Mr. Monster (John Cleaver #2)

Brooke Watson was the most beautiful girl in school, and she was my age, and she lived two houses down from me, and I could pick out her scent in a massive crowd.

Cavity embalming has the same general purpose as arterial embalming: you take the old fluids out and put new fluids in, to kill bacteria and halt decomposition long enough for a viewing and a funeral. But whereas arterial embalming used the body’s natural circulatory system to make the job easy, cavity embalming involved a lot of individual organs and unconnected spaces that had to be dealt with one by one. We accomplished this with a tool called a trocar - basically a long, bladed nozzle attached to a vacuum. We used the trocar to puncture a body and suck out the gunk, a process called ‘aspiration’, and then once we’d sucked everything out we cleaned the trocar and attached it to a different tube, so it could drizzle in another chemical cocktail similar to the one we put in the arteries.

Feelings aren't good or bad. They're just weak or strong. Love, for example, is weak: someone loves you, you love them back, you're happy for a while, and then it fades away. But if one of those lovers betrays the other, then you have a real emotion - then you have something powerful, something that leaves a mark you'll never be rid of. Betrayal is the most delicious of all, but it takes a while to set it up, and fear can be just as intense if you know what you're doing.

For me, embalming was a form of meditation; it brought a sense of peace that I had never found in any other aspect of my life. I loved the stillness of it, the quietness. The bodies never moved or yelled; they never fought or left. The dead simply lay there, at peace with the world, and let me do whatever I needed to do. I was in control of myself.

Hello, Kanta. They're saying interesting things about you on the news," she said. "I wondered if you'd survived."
"He didn't," I said. "I killed him."
"I killed Mkhai, too," I said. "Tens of thousands of years, gone in the blink of an eye."
"Why are you telling me this?" asked the voice.
"Because you're next," I said. "I'm the demon slayer. Come and get me.

Humans aren't defined by death, and they're not defined by what they lack. They're defined by their connections.

Humans were more than capable of murder all on their own.

I'd made a long list of exceptions to cover the area between "ignoring her completely" and "abducting her at knifepoint.

I love talking to people and hearing their stories. Everyone's got their own story to tell, and when you sit down with someone and really talk to them, you can learn so much.

I'm the demonslayer. Come and get me.

I peered deeper into the mirror, searching. Who was staring back? He looked like me, he talked like me, his body moved when mine did. I swayed to the right, then left, then back to centre; the person in the mirror did the same. This was the thing that terrified me the most – more than the victim, more than the demon, more even than the dark thoughts. It was the fact that the dark thoughts were mine. That I couldn’t separate myself from evil, because most of the evil in my life came from inside my own head.

It's a pretty big shock to realise that the only people you can identify with are psychopathic killers.

It's not John who wants to cut his mother into tiny pieces, it's Mr. Monster. See? I feel better already.

Rigor mortis was caused by a natural build-up of calcium in the muscles; living bodies used that calcium for various things, but in dead bodies it just built up and built up until the muscles grew rigid. In a day or so she'd be loose again from decay, but for now we had to knead the calcium out by hand, stroking and pressing and rubbing the flesh until it was soft and pliable.

- Szépen vagyunk - mondta anya. (...) Egyetlen családtagunk büszkélkedhet normális párkapcsolattal, az is szociopata.

That figures,” said Mom, stepping in from the landing and closing the door. “The only member of this family with a normal relationship is a sociopath.

That’s not because I’m dead, it’s because I’m smart.

The Coroner had cleaned the body so well that there were no visible infections, but the shape of the wounds was enough if you knew what you were looking for: a series of wounds similar to the others, but irregular and distorted as if they’d been stretched out of shape. Just like a bedsore, but smaller. There were only a few ways that kind of thing would happen to an ordinary wound, and only one of them would result in tissue gas. Somehow, by accident or by design, these wounds had been infected with human waste.

This was the thing that terrified me the most - more than the victim, more than the demon, more even than the dark thoughts. It was the fact that the dark thoughts were mine. That I couldn't separate myself from evil, because most of the evil in my life came from inside my own head.
How long could I live like this? I was trying to be two people - a killer on the inside, and a normal person on the outside. I made such a show of being a good, quiet kid, who never caused problem and never got into trouble, but now the monster was out, and I was actually using him - I was actively seeking out another killer. I'd given in. I was trying to be John and Mr. Monster at the same time.
Was I fooling myself, thinking that I could split my life like this? Was it possible to be two people, one good and one bad, or was I forced to be a mix of both - a good person forever tainted by evil?

Tissue gas was an embalmer’s worst nightmare - a highly infectious form of bacteria that thrived on dead tissue and released a noxious gas inside the body. Smell was usually the easiest way to detect it, but sometimes, as with this body, the smell was buried under other chemicals, and the only way to identify it was the ‘skin-slip’ Mom had found on the back, where interior gas bubbles separated the skin from the muscle. The gas itself was bad enough, because the stink would soon become so foul it would be all but impossible to cover up; that didn’t reflect well on us when people showed up for the viewing. Even worse than the gas though, were the bacteria that made it. Once they got into your workspace, you might never get them out again. If we didn’t put a stop to this right now, every body we embalmed would catch the same bacteria from our tools and table. It could destroy the entire business.

Tissue gas was most common in bedsores - big, nasty ones on hospital patients, or on old people who never moved for weeks or months at a time. Gangrene was another possible source of the bacteria, and usually showed up in the same types of cases. It was possible that this body could have developed tissue gas in one of those ways if she’d been held in one place for months on end, without being allowed to move.

To us he's like... like scenery, in the background of our lives, but for him, he's the main character. He has a life and a job and a whole story. He's a real person. And to him, we're the background scenery.

Trust me,” I said, “from one sociopath to another: if you don’t understand the reason for something, it’s always love.” He

You're a hero,' Mom repeated, squeezing my hand and kissing my forehead. 'You saved six lives in that house! Six! Sure, one of them was a creep,' she looked at Lauren, 'but that's what makes it so good. "Love thine enemies."'
Lauren smiled at me. 'And don't worry about Curt,' she said. 'We are so broken up.'
'Six lives,' Mom repeated.
But I had been trying to save seven.

Your life is defined by death, and each time you face it you grow stronger. You learn more, and feel more. It sounds stupid to say it like this, but not dying makes you more alive.