Vince sat, blood trickling down towards his elbow, with his recently deceased wife lying in his arms; her face pale and soulless. As tears cascaded down his cheeks, he turned to see his two young children who were bound in ropes beside him. Vince’s young daughter, her blonde hair tangled and knotted with congealed blood, was contorted with a gash across her neck; her eyes glassy and motionless. His son was lying on his front, a pool of blood forming around his head and deep rope abrasions looking sore around his neck and wrists; his eyes empty and lifeless.
"Who did this to you?" Vince whimpered, "No! Why couldn’t you have killed me, you bastards?" Vince began to raise his voice, forcing his trembling words through gritted teeth.
The room where he was knelt was dark and eerie, everything was still.
The only detectable movement was a wired, blood covered phone swinging from side to side, knocking against the wall as it did so. The dial tone continuously sounded and broke the deathly silence of the room. Vince was cradling his wife’s cold body, using his hand to pressure on the deep wound on her head, the injury inflicted by some kind of heavy, blunt object.
Moments later, sirens could be heard and dull red lights flashed through the tussled blinds. With a sickening bang, the door flew open revealing a sea of uniformed policemen who barreled through the splintered doorway.
"Sir," a burley officer pronounced, "stay calm."
"Calm!" Vince shrieked, "My family has been bludgeoned…" he trailed off and began to cry again. One week later…
Vince was sitting at a dining table with his head hung wearing a black suit. Looking up, he saw an array of flowers covering the bloodstained carpet where the bodies of his murdered wife and children once lay. The multitude of colours blurred as his eyes filled with tears and his mind flooded with the thoughts of his now broken home.
Dragging himself off the chair, he trudged over towards the make shift memorial grounds that had been created in his foyer and began to admire the heartfelt messages left in the memory of the deceased. Smiling slightly at the messages but with tears still rolling down his cheeks, a family photo on the mantelpiece behind caught his eye.
Inspecting the photograph, he reveled in the unforgettable memory frozen in time. Vince felt something sticky and dried over behind the frame and so turned it around to discover bloody fingerprints on the hooks keeping the backing closed. Intrigued, Vince made his way back to the table and began to open the back of the frame; his eyebrows frowning and eyes squinted. Slowly, he unpinned the fastened back and pulled off the backboard of the frame, which was covered in four smeared fingerprints.
Inside, he was surprised to find a ripped, stained piece of paper with messy writing scrawled across it; drops of blood and splatters of ink covering the paper. Vince couldn’t believe his luck, thinking the message may have been from his wife. This was until he began to read.
"Vince, I must congratulate you on finding this note – an imbecilic buffoon such as yourself being so unintelligible I can’t believe you have a family to call your own… oh, wait, now you don’t."
Anger built up inside of Vince and his stomach began to knot as he read the note, yet, he carried on reading.
"Regardless of the fact you’re not the brainiest, I will leave you one last message… try and decipher it. I will give you your final dose of reality and hope that it will be the key to what you are looking for. Try and use this message to your advantage and ensure you digest the information I am dishing out and you will find the meaning of everything. Good luck, Vince – don’t let your idiocy hinder the chance to find the truth. Lance."
Vince dropped the note, sickened from what he had read. He stared at the message and tried to concentrate on the words but his eyes kept feeding on the signature at the bottom.
"Lance…" Vince scratched his head, "who the hell is Lance?" Vince pondered for a moment or two but then decided if he found what the murderer wanted then he would find out who he was.
Vince picked up the paper and studied each word. Two words stuck out to him – dose and digest. He wondered what connection these words had with the murder and came to the conclusion they were intentionally written to provoke thoughts.
"Dose…" his face scrunched up, "dose… medicine?" Vince’s eyes shot open and he jumped up from his chair, "Medicine cabinet."
He ran through the hallway, slipping on the mat as he did so, and clambered into the bathroom, lunging for the medicine cabinet which hung over his sink. Swinging the mirrored door open, he grabbed bottles of pills and cough syrup, looking at each inch of the packaging.
Until, he saw an orange bottle of prescription pills sitting on the top of the cabinet itself; blood splattered across its lid. He clutched the pot and screwed open the top to discover a small, silver key buried in the tablets. Clasping the key, he ran back into the dining room and looked at the note again.
"Final dose of reality and hope that it will be the key…" he read beneath his breath, "I’ve got you, you god-damned psycho." Vince then looked at the next word, digest. "We digest when we eat food and there is one obvious place food is kept. It’s the kitchen." Vince hopped up once again and sprinted to the kitchen.
Standing in the center of the room, Vince was stuck as to where to begin. Frantically, he yanked open drawers and threw utensils over his shoulder, desperately digging for a clue. Swiveling, he saw the fridge, covered with his children’s alphabet magnets. Written with these, another message read:
Running to the fridge, he opened the door and, to his relief, a large metal box stood where shelves should have been. Dragging the heaving box out, he saw a padlock on the crate, so he ran to the dining table, snatched the key and hurried back.
Shakily turning the key in the lock, he pulled it off the crate and pushed the door of the box up to expose the content. There was a piece of paper, a photo and two objects lying at the bottom of the crate. He picked the picture up and was taken aback by what he saw.
A photograph of himself.
‘Why?’ he thought to himself.
He moved onto the two objects – a knife and a heavy, marble statue. Vince recognized the statue; it was from the mantelpiece in the foyer. Both weapons were covered in blood and Vince felt nauseated with the thought that he was holding what ended his wife’s and children’s lives.
He dropped the objects in disgust.
Lastly, Vince picked up the letter, this time the writing neatly written and the paper clean and crisp. Bracing himself, he began to read the second note.
"Vince, you have done well to follow the little hunt I had in store for you but, you are probably asking why I have sent you on this wild goose chase. Well, I’ve got a little curveball for you and you are oblivious to what I will tell you. You see that photograph I left for you? Well, pick it up and have a good look at it."
Vince did as the letter said, scooping up the picture and staring at himself and then continued reading.
"That loveable face you are admiring is the killer of your family."
Gasping, Vince shook his head but he knew it couldn’t be true – could it? He carried on.
"Since you were a child, you have had schizophrenic meltdowns, without the realization of doing so. In laymen terms, you have two personalities and you are reading a letter at this very moment which was written by you but you have no recollection of writing this or killing your family."
Vince carried on reading, his reality shook and his brain working overtime to get his head around what he had just discovered.
"You got angry, bound your kids and smashed your wife over the head with the nearest thing you could grab." His eyes glazed over, a vivid image of a memory he couldn’t remember living flooding his mind.
"But, the children saw. They kept squealing and crying so you grabbed a knife from the kitchen and sliced their necks. You had silence, a sense of serenity, everything was peaceful."
Flashbacks raced through Vince’s head and his heart began to beat faster and faster as he felt the adrenaline fill his body and satisfy a craving he didn’t know he had.
"I left you this note and hoped you would figure out the cryptic clues I left. That’s Lance showing through, the real you. You are Lance, follow your heart. You hated those brats and that damn nagging wife. Do yourself a favour and stay as the man you know you really are. Vince is gone now, Vince is not you."
Vince looked up and stared ahead into the darkness and then smiled menacingly.