Chapter 9: Blood and Tears (Finale)
Kenneth returned to the apartment early morning. He had crashed at a friend’s dorm in order to avoid running into Archimedes after their big fight. He knew he had overreacted and wanted to apologize to get his best friend back. He had realized it was petty to blame Archimedes. It wasn’t his fault that Demelza was into him, and it wasn’t even surprising.
“Silly of me to let a girl come between our friendship” he mused, “especially a girl who never recognized or cared about my feelings.”
He let himself into the shared apartment and noticed that the door to Archimedes’ room was partially ajar. He went straight in and what he saw could not be unseen. His best friend was naked in bed with the love of his life.
Haughty tears sprang from his eyes and he wished the earth would swallow him up alive. He slowly backed out towards the kitchen and took out a clean glass from the cabinet. It shattered in his hand under pressure and bloody pieces dropped to the floor.
Archimedes woke up with a start; his head throbbed with pain. He stroked his temples and gaped as he saw Demelza lying next to him, unclothed in his bed. He sprang to his feet in horror and cursed himself under his breath. He quickly got dressed and fled to a small coffee shop in the neighborhood. His phone buzzed in the back pocket of his jeans; it was a text message from Scarlett.
“Come see me as soon as you get this”.
Scarlett couldn’t sleep all night. She detested herself for the way she had reacted over Archimedes’ proposal. The truth was that she had developed feelings for him too but she chose denial. She never expected him to fall in love with her. She believed she didn’t deserve to be loved after what she had done with William. At the end of the day, she was lonely and had to accept that she needed someone to love.
Demelza deliberately opened her eyes and smiled to herself. She glanced at the other side of the bed and was disappointed to find it empty. She opened Archimedes’ closet and fished out one his shirts. She held it to her face to inhale his scent for a few minutes and then wore it. She checked the attached bath and then left the room to search for him. She ran into Kenneth seated on the living room couch, but there was no sign of Archimedes.
“The walk of shame is it?” he ridiculed.
She ignored his taunt and kept looking around for Archimedes.
“So he ditched you after a one night stand?” he raised cynically.
She glowered at him and advised to keep his mouth shut. Then she disappeared into her room and locked it from inside.
“Thank God you’re here,” exclaimed Scarlett as soon as she opened the door for Archimedes.
He looked terrible and his eyes were bloodshot. She dragged him inside by the arm and made him sit down. She sat across him on her knees and told him how sorry she was for what happened the other day. She pleaded that he forgave her and let her back into his life.
“Do you really love me?” she asked.
“Yes” he replied solemnly, “but now it doesn’t matter,”
Her face fell and she wanted to know what changed. He ruefully narrated the events of the previous night without looking her in the eyes. She covered her face and sobbed, claiming it was all her fault. This wouldn’t have happened if she had been rational instead of hurting his feelings.
“I can’t blame anyone but myself,” insisted Archimedes.
“Was Demelza drunk too?” she brought up after a pause.
“She drove me home so I guess not,” he replied after giving it a little thought.
Kenneth swallowed a few sleeping pills to escape his shitty situation in the real world. He felt humiliated and betrayed; he couldn’t stop picturing Demelza and Archimedes together in bed. It felt like his life was over and he had lost everything that mattered. The pills helped him drift into a profound sleep where he experienced an unusual dream. There was a man who for some reason looked like an older version of Archimedes. He embraced him and told him that he was his guardian angel who had come to help solve all his problems.
“What am I supposed to do?” he asked helplessly.
The man advised him to express his true feelings to Demelza. Kenneth asked what to do if things didn’t work out. He stared at him with his hypnotizing eyes and Kenneth could not look away. The man had him under his influence and every word he spoke was engraved into his brain.
“Punish the girl for rejecting you and even the score with Archimedes because he is the root of all problems,” he spoke grimly.
“How will I do that?” asked Kenneth in a quivering voice.
“Get rid of the girls,” he enlightened and beamed smugly.
Kenneth stammered as he asked which girls he was referring to, although he knew the answer very well.
“The one you love and the one Archimedes loves,” elaborated his dark guardian angel.
“How could you!” Archimedes yelled at Demelza.
She broke down to tears and told him that she couldn’t control her feelings for him. She loved him and wanted him more than anything in the whole world. Kenneth watched the two from a distance, but didn’t dare interfere.
“I was drunk and you took advantage of me!” cried Archimedes, “even though you knew I am in love with Scarlett,”
“She rejected you! I’m the one who’s always been there for you!” she yelled back defensively.
Archimedes glared at her with disgust and let her know that their friendship was over.
“You’re choosing that dirt bag over me?” she demanded in a frenzy.
He told her to shut up, and never again dare say anything nasty about the girl he loved. He informed Demelza that after what she’d done the other night, it was obvious who the real dirt bag was. He hurriedly packed all his stuff, ready to leave the apartment for good.
Scarlett had offered that he stay with her and he had readily accepted the offer. Demelza kept crying and begging Archimedes to stay, until he step out and slammed the door in her face. After he was gone, Kenneth confronted her and tried to calm her down. He explained that what she had done was wrong and she needed to get over Archimedes.
“He will never love you,” he conveyed politely.
“He will have to,” she argued stubbornly.
“Why can’t you love me for a change?” he suggested desperately.
She looked at him as if he had uttered the most absurd thing she’d ever heard. Right in that moment Kenneth revealed his true feelings for her and requested that she give him a chance.
“In your dreams!” she said arrogantly, holding back a pitiful chuckle.
“I promise you won’t regret it,” he pleaded.
“I’ve never even liked you as a friend Kenny,” she said jadedly, “I’ve only even tolerated you because of Archimedes.”
“You cannot be serious!”
“You’ve always been a third wheel. I couldn’t even imagine being with a loser like you,”
Her words pierced Kenneth’s heart and soul like bullets. He’d never been more disgraced and his whole body shook with rage. He attacked Demelza as if possessed by a demon and hurled her at his feet. Then he leapt over her and arrested her neck with his bare hands. She tried to scream and fight back, trashing her arms and legs, but in vain.
His grip tightened around her neck and her flawless ivory skin began turning blue. Within a few minutes, she was gone. Kenneth let go and stared at her lifeless eyes and limp body.
“What have I done?” he cried out in shock, his hands shaking and eyes brimming with hot tears.
He tried giving Demelza CPR and sprayed water over her face, but she didn’t come back. He just sat beside her dead body for some time as tears streamed down his face. He kissed Demelza’s corpse on the forehead and kept telling it that he was sorry. Then he took off to find somewhere he could hide from the unforgivable deed he had committed.
Kenneth called Archimedes in the middle of the night and told him to get to their apartment as soon as possible. Archimedes was half-asleep and yawned wearily; he asked what was so important that couldn’t wait till morning. Kenneth told him that Demelza had tried to kill herself and was in a critical position.
“You need to talk some sense into her,” Kenneth implored.
“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes,” he promised and hung up.
Scarlett was sound asleep, so he softly kissed her on the forehead and quickly got dressed. He made sure not to make any noise and left quietly.
Kenneth saw Archimedes jump onto his bike and ride away in a hurry. He lay low across the building where Scarlett lived; the darkness and shadows concealed him. After Archimedes was gone, he broke into her flat through a window. She was a sound sleeper and barely stirred. He carefully placed a pillow over her face and stifled her to death.
“That was a piece of cake,” he thought to himself.
Adrenaline surged through his veins as he watched Scarlett lying in an eternal slumber. He felt a pang of guilt as he remembered the good times spent with her. She was innocent and didn’t deserve this, but it had to be done to even the score with Archimedes.
Archimedes’ phone buzzed as he got off his bike; it was Henry calling.
“Are you okay son?” was the first thing he asked.
His voice sounded a little shaky and Archimedes assumed the worst because he never called so late. He told him that he had woken up from a bad dream and just wanted to check on him.
Archimedes assured that he was perfectly all right and told his father not to worry. Henry heard the sound of police sirens in the background and got worried.
“It’s probably a robbery in the neighborhood,” said Archimedes glancing around.
Henry was relieved to know that he was okay and gave him his blessings. Archimedes promised that he would come visit soon with Scarlett, which made him very happy. After hanging up, he dashed to the building’s entrance and noticed an ambulance parked right up front. He got a sinking feeling in his stomach, but blocked out all negative thoughts.
When he got to the apartment, the color from his face drained and his legs went wobbly. The place was crowded with people from the police department; it was a crime scene. He got closer with heavy steps and caught a glimpse of Demelza’s ghastly white dead body. He gasped in horror, collapsed to the floor, and fainted.
Archimedes woke up in the hospital and was shortly accompanied by a police investigator.
“I’m here to inform you that we have identified Miss Demelza’s killer,” he conveyed.
Archimedes was confused; for all he suspected was that Demelza had committed suicide.
“Where’s Kenneth?” he cried out exasperatedly, “he needs to know,”
“Our squad is looking for him and hopefully we will catch him soon and put him behind bars,” spoke the officer impassively.
Archimedes thought it was a dream or he was losing his mind. He wasn’t ready to accept that what he heard could be true. He started yelling frantically that Kenneth was not a murderer and that he loved Demelza. A nurse was immediately called in who injected him with a sedative. He tried to get out of bed and escape, but soon everything faded out.
When Archimedes opened his eyes again, he was still in the same hospital bed. This time he wasn’t alone; Henry sat on his right, holding his hand between his. His father looked older than usual and his face was the depiction of grief. Nonetheless, Archimedes was glad to have him there and then he thought of Scarlett.
“Dad, does Scarlett know I’m here?” he asked impatiently, “I want to see her,”
His father’s lips trembled and his eyes brimmed with tears. Archimedes wiped them away with his thumb and asked him if he was feeling okay? Henry told him that they would go visit her as soon as he got discharged from the hospital.
Archimedes stood petrified by Scarlett’s coffin. William was down on his knees right next to him, crying his eyes out. He had been standing still for quite a while, thinking that she looked so pretty and peaceful lying there. He wanted to stroke her cheek and kiss her on the lips, but he couldn’t move.
Her funeral was arranged back at her Aunt’s house in Ohio. Henry took him by the arm and insisted that he sit down. He put an arm around his back, but didn’t know how to console his son who had lost his best friends and the girl he loved. There were no comforting words he could come up with. Demelza’s funeral had taken place while Archimedes was recovering from shock in the hospital. Kenneth had been arrested and sentenced to a lifetime in prison after a quick confession.
Archimedes hadn’t spoken a word since he’d discovered that Scarlett was no more. He broke down at the time of her burial and cried out deafeningly. He sat by her grave long after everyone had left. As night began to fall, Henry somehow managed to convince him to come home with him.
The following day he took him back to Chicago to live with him for some time. Archimedes was in a vulnerable state and he could not leave him on his own. He didn’t want to go back to New York anyway; the thought of it gave him nightmares.
He had nothing left there but haunting memories. He felt nauseous and his skin turned stone cold every time he thought of Kenneth locked up in a cell. He remembered his buddy as being so gentle and warm all the time. He wondered what turned him into a ruthless murderer. Henry did everything he could to console him and stop him from doing anything reckless.
Two weeks later, Henry got ready for his early morning walk as usual. He asked Archimedes to join him but he was too lazy to get out of bed as usual. He pulled the covers over his head as his dad left the house. It was past noon when he finally got up and left his room. He was surprised his dad didn’t wake him up for breakfast after returning from his morning walk. He called for him but all he received was pin drop silence. He checked the whole house but his dad was nowhere to be found.
Archimedes hastily rummaged around his room to find his cell phone. He dialed his dad’s number and heard it ringing within the house.
“Where could he be?” his mind wandered.
He pulled on a pair of sneakers and left the house to look outside. He knew his father’s route as he had accompanied him once. On his way, he asked several people if they had seen him but no one had any idea. He stopped outside the path along the woods and noticed a trail of blood. His heart started pounding and he followed it into the woods.
It wasn’t long before he found a body lying face down in the tall grass. He recognized Henry’s clothes, but he needed to see his face to believe it. He turned him around and placed a trembling hand on his chest; he didn’t feel a heartbeat or a pulse. Henry had been dead for a few hours by then. Archimedes shook him hard by the shoulders and begged him to wake up. Blood curdling screams escaped his throat as he acknowledged that his father was gone.
After a month of therapy, Archimedes gained some emotional stability. Henry’s death was labeled as a “hit and run” case by the police. However, no clues or witnesses were found to identify the car or killer who ran over him. According to Henry’s will, everything he had was left to Archimedes. It was quite a fortune, which included a significant amount of savings other than his house, car and a few estates he had invested in.
Archimedes didn’t want to sell his father’s stuff. He sealed everything and flew back to New York to take care of some things. He needed to complete his education and decided to transfer far away to a place where no one knew him. He went to NYU for some paperwork and quickly became the center of attention.
Everyone was well aware of everything that had taken place in his life. Archimedes didn’t even look his old self. The hair on his head was unkempt and he had grown a beard because shaving was the least of his concerns. He was dressed shabbily and looked like a shipwreck. Most of his classmates were too hesitant to approach him. Some politely asked him how he was doing and offered their sympathies. People stared and he saw them whispering about him.
“He used to be so handsome,” he heard some girl comment.
“Is that really Archie?” he heard someone else say on his way out.
It was Archimedes’ first night in Alaska. The cold outside matched the numbness inside him. He lay wrapped up in a blanket in his dorm room, while he recalled Scarlett moving from Alaska to New York last semester. Thinking of her made him smile at first but sadness followed shortly. He looked at pictures of her in his phone and talked to them for some time. Later, he popped a pill to help him sleep.
He dreamt of Scarlett back in the living room of her studio; he talked to her and kissed her as he did before. They were so happy and in love, but their fairytale was interrupted by a hooded figure. Darkness prevailed and swallowed everything around within seconds, including Scarlett. Archimedes blindly ran around in the shadows calling out her name. The hooded figure snapped his fingers and the place lit up, but now resembled an empty white box. Then he proceeded to unveil his face and grinned impishly.
“Who are you and what have you done to Scarlett?” demanded Archimedes anxiously.
“Scarlett’s dead so don’t fool yourself by inviting her in your dreams,” he scoffed at him.
Archimedes observed the man closely and couldn’t ignore the fact that he looked something like an older version of him. All he could conclude was that his mind was playing tricks on him.
“Are you me from the future?” he asked the man uncertainly.
He produced a contemptuous chuckle and told him to guess again. Archimedes asked for his name and he disclosed that he was the devil’s cousin.
Archimedes looked at him as if he was a madcap. He in return offered to grant a hint, which was that the devil was also his uncle. When Archimedes put two and two together, the answer was simple, but it was silly.
“Wow, I have reached a new level of insanity,” he addressed himself aloud.
“I really am your father,” provided the man, “you can’t overlook the resemblance,”
“That’s impossible and absurd,” declared Archimedes.
“Is it?” he challenged, “think again,”
It all started to make sense. Archimedes possessed the ability to invade people’s dreams, which he could have gained from his biological dad. However, even then it was hard to believe and he couldn’t be sure because he was in a dream after all.
“I’ve come to take you to your real world,” said the man who claimed to be his father.
Archimedes maintained that nothing he said was logical and asked why he bothered to come into his life after all these years. His father relied that he was finally old enough to take over his responsibilities.
“You have nothing left here anyway,” he added cunningly.
Before Archimedes could ask further questions, he revealed that he’d been keeping check on him since the day he was born and impatiently awaited that present moment where they now stood.
“Why did you never come to meet me in person?” raised Archimedes.
“You’ll see me in person too as soon as you wake up,” he promised.
“Henry is my father,” he asserted, “I want nothing to do with you,”
“You don’t have a choice,” the man replied complacently.
Archimedes tried to argue but he silenced him with a hand and instructed that he listen to him quietly. He enlightened him that he belonged to the devil’s family. He was not made to bond with humans or develop relationships with them. Being his descendant, it was his duty to manipulate and destroy people by the use of his power.
“All these years you’ve wasted your gift for getting laid and meaningless crap,” scolded his father, “it’s time I teach you how to put it to good use,”
He criticized Henry for raising him to become a weakling; it was time for Archimedes to recognize that he wasn’t one of them pathetic human beings. He confessed that he was the one to manipulate Kenneth into getting rid of Demelza and Scarlett.
“Yes I am that powerful,” he announced proudly, “and you will be too, as soon as you follow into my footsteps,”
“You’re telling me you’re the one to ruin my life?” yelled Archimedes in rage.
“I even messed with Henry a few times in his dreams, but eventually I had to kill him,” he came clean.
Archimedes woke up breathless and drenched in sweat.
“None of it was real,” he told himself repeatedly.
He helped himself to a glass of water and put on a jacket so that he could go out for some fresh air. As he unlocked the door of his room, he found his biological father standing right outside. Archimedes slapped his own face because he thought he was hallucinating.
His father gave him a hug and let him know that he was actually there for him. Archimedes shoved him off and threatened to kill him if he touched him again. He laughed at him and conveyed that killing him was no child’s play.
“Surrender as there is no escape,” he recommended, “don’t retaliate and waste our time,”
Archimedes lunged at him, but he snapped his fingers and everything went dark. Archimedes was bound to a chair falling through a bottomless pit where nobody could come to his rescue.