Zorakuba wasn’t your average 17-year-old boy. He was odd, very odd, in both his appearance and personality. He was short, slightly thin, and had extremely pale skin which was understandable when you consider the fact that he has partial albinism. His hair and eyes were also remnant of this condition. His hair is a pure snow white and his eyes a unique violet color. Of course, that’s hardly the strangest part about him. No, the strangest part of him is his personality. He is very silent, so silent that some mistake him as being mute. That isn’t the case. He’s very well-spoken when he wants to be and is extremely intelligent. He just chooses not to speak and for good reason (or rather a very sad reason)…Zorakuba was used to being punished quite heavily for speaking his thoughts by both his peers and his uncle, whom he lived with after the death of his parents in a house fire that broke out quite suddenly in the night. His uncle…
Zorakuba’s uncle often blamed him for many of his hardships in life like his inability to hold down a stable job or the inability to quit his drinking habits. He was very cruel and closed-minded towards Zorakuba. He was particularly cruel when he found out that Zorakuba had interests in men rather than women…and his back adorned the scars from that instance just like many others before that. His uncle fancied using things like sharp blades or broken bottles to thrash the poor boy with, even going as far as to put small razor blades and broken pieces of glass into a whip which he would then use to take out his frustrations on him. This led to many bottled up problems in Zorakuba’s mind that began to inevitably break his spirit down to a severely depressed state…and the only reason he hadn’t acted further upon his dark, depressing thoughts concerning himself was the promise he made to his younger brother, Zuma, in the hospital.
Zuma was injured heavily in the fire that killed his parents and he was forced to spend his last few months alive in a hospital room due to the severity of his injuries and the long term effects of breathing in too much smoke. His final words to Zorakuba were simple…but they held onto Zorakuba’s mind with a vice-like grip. “Don’t give up Zorakuba…keep on living even though I’m not gonna be around for much longer.” He was only 13 when he spoke those final words before finally succumbing to his death moments later. Zorakuba was destroyed by his death…Zuma was the only person he could rely on. His parents were never around for him, constantly fighting with each other and staying out of the house for as long as possible. To Zorakuba, it was just him and Zuma against the world…but now it felt like he was all alone. And right now, at this moment, he desperately needed to find an escape for more than just his pent up anger and emotion.
Zorakuba felt his heart pounding heavily against his chest as he ran across the muddy ground of the woods near his home on London Street, panting with exhaustion and fear. He could hear the cackles and howls from the group of gang members chasing him like a pack of angry hyenas shortly behind him, calling out taunts and insults. Zorakuba made the fatal mistake of stumbling upon the group as they disposed of a body in an alleyway…a surprising yet disturbingly frequent occurrence in the desolate city he called home. Zorakuba was fearful for his life since he knew that if he was caught, the gang would show very little mercy towards him. He wasn’t well known or liked, and his uncle certainly wouldn’t care if he turned up dead. Hell, he’d probably thank the people who did it to him.
Zorakuba ran as fast as his burning legs could carry him through the dark woods. He could hardly see and had to do his best to dodge the branches and rocks in his way. However, he felt his sharp, surprised breath leave him as he felt his foot suddenly snag on a branch concealed under the rotting leaves and grass, causing him to tumble forward in a heap, trying to steady himself as he rolled down the hill. Finally, he came to a halt as he landed at the bottom, shaking his head to clear the pounding ache from hitting his head.
He was snapped out of his confused state as he heard the noisy gang members draw closer and he stood looking for somewhere, anywhere, to hide. Zorakuba knew that he couldn’t run forever from the group and needed to make a plan of escape…but how.
His questions were answered as he caught sight of something seemingly out of place in the woods…it was the outline of an old decrepit building, and as Zorakuba hurriedly approached it, he discovered it was a very old chapel with vines crawling up the sides and boards crossing over the windows and doors. It was eerie and honestly quite creepy, but Zorakuba ignored the feelings as he grabbed desperately at the old, rotting wood covering the door, pulling with all his might. He barely felt the stinging pain as the wood dug into his hands, and he nearly cried with relief as he managed to tug the board free from the door frame. He threw it to the ground and pushed open the door with a loud creak, flinching at the old, musty smell of the sanctuary.
He crawled under the rest of the boards and slammed the door shut, hoping that the rest of the boards would buy him time since he was small enough to slip under them but they weren’t. Zorakuba took the opportunity to look around as he walked down the center aisle, feeling an overbearing uneasiness. It was like the chapel was abandoned in the middle of service since there were bits and pieces of people’s belongings strewn about the pews…Zorakuba wondered why such a place would be abandoned so quickly with people going as far as to leave their possessions behind.
Zorakuba stopped dead in his tracks however as a glint of metal caught his eye in one of the pews. Zorakuba walked quietly towards the object and kneeled, slowly sliding it from an old bag on the ground to reveal an old silver knife…it had old brown stains on the blade but it was otherwise clean. It had a worn leather handle with a small metal cross at the hilt of the blade…and Zorakuba realized in horror that there were other knives like it in the pews…He got the idea that this was no ordinary church…but a place harboring the leftovers of a notorious cult that used to be in the area. He couldn’t recall the name of said cult…but he could remember what horrors they commit, most of which revolving around murder and gruesome acts of torture. The knife he held in his hand was most definitely part of said torture…
He nearly dropped the weapon right then and there but he froze as he heard the gang approach the door from outside, beginning to try and tear the rest of the boards down. “We know you’re in there, freak! No use trying to hide from us!” he heard the leader of the chase call as he tore down one of the boards. He decided in that split second to keep the weapon…feeling as though he would be forced to use it in self-defense.
Zorakuba panicked and stood, looking around for a place to hide before running to the altar, hiding under a large table with a dusty old cloth on it that hung down to the floor. Right as he did so, he could hear the gang break down the door of the chapel and enter inside, listening with bated breath as they looked around, their feet shuffling between the pews slowly drawing closer to his hiding place as they searched for him. He was done for…dead.
Soon he heard the shuffling of their feet stop as they reached the altar, the three men whispering to each other about the last spot they needed to check in the sanctuary…under the table. Zorakuba gulped quietly and shakily held onto the hilt of the blade with his hand, preparing to do the only other thing he could think of…use the knife.
It felt like an eternity before he saw the shadows of the leader’s shoes stop in front of the table, kneeling and slowly reaching his hand under the cloth..yanking it up a moment later. Zorakuba took the opportunity to lunge blindly forward from under the table, swinging the knife downwards with a shout.
Zorakuba grimaced as he felt it stab into the side of the leader’s neck, listening as he let out a choked up groan of agony as crimson blood spurted from the wound as he stumbled back onto the ground, holding his throat in vain to try and stop the bleeding but to no avail. The other two, as well as Zorakuba, watched in horror as the man slumped to the side against the front pew…his convulsions and sounds of struggle slowly ending…his eyes glossed over before he grew still. The man was dead to Zorakuba’s absolute horror. He only wanted to hurt the man so he could attempt an escape back towards the city not kill him!
Zorakuba turned to the two men, staring from shock at the small boy. He had a few droplets of blood splattered onto his face and on some of his clothing as well…and soon their faces turned to a mix of rage and terror. The larger of the two men stepped forward, his gray eyes shimmering with madness. “You bastard! You’re gonna pay for that!” Zorakuba was snapped out of his daze as the man rushed him, feeling himself reflexively raise his blade, lashing at the man.
He felt the sharp knife easily cut through the fabric of the man’s shirt, plunging into his stomach with a sickening sound. The man tried to pull away, but Zorakuba felt his hand move before he could think, ripping the blade to the side and watching as it cut through his stomach like it was nothing. The man screamed in agony and fell to the ground as the third member of the gang stepped away, not even attempting to help his two fallen friends, watching in terror as Zorakuba pant faintly, gripping the hilt of the blade as he looked on as the man slowly stopped to struggle, passing a few moments later.
Zorakuba didn’t recognize this new feeling inside him as he looked down at the blood-stained knife, feeling a light airiness inside him that he hadn’t felt before…for once, he felt powerful, in control…and deadly. He realized at that moment the tables had turned in his favor for the three men were stupidly unarmed, expecting Zorakuba to fall weakly to their fists…well…they were sadly mistaken.
Zorakuba felt himself smile faintly, a small, dark giggle falling from his lips at the idea of it all…He didn’t know why he hesitated before…After all, he knew these people were out to get him, to kill him without a second thought! Why shouldn’t he be able to do the same to them?
As he was thinking this, his train of thought was broken at the nervous, fearful pleading of the last man standing. Zorakuba’s expressionless gaze turned up to look at the man instead still as he held up his hands, trembling as he spoke his voice cracking. “P-please…kid I didn’t mean it…I was following orders I…I swear!” he pleaded and for a brief moment, Zorakuba felt his anger calm and a rush of sympathy overcome him. It’s clear this man had given up on the hunt and judging by his expression…he knew he wouldn’t say a thing. But he had to be sure…
“Why should I believe you? If I didn’t have a weapon…you would’ve killed me still…right?” he felt himself grow angry again as he said this. Zorakuba was right…he would’ve killed him there on the spot if he didn’t have the knife on him. And who’s to say he wouldn’t tell anyone else? The man began pleading again but at that moment Zorakuba had made up his mind…even if he was following orders, he couldn’t trust this man.
Zorakuba slowly walked towards the man, his hand gripping the hilt of the knife as he watched him back away frightfully, holding up his hands as he began to cry pathetically. He was trapped…and Zorakuba felt a sensation of pride well up inside him as he realized the man is feeling exactly what he was feeling moments before. He stopped a few feet away, watching as the man began to sob and tremble, trying to figure out what would happen next. He didn’t need to wait long to find out as Zorakuba suddenly lunged forward, swinging the knife out at the man’s throat as he had done to the first man…but this time it was far more calculated and landed right where he wanted it to. It went directly through his neck, piercing his spine and killing him instantly. Zorakuba didn’t want him to suffer like the other two since he wasn’t attacking him anymore but in his mind, he still deserved death for trying to kill him in the first place.
Zorakuba pulled back the knife as the man slumped against the wall, a deathly silence following soon after. Nothing could be heard but the distance chirping of the birds in the woods and Zorakuba’s quiet breath. He did it…he killed someone. Of course, he acted out of self-defense…but something about the last man he killed lingered in his mind as he sat down in the front pew, nudging the man away from his foot to think. He took the life of someone who was trying to flee…and in a way, it felt like Zorakuba was killing another version of himself. He felt a rush of emotions hit him at that moment. Fear, unrest, dread…but one that seemed out of place from the others was the sense of satisfaction and peace. He continued to mull over his feelings as he stared down at the blade in his hands, watching as the blood dripped to the ground slowly. Surely…this feeling was just temporary due to the circumstances and he wouldn’t have to worry about it again. Unbeknownst to him…that was far from the truth.
* * * * * *
Zorakuba had returned home late that night, his day having been spent in the woods wandering as he tried to comprehend these newfound emotions. Thankfully, his uncle was passed out drunk in his chair so he didn’t need to worry about any backlash from returning home later than what he was supposed to. He just snuck quietly up the stairs, changed into his pajamas, and laid down in his bed. He couldn’t sleep though, and soon he rolled over on his side and took out the knife from under his pillow…turning it over quietly in his hand. For some reason, he felt compelled to take it home with him. Of course, he cleaned the blade of the blood and replaced the leather on the hilt with a newer sheet of black leather he had scrounged up from a tote in his closet. He always kept spare fabric he found in case he needed to patch his clothes up or in this case to patch up a knife. He wasn’t too well off financially but he got by with what he could…
“I don’t get it…” he mumbled to himself as he hid the knife back under his pillow, curling up under the tattered old sheets of his bed and closing his eyes. He felt oddly relaxed despite what happened earlier in the day. However, he still couldn’t sleep despite feeling relaxed. He felt like there was something he needed to do but couldn’t comprehend what it was exactly…
Zorakuba sighed and stood up, stretching his arms above his head and shivering as his black shirt lifted a little, revealing his scarred lower back. He put his arms back down, shoving his hands into the pockets of his gray pajama pants and walking out of his room, glancing around before ultimately deciding to get a snack in the kitchen. He had to pass through the living room to reach the kitchen so he got another glimpse of his uncle…pausing for what seemed an eternity as he watched his uncle sleep when in reality it was only about ten minutes. A small voice told him in the back of his head he wanted to do something to his uncle…something incredibly evil. He shook his head after watching him for a time before turning to enter the kitchen. He shouldn’t…couldn’t. His uncle was the only family he had left and as horribly cruel his uncle was to him…he couldn’t kill him…but…
An idea formed in his head that caused him to smirk as he opened the fridge, taking out some cold leftover pizza to eat. It wasn’t any good by any means but food was food…plus Zorakuba hadn’t eaten all day nor did he eat on his way home from the woods. It was fine for him though…it gave him more time to hatch a plan that would ruin his uncle…and he’d be alive to suffer through it all.
* * * * * *
Early the next morning, Zorakuba finally set his plan into action after a long night of calculations and placing the final pieces of the puzzle together. First, he called in an anonymous tip to the police about a gruesome murder in the woods that took place the night before. There in the chapel, they’d find a note tucked away in the leader’s jacket written by his uncle…or so it would seem that way
In actuality, the note was written by Zorakuba, careful to copy his uncle’s handwriting and to leave no fingerprints on the page that were his own…In the note, he made it seem like his uncle had been planning the whole thing, not only the murders of the three men in the woods but his own death as well…he described in horrific detail all that his uncle did to him, how he would drink his sorrows away and how he was tired of it all and finally decided to act upon his depression, taking it out on other people…
Finally, it was time for the final step in his plan to take place…
Zorakuba dressed in his usual clothes…a violet T-shirt, black zip-up jacket, black cargo pants, and finally his black combat boots passed down to him from his father…He packed light. Only small things that would fit in his pockets. His stashed away money, his multitool knife in its sheath, and finally a small framed picture of his family’s last holiday together before the fire…he was ready now to finish off his plan.
Zorakuba felt waves of emotion crashing down on him as he stepped down the stairs quietly. Fear, anxiety, regret, and that increasingly familiar sense of satisfaction as he walked to his uncle, holding the knife in a cloth so his fingerprints wouldn’t appear on it. He quietly set the knife down in his uncle’s lap, timidly watching his expression for any sign that he was waking before stepping away and staring at him quietly like he did the night before…feeling a dark smile cross his features for a moment before quietly turning away, walking through the kitchen and out the back door. As he walked down the steps, he dropped a final note addressed to his uncle to seal his fate and left, walking down the street as he watched police cars silently drive past him towards his old home to take his uncle by surprise.
The note was far shorter than the one he wrote before and it was simple:
“I can’t stay here anymore. You killed those people in cold blood and now I’m scared you’re going to do it to me too. Don’t worry about me though…I’m nearly 18 so I can handle myself. I have a place to stay that’s far from here, far from this city and by the time you find this note I will be there. I hope that one day you see the error of your ways… sincerely, Zorakuba.”
* * * * * *
Zorakuba leisurely leaned against the back of his couch, yawning as he flipped on the TV. It has been 3 weeks since the day he left, and in that time he managed to get himself a small apartment with the money he saved up over the years and secured himself a job working in a cafe next door to the apartment building soon after. He was 18 now and felt as though his life couldn’t be any better. However, his expression changed to that of a bemused one as he saw what was being reported on the news…it was about his uncle’s arrest. Since the death penalty wasn’t a thing in his state, his uncle was sentenced to life in prison without parole…which was just fine in Zorakuba’s mind. He would have to suffer knowing the fact he was helplessly stuck in a cell mostly due to crimes he never commit…he wouldn’t know that it was Zorakuba, the one he made suffer for all those years, who ruined his life. He looked so helpless…
A mix of emotions ran over him as he listened to the report, turning instead to look at the foot table where a small framed photograph of his family sat. Something was still missing in his life that he desperately yearned for every day…something he could never get tired of feeling. It was the sense of satisfaction he felt on that day when he watched the life drain from that gang leader’s eyes…and he wanted to experience that feeling again.
He turned his attention outside as he heard a man shouting at the owner of the cafe next to his apartment…yelling racial slurs and horrible things towards the kind old man who gave him work so generously. He knew that man…he was all over the news a while ago for domestic violence and drug dealing, but his buddy bailed him out. Zorakuba thought to himself and soon began to hatch a plan…a dark smile crossing over his face again before he stood, turning off his TV and heading out the door. He was excited to know he would soon feel that same sense of satisfaction he felt weeks ago…
Credit: Calem Hughes
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