The Journal of Harry Rellic
The following; a series of the most recent excerpts from a private journal of ‘Harry Rellic’, a 22 year old found dead in his apartment this evening. Apparent death by overdose on cyanide.
I wake up at ten in the morning to my phone ringing. I pick up, expecting Hannah to be on the other end, but instead I hear her sister, Mary. She is in hysterics. I ask her what the problem is, trying to calm her down; she tells me Hannah is dead.
The impact the sound of those words has on me.
As I hear her scream down the phone, I tell her that I cannot put into words how devastated I am; how upset I am. She hangs up without a goodbye. I lie in bed, paralysed. She’s gone. She’s actually gone. I don’t even cry. I deal with things in my own way, I guess. Always have. As I replay those words in my head again and again, sitting up, I try and imagine Hannah in a coffin, only twenty years old – so young and pretty. I only saw Hannah the other day. It was her birthday. I gave her that bottle of vodka when I got invited to a small get-together she had at her house, with some friends. We sat by a bonfire and she played the guitar and sung. She had such a lovely voice.
I am having difficulty sleeping tonight. I keep remembering that Hannah is dead. I keep seeing her face, her eyes; her smile. Maybe I should put the journal down and try and sleep again.
I really hope no-one reads this but me.
Days have passed. I have nothing to write in here. I’m going to Hannah’s funeral tomorrow. Hopefully then I can find some sanity once I know for certain that she is dead. I keep questioning it. I know she is, but I just can’t believe that she is gone.
I stand over Hannah’s coffin at the funeral, staring down at her in the rain, still completely spellbound. They say that she killed herself. Mary said she found her the following morning, the morning postman arriving a few minutes after discovering them both – apparently she was visiting early to make her some breakfast, in the hope to cheer Hannah up. What a thing to start the day with. I talk to friends and relations and tell them how shocked I am that she killed herself; how much I am grieving her.
I walk around the church, there are so many people there, some I recognize and some I don’t. Hannah must have had a lot of people that cared about her. So many names and so many faces I recognize as I venture round; Mary, Joe, Brook, Marcus, it’s surprising how many I actually know that were close to Hannah. However, I turn to the back of the room and see a tall figure standing there – a figure that I have not seen before. He is wearing a hood that conceals his face – he keeps very quiet; no-one acknowledges his existence but me. He doesn’t move. Do I know him? I ignore the ghostly figure. I do my best to keep others spirits up. We exchange memories of Hannah. The service is nice. I think Hannah would have liked it.
If I don’t want to focus on the past I should put the journal down, but I need to make a final note, Hannah. I walk through the streets where you walked. I visit cafés, expecting to catch a glimpse of you. It’s so strange, not seeing your face around. You were weak and gentle, but I never thought you would turn to suicide. I wish I had meant more to you. I wish I could have been there as you died, to tell you how I really felt about you. If only I was there to save you, Hannah Montague.
I think that will do.
After the funeral, I decide to invite Joe Caves out for a drink, an old friend who was also at the funeral. Though Joe is quite introverted and reserved, he makes great table conversation and is very faithful – he even supposedly gave a spare house key for his postman to use if the package was too big! That always used to make me laugh. Me and Joe went to the same secondary school and stayed friends even after I changed to college rather than staying on sixth form, like him. Joe didn’t know Hannah as well as me, but maybe that helps. The bar is mostly empty, besides a few folk. I hand him a martini for his drink, smiling as I do, buying myself a bottle of wine. As we begin to catch up, I smile. I talk to him about my recent script-writing. Joe says he has a job as a journalist for a local newspaper. Our mutual love for writing always used to keep us close. I smile, telling him I’m happy for him and that I hope it could turn into a very prosperous career – as long he doesn’t make more money than me. I tease. I also say that I myself am keeping a journal. He tells me it’s good for keeping notes and ideas, if you don’t obsess over it.
As the night goes on, we share a few laughs. As the conversation becomes more personal, he asks me if I still live alone and I say yes. He tells me having a flatmate, especially one obsessed with detective stories, is a pain, but recently the house has felt emptier and it’s been quite relieving. Joe has had the same flatmate for a few months now, as I recall, but I don’t really know him very well. When it gets late, we leave the pub. Outside, we say goodbye, splitting directions. I tell him to call me in the morning. However, I wonder if he is in condition to walk back safely. Should I have walked him home? I think his flatmate is in anyway, so never mind.
As I begin to walk, I at first feel relatively comfortable, but when I turn my head and watch Joe disappear into the night, I get this sense of paranoia, as though I am being watched. The streets become quieter and quieter as the time passes. I look around and though I know no-one is there, I feel uneasy. I felt fine at the bar. Is it the alcohol? I stop and stare into the empty road. I’m not delusional or anything, but the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I swear that I’m being watched. Is anyone there? I question myself. I think for a second I see a foot in the shadows, maybe someone keeping their gaze on me. I don’t like the sound of this. Why are they there? No, I’m overthinking. I should get home and sleep.
It’s the next morning, it’s early and I am playing Texas Hold’Em with my brother, Brook, nineteen, who has paid me an early visit. My phone rings, but the number is withheld. I don’t normally pick up withheld numbers, but feeling wary because of the night before, I make an exception. Is it Joe? I answer and it doesn’t sound like Joe; more like Joe’s flatmate, only with a stammer in his voice and apparent sobbing. He tells me that Joe is dead.
I look over at my brother, who can also hear the other end of the line, now staring at me in shock. My hands shaking, I simply hang up, dropping the phone. I’m not sure if I believe the caller. My brother tries to comfort me. I explain to him that after we left the pub, I didn’t see what happened to him and I wasn’t sure if he was being followed; I also mention that I felt as though I myself was being followed by someone that night. When he leaves my apartment, I then tell him I am now suspicious that Hannah’s suicide was a suicide at all – I know she had no reason, no GOOD reason, to kill herself. I tell him I’m scared that someone could possibly have killed Hannah and Joe. He tries to tell me it’s just paranoia but I insist that there WAS someone out there, staring at me and that could be responsible for Joe’s death. Brook’s always blamed me for having too much of an imagination. I think he’s accused me of being schizophrenic in the past, too. I’m not, believe me, I’ve checked. He can’t use that against me. My brother persuades me to stop overthinking things and tells me he’ll visit again if I need him. He leaves me to be alone with my thoughts.
I’m on my own again. This has reached an entirely new level. I can’t stop thinking about Joe. Oh, my God. He’s the second one. Are there going to be others? Other murders? The very thought gives me goose-bumps. These were murders, despite my brother insisting it’s just me being paranoid. Moreover, was I being watched that night? If I was, they’re responsible for this dreadful feeling I have in my stomach. To be honest, I’m scared of what they’ll do next.
It’s been two days and I’ve been walking a lot, getting home at unreasonable times. I can’t stop thinking about that phone call. Upon finding the body, Joe’s flatmate must have taken Joe’s phone and called the last person that called him – me. But why? Did he even call an ambulance before he phoned me? I’m worried I’m not thinking straight. I try and relax. Joe’s flatmate probably just felt the need to tell someone that was close to him, someone he knew. I’ve seen him a couple of times, but I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him properly, though. Why did he phone me?
I can’t sleep. I’ve found myself ringing Joe and letting it get to voicemail before I remember that he is dead. It’s difficult to put into words what that realisation is like.
At Joe’s funeral, I stand over his coffin, this time with a sickly feeling in my stomach, unlike the one before. I don’t really know anyone at this funeral. Mary’s here though. She keeps me at ease. As I walk away, I catch a glimpse of that tall figure in black, one I have seen once before, next to the coffin, but he disappears. My brother tells me I’m just being paranoid, that accidents happen and people commit suicide. I don’t think it’s ever as simple as that, no matter how over-imaginative he thinks I am. This has been such a surreal day. I’m much less talkative at this funeral than Hannah’s. I’m still getting this horrible feeling like I’m being watched. Why won’t it go away?
It always seems to rain in England. Fucks sake, why am I writing this down. I’m getting my journal wet. I’m trying to remember what Joe’s flatmate looked like, though. I think he had a weird face, a nose that looked broken – obviously a nose I can’t remember. I think his name began with an M? Macey? Mike? I just can’t get him out of my head.
After Joe’s funeral, I decide to meet up with Mary with coffee. However, I nearly cancelled it and saved it for another day, I’ve been so paranoid recently. I go up to the counter and buy two coffees. She chooses a window seat. I sit down and hand over her coffee, but as I do so, I see a familiar figure in the window.
On the other side of the street, people walking around him, I feel him stare at me. There and then, I know he is waiting for the next victim to drop dead. No, I need to stop. I try to ignore the figure, but it won’t go away. He just stands there, in the rain, as though even it completely avoids him. Mary snaps me out of my trance and I turn back to her.
She tells me she is sorry for Joe’s loss and at first I believe she is going to spew out the same naive bullshit Brook did, but then she says that she too is paranoid about what is going on. She tells me that she doesn’t believe Hannah killed herself, but instead that someone murdered her and made it LOOK like a suicide. I tell her I have been thinking the exact same thing. As she finishes her coffee, I turn back to the window. The figure is nowhere to be seen. I stare at the street, wondering where he went. I then stare at Mary, trying to avoid being hysterical. I try and calm down. Mary tells me that she will do anything to avenge Hannah. It’s her own way of dealing with it, I guess. I smile, knowing Mary hasn’t changed one bit.
As we leave, I tell her to have a safe journey home and not to run into any strangers, but that she could be in danger. She says that she won’t.
It’s been a few hours now and it’s getting dark. I walk home. I can’t stop thinking about Joe’s flatmate. I think his height was also what made him look so significant, but I’m not sure. It’s so difficult to remember someone you haven’t seen in months. Walking up to the stairs to the floor of my flat, at the foot of my door, collapsed on the ground, hand stretched out –
I grab my phone from my pocket and dial the emergency services, already knowing that it is useless. My mind races. Who else was at the café? Was someone in there, spying on me? Did anyone notice? I try to get the image of the figure on the street out of my head, but in a craze, I look down the hallway and for a split second, I see that very tall, faceless hooded figure again, but within a second, he’s gone.
My eyes widen. My paranoia heightens as the emergency services answer. I tell them my location and that someone is dying, but I already know the truth. HE has already claimed her. She’s already dead. A third. My fucking God, a third.
I pick up her phone that she dropped while waiting for the rescue service and notice a half-written text that she didn’t get to send. I gasp. It’s addressed to me:
‘Harry, I’m coming to yours. I think you’re right about me in being in danger. When we left the café, however, I bumped into your friend. I think his name was Mark? He says he eavesdropped our conversation and that I’m not safe. I think this is about you, Harry. I think you’re in the centre of all this. It’s like someone is killing off the ones you care about and making them look like accidents. I’ll avenge her, I swear. I’ll explain when I get to yours, but I-‘
That must have been where she fell unconscious. I don’t know who this Mark is, but he clearly got to her and pretended to be my friend. Who the fuck is he? No, I know who murdered her. Who is this Mark and why is he doing this to me?! I rack my brains, trying to remember.
No, it couldn’t be.
The paramedics race up the stairs but I cannot move as I make the connection in my head. It’s so obvious. Why didn’t I realise before? He clearly got to her and pretended to be my friend. He was the last person Mary was with. He was the last person Joe was with, too. My fear turns to anger as the paramedics rush Mary’s fragile corpse away.
Over Mary’s coffin, I stand in fear of the enemy taking me. Going to my friends’ funerals is like routine by now. Some fucking routine. I say a few words, trying to keep my act together, to acquaintances and relations. Needless to say, I am more concerned with my own wellbeing at the moment. Is that bad? Am I a bad person for thinking that? My friends are being picked off, one by one, until there’s only me left. Only me. Like it’s a game. But am I going to come out of this alive? Only time will tell.
I wander through the service, craving answers. About to give up, I turn to the exit. I notice someone’s face. A face I recognize. Someone I’ve been looking for.
At last. I’ve found you, Marcus. YOU’RE Joe’s flatmate. You were watching me and Mary at the café. You must have been at Hannah’s get together, all those weeks ago. You, with the broken looking nose, the hood, the deformed height. I’ve seen you so many times before but just haven’t recognized you. Of course it’s you. Who else would it be? I am instantly filled with rage. HE was the so-called ‘Mark’ Mary specified in her desperate last text. I got to Mary first, but he clearly got to her last. Marcus Baites. I think his last name was Baites. Did she merely mishear his name being Mark, or was it an alias? Questions fill my head. He pretended him and I were friends just before she died. I know the truth though; we’re not friends at all. The way he lies, that bloody phone call when Joe died, it’s so obvious why he rang me first. He already knows everything. He just wanted to taunt me. I’m glad no-one else reads my journal; if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he acts like a psychopath. He thinks like a murderer.
He keeps looking at me. He knows. But does he know that I know? I’m onto him, but is he onto that? I put on a friendly act. I smile at him and ask him how he knew Mary. He stammers, saying that they were old friends. What a liar he is. I tell him I know Joe as well. He smiles, saying that he made a good flatmate. Well, of course you’re going to be truthful about that. You’re the one that rang me. Joe told me about you. You’d blow your cover if you told me anything different. I need to find out more about him without looking suspicious; stop him while I can. I invite him out to a drink at my place, saying I would love his company and I would like to get to know him better. He accepts my invitation. Of course he does; but I’m not playing into his hands. I’m not becoming his victim. I’m onto him. When the funeral ends, we walk to my apartment together. I watch his every move as he walks there. It’s only the early evening, though. I doubt he’ll try something this soon.
These next pieces of writing aren’t very neat. I apologize for that.
Marcus enters my apartment after me, as I hear the door close behind me. I tell him all I have is beer, but he says beer is fine, as long as he gets to pour the drinks. I don’t trust him, but I let him anyway. We ask each other how we knew Joe, little bits about ourselves, how we’re coping with his death. I say that I miss him terribly. Such pointless small talk. We both know why he’s here. I put a knife in my back pocket – though I’ve never used a weapon before. I pretend to finish my beer and fake needing to pee, so as to go the bathroom. I haven’t drunk a sip. I know what the drink’s been spiked with. I pour the contents of the glass down the toilet and so as not to sound suspicious, flush the toilet for good measure. I walk back into the living room and see him right outside my front door, closing it. I ask him why he left. He says he needed to use the toilet as well, so he went and found public ones. I struggle to believe that, but he insists that he was desperate. I don’t know what he’s up to, but I stare at his stupid face. Are you really capable of killing someone, Marcus?
This is getting childish.
As I sit down, I watch him finish his beer.
We stare at each other. He then grins and finally words of truth come out.
Marcus tells me how glad he is to have finally cornered me, how glad he is that I cannot escape. He clenches his fists, dropping the glass of beer. I don’t get up from my seat; I’m glued to it, terrified. I have no idea what he is about to do. Is he going to hurt me? I hold back panic. He reaches into his back pocket. What’s in there? Is it a knife? A gun? Are you seriously going to try and hurt me? Are you capable of killing another human being?
Then, I see that familiar shadow behind me. My heart sinks.
Marcus looks up and suddenly, stops. He leans forward and begins to choke. He grabs onto his neck, ripping his red hoodie. He starts to lose balance. Shaking and coughing and spluttering, I just stare at him. Within one minute, Marcus is nothing more than a corpse on my living room floor. He isn’t the murderer; he never was.
I jump up, my eyes fixated on Marcus Baites’ body. I begin to bring up my phone, when I hit a realisation. Something I knew the whole time, but just forgot, like it was at the back of my mind. I drop my own glass of empty beer.
Joe does not have a flatmate.
My eyes widen, as I hold back a scream. I desperately try and scramble onto some truth, some reality. No, Marcus Baites WAS Joe Caves’ flatmate. But as my memories come back, I realise that he hasn’t been a couple of months. He left. I flick through my journal, re-reading previous things I have written; ‘He tells me having a flatmate is a pain, but recently the house has felt emptier and it’s been quite relieving.’ I’m so stupid! Marcus even said that Joe DID make a good flatmate. I frantically try and rethink everything, but the truth is inevitable and so bloody obvious.
Joe has lived on his own for over two months.
But in that case, the morning Joe’s body was found; who rang me that morning?
Am I going insane?
In complete shock, I look down at Marcus’ hand, buried in his pocket, so I frantically pull it out. Wrapped inside his fingers, there is no knife, or gun, but a phone, with a text message sent less than a minute ago. He must have sent it while behind his back. The text says to an unknown number:
‘I’m at Harry’s. He’s safe for now. Call the police.’
The light goes out. I lift my knife.
Shit, Marcus probably did need the toilet. It wasn’t an elaborate ploy. He left the door open, though. He MUST have. Did anyone sneak in?
I now completely understand, turning to the figure rising up in the darkness, one who’s stare I’ve felt on me three times already. I edge back, my knife in the air. He’s been here the whole time, with Marcus and I, just waiting to claim another. He stands over Marcus’ body as I edge all the way back to the wall before the figure disappears again. Am I alone with my fate? Is this part of the plan? I have never been more afraid in my entire life. I slash my knife into the darkness as I hear distant sirens get louder.
I try hard to think, looking for a way out. But, I can’t avoid it.
EVERY single time, the victim’s death has occurred closer to me. Firstly, no immediate connection. Second, as soon as I leave his company. Third, outside my apartment. Fourth, in front of my very eyes. I don’t think I’ve seen someone die before. I am terrified the figure will appear again, one who’s face I still have never seen.
The police are going to arrive soon. I calm down, accepting my fate. I don’t think the figure is going to leave just yet, though. I think he’s sticking around. Am I the next to die? The police will come and find me here, dead, along with Marcus. In the darkness, the figure waits. I know it.
In the gloom, too scared to turn the light back on, I’ve decided to simply scribble this all in my journal as last memoirs. I hear the distant sirens get louder and louder. I’m having difficulty keeping calm as I write these words, but even if I haven’t been killed by the time they arrive…I don’t know what I’ll do. I have the same feeling as I did that night with Joe and that evening with Mary, except so much worse – like it’s closer, like it’s breathing down my neck, staring at the back of my head; staring into my soul. And the worst part is I’ll either end up dead, or in the police’s custody. The more I fill this journal in, the more I realise that these words are probably the last I will write. I feel the end coming near. I accept my fate now. Is this part of the plan? I’m just going to keep writing, though. Just keep writing. I’m going to just forget about the possibility of dying.
I can’t. Fuck, I’m going to get killed by the same monster that killed Hannah Montague, Joe Caves, Mary Montague – and since 10 minutes ago, Marcus Baites. The killer is a monster, no doubt about it. I scream at the figure, now in sight again, telling him to perish, but he doesn’t. He can’t. I pour myself a drink. My last drink, like Hannah’s last vodka, or Joe’s last martini, or Mary’s last coffee, or Marcus’ last beer.
To conclude my pathetic, unfortunate journal that I promised myself I wouldn’t obsess over, anyone reads this that is none the wiser would probably believe that I’m fucking crazy, that I imagined people up, that I’ve lost touch with reality. I know the truth though. The figure comes back into the light. He stands above me. He’s so tall. His shadow covers me. I don’t see his face. I don’t know what he looks like, but I know him well enough. He took Mary Montague, Joe Caves, Mary Montague and Marcus Baites. Well, he would do, wouldn’t he. He takes everyone, in the end.
He is Death.
I only imagined him, I’m not delusional. I didn’t believe for a second that he existed. I needed to feel normal; I needed to deal with the murders that popped up around me. Maybe it was death all around me that turned me into a quivering wreck. Maybe. But everyone deals with things in their own way, don’t they? People see ghosts to deal with their grief. People see angels to deal with their faith. I’m not different. I saw Death for how he truly is. Every time I stood over their grave, I saw Death. Every time I knew in the back of my mind that they would die, I saw Death, despite how much I hated to. I’ve always dealt with death in an extreme way. But if you STILL think I’m fucking crazy, if you STILL believe that I’m a schizophrenic like Brook does, if you STILL aren’t convinced that I know the truth, know this. I had no reason, no reason whatsoever, to kill those four, innocent human beings.
But I did it anyway.