He shivered as the raging wind tumbled into and shook his body. He wasn't cold. He had familiarized himself with the sharp bite of the frigid air, his hands that wore their numbness as a crown. He was shivering with the overcast guilt and dread that bred on his chest, an old, scarred snake that hissed over and over again, “What have you done, boy?”
“I don't know what I just did,” he frantically tried to say back, “I didn't want to do it,” but the snake merely hissed in disappointment, it's beady eyes pooling with a sharp bitterness and agony that stung him deeply. His legs seemed grounded in a drunken coma, stumbling and toppling over each other callously. He was stuck in the confinements of his empty mind, a fuzzy light blanketing his head, flickering on and off.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he whispered as if the trunks of trees and the roar of the wind might hear him, "I did it for Grandpop."
The scratchy voice of the aged snake clawed its way back into the little boy's head, choking his ears with the honeyed venom that dripped off its forked tongue.
"You killed an old man, boy. He could've been a grandfather, like your own, and had an eight-year-old grandson he promised he'd meet today. His grandson might still be looking out the only window of his pitiful house, his breath painting the glass, his hands cold and stiff, waiting. His clear eyes would turn violent and rain, and he would cry onto the windowsill, through the night and into the morn, until his little hands froze and his body slumped-"
"Stop! No more!" The little boy screamed, his hands crawling up to his neck and tightening around his throat. But the snake didn't listen—it grew mightier, pulsating and slapping his head.
"You did this, boy! You killed the old man, his house and joy and grandson. You shed and dried his blood upon your hands as the tears of his grandson spilled upon the windowsill. Tell me, boy, is this wrong?"
Tears slid through the cracks of his eyes as heavy rain poured down from the sky, drenching the boy's body as if it were saying, "What have you done, boy?"
Unbeknownst to the agitated little boy, a shadow slowly stalked towards him, steps tranquil and firm. It stopped three steps behind the boy. The boy was a dirty rag doll, thrown on the edge of the road, torn and abused. The shadow's smooth edges refined into a harsh outline of a silhouette, then the broad back of Cain. Cain wet his lips, then opened them.
"The handle of your knife's sticking out of your coat, son. You might want to cover it."
The little boy staggered back in shock and relaxed his crushing grasp around his neck. The pale flesh flowered with streaky rivers of ruby and azure, holy hands held by ones of a sinner. He gasped and his breaths moved briefly and quickly, chest moving in a pacifying rhythm.
Cain softly smiled, and the little boy seemed to relax a little more.
"I know you killed the old man. Your hands shook as you stabbed it—was that your first?"
He looked up with his watery eyes and lightly nodded.
"Did you do it for, money? A vendetta? Pleasure?" Cain's voice was smoky and deep, and it lulled the little boy. He felt safe.
"Money," the boy responded quietly, his voice barely a whisper, "Grandpop needs his medicine."
Cain nodded, slowly, gaslighted rats running through the maze of his head, leaping to safety, yet fleeing from it. In less than an infant's weak heartbeat, a mask crept up to his face. The amiability that hovered over his keen features was thrust away by a cunning grin and a crazed light that crowned his eyes their king, their puppeteer. Darkness and light clashed over Cain's face, yet they were merely his marionettes, ones he could control however he craved, cast away whenever he wished.
"Come with me, back to my home. I'll enlighten you with the beauty of this art—the art of killing. You'll be my student, and I'll clothe you, feed you, teach you. The money you’ll make with me will be more than enough for your family, son. You want that, don’t you?" Cain stepped closer to the boy now, firmly. The boy whimpered and folded into himself. Cain's face was now a few inches away from the boy's face, and he comprehended how daunting and sinister Cain looked, a joker dealing souls, challenging, insane. Cain stared into the boy's eyes, then grinned, unnerving him.
"You can't refuse," Cain's grin had disappeared now, "If you do, I won't turn you in, no, because that's not fun now, is it? I'll chop you into tiny little grains as feed for my pigs, and adorn my bedroom wall with your bloody, ripped head. Every day I'll think about how you could've been such a good student, and I'll pity you, and myself."
The boy's head had stopped struggling from the sheer terror and fear shattering his body.
"I-I'll come with y-you."
Cain's lips curled upward, stood and trudged away. "Good. Follow along."
Cain knew the boy would come running back to him. He had warned him enough. He wouldn't dare disobey Cain, and they both knew what would happen if he did. The boy was a white lamb, wandering grassy hills and basking in the warmth of the sun with no worry nor fear. Cain would be exhilarated to be his first taste of the blood-curdling, pulsing sensation. Cain would show him, guide him to fear, a master to his young apprentice. He would ravish the boy with pain and terror and awe. He would strip the youthful lamb of its wool—skin—leave it in the greedy talons of the savage wind, a rich meal set naked and bare in the open. He would shred him to pieces, make him desperate and wild, weave him around his finger. The little boy would worship him, and Cain would savor the betrayal in his eyes when he butchered him, burning depths of scorned shadows moaning, inviting and welcoming him to their twisted heaven. Cain would watch the raw terror in the little boy's eyes pin him down and drown him into a sea of his sins, eagerly awaiting.
Cain's back waved to the little boy as a sinister simper wove itself onto his face. His steps hastened with every rough breath he drew, exaltation and pleasure dripping from his heels and tainting the soil a dark rouge.
"Keep up," Cain rasped quietly, his back still facing the little boy.
The poor little boy tried hard to keep up with Cain, his stout legs pushed forward and backward, the movings of a machine. He staggered behind Cain, desperately forcing himself to move. A gnarly twig sunk its fangs into the soft flesh of the little boy's ankle, coiling and winding upward, feasting on the claret blood that slipped downward. The little boy immediately cried out and crumpled to the ground, roots and thorns piercing through his short legs and arms. He wrapped his tiny hands around his ankle and desperately tugged at the twig. He pulled and he tugged and he wrenched, yet it was hopeless. He looked to the back of Cain growing smaller and smaller in the distance, and he whimpered with the pain and worry.
"Sir!" the little boy shrieked, his voice wavering with every surge of pain that kindled his ankle.
Cain snarled lowly as he was seized and torn away from the thrilling delirium he had thirsted and hounded for. A glare of irritation flared in Cain's eyes. His eyes glazed over with a veil of bloodlust and madness, his lips slithered higher and higher, an ebony serpent winding around a plump neck. As soon as he turned around, though, the twisted mask on his face dropped. In a single split second, a second mask weaved itself onto his face, this time one painted with worry. He wandered over to the boy with a face set with concern and held out his large, calloused hand. The boy eyed it with a wary glance.
He timidly, fearfully whispered, “Will you hurt me?”
Cain hesitated, then answered.
Cain slashed at the fatty meat of the adulterated body, a spray of red saturating his hair and cheeks. The door dinged, as a customer arrived. An old man stood in front of the counter, wrinkled and fragile, an old clock, it’s arms worn and chipping. The old man glanced at Cain and smiled an old smile. “My usual, please.”
Cain ceased his lips from curling upward in glee and madness as he went to fetch the container of sirloin, the usual order. The old man had started rambling now, the effects of the old age wearing him down. He was a shell of who he used to be, flesh and bones, lacking a soul. The old man quietly struck up talk.
“You know the little boy? The one who usually comes with me? He’s my grandson. Ran to town to grab my medicine, never came back. You seen him at all?” After Cain shook his head, the elderly man sighed.
“Hope the rat didn’t run away. Wouldn’t last a day out in this cold. Strange, where could he be?”
As Cain set down the plate of meat in front of him, he whispered softly, and his voice fell on deaf ears and blind eyes.
“Eh? Come again, son?” the old man hadn’t heard Cain’s whisper. He raised his shaggy bearded face, the skin sagging downward as he stared into Cain’s eternal onyx eyes.
“Here’s your usual,” Cain leered at the plate of sirloin he had personally cut for the old man.
“Ah, thank you. Well, I’ll be on my way now.”
Cain waved to the retreating figure of the old man hobbling out the shabby doors of the butcher shop and his plate of meat, an old tin doll, rusted and crushed, falling apart.
He finally let the rosy sinister serpent resting below his cupid’s brow slither higher, denting into the barren land of his cheek. His eyes clouded with restrained bloodlust, glinted with a crazed longing, one of a heartbroken, desperate fool’s. The controlled persona of his was finally allowed to crawl out of the dark abyss it was chained into, a mad hound in a cage. Another mask, two bloody scars ran jaggedly through each of his eyes, white powder dusted his face, and his lips were drenched in a scarlet red. This was the real him, finally coming to light. His true person, real soul, a gilded ghost hiding the raw pain. And he finally let out a breath, his voice ragged and scratchy. “Where is your little boy, hmm? I wonder,” he giddily skipped toward his hacking saw now, dipped his finger in the blood spewed upon it, and guided it to his mouth. His tongue wrapped around it as the heavy, decadent taste of rich copper flooded his mind, a shadow of euphoria smothering him. “I wonder if this is his? Your little boy’s honey-sweet blood? I wonder.”
And he grinned.
Author Notes: Just to clear up some confusion, the line in the middle of the story is meant to symbolize a time skip. Please tell me how I can make this better--constructive criticism is highly appreciated.