Mutilated. Crypt of the Seven Angels

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Translator Natalie Lilienthal

© Natalie Yacobson, 2021

© Natalie Lilienthal, translation, 2021

ISBN 978-5-0055-1587-2

Created with Ridero smart publishing system

Prologue

The blade slid on the skin, and there was a pain: a sudden, cutting, burning. Claire frowned and put aside the knife. The pain was stronger than usual, but the visions immediately retreated. The mirror in front of it became empty, only tiled walls of the bathroom reflected in it, her own clean, similar to the angelic face, assembled in the tail golden curls and the bleeding cutting wound on the elbow. Traces from several already healing cuts remained near the shoulders. Good angel! Claire crookedly grinned and immediately became serious. In the angels there is something mystical. The innocence is not so beautiful as the mystery, hidden in them and the debt of the cruel roaring other people’s sins. What is good here? Not only in the fallen angels, but in the real, some kind of cruel, inexplicable power is hidden. What makes them so attractive. And what makes people, externally similar to the angels, get involved in their own fears and even implement them? Something fascinating is how the blade dissects the skin, as some people are applied to the bottom of the razor blade on their own toungue or skip the skin from the lips. For the last she would not have decided. Scars remaining in her body, you can hide, putting the jacket. The blade cannot be touched her face.

Claire touched with finger tips the last cut, and the pain burned even more. But the vision is disappeared. She wanted to make a certain demon inside her consciousness to keep silence, and he kept silence. For a while! As long as the pain becomes less strong, and then he will return again and she knows how to stop him. The knife always lies near the mirror and there is her blood remaining on it. But in the mirror itself reigns emptiness.

Where is the face that she has recently seen? An attractive, charming, with nothing comparable face. Claire stretched her hand and touched the mirror. And where is the face with scars? A terrible mask from the stripped skin and cuts. Claire with disgust turned her back on. Where is the one she loves? Who is he? What awaits her on his way, where does he keep her so diligently? She did not see his scars now, but others will see: those whom he will kill tonight. And no one will even understand that these people died not by chance, but thanks to him.

«Donatien!» She called. It was the name that she gave him herself, she took it from some boulevard novel or a second-class horror film, which she was looking in the childhood. Nobody knew this name, even he himself, unless he was looking at her through the mirror. What if this name is his own? Who is he really? Mutilated or beautiful? But for some reason his name in her memory remained under the importance of mutilated. Claire knew nothing about the evil spiritss, but he appeared, and she had to learn… until everything remained a lot in secret. He came increasingly, and only the pain scare him. Her pain. But the pain of other people he even enjoyed. Why did he not want to make her suffer? Scars have already been a lot. On her body will soon be no living space. Does she ever touched the blade of hers face? Only in case of extreme need. In the meantime, the demon disappeared. It is only worth calling him a demon, because in fact he is something much more terrible.

Chain of victims

Month before

There is morning in London. Together with it came the usual noise of traffic and people hurrying to work. Claire didn’t like bright sunny rays. She was not used to getting up early. Recently the night began to attract her. If it was not for business, she would not have risen from bed.

So it all started. Study, work, thoughts about classes… Everything was mixed in a solid cocoon of the usual and annoying routine. She did not wait for something unusual today. The most unusual thing happened to her was an early rise and a cup of coffee at breakfast. She did not want to tear off her head from the pillow, but the stack of sketches in the folder was waiting. Claire has long been going to take her work on the studio. Today’s morning was suitable for this. She needed money. And the idea of returning to the University didn’y like her. Claire hated studies. She was not allowed to comprehend systematic sciences. But creativity brought her a small profit. She was enough for her. Even quite. Clair got used to live modestly. The only luxury that she possessed, perhaps, was her face. People often accompanied her with delighted glances. Not often you will see something so beautiful in the middle of the usual urban fuss. Clair was accustomed to her beautiful appearance so much that it was not for her the special gift of heaven. Up to this day! Today she realized that everything could change in one moment.

There is nothing stable in this world. Even wonderful things in one minute can turn into ashes. The same rule applies to people. They are also easy to destroy, as some museum rarity of the Renaissance’s era. And only a terrible skeleton will remain.

Claire was tired and sleeping. The tram was half empty. She sat on a double seat and leaned off his forehead to the window. The travel ticket lay in her pocket. The smell of hot dogs and mustard tickled the nostrils, but Claire did not feel hunger. Maybe it only seemed to her that a thin aroma of freshly cut roses was mixed to the daily smells of perfumes and sweat of the crowd. Absorbing eyelids, Claire presented to herself this rose, just cut into any magic garden. Someone’s fingers squeeze the stem, and suddenly blood appears on the spikes.

It looks like her ordinary dreams! Claire with difficulty opened the eyelids. How bad do not get enough sleep in the morning! She forced herself to be held on the seat and look at the melted urban landscapes.

London is a nice City. It is so calm and good. The proximity of the Thames does not inspire a danger. And there are no prisoners in Tower today. And yet… somehow is it too quiet today.

Claire looked at her beatiful reflection in the window glass. She looked great. Only today, some shadow flashed in the window. As if someone else’s reflection was laid on her own. And although the seat close was empty, Claire turned around. Nobody. But she was almost sure that she sees someone…

Suddenly something similar to the solar strike occurred. Claire did not even expect this. The tram made a stop, and a couple entered the wagon. The most common teenagers are in appearance, but she even almost dropped the folder with sketches. Yes, what about her? These people… She had previously seen a couple, but this… The girl in appearance was the most common with a mouse tail and a nonsense makeup on her face. Claire could not tear the eye from the boy. What is it in him? In this guy? She didn’t even like him. However, something in the bend of his eyebrows, in the lip lines, even in a slightly female laid hair seemed vaguely acquaintances.

Effect similar to shock! On one moment Claire lost a sense of time and orientation. Even when the couple came out from the tram, she still felt herself bad. The time as if stopped. With difficulty Claire turned around. A new boy immediately attracted her attention.

Clair caught his breath. She felt as if she had just appealed to the statue. Pain! That’s what she was covered by the form of an unfamiliar young man. The pain piercing like a knife. Pain like a strong sunlight. But why? After all, it was not love, and not a passion, and at the same time, the head was burning like fire. Claire covered eyelids to cope with it. The face arose in her mind remains beautiful only a moment. Probably, this is her own pain, playing with the memory of the joke. A beautiful face burned like on fire, covered with scars and injuries. Claire has become scary.

She has an excellent imagination. It was that allowed her to paint. She knew how to invent characters and plots for drawings, which no longer succeeded anyone. However, now the fantasy was at nothing. Probably, insomnia affected. Non-sleeping people always become the most impressionable. As well, drunk. Or taking drugs. Claire, fortunately, belonged only to the first category. But she heard about visions that are pursued by drug addicts. Today’s vision was like it. It was worth covering the eyelids, and she saw the face of an angel in the fire. She preferred to draw more relaxed plots: fairies and elves in the garden, Undines and mermaids in the lagoons, Leprekhuns on flowers. Fabulous plots were intermitted with the pictures of nature and bright exotic birds. Claire loved to imprint on paper something beatiful. In her works there was no mystics. Anything ominous! It was her main principle: only please the eye, and not scare the viewer. Taboo on any sinister hints! But today she suddenly wanted to break all the rules. Take and draw something so terrible that it scares everyone. As her own, a beautiful face was frightened, which is gradually covered with burns and scars.

Danger to sleep on the go. Everything can continue anything. Claire did not want to destroy the usual stereotypes, and yet the fingers themselves reached for a pencil. She just had ten minutes to the desired stop and several clean paper sheets for sketches. It is necessary to try to spend time that remains for the trip. The tram moved smoothly along the rails. She tried so much to reproduce exactly the person saw in the crowd, that she almost missed the desired stop.

She was lucky to sell all the work and even get an order to illustrate several magic fairy tales at once. She has never been so lucky in her life. Firstly, it will be necessary to draw on her favorite topic, secondly they will pay her well. Claire has already received an advance and was going to sit at dinner in some cafeteria. She just looked through the most pretty building among street eaters when her gaze again attracted a passerby.

 

The stranger seemed to look at her and at the same time he looked somewhere past. Oh God, he is so beautiful, flashed in the head, as if a prayer. Hows so beautiful boy can be alive! It’s a place for him, nor in London, but in some palaces of Italy or France, in the museums, among the gallery perfect sculptures… Yes, something like that can meet there. But only not here. Not on the passerby part of the street. Claire almost screamed, noticing that some bus moves right on him. But the young man did not pay attention to the transport stream. He looked back at Claire. Now it is for sure. His blue eyes flashed like a blade in the sun. Claire did not even have time to carefully consider his features. They collapsed like paper under the head of fire. Literally! Here it is harbing his skin and burns, here are terrible cuts of depth to the bone, here poisonous ulcers eat forehead… and nothing remains from beauty. Only a terrible mask of the Russian Academy of Sciences. But it’s still he! The one who attracted her attention is like an angel from heaven. The one for another minute ago was so strikingly distinguished by its beauty from a nondescript crowd. And here it is mutilated.

Claire wanted to scream and could not. The lips did not obey. In the throat, it was stuck cold com. She saw a stranger of all instant, and here it is no longer. Is it really stamped? Maybe yes.

The girl was tired of shuffled, turned around and went away. Itself is not knowing where. How strange that the imagination plays with her such jokes.

However, the noise on the next street were not imagination. Something happened. The pillar of a peaceful street, according to which she just passed, did not speak anything good.

Claire with difficulty squeezed among the people. She did not really know what happened, just saw the chips, felt the smell of something burning from the charred bodies, which were hidden on the stretchers of Sanitars. Before the corpses wathered in cellophane bags, she still managed to consider that the people of the dead turned into terrible masks from the bones, burns and wounds. Nobody recognized them. But Clare recognized. She was rushed into the eyes of bizarre bracelets on the hands of a dead guy and a skirt of a teenage girl. According to the signs, this is the same couple that she saw in the tram in the morning! But how can it be? They hurt her with their appearance, and in the evening they are already dead… It looks like a work of the demon!

«How?» She herself did not notice that she said it loud.

«Neon sign caught fire, there, at the top,» someone from the idle onlookers standing next to her, helpfully suggested. Blissful! He did not even understand what she had in mind. Claire looked at the wreckage of the signboard, as on her own catafalque. Why should this have happened that she turned her close attention to those who were doomed? Could her wish to get rid of pain killed them. Pain, which arose like a flash, at the sight of these people.

Labyrinths of dreams

Claire recalled her today’s conversation with the employer at the studio. He praised her. In her works there was something new and unusual. Even when she painted on the same topics as others, she did it with some amazing novelty.

Claire did not like when she was praised, so she did not listen, but she studied the paintings hanging on the walls. They were beautifully combined with purple lambrequins. There was no contrast, only the fusion of gold frames and luxurious tones of a wall sheat. Her view attracted one picture written in a terrible Gothic style, but with elements of the Renaissance era. It dramatically stand out among the landscapes and still lifes. «Remember the death» – as if her plot reported. If it were not for the terrible elements of the painting, then it could be adopted for the ancient museum exhibit.

«Who is it?» Claire asked, nodding on a terrible portrait. Her lips almost did not obey.

«Who do you mean?» A polite question is slightly amazed. Is it not immediately visible. After all, a canvas with a portrait so stands out on a monotonous background of other paintings that decorated the walls.

«Aristocrat with a skull,» Claire brought her hand to her throat. This man squeezed in his hand a knife. There was a dead beauty in a luxurious old outfit in the corner of the canvas. The pearls crumbled around the corpse. The same as her. Claire has on the throat fine pearls of a thin necklace, which she almost never removed. She always liked pearls.

«You know, you need to start drawing in the Gothic style,» noted her tenant, it seems he was in a hurry to push her to something. «Now it brings a lot of profit and benefits. Fashionable direction,» he glanced at the portrait. «Death and beauty! Just what is required by the public for the severity of sensations.»

«I’ll think about it,» Clair promised. In fact, she thought about something similar for a long time. In her room hung reproduction of gothic paintings. Beauty and death really attract when they are presented in a uniform combination. And of the fact and the other equal: and the magnificence, and horror.

Claire was looking for contrasts, collecting at home and wonderful things, and scare away. Tragic masks moved on the walls with luxurious Venetian. Antique mirrors reflected the skulls from shops, where they traded with whiskers and lush paper roses. It is the contrast of bundes and luxury created a strong effect. It should make this effect in her work. It will not be difficult. The fairy tales, which she illustrated, will become only a transition to something more ambitious. The fabulous basis itself was already becoming a link. In her pictures, the gnomes kept their gold among human skeletons, the trolls carried severe heads of the princesses in the bags, the fairies in cemeteries drank blood of mortal knights. Even the most beautiful fairy tale must be something terrible to make a proper blow to the perception of people. The work of art should be unforgettable. Claire fell asleep with these thoughts.

Venetian masks from the walls watched her sleep. Shadows ran through the picture overlooking the bridge of the sigh in Venice. Claire often regretted that she was not there. She was drawn to the channels. Today she dreamed the noise of water, the drying of the silk curtains and the sharpness of the blade. In a dream, someone raised the knife to her neck, reconcile to cut or the skin, whether the pearl necklace with whom she did not part. Either one or another… Claire sighed in a dream. A hand with a blade was burned. So horror!

The girl woke up. It was night. Claire even regretted that she did not turn on the desk lamp before bedtime. The room was so quiet and dark that goosebumps running on the skin. In addition, it seemed to her that someone sits nearby. Right on the edge of her bed.

Satin bedspread slightly stretched under whose weight. Claire dropped her hair strands from her forehead and stared in the darkness. The fact that she could see seemed to her continuation of sleep. At the bed, someone sledged, as if dwarf. He had a manner of an evil gnome, even though figure and had a giant dimensions. Almost everything, except for hands and face, hid a cape, the same black as the darkness around. One thing was impossible to distinguish from the other. And yet, Claire managed to see that this man was strongly maimed. According to his movements, according to his deep sighs and convulsive gestures, it was possible to decide that he had just left the chamber of torture. But now it was impossible to be called him the victim. He longed for blood himself. Claire wanted to shout, call for help, but she could not. A hand with a knife leaned toward her shoulder, as if playing, spent the blade on the bending of the neck. The knife did not wounded until, but the chill began, in contact with the lively flesh, caused the feeling of intimacy of death. What a brutal game! True! And Claire for first glance regretted him for how he was crippled. It is a pity that it did not prevent him from hurting other people.

How is he just penetrated into the house? Does she forget to close the door? Or is the window too low above the ground level? Why did she not occur to pick up the windows with lattices? Someone could get here through a balcony or reveal the window through the unclosed file. If only before it is not a creature of sleep. Claire was waiting for what will happen next. The knife froze at the pearl necklace on her neck. The stranger looked at her as if he was waiting for something. Some kind of recognition. He asked if you would remember me? But she did not remember. Even if she saw him somewhere on the street among London’s beggars before, she could not remember him.

He waited, the blade froze on her throat, and suddenly his voice came: a hoarse and dry, as if escaping from the labyrinths of sleep and grave land.

«You can’t even imagine how valuable: have beauty,» he whispered and the blade, caress, touched her cheeks. «In untouched form!»

He intentionally stressed the last words. All the moment and he could displease it, having kicked the blade along the cheek. All was in his power. She will not have time to dodge. And even if she has time, she does not break out of his hands. Claire has shovel breathing. One moment will solve her fate. Whether she will have to die immediately or live further, and covering the cheek with the scar. Before that, she really didn’t think that it was valuable for a person, that his face was intact. One wave of the knife could change everything.

But the hand with a knife did not make any sharp movements. Claire felt like a chill of the blades distinguished from her, like the man who was sitting next. If only this miserable similarity could be called a man.

«Wait!»

But he has already gone into darkness. Claire did not hear a sound of steps. She felt like a nightgown clenches from the shoulders. The knife managed to cut lace straps, but did not touch the skin. All things in the room also remained intact. Although there was a lot of valuable things, the attacker did not take anything. He only wanted her. Her face. But for some reason not touched. Claire instinctively touched her cheeks. There are no scratches on the skin. And yet frost sobbed to the bones.

Who was this night guest; High, but hitched, like a dwarf, the whole dark, but covered with a ball of bloody scars. The guest with a knife! He brought his knife directly to the bed of Claire, but, leaving, left on the bed, not a blade, but a red rose. It was not difficult to guess that the rose was in her garden, and someone’s blood remained on the spikes.