Madness Made Manifest

You wake up to the dawn light. You know the sun is well beyond the open window, but as you open your eyes, it is a sharp point within your head. You want to cower, to block the view, to just turn away, but something is stopping you. You look down and see that you are bound with lengths of rope to one of the wooden beams that holds the roof of your winter cabin up.

You are confused. You try to wriggle but the lower part of your body does not respond. In fact, you can’t feel it. You can’t even flex a toe. You only have use of your neck, and even that usually sturdy support is waning. You survey the room. It is in disarray, chairs are over turned. The widows are smashed. Somewhere the fire is crackling. And the rug. the rug your father bought you when you moved into the house, the wedding gift. It’s ruined. Someone’s soaked it in some red substance.

You manage to let out a groan. The once still rocking chair by the fire begins to creak. You look towards it. You make out someone’s legs. Dark corduroy trousers. Hiking boots. The person gets up and you see the aging face of your father turn towards you. His face is wet with tears, his eyes bloodshot. His grey beard is damp, straggly. He turns but does not approach you. He stands cautiously behind the rocking chair, the shirt under his flannel is red.

 

Just then a piercing pain rips through your frontal lobe. You wince from it and bow your head. You’re not just confused now, you’re beginning to feel sick. Sick with confusion, with how much you don’t understand. You remember coming to the summer house. You remember closing the car door and taking in the crisp mountain air. You remember lighting the fire. You remember your wife in the garden, your sons clinging to her skirt. You remember-

‘Heracles?’

You open your eyes and look at your father. There is something in his eyes, something you don’t recognise. So you blink and look from him to your bonds.

‘Heracles, is that you?’

‘of course it’s me’ you manage to say, bewildered.

‘Heracles, swear it. Swear it’s you before I untie you’

‘You did this?’

‘Heracles’ your father urges. ‘Look at me, son. Tell me, are you okay?’

You nod.

‘Apart from being tied to a beam, and this splitting head ache, I’m fine, dad’

He creeps towards you, his footsteps are light, frightful. He keeps glancing at the door, as if he is expecting someone, you turn to look but there is nothing but a plank of wood bolted shut. Wait, you can make out the feathered fletching of an arrow. Two. You go to say something but he is untying you. His hands are trembling, and his lip quivers as he looks into your face. He loosens the ropes and then retreats immediately to the other side of the room.

‘Dad, what is it?’ you ask, trying to straighten up. You wriggle a toe, then a foot. You lean your head back as you push out your chest, and feel a shooting pain as the back of your head connects with the wooden beam. Instinctively you reach for source. It is wet. When you look are your hand is damp, red. You’re bleeding.

Now you are confused, sick and scared.

 

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