This story is open to some interpretation. I’ve attempted to leave it open as to whether it is Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Psychological, with a couple possible endings.
Hope you enjoy it,
Stepping determinedly over the patches of burning embers smoking at the front of the building, Konstantin approaches the ruined building, nudging the door unsteadily hanging on its broken hinges open revealing the building’s charred innards.
Within, the burnt out corpse of his childhood home awaits him. Kunigunde, he decides immediately, unwilling to consider any other possibility. It is silent but for the strained groans of the desiccated supports, no-one would interrupt his investigation until it was too late.
Entering cautiously, he is wary of the risk of imminent structural collapse but resolute in his need for answers. Blackened and charred, the walls have been weakened but unbroken by the fires touch. What remains can hardly be recognised for what it once was. The moment he passes the threshold he can feel the extreme fear and agony underpinned with pure malicious hatred that lingers.
His throat burns with every breath of the hot air, lingering smoke coils lazily within his nostrils and rests there. Hidden within the powerful smells, another is present. A too familiar mixture of scents tell a grotesque story. Like meat and fat burnt on charcoal, it is suffused with the sulphurous stench of burnt hair mingling with strange traces of coppery, metallic components, and sweet, musky perfumes. Unmistakable, the fire had trapped someone inside. He has no doubt that this had been the goal of the fire.
Idiot and Coward that he is, even Konstantin knows better than to ignore the torment that haunts this place.
Quickly surveying the debris he finds the two unrecognisable burnt bodies, a man and woman. Sascha and Lena, his assumption, the kind folk who had raised them. He didn’t cry for them, he had run out of tears long ago, but he ached, their suffering clear.
They had been protected, of course, but it had moved past times when such attempts might have worked. Placing his hand lightly on his chest as if to support the weight of the delicate chain hung from his neck, perhaps feeling his guilt added to its burden.
He prays they can forgive him for how he used them, Sascha and Lena were far from perfect, but he cannot believe they had deserved this. He whispers that tired mantra to himself again, “It is necessary.”
Drawing a small, clear glass bottle from his pocket, he removes the cap and covering the opening with his thumb, upends the bottle. Whispering a prayer he touches the cool water on his thumb to the foreheads of corpses, with the gentle offering the tormentous atmosphere gradually settles and fades, leaving only the distant hostility.
Rising slowly to his feet, brushing absently at the ashes on his knees, only succeeding in spreading them. Sweat mingles with the soot, creating a cloying layer of filth upon his exposed flesh. He hardly notices however, his focus fully on finding something he had hidden years earlier.
His focus suffers in the heat and smoke, sapping at his energy and leaving him dizzy. Closing his eyes, he conjures an image of his sisters to mind, remembering the last time they had been here together, the location of the lock comes eventually to him. Drained and invigorated simultaneously, he feels his guts twist and shock with cold, but continues to move towards the place they had hidden it.
Hidden inside the crawlspace, the doorway down to the secret place was locked by a special lock. Around his neck hung his copy of the key he shared with Maja’s, they had sworn never to open the door, but repeating his mantra again he placed the key in the lock, turning it is met with an audible click.
Raising his hands, palms face down, he whispers the words that open the second lock.
“It is necessary”
He feels the second click which carries no physical sound, accepting the key phrase. The secret place now opened for what should be the first time in years, his determination falters momentarily.
He battled with his choice in the final hour, before turning back would no longer be an option. They locked the door for a reason, his thoughts so obvious he may as well have spoken them aloud, Maja had understood the danger, she had convinced him to lock the door and now it was her absence that had driven him to return. He could either trust in Maja and walk away, or press on and take responsibility. Deep down Konstantin is a coward, he had already broken his promise by opening the door and this is why, in the end, he came to join me in the darkness.
Within the secret place proper, the door slams closed behind him. I can feel his terror rise. A pure, animalistic panic overwhelms him as he struggles with the door, screaming and pounding on it with everything he has. For a moment I savour his reaction, I understand the futility of his struggles better than anyone, the door will not open.
“Welcome home brother,” he freezes, the touch of my voice almost having been forgotten, “I missed you.”
Filling with dread he turns back towards me, the fear he feels for me somehow even greater than of being trapped here forever. His relief palpable at the sight of my restraints.
Idly I wonder if he can feel my emotions as clearly as I can feel his. In him fear, uncertainty and guilt rule, but I am calm. Whether he understands or not, soon it will become clear.
“Where is Maja?”
“Not here, brother,” I answer, as soft and soothing as a snake.
“But you know.”
It wasn’t a question. If I could, I would have smiled, “How could I? I am trapped here, you and her made certain of that.”
“Don’t lie to me, Kunigunde.”
I remain silent, he knows I cannot lie to them, less deny them. Not restrained as I am. He still believes I started the fire. Even now, with me as I am, he fears me.
I hate him for that.
Poor fool. He knows I cannot lie, he knows I cannot leave, he knows I did both. I don’t care to follow at his pace, so I continue.
“Why did you and Maja lock me down here, brother?”
Confusion. He never needed to be smart, Maja liked him better that way.
“You were dangerous!” he exclaims, truly believing it, “The things you did to that boy…”
I remain silent as he pauses, expecting me to speak. He needs no further guidance.
“God, do you think it makes me happy to keep you here? What choice did we have? You were stronger than us, you did horrible things. When Maja told me what you’d done, I could hardly believe it.”
“Why did you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why did you believe her and not me?”
He has no answer. He’d always feared what we could do, and feared me because I hadn’t. When Maja told him I was evil, he had been all too willing to believe her. Together they ambushed and trapped me here.
Hot rage fills me. Because he was too much of a coward to even face me, I had been trapped in this purgatory for years. I loathed him.
But we were together not. Brother and sister, trapped for eternity in the dark. He looks at me like I am insane, perhaps he can feel my emotions. My glee must seem like madnes to him, but he has never hated someone like I have. In time, I think he will.