Episode 1: The Ichabog

Troian’s POV:

7th of August 2013

I don’t remember the taste of my favourite saltwater taffy.

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“Such an acquired taste should be relished.” Charlotte, my mother, would say as my father, Peter wrinkled his nose in disgust. The sight was followed by her tinkling laughter, a sound I loved to hear. Hence the beginning of my fascination for the peculiar toffee. 

Its salty, sweet palate reminded me of Charlotte, a woman of many contradictions. 

I would often see her nestled in our private library, nose stuck between the pages of a romance novel, unwrapping the sticky contents of the toffee.

The world's most beautiful libraries – in pictures | Art and design | The  Guardian

Breathe in… breathe out…  

But it had been long since I had felt its sticky substance melt in the heat of my mouth. It had been long since I had seen Charlotte… and Peter… Tristan…myself. 

Breathe in… breathe out…

Stuck between a state of utter bliss and excruciating pain, I opened my eyes, only to clench them shut as florescent beams of light impaled my weak eyes like heated rods of iron. My skin was damp from perspiration, heartbeat echoing in a dangerously slow rhythm. I felt broken – both emotionally and physically. And yet I felt at peace. 

Breathe in… breathe out…

Or so they thought. The people in white thought they had finally managed to break me, deconstruct me, size me up into a mass of findings that could be saved on a database. They thought their experiments had finally gotten to me; that they that had learned all there was to know. 

7,692 Scary Hospital Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

What they could not fathom however, was the darkness that lurked within me – the shadow of evil that continued to thrive on the anger that had been instilled within me since that fateful night. 

I felt it fester and feed until it pulsed beneath the slow beat of my heart, in sync with my very being.  

“How are you feeling today, Troian?” Allen asked, adjusting his platinum glasses atop his nose, his white lab coat reflective against the glaring white lighting.  

Breathe in… breathe out…

“Do you remember what happened yesterday?” 

Breathe in… breathe out…

His fingers flexed as the pen he was holding met the surface of clean paper. I watched him repeat the movement, his murky green eyes narrowing in scrutiny. 

Tap. Tap. Tap. 

I felt a strange pulse oscillate within me. And like moulding vines the darkness creeped towards Allen. The sickening squelch and gurgles sounding from her rotting mouth, as it stood to its full height, towering over the poor doctor with its damp hair falling over in thick inky black tendrils. Its feminine skeletal body was sheathed in what ought to be shambles of fabric that desperately clung to a rotting corpse. 

The Ichabog. 

She smelled putrid and unbearable. But I was exhausted, paralysed by fear, and too angry to care. So, I let the evil fester. Conquer.

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“What would you like to do today?” His voice registered amidst the muffled background. 

“I want to snap the bones of your fingers to the rhythm of the incessant tapping from your pen.” Her shrill voice hissed.

“Would you like to colour a picture today?”

“Yes… I want to watch the liquid, coursing through your veins, splatter across the paper like ink from your pen.” 

“We could talk about what’s going on your mind right now. I can see the cogs turning in your head.” He smiled softly – as though it would have any effect on me. 

I narrowed my eyes. 

“Hmm… yes. I’m thinking about carving a wider smile onto your face using that scalpel.”

I saw her skeletal arm stretch towards the surgical table, plucking the silver scalpel from its station, its gleaming silver polish winking against the light. Her dead beady eyes bore into mine as her tentacular fingers held the tip of the blade to the corner of Doctor Allen’s mouth. She cackled softly; the sound sending chills up my spine. 

“You know what you want, Troian. You’ve done it before.”

I tried to shake my head in protest, but she smiled a crooked smile, and I watched in horror as the blade cut through the flesh, stretching the Doctor’s soft smile into a Cheshire one. He screamed in horror and in pain, convulsing in his seat as rivulets of red splattered against the white tiles, my white gown, and his white lab coat. And all I could do was witness the horrific sight as the light left his murky green orbs, leaving death behind. 

And finally, I screamed.


My drive to the Blacknorthe Estate had been uneventful. Safe for my friendly blue companion who floated about the limousine, poking the driver’s ears only to have her hand slide through. Pauline adorned a denim romper and a chequered t-shirt, an ensemble that was cast with splatters of blood that originated from the small, deep gash at the side of her slender, iridescent neck. 

She had died in the 1980s in a stabbing, but despite how petrifying she looked, her kind grey eyes had drawn me in towards an unlikely friendship – one that kept me alive for so long. And I was eternally grateful for her presence right now as I stood in front of the marvelous, edifice adorned with Boticcino Marble. Its Greek renaissance-inspired pillar showing streaks of gold lustre. 

Marble House - Wikipedia

Pauline floated beside me. Her graphite orbs tracing the latticework on the towering walls. And had it not been for the imposing man that stood at its grand entrance, dressed in the finest Armani Soho Wool and cashmere suit, I would have been in awe. 

Another – much younger – version of the man stood beside him. His stance intimidating in a charcoal jumper. They looked utterly devastating – father and son – as I’m sure the population of desperate would have agreed. 

Nevertheless, I prided myself about the forsaken heterochromia iridium that had blessed me with one striking blue eye and the other, a gorgeous emerald green. It set me apart from the pair, which I was thankful for. 

“Troian.” Peter said, clearing his throat as I approached them. 

“Peter.” I replied, my voice hard and icy. 

My supposed twin remained stoic. Whether my blatant disrespect had irked him, I could not fathom. But Tristan’s icy gaze never drifted away from me. And despite the utter anger that I harboured for the lot of them, a minuscule part of me wanted to fall to my knees, beg and cry for a reason. A reason as to why they abandoned me. 

“Why don’t we go inside first, converse over some tea.” 

I scoffed. “Let’s get real, Peter. Really, tell me, what convinced you to invite me over to your humble abode?” I asked, frostily.

“Was it pity? Or were your fatherly concerns aroused with the knowledge of your impending responsibilities?” 

He bristled, peppery brows furrowing, his mouth transforming into a sneer.

Ah, there’s the Peter I know.

Pauline elbowed me. I ignored her. 

“Troian, I am your father, and you are under my custody.” 

“You’re just a man who made a small contribution towards my genetic makeup, nothing more!”

“You will respect me, Troian. You’re under my custody, despite being eighteen, which you should be grateful for. After what happened, you should be surprised that I’ve forgiven you and that I’m taking you in.” 

 “Seems like you haven’t. And for the record, I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s you who left me.”

And just like that the flame died out. Silence resonated after our rapid exchange. 

I clenched my fists. The atrocity to his claims urged me to chuck a pebble at him but I had to maintain a sense of decorum. As Charlie had advised, ‘avoid becoming a complaint’. But he was a decorated patriot who had fought to protect his country. His level of patience exceeded my short temper. 

“Perhaps we should go inside now that we’ve reacquainted ourselves.” Tristan finally spoke. His azure gaze arresting me. For a second though his eyes averted to Pauline, who hovered beside me. Pauline’s eyes widened in shock. 

Could he see Pauline? 

Was this inherited? 

I chose to remain calm, despite my inner turmoil. 

He hadn’t spoken a word. Merely observed as Peter and I had quarrelled over spilt milk. But his eyes spoke wisdom, like they did when I had last seen him as a child.

Peter turned, leaving me outside, alone with Tristan who continued his silent scrutiny of his estranged twin. We were so different in many regards. Even as children, whilst I followed Charlotte and Peter like a lost puppy, always seeking their attention, Tristan remained calm and indifferent, choosing to be a silent observer instead. 

So, I stared back, trying desperately to cling to my false bravado. But I was one second away from bolting. That was until, he too, turned to leave, calling for the butler to fetch my luggage. 

“That went well.” Pauline spoke, her voice riddled with anxiety over what just happened. 

I sighed and made my way towards the grand entrance knowing very well that I had entered the gates of hell. 

Penned By: Rtr. Bernadette Jayasooriya (Editorial Member 2022-23)

Edited and published by: RACSLIIT Editorial Team 2022-23

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