Clock Tower 2

Mystery Novel Journalism
2022 Jun 01

At certain moments in your life, two doors will appear before you.

Will you make your train in that narrow window before it leaves the station...or not?

Will those concert tickets be in your budget...or not?

Those new Nikes you bought the other day - will you put on the left one first, or the right?

By mere chance is it decided which you shall open.

One is the door leading to your humdrum everyday life, same as always.

And the other is the door leading to a terror yet untasted, terminating before long in death.

If you chanced to open theotherdoor, I would be your guide beyond.

I am a disciple of the Great Father, he who holds sway over tales of blood and putrescent gore.

Well, then - shall we open the first door?

The surroundings were a wall of flame.

The fire had become a scorching red snake that crawled along the floor, painting the caves stone walls crimson.

At the center of the flames lay...It.Itmoved not a muscle; it had begun to shed its skin. The cave was like an oven - and the heat only served to accelerate the process. ToIt, this was an unforeseen development. During shedding, the body of Its kind became as hard as stone - it could not move a muscle, no matter what the calamity.

So It bode Its time in its sanguine hell, waiting for its birth.

The mucus covering Its green, pus-like skin belched hissing steam - drying, cracking, curling. A sound like raw skin being ripped away scraped the air, and its carbonized dermis crumbled to dust.

And then, suddenly, Its back split vertically in two.

A fluid like blood mixed with vomit seeped through the crack, then was engulfed in flame. White steam spewed upward, and the stench was overwhelming - but no one was present to be overcome. One look at the moaning, writhing, stinking mass, and any bystander would perhaps have found it preferable to consign themselves to the surrounding flames than bear continued witness.

Swaddled in slopping slabs of knobbled, bile-tinged meat, It resembled the most horrible fetus within the realm of human imagination.

Fetus? If this were a fetus, then the mothers womb would have burst well before delivery. Legs extended, head to toe, the creature measured well over six meters.

From deep within the corpus, a cry rang out reminiscent of a cat in heat. And from the gash in the creatures back extended a single thin arm.

Compared to the mountain of It, the arm was slender, frail - weak like a dried twig.

Its long, lithe fingers twice, three times opened and closed, grasping air.

And therein lay the beginning of a new tale...

In the east, and bore the brood of Fenrir;

Was soon to steal the sun from the sky.

Shing. Shing. Shing. Shing. Shing. Shing.

Oh. That sound. The sound of two giant blades scraping together...

Hes coming. Hes here!Right beside me--

Shing. Shing. Shing. Shing. Shing. Shing.

Thats right. Thats the sound of scissors. Giant, massive scissors - enough to shear someones head off their shoulders like straw.Thatsound.

Im climbing a ladder. I look up, and it seems to go on forever. Endlessly...endlessly.

...Him?Him? ...Thats right. The man with the giant scissors...

A girl with long black hair screamed atop a black leather examination table. Her shapely face was drained of blood; her moist pink lips were parted in a sliver. Her slender frame shook unceasingly. Her heart beat wildly in her chest.

I have to get away. I have to get away.Scissorman is coming!

So she thought - but her arms and legs were frozen with fear. She couldnt move a muscle. It was a nightmare - one that wouldnt end.

Her eyes shot open. She found herself staring at the ceiling - a gleaming white wall with gleaming white fluorescent lights.

Someones calling a name.Myname. Jennifer Simpson -my name.

The voice belonged to a woman in pants and a lemon-yellow sweater. Her bright golden hair shone like the sun; her eyes were clear lakes of blue. She was smart, beautiful, strong-willed - like the goddesses of Norse myth. Her name was...

Jennifers consciousness suddenly emerged from a thick white fog.Helen!!

The girl shot up in bed and threw herself into the arms of the woman beside her.

Thats right. How could I forget? Her name is Helen Maxwell. My friend. My mentor. My sister.

Its all right, Jennifer. Thats all over now. Youre in Professor Bartons office.

Helen held Jennifer tight as she spoke; Jennifer pressed herself against Helens chest, taking in her strength, her warmth, her life essence itself. The sensation alone made Jennifer quiver.

Yes - itisover. All of it. Im safe. I escaped the nightmare. Im in the lab. Not in that mansion. Im here, safe and sound within the pure white walls of the laboratory.

Helen was saying something - speaking to the older man standing beside her. The man was...Professor Samuel Barton.Thats right - the professor. My doctor. This is Prof. Bartons laboratory. Thats right. Im safe.

Like a torrent rushing in after a dam being opened, Jennifers memory flooded back to her.

Professor, its getting harder to wake Jennifer from hypnosis with every passing day - and when shedoeswake up, shes still overwhelmed with the terror of that incident. Your methods are accomplishing nothing but terrorizing Jennifer.

Jennifer heard regret in Helens harsh tone. She felt the anger in her voice. And her love.

Bartons response was devoid of emotion; it was as if he were reading a report. She is a patient and a patient only. Whether she experiences fear during her treatment is beneath our concern.

Jennifer is not a lab rat. Shes only just now pulling herself together from that incident--

Prof. Barton cut Helen off. Of course Jennifer isnt a lab rat. Shes a test subject. And you are not my professor. You are an assistant. You took this position to learn from my profiling expertise. You have two options: if you find my methods so disagreeable, then feel free to quit. Otherwise, keep your opinions to yourself.

Barton spoke coolly, as if enlightening Helen that one plus one were two. Jennifer looked up; Helens blue eyes were glaring. Jennifer followed their gaze to find the object of Helens displeasure.

He was a tall older man clad in an English suit made of extremely expensive fabric. Samuel Barton. Professor of behavioral science at South Oslo University. Jennifer came to his laboratory every day to undergo his hypnosis therapy.

Bartons grey eyes regarded Helen as if she were a lab mouse. He did not look as if he were suppressing his emotions; rather, it seemed as if he had no emotions at all. The first time Jennifer saw this man, he brought to mind nothing so much a giant lizard - a giant lizard with a moustache in a business suit.

The giant lizard was currently looking at a mouse with his expressionless eyes that seemed to be deliberating whether or not the mouse were food.

Helen was, of course, the one to break the gaze. At any rate, Im taking Jennifer with me already.

Do what you want, Helen. The therapys already over.

So saying, as if he had completely lost interest, Barton turned his eyes to a giant pair of scissors on the table. A replica of the weapon used in a mass murder in a forest-shrouded mansion far from Oslo one year ago.

Jennifer had laid eyes on those massive scissors long before she ever entered this room. She knew they were only a replica - sheknew, and yet they still brought back memories of the incident one year ago.

Helen probably realized that Jennifer had fixed the scissors with a dead-eyed stare. She felt Helen pressing against her back. Lets go, Jennifer.

Helen held Jennifers hand as she rose to her feet. Her head was still swimming. She felt her feet sink into the linoleum as if it were urethane.

Helen casually put her arm around Jennifer.

The treatment room opened directly into the laboratory. The desks were lined with monitors and heaped sky-high with piles of documents ready to topple over. The room was filled with the sounds of keyboards clacking, people bustling - the aroma of coffee and someones hamburger lunch. She was still enclosed by the same white walls, but here, there were signs of life.

Helen spat with frustration: Icantsee how hypnotherapy is effective in this case!

The professor canhearyou in there! Jennifer looked up worriedly at Helen. She was fifteen and had no one else in the world to rely on. Helen was her sole guardian. More than that - in the year since Helen had taken her in, she had become an older sister and a friend. She didnt want Helen to clash with the professor, her mentor, on her account.

Are you two still butting heads? Beth said, laughing. Shed become a research assistant the moment she graduated from South Oslo University.Shes pretty, but compared to Helen, shes so shallow- and that was all Jennifer had to say about Beth.

Well, I guess its only natural, though, really. When you get right down to it, how youve been able tokeep workingunder the professor all this time,thatswhatsreallyweird. Beth dropped her voice to a whisper in the middle.

Then why didyoutake a job here in thefirstplace?

I may not look it, but Imquitethe stoic woman!

Beth laughed as she spoke. The word stoic was far from Jennifers mind.

That laugh of hers...she sounds like such an airhead, Jennifer thought.The type of woman who doesnt care about anything but Hollywood celebrities or the latest fashion,she thought.

Well, then...if youll excuse me, Im be going out for a bit to take Jennifer back to the dorm.

Suddenly, a small, gloomy man emerged from behind Beth.

H-Harris! You were here all this time?

Yes, Assistant Professor Maxwell. I was here.

Harris stepped toward them. Though he was only five years older than Helen, he seemed older than even Professor Barton. He was another research assistant in the laboratory.

Also, Im always telling you this, but you can call me Helen.

Well, one must clear about these things...and it is true that you ARE an assistant professor...and what we call formality is to some people...

Harris mumbled his words, as if talking to himself. You frequently couldnt even make out what he was saying. Even worse, he never looked at the other person when he talked; his eyes were always aimed at the ground. It was if he were talking to the polished brown tips of his spic-and-span shoes. Jennifer personally thought he was The Worst.

Ahh - yes. Indeed she is. Her therapy is over for the day.

Is it really... Oh, its not that Im doubting you, you know... Its just that I thought I heard your voice, arguing with the professor... Going against the professor so much might not be... Its just, I mean, that the professor has taught us all so much, you know...

Spit it out, Harris. Helen opened her mouth, finally out of patience.

Well, I dont have anything tosay,but...Jennifer.

Harris this time faced Jennifer - looking at the floor, as always.

What took place just now...so much has happened to you, and I think its awful, but...if there are things you dont understand about the professors therapy or something youre worried about, you could always...I mean...if you could come to me and let me talk things over with you...as far as it were in my ability to respond, I could...

Jennifer switched to the tone of voice she reserved for the man she had deemed The Worst. If I want to speak to somebody, Ill speak toHelen.I can count onher.

Jennifer squeaked out a small sorry at Helens rebuke. Harris had turned red and doddered dejectedly back to his desk before he heard it.

An awkward hush fell over the room, broken only by Beth sniggering. Helen glared at Beth, which only made her laugh more loudly.

Well, then, were off. Taking Jennifers hand, Helen left the lab.

It happened a year ago. At the report of one lone girl, Norway police headed for a mansion in the mountains of the Romsdaaren region. What they found inside: the butchered corpses of three young girls. One mummified young female. The bodies of two adult males. And the body of an adult female pecked head to toe by birds. Seven corpses total.

The owner of the mansion - the so-called Clock Tower mansion - was one Simon Barrows. His body was discovered in a cage in the central courtyard.

The case shocked Norway - indeed, the entire world.

There were only two survivors of this mass murder. One was the girl who had made the report to the police: Jennifer Simpson. The other was a young boy rescued from his hiding place in the mansions depths. That was all.

Jennifer had been one of four girls brought to the manor as adoptees. As the boy had lost his memory, Jennifer was the only living witness to this unprecedented incident.

According to her testimony, the culprit was a creature who carried a giant pair of scissors. Her teacher - Mary Barrows, the woman who had led the girls to the manor - was an accomplice, and there was another monster in the caves hidden under the manor. So went her story. However, while the giant scissors and Marys body were recovered, the police, despite their surprise discovery of a network of caves beneath the mansion, found no body of any monster there.

Ultimately, the official findings handed down by the police were that the mansion was the mansion was the site of a cult ritual in which children were offered as human sacrifices. The monsters were deemed hallucinations on the part of the terrified girl; the crimes were instead pinned on Mary Barrows. However, it was deemed that the gigantic scissors that served as the murder weapon would have been difficult for a woman to wield with sufficient ease, suggesting the possibility of a co-conspirator.

But of course, the world wasnt satisfied by these pat answers to such an outlandishly bizarre incident. The Clock Tower case took the media by storm - and rumors of the creature with the giant scissors, Scissorman, spread across the world in the blink of an eye.

Scissorman Lives!Even now, a year later, such sensational headlines were still mainstays for numerous magazines. The impact the Clock Tower case had had on society at large was undeniable.

The cover of the magazine held by the man currently standing in front of Jennifer was a perfect example. Lurid text dripping red with blood spelled out:CLOSING IN: Scissormans true identityREVEALED!!

The man was pointing at the headline. Helen and Jennifer exchanged glances.

The two had been waiting for a bus after leaving the university research building. A couple men had come running up behind them - both about 30. One of them was a tall man in a jacket, jeans, and a pair of ratty sneakers - the Scissorman REVEALED! auteur. The other was a heavyset man in a battered sweatshirt, a large camera dangling from his shoulder. Neither exactly gave the impression that they were corporate salarymen.

And who might you be? asked Helen, all business.

The man with the magazine held out a business card: Nolan Campbell, reporter,Oslo Week. So it claimed. Of the approximately seventy daily newspapers printed in Norway,Oslo Weekranked comfortably near the bottom in quality. It was a second-rate rag.

Hes Tim - one of our cameramen, Nolan said, pointing to his compatriot and grinning.

So was Jennifers assessment of`this man - who was probably at least 10 years older than her. And his was a charming face, certainly. It would probably appeal to the average individual. But to be told by a girl like Jennifer that it was cute would likely fluster him considerably.

Tim readied his camera, but Helen commanded: Could you please put that away? Her voice was quiet but firm. Youre here for a story on Jennifer. Am I correct?

Youre Assistant Professor Helen Maxwell, arent you? Specialist with the new profiling initiative at the Norway police, star pupil of the departments top profiler, Prof. Barton. And famous beauty, as I can see.

Nolan ignored Helens words and approached Jennifer. Now, Ive seenyourface on TV and in the paper many a time, but I had no idea the real article was such a cutie. Pleased to meet you. Im Nolan Campbell -Oslo Week. Nolan held out his hand.

I hate flattery. And I hate shallow men.

Well,Imstriking out. Nolan lowered his hand and turned to Helen, not seeming deterred in the slightest. Youre her guardian, so you both live in the university dorms, dont you? Youre going home for the day, I take it?

Asking where were headed? Jennifer replied before Helen could even open her mouth. We under no obligation to giveyouthat information.

Tough crowd. Nolan scratched his head.

Toughgirl.Pretty one, too. The perfect final girl.

The hell are you talking about, Tim? Nolan furrowed his brow. No ones looking to make a movie withyou, dumbass. No one on the face of theplanethas lostthatmuch respect for themselves.

Dumbass, dumbass - know any other words? Tim stuck out his tongue like a child.

Hey, do you know thestressIm under? Saddled with a horror movie maniac to cover the Clock Tower case?

Every time you open your mouth to talk about one of your stupid slasher flicks, people think theyre going to be written up in atabloid!

Thats because your reporting sucks, Nolan.

Enough of that, lardass. Remember when we interviewed Barton? What you had to stick your foot in your mouth and say!?

Hey, prof, you must have tons of Hannibal Lecters in your address book! Ring any bells?

If he says no, thenyou leave it at that.Youdontlaunch into your pet theories onSilence of the Lambs. It didntoccurto you thatthatswhy he got mad - asked if you were intending to produce a film together? Thats whytheseyoung ladies dont want us to interview them,either.Got that, you horror-gorgedlunatic!?

Jennifer, who had been listening to their conversation dumbfounded, let out a giggle. Nolan, not missing a beat, looked her way and said: See,sheslaughing, you lardass! Even though this isnt really a laughing matter tome.

The bus is here. Helen took Jennifer by the hand.

Hey, wait a minute! Nolan said, frantic.

The bus stopped and opened its doors.

Approach us again, and Ill report you to the police as perverts at large. That was Helens last word on the subject, but Jennifer was laughing behind her as she boarded the bus.

Umm-- But before Nolan could get anything out, the door closed in his face, and the bus took off.

Jennifer watched the two of them become small and fade into the distance. She saw Nolan give Tim a hearty whap on the back of the head.

You stay away from those two! The media never gives up once they sink their teeth into someone. You know that better than anyone.

It was indeed true that Jennifer had been hounded by the media when news of the Clock Tower incident broke - to her dismay. She was of a rather fragile disposition at the best of times; she didnt know what she would have done had Professor Barton not intervened and Helen not come to her rescue. Jennifer had received a peerless education in the nature of the media...but the two reporters she just met seemed different somehow.

They rated a B. Enough to leave a favorable impression.

As Helen and Jennifer exchanged despairing views on the media, the bus promptly arrived at its destination. The two continued to chat like the closest of sisters as they walked the short distance from the bus stop to university housing.

Summer was approaching. The sun shone strong and warm. A dry breeze rustled the lush greenery. Vacation was just around the corner. Then, in one short month, the everyday bustle of sightseers and locals would commence. The most agreeable season for one to pass in Northern Europe was underway.

The residences greeted you right as you emerged from the end of a tree-lined boulevard. Renovated from its former incarnation as a cheap, unfashionable hotel, the old, broken-down brick building was one of Jennifers favorite things in the world.

Jennifer stopped in front of its entrance. Are you gonna go back to the lab again? she asked in a childish mien.

Yes. My hard drive crashed on me. Restoring itll take some time, so it looks like Ill be coming back late. Im sorry; you should go ahead and eat alone tonight. Helen handed Jennifer some money. Hey, didnt they build a new restaurant at the end of this street?

That place where they put a bar in the basement?

Right. Theres a cafeteria on the lower level; you could do take-out, too. You should get something and come back!

Shall I go with you to the restaurant?

Ill by OK alone. And...itll be lonely sitting at home by myself, so Ill go take a walk around the neighborhood for a while.

Well, OK...be back home before it gets dark.

Jennifer waved and watched Helen go back to the bus stop, then headed for the new restaurant. She bought a giant open-faced sandwich when she arrived at the restaurant - housed in what looked more like a modern art sculpture than a building - then took it and headed back to the dorm.

She had no intention of taking a walk. The itll be lonely sitting at home by myself was the only part she meant - a ploy to tug on Helens heartstrings. If Jennifer had her way, shed be with Helen always - shopping, having dinner, playing video games together by the bed in their pajamas. She knew full well that Helen had her hands full with her job and that her hopes were unreasonable - she knew that better than anyone. But she didnt know anyone besides Helen who she could call a friend. She was alone. And when she thought about that, the familiar streets of Oslo suddenly seemed so cold - like she had been abandoned in an unfamiliar city.

Jennifer returned to the dorm and entered the elevator, closing the old-fashioned manual door that was practically out of an old movie and ascending to the fifth floor. She exited the elevator - to find a man waiting for her at the end of the corridor, in front of the door to her quarters.

The man waved his hands above his head with a Howdy!.

Im honored! You remembered my name, Jennifer! Nolan seemed truly thrilled as he held out his hand. Caught off-guard, Jennifer moved to take it, then batted it away in a fluster.

And I have the same opinion as she, Mr. Campbell, Jennifer said, as curtly as she could manage.

Just Nolan is fine. Besides, youve already called me that, havent you?

I dont tell lies. For example...youre really pretty.

Thank you. Jennifer ably deflected the comment. She wanted to tell him,You probably say that to all the girls.She could see it was just a cheap line, and she wanted to be firm and resolute - a rock. Like Helen. But...I hate flattery. Besides--

See, I got to know at least one thing about you. And Id like to know way more. Nolan glanced at the paper bag in Jennifers hand. You got takeout from that new restaurant over there, didnt you?

And youre gonna go and eat dinner alone?

Ive got an idea. How about you save that sandwich for a midnight snack and come have dinner with me? Nolan flashed his best smile.

Hes cute, Jennifer thought. At that moment, she had thought her answer was beyond question. But...

Are you asking me on a date, or an interview?

Nolan paused for a moment to think. His face was serious, as if the Sphinx had asked him a riddle and his life depended on the answer.

Jennifer was just about to decide to ditch Nolan and head inside when he met her eyes straight on and said:

Maybe if we have dinner together, youll change your mind.

Another thing Ive learned about you!

Besides, I was told to be home before sundown.

Because its dangerous being out by yourself, right? Well, youll be with me - so whats the problem?

Oh, man. And Ive been called the safest guy in the world!

And so Jennifer found herself enjoying a dessert of vanilla ice cream across from a man whose likes she, without exception, hated. She had just finished a full-course seafood dinner at an Alpine-style restaurant near the university residences.

Nolan hadnt lied. This wasnt an interview - this was a date. He hadnt asked about the Clock Tower incident once. It was Jennifer who brought it up.

She had encountered a variety of paranormal phenomena in the mansion. Dolls who attacked her, arms reaching out of mirrors - and the creature in the caverns. Irrational events that so far no one had taken seriously.

Maybe Scissorman was a sick man in a mask. ...I dont agree, but all right. What I saw in the caverns, though, was no hallucination! It was huge, enormous - the size of an NSB railway car. It was a giant fetus - green. It chased after me and climbed up the cavern cliff.

Jennifer stared at the tip of her ice cream-laden spoon as she spoke. A white drop fell upon the table.

And then you dropped a can of kerosene on it and set it on fire.

It was an accident. I knocked the can over, and it hit it, and it caught on fire from one of the candlesticks. There was an explosion. And the fire rose up - just pillars of flame... Jennifer simply kept staring at the spoon. It was if she were replaying a movie in her mind.

Are you OK? Nolan stared inquiringly at Jennifers face.

Oh - yes. Jennifer looked up and flashed a smile. Im fine. Um...theres something I havent told anyone. Not even Prof. Barton. ...Well, maybe Ive talked about it under hypnosis, but not consciously.

You know Im an orphan, right? I was sent to the Granite Orphanage when I was about five years old. My father was a obstetrician, you see. But one day, he went out on a call and never returned. Shortly afterward, my mother disappeared, too.

So, wait, are you saying - you met your father...in the Clock Tower mansion?

Yes...I think. There were lots of hidden rooms in the mansion. In one of them, I found a skeleton wearing a doctors coat. There was a note in its pocket. I lost it while I was running away, but I remember what it said.

So what did it say?! Nolan blurted - but then he shook his head. Never mind - dont tell me. Not a great topic for a date.

Its OK. I know you wont publish it if I tell you not to. Right?

The note was signed Walter Simpson - my fathers name! He had been called to the mansion by Simon Barrows. It was an exceptional case, he said, so my father had been visiting the mansion regularly ever since the mother became pregnant. On that day, he said, the mother was close to giving birth, so he had been called to the mansion as an emergency. And in the note, he wrote that he delivered twins - they called one of them Bobby, and the other, Dan. And he said that when one of them was born, it bit off his right hand.

...Bit off hishand?Um, he meant...one of the newborn infants?

Yes. The skeleton in the white coat was missing its right hand! What was born that day wasnt human! They were twin demons, my father said - fated to inflict horrible disaster upon the world as long as they lived.

Thats what he heard! My father, I mean - he must have heard something from someone in the Barrows family, about the children who were going to be born. But he also wrote that the children were born deformed - they shouldnt have lived for long.

But they did live. One of them was Scissorman. The other became that giant fetus...

I believe it. Its coming from you, after all.

Again, so Ive heard. But I dont want to be hated by you!

Jennifer had completely opened her heart to Nolan - she wouldnt have told him that story otherwise. At the same time, however, a voice in her head was telling her:This is a scheme by Nolan. Hes a better reporter than you thought. Thats how he got all this information out of you. Watch yourself. This is a trap.

Jennifer considered all of the above - but she never realized that this all meant that she was falling helplessly for Nolan.

Are you really all right? Nolan peered at Jennifer.

He looked strong, manly - right down to his thick brow and staunch nose. But even to fifteen-year-old Jennifer, he looked adorable - like a child.

I-Its nothing. ...Maybe wed better be going? Im full, and its getting late. If Helen gets home, shell be worried. Jennifer spoke brusquely and got right up out of her seat - before she realized she was blushing.

Thank you for the meal, Jennifer said once Nolan came back from paying the check.

About what you told me today. My lips are sealed. Its not going in the paper - ever. Besides, I know you--

Their voices overlapped. Jennifer let out a laugh. From the heart. She hadnt laughed like that in a long time. Probably not since her father disappeared when she was five. She was happy - overjoyed. She had finally met someone she could call a friend besides Helen.

Friend?Jennifer asked herself.Yes - friend. I mean, hes too old to be my boyfriend. Nolans twenty-six, and Im fifteen. Thats an eleven-year difference. ...But eleven years isntthatmuch, is it? Its not exactly uncommon for people that apart in age to be married.

Jennifer was shocked at herself for even allowing the idea to enter her head.

Idiot! What are youthinking!?Helen would bespeechlessif she found out. And probably angry, too.

Ah, dang it. They had been walking along the dark streets at night, Jennifer lost in her thoughts, before Nolans sudden interjection.

The paper?... Arent you off the clock?

You sound like an overworked salaryman.

Ive got no problems with the schedule if they pay me fo