Don’t you find it disturbing that objects outlive us?
If this was something I had bought or made, then I wouldn’t want to see it treated with such unloving disrespect. It’s sitting out here on the mossy ground. Exposed to any weather conditions. Peed on by your dog earlier.
He doesn’t stop her when she lifts it up gently and carries it into the crumbling old farmhouse. Some of the dirt won’t come off however much she tries. Is she beginning to sense the aura of evil emanating from the battered old lantern?
Is there anything she has bought or made which she wants to be treated with loving respect once it outlives her? Her eyes widen in surprise that he would ask such a thoughtful question.
He has always chosen them by age and eye colour. Give or take 16 and blue eyes. So easy to gain their trust when you look like a member of a boy band and have a cute dog with you.
She was crying on the bench by the river, didn’t mind when he sat down beside her. So easy, like the others before her she opened up when the dog licked her hand. Her story is no different to that of the others before her. Everything is a big drama at that age. Some other kid in school calls them fat and ugly and it’s the end of the world. They want to run away, hide away, go missing, be missed. Just for a few days, just long enough to force proof that others care about them.
He tells them his name is Mark. Of course that’s not his real name. It’s a strong, handsome name. Worthy of the level of perfection he has reached. Why should he treat the lantern with respect when it was an evil old bastard who made it. It sure outlived his uncle John. He tells her about the abuse and the beatings in the coal shed. The lantern the only witness to a frightened little boy’s suffering.
None of it is true. He has no idea who made the lantern. There was no uncle John. He has told the story so many times that it has become real to him. He got what he deserved, his uncle John did. The rusty stains that won’t come off, that’s his blood.
She doesn’t gasp like the others before her. Her eyes don’t well up with tears. There’s something different about this one. She looks older than she did this morning by the river.
The glint of steel in her hand is unexpected. He slumps to the cold stone floor.
You’re such an easy kill. Thanks for the cute dog.
(c) Ash N. Finn, 2017