I'd never gotten the chance to meet my mother. She died giving birth to me, sacrificing her life to make mine. There were pictures for me to look at and admire—she and I looked a lot alike—but the only family I had growing up and into adulthood was my father. He was always there for me, even when I pushed him away or pitched a fit.
And as I stood before his grave listening to the priest drone about the passage of life into death, I came to the painful realization that I had killed both of my parents. First I took my mother away from dad and then I led a serial killer to his front door to torture and murder him.
A breeze ruffled my black dress and people murmured to one another behind me. Time was passing but I didn't care. I stared blankly at the grave stone, utterly alone, and wondered if I was going to be next. Would the copycat killer put me out of my misery? I could barely sleep at night. After almost four long months I wasn't making much headway in my recovery.
"Hey… let's go back to my place."
Zoe had approached and was touching my hand. Her eyes were puffy and red and Isaac lingered a few feet away, uncomfortable with all the emotion. A lot of dad's friends had come out to the funeral.
I looked at my father's grave again. What an embarrassment I was to him. I'd done what everyone said was impossible and became a doctor only to have it taken away from me in one fell swoop by a raving lunatic. Seth was the root of all the evil in my life and I had become what he wanted: a silent, obedient victim. I was so traumatized that I couldn't tell anyone the truth.
Not even my dad. He would never know, but I would make sure everyone else did.
Seth was at work—it wasn't exactly easy for a brain surgeon to get time off. I was briefly free from his ominous presence and had my best friend at my side with my father buried in the dirt. One killer was still free but I would be damned if I let another keep treading water.
I closed my eyes and took a steadying breath, letting all my repressed memories and fears wash over me. It was time to stop running. I would have to tell them everything.
"It was Seth."
Zoe frowned. "What do you mean, Genny?"
I could vividly remember him throwing me on the floor of the general population room the first night. He raped me in front of a group of people. My cheek rubbed on the hard, cold floor and his hot breath spilled across the back of my neck.
"Do you remember the night I disappeared?" I asked, gazing off into the distance.
"Like it was yesterday." Zoe shifted closer. "He… he said he brought you home. The police went through his house a bunch of times."
"I was in his basement. He keeps girls in cages and he used to keep men for that creepy morgue tech. Remember David Hanson? They worked together, but Dave was gay and obsessed with Seth. Until one night. One night, Seth asked me to help him kill Dave and I was all too willing."
I looked up to see if Zoe was still listening. Her eyes were wide and terrified and I paused.
She shook her head. "Keep going. Tell me everything."
It was cathartic to relay some of the more mild points of my captivity. I didn't regale her with the gritty details and lightly touched upon the gruesome bits. After a solid half hour of talking I was crying and unable to stop myself, and Zoe was crying too. She covered her face and turned away, running her hands through her hair and trying to get a grip.
"I knew it!" she spat. She was trembling. "I knew it was him all this time but the police said they didn't find anything incriminating. Of course he had a hidden fucking room in his basement." She looked at me again, wiping tears from her eyes. "We can go to the police together. I'll never leave you alone again."
I stepped back. No. There was one more thing I had to do before we told the authorities.
"Wait until tonight," I said. My face was streaked with dry tears that cracked when I smiled. "I need one more night with Seth."
"Are you cra—" Zoe caught herself before her slip and gestured to my dad's grave. "No, this stops now, Genny. It's time to go tell the police and get him thrown in jail where he belongs. I'm not going to stand here and cry over your grave next, okay? I'm done with people dying."
"I need him to feel the pain I've felt. Have the police outside his house at six."
"Genny! Genny, wait!"
She was chasing me but I managed to slip away and get into dad's car. I took off out of the cemetery and barreled down the highway toward Seth's house, shaking with excitement. So what if he got hauled off to prison? That wasn't enough for someone like him. He needed to learn his lesson.
The keys shook in my grasp as I let myself into his house. I was running off adrenaline and hoping it wouldn't fade before I did what I wanted. I slipped inside and made my way to the garage to look through the tools, pulse pounding in my ears. A big mallet caught my eye and I carefully took it down from the rack, turning it over a few times in my hands. Perfect.
I stalked upstairs with the mallet dangling from the fingertips. The sun was sinking over the horizon and Seth would be coming home soon to check on the girls in the basement. I turned the corner in the hallway down to his bedroom, steeling myself for what was going to come.
All was quiet. I crawled onto his bed and set the mallet behind me on the nightstand where it wouldn't be noticed. I was nervous but not afraid. It was 5:30 in the afternoon and Seth was—
"Genevieve? Are you here?"
"Upstairs," I called softly.
His footsteps were heavy. He was tired. I sat with my hands calmly in my lap as Seth entered the bedroom, brow drawn together in confusion. His gray eyes roamed across the room before he began stripping off his scrubs. I smiled vaguely at him, rage boiling beneath the surface.
He shook his head. "They wouldn't give me the time off today but I have tomorrow free. You'll need to go to the bank to have your father's possessions transferred to you, yes?"
"I think so."
"You don't have a guardian now, either." Seth took off his watch, smirking down at me. "If we marry, that situation can be remedied. I'll make sure to pull you out of therapy so you can get back to work and we can live here together with no more interruptions. What do you think, kitten?"
I smiled back. It was stuck on my face. "Sounds great. We'll both be Dr. Morrow."
Seth didn't ask or even suggest sex—he took it when he wanted it. And he was too goddamn preoccupied by his desire to pay attention to the mallet on the nightstand. He crept into bed and on top of me and his mouth was on mine. My body hummed with anticipation as he pressed himself between my legs and I obediently hooked my calves around his waist.
It had to wait until he was in the throes of passion. He pushed my dress up roughly and buried his face in my neck, only pulling my panties down a bit to gain access to the only part of me that mattered. I gripped his back and sank my nails into his skin but let one hand drape above my head. My fingers brushed the edge of the mallet as Seth groaned into my skin and settled into his rhythm.
He made me eat food out of a dog bowl. He sterilized me like I was an animal. He injected me with countless drugs and I could still feel a longing for some of them.
Seth was unfettered evil. He had no reason for what he did. He just liked watching women squirm. And he was inside me, a monster with the same human urges as any other.
"I've been looking forward to fucking you all day," he whispered in my ear.
I closed my fingers around the cool hilt of the mallet. "I'm sure you have."
It whistled through the air and came down almost as hard as the book had on top of Seth's head. All his taut muscles gave way from the impact and he crumpled, crushing me under his unconscious weight.
I wriggled out from underneath him like a worm, still brandishing the mallet. He was moaning in pain, already emerging from the blunt force trauma, but that was exactly how I wanted him. I rolled him off the bed to the floor and he turned over on his back to blink up at me in surprise.
One foot kicked his left arm to the side and I stomped on his wrist. I let the hilt swing in my fingers and pointed it at his face. Seth's eyes were widening as he gained control of himself again.
"You ruined my life," I said. "Now I'm going to ruin yours."
I knelt down, straddling his waist, and swung the head of the mallet on his left hand, making sure I didn't hold anything back. The bones splintered with a satisfying crunch and Seth stiffened and howled in agony underneath me. I pinned his hand down with one of mine and shattered his fingers again and again, aiming to completely demolish them.
"You're never going to perform surgery again," I hissed, panting from the exertion. "Your hands are supposed to be for healing but you tainted them."
Seth was crying from the pain. He couldn't even speak.
I brought down the mallet on his other hand several times to destroy those fingers. They disjointed and crackled from the sheer force and Seth started screaming and thrashing beneath me. I slammed the mallet down until my arms trembled.
"And you're never going to put your hands on a woman again!" I shrieked. "You'll never hurt anyone else—I'll make sure of it!"
Footfalls on the stairs preceded the police but I was in a frenzy. I kept bashing Seth's hands until they poured into the room and dragged me away from him, kicking and screaming. He was likewise yowling in agony and one of the police called for a medic while the others tried to contain me. They ripped the mallet out of my grasp and pushed me down to the floor to handcuff me.
I was brought downstairs to the kitchen and sat in a chair while they swarmed around the house. Zoe came to sit with me and argued with an officer to let me out of my cuffs but he wouldn't budge. I didn't mind. I'd gotten my revenge. I had taken what Seth loved most.
He wouldn't be able to draw, either. He'd lose his license; he'd lost the ten digits that caused me so much fear and loathing. They would never heal properly. I'd maimed him beyond repair.
"Why the hell did you do that?!" Zoe demanded. "He might be able to sue you!"
I shrugged, smiling at the countertop. "That won't bring his hands back."
And the police swarmed through the house, talking about calling the FBI, and while Zoe kept chastising me, I just kept smiling. It was small victory but it was the sweetest I had ever tasted. I was finally free.