frank replied automatically, kicking off his regulation school shoes by the door and pulling off the long grey scarf wound round his neck. “D’you want a hand with the dinner?”
“Oh, I’ll be just fine thanks, honey,” Linda smiled, sprinkling a pinch of pepper into the saucepan. “This is ready, I think- I just need to lay the table and wait for your father to get back. Can you see him yet?”
Frank crossed to the steamed-up window by the back door and squinted out of it, the lenses of his glasses slightly smeary from the heat of the kitchen’s Aga stove, making it difficult to see clearly.
However, he could vaguely make out endless barren fields and woodland stretching out from the farmhouse, some of the greying fields dotted with sheep or cattle roaming the autumnal countryside.
As Frank pressed closer to the windowpane, a slightly smeary version of his father came striding into view in mud-spattered wellington boots, a panting black and white collie bounding at his heels as he crossed the leaf-strewn yard from the fields.
“Yeah, he’s coming,” Frank told his Mom, stepping back from the window.
“Great,” Linda said, opening a drawer and pulling out knives and forks. “I expect he’ll be pretty tired; he’s been out on the fields since lunchtime. Do you mind if we watch the telly with tea, honey?”
“That’s fine,” Frank replied, polishing the lenses of his glasses on his grey school jumper. “Are you sure you don’t want any help?”
“No, you go and sit down, honey,” Linda assured him. “But thank you.”
Before Frank could go anywhere, however, the back door swung open and a large amount of furry black and white threw itself at his legs, barking excitedly.
“Hey Rosie,” Frank smiled, bending down to fondle the Border collie’s ears as she bounded excitably around him, tail wagging earnestly. “How’re you doing?”
“Hello, Frank,” John Iero said cheerfully, shutting the door behind him and shrugging off his jacket. “Good day? Did you find out your exam timetable?”
“No, we should be getting tomorrow,” Frank replied, still scratching Rosie behind her black and white speckled ears.
“Good stuff,” John said brusquely, going over to the sink to wash his hands.
“Right boys, this is ready- do you want to go through?” Linda asked, spooning three generous helpings of vegetable pasta out onto three willow patterned plates. “I’ll bring this through in a moment.”
“Sure,” Frank agreed, giving Rosie one last pat before trailing off towards the living room, the border collie close on his heels.
“Want a drink, son?” John called after Frank’s retreating back.
“I’m fine thanks,” Frank threw over his shoulder, flicking the living room light on.
He sighed heavily as he flopped down onto the ancient, dog-hair coated sofa and put his feet up on the chaotic coffee table, before flicking the TV on so the six O’clock news blared across the room.
Yawning, Frank flipped through the slightly dog-eared TV guide beside him on the saggy sofa cushions, not really paying any attention to the news reader burbling on about the latest football scores or something equally tedious.
“What shall we watch then, Rosie?” Frank murmured to the dog curled up at his feet. Rosie snuffled in reply as Frank leant down to scratch her behind the ears again, a small smile playing across his lips.
“…Breaking news…Escaped convict from Stonebridge prison…”
Frank’s eyes flickered up to rest on the TV screen and the overly made-up newsreader, suddenly interested
“…Twenty two year old Gerard Arthur Way, having been jailed for the past five years due to the suspected murdering of his best friend/girlfriend, Emily Louise Hawthorn, escaped from Stonebridge Prison in the early hours of the morning…Any sightings of this man or knowledge of his whereabouts…contact the hotline number below…”
A picture flashed up at the bottom of the screen along with what Frank presumed was the hotline number. It was slightly blurred, the colour pixels vaguely distorted, and it looked as though it was a school photo. The man was in a school shirt and tie, anyway.
Feeling an odd surge of curiosity, Frank shoved his glasses back on and squinted at the screen, eyes wide.
“…Photo taken at the crime scene five years ago…Way apparently has changed little since…gained a scar on his left cheek…longer hair…believed to be wearing black…”
The well-practiced tones of the news reader fumbled across the room and barely reached Frank’s ears in fragmented sentences. He was too busy frowning at the TV screen to listen properly.
Staring back at him from the bottom of the page was a chalk-white boy who didn’t look that much older than Frank himself. He had heavy, dark circled weighing down interestingly muddy green eyes. They were violently bloodshot with more serrated ribbons of raw red than white, as if he’d been crying or hadn’t slept for weeks on end. His hair greasy tangles of ebony round his slightly chubby, child-like face, limp and unkempt.
As Frank peered closer, he realised with a horrible jolt to his stomach that the boy’s shirt was stained potently with mottled, dark red.
Frank felt nausea swell in his stomach, burning at the bottom of his gullet, but he swallowed impatiently and continued to stare at the photo.
Strangely, the blood wasn’t the thing that struck Frank most about it.
What struck him was the convict’s eyes.
Frank didn’t think he’d ever seen someone look so tortured, so full of gouging agony, so terrified.
The man in the blood-soaked shirt and the screaming eyes didn’t look like a murderer at first glance. But then again, what did Frank know about murderers?
What did Frank know about anything, really- anything more than school text books and exams?
The voice of his father made Frank jump wildly- without realising it, he’d become completely engrossed in the news programme. Hurriedly, he flicked onto the next channel where the familiar ‘Friends’ theme tune jangled comfortingly across the room.
He could feel his heart hammering against his ribs.
“What were you watching?” John asked, sitting down on the sofa beside his son, a steaming plate of pasta in his hand.
“Oh, just some stupid news programme,” Frank mumbled dismissively, taking his reading glasses off and putting them down on the coffee table beside a large stack of his French coursework. “…Something about an escaped convict.”
“Oh, that,” John said grimly, picking up his fork. “I read about that in the paper this morning…disgusting. Just…That boy…Way, is it? God, it’s revolting. People like that don’t deserve to live.”
Frank blinked at his father’s unusually bitter tone.
“What did he do?” Frank found himself blurting, curiosity still throbbing through his pulse.
John turned to look at his son. “I don’t think it’s suitable to discuss.”
Frustration prickled irritatingly at Frank’s skin. “Dad, I’m not a kid.”
“I know, but that doesn’t mean you need to hear about gory murders,” John said, tucking into his pasta as if they weren’t talking about brutal killings.
“Stonebridge is near here,” Frank pointed out, scratching his forearm to take the intensity of his father’s gaze away from his face.
John looked uncomfortable. “Yes. Well. I seriously doubt the killer will come here, Frank. This isn’t some trashy thriller novel, you know- this is real life.”
“Yes, but why can’t I know? I’m seventeen, Dad,” Frank said angrily at his father's patronisingly over-protective tone.
“I know you are. I think you’re very mature for your age, son, but I think it’s best you focus on your revision and school rather than things that will only upset you or lead you into some weird, morbid obsession with death.”
“Discussion closed,” John said firmly.
“What’s going on?” Linda was standing in the doorway, balancing two dinner plates and a glass of orange juice, eyes curious.
John opened his mouth, but Frank got there first.
“Mom, there’s this thing on the news-”
“We were just deciding what to watch,” John said loudly, cutting across Frank and turning the volume up so loud that the ‘Friends’ theme tune practically blared across the room. “The dinner’s lovely, by the way.”
“Oh,” Linda looked slightly wrong-footed. “…Thanks.”
Frank glared at the mounds of his French and Biology coursework spread out across the coffee table in front of him, but kept silent.
“Here’s your dinner, honey,” Linda smiled, handing Frank a large helping of vegetable pasta.
“Thanks,” Frank mumbled, setting the warm plate down on his lap and rubbing absent-mindedly at the red patch across the bridge of his nose where his glasses had been digging in all day.
He’d sort of lost his appetite.
His heart was still thudding in his chest.
And he couldn’t get the muddily green eyes of the murderer out of his head.
In all the storybooks he’d read as a kid or mild detective programmes his parents permitted him to watch, a murderer’s eyes had looked completely different. They looked cold and dead and full of hatred.
They weren’t full of muddy green terror.
But then again, as Frank’s dad had told him, this was reality.
After toying with his pasta for about half an hour and holding a slightly stilted conversation with his parents about study timetables, Frank dumped his dinner plate in the sink and trailed away upstairs to his room.
Dusk had fallen properly by this point; swirls of crocheted raven wove their wispily autumnal way across the fields and the stone cottage, veiling the world from human eyes.
The silence swathing the surrounding countryside was almost velvet; pure and untainted by modern life. It wasn’t interrupted; there was no distant drone of car engines clogging up the highways or spluttering their way through the murky fog of stagnant fumes.
Frank’s stomach growled with hunger as he flicked the light on and crossed the room to sit at his desk.
The black outside was pressing its slightly unnerving tentacles against the windowpane, smothering everything outside until it looked as though there was nothing there; just a blank page.
Except it wasn’t that it was blank; it was just scribed in a language Frank couldn’t read, and that scared him slightly, because it meant he couldn’t see something even if it was pressing it’s gnarled, ugly tentacles right against the black of his bedroom window.
Frank shuddered slightly, shaking off the irrational feel of something crawling up his spine and instead turning his attention to the mirror.
He sighed heavily as he took in the boy staring unblinkingly back at him.
Frank didn’t like any inch of the russet-eyed boy staring back at him through the looking glass. He hadn’t for some time, but he never said anything- partly because everyone else seemed to.
At seventeen, Frank was what you might call the ‘Perfect’ teenager- if such a thing as perfection even existed.
If such a thing as perfection existed, Frank would have been the perfect teenager.
He was a parent’s dream; he was considerate and helpful and he never blasted music too loud in the early hours of the morning. He never stayed out all night getting drunk. His friends weren’t drugged-up skivers or unsociable geeks who spent their entire life on their Xbox. He was in with the clever, popular kids who took their studying seriously. He had a sweet, parent-pleasing girlfriend. He never failed to hand in his homework and had straight-As in every subject.
Or to put it another way, Frank was the complete opposite of a rebel.
And he hated it.
He’d grown to loathe every second and despise every inch of it.
Frank was sick of being no one in particular; sick of following the rules and playing it safe all the time, sick of doing what everyone expected, but most of all, Frank was sick of everyone thinking he was so fucking perfect.
He hadn’t always despised being the boy who blended into the background- when he was younger, he was content with it, because that was who he was.
But it wasn’t who he was now.
Or not who he wanted to be. It felt as though he was living inside someone else’s skin and the fleshy tentacles and engorged purple veins were slowly, sickeningly clawing their way up his back and choking him.
Frank wanted to be reckless and piss everyone off, do the unexpected and be everything that the flesh constricting his body so tightly bones jutted out, protruding through the stretched skin, wouldn’t let him be.
He wanted to live.
Because in his scratchy skin shell that scratched uncomfortably at his soul and snagged on his bones, Frank felt as though he was dying.
Thoughts? I’d really appreciate them as I’m pretty nervous about this chapter, although I enjoyed writing it- it’s quite a different style to all my other stuff and I don’t really know how you guys are liking it? So yeah…R&R? It’ll make my day ;D I’ll update within a week because it’s the holidays now, so I’m gunna be a bitch and say that the more reviews I get, the sooner I’ll update xD
Love you all!