If you saw someone murdered would you be able to tell me what happened?
Never before have I encountered such confusion in a busy city intersection.
Within minutes of an incident of gruesome violence, there was nobody who could definitively tell me what actually happened despite being witness to it. Let me tell you the accounts, to the extent that I can capture the horror.
I was downtown on foot running some errands. It is much easier to navigate walking as opposed to driving. I turned the corner to one of the busiest intersections in the city.
All traffic was stopped and the sidewalk was crowded as people gazed hypnotically into the middle of the intersection. I heard sounds of a couple people crying. There was a black sedan stopped diagonally in the intersection with its door open. Beside the car was a body lying on the ground. Well, from what I could see the body was a dismembered torso. Body parts were spread throughout the intersection. A thick coating of blood covered the pavement around the body. People were crowded around the scene but nobody was near the bloodbath in the middle of the intersection.
Sirens wailed in the background, no emergency vehicles had yet reached the scene—likely the result of the backed-up traffic. However, the presence of medical personnel wouldn’t have mattered. There were no lives to be saved. There was only the collection of arms, legs and a brutalized torso.
I did what many do when they arrive minutes after an accident scene. I asked people what happened. The people’s stories varied so much I still have no sense of what occurred.
The first man with whom I spoke was in his twenties. He possessed the look of an intellectual with his turtleneck and rimless glasses. He offered me this account:
“I heard screaming. The man in the vehicle in the middle of the intersection hurled insults at the woman. He called her “slut” and some other derogatory names I would rather not repeat. The woman stopped and stared at him with a look of pure hatred. I got the sense that she did not know who he was. She walked into the middle of the intersection. The man stepped out of his car. In his hand he he had a hatchet. I thought he was going to kill her, right in full view of everyone.
“The woman said something to him I couldn’t understand. It was as if she had some sort of power over him. The man began chopping at himself with a tremendous force. He started with his left hand. He got on his knees screaming and crying and hacking at his wrist until his hand was amputated. Then he moved up his arm and took his whole arm off. He removed his pants and with a couple of swings his legs were gone. Finally, only his arm with the hatchet remained. ‘Let me help you with that,’ the woman said. She chopped his arm off. ‘There you go,’ she said and returned to the crowd on the sidewalk. Once on the sidewalk she disappeared. She was just gone.”
A woman overheard the man telling me the story and intervened in a rather aggressive manner. She asserted that it wasn’t the way it happened at all. “Were you even here?” she yelled at the man, glaring at him angrily.
She recounted what she saw.
“I was waiting for the light to change. I heard yelling in the intersection which is what caught my attention. A man with a hatchet was pulling at the man from the car. Within seconds the man was on the ground pleading for his life and other man started hacking him apart with the hatchet. ‘Please let me go,’ the man cried. He flailed violently and the man relentlessly chopped at his limbs. With each hit blood sprayed and a body part came loose. He would toss it aside and continue chopping until eventually, well, there was nothing left. The man stopped moving. Both men were completely coated in blood. He lay in the intersection as you see him now and he walked away holding the hatchet. Nobody tried to stop him. Everyone on the sidewalk was frozen.”
Now I might expect some minor variations, especially when people are trying to make sense of witnessing something extremely traumatic. This was no minor variation.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this. The man who told me the first story interjected when the woman finished telling me her account. While they argued what happened, I moved to the other side of the intersection and asked a couple of other people.
The sirens were growing closer. It seemed to be taking them forever or somehow time was altered in the intersection. It could be a possibility given what I heard from the next two people.
The following two stories accounts didn’t involve a man and a woman at all.
I spoke to a young woman, perhaps in her mid twenties.
“I saw the man, the guy who is now dead, stop in the middle of the intersection in his car. I didn’t notice it at the time but there were no other cars which was strange. He stepped outside of the car yelling at someone but I wasn’t certain who.
“Then the strangest thing happened. Everything slowed down like time itself was crawling. It looked like another person came out of his body, as if he split from himself. The second person moved in front of him. Each step appeared as if was in slow motion—like a lifetime passed with each step. Waves of something, perhaps sounds, emerged from the second person’s mouth distorting the air around him. The first man fell to his knees, albeit very slowly. The waves mutilated his face. Then the second person ripped him apart with its hands. Streams of blood hung in the air. The air was misty with blood drops creating a red filter to everything. Once the man was dead, the second person turned to blood and pooled in the street, as if he melted.”
The sirens grew louder. The emergency vehicles were very close.
I asked one more person hoping that one of the three stories would be corroborated.
An older man who spoke like a preacher told me that he saw it all.
“It is the beginning of the end. Good. Evil. The battle has come to Earth. Look at these people, confused, uncertain, afraid. It all happened here. They saw it but they have no idea what it was. It was the ultimate the manifestation of Good and Evil—a sign of what is to come. The man in the car stopped in the middle of the intersection. He flung his car door open, exited the vehicle. Lightning shot from his hands. A man on the sidewalk yelled that the Devil had come. The man on the sidewalk identified himself as a priest and walked out to the man in the intersection. He laid his hand upon the man from the car and screamed, ‘Begone you filthy Beast.’ Then the man from the car started shivering and shaking and blood poured from his skin. The next thing he was on the ground as you see him. Good prevailed!”
The man heaved as he spoke, prophesizing the coming apocalypse and how the forces of good will prevail.
The ambulance and police were in sight, trying to manoeuvre between a bus and a taxi. Nobody ever moved out of each other’s way in this city.
The police were going to be asking people what happened. There were at least a hundred people standing around and I doubted there would be any clear resolution to what happened in this intersection on that sunny day.
I felt something wet land on my hand. Blood.
James Beaton lives in Toronto, Canada with his two black cats. He is relatively new to the world of fiction writing. He likes to explore the absurd, horror and dark fiction through the themes of psychological tensions, the supernatural and the bizarre. He has a couple of short stories forthcoming and is working on a novel.