We know who made Cutler but what made him? How did he end up with such a burning desire to be the history maker?
This is Cutler way back when, 1950s Cutler and at the moment it's just one chapter to see how it works; there may be more. I'd like to check in on him every decade to see how he changed to become the Cutler we saw in series 4 but – as always - it all depends on the voices!
All thoughts and comments welcome!
Hatred is the madness of the heart...
He watched from his usual place. The table near the door. Not quite in the corner, not quite in the room, not quite anything at all.
He watched. Hoping not to be noticed and wishing that someone would. Hoping that someone would but terrified for when it happened.
He reached out for the glass of whisky he'd been nursing for over an hour, seeing his hand shake. He clenched his fist, concentrating on quenching the need, the desire that stalked him but when his fingers steadied he picked up the glass and drained it. The whisky helped, it built a disconnection from everything that had happened - was still happening - but it was a fine line. He closed his eyes, feeling the glow of the alcohol, sitting back in his chair and allowing himself to relax. He wished he could keep hold of the comforting darkness but he knew that one more drink or any attempt to sleep, would paint pictures in his mind in ever more vivid colour and detail. He'd never be able to forget.
But just for a moment there was some kind of peace.
It couldn't last. He heard a chair scrape on the wooden floor, felt cold fingers take the crystal glass out of his hand and he sighed and opened his eyes, sitting up straight.
"You don't seem pleased to see me." The voice was level, impossible to read. "I'm hurt."
Hal snapped his fingers and the whisky glass was refilled. He pushed it across the table, that half smile on his face that Cutler dreaded. He kept his hands under the table, not wanting to show Hal that they were shaking, pointless as it was to try to hide anything from him.
The smile had gone. Hal had heard the sigh and he would punish him for it. No. Not for the sigh but just because he could. It amused him. He pushed the glass a little closer, his eyes hard and Cutler lifted one hand, the tremor worse under that cold scrutiny. He heard a muffled laugh, a whispered comment from the men watching as he forced himself to pick up the glass and lift it to his mouth, hearing the crystal rattle against his teeth as he drank down the contents. Hal had the glass filled three more times and each time Cutler drained it while Hal watched, a smile slowly forming, a cruel smile, he knew what the alcohol would do. He stood up and looked down at Cutler.
"Come. Sit with me. All this skulking in corners, one would assume you were ashamed of something."
It wasn't a request, it was an order and Cutler got to his feet, his head swimming slightly from the whisky. Hal walked ahead of him to the best table in the room, the one right beside the cage and the one that was always his. No one dared to sit at Hal's table unless invited. If he were absent then his table remained empty. Cutler followed him, Hal's acolytes behind him and they sniggered when he stumbled. The whisky was biting away at his control, he could feel it slipping, feel the cravings coming back. He sat beside Hal, his gaze fixed on the table top where yet another glass appeared. He reached out without thinking, noticing without much interest that now his hands were steady. He drank again and as he lowered the glass he heard a heartbeat, a pulse, which seemed strangely familiar. At the next table there were women – human women – and his eye fixed on a glorious head of blonde curls, casually piled up above pale shoulders.
He didn't realise he had spoken aloud until he heard Fergus laugh.
He started to stand so he could to go to her, it had been so long but he swayed and Hal caught his arm, stopping him from falling.
"Ah. I see you have spotted Marie. I thought she might be to your taste."
Hearing her name the women turned and he realised his mistake – it wasn't her. How could it be? This woman's face was hard, after all what nice girls would be drinking here? Surrounded by strange men, dressed to the nines and expecting to watch a bare-knuckle fight, they had no idea what they were really here for. No matter. To some of them it was an adventure, to others merely a business transaction.
Cutler fell back into his chair, reaching for the whisky. There was no point in stopping now, it was already too late and he had a good idea of what Hal was going to do. If he got even drunker maybe it would be more bearable, even though every mouthful of spirits made the heartbeat louder and more intense. It was deafening, drowning out all attempts at rational thought. And now he could smell it. Hot and coppery, salty and rich – he could almost taste it.
He jumped as someone touched his arm, spilling his drink and hearing the men laugh again at his awkwardness. Marie was pulling a chair close beside him, threading her arm through his and leaning close. He could smell her skin and her blood under the scent she wore and she smiled at him.
"Marie, this is Nick." Hal was sat opposite with a girl on each side of him, charming them effortlessly as he always did. Until he got bored. "I want you to take very good care of him."
Cutler wanted to pull away from her, from the heat of her skin and the promises in her eyes. Beyond Hal, at the next table he could see Fergus and his pals watching him and despite the drink and the scent of blood hazing his mind, eroding his will, he wanted to run. But he didn't dare. Not while Hal was watching.
He looked at Marie, she was chattering, garrulous with champagne and something else, something chemical. It amused Hal to let his men drug the women they found for these evenings, it made them compliant and uninhibited, not that it mattered that much as they had their ways of getting what they wanted from them but Hal liked to observe their reactions. He took pleasure from the casual cruelty, even though he was the very worst of all. Cutler drank one more glass of whisky, promising himself it would be the last one, not that he had any choice; he had to play the game. He put his arm around Marie, pulling her closer, burying his face in her hair. It smelt of hairspray and smoke and that helped. Rachel's hair had smelled fresh and clean, like summer days and he pushed away the painful memories before they could take hold. His hand moved over her shoulder to her neck, finding the pulse that was beating faster and faster and it took every bit of the control he had left not to dig his nails into her skin and tear it apart. He knew that Hal was watching and he had to behave as was expected of him or face the consequences later so he lifted Marie's face up to his and kissed her, tasting her heavy lipstick and the traces of her last cigarette. She was practised and knowing, slipping her hand under the table, working clever fingers up his thigh and despite himself his hold on her tightened. The cravings were rising and he knew he was losing control, he closed his eyes so she wouldn't see what he really was but his fangs grazed her lip and he tasted blood. His mind flashed blinding white at the taste, he wanted – he needed – more but some last vestige of his horror at what he had become pulled him back and he let her go.
"Careful darling, why such a rush?" She opened her bag, dabbing her lip with a handkerchief and checking her lipstick in her compact mirror. "Anyone would think you hadn't had a woman in years" She put her hand up to his face, running her fingers over his mouth. "I don't believe that for a moment, pretty boy like you!"
She clicked shut the compact and took out a cigarette, holding out her lighter to him. Obediently, slightly dazed, he lit it for her and she settled back against him. He lit a cigarette for himself, sometime the tobacco helped him stay focused and he looked through the smoke to where Hal was sitting. Although apparently fully occupied with the two women he hadn't missed a thing and he smiled at Cutler, he knew how close he had come and his struggle entertained him. He enjoyed watching him fall, further and further every time.
There was a commotion across the room and the atmosphere changed, the vampires grew quiet and watchful. The few human guests turned to watch and their faces became puzzled as two men were pushed into the cage and the door clanged shut behind them, bolts and padlocks secured and checked. These were not boxers of any kind. One man was dressed in a suit, torn at the shoulder and he had the beginnings of a black eye. The other, tall and well built, was wearing just a shabby pair of trousers, his feet bare. While the other cowered in the corner this man prowled back and forth, the lights shining on his skin showing livid scars, scratch marks underneath fresh bruises.
Cutler watched the werewolf and the pitiful human. He knew what their fate was and his stomach turned. He hated the fights but he had to be here, Hal would brook no argument, no pleas of prior arrangements were acceptable. Unlike the others the violence and the torn flesh revolted him, even as the scent of the blood drew him in.
Marie was excited, her eyes shining and she was still talking, telling him about the boxing matches she'd been to, the other fights she'd seen. He wanted to tell her to go, that this was something different but he daren't speak. He could already taste the whisky he'd drunk, sour at the back of this throat. The other vampires were animated, exchanging money as they laid bets on how long the human would last and on something else – he couldn't quite hear what - and he knew he should at least attempt to join in.
There was an agonised cry as the transformation began and the room fell silent as they watched. As the werewolf fell and writhed and changed the noise built again – even the women were screaming although they didn't fully understand what they were seeing. Only Cutler sat still and silent, not wanting to watch but unable to look away. He tried to concentrate, take deep breaths. This time he would not disgrace himself. This time he would be fine. He wouldn't let Hal down.
The wolf was fully transformed; leaping across the cage and the sound of tearing flesh was too much. Clapping his hand over his mouth Cutler got up and ran.
He vomited over and over again; retching until his throat was raw, wishing he could expel all the horror, everything that made him what he had become. Eventually he straightened up, pushing his hair back where it had fallen over his forehead, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. He took off his jacket and his tie and undid his collar – he hated being trussed up in suits but it wasn't done to appear less than formally dressed. All of Hal's group were immaculately turned out, he insisted on it. Cutler had never liked formal clothes although he accepted their place in his work; it was part of his need for acceptance. Rachel had always been tidying him up, tutting at his tendency to pull at his tie and his collar without realising and the memory made him smile. Although she would reknot his tie and button his shirt properly she would always finish by rumpling his hair, messing up the neat parting. She had always preferred his hair unruly and untidy; telling him it brought back happy memories.
He walked out of the alleyway wondering what would happen when he went back inside, what ridicule there would be. He pulled himself upright, stiffened his shoulders and his resolve and was about to face it when a movement made him turn.
"You are a disgrace." Hal was standing behind him and he was smiling, taking the sting out of his words. "You should be used to this life by now. Where do you think the blood you are so fond of comes from?" He sounded almost sorrowful and Cutler relaxed. When Hal was his friend he was the best friend you could ever have.
"I... I don't know. I'm sorry." Hal handed him a small flask and Cutler unscrewed the top, it was brandy. He took a sip to rinse his mouth of the aftertaste of his revulsion, spitting it out before gulping down several mouthfuls.
"Don't be sorry. I won £500 on you – that was the longest you've lasted yet" Hal laughed and Cuter hesitantly joined in. "I shouldn't be so hard on you. This life isn't the same for all of us; all you need to do is find your own way."
It sounded too good to be true and suddenly Cutler was suspicious.
"I brought you a present"
Hal reached out and pulled Marie from the shadows. She looked unsteady, her eyes unfocused, she was very drunk and Hal pushed her suddenly at Cutler. He had no choice but to catch her and she wrapped herself around him. He could smell blood and without realising what he was doing his mouth found her throat and the two small wounds oozing blood. Someone had already fed. His whole being cried out to do the same, his mind focused on the blood and he was helpless to resist. His tongue traced the wounds, tasted the blood and he knew his eyes were black. He let reason flee as he drove his fangs into Marie's neck.
The blood was hot and wonderful, the feeling of ecstasy that he had tried to forget about, the way he could lose himself in the taste and the heat. The blood from a living body, there was nothing else like it, it felt like coming home.
The sound of Hal's mocking laughter broke through the joy of the blood and his eyes cleared. He dragged his mouth away and let Marie's body fall. She crumpled but she was still breathing, and he looked in horror at the tears in her neck, retching at the thought of what he had done. Again.
He backed away but Hal had hold of his arm and he wasn't laughing any more.
"I can't... I just can't"
"Do as you are told. Just fucking kill her"
"I... No... I really can't."
He knew he couldn't. The blood called to him, it always would, the urge for it consumed every atom of his being but he would suffer and burn without it forever if it meant he needn't kill.
"You can't leave her there. Kill her and I will have Fergus deal with the body."
Hal pushed Cutler so he was on his knees beside Marie. She was still bleeding, a pool of sticky blood forming under her head, the wounds still seeping and he closed his eyes, tried to block the scent. It didn't work, it made it worse and he opened them again, looking at Marie, staring until his vision blurred and her limp body changed. Now it was Rachel he could see – his beloved Rachel, dead, her throat torn out by the man standing beside him. The taste of her blood still in his mouth.
He grabbed her shoulders, shook her, willing her to open her eyes and look at him.
"Rachel, wake up, come back" he shouted at her, louder and louder, and when her head fell back and her last breath sighed he howled in anguish for the life he'd lost.
The life that Hal had stolen from him.
He'd known Rachel all his life. Well, not really known her. Her parents lived in the big house near the park and every morning he watched her walk across the lawns in her school pinafore and perfect white blouse, blond plaits swinging under her straw hat, an air of sunshine and privilege all around her. She always smiled at him, the shy, shabby boy with the unruly hair and the bright blue eyes, hiding by the gates, not daring to speak to her or even smile back.
Cutler's family lived in one of the tiny terraced houses near the station where his father shovelled coal for the trains. He never went hungry but with six children to fed and clothe his father worked all the hours he could and his mother did piecework at night. All the children were loved but attention was in short supply and expectations were as low as the contents of the family savings tin on the mantelpiece. Despite their good intentions Cutler knew that his parents didn't understand him and his need to make someone of himself. School was his escape, when he was reading his shabby hand-me-down clothes were forgotten as he imagined being someone, someone different. Once he tried to tell his father about his dreams but he didn't understand. He had a plan for his four boys – they would work with him in the railway yards, it was honest hard labour and Cutler couldn't bring himself to tell him how much he hated the idea.
He was lucky though and one of his teachers took an interest in him. He pushed him and encouraged him and with the help of a small scholarship and against his parents' wishes he continued with his education.
He was clever and quick and desperate to prove himself and slowly his confidence grew and he smiled back at Rachel. He never looked at another girl and by the time he was 17 they were walking out and when he was 20 they were married. It was hard for them to manage while he was studying but her father helped. Despite his misgivings about the match he admired Cutler's ambition and it was impossible to doubt his love for his treasured only child. He pulled strings so that Cutler could study law, a childhood brush with TB that had killed his youngest sister left a loophole and his father in law had him declared unfit for the army. He wasn't comfortable with the help or the deception, nor with the fact that they lived in a house he couldn't afford but he knew one day he could pay it all back. He was top of his class and he had earned that on his own merits, he was being noticed and talked about as a rising star. That really mattered, that was what was important to him, what he'd dreamed of for all those years.
Although he would have given it all up in an instant if Rachel had asked him to. They spent every moment they could together and their few close friends laughed affectionately at them, at their devotion to each other to the exclusion of everything else. One of Rachel's old friends called Cutler uxorious and while he smiled he had to look it up later, he was still learning and hated it when he got caught out. "Describes a man who is excessively devoted to or submissive to his wife" and he smiled again. How could he ever be excessively devoted to Rachel? She was his world.
He had no problems finding work, by 1950 his name was being mentioned as someone who was going places and the only sadness in his life was that he and Rachel had no children. Maybe it wasn't meant to be, no one could be due any more happiness than they already had together.
And then he met Hal.
"Do you want me to do something with that?"
Fergus' contemptuous voice brought Cutler back to himself. He was huddled on the pavement with no idea how long he'd been there. Fergus was closing the boot of a car, he must have loaded Marie's body in there and there was just a dark stain on the path where she had been lying.
"No. Just deal with the girl." Hal was leaning on the wall, smoking. "Leave Cutler to me"
Fergus grinned, slamming the boot shut. He walked round to the driver's door, pausing beside Cutler, putting his foot under his head, forcing him to look up at him.
"Pathetic. By rights you should be in the boot with her. You don't deserve what Hal has given you." He spat on the ground, so close to Cutler's face that it was worse than if it had hit him. He wasn't even worth that.
The car drove away but Cutler stayed where he was. It was just too much effort to move, he was exhausted and reliving Rachel's death yet again had left him not caring about what Hal might do with him. Maybe he'd finish him. Maybe it would be a relief.
Hal flicked his cigarette end into the gutter and reached out a hand to Cutler, waiting for him to respond with more patience than Cutler had ever seen he show before. Finally he stretched out his hand and took Hal's, letting him pull him to his feet. Cutler tried to pull away, conscious of how dishevelled and dirty he was and how Hal would not approve but Hal wouldn't let him. Instead he pulled him closer and hugged him, holding him until Cutler relaxed enough to hug him back.
When Hal did step back he looked at Cutler just as he had in the early days, back when Cutler had thought they were friends. When Hal still thought he had been worth bringing into his world, when he believed Cutler showed promise and ambition. That was before Hal realised just how unlike him Cutler was.
That was when the cruelty started.
When Rachel was still alive.
"Oh Nick." Hal took his face in his hands and smiled sadly at him.
"What am I going to do with you?"