Bruno | Short Story by Lauren Roach
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
The cold, hard surface of the metal table did nothing to calm my nerves. I pressed my palms against it, desperate to cease the trembling. A thin layer of sweat coated my forehead and my upper lip, but I resisted the urge to wipe it away. They were watching me. If I appeared nervous, which I absolutely was, it would make me look guilty. I couldn't go down for this. I looked down at the wedding dress I was wearing, once pure white, it was now covered in blood. Their blood. Everyone's blood.
There was so much blood.
I blinked away the memory and rested my forehead against my fingertips. I had been sitting here for what felt like hours, but judging from the clock to my left, it had only been 45 minutes. I felt foolish, sitting at this table with this big fluffy wedding dress on, but they wouldn't allow me to change my clothes just yet. A ball gown had seemed like a good idea, but at the time I hadn't anticipated sitting in an interrogation room, waiting to be accused of a crime I didn't commit. I was supposed to be having my first dance with my husband right now, but instead I was here. In a police department covered in blood, sweat, and dirt. I had rented this dress. There was no way I was getting my deposit on it back now.
The sound of the door opening made me jump. the handcuff on my wrist clanging against the leg of the table. Two officers walked in. One was tall with kind eyes and a mustache that made him look like Mario from the video game, the other was a stout woman with braids and a serious expression. Is this good cop, bad cop? I thought they only did that in movies. I straightened my posture, refusing to show how defeated I felt, even though I'm sure they probably already saw that from the other side of this mirror.
"So, Ms. Gilliatt do you want to tell me what happened?" The stout woman officer asked. She stood in the far corner of the room with her back facing the wall. The kind eyed officer pulled out a chair at the table and sat across from me. I almost laughed out loud at how obvious this whole thing seemed.
"Well, you came to what was supposed to be my wedding. Instead it was a bloodbath. Everyone but me is dead. My fiancé, his parents, his grandparents. The only person from my side of the family that was invited was Mama. She was all the family I had left. She's dead now too" My mind flashed back to seeing her mangled body laying in a heap outside the door of the dressing room. Her arms were outstretched as if she was trying to get into the room and protect me. Or maybe she was just looking for somewhere to hide. I don't know anymore. The kind eyed officer placed a reassuring hand on the table in my direction. We were sitting too far apart for him to be able to touch me, but I could tell he wanted to. "I came out from where I was getting dressed and saw everyone dead. I saw Mama first. There was blood absolutely everywhere. I was holding my fiancé trying to see if he was still alive, but he had his throat slashed. His eyes were still open in a permanently shocked and fearful expression. Then I looked up and saw my twin brother Bruno, He was watching me. He was splattered in blood and the knife he was holding was completely covered in blood. He was getting ready to attack me too but then we both heard sirens. He dropped the knife and ran, stepping in everyone's blood on his way out. There was so much blood..." I stopped talking long enough to fight back the tears. This image would haunt me forever.
The stout woman cleared her throat and narrowed her eyes at me. "Ma'am when we arrived on the scene...you were the only one still alive. The weapon was in your hand." I sighed. The disbelief was all over her face. I didn't expect them to believe me when I mentioned Bruno. No one ever did. The stout woman opened the file she had been holding. "It says in your file that the only twin you had died during childbirth. There is no record of a Bruno Gilliatt anywhere." I sighed again, not at all surprised with that response.
"You're not going to find a record of him anywhere. My mother kept him hidden. Which why this happened. He was seeking revenge." the two officers exchanged a glance and looked at me skeptically.
"I can tell you the story, but you might want to sit. It'll take a minute." The stout woman grabbed a chair and sat down, making sure to keep her distance from me. I already knew that they would most likely think I was crazy after hearing this story, but I had to try. I refused to go down for Bruno's crimes.
We don't talk about Bruno. Always kept him hidden, but he was never too far away. I could always hear him sort of muttering and mumbling. Eventually I began to associate him with the sound of falling sand."
I took a deep, shaky breath and looked at the officers in front of me. I couldn't believe I was actually going to admit this to someone after hiding him from the world for so long. In the back of my mind, I knew the way my family had treated Bruno was wrong but I was too young at the time to really put a stop to it. Then I eventually just got used to it. In reality, I don't even blame Bruno for snapping the way he did. He had been invisible his entire life. I tried to sneak him food and talk to him whenever I could, but if my mama ever caught me, I would get in trouble. The stout woman raised an eyebrow expectantly, waiting for me to start telling the story I knew they wouldn't believe.
"We were never allowed to talk about Bruno. Mama always kept him hidden, but he was never too far away. No matter what I was doing, I could always hear him sort of muttering and mumbling. Eventually I started to associate it with the sound of falling sand. Like a white noise machine that was always on..."
15 Years Ago
We had just had our 15th birthday party. Birthdays and Christmas were the only times that mama would let Bruno out of his secret room behind the wall in the attic. I was angry, because I had wanted to invite some friends over that I had met at school. They should be able to celebrate my birthday with me like normal kids right? Mama wouldn't let me bring them over though, because she didn't want to risk anyone seeing Bruno. I was becoming more belligerent and rebellious. Angsty teenage years and all that. Part of me knew what Mama was doing to Bruno wasn't right, but I never had proof. Until I had met my friends. In retrospect, I think that's why Mama didn't want me hanging out with anyone or bringing anyone over. The more isolated we were, the more control she had. It worked until we turned 13. Then I wanted friends. By the time we were 15, I had two best friends. Against mama's wishes.
It was around this time that I started to realize something wasn't right about my family. My new friends were sisters and when I had asked them "How does your mom decide which of you to let out of the house?" the crazy look they gave me told me that what went on in my house wasn't normal at all. I felt so embarrassed that I never mentioned it again. Eventually they just forgot. Or maybe they never cared.
For as long as I can remember, mama hid Bruno from the world. He had never been to school, never spoke to anyone but me and Mama. He had never even been outside of the house. Mama was a nurse, so whenever he got sick, she would be able to nurse him back to health. Our dad was never around. Apparently he left when they found out mama was pregnant with twins instead of one baby. He never wanted kids and now he had two he was supposed to look after. Mama blamed me and Bruno for our father leaving because he was the love of her life. She blamed Bruno more than me though. I guess because he was the youngest and he looked the most like our dad.
He was forced to stay in that little room day in and day out. I would sometimes slip in there and tell him stories of the kids I had met. I even taught him how to read and write and do math. I would bring a book and we would huddle together on the little cot and practice his words. He always caught on so quickly.
Pretty soon I was sneaking him books from the library so he would have something to occupy him. I felt bad. He was up there all alone with no one to talk to and nothing to do. The more books I brought, the more restless he became. He always wanted more. It was never enough. Eventually he started wanting to come down when people were in the house. I had snuck a friend over when Mama was at work and Bruno wouldn't stay in the attic like he was supposed to. I convinced the friend that he was a cousin, even though we looked just alike. She forgot. Or maybe she never cared either. I can never be sure.
By the time we had turned 18, Bruno was almost impossible for mama to control. They got into a really ugly fight one day when he wouldn't go back up to the attic. The fight turned physical, and he tried to choke mama. I could see it in his eyes, if I hadn't of stepped in, he would have killed her right then. She ended up kicking him out. He was 18 years old, with no idea how to make it in the world. He had never even step foot outside the house. The sun burned his skin, the smells hurt his nose, the sounds gave him headaches. He had no idea how to get food or water or find a job. It was all downhill from there.
"I helped as much as I could, but I was young and selfish. I just wanted to live my own life. When I moved out and went to college, I let him live with me for as long as I stomach it but he was becoming harder and harder to deal with. He was disgusting. He had never learned to clean up after himself and he wouldn't listen when I tried to teach him. He had recently discovered the internet and I'm pretty sure you can guess what happened there. He would be watching videos full of sex and violence at full volume all hours of the day and night. Wouldn't even attempt to hide himself. I had tried to bring home a friend so we could study for our exams and as soon as I opened the door there he was, on the couch completely naked just going at himself like a madman. It was so gross and I was so embarrassed. He looked right at my friend and still wouldn't stop. I couldn't take it anymore and one day I just kicked him out and changed the locks. He ended up homeless and on drugs after that. During his binges he would yell to anyone who would listen about his plan to kill his family. And...well...here we are." I looked up at the officers, half expecting them to laugh at my story. The stout woman shook her head and heaved herself out of the chair.
"Rhiannon Gilliatt you cannot possibly expect us to believe this far fetched tale." she glared at me angrily, probably upset for wasting her time. I shrugged and slid down in my seat as far as the handcuffs would allow. It was certainly worth a shot. The kind eyed officer stood, without making eye contact, and left the room. The stout woman followed after him a moment later, leaving me in the room by myself once again.
Tears welled in my eyes. I knew they wouldn't believe me, but a small part of me still hoped. Another hour passed before anyone else came back in the room. It was the kind eyed officer and he was alone this time.
"Luckily for you, Ms. Gilliatt we don't have enough evidence to keep you here. Officers found some bloody footprints at the scene that don't match the shoes you're wearing. So there is cause to believe that someone else was in that room." He leaned forward and unlocked the cuffs from the table. I gathered my tattered and bloodied dress up in my arms and stood.
"Can someone escort me to my apartment? And maybe patrol the area tonight? I am scared he'll come back...you know, to finish the job." The kind eyed officer studied me for a moment and then glanced down at the floor. I already knew what he was going to say. "Unfortunately we are extremely short staffed in this precinct and we just...we don't have the manpower to spare to put someone on patrol outside of your residence tonight, but if you see anything suspicious please feel free to call us..."
I nodded. "When you find my body, just know that I fought my hardest." He wouldn't look me in the eye as I left the room. By the time I got home, it was dark out. I had been at the precinct all day, but it didn't feel like it accomplished much of anything. Maybe I could move again but change my name this time. I understood Bruno's frustration and his anger. I knew that the drugs and the homelessness only fueled his rage, but that didn't mean I was ready to die. Even though she was dead, part of me felt guilty for breaking mama's number 1 rule. Don't talk about Bruno.
"I'm sorry, mama." I whispered into the air of my empty living room. Something moving out of the corner of my eye near the window grabbed my attention. The hairs on the back of my neck rising instantly. My eyes barely had time to register what was going on in the darkness before the entire apartment was flooded with light. I squinted, trying to figure out what was going on. Then I saw him.
He was wearing the same bloody clothing from earlier. Dirt mixed with blood and sweat smeared all over his face and hands. His eyes were bloodshot and wild, barely focusing on anything around him. They flickered back and forth before settling on me and a deranged smile spread across his cracked lips.
"Hey Sis." he said.
I didn't even have time to scream before he attacked..
1 Week Later
I reached over to turn off the alarm, my eyes barely opened and covered in early morning crusties. I felt like I had just crawled into bed not even 2 hours ago before this alarm went off. I had pulled an all nighter the night before. Not because of work, but because I'd had a paper I needed to finish for school. My supervisor had allowed me to take a few days off to catch up on schoolwork. I was appreciative of him being so accommodating with my schedule considering this was a full time job. As I dragged my body out of bed, my work phone rang from the pocket of my pants in a heap on the floor beside my bed.
I made a mental note to pick up a little bit around the house whenever I had a chance. Halburg's name flashed across the screen. My partner. I wasn't technically on the clock for another 4 hours but I would always answer for my partner. He was my family. My friend. Plus, he had the kindest eyes. Always made our cases a little easier because the victims and criminals alike found themselves pouring their hearts out to him. He never judged. There have been many a night after work where I found myself in a bar, with a drink in hand, doing the very same. He always listened.
"Halburg, what's up?" I answered. Sleep coated my voice, making it deeper and gruffer than usual. I always hated the sound of my voice after I had been sleeping. To me it sounded like a man's voice. The line was quiet and I heard him swallow then sigh before speaking. "Have you heard?" I immediately stood up straighter. He never used that tone unless it was something serious.
"Heard what? I've been on a social media and telephone blackout trying to get this final paper done you know I've struggled with-"
"They found a body...her body"
"Whose body?" I juggled the phone between my ear and my shoulder while I hurried to get my uniform on. Looks like it was going to be another long shift.
"Gilliatt's...She was still in her wedding dress." My blood ran cold. I hadn't believed a word of her story. Neither of us did and we just sent her on her way without any extra protection. We sent her home to get murdered.
"Time of death?" I barely squeaked out.
"20:45" that was 45 minutes after we had released her from holding. I swallowed heavily, guilt coursing through my body at a rapid pace. "There were defensive wounds all over her body and blood all over the place. She definitely didn't go down without a fight."
"Ok. I'm coming in." I managed to hide the devastation from my voice. If only we had listened to her, we wouldn't be in this situation.
"One more thing, Hardee. There was a note." I froze. He gulped into the phone, sounding like he was trying his hardest not to break down. This was hard on him, I could tell. He claimed he never believed what she said, but still wanted to have someone patrol the area just to be safe. I had convinced him not to. This was my fault. "What did it say?" I heard him sniffle quietly.
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