Ike Hamill: The Vivisectionist

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Ike Hamill The Vivisectionist
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    The Vivisectionist
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    Ужасы и Мистика / на английском языке
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The Vivisectionist: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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The boys have the perfect summer planned. They’ll camp out in the backyard for their last vacation before high school. There’s only one problem — even though they're just a hundred feet from the safety of the house, they're being hunted by a serial killer. Join Jack, Ben, and Stephen as they strap on their backpacks and go out looking for adventure. The woods behind Jack’s house contain endless trails to explore, and the boys have weeks to investigate them all. Their neighborhood finally seems at peace again, now that the man who snatched the kid from down the street has been caught. But there’s still danger in those woods, and the boys are about to stumble into it…

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Ike Hamill



The Boy

In his dream the boy stretched out on the dock, warmed by the late-summer sun. He debated whether to jump in the lake one more time. The water would feel cool and silky, and would wash away the beads of sweat which had formed on his forehead. On the other hand, his bathing suit was almost dry and had finally become comfortable. A breeze cooled him down enough that he could delay his decision. Somewhere, a crow barked out an unnatural metallic screech. The boy's forehead wrinkled, sending sweat rolling down into his ears. He fought to stay in the dream, but it had already started to fade. He wasn't lying on a dock; straps held him to a stainless steel table.

The clank of an instrument on a metal tray pulled the boy completely from his dream. He smelled stale straw and felt itchy fabric against his cheek. The boy opened his eyes, but burlap covering his face filtered the bright light. He wanted to push the burlap away, but his hands were tied at his sides. He didn’t need to kick his feet to remember that those were bound as well.

“Awake at last,” said the man.

The boy didn’t respond. He held his breath and prayed that the man would go away.

“There’s nothing wrong,” the man said. “No need to be nervous.”

The man moved closer.

“It'll take a while, but you may forget all about this day. You wouldn’t believe how resilient children are. They can grow accustomed to almost anything. This incident could fade to just one small scene in the story of the man you’ll become. Trust me.”

By the end of the speech the man had moved within inches of the boy’s exposed neck. The boy felt the man’s warm breath.

“You know,” the man said, “you could wake up tomorrow and have no evidence that this day ever occurred: nothing to regret, no loss.”

The man inhaled and let his breath out slow, tickling the boy’s neck.

“Unfortunately for you, your tomorrow is about to change.”



Jack sat near the front of the school bus, oblivious to his raucous classmates. The other kids were bursting with excited energy; they only had three days left until summer vacation. Jack stared out his window. When the bus slowed to its last stop, he waited for everyone else before heading for the door. He had few friends at his school, and none on this bus. In this neighborhood the public school kids generally didn't place into the advanced classes, and the smart kids, like Jack, usually went to private academies.

“Take it easy, Jack,” said the bus driver.

“Thanks Mr. Shields, see you tomorrow,” said Jack.

Jack remained serious as he walked away from the bus and headed down the suburban street. His neighborhood was the last outgrowth of sprawl, encroaching into the surrounding forest and farmland. Earlier that week a crew had staked-off the shoulder of the road for future sidewalks, and Jack weaved between the orange-painted sticks, but kept a quick pace. Over the blocks Jack walked, the roads narrowed and houses sat farther back. He turned up the walk of a neat, two-story colonial: beige with cranberry shutters. Climbing his porch stairs, Jack's shoulders finally fell, releasing his tension.

“Hey Mom,” he bellowed.

“On the phone,” his mother yelled back from upstairs.

Jack pawed through the mail on the hall table and found a letter addressed to him. He kicked his shoes next to the staircase and then bounded upstairs as he shucked his backpack from his shoulders.

His room occupied a back corner of the house. He threw himself crossways on his bed, so he could look out the window. He grabbed his field glasses from the windowsill and spied across his side yard. Training his attention on a modest ranch across the side-street, Jack alternated his view between the two side windows and the back deck. The screen door was still propped open. Jack spent several moments looking at the gas grill; it hung halfway off the deck. The events of the previous night replayed in his head: the neighbor, owner of the ranch, father of Gabe Vigue, had burst through the screen door and kicked the gas grill with tremendous force. Jack had been lucky enough to catch this drama through his window.

“Whatcha looking at, Bub?” his mom asked from directly behind him.

“Nothing!” Jack exclaimed, startled. “Jeez Mom, you scared me.”

“Well maybe spying on people makes you jumpy,” she replied. “Where’s your jacket?”

“I left it at Mark’s house. I told you.”

“Tell him to bring it over this weekend then — I want to get all your school clothes cleaned and put away.”

“Mark’s gone already,” Jack reminded her.

“That’s right. Did you get the letter from your grandmother?” his mom asked.

“Oh yeah!” Jack rolled off his bed and grabbed the forgotten envelope from his backpack. He skimmed the letter and said, “They want me to visit at the end of the summer.”

“Oh, that sounds nice,” his mom said as she leaned against the door jam. “Why, what’s wrong with that?”

“It’s just that me and Ben are going to camp out and stuff. Like we talked about?” said Jack.

He took every opportunity to reinforce this point. It had taken Jack weeks of negotiations to achieve this agreement about his summer plans. Usually, summer brought a list of scheduled activities designed to engage him and, in his mind, extend the school year to fill all twelve months. This year he had convinced his parents that he and Ben could keep themselves busy by camping in the back yard and working through the chapters of his survival book. Jack's proposal had coincided with his mom’s concern that kids today don't have enough unstructured play time — she had relented and helped him sway her husband too.

Jack's dad tried to take Jack and Ben camping at least once a year, but the trips always seemed too short. Although only in the backyard, this would mark Jack and Ben's first solo camping trip.

“Ben and I,” said his mom. “And I know you, Jack. Halfway through July you’ll be dying for something to do. Tell your grandparents you’d be delighted to visit and we’ll talk about it in a few weeks.”

“Okay, I guess.”

“Love you,” she said.

“Love you too,” he agreed.

“Okay then,” his mom said as she turned to leave. “It’ll be fun,” she called back over her shoulder from the hall.

Jack turned his attention back out the window — fixated once again. Nothing had changed at the Vigue house, not in the last five minutes at least. The previous nine months had been packed with action for the Vigue family: their son Gabe had vanished from his pre-school’s playground. All the neighbors had hung on every piece of news for weeks, and kids as old as Jack were suddenly chaperoned to and from school. As the weeks turned to months, care turned back into complacency, and life had mostly returned to normal.

He put down his field glasses, got up from the bed, and sat down at his computer. Looking at the clock he granted himself one hour of hacking before he would turn his attention to his homework. Jack had been working for a week to break the copy-protection on the accounting software his Dad used for his home business. After upgrading the machine, his dad’s bookkeeping program had suddenly decided not to work. His parents were lost without the software — it handled all of their invoicing.  The attention he focused on this task was familiar to both his parents. Jack was a bulldog — when he set his mind to a problem, nothing could stop him from finishing.

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