Authors: Rosette Bolter
It was a shadow, nothing more. Not
quite a figment of the imagination – as it had once existed – but with each
passing year the monster seemed a little less real. In his place, there was a
new monster. One whose misdeeds were hidden under cloth – one whose heart was
not reflected in the mirror. The eyes told stories, but then the stories might
have been lies. Even with her own playing games of pretend, she knew it was he
who had deceived her, rather than she deceiving herself.
And who, was
not see herself. Strapped and locked down to a seat at the back of the
helicopter, she puzzled over Brock’s last words to her on the castle’s roof.
thinking about him, weren’t you?”
And she had
allowed him to believe that she was thinking about him – him being Julian Echo,
the master Brock had betrayed to save her from his clutches. At that time there
had been no doubt for her. Julian was the killer, Julian was dead, and now she
and Brock were to live happily ever after.
after’ was not stagnant. It was not one perfect moment that would carry on in
repeating itself. Perhaps there was that moment for them, perhaps they had
shared all the trust and intentions two lovers dreaming the same dream would
have… But time changed people. Haley had changed. And now her husband was
someone she feared rather than believed in.
beneath them – the voices in her ears, the images in her mind –
perhaps, not all his fault. There was still a story behind his heart and
actions that accounted for good, even if that story might not have been true.
problem was that Haley didn’t know. She had found herself become fragile. Often,
afraid to speak.
Brock had said
not to forget.
Not to forget
how much he loved her.
the killer once uttered the same words to her?
No, it was
not the return of Julian Echo that Haley most feared – it was that the man she
had been living with, sleeping with, looking after, and caring for – could be
one and the same that killed her family.
one day try to kill her.
And it was
almost as though he knew it too.
The room was dark. Like the inside of
a coffin. I didn’t want to rush anything from where I was, although there was
certainly a deadline to be had. I kept thinking about what I was going to say,
whether I should put on a fancy voice (although the synthesizer would hardly do
it justice) or change my speech patterns in a certain way to possibly confuse
her. What I thought about most of all, was how I wanted her to feel. It was
important at this stage in the game, that she didn’t completely flip out. I
didn’t want to
her specifically. I just wanted to sharpen her
I cleared my
throat and put my mouth to the phone.
It rang out.
curled. My eyebrows raised. I was not appreciating this setback.
Beep, beep. Beep –
canceled my incoming call.
shouted. “What the fuck?”
I dropped the
phone. Stood from the bed.
right. It wasn’t right she should have any power.
she didn’t know it was
calling but – how could she ignore a stranger?
Was whatever she was doing, that important? That she couldn’t be disturbed!
“This is your
last chance. I swear if you don’t pick up…”
exclaimed. “Thank God! I was worried I couldn’t get a hold of you!”
this?” Haley demanded. “Do you know who you’re calling?”
“Of course I
do, Haley. Do you know who this is?”
“Well, it has
been a while. Perhaps you’ve forgotten about me.”
play games with me…”
really your assessment of this call? That it’s your stupid husband pranking
fuck do you want?”
just thought we could catch up like old friends before things get started.”
“You know I
always thought you were really beautiful. Even from the first time I saw you.
Back then it was just … you were tonight’s meal, so to speak. But then I felt
something deeper develop between us. Like you were the only one who could
really understand me. The good side of me, anyway. No one understands that
“I don’t know
who this is,” Haley said. “But whether you’re someone I know, or someone I
don’t know, you’re a fucking coward if you can’t identify yourself.”
identify myself, you just have to give me time –”
five fucking years. Isn’t that long enough?”
you can guess who I am, and guess correctly, I’ll let you know whether you’re
right. Fair’s, fair, isn’t it?”
“No? I was
being charitable after all –”
“You want to
play games? Here’s a game for you. Give me three questions. Yes or No answers.
And I’ll figure you out.”
I sat back
down on the bed. “This could be interesting. I would like to add some
turn the three questions into three guesses. You can have your three questions
then you can have one guess.”
“I also get
to ask you three questions. And you must be truthful.”
deeply. “I guess I’ll go first then. Question one … How often do you
She thought she might be dreaming. As
if her thinking about her old enemy had somehow given his spirit life to her
The truth was
far more sickening. That here she was, awake. Sane. Her senses acute.
And he had
decided to call her. Of all these moments, he had decided to come now.
Was it the
somehow spoken to him?
Told him what
she was thinking, and that she would be alone?
Or … was it
Brock this whole time?
It seemed all
“How often do
bastard. He honestly couldn’t expect her to take that question seriously.
“Yes or No
answers, remember,” Haley reminded him.
part of your conditions. Not mine. I can hang up right now and it will mean
Haley seethed. “Since you asked. I don’t masturbate.”
kidding? Come on, tell the truth, Haley.”
“I am telling
the fucking truth. Not that it’s any of your business.”
masturbates. What are you, some sort of a nun?”
“Is that your
“No, no, no.
Okay. I got the second one. Do you ever dream about me, or hear my voice in
your dreams? If so … tell me about them…”
The man on
the other end of this telephone had no face.
He wasn’t a
He wasn’t an object
with thoughts or feelings.
had thrown a tornado through her life – but what of him after? How could he
exist to her when she hadn’t even seen his face?
dream about you. Next question.”
She heard the
caller stir. He muttered something inaudible.
had upset him.
Haley. You want to play it that way, fine. I’m gonna get you this time. This
time you won’t be able to lie your way out. If you had a chance to see your
family again, alive as they once were, would you willingly surrender to me?”
went down Haley’s back like nails on a chalkboard.
“Who are you
pretending to be now?” she fired back. “A genie granting wishes?”
magic in the world, Haley. Magic I’ve acquired. I could bring them back to life
for you. I could erase the damage I’ve done.”
context of this question, let us assume you have no doubts.”
swallowed. She felt as though she was being tricked.
there could only be one answer.
get to ask me your questions after this. So just –”
“If I had no
doubts in their being alive, then of course. I would surrender.”
wasn’t hard, was it?”
“Do you have
the power to resurrect them?”
know,” the caller replied. “Shall we count that as your first question?”
You want me to waste one then?”
questions you ask me are entirely up to you. Although, I must now add on
“Of the three
questions you ask me, I shall answer two of them truthfully, and one of them
think you owe me for lying on the masturbating question. Anyway, that’s the
deal. Take it or leave it.”
going to mix in the truth with the lies, then I want five questions. And three
When you’re ready.”
the phone from her ear a moment.
out from the window into the dark ocean waters below. Lights from a distant
city sparkled across the surface.
He has a
He has a
He is out
there somewhere, speaking to you now.
You must know
it already, Haley.
You must know
who he is.
She put the
phone back to her ear. “First question: Have you and I ever had sex?”
He said she couldn’t guess who he
was, but perhaps she could figure it out by process of elimination. Of her two
main suspects, she’d only slept with one of them. Haley was also aware that it
may not have been either Brock or Julian she was speaking with now, and if the
line of questioning didn’t size up with either of them she would have no
trouble veering off into unknown territory.
caller said. “We’ve never had sex.”
immediately suspicious. It sounded like a lie.
“If I heard
your voice, in it’s true form, would I recognize it?”
wouldn’t?” Haley said almost disbelieving. “Remember you can only lie twice.”
“I know the
thought for a moment. She didn’t want to waste the next one. “Have you ever run
or worked for the Vampire Dating Agency?”
“Would I be
accurate to describe you as a tall, white, male vampire with short hair?”
Now Haley was
confused. If the answers to the first two questions had been lies, then the
next true would have to be true. Which meant Brock could be eliminated.
“You have one
more question,” the caller said. “Use it wisely.”
lies, perhaps it was enough.
her to guess anyway.
So she could
spend her question on something else…
really have the power to bring my mother and brother back to life?” Haley
caller said softly.
said, disappointed as if it was a straight answer. Could No really mean Yes? “Alright
then. Will you let me guess who you are?”
“And if I’m
right, you promise to tell me.”
you lie to me, I’m not going to be very happy with you.”
“Well, I know
you hate my guts anyway,” the caller said. “But in respect for our exchange
here, there is no way I will lie to you if you can correctly guess my
Haley said. “Are you Julian?”
“Are you The
Count, Julian Echo?”
caller said. “Talk to you soon, Haley.”