Chapter 9 from the Ama audiobook
“They didn’t have the one you liked, Zo, so I got this one instead. The guy in the shop said it’s similar. Cost a bit more, but hey, if I can’t treat my lady once in a while, the grass won’t grow.”
Jason stood next to the large widescreen television in his old living room. He watched as his unknowing past-self walked through the archway and into the room, waving a bottle of wine like a white flag.
“You’re too fucking late, you stupid bastard,” Jason said to his doppelgänger. He was speaking to the mirror image of himself, but he felt hate for the man waving the bottle of wine like a fool. “The grass won’t grow? Zoe was right, you’re a useless loser.”
Zoe sat on the leather sofa, gazing through the living room window, her blood-soaked hands gripping her knees. Lilith sat next to her, a wild smile beaming out from her face while her cold eyes observed the frailty of the human condition.
“Shit… What happened, baby?”
Jason watched himself run across the room to Zoe.
The doppelgänger dropped the bottle onto the small coffee table next to the sofa. Then he took Zoe’s hands into his own. “Oh God. What have you done?” He turned her hands over to check her wrists.
“It’s not mine,” she said, looking at her husband’s face with a quizzical expression.
“Not yours? Whose?”
“I’ve made it better.”
“Where’s Emily, Zo?”
“Emily.” Zoe spoke as if pronouncing a new word for the first time.
“I’ve made everything new again. Like it used to be.”
“What have you done?” The doppelgänger dropped Zoe’s bloodied hands and ran from the living room, shouting for his daughter. “Emily, baby. Where are you, Angel?”
Jason remembered how, after running from the living room, he had gone straight to the kitchen. His mind replayed what he had seen that day, as his doppelgänger spoke the words.
“No… No, baby. Oh God, no.” Jason remembered the blood on the kitchen floor. “What have you done?” He had followed the bloody smear on the floor to the side door. “Call for an ambulance, Zo. Call a fucking ambulance!” He’d followed the bloody trail out through the kitchen’s side door and then seen the blood splattering on the side of the bin, realising the trail ended there. As he’d gazed at the bin, the possibility of what might have happened was a thought he dismissed. Why would Emily be in there? He opened the bin.
Lilith’s obvious excitement increased. She slid forward to the edge of the sofa and looked across at Jason. “Now it’s time for your monster to show its head.”
Helpless and dejected, Jason replied, “Yes, I know.”
Lilith’s smile widened, as she scoffed, “Civilised beings? Millennia come and gone, and the only conclusion I can come to is that your kind should have stayed in the trees.”
Jason didn’t respond. He was replaying the past event over and over in his head, remembering how he had pulled his dead daughter’s body from the bin and brought her into the kitchen. He had placed her on the floor and tried to revive her, tilting Emily’s head back and choking down tears as he felt the pieces of broken skull move under her skin. He put his lips to hers and blew. A second later he pulled his head back; a web of saliva and blood still connected father to daughter.
“Call for an ambulance!” he yelled, while pressing down hard on Emily’s chest in a rapid succession of four bursts. Was it four or five, or was it ten? Fuck! “Call someone, Zo, please.”
Jason and Lilith listened to the sounds of deep despair emanating from the next room. Zoe seemed to hear nothing at all—her mind appeared to be detached somehow, as she looked out the window.
Lilith leaned her head back and let out a delicate sigh. Then she turned to Jason. “Oh, how wonderful it is to taste your pain, but it’s not enough.”
A moment later, Jason’s doppelgänger stood in the archway, tears falling from his face, hands shaking and stained with Emily’s blood. He lunged for the phone, jabbed three numbers into the keypad and slammed the cordless receiver to his ear. His words came fast. “Ambulance! Yes… My daughter… She’s killed my Emily, my daughter, she’s… Oh, God, my Angel. What do I do?”
“Never mind that,” shouted Zoe, now on her feet and glaring at the doppelgänger.
He spun round, dropping the phone.
“Did you get the garlic?”
“Did you get the fucking garlic? I see you bought wine, you pathetic alky, but did you get the bastard garlic, you shitty little fuckwit?” Zoe let out a hysterical laugh, spitting at him as she expressed her deranged levity.
“She’s dead, Zoe. You killed our little girl.”
Zoe pushed past and headed for the kitchen. The doppelgänger fell to the sofa, next to Lilith, who looked at him with excited and studious eyes. The doppelgänger leaned over and picked up the phone again. He had just put the receiver to his ear—the operator was talking but all Jason heard was his own confusion—when Zoe returned to the living room, a six-inch kitchen knife in her hand.
“Our daughter is lying on the kitchen floor, did you know that?” Zoe asked. “She’s dead, you bastard. She’s dead and you killed her, didn’t you? And you’re not having another one. You can’t make me have another…”
Her words trailed off as the living room walls lit up blue, coming from the pulsating lights of the police car parked outside. The police told Jason, later that day, while interrogating him and discussing infanticide over tea and biscuits, that a neighbour had watched Zoe bundling Emily’s lifeless body into the outside bin. The neighbour had then called the police.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
“Police, come to the door.”
“She’s got a knife,” an officer called to his colleague, as he peered in through the window.
“Go round the back and check the bin,” the other officer replied.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
“Come to the door, now. It’s the police.” The sound of breaking glass followed the police officer’s call as he smashed the small window in the centre of the front door.
The doppelgänger grabbed the bottle of wine from the coffee table and then stood up. Without a moment’s pause and with no consideration for the knife Zoe held in her hand, he swung the bottle at her head. It slammed into her left cheek but didn’t break. The blow sent her sprawling to the ground as the knife flew from her hand. It hit the back wall and fell behind the sofa. He jumped on top of Zoe. As he knelt astride her legs, he smashed the bottle against the frame of the archway. Red wine and shards of glass erupted from the point of impact. He held the neck of the broken bottle, placed his left hand on her chest and leaned down hard, pinning her to the floor. Then he held the broken bottle to her face.
“Get in there quick,” the police officer at the front door shouted to his colleague while he reached in through the small broken window, fumbling for the latch. “Jesus, get in there.” Unable to reach the lock, he removed his arm from the hole and landed a heavy boot against the door.
The doppelgänger removed his hand from Zoe’s chest, grabbed a handful of her long hair and yanked her head to one side. His right hand tightened around the neck of the broken bottle.
A distraught voice came from the kitchen. “There’s a young girl here, she’s… Her head… It’s crushed.”
The officer at the front door called back. “Get in there quick, for fuck’s sake!” He landed another heavy foot against the door.
Another police car screeched onto the scene of family breakdown.
Jason watched with unrepentant eyes as his doppelgänger rammed the broken bottle into the exposed neck of his wife, severing her jugular vein. Blood sprayed out from the wound, splashing the sofa and walls with deep red streaks.
Zoe coughed blood into her husband’s face, and then asked, “Why would you do that?” She coughed up more blood. “Now you have nothing.” She reached out with both hands towards his face. He released his grip on her hair and then let go of the bottle, leaving it embedded in her neck. He looked up at the police officer who had appeared in the archway.
Jason watched as the officer rendered his doppelgänger unconscious with a ferocious kick to the head, the officer’s boot catching him on the chin and whipping his head backwards.
“And that’s that,” Lilith said.
Jason moved towards the archway, stepping over the spread-eagled and unconscious body of his past-self, then crouched down next to Zoe. He observed for a moment as the officer worked to try and stop the blood still pumping out through the broken glass in her neck. Jason’s gaze moved to her wide, searching eyes. He leaned in closer and spoke clearly and slowly, “I’m glad you’re dead, Zoe.”
Zoe’s eyes stopped searching the room and locked with his. Then she whispered, “I love you.” She had a terrified expression as she lifted her hands and reached out to grasp for something that wasn’t there. A few seconds later, her hands fell limply to the floor.
The police officers and Jason’s doppelgänger vanished into a cloud of vapour with a wave of Lilith’s hand. Jason stood in his old house with his dead wife and daughter, alone, except for the company of Lilith, who appeared to be happy with the bloody mayhem that had just played out before her. He watched as she perused the carnage with excited interest. He wondered how this creature could exist; why would God create such a thing?
Lilith: a creature without pity, remorse or compassion. A demonic entity, frivolous as she plays with life and death, who seems to have unrestrained dominion over both time and space, with capricious disregard as she travels from here to there and now to then. The fabric of existence her open playground to do with as she pleases, without the weight of regret to give her pause. Pure and unequivocal evil. “I call legions of demons to heel,” she had said, and Jason could see no reason to doubt her boast. The queen of all demons now stood in his living room, a bright smile beaming out from her face as she looked down at his dead wife’s body. Why would God create such a thing as Lilith?
“What are you?” he asked. “This… This pleases you?”
Lilith looked up from Zoe’s corpse. “The genocide of millions or a simple family slaying, both are sugar upon my tongue. Yes, Jason, this pleases me.”