Chapter Thirty

Paris, 1947

Madame Claire was afraid to move. She had learned her lesson. Move slowly, wait for the pain, and if it came, move in a different direction. Let it guide you. Don’t speak. Ever. Point and smile. That was allowed. So was eating. She had managed to feel no pain since she entered the restaurant. It wanted her here.

She did not know why she was here, but the pain had driven her right and left and forward until this was where she ended up. Where it wanted to go. Avoid the pain, she thought.

The pain had started two days earlier. She had been in the garden, pruning her April roses, which had just begun to bud. Monsieur Leblanc, the postier, had come through the white iron gate and stood behind her.   He did not greet her, but she noticed his shadow over her. When she turned, she saw his face, racked with pain, and blood creating a puddle by his feet.

His only words came then, “Je suis désolé”, as he collapsed.

She had seen a shadow, a blur, then felt pain. It started at her back, but quickly consumed her from top to bottom as she writhed on the ground.

Since then, it had all been about training. Her training.  If she moved the wrong way she felt pain. If she didn't sit when it wanted her to sit, she felt pain. She had quickly learned to do whatever didn’t cause pain. Her mind was her own, but the pain controlled her body.

She had picked up the phone to call an ambulance and the pain knocked her to the ground. A few hours later she tried again to call her granddaughter for help and she had passed out from the pain.

She stopped going near the phone.

She looked at her back in the mirror and saw the shadow attached to her lower back. A demon, she thought, I have been possessed. The demon made her turn around and walk closer to the mirror. Just a little pain on her left side had made her spin as if she were twenty years younger. It had then nudged her closer to the mirror. Pain shot up her right arm until she touched her face with her fingers. Then little pangs as she searched her own face for the spot he wanted. The pain stopped when she reached her right eye. The pain intensified again until she was pushing on her eyeball. Tears streamed from her eye as she was forced to press on it over and over.

She had nearly gone mad.

When it forced her to do the same with her left eye, madness was no longer a question.

As she sat at the table in the café, she waited for further instructions patiently, and impatiently
for death. The bill arrived and she laid down the Francs to cover it. She got up gingerly, expecting pain to stop her, but none came.

She walked out of the little café and nodded at the gentleman who had helped her with her coat. She wished she could scream her troubles and have him help her. Instead, she walked out into the dimming Paris night, and took a right, hoping that she had guessed right. The night was cooler, and she buttoned her coat all the way up. She headed home.

Octavius watched the Madame shuffle by, left a twenty Franc note on the table, and placed a red cravat loosely around his neck. At the street he took a right and hurried to remain thirty steps behind his chosen sheep, his cane tick-tacking against the sidewalk. The tingle in his throat had now traveled to his fingertips and his scalp. He breathed in deeply, trying to calm his mounting excitement.  He knew this was the feeling he lived for, more than any other, and his gait became care-free and rhythmic, a wolf on the prowl.

Ten minutes later the sheep stopped and appeared lost, and Octavius pretended to arrange his cravat on a store mirror. The lady seemed to wobble a little and then took a right onto a walkway between two brownstones. Octavius looked at his reflection on the glass and gave himself a knowing smile.


Madame Claire panicked as she failed to understand what the demon wanted. It was not leading her home. She was uncertain what it wanted, and she knew uncertainty lead to more pain. She sharpened her senses to perceive any inkling of pain so she may respond quickly. She could not take the pain anymore. Halfway down the alley she has been forced to take, she suddenly felt the pain that meant STOP, and she obeyed immediately.

She froze, and awaited its next instruction.


Octavius turned the corner and saw that the old lady had stopped, her back turned toward him.
He felt for his Kappmesser knife, previously owned by a Nazi paratrooper, and found the hilt sticking out of his belt on the left side.

He was nearly in a trance now, elation mixed with the excitement of the kill. The knife was thirteen-and-a-half inches when extended by pressing the gun-like trigger mechanism. He had spent hours sharpening the knife before each use, and hours
after cleaning it .

There would be no need for polite talk. This sheep was plump and weak, and ready for slaughtering. He pulled the knife out and closed the distance to the sheep in a few quiet steps.


The pain made her turn and she saw a man approaching her, a knife held in his right hand high above his head. She had time to think she recognized the face before the pain at her back turned excruciating and her knees buckled, landing on the street’s rough cobblestones. She felt wetness pour down the back of her legs.

She looked at the man, who had stopped coming forward, and saw confusion cloud his eyes.

“Je suis désolée,” she whispered, and was glad she would never feel pain again.

funny bunny says:
09/08/2007, 06:45:39
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Me says:
10/27/2007, 13:33:53
Este e o novo método de comentar...
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01/21/2008, 04:36:22
This rocks...
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