"I know it must be hard for you, after everything that has happened, Brody. It always pains us when we have to make victims such as yourself relive such traumatic events, but please, can you help us by telling me what happened?"
Brody Williams, a boy of fifteen, sat shivering, seated at a metallic table in an interview room, a cup of cheap coffee steaming up into the cold air. "It's cold," said the boy. "And dark."
"Yes, I know. Sorry, but our heating's under maintenance. I could get you a blanket if you're suffering."
The boy sighed. "No, no, it's fine." He slipped his hoodie back on and zipped it up to his neck. He had always been the tough jock at school, surrounding himself with friends that looked up to him, admired him. He was the cool kind, everyone said, but now he looked up at the female officer with eyes of a frightened child. She was around her late thirties or early forties, her hair brown and straw-like; she wore little to no makeup.
Brody went to cup the coffee with his hands, but they were shaking so badly he feared he might spill it. He could still hear the screams, screams of fear and pain. God, the blood. So much blood.
It had happened in the cafeteria. Somehow the weakling boy with the curly red hair and acne-covered skin had managed to lock all the exits, preventing anyone else from getting in or out. Brody could see it now--the machete hacking away, the limbs flying off from the bodies of the students he had known and talked to, laughed or joked with, all of them lying in pools of blood and mangled flesh and tissue. He heard the girls scream--but it was Brody Patrick Rivers was after.
His eyes watered as the female cop listen to him, looking at him sympathetically. "I used to hurt him, call him names. He was always a weak little shit." The cop shuffled uncomfortably at that.
"What sort of thing or things did you used to do to him, Brody?" she asked softly.
"You know, like, typical stuff, I guess. Push him over, shoulder bashed him, knocked his books out of the dweebs hands and kicked him over when he bent down to pick them up. I shoved him in his locker, once. Poor Patrick was in there until the next morning."
"He had been in there all night?" The cop seemed to find that reprehensible.
Brody seemed distracted, fearful. "I'm sorry, what did you say your name was again?"
"Judy. Officer Judy, homicide."
"Officer Judy, am I in trouble here?"
She smiled warmly. "No, Brody. I just need to investigate what happened. That way we can seek the proper justice."
"But Patrick's already dead. I told you: he shot himself with that handgun."
Judy looked sad for a moment. "The whole incident was tragic; it should never have occurred. But please, tell me what else you did, or what you said other kids did to him."
"Is this being…you know, like, recorded?"
Judy nodded politely. "It is. Don’t worry, it is merely to get your statement. After that, you're free to go."
Brody pondered, looking around the dark room. He'd never been in a police interview room before, and nor had he ever been in a police station in his little Midwestern town. "Well, you know, I once stuffed him in a trashcan--"
"Wouldn’t he be a little big to fit in a trashcan?" She made a note, scribbling something down.
"Well, like, we were in elementary then. He was scared of, like, being in closed spaces. What you call it? Amnesaphobic or something?"
"Sure, something or other. A few kids thought it would be fun to put him in closed spaces like that."
"Do you feel bad about locking him in a locker, when you knew previously that he was deathly afraid of small spaces?"
"Yeah, I guess."
Officer Judy made an almost disgusted face. "Did you not think it cruel to do that, Brody?"
"It was only meant to be a bit of fun, though."
"You think it was fun for Patrick Rivers to be stuffed for seventeen hours in a locker? Do you realize how terrifying that must have been?"
The boy looked despondent, ignorant in his teenage attitude. "Like…I dunno."
"What are you afraid of, Brody? Spiders, snakes, the dark, rejection? Maybe you're afraid of your father beating you, and feel a foreboding sense of dread every time he has a drink?"
That took Brody back, and suddenly he felt uncomfortable in this dark room, where moonlight shone dimly through the cell bar windows. In fact, he was beginning to struggle to comprehend how he had gotten to the station; he didn’t remember walking in. Maybe he was just so nervous he was forgetting things. He was tired, though, and felt lightheaded, as if he were recovering from a rough night of drinking.
He started shivering again. Judy pushed the coffee toward him. "Maybe you should drink this, it'll help warm you. He did as he was bid, and took hold of the cup with both hands, and sipped it. 'Damn, that tastes pretty good, actually' he thought. "Feel a little better now?" Judy said, smiling. Brody nodded, so Judy pressed on. "Tell me, why did you like to bully--or liked to watch people bully--him?"
"I dunno, like, it made me feel strong, like, I guess."
"How did you feel when you saw him with that machete and handgun?"
"Pretty darn scared, I guess." Brody began to shake uncontrollably, slightly going into a panic attack, something he had never experienced before.
"Hush now, drink some more coffee," said Judy, and he did. His nerves calmed a little. "Tell me about the massacre, if you can, please."
"It was lunchtime. We were in the cafeteria. I was talking to my friends. And then I heard the screaming…the horrible screaming! I thought someone had played a practical joke on a girl by throwing a fake spider in her hair or something. But, like, when I turned around when the screaming got worse, I saw that little ginger freak with blood on his face. I thought it was another practical joke, like he was dressed in some Halloween costume, dressed like Freddy Krueger and stuff. Like, then I saw the girl with her arm sliced off, and everyone was screaming then. God, it was awful. The other kids were thundering at the cafeteria doors and emergency doors, trying to get out. But they couldn’t…they'd been padlocked.
"Then I saw him, laughing as he did it, hacking and slicing away at us kids. One of us tried to disarm him, but he had a strength we never saw in him. Blood was everywhere, running down the hall like a river, bits of hacked-off flesh and fingers and bone. Then the shots came. He shot at me…I remember." Brody paused, feeling a revelation come to the forefront of his mind. "Yeah. He shot me, I remember the pain. Then someone grabbed him. God, like, I remember the look of murder in his eyes, eyes of some animal or crazy person, like. His white t-shirt was covered in blood…and I could smell him, smell his B.O. He always smelled bad, the fat dork. And then he shot himself, right in the head."
Brody felt tears filling his eyes, running down his face.
From nowhere, a box of tissues was pushed in front of him. "Hush now, it's all over. You have nothing to worry about, Brody. Drink some more coffee, and you'll feel better, you'll see."
His left shoulder began to throb and sting. For what reason, he did not know. "Ah!" he cried. He saw black wetness seep through the cotton of his hoodie.
"Looks like your wound hasn't healed properly yet," said Officer Judy. "You might need to go back to the hospital."
And suddenly, he remembered. He remembered being in severe pain, panic filling the hospital, cops coming and going, shouting, screaming, his mother crying. Blood, blood, blood everywhere! "I was in hospital," Brody said. "I remember. But I don’t remember being discharged or anything."
"You weren't, Brody. We had to speak to you, to understand what had happened. I need to speak with you."
Brody looked fearful, confused. "I…I don’t…understand." That fear was coming back now, the fear of the cold, dark four walls closing in on him. Had he been drugged? 'The coffee!' he realized, and threw the rest of it against the wall at the side, the plastic cup lightly clattering to the ground. "Where in the hell am I?!" he screamed.
"Hush now, no need to get erratic. I'm sorry, Brody, if these questions are troubling you. It's just…well, I feel for you, Brody. I have a boy around your age, and I would hate for him to go through such horrible things that you've gone through. Would you like to see a picture of my boy?" Officer Judy pulled out her wallet, took out a photo, and slid it over to Brody.
When he--in his panicked state--looked down at the photo, it was a photo of Officer Judy wearing casual clothes, smiling with her arm around her son…"The hell?!" he whimpered. He saw the boy in the photo; red haired, chubby, greasy skin and covered with acne. "Patrick?!"
"It is such a troubling thing to lose a son, you know," said Judy, standing up, seizing the photo, and placing it back in her wallet. "I'm sure your own mother will miss you dearly. If only she knew what a nasty piece of shit you really are. But you don’t have a mother, do you, Brody? Just a drunken dad who likes drinking and beating you."
Panic stricken, Brody fell on the floor shaking uncontrollably, convulsing, bleeding from his nose. 'The coffee!' It had been drugged, as he had been drugged at the hospital. "We'll need to have a word with you about the attack, Brody," Officer Judy had said, before placing a cloth of chloroform against his mouth.
The walls began to close in all around him. He felt woozy, sick, like his head was between a vice, his head being crushed. Judy had disappeared from the room. "Cry or scream all you want, it makes no difference, Brody. No one will be able to hear you in these woods." This was no interview room, just a cabin or bunker made to look like an interview room.
The walls closed in on him, crushing his body, and Brody screamed in agony, his nose bleeding profusely. It leaked onto the floor were his head was. And he saw it. 'The blood! Oh, god, the blood!'