Maledictæ Puer Persistit
By Martin Bolton
I was five years old when I experienced my first insidious impulse to murder.
I can still see my reflection; a chubby-cheeked pup, his vast, ocean-blue eyes gazing back at me as they undulated on the rippling bath water. Innocent, crystal clear pools of aquamarine. One moment uncorrupted by darkness, incapable of malice, untouched by the storm. The next, devoid of remorse or pity.
Something spawned in the depths.
My mother had called me into the bathroom and I ventured forth into the tranquil steam where she lay soaking in a hot bath. For the first time I noticed her distended belly.
“Look, darling,” she said with a content smile, one hand gently rubbing her bulbous abdomen, “your little brother’s in there.”
I placed one fat, dimply paw on the side of the bath and peered over at her quivering bump. She took my hand gently in hers and placed it flat on that towering pink dome, and within I could almost feel him squirm.
“Can you feel him kick?” she smiled.
My life had been a sunny day, a stroll through endless meadows, wild flowers, the drone of bees, and the song of the lark. In that moment dusk assailed me and the moon shone stark and unforgiving. The colour drained from my heart and the soft lines of spring turned to hard black and white. The breeze that once brought the scent of honeysuckle fled from the shadow, and my sinister intentions took monochrome form. A dark and brooding stillness settled upon my soul.
Thus began a series of ill-fated attempts on the boy’s life. Each more ludicrous and ambitious than the last. Each driving me deeper into the black, infinite chasm of suffocating rage. Each making me ever more determined to destroy him.
I was just five days away from my sixth birthday when he slithered from the confines of my mother’s womb. Little did my parents know of my grizzly designs on the boy when they placed his gangly purple body in my lap, his giant head lolling and his spindly arms and legs aimlessly waving in the air. His semi-translucent hands opening and closing as though he knew he was in the clutches of his would-be killer and so vainly reached out for a firm grip on his fragile life.
Even then he missed no opportunity to taunt me.
My first doomed foray into infanticide was a disastrous attempt at poisoning the boy’s milk. My jubilant visions of chaos and pain and the screams of agony sadly were not to materialise. When I went, exulting, to check on the fruits of my labour, expecting to find a chubby, pallid corpse, bulging eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, I was bitterly disappointed to find the boy in perfect health. If anything, I had succeeded in improving his mood. The cursed boy proved to be quite impervious to any toxicant.
The subtle approach not proving to be my forte, I reconsidered my strategy. Perhaps a systematic campaign of cruelty and violence would be more effective. I would have to wear the boy down over time. If I had known then that this would only result in me sustaining several broken bones, extensive scarring and, at one stage, a humiliating carpet burn to my face, I would have continued with the more clandestine methods.
As if to further insult me, the boy came away from every engagement entirely unscathed. The most galling such episode occurred in the summer of 1991. I had awoken to a bright, sunny day in high spirits, having resolved that the boy would meet his demise soon. I spotted my opportunity when my mother left the vacuum cleaner unattended. Despite the severe burns on my hands, sustained in an earlier attempt to flay the boy on the radiator, I seized the vacuum cleaner’s electric lead. I would throttle the boy whilst my mother was busy performing one of her menial tasks in the bathroom and make it look like a tragic accident. I couldn’t fail.
But once again that confounded boy was inexplicably one step ahead. As I approached him with the lead gripped firmly in both fists, I realised to my horror he had picked up the other and was swinging the plug about his head and giggling that innocent giggle. The giggle of an angel-faced demon.
I tried to take evasive action, circumventing the lethal prongs, but the boy was deceptively quick. With a flash of blinding light and a lance of searing pain through my eyeballs, I found myself prone. As my vision cleared, I focused on a sight that will haunt me for as long as my spirit lingers.
The boy, gazing down at me with a vacant, snot-smeared grin, still clutching the length of flex, the blood stained plug dangling.
As I lay on my sick bed, my hair matted with clotted blood, plotting a further assault on the boy’s existence, I was assailed by the memory of the day I was consumed by a single, all encompassing desire. It smites me even now like a jagged fist. Not because my life has been a relentless campaign of homicidal incompetence. Not because my memory consists of nothing but a hapless string of bungled attempts to sate my one overwhelming hunger. Oh no. One thing only serves to torment me.
The boy! The cursed boy persists!