In the two years I'd spent tracking Darryl, I spent a great deal of time going over the journal that Clive had given me when he died. I no longer held any illusions that Clive had been a good man. In fact, I came to learn that he had been a downright evil one. The journal not only laid out how Clive had gone about sewing my soul up in my own body, but also outlined all of the despicable things he and Darryl had gotten up too.
I pulled the journal out now and looked at it. On the outside it looked like a ordinary, battered leather book. Inside, I knew, it contained a treasure trove of horrible knowledge. Rituals and procedures that could change the very fabric of our reality. It was evil, sure, but it could also become a powerful tool for justice.
Not even thinking twice, I tossed it into the fire I had started. The flames ate it eagerly and flared into new life, illuminating the cavern I had dragged myself and Darryl into. I reached out pulled out a fiery stick, used it to light the fuse that ran to the charges I had set at the mouth of the cave. As it hissed and sputtered, racing along the cavern floor, I leaned back and finally let myself rest. I couldn't help but smile as I looked over at where Darryl sprawled on the other side of the fire.
He looked like my twin. His mouth was loosely sewn together with silver threads, dark glasses fused over his eyes, his nostrils plugged with wax. The only differences were that his stomach bulged out from what I had stuffed in there during the ritual and that my soul was slowly leaking out of me from where Darryl had shot me.
Like I said, I spent a lot of time over the last two years studying that journal.
The sound of the detonation was what finally woke Darryl.
“Where am I?” he muttered, his had hand reaching up to touch the stitches that loosely held him HIS mouth shut. A thick cloud of dust wafted up the tunnel and swirled around us, causing the fire almost gutter out. Darryl looked at it and saw the journal burning. “What are you doing? That book is priceless!”
He slumped back against the wall, his face a mask of agony.
“Wow,” I said mildly, feeling weak as I finally began to let myself go. “A book getting destroyed brings out more emotion from you than a person meeting the same fate.”
“Look, we can work this out,” Darryl spasmed, grabbing his stomach. He looked down at himself, his hands tracing the outline of a rectangle that jutted obscenely out of his skin. “What the hell is this? What have you done to me?”
“This whole time I been hunting you,” I said, “I've been worried about one thing. What to do with you when I found you.”
Darryl frantically grabbed at himself, finding more obscured shapes and angles under his crudely sewn skin.
“I knew I was going to kill you,” I continued, watching the thin blue tendrils of my soul flow out me and coalesce near the roof of the cave. “that was a given. But what kept me up at night was a nagging question. 'What if there ain't a Hell?'”
“What have you done?” Darryl screamed. “What have put inside me?”
“That right there,” I said, pointing at the rectangle, “is a jewelry box. Belonged to Theodora Hughs. You killed her in Abilene, sliced her throat and left her in an alley.”
Darryl began to panic. It was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen.
“I really had to work to get that crammed in there,” I continued. “I finally lodged it in next to a silver hair brush that Emily Kline had been fond of in life. It's also wedged next to a pocket watch that belonged to Miss Ellie Mae Cramer.”
The spirits began to flicker into the cave, adding an eerie blue tinge to the orange light of the dying fire.
“I had to fit a lot of stuff into you, Darryl,” I said as I faded out. “It was disturbing, sure. But worth it. So worth it. You see, I like the idea of Hell. The idea that evil men get tortured for their sins, that the folks who they've killed or wronged get some justice. But I couldn't bank on it.”
Darryl began to shake, his body twitching and jerking. He whimpered as bruises began to appear on his skin. I watched as one of his ribs suddenly broke and stabbed out through his flesh, only to be rapidly pulled back inside, the hole closing up behind it.
“I figure I managed to stuff the precious belongings of about two dozen of your victims in there with you. Two dozen angry spirits to keep you company and make sure you don't get bored. Eventually you'll die, your body will disintegrate and you'll be free to cross over to whatever lies beyond. And who knows, maybe there is a Hell. If so, I'll be seeing you then, Darryl.”
The sounds of his screams were like music as both the fire and myself finally had the good sense to die out.