After everything you went through… you took the money.
All Will Be Revealed
Jonathan wakes to a bleak white light, at first believing he’s in the hospital where he woke up after the firefighter took him from his house as the blaze was spreading from the garage. Then, as his eyes adjust to the light, he sees the ceiling and finds, instead of the white ceiling tiles he saw all those years ago, smooth, featureless blue metal.
“Nurse?” Jonathan calls out, feeling completely out of sorts. “Nurse, I’m awake.”
“I can see that, Jonathan Knox,” says someone who is most definitely not the nurse. “I also see why you like to listen.”
The voice is familiar, aged and latently kind, but yet Jonathan is terrified by it. The very vibration against his eardrums sends shivers through his restrained body… although his immediate environment may have more to do with that than the voice itself. Jonathan is in a small metal room, the walls and ceilings curve together as one as though he were lodged in the throat of a massive metal whale. He cannot see the floor, as the table he’s strapped to blocks the view, but he doesn’t suspect there’s carpet waiting for him down there.
“They kept their work life away from you,” the voice goes on. “It seems they kept a lot of their life away from you, Jonathan.”
“No…” Jonathan mumbles, pretending he’s not totally out of breath, pretending his heart isn’t about to scatter his ribcage like shrapnel, like the broken drinking glass. “The police cruisers weren’t their job, they wor–”
“It doesn’t matter,” says the speaker with the voice, and somehow Jonathan knows the speaker said it with the wave of a slimy hand. “You found great interest in a part of their lives they kept utterly separate from you, so you took it into your own hands to see yourself included.”
“No! No, I–”
“It’s okay, Jonathan,” and thus return the cold slimy hands to Jonathan’s face. His breathing relaxes at once, pulse returns to baseline. “You like to call yourself a dirty little eavesdropper, but that’s not at all what you are.”
“I am,” Jonathan argues, his voice weak. “I am a dirty little eavesdropper, I am I am I–”
The hands grip down. Jonathan’s eyes snap closed. He falls into silence.
“I found the bugs, Jonathan,” the voice then says in the tone of a parent holding a pack of cigarettes. “At first I did not understand why, but now I think I do.”
“The bugs?” Well that doesn’t tell Jonathan anything, this could be anyone in town… but it isn’t. He can’t play these games with himself anymore, he needs to face this thing with laces in his shoes. “You’re the reverend from the church. Campbell.” He swallows. “The preacherman.”
A chuckle. “I am many things, Jonathan Knox, but a preacherman is not one of them. All will be revealed in due time.”
“Never,” Jonathan threatens.
The one who is many things but not a preacherman makes a throat noise, as if he was about to speak, about to go right along with the flow of conversation until he realized what Jonathan said and felt puzzled by it. Then, “There is more… isn’t there, Jonathan?”
Jonathan says nothing. He wants to cry but can’t.
“Your eavesdropping is more than just a hobby, isn’t it?” ponders the mouth attached to the old face of the one with the slimy hands pressed to either side of Jonathan’s restless head. “You feel a need to do it, don’t you?”
Jonathan Knox commands himself to not let slip so much as even a tiny hint. Then, “I do need to do it, I feel a compulsion for it.” ‘God damnit, Jonathan.’
“Do not curse yourself, Jonathan,” the voice bellows softly. “I will know everything I want to know before we are through, one way or anothe–”
“Well it’ll have to be another,” Jonathan Knox spits, “because I’m not telling you how it saved my life.”
A quiet moment goes by, then, “I suppose you’re right; you will show me, not tell me. But first, I have another question, Jonathan.”
“Do your worst,” Jonathan Knox sneers, keeping his eyes tightly shut. He’s been trying to move this whole time, trying to struggle and flail and break the restraints holding him down, but he can’t. Jonathan has no control over any part of his body aside from his face and the voice in his head which moved in after the cat ran away. The voice which the outside voice, the one spoken by the being who is many things but not a preacherman, can somehow hear.
‘Fuck you, Reverend Campbell,’ Jonathan thinks to himself. ‘I hope your stupid church burns down.’
Another sinister chuckle, and then, “It very well may, Jonathan. After all, this is a world in which houses burn down in the night. Now tell me: what happened in the garage, Jonathan? What made your house burn down?”
For a moment Jonathan says nothing. Then, a single tear wets the slimy hand on the right side of Jonathan’s head.
“A bomb,” Jonathan whimpers, then sniffles. “It was the police’s fault, those Goddamn dirty cops!”
“I thought you said it was the Knockin’ Jockers?” the voice asks with legitimate confusion.
“Both,” Jonathan Knox admits, “but mostly the cops. They’re both gangs, if you really think about it.”
“I don’t think of such things, Jonathan. How were the police to blame?”
“The Jockers planted the bomb under the hood of the car when they trashed the autoshop the police had hired to work on their cars,” Jonathan explains, confident like he’s gone through it a million times in his head. “It was rigged to go off as soon as the hood opened up. So the cops brought it to my house, and my parents looked under the hood, and…”
“Kaboom,” finishes the voice in an amused tone. “So it wasn’t the police’s fault.”
“But it was,” Jonathan says simply. So many tears have fallen that Jonathan can’t tell if his face is wet from the slimy hands or the salty tears. ‘It’s both, you idiot,’ he reminds himself. ‘It’s both.’ “The cops took the cruiser from the trashed autoshop right to my parents’ garage, they didn’t even bother to check it out first.”
“They’re supposed to protect and serve, Reverend! But they didn’t! ” Jonathan wails. “They just pawned it off on someone else, and now my parents are dead! ”
“The police would have died if your parents did not, Jonathan,” the voice explains softly. “I understand your frustrations, but–”
“You don’t understand shit! ” Jonathan accuses, his eyes bursting open. There’s no head above him, only the light, he can’t even see the slimy hands pressed against his cheeks. “Who are you?! I answered your question, now tell me who the hell you really are!”
A heavy sigh. “I am Neil Campbell, the reverend from Saint Wuester’s Church. You were right all along.”
“But your hands,” Jonathan asserts, moving his head a little bit as to shift the slimy hands. “Your hands are so slimy, but it’s different than normal!”
“All will be revealed, Jonathan. All in due time. You said the listening saved your life.”
“No, I said no such thing,” Jonathan argues, knowing how futile it is. “I don’t need to do it, and it didn’t save my life!”
The hands come away. All at once Jonathan’s body is returned to him, control, sensations and all. Jonathan is disgusted by how much he’s sweated on himself, it’s like he’s wearing a morphsuit of half-dried slimy sweat. Then, the fingertips press against his temples again, all wide and slime, and everything starts to fade away.
“I will learn what I want to know, Jonathan Knox,” says the voice from what feels like a planet away. Maybe more than just one. “Your parents died in the fire – where did you go after that?”
“The orphanage,” Jonathan says, sending a shiver up the reverend’s arms and down his spine.
“After the orphanage, Jonathan!” urges the reverend, thinking of his own upbringing. “After the orphanage!”
“I was adopted by a solitary man with a strong, firm handshake,” Jonathan says as it all comes back to him. “A man called Mister Sir…”
Hello Commons, this has been the fourth subchapter of the fourth chapter of Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox, a novel about a man who likes to eavesdrop on his neighbors.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is the second book in the W-2222 series, a series of books which take place in Universe W-2222.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
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