“This isn't natural,” I could hear Seamus say. “We have to let him go.”
“From what I seen of that wagon, anything you have to do with is a far cry from natural.”
I didn't recognize the second voice; it was gravelly and worn. Old sounding.
“What are we going to do, Doc?” that was Molly. I could smell her perfume. She sounded worried.
“We should let him decide,” The unfamiliar voice said. “That's why I done this. He ruined my Shelly's chance for revenge, he should make up for it. And dish out a bit of his own.”
“I think he's awake,” Felix now. “I saw him move a bit. And I think those glasses are glowing a bit.”
Everything hurt. My vision was messed up, everything was tinted red, and my body felt sluggish, like it took awhile for my limbs to listen to my brain. I reached my hand up to cradle my throbbing head and my hand felt like it was still encased in the dead-priest-flesh glove. I tried to shake it off but it wouldn't budge.
“Take it easy, Titus,” Seamus said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “I need you to listen to me.”
I tried to reply, to tell him that I always took it easy or something, but my lips wouldn't move. It felt like they were stuck shut. I raised my hand up. Even through the other skin I could feel the stitches sewing my mouth shut. I think that was when the claustrophobia kicked in.
I bolted up and heard a chair clatter away from me. Turning, I saw that the old man who had hit me in the face with the shovel was standing behind Seamus, Molly, and Felix. The bastard was actually smiling.
“You're all sealed up, son,” he said. “Don't bother checking the rest of you, there's a lady present.”
I wanted to ask him what the hell he meant, but I couldn't talk. So instead I decided to throttle him. I started making my way to him, hands balled up into fists, but Seamus stepped between us.
“Titus, calm down. Take a breath.”
This made the smug old man bark with laughter. Seamus rolled his eyes, like he just realized he said the wrong thing. Molly took a step forward and took my shoulder. A look of pity crossed her lovely face as she gently turned me around to face a full length mirror.
I looked like a monster. Or rather, more like one than I usually did.
I was still in my clothes from the night before. Fresh burn marks singed my long coat and my pants were filthy. My best shirt had seen better days as well. But it was my face and hands that looked wrong.
The gloves had been sewn to my hands, rough black thread had been used and it didn't look like whoever had done the sewing really knew what they were doing. A pair of Seamus's tinted glasses had been placed over my eyes and I was sad to see that those had been sewn to me as well, thick leather flaps obscured my peripheral vision. The same seamstress had taken to my mouth as well- jagged black lines held my lips together. Dried blood oozed from the holes.
“I almost let you die,” the old man growled. “Hell, you killed what was left of my daughter, I figured it would be justice. But I couldn't let that rat-bastard Darryl Whitcomb send another poor soul to Hell. Or at least, not yet.”
“He sealed you inside your body, Titus,” Seamus said sadly. “You were dead. He did something that trapped your soul in your body. It's like he turned you into a ….”
“A haunted house,” Molly whispered.
Seamus wouldn't meet my eye. Did I still have eyes?
“The man who did this to you,” the old man continued. “the one who killed you, also killed my daughter. And as near as I've been able to tell he's killed at least a half dozen other women as well. He's a madman, though you wouldn't know it by looking at him.”
“Titus, we can fix this,” Seamus said. “We can put you to rest. You don't have to stay like this. You shouldn't stay like this. I don't know what this man did, so I can't know what it will do to you. This could damn your soul. For eternity, Titus.”
“He'll kill again. And again. I'm too damn old to stop him, but I can free those who he's wronged to take their revenge. What's it gonna be, boy? You gonna give that bastard what's coming to him?”
“We can take care of this, Titus,” Seamus was pleading now. “I promise you, we can bring this man to justice without you. It's time to let go, old friend.”
It was a good thing I couldn't talk - I couldn't think of a damn thing to say. Do I die and let that murderer go on killing? Do I let my friends put themselves in harms way? Or do I damn myself and make sure the job gets done right?
There was only one way to answer any of those questions. I turned back to the mirror and gave myself another once over.
Turned out I didn't just look like a monster, I was about to become one.