Shivering in the cold air five floors below, Richard Wilder watched the sunlight approach him. He sat on the steps, leaning against a dining-room table which formed part of a massive barricade blocking the staircase. After crouching here all night, Wilder was frozen.
Wilder carefully wiped the cine-camera lying on the step beside him. Its lenses had been fractured during the skirmishes and assaults that had brought him to the roof of the high-rise, but the camera’s role was now wholly emblematic. He felt the same identification with the camera that he did with the dog. However, for all his affection and loyalty towards the animal, the dog would soon be leaving him — they would both be present at a celebratory dinner when they reached the roof, he reflected with a touch of gallows-humour, but the poodle would be in the pot.
“Poor pet. You’re lost, aren’t you, beauty? Come on, up here . . .”
Barely able to contain his glee at the spectacle of this bald-headed crone fawning with exaggerated pathos over the dog, Wilder leaned against the table, laughing soundlessly to himself. At any moment she would be in for a shock, his heavy boot on her neck.
As her strong fingers closed around the cord Wilder leapt forward. The dog sprang to life, hurled itself up the steps and sank its teeth into the old woman’s arm. With surprising agility, she darted through the gap in the barricade, the dog clamped to her arm.
Wilder helped himself to the last of the small cat that had been barbecued above the fire. His teeth pulled at the stringy meat, the still warm fat almost intoxicating him as he sucked at the skewer.
Without looking back, he stood up and dragged the dog behind him. He slipped the silver pistol into the waistband of his trousers and checked the patterns on his chest and shoulders. Carrying the cine-camera, he climbed past the barricade and re-entered the staircase, leaving behind the quiet encampment and the young woman beside her yellow lake.
Wilder climbed to the 37th floor, smelling the icy air moving across his naked body from the open sky. He could hear now, more clearly than ever before, the crying of gulls. When the dog began to whimper, reluctant to go any further, he turned it loose, and watched it disappear down the stairs.
I really, really love how you show the gradual and extreme physical degradation of both Lain and Wilder here. You really capture their transformation from well to do, respected professionals to animalistic and unhinged people. It’s simply terrifying.