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Lewis was a strange man. I didn't really know him all that well. That is to say that at first, I couldn't explain exactly why he was so strange. I am socially competent enough to determine that something about that guy just wasn't right. He was aloof, awkward, just completely... off. You didn’t have to be around him for long to make that determination, you just caught it straight away.
Lewis was my next door neighbor, you see. He didn't take good care of his place. His lawn was overgrown, his mailbox was always full, and he didn't take out his trash. Instead, he just kept it strewn about his yard in bags. I think the oddest detail about Lewis' house at first glance would’ve been his windows, maybe. The curtains were always drawn and the windows themselves were boarded up. From an outsider's perspective, you could say that Lewis was a squatter and that the house was abandoned. The truth is, he was no squatter.
He was always a quiet man, kept to himself. He lived with his mother for a long time before she passed away two years ago, leaving Lewis to live by himself. Since then, he had become reclusive, never leaving his home, with the exception of going to the hardware store. Being cooped up and alone for that much time would be enough to drive any man batty. That certainly goes without saying, but Lewis, he somehow transcends that.
Lewis got in a lot of trouble with the local health department along with his other neighbors who would often criticize him over his living conditions as being unsanitary and detrimental to the overall value of the neighborhood. On rare occasions, he would give in and devote the day to cleaning up his trash. Sometimes he even hired people to mow his lawn. It was rare, but it did happen.
One day a cop knocked on his door and demanded he clean the trash off his lawn. The police received one too many calls complaining about it and it gave them incentive to claim the mess as hazardous to pedestrians. When he was out cleaning his trash with plastic bags provided by the cops, I could see him mumbling loudly about something or other. He seemed emotional about it, stopping what he was doing every so often and shooting a horrified look back toward his house. The cop just kind of stared at him blankly, so they must have been used to people like Lewis. I wasn't sure I could deal with that, but then, I didn't have to. That’s not entirely true actually.
The thing about Lewis was that he was always building things. Occasionally, I’ll come across him at Home Depot and he’ll have a shopping cart filled with building equipment. On rare occasions when he actually did go out, he came back with his pickup truck loaded with scrap metal and aluminum cans. Other times he'd come home with hardware, lumber, and strange looking tools that I’ve never seen before. In the dead of night, I would wake up to Lewis building things in his house. It was annoyingly loud as I could hear Hammers hitting hardwood floors, power saws against planks, drills against god knew what. His windows, though boarded up, would flash brightly through the curtains with the light of the wielding torch he was using.
He did this every night, until the cops would finally show up and force him to shut down. One time I was fed up, and went to his door and demanded him to cut it out. I slammed on the door for a good ten minutes before the noise stopped, accompanied by furious cursing. Lewis had himself a bit of temper. When I first realized this, it immediately made me feel less confrontational and more nervous about talking to him. He only opened the door only a crack and didn't say anything to me. He just poked his head out and looked at me with an odd expression. It looked like he had just snapped out of a daydream.
"Uh, Lewis," I started, "it's eleven o'clock at night, you mind cutting that out? We have work tomorrow."
Lewis didn't really respond. He kept staring at me unblinkingly for ten long and painful seconds before he looked down at my feet. As he did, I noticed that he was wearing a raised wielding mask.
Inside his house was pitch dark, but I could hear something in there. It sounded like radio static, a signal going on and out. When it did come in, I heard what sounded like a crowd of people and just assumed he was listening to a live album or something.
"Look, I'm not asking for much Lewis, just lay off whatever it is you're working on until tomorrow, you're going to wake up the neighborhood."
"Yeah." Lewis said, "I g'guess so."
His voice sounded sad, like a child after being disciplined. I don't know if that was from me intervening with his project or if he was always like that. Like I said earlier, me and Lewis don't talk much. I avoided him whenever I could.
After a long and awkward pause, Lewis looked up at me with a pleading expression. "Do you think there's ehhhhh’an afterlife?"
"Keep it down," I said and left.
Lewis didn't start building again until early in the morning. I could hear him back at it as I left for work. He was evidently very passionate about his hobby.
Yeah, Lewis was a strange dude alright. There was this one time when I was backing out of my driveway when I saw him out on his front lawn yelling at three fat guys who were trying to load long bars of scrap metal off his property into their uhaul rental truck. They were trying to take his metal for recycling and Lewis wasn't having any of it. He wasn't wearing a shirt, and he made for a sad sight without one. The man was pitifully thin to the point of seeming frail. The guys were laughing at him about it, calling him names and demanding him to "do something about it".
Even though I didn't really care for Lewis, I wasn't willing to do nothing as these scavengers bullied him on his own property. I got out of my car and approached the metal collectors and calmly informed them that what they were doing was illegal and that Lewis could press charges if he felt inclined. They argued that the metal was trash and that it's been sitting out there for days. That's when Lewis argued that he hasn't had a chance to install them yet and didn't have the space inside for them.
In the end, the metal collectors left angrily, muttering about how Lewis was off his rocker and needed help for his hoarding addiction. It never did occur to me that Lewis was a hoarder until then. Perhaps he was taking the loss of his mother a lot harder than I thought. I mean, when she was alive, the house was well maintained. Lewis would mow the lawn, trim the hedges, random chores and stuff. It only took two years of solitude for him to become like this.
I turned to Lewis, "If these are so important to you, you need to take them out back. People are going to just take them."
Lewis stared at me again. His face was reddened by the confrontation. Judging by the madness in his eyes, I thought he would snap at any second and attack me out of sheer compulsion. I didn't fear him physically per se, as he was a very unintimidating person, but that wild stare. Even children can commit murder against grown men, so long as they have the motivation and the proper tools, and enough wit. Lewis had the tools; that much was obvious. What scared me though, was that I couldn't tell if he had the motivation or the wits. What you know can be scary, what you don't know.
"Thank you," he finally said as he lowered his gaze down to my feet. The situation had apparently taken its toll on poor old Lewis. He seemed to be shaking. I don't remember if it was cold that day or not, but regardless, I don't think he was shaking due to shivering.
"What are you building in there anyways?" I asked, trying to break the tension.
Lewis's shoulders turned tense. He looked back up at me, and he gave me a seething hateful glare that I wouldn't soon forget. He bared his teeth in a snarl for a second, flashing it like a twitch. In a way, it reminded me of a rabid dog. Before I could comprehend the look, he turned his back to me at me and stormed towards his house, grunting back at me in a hateful tone "none of your f-f-fucking business, Bill!" Just as he finished, he tripped over one of his metal scraps and fell down on his face.
"Sore subject then?" I asked, feeling like a calloused jerk. "You alright?"
Lewis got back up and ran into the house and slammed the door. It was a strange encounter, but Lewis was, of course, a strange man.
Later that night, the metal collectors came back while Lewis was building whatever it was he was building. He was making so much noise and was so occupied and immersed in what he was doing that he didn't notice, but I did. That truck had a really loud engine, and despite how loud the noise at Lewis's place was, the truck certainly had no trouble making its presence known. If these guys thought they were experts in discretion, then they were clearly idiots. Either way, the way they treated poor old Lewis rubbed me the wrong way. I went out there and confronted them again.
This time there was only one metal guy. When he saw me, he threw his arms up angrily. "Dude, come on!" He said, "The guys clearly a hoarder. He won't even notice these are gone!"
"They're not yours," I said, trying to maintain my calm, "would you like it if I came to your house and took your stuff?"
"Look, whatever your name is,"
"Look, Bill, this is pure steel he's got lying around. The same stuff they make railroads with. This stuff isn't like the usual aluminum that you find lying around, this shits got value, and we almost have a full ton of it."
"Do I have to get the police involved?"
The man looked at me long and hard, folding his arms as if to intensify himself. He was trying to look scary I guess, but compared to the look from Lewis earlier that day, this guy looked like a kitten. “They only buy it by the ton! He probably didn’t even realize he had this until he caught me taking it, the packrat!”
"You're going to leave now," I said as I pulled out my phone making to call nine-one-one whilst simultaneously questioning whether or not any of this was even worth it. I didn't mind standing up for Lewis, but to get my ass handed to me over it?
Well the guy just threw his hands up and let out a moaning grunt and got into his truck. As he was getting in, he turned back and told me to tell Lewis not to leave his stuff in the open like that. I didn't bother telling him that I already did.
When the truck was gone, I noticed that the noise of Lewis's house had stopped. Was he going to come out? The thought of talking to him wasn't very enticing given what had already happened. When I turned and looked, I saw Lewis's face in the window in between the boards. The streetlight was reflecting off his large glasses, giving him an almost inhuman look. He quickly pulled the curtain when he saw me looking at him. The sounds of building immediately started up again.
Looking down at the piece of scrap, a steel pole from a construction site? This beckoned to question, what was he building in there?
Lewis was definitely a strange guy. He liked his privacy all right. But the noise, day in and day out, and what with his reclusive ways. Occasionally he would leave, and I would feel my curiosity rise. Maybe if I snuck in there and had myself a poke around. I would never act on it of course, breaking and entering were not among hobbies of mine. But still...
Me and my wife often speculated over his project. Was he building a rocket ship? Maybe he's trying to get back to his home planet. My wife speculated that he was building an elaborate pinball table. What Lewis was actually building, however, wasn't a rocket ship, nor was it a pinball table. Lewis was building something strange, and terrible, and above all else, something worse than anything I could imagine. It's hard to explain, so bear with me.
Around a week later, I see Lewis picking up the steel piece and dragging it into his house. My curiosity got the better of me. I stepped outside and approached Lewis. When he noticed me, he immediately tensed up. He was very agoraphobic, but he gets an A for effort since he started the conversation.
"I uh, wanted to thank you for stih-stopping that guy from stealing this. So uh… thanks."
"Gonna be another busy night?"
"Uh, yeah." Lewis rubbed the bald patch among his graying hair.
"You seem to have one hell of a hobby, Lewis. Does it have to be so loud?"
Lewis paused, staring into space. He seemed to know he was supposed to have an answer, but maybe he couldn't think of anything.
"Lewis, come on man, what are you building in there? You're keeping people up at night when you work on it."
That angered him. I had a feeling that it would, but I really wanted to know what it was. His face began to twitch at the corner of his upper lip. He didn't answer.
"Lewis, look, I don't want to have to come over again tonight, Natalie and I get up for work very early in the morning and that noise you're making, we can hear it like it's coming out of our own bathroom. Natalie is a very light sleeper and when she can't sleep, she keeps me awake by complaining. If you tell me what you're building, I can probably help you finish it so you can stop. How does that sound?"
Lewis's expression turned dark. I could also tell he was terrified. What was he so afraid of? "I have a r'right to my privacy, you know!"
"Look, that's fine. I'm not trying to pry or anything, but we need some kind of compromise. This can't keep going on. How many times do the cops come by? Aren't you getting sick of that?"
Lewis started to bare his teeth again. He was very angry now. That look of pure feral rage he gave me earlier, it was back with a vengeance. I felt my throat tighten. The way Lewis was, he could probably go insane and pull a knife on me. That look promised all sorts of retaliation. "Bill, drop the subject! Drop the god-d-d-damn subject!" Lewis strived to articulate words, he was so heated. I've never taken him for a stutterer, but now that I saw it, it really didn't surprise me. Before I just thought it was just nervousness.
"Fine," I started, disappointed that I wasn't going to learn about what he was building. "I'll let it go. But no more power tools at night, Lewis. You hear me?"
"F'fuck yerself, Bill! It's my property, I'll do w-w-whatever the f-f-fuck I want! Get out of here!" He grabbed his steel and struggled it into his house. As he opened the door, I just stood there watching him as I was dumbfounded by his outburst of rage. He was absurdly protective of that secret project of his. He turned and glared back at me, "GO!" He shouted as his voice cracked into a high pitched squeal. As that broke out, I heard a loud chirp inside the house. I could vaguely hear the static from before as well.
What was he building in there...?
By ten, I phoned the police to go tell Lewis to knock it off. That noise was even louder than before since I think he opened a window to let the noise out. I’m sure he did it all in the name of spiting me over the confrontation. Watching from the window, the police knocked and knocked, but Lewis wouldn't answer. When he finally did, I was relieved to see that he obeyed. Three hours later, he started doing it again. Lewis was a tenacious one, and totally off his rocker.
This went on for weeks. My wife kept insisting that she should go over and talk to Lewis, but I had to keep intervening. Lewis was a lunatic, like not in an axe murderer way, but like a snuff film maker kind of way. If that makes any sense. For all I know, that's exactly what he was building, some kind of snuff film studio. If not that, then what?
As the days turned to weeks, the annoyance of it transitioned into a persistent sense of wonder that began to eat away at me. Every night, pounding, buzzing, welding, constantly working and building. What the hell was he working on? The rumors were beginning to circulate around the neighborhood. Jeff from across the street speculated that he was some kind of deviant sculptor of sexualized statues, that he made things out of scrap he pulled out of the junk yards and sold them to a collector in china town for ten grand a piece. Pretty elaborate, I was inclined to believe him for the sake of some closure. It would explain how he could afford the house without a steady job. Only, the thing about Jeff though was that he was the type of guy who had "dirt" on everyone. I heard through hearsay that he had me and my wife pegged for former KGB who defected to America, and me and Natalie are in some kind of witness protection program in exchange for top secret espionage intel. I'm not even Russian and Natalie was born in America. She didn't even have an accent. Yeah... Jeff was full of it.
Another rumor was that Lewis was trying to build up an old car, but in his own house? Made no sense, the guy didn’t even have a garage door.
Nobody knew what he was building. They were all just guessing. I doubt none of them ever came close the truth though. I know I never did.
Occasionally he'd go out in his pickup truck and come home with mountains of scrap metal. Sometimes he showed up with lumber. One time, Lewis came home and dragged a jackhammer into his house. When he saw me looking through my window at him, he stopped and gave me a grave stare before going in. Why would he need a jackhammer? What in god’s name is he building in there? I wanted to kick down his door and force him to show me, but I could only imagine that hateful glare on the other side. The glare of a man holding a hatchet with my name on it, or maybe a cloth doused in chloroform. For all I knew, he probably had a strap table along with some surgical equipment carefully positioned on a nearby table in one of his rooms. Lewis was strange like that, you know?
He came home one night with a pickaxe and the house chimed for weeks like an ore mine in one of those old movies. The rumors began to shift around this detail into the idea that Lewis had an oil well under his house. But that’s impossible. It was maddening not to know. What was Lewis building!?
One night I woke up, not to the noise of his machines, but rather to the lack of it. I have to admit, I was oddly disappointed by it. I had been so conditioned by it that my brain turned it into a habit of environmental expectation. What I heard instead was more disturbing than relieving. Lewis was screaming like he was in pain. I looked out the window and saw that all the lights in his house were turned on. Usually they were off, and would only be illuminated with the glowing flash of those welding torches he was so fond of using. I thought that maybe Lewis injured himself in the process of using one of his tools. But then as I listened more closely, I realized that he wasn't howling in pain. He was arguing. He seemed to be crying as he did so. There were no cars in his driveway except for his pickup truck. Lewis, as far as I knew had no friends. He was a shut-in in every sense of the word. Did he finally lose his mind?
"What are you doing?" Natalie asked as I put my shoes on.
"I'm going to see if Lewis is alright. He might have hurt himself. Sounds like he did."
She sighed loudly and turned over and threw a blanket over her head. "Will you let it go? You're obsessed with Lewis. He's a freak."
"Yeah well, I can't sleep unless I at least check and see if he's alright. For all I know, he's probably bleeding to death, and I don't want that on my conscience."
"You just want to try and see what he's making."
You couldn’t B.S. Natalie. Either way she was dead asleep three seconds later.
I knocked on his door after a moment’s hesitation, then listened closely to what was happening on the other side. It sounded like Lewis was sobbing, hyperventilating even. The guy was clearly a wreck. I could make out what he was saying only vaguely. Evidently he was talking to his mom.
As I said before, Sara, Lewis's mom died two years ago. Lewis it would appear was delusional. "I'm s's'sorry mom, I'm didn't m'm'mean to drop out! They took my money, what could I do without m'm'oney-I knih-knih-know I should have walked away, I know I should have-I have a p'p'problem, I'm trying to see help for it mom but-no I'm not d'd'dropping out ag'gih agih-again!-I'm not-okay, I'm lying to you, are you happy mom? You're own son is a fucking d'd'disgrace! No I'm sss'sorry, I didn't mean to swear, Mom. I have a problem, you were right, I'm a disgrace, I've always been a disgrace! I shih shih should be down there, not you!-please d'd'don't say that. Don't say that. I'm trying! I'm trying!-don't make me do it again, I d'don't want to" Lewis cut himself off with another high pitch scream before descending into muttering again.
Suddenly he stopped. Went completely quiet. That's when my heart jumped in my throat. When I first came, I didn't know that he was arguing with his imaginary mother. I just wanted to reason with him, see if I could get a peek into what he was doing. But this? This was a sign that Lewis was too far gone to be reasoned with. But now he realized that I was at the door. Well, probably not me exactly, but he knew someone was there and now he was coming. That much was clear. I turned around and made to run away, but as I did the door slammed wide open and Lewis spotted me.
He was shirtless, thinner than before, skeletal even. His eyes were bloodshot and sunken into his skull it seemed. I could see that his left arm was covered in blood from fresh cuts. In his right hand he held a knife that was dripping with blood. He was cutting himself. He was actually cutting himself! His expression was psychotic.
"Lewis, are you all right?" I asked, barely able to get the words out.
"I'm not yih-using the pah p'power tools bill, WHY ARE YOU HERE!?"
He could have woken the neighborhood with the way he yelled that last statement. He probably did. I took a step back as he began to walk towards me. My eyes were on that knife. "I thought you were hurt Lewis. I was just checking on you to see if you were all right."
"I'm fine Bill. What p'part of pr'p'privacy don't you get?" He raised the knife towards me, the feeling of horror was surreal. I put my arms up, ready to fight for my life.
"Lewis, put the knife down."
Much to my relief, he stopped what he was doing and held still, as if waking up from a sleepwalking session. I could see the blood dripping onto the grass beneath him. He looked confused, then thankfully, he dropped the knife into the overgrown grass. He stared blankly at his own cut arm for a long time, as if he were unsure how they got there.
Beyond that door, I heard static. It sounded like voices were coming in and out of range. This static didn't sound like your standard radio though. It sounded alive, or organic, no that's not right either. It sounded astronomic? No. It sounded like distorted wind, yet still clearly static. But it sounded strong enough to blow entire continents into the sky. It didn't sound like it was of this world is what I'm trying to say.
It was so strange to me, so menacing, I became more weary of that than I was of poor self destructive and delusional Lewis. Was that coming from the thing that he was building?
"Lewis," I whispered, feeling the noise inside enter my ears, imagining that static or wind or whatever it was laying cities to waste without even knowing why. What was it about that damn noise! What was he-"what are you building in there Lewis?"
A clear voice called out inside. "Failure! Pathetic! Failure!" Was that... a parrot?
It got Lewis's attention, he turned back and looked inside, then back at me. "Lucia's out of her kih-kih-cage," he said, "she could fly out!" He turned and ran into the house and slammed the door. And that was that.
Yeah, Lewis was nuts. Whatever he's building, it isn't good for his health. It sure as hell wasn't good for mine either. I'd imagine people would turn their back on the whole ordeal at this point and just let it go. But no, it only made me want to know more. What did Lewis build in there? Was it dangerous? That's a stupid question, of course it was.
We dialed the police and told them that we believed Lewis was a danger to himself. They sent someone over to check on him, but it was a short visit. They left him a card in case he needed to talk to someone. I assumed it was a suicide hotline or something. I had my doubts he'd make good on the card though.
One thing was sure though, after that night, Lewis stopped building. He had apparently finished his project, Or maybe he gave up, which ought to have been a relief, but now the building was replaced with more screaming and shouting. Every night, he'd have a new episode. If he left during the day, he would wear long sleeve shirts to conceal his cuts. I knew he had more. He was mutilating himself and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
At some point in time, his house began to produce a new noise. it sounded like a drone. It wasn’t as loud as his building habits were but it was still very audible. This would become the new norm, the new habitual step of weirdness that Lewis would produce and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was. I kept asking Natalie what she thought it was, but she refused to show any signs of interest. Instead she started to accuse me of becoming obsessed with Lewis. I had to let the subject drop because it was driving her insane. She began to suggest we make good on our plans to move, that this neighborhood was just terrible. We had the long term goals of moving to New Hampshire to start having kids, but that was supposed to be a year away, but because of Lewis, she was beginning to think we should prepare earlier. Was my fascination with Lewis really driving her to do that? Was it annoying her that much? Or was Lewis scaring her? Could it be that she was Scared for me, given that my inquisitive tendencies could lead to real danger? I’m sure it was a combination of everything. I didn’t really blame her for it. It was perfectly rational as far as I was concerned. But this couldn't end on a cliff hanger, I didn't have the fortitude to allow it. I had to know what he built. She had to accept that. Well, I hoped she would anyways. After awhile she seemed to let the whole ordeal die down since I stopped bringing it up, and that was good and all, but then one day she looked out the window and let out a scream and pulled down the blinds and moved away from the window in a hurry.
I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that Lewis was being insanely creepy. Knowing her and her mannerisms of terminology, this had to be a step up in Lewis's game since he was usually perceived as "super" creepy. "Insanely" by Natalie's terms of logic was probably three ranks ahead. I looked out the window and realized that her exaggerations were entirely warranted.
When I went to look out, there was Lewis, on his front lawn. He was shirtless, emaciated to the point of looking like a famine victim and completely covered in scars. They cross crossed all over him like tally marks. He stood completely transfixed, looking directly towards our window. or so it appeared. He was wearing a welding mask, so his face was covered. For all I knew, he was just looking down at the ground, but that was wishful thinking since I could literally feel his eyes on me, like a groping sensation. I could see he was holding a handsaw, and that it was dripping with blood. His own blood. Now I saw it, his other hand was covered in a bandage. There was a lot of blood seeping through it. It didn’t take a genius to realize what had happened.
Lewis had sawed off his own finger.
I moved to go out there and talk to him, but Natalie wouldn't let me go. She fought me tooth and nail, arguing that Lewis was way too dangerous. So instead, We called nine-one-one again, but when Lewis heard the siren, he turned around and went back into his house. It was the same situation as last time. The cop talked to him about seeing help and gave him another card. You can't force someone to go to the hospital, right?
The police officer talked to us about it, telling us that Lewis told him he was sawing a piece of lumber and cut himself by accident. When he saw his own blood, he became nauseous and turned catatonic. He said that this would explain his transfixed stance on his lawn. Some people are like that, he told us.
As the cop explained this, we saw Lewis standing on his front lawn, now wearing a flannel shirt. He was even wearing worker gloves to cover his hand. He looked as normal as anyone, but his expression was that same hateful glare as before. Lewis didn't like me, that expression said it all. He wanted to slaughter me like a pig or smash my face in with a brick. Lewis was a private man. And when you stood in the way of that, he would grow resentful.
Later that day, I talked to Jeff about the ordeal with the police. He seemed agitated about it, since he himself hated Lewis as much as everyone else due to the noise of his late night building hobbies. He believed almost too eagerly that Lewis’s episode was him trying to threaten me and Natalie. He said he was going to teach him a lesson the next time he gets a chance. We insisted that he didn’t, that Lewis was totally insane and that things might get out of hand, but Jeff was too headstrong for that. He had been looking for an excuse to go after Lewis for a long time now.
That chance Jeff was talking about came around dusk, the following day. Lewis went outside again, he wasn't wearing a shirt and all his scars were highly visible. His hand was a bloody mess since his bandages had been removed. The wound was a flat reddened plateau of dead flesh. He had cauterized his own wound then? How long could Lewis possibly keep this pattern up? He was going to kill himself!
Jeff ran over from across the street and shoved Lewis to the ground. He didn't even so much as defend himself as Jeff proceeded to shout at him. Jeff was an old time conservative type, a large man with a lot of pride. His prime years in the service had given him the fortitude and warrior attitude that could dominate a weaker person with so much as a simple look. That was Jeff. Lewis was like a bug by comparison, small fries to a tough guy like him, and yet Jeff hesitated when Lewis got back up and glared at him. He was giving him the same exact look he's grown accustomed to giving me. Jeff didn't like it at all. He reached out and decked Lewis square in the jaw and sent him spinning to the ground as his glasses arched into the air.
No Jeff, you don't know what Lewis was capable of! If he was so callous about hurting himself, I can only imagine what he was willing to do to others. They say when you corner a fox…
I saw Lewis pull a large hunting knife out of a holster attached to his belt. That was it. Against Natalie’s protests, I ran outside to try and stop it from escalating into something truly ugly.
As I got out there. Jeff had his hands up, Lewis held his knife out towards him. "Y-y-you want to t-t-take it from mah-mih-me? I d'don't ask for m-m-much. I’ll fah-fah-king kill ye-ye-you-" that's when the cruisers skidded in. Ten minutes later, we were all in cuffs. As it turns out, Someone was watching the whole ordeal from indoors and called the police to report it. A domestic disturbance, I believe was what they called it. The whole thing felt just like an episode of cops to me.
Well, I was let off, since I wasn't really involved, Jeff was loaded into a police car and was going to be charged with assault. The cop told me that he saw this coming, what with all the noise complaints and what have you. When they saw Lewis's hand, they insisted they get him into an ambulance as his hand was looking gravely infected. I didn't think he'd actually agree, but he did. He got in the ambulance and they drove off. I was actually really happy to see Lewis get in that ambulance. With all that the guy was going through, perhaps he could get the help he desperately needed. If they deemed him as a threat to himself and to others, was it possible that they could institutionalize him? I hoped so. Despite the fact that he was clearly a lunatic and very dangerous, I felt very sorry for the man.
The commotion died down and everyone went back inside after talking about Jeff for a half hour. As I made to go back inside, I looked back towards Lewis's house and saw that his door was slightly opened a crack.
The curiosity was unbearable. He wouldn't come home tonight. There was no way he would. For all I knew, he wouldn't be back for weeks. All I had to do, was take one look.
"What are you doing Bill?" Natalie asked knowingly as I watched his door. "You better not be thinking what I think your thinking!"
"Aren't you curious?" I asked defensively.
Natalie crossed her arms sternly, "not even in the slightest, and neither should you! The man is a mess, and I think we've had enough trouble with the law to last a lifetime. Don't even think about it!" She went inside.
Looking back at the door, I gritted my teeth. It was right there. Whatever he was building, whatever he was doing to make himself collapse into this madness, it was there. No more obstacles, nothing to stop me. I cursed under my breath and went back inside. This was going to haunt me, and I knew I wasn't going to sleep a wink that night.
Along comes three in the morning. I was in bed. Natalie was snoring lightly, and I was just losing my damn mind. I had to know. I found myself thinking that this was a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity. If I let this one go, I would probably spend the rest of my days wondering "what if" I mean, all that noise, all that building. How could Natalie not understand?
There was nothing for it. I'm probably the biggest idiot I know for giving into it, but I was just losing my mind over it. I crawled out of bed as slowly as I could, so as not to wake up Natalie, and threw on my shoes and coat, grabbed a flashlight and went to Lewis's house.
When I got there, the door was still ajar. I could actually feel my bones rattling in my body. Was I really doing this? I mean, if Lewis found out, he'd slit my throat, and if Natalie found out, she'd probably castrate me. Everything was just exploding with signs of this being a horrible, HORRIBLE idea.
Then I remembered all of the noise he made. The droning, the episodes that drove him to cut his finger off. I took a deep breath and walked into Lewis's house.
There were no lights in the first room, just furniture covered in plastic wrap. The air was musty, untouched by any form of ventilation and smelled stagnant and filthy. The layer of dust through my beam of light spoke volumes about the sanitation of this place. The floor’s reddish carpet was torn in several places, probably from having heavy scrap metal dragged across it. I could see nuts and screws scattered everywhere. I saw blood on his wall. It almost formed Iike a hand print. The means in which that happened seemed obvious to me. It has to be his own blood from when he cut himself. I pressed on, deeper into the house.
The next room appeared to be a kitchen and dining area, but it clearly wasn't being used for food preparation or dining. It was more of a hoarders exhibit. Magazines and news papers, stacked upon one another in the fashion of waist high columns. There had to have been at least twenty stacks. Some toppled over and made the floor impassable, and the dust that settled on everything was very thick. And there was blood, dried blood all over most of it. I had to believe that this too was all recently shed from Lewis's self destructive tendencies.
There was a chirp from a room over that sent my heart into my throat. Was that a bird? Lewis mentioned a bird before, or rather expressed his concerns that something could fly out. Lucia, I recall him naming it.
I saw that there was a poorly cleared path leading to a door with a knob caked in dry blood. That was where the chirping was coming from. That was where all of that noise was coming from. Whatever Lewis was building, I knew it was in there. I could barely breath for the thrill of this, was it really thrill though? It had to be. My blood was rushing behind my eyes, the thought of figuring out what he was building in there momentarily eclipsed every thought regarding the irrationality of my behavior.
"Failure" a voice said in there. "You must be punish." I knew it was the bird. That was Lucia. Lewis didn't seem the type to keep parrots, let alone teach them to say things, but then maybe he inherited her along with the house from his mom. It was difficult to say. "Disgrace" it continued. It didn’t seem as if Lucia had anything nice to say, and what she said, she said frequently, as in every two or three seconds. It made me very uneasy, these lines, these grossly deprecating expressions. This could on some level explain the nature of Lewis’ way, given all the negative reinforcement he receives from his uh, parrot. Well I guess that’s debatable. But still, who trains a parrot to say this kind of stuff?
I grabbed a piece of newspaper off the ground and used it as a napkin to shield my skin from the blood on the door knob. I didn’t want to touch that. I’m sure Lewis didn’t want me to either, it could be why he never bothered to clean it maybe. More likely, it was just plain apathy towards personal hygiene, either way, it was a health hazard for sure. I turned the door handle, which screeched as the rusty insides of the door mechanism pulled the latch back. The noise was distinctly unpleasant, but the sound of the parrot was worse.
Sensing a presence in the vicinity, Lucia began to screech and chime insults. “Dropout. Gambler. Piece of Shit. Piece of Shit. You must be punish. Punish. You must be punish.” She was fluttering around the room, apparently outside of her cage. I looked around, trying to find her, but it was too dark, and my beam just couldn’t pinpoint her. The voice, the flapping of the wings, the screeching, that weird beeping noise it made, I could never get a good look at it but, it sounded vaguely familiar. “Piece of shit.” It said innocently. I put a finger to my lips and muttered a vain shush. Though there was no Lewis here, the presence of something terrible seemed to somehow pervade the vicinity. “Disgraced our name. Piece of shit. Disgraced our name.”
The room was larger than the others I had been in thus far, and there was something about the quality of it…The rest of the house was dirt poor, but this, this wasn’t a house. Not anymore. I could see pieces of where it used to be a house, broken walls, pieces of door frames, and jutting floorboards, doors themselves, but aside from that, this room looked more like a cave than a livable area. It was painfully large, larger than it should have been, but that was on account of the fact that it wasn’t just a single room. It was the whole rear side of the house, all the rooms walls and floors were knocked down to turn it into some kind of grand room.
I looked towards the center, and saw that the floor was torn out and the rock bedding of houses foundation had been smashed through. This would explain the pickaxe and the jackhammer. The dirt beneath was dug downwards, ever downwards. I could see water down below, and I could feel the humidity of it clinging to the air in here. There were bars of metal attached to the sides of the pit, were these supposed to be tunnel frames? Was he actually trying to turn his room into a mineshaft? I could see a pulley system dangling from where the frame extended to the ceiling, and down into the water below. There were buckets everywhere, some filled with dirt, others murky water. And in the center of the pit, three steel makeshift pillars that rose outwards towards the ceiling of the house, even cutting through it. Did their peeks breach the roof itself? Would that have been noticeable from outside? I never thought to look. I could tell that these were several steel beams wielded together to make some kind of super column, but they weren’t pretty. The crudeness of it made for a harrowing display, like some kind of twisted piece of art.
“You make me sick,” the unseen bird continued. It smashed into something that I couldn’t see. I heard a large piece of metal fall down on the other side of the room and hit with a slam loud enough to wake the dead. I felt my body cringe at it. These acoustics were like that of a cave, or a cathedral, it exaggerated everything. “Disgrace” it repeated over and over again. That echo, I had to remind myself I was in my neighbors house and not in some ancient tomb in some far away land. “Failure. Drop out. Cost our future.”
“Shut up,” I whispered, as I traced the metallic pillars with my light. I could see that there were wires snaked around them, dozens of them, thin copper and silver wires that connected to speakers that were mounted up and down each pillar unceremoniously. There had to be dozens of them. What were these? This pit, These three pillars rising out, this was what Lewis was building? But what was it? Were those speakers the source of that weird windy static noise I was hearing? What was any of this? Damnit, this was supposed to make sense!
I was ready to just declared this bust and go back to my house and pretend that none of this happened. Lewis was crazy. That was good enough for me. But then I Shined the light towards the rear of the room and saw something repulsive, frightening beyond comprehension, but repulsive never the less. It was a corpse lying on a hospital stretcher with unlit candles surrounding it. This thing, it appeared to be mummified and preserved, but not untouched by decay. The skin was like leather, and the skull was practically visible throughout half its face. The eyes were empty, revealing the hollow sockets within, its lips retracted to reveal a toothy skeletal grin, perpetual and frozen in time. It was curled in a fetal position on the stretcher. I could see that it wore a dress. I knew that dress. In spite of the discoloration and deterioration of the fabric, I knew that pattern. It was Sara’s favorite dress, the one she got from Switzerland. I remember how happy she was so happy to show it to Natalie. It was the one with the blue patterns that were mildly floral in appearance. She wore it as often as she could.
“Gambler. Dropout. Cost our future. Disgrace.”
Lewis, what have you done?
Every fiber of my being began to scream inside me. This is not for you. Ignorance is bliss. Get out. Get out now. Natalie is right. Move to New Hampshire, leave this behind. Let somebody else solve this mystery. It’s not for you! You don’t need this. GET OUT!
“You must be punished. Piece of shit.”
I heard a door slam open somewhere further back in the house, a moment later it slammed shut, followed by heavy breathing. Lewis was home. How did he get back so soon? He wasn’t suppose to come home this soon, they were supposed to commit him! Hold him there over night, wasn’t it not obvious that all his injuries were self inflicted? Wasn’t it standard procedure to detain someone who was openly a danger to themselves? Put him on suicide watch or something? Why would they let him go back?
Foot steps, oh god, he’s coming. I shined the light around, frantically, searching for something, anything. I needed a place to hide. I needed a door that led outside. He had to have a backdoor right? He had to have one!
“Disgrace. Piece of shit. You make me sick.”
My light found a door, YES! I made to run towards it, trying not to trip over the tools scattered around the floor, the buckets filled with water, the chains and pieces of metal hanging from the ceiling that I didn’t notice when I first came in. I’d be able to get out undetected. That was all that mattered to me, the only thing I cared for. I could hear footsteps getting louder. He was muttering to himself, I could hear him, his high pitched voice. If he caught me in here, it would have been more than just an awkward experience, I knew in my damn bones it would be a fatal one. I reached the door. It was boarded up. No…NO!!!!
“Nothing. Less than nothing. Save me. Disgrace.”
The doorknob at the entrance began to turn, its hinge screeching menacingly. I turned the light away from it and caught sight of a wheelbarrow leaned up against a wall. The door began to push open, that melancholy creak announcing the diminishing of the time I had left, I shut off my flashlight, immersing myself into the choking darkness.
“Save me. You should have died. Piece of shit. Piece of shit. Save me.”
I bolted towards the wheelbarrow, tripping over a bucket and landing on a shovel which knocked another bucket over and into the pit, landing with a splash. The slam was unbearable. My leg screamed with the pain of the impact, I thought I broke it. The noise of the splash telegraphed my presence to Lewis, it had to have, it was so loud.
“Who’s there!?” Lewis screeched out. He sounded startled, but ready to fight, like a cornered fox, or a territorial bear. I heard his steps as he ran into the room. Oh god, he saw me, I was positive he did, he was closing in on me.
“Liar. Save me. Piece of shit. Save me.”
I couldn’t give in though. I couldn’t let myself jump to that conclusion. I crawled towards the wheelbarrow, clutching to the desperate hope that he didn‘t see me.
“Save me. Save me. It’s your fault. Save me.”
I heard the pullstring of a generator. It revved for a moment, like a lawn mower struggling to start up before the generator died down. I could hear Lewis muttering under his breath. I managed to crawl to the wheelbarrow and raise myself up against the wall, trying to push myself behind it. The pain was so intense. I grunted through my teeth as the wheelbarrow fell over.
“Save me. Disgrace. SAVE ME. SAVE ME.”
The pullstring sounded off again, and this time, the engine roared to life. Hanglights scattered throughout the room began to flicker on and off. I grabbed the wheelbarrow and pulled it towards me. It was heavier than I anticipated. The flickering of the lights burst into a bright and blinding glare, the room was lit, and I was exposed in the light. I saw Lewis, he was looking towards the ceiling, he didn’t see me yet. But he was moving his head around sporadically, reacting to the buckets I knocked over. Just moments now and he would take one look and it would be-
“SAVE ME. SAVE ME. SAVE ME. SAVE ME.”
The wheelbarrow slammed against me, and I crouched down behind it and bit down on my own fist, trying with all my will not to react to the pain in my leg.
“I’m f-fah-fucking trying to, Mom!” He shouted into the spacious room. Was he talking to the bird or the corpse? His tone was clearly reacting to the sporadic words of the parrot, but Sara was in the room too… Did that mean he didn’t see me? “Lucia, stop n-nah-knocking stuff over! What’s gotten into you!?”
So he was talking to the bird, and yet he had just replied to it as if it were his mother only seconds ago. How crazy was he? I could hear him walking around, but I was too afraid to look around the wheelbarrow for fear that he would see me. What I could see was only what the illumination of the hang lights touched out of the corners of the barrow. The room was even more disgusting in full light. There were tools and beer cans everywhere. It didn’t surprise me in the least that Lewis drank. In fact, it made perfect sense.
“I know, Mom.” He whimpered. “I’m trying to fix things. Just let me work. I’m teh-tryah trah trying to f’fix things.”
“They tried to send me to the emergency room. I didn’t quit on you thih-thih-though. They want to put me away. F’fucking Bill. He’s trying to find my wah-whi-wha-They w’wah’want to take it away from me. Why can‘t I just have my p‘privacy”
He went quiet for a long period of time. Even Lucia stopped speaking out, there was only the humming of the gas engine, which was soft and consistent. How long would it stay this way? A dread filled me at the thought. Lewis never left the house. I would have to assume that he stayed in here all the time, doing whatever it was he did in here. I didn’t want to be stuck in here with him, the mere presence of the guy stank of poison to me. Despite the nauseating thought of that, I could still feel myself calm down as the certainty of him not seeing me began to settle in.
“Piece of shit.” Lucia called out before flapping her wings and flying around the room. I heard a thump. She landed on top of the wheelbarrow. So close, and yet I still couldn’t see her. I could hear her beak pecking against the metal. Her talons clacking against the metallic husk of it as she strode across it. Tension took me again, if it spoke, Lewis would look, and this thing only covered me so well…
“I’m not a piece of shit!” He shouted out. “Everyone hates m’me. B’but they don’t give me a chance! I’m g-getting you out of here Mom.” The bird flapped its wings and she flew somewhere else, alleviating me of the thought that the bird was ratting my position out. As it flew away, it started again “Dropout. Disgrace. You must be punish. You must be punish.”
That’s when it occurred to me, why the voice sounded so familiar. Now I’m not exactly an expert on parrots or anything, but I do believe that they can mimic noise down to the tone of a person’s voice, and this bird did sound eerily similar to Sara, Lewis’ mom. The realization of that, Lewis arguing with his dead moms parrot, believing that she was not only alive, but alive through the parrot? It still didn’t help to explain why his dead mom was lying at the edge of the pit.
“N-no, please mom! I c-c-can’t punish myself again. My hand is already infected. They told m’me that it was. It hurts so bad m’mom. They said they would give me antibi-ai-ai-iotics, but I knah knah-know better than to drop out of th’this project. I’ll never disappoint you again. You‘ll be so preh preh preh p‘p‘prah prah‘proud of m‘meh meh me.” I saw him out of the corner of the barrow. He was holding two orange wires. A plug and an extension cord. “I’ll f’find you first, I promise I won’t f’fail.”
“You must be punished.”
Lewis let out a cry. “Please mom, I’m begging you, Let m-me work on the d-door!”
Lewis let out a desperate moan, like a child not getting their way. Throwing down the wires, he turned around and stormed over to something beyond my sight. As freaked out as I was, I couldn’t help it. I leaned out to the side, trying not to put pressure on my hurt leg, and gave myself a better look at Lewis. He walked over to a table in the far corner and hunched over it. He sounded like he began to breath heavily, as if trying to choke back tears, and then with a sudden move he took his shirt off and grabbed a large knife. He looked at it methodically for a moment before regressing back into that hyperventilating he was just doing as he positioned the knife against his chest. I saw him tense up in anticipation.
Holy crap, he was actually going to do it.
He screamed so loud when the knife swung outwards that his agonizing voice seemed to hang in the air long after he stopped. He dropped to his hands and knees and put his head down between his legs. His face was turned directly at me, through his legs I was directly in his line of sight. If he had enough sense left over from the shock of mutilating himself, he would see me.
That, what he just did, looked painful, too painful and I didn’t want him to do that to me. If I stayed in this position, he would be able to see me and then, who knows what would happen. I couldn’t move though. I was too frozen from the shock of it, that and the thought of a sudden movement being more dangerous than remaining static. If I moved, he’d have a better chance at seeing me, but if he looked hard enough, he’d have seen me anyways. I was screwed either way.
Lewis stayed in that position, his face upside down between his legs as fresh blood poured to the splintered hardwood floors. My heart was racing, I could see the pain in his eyes as he stared blankly towards me. I wanted to cover my mouth to stop my breathing from being too loud, and yet that was impossible. After an eternity of waiting, Lewis raised himself back up. The bird was saying things to him, but I don’t think Lewis could hear her. I’m sure that was perfectly fine for both of them, it sure as hell was fine for me. I was sure if he heard her demand he punish himself again, he would, and if I saw him do that again, I would puke.
As Lewis struggled to stand up, he reached and grabbed his glasses. That was a small favor if ever there was one. He didn’t see me because of his glasses falling off when he keeled over. As he did that, I swiftly pulled myself back behind the wheelbarrow. Once again, I heard Lucia land on it and start babbling.
Again, if he responded to the bird, he’d have to look right at it, putting me in harm’s way. The wheelbarrow wasn’t even remotely the best hiding spot. If he looked hard enough, he’d see my legs, and if that happened, his lack of glasses wouldn’t save me this time. This beckoned to question, would I be able to beat Lewis in a fight if he was armed like that? If it came to that, I think I’d be able to, but how could I chance it?
“I d-deserved th’that. I n’n’know, But I can’t do it again. I need to f’find you, Mom, I need to work” he was sobbing, choking on his words as I heard him stumble towards those cords again. The plug and the extension cord. What would those do? For starters, they would answer the question as to what the hell any of this was, but truth be told, I have seen more than enough. I didn’t care what it was, I didn’t care about what it did, I didn’t care about any of it anymore. I just wanted out! Lewis could murder himself in here for all I cared.
But, what could I do? Evaluating my options, I could start by making a run for it. Lewis was injured, so he couldn’t have been fast. No, because Lewis was my neighbor. You can’t just let something like that stew during those awkward morning acknowledgments of one another, provided we even lasted till morning. Plus, he could press charges, and I didn’t need that. I had to wait this out, wait for an opportunity, and maybe slip out unnoticed.
Lewis picked up the cords, he looked at them for a moment, “All they w-w-want to do is t-t-take it away. No cons-s-s-idera-sh-sh-sh-tions for my n-n-needs.”
He plugged the cords in.
I heard a humming noise, like magnets or, I don’t know, a street light hum? It started low, progressively getting louder until finally it was consumed by squealing feedback. As they grew louder, the hanglights began to dim. Static overtook the feedback and then chaos emerged from that static. It was the noise that shattered my entire paradigm. It ripped me right out of my sense of danger, right out of the fear I had for my life, for that of Natalie’s when he was done killing me.
The noise was screaming. They were coming out of the speakers on the steel columns that rose out of the pits, I didn’t even have to look at them to figure that out. It sounded like a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people, screaming out. But these, they weren’t elated over some performance, they were shouting in panic, in pain, these were cries of terror. There must have been millions of them, men women, children, they blended together into this horrible tempest, this storm of pain and suffering whose boarders alone could overthrow entire worlds.
Then it stopped, just as quick as it started, and what I heard instead was a sound like a radio station changing. It was accompanied by the clicking of-what was that, dials? I chanced a look around, and saw that he was standing in front of some fixed makeshift console. This noise was a broadcast, a radio frequency, but to what? To where? Was it Hell? Was it another world? Was it somewhere on the other side of the planet? What was he listening to?
The dial set to the noise of wind. Cosmological wind, that’s the only way I could describe it. It screamed with the fury of a thousand hurricanes, stronger even than the screams. The dial spun again, and I could hear Lewis talking swiftly through the frequency shifts, “Where are you, where are you, where are you!?”
He landed on a frequency that combined the wind, the screams, and new noises. These noises…They were too alien to adequately convey through anything I knew of. In one word, I would describe it as “calamity” I covered my ears, my eyes watered at the sound of it. Whatever he was listening to, it was too horrible to imagine. Like a mass panic accompanied by a catastrophe of such a magnitude. What could it have been? The cries of a nuclear holocaust before the incinerating blast that consumed all? Was this Pompei as Mt. Vesuvius destroyed it? Was this the titanic as it sank? Was this New York as the trade centers crashed down? It was what the idea of Armageddon HAD to of sounded like! What the hell was it!? Was this something that was being live streamed right now? So many voices, So much pain, so much terror. The wind, the roaring wind, it sounded like towering flames, as tall as mountains! Flames that devoured entire countries, so deadly and ominous, the magnitude it implied through its tone alone…Inescapable.
Oh god, make it stop!
And there was Lewis, now sitting on his knees with the light from the console reflecting blue off of his glasses. His knife in his hand, the blade resting on the other. He was massaging the blade against his palm. I don’t think even he realized that it was carving it into him. His expression, inhuman given the friggin' circumstances! His expression!!!!!
Serene. Pure fucking Zen.
This wasn’t a man. This was a creature, a pathetic sick creature, unfit to be left alive. But who would be the one to give this thing the mercy it desperately needed? Not me. I couldn’t even harm a cockroach, let alone Lewis. Someone else could provide that solution. I couldn’t.
Suddenly, the noise intensified tenfold. I never knew my own limit, never really found myself in a situation that put me face to face with my own breaking point, but it was in that moment that I came crashing head first into it. I screamed and flailed, acting entirely outside of my own control! It was physically painful, I could feel my own soul start to rip apart within me. I could feel my own mind dying inside my head, like it was stretching to the point of ripping. Was this what it felt like to lose all semblance of sanity? It had to have been!
I wound up inadvertently kicking the wheelbarrow off of me. The thing, it fell into the pit and when it landed, it hit one of the steel bars and knocked it asunder, causing the whole of the room to flood into a burst of feedback and static. It was loud enough to cause even people who are hard of hearing to cringe, but compared to what I just endured, it might as well have been silence.
Lewis shot up from his serene meditative position and screamed over realizing what I have done. He held his hands to his head and cried out, “MOM! MOM!!!!!!”
The lights flicked back on as the machine powered down. I could see speakers falling off the steel column as one of them toppled over against another, causing that to topple over into the walls of the pit. I looked over and saw Lewis dropping to his hands and knees as he reached for them, trying with some last desperate effort to prevent the situation from transpiring. Then he looked up at me. His teeth bared so hard, I thought they would shatter in his mouth. His face tensed so tightly, I thought his skin would rip right off of his skull.
“BILL! YOU F’FUCKING B’B’BASTARD! WHAT HAVE YOU D’DONE!” He raised the knife and charged at me without a moments hesitation, screaming like a lunatic, “I’M G’GONNA K’KILL YOU, I’LL KILL YOUR W’WIFE, KILL YER FRIENDS E’EVERYONE YOU L’LOVE!”
He jumped on me with impossible strength, knocking me down to my back as he forced the knife towards me, I was certain I was dead. He didn’t look strong, but this strength, what was this impossible strength he suddenly had? I rolled with him on top of me to the left, until I was on top of him. With the gravity of my own weight, I could push the knife away from my face just far enough to free some space to force as fierce a punch as I could into his face. His glasses shattered with the impact, and I felt some of the glass of the broken lens embed its way into my knuckles, but pain was a worthy alternative to dying of course. It only made him angrier though as he forced us into another roll until he was on top of me again. He was shouting something. “You can’t t’take this away f’from me! I d’didn’t ask f’for much! W’why couldn’t you j’just r’spect my privacy!” That was all I could make out before his words broke into a stuttering of indiscernible vows to murder me and everyone I loved. I reckoned I caught some descriptive details about how he was going to do it. They weren’t pretty.
Lewis summoned a surge of fury that gave him the strength to put that knife against my cheek. I felt the tip of the blade stick into my flesh and drag. It was cold, bitingly cold. With a cry of my own I tried to roll again, but Lewis countered by biting my face. Those teeth, this sick monster. I don’t know if it makes any damn sense, but I assumed that he had every disease known to man, and that he was transferring it to me with that bite. the horror of it gave me the adrenaline rush I needed to throw him off of me. He flew through the air and landed in a roll like a rag doll, and then fell into the pit. I heard the splash of water below and gave myself a moment to digest what had just happened.
“I’ll f’fucking k’illl everyone you love B’Bill, I swear to god I w’will!” He went on like that. I put a hand on the place where he bit me and pulled back it back to see it covered in with my own blood. I crawled to my feet, my leg exploding in pain, but able to support me. I limped out of the room, unplugging the generator on my way out, hoping that the darkness would slow Lewis down. I knocked over just about all of the junk in his house as I passed it. Behind me, Lewis kept screaming in rage.
When I got outside, I couldn’t believe the sight of my own house. All of this, so close to my own home. All this, just next door going strong for two years. No, that wasn’t my home. Not anymore. Me and this neighborhood, we were history.
I woke up Natalie that very night and demanded her to pack what she could, and we sped out of that house. She wasn’t happy about it, and damn near divorced me over the whole ordeal. Not just for disobeying her, but because she thought I was insane when I described everything. We did wind up taking some time apart for a little bit, and I had to move to my parents as I managed the selling of the house, which was a long and miserable experience. But when she found out what happened next, we reconciled.
It turns out, they found Lewis three weeks later. He had slit his own throat with a saw. According to the level of decay, he had been dead for weeks. I don’t know if he did himself in on the very night of our confrontation, or if he waited a couple of days for the destruction of his machine to sink in, but when they did find him, he was described as a terrifying sight. Completely covered in scars, several fingers and toes were hacked off, presumably by the same saw he used to slice his own throat. His eyes and tongue were torn out. Apparently the parrot ate them. I didn’t know that parrots were carnivorous, but hey, you learn something new every day I suppose. They claimed that this wasn’t the most disturbing detail of Lewis’s death. No that peach went to the way his corpse was found. He was found embracing the remnants of a horribly decayed and poorly preserved corpse of one Sara Sanderson. His own mother. He had clutched a suicide note in his hand. It read:
I AM A FAILURE. I AM A DISGRACE. I AM A PIECE OF SHIT. I GAMBLED AWAY THE FORTUNE. I DROPPED OUT OF HARVARD. I COST MY FAMILY THEIR FUTURE. IT’S MY FAULT YOU RETIRED IN MISERY. I AM NOTHING. I AM LESS THAN NOTHING. I TRIED TO SAVE YOU MOM. I TRIED TO BRING YOU BACK FROM THE BRINK. I FAILED. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. PLEASE DON’T HATE ME WHEN I SEE YOU. PLEASE. -Lewis Fredrick Sanderson
The local papers, while trying to keep out as many details as they could, simply summarized the entire event as “Strange and Macabre” Well, they weren’t wrong.
Yeah, Lewis was strange alright. To this day, I’m still not entirely sure what he was building in there, but I suppose you can piece the context clues together and generate your own theories. I’m always open to ideas. Just do me a solid, don’t tell me that it was a gateway to hell. I really, really don’t want to believe that.