"What, can the devil speak true?" Macbeth 1:III
Clarice spun around and headed back to the kitchen. She ground her teeth when she discovered the pile of clothes had disappeared and another infernal note had taken their place.
So we’re taking off the gloves, are we? Brave girl. You really shouldn’t leave valuable things just lying around you know. There liable to get misplaced, my dear, and then you have to waste time searching for them. I believe this is check. How much longer 'til checkmate? H.
Clarice shivered with apprehension. She was running out of time, and she didn’t want to consider the consequences if she lost. Ok girl, she thought to herself, just calm down and think. Every note has been a clue to the next piece of the puzzle. What stuck out about this one? The chess references must be a clue to the living room. She moved quickly but quietly out of the kitchen and across the hall to the living room. There by the chessboard was the pile of clothes, again neatly folded with a note on top.
I think I’m being too easy on you, Clarice, so you’ll have to give up the shoes as a penalty for your blunder with the telephone. Are you so eager to call your precious F.B.I.? You’ve almost made it, but I don’t know if you’re up to the last challenge. Outside this house in a small clearing is a car. You are more than welcome to use it to get yourself home. However, first you must find the keys. Now, where does one usually keep their car keys? You had better start searching. H.
She might be able to pull this off yet. Where would he have put the keys? Where did most people put their keys? The table in the hall? She went out to look, but there was nothing there. She moved back into the living room. She shed her housecoat and donned the jeans and sweatshirt, Dr. Lecter had provided for her. She sat down on the dust-covered couch to think. Where were those keys? Looking at the chessboard she abstractedly thought that black could win if only the castle could move on the diagonal. That was it! She had been playing by the rules all this time. His rules! She didn’t need those damn keys; she needed to get out of this house! But all the doors were blocked. So how did he get in and out? A window? Probably not. Where else would there be a door? The basement! But there were no stairs to a basement. She’d been all over the ground floor and the only staircase led to the upstairs.
A picture of the ranch house where she had spent some time as a child flashed into her mind. In the pantry of the kitchen, there had been a trap door that led into the cellar. She had been terrified of going down there. The boys used to tell her stories about giant spiders that lived under the house. Clarice smiled grimly and made her way as silently as possible back to the kitchen. She was acutely aware that he could be anywhere, watching her at that very moment, just waiting to pounce on her. Her hand automatically went to her hip, and then made a fist as she realized she was unconsciously searching for her gun. Did she really need that piece of metal to make her feel secure? She shook her head, as she scanned the kitchen in the meager light. In the corner, she saw another door she had overlooked before. She eased it open and found herself looking at shelves and shelves of empty, dusty, canning jars. She moved her foot over the floor and inhaled sharply when she found what she was looking for. A ring was recessed into the wood of the pantry floor. She bent down and grasped it firmly before yanking hard on the heavy wood. She just managed to grab the edge of the trap door before it crashed against the shelves. She could just make out the top stair that led down to the basement. The gaping hole in the floor reminded her of a grave and she shuddered as she thought of Jame Gumb’s basement. What new horrors were waiting for her down there? Certainly, they were no worse than the ones she faced if she stayed put.
She took a deep breath and then plunged down into the darkness. She counted twelve stairs before she hit the basement floor. It smelled damp and moldy and it was very cold. She was a full story below ground and if she had thought the upstairs was dark, this was ten times worse. She stood rooted to the spot in panic for a moment, but that allowed her eyed to adjust to the lack of light. She thought she could just make out a sliver of light on her right, but couldn’t be sure. She glanced up behind her and was pleased to note that the stairs could be plainly seen. As long as the door wasn’t closed, she wouldn’t get lost down there. She moved cautiously to her right, hoping she didn’t bump into anything. Luck seemed, finally, to be with her, on this day from hell, as the outline of a door came more sharply into view. About six stairs and a door above that slopped in towards the house. She pushed on the wood and was greeted by the cold outside air and the bright light from the moon. She dashed out into the night and stood panting with her hands on her knees. She was out! Now where was that damn car? She started to run, ignoring the fact that she only had socks on her feet. She circled the house part way when she found a path. I dipped down and then up again and she thought she could see metal glinting through the trees. She ran head long down the path, but cried out sharply as her foot caught on a tree root and she went down hard, badly twisting her ankle. Cursing sharply, she picked herself up, ignoring her bleeding palms and torn jeans, and kept going.
Inside Dr. Lecter was waiting for Clarice to come into the dining room again. He patted the car keys in his pocket. What she was going to have to do to get them he hadn’t quite decided, when he heard a sharp cry split the air outside. He knew immediately that Clarice had found her way out of the house. The thought was confirmed as he dashed into the kitchen pantry to find the trap door leaning up against the shelving. He must really be slipping if she had managed to get out without him noticing. He’d been preoccupied, and that was always a dangerous occupation. He didn’t hesitate as he plunged down the stairs, across the basement and burst out of cellar door, hot in pursuit of Clarice. He had no doubt that she would be able to hot-wire the car, and if he didn’t get to her first. He raced down the path, making not a sound despite his speed. Clarice didn’t hear him, as he stopped at the edge of the clearing, to see her pick up a stout tree branch with the obvious intent of breaking one of the windows of the shiny black BMW.
Clarice managed a good grip on the branch despite her bleeding hands, and was about to swing it, baseball style, through the back window of the car, when it was painfully wrenched from her grasp. She spun around to see Dr. Lecter standing behind her, holding the branch in one hand. His gaze burned into hers as he threw it into the underbrush. She took an involuntary step backwards, but he matched her retreat with a step of his own. He advanced on her until she bumped into the car at her back and could go no further.
"So you were going to leaving without saying goodbye, Clarice," he hissed into the night. "How unspeakably rude…" Clarice’s eyes went wide as she understood his meaning.
"Dr. Lector…" was all she managed before he cut her off.
"You didn’t play by the rules, my dear, which means you forfeit our little game."
Clarice shook her head and silently mouthed the word no, as visions of Ardelia’s face on all the pictures of victims in her office, spun through her mind. She couldn’t let him do it. She glanced to the overgrown road but knew she couldn’t him. She couldn’t tackle him; he’d proved his superior strength on several occasions. She couldn’t just give up. Dr. Lector saw the panicked darting of her eyes and took the decision out of her hands. She was hit by a powerful feeling of déjà vu, as he slammed her up against the car as he had against the refrigerator at the lake house. Her right fist almost connected with his jaw, but he caught both her wrists in his powerful grip and pinned them against the roof.
"Déjà vu?" he asked as if he had read her mind.
"No," she whispered as she squirmed under the pressure of his hold. "I won’t let you do it."
"Won’t let me do what?" he asked he face so close to hers she could feel his breath on her cheek.
"I won’t let you hurt Ardelia," she said, as he leaned his weight into her to stop her movement. Clarice sucked in a breath at the physical contact. The last person that had been this close to her… had been him.
"You think I’m going to harm your roommate?" he asked with a twinkle in his eye.
"Why else would I have to get home?" Clarice asked in defeat. He noticed her tone and relaxed his hold slightly. "Those were the stakes weren’t they? My chance to save another lamb?"
"No, Clarice, you misunderstood my words," he said in her ear. "The lamb you had to save was yourself, to silence the sounds of you dreams. Tell me Clarice, do you hear the sound of the cleaver hitting the block, or the sound of your heart pounding from moments before?"
"I don’t fear you doctor," she said in response.
"I should hope not," he replied with a saucy grin. Clarice’s brow furrowed in confusion.
"I should fear you, because I didn’t flinch when you pretended to bite me?" she asked. He leaned in close to her again.
"No, because you didn’t flinch when I kissed you," he whispered in her ear. Clarice jerked her head back to look him in the eyes. The moonlight reflecting off them, made their cobalt colour appear almost black.
"But you didn’t," she said even more confused. He cocked his head to study her intently.
"It’s amazing what the brain is able to make itself forget," he murmured. "Perhaps a bit of a reenactment will help you remember things more clearly," he said as he released her hands and reached into his pocket for the car keys. Before her mind registered what had happened, he’d hit the button on the key ring to unlock the doors, grabbed the handle of the front door behind her, flipped her hair into the open gap, slammed both her and the door back and locked it again. She realized how he had trapped her again, as he slipped the keys back into his pocket and pinned her arms to her sides.
"I believe I asked you a question Clarice," he stated in the metallic rasp that did indeed haunt her sleep.
"You asked me if I would ever say ‘If you loved me you’d stop’," Clarice answered in a hushed whisper.
"That’s right," he crooned, "and you answered?"
"Not in a thousand years," she said again with her eyes shut tight. She couldn’t bear to look into his eyes anymore.
"Open your eyes, Clarice," he commanded in a soft tone. When she complied, he smiled. "That’s my girl," he said just before he lunged at her. Again, she didn’t flinch as he stopped just inches from her nose. As his face drew even nearer, he heard her softly whisper,
"Oh, my god." She remembered now, all the feelings came rushing back. Everything she hadn’t wanted to remember; the things she couldn’t deal with on her own. She heard Dr. Lecter chuckle quietly.
"Now that you remember," he said as he freed her from the door, "I suppose that I should apologize for my ungentlemanly behavior." He smiled again, "but that doesn’t change the fact that I won this evening’s match." He stepped back a pace and Clarice took her chance. She pushed away from the car with a violent heave and threw herself into a mad lunge for the narrow road. She had to escape! She only managed about three steps before he caught her around the waist. He wasn’t strong enough to halt their combined momentum and they crashed to the ground. They rolled over and over, as Clarice hit and kicked in a wild attempt to free herself. Lecter finally subdued her, with a thigh over hers and his chest holding her pinned to the ground. He trapped both her wrists in one of his hands and held her arms above her head to stop her buffeting him around his head and shoulders. He leaned up on his other elbow to look down at her face. Her eyes were shut tightly but two tears had escaped to run down her dirty cheeks. He couldn’t resist leaning down and lapping them up with his tongue. His breath flowed over her skin as he savoured the taste.
"Come now Clarice, it can’t be bad enough to warrant tears," he scolded. Just two words were forced past her lips,