I Know Everything by Matthew Farrell
Although the darkness was too thick to even see his hands in front of his face, he knew the two bodies were with him in the room. A mother and daughter, killed within minutes of one another, each death an escalation in rage and fury, then desperation and futility. The lights had been on then. He’d seen every second of what had unfolded, heard every sound that had echoed in the brick-and-concrete chamber they’d been trapped in, but at the same time, it had felt like a dream. Even now, the sounds were only a whisper of recollection, growing faint as each minute passed.
The wounds from the shotgun blast appeared to be life threatening. He’d be dead soon. Of that, there was no doubt. No one knew where he was, and at this point, he wondered if they’d stopped looking. In the long run, it wouldn’t matter. He’d be nothing more than a third body on the cold concrete floor, next to the woman and her daughter. This would be his end, his fate. This dark basement would be the last world he’d ever know. He was ready. In fact, he was looking forward to it.
The heavy chain that connected him to the wall pulled on his wrist and weighed on his right shoulder. It jangled when he moved and sounded loud in the quiet space. He stopped, listening for the man up in the house, hoping the noise hadn’t been loud enough to warrant a visit.
He could hear the man’s boots walking across the floor. He waited for the inevitable sound of the basement door swinging open and those boots thumping as they made their descent down the stairs. But this time things were different. The footsteps walked straight above him, then turned back in the opposite direction. The man was walking quickly, almost running, from one side of the house to the other.
A shotgun cocked.
The footsteps halted.
He stayed as still as he possibly could, listening for something—anything—that might tell him what was happening. He was waiting for that basement door to open, but there was only the complete quiet that enveloped the house. The chain on his wrist jangled ever so slightly, and he caught it in his left hand. It was too dark to see even a hint of anything. All he could do was wait and die.
A door crashed open upstairs. Men’s screams exploded in the quiet, one after the other.
“Come out now!”
He listened as he leaned against the wall, instinctively trying to protect himself against the fury in the voices that called out. His breathing was growing weaker. He didn’t have much time left. The stampede of movement continued thundering above.
“Get your hands up!”
“I got him here! In the kitchen!”
“Drop your weapon!”
A shotgun blast exploded and was immediately followed by return fire that came so rapidly he thought someone might’ve had a machine gun. And as soon as it began, it was over. The house was silent again.
He could smell the gunpowder and fought the urge to vomit. He tried to stand, but his legs would no longer hold him. His throat was dry, choking off the ability to call out for help. He had no idea what was happening.
The basement door opened.
A light came on.
It was a bare-bulb socket that hung in the center of the room, strong enough to illuminate the space. The sudden brightness hurt his eyes, and he shielded himself with his forearm. Someone crept down the steps, each tread moaning under the weight.
“Anyone down here?” a voice called. “NYPD.”
He could see now. In every sense of the word, he could see. He could see the two bodies across from him lying almost side by side. He could see the concrete floor below them a shade darker, stained with their deaths. He looked down at himself and could see the wound from the shotgun blast that had torn apart his stomach and chest. There was no way he’d be able to survive such carnage. Then he saw the dried blood on his hands and arms and knew what he’d done. That blood was not his. He could see his weakness.
A thin cloud of smoke followed the police officer into the basement. The officer, in his dark tactical gear and helmet, looked like a specter, like the angel of death coming to take him away to pay penance for his sins. And that was okay. He deserved whatever punishment was coming. He was weak, and he was a sinner.
He was ready for hell.
He’d already lived it.