Don't Shoot the Messenger


The restaurant never recovered after the incident but to even mention that is callous and just a little selfish. The real tragedy was the incident itself. Heh, I keep calling it that, the incident, as if dehumanising it, stepping back can back things like it never happened. Well, it did happen and it kept on happening. First, it was my father. I was in the kitchen, I used to be a sous-chef at Monique’s you see, and my father was just saying goodbye before he left for Japan to visit my mothers grave. She’d loved Japan, though really she loved the idea of Japan, having never been. When she had died my father jumped through all the legal hoops and fought everyone he had to to make sure she got to go there, even if it was too late. Anyway, we hugged and he began to leave when he stopped by the back door, as if he had forgotten something but wasn’t sure what it was. He turned around and I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was like he was gone, that everything that made him my father had been blown away on the breeze and that all that was left was an empty shell. His stare was empty, glassy, cold and yet I knew he was looking right at me with that vacant, emotionless expression. He spoke something in an eerie, dreamlike voice. “The coming of the old one heralds a dawn in the age of sleeping iron. Beauty will come on a tide of red weeds, reaping the harvest of go.”

Then he picked up a meat cleaver and before I could stop him he hacked his right arm off.

I tried to save him, I tried to understand what had happened. There was so much blood I felt like I was drowning there besides him as he bled out, unresponsive and empty.

After that I left the city, there was nothing there for me but bad memories and pity. Monique’s went under and no other restaurant in the city would take me. I’d been tainted. I moved into my father’s old house down South, cleared out his things and spent a good deal of time thinking about what had happened, why he had done what he’d done, what could have happened to make him do that. I didn’t get any answers and soon the memories in the house came as oppressive as the city and I moved on.

About a year later I had started up a small café with a girl, Karen, I had been going out with for a few months. It was a step down from my restaurant days but we were happy together and more importantly, there were no reminders of the past. One day I came home to the flat to find her, a knife in one hand, her bloody entrails in another, smearing on the wall an all to familiar phrase. ”The coming of the old one heralds a dawn in the age of sleeping iron. Beauty will come on a tide of red weeds, reaping the harvest of go.” It was too much to take.

Of course, the same thing happening twice, something so specific with the same man involved. The police were convinced I’d done it some how. The autopsy of my father proved the injuries were self-inflicted and the same with Karen but they were convinced I’d forced them into it, used hypnotism or something equally insane. I believed them, for this to happen once was tragedy beyond measure, for this to happen twice, I had to be cursed, something had to haunting me. I was convinced it was my fault. Even when a friend came forward to provide my alibi and all doubt was erased, I was secretly still convinced that somehow I had been responsible.

The next 6 months of my life were spent in a mental hospital. I committed myself, convinced I was somehow killing everyone I loved by suicide. The suicide rates rose in that hospital exponentially over that six months, each one punctuated with the same cryptic message, that nonsensical phrase that haunted me. Eventually there was a scandal, the hospital accused of misdiagnosis, of using the wrong drugs or abusing it’s patients. I knew differently, I had done it and it had been covered up, my so called delusions brushed under the carpet for a far more believable alternative. I was discharged, a lucky survivor of the Hospital of Horror the newspapers had taken to calling it.

I ran. I ran away as far as I could, away from people, from anyone I might hurt, convinced that it was only a matter of time before someone else killed themselves to deliver me that awful message. I built a small cabin in the woods, bought a gun and enough ammo to last me into the apocalypse and lived the solitary life of a hermit, self-exiled to the wilderness with only my wits and my gun to feed myself with. I’d never hunted before, but as the weeks past I got the hang of it. Over three months passed and not a single person did I see in all that time. I was finally free and people were finally safe.

However, it wasn’t to last.