My first attempt at a Sweeney Todd, please tell me if it is worth continuing. I will heart you forever. I saw the movie this weekend and wondered how Sweeney would have reacted had he recognized Joanna, even though it has been done before, please give it a chance. :)
Joanna could not see, she could not think, and she could not move; but oh, could she hear. Macabre screams pierced the silence, and her palms pressed harder and harder into her ears in attempt to barricade the reverberation of her guardian's gruesome cries. She squeezed her eyes shut, concealing her vision with the convenient curtain of her eyelids. Not that there was much to see in the tenebrous prison of the leather clothing chest, alarmingly lacking in oxygen and incommodious for space, cramping her small body and claustrophobic mind in its buckskin, musky clutches.
Blonde bangs, streaked with grime and natural oils clung to her face, her hair, chaotic and distraught, was piled up under a ratty ancient cap that Anthony had pulled over her head as they ran from the asylum. Together, they fled down the cobble-stoned streets of London, Joanna blindly trusting him to rescue her. Together, they rounded a black, lifeless corner onto Fleet Street, and clutching her own clammy hand, they stormed up a creaky, wooden staircase, pulling her up each time she stumbled. A sullied red and white barber pole was attached beside a door; the white stripes were coated a soft brown, neglected by a good scrub with soap and water. Joanna was pulled along as Anthony hurled his tall, lanky frame indoors, barely pausing to remove the barrier that the door created.
He had told her to wait, and she did. She had waited, and waited, and now he was gone and she was alone inside a chest with only the decrepit, urine-reeking rags that clothed her petite body. The judge had screamed for so long, growing louder and sharper in sync to her rising fear, and shallow, rapid breathing that she hoped desperately no one would hear. Despite her efforts to block out all sound, she listened as heavy boots tapped calmly against the vulnerable surface of the floorboards that groaned with old age, nonchalantly pacing the floor as if the owner was thoroughly oblivious to the excruciating blood bath of his victim.
The screaming ceased, and somehow the silence was more terrifying than the former. It was high-pitched and deafening to her ears, but nothing against the following interlude. A thunderous, irregular stamp was heard outside of her claustrophobic sanctuary, followed by a screeching of rusty wheels and a creak of leather. Silence was heard for a minority of peaceful seconds until the sickly thud of a heavy, soft body sounded mutely below her. Joanna closed her eyes, not from mourning the loss of her disgusting, perverse guardian, but from fear and the unnaturally distinct beats of her frenzied heart thumping away painfully inside her breast; hair rose on the back of her neck and upper arms, for she was sure the madman could hear it.
"Rest now, my friends." The barber whispered, blissfully and without a trace of remorse for the condemnable act he had completed moments ago. His sigh was content, and the man sounded so…free, like a rampant ocean tamed. The voice severely altered in tone, upgrading from murderer to an almost fatherly consistence which made Joanna pause her breaths to listen for more.
Even his footsteps sounded lighter than they did before, as if the unbearable weight of his shoulders was removed. The footsteps were quieted as-Todd?-reached his destination. The soft tap of cold window glass was heard as he leaned heavily against the pain, his arm resting against the pain over his head, or she guessed. Not a moment more passed, until he spoke again, continuing on in a tranquil whisper, inducing her to ponder on how one could stomach murder so effortlessly as he did.
"There was a barber and his wife, she was his reason and his life, and she was beautiful…" His murmur was barely audible, forcing Joanna to strain her ear muscles in effort to hear him. Though they could not have been more than several feet apart, his voice sounded miles away, so far lost in thought, and dripping with gloomy nostalgia as he reminisced on something that happened long ago. "…So beautiful..." He whispered once more.
At that moment, Joanna could not stand it anymore. She had to see, had to know who this sinful monster was who spoke of love as purely as an angel. She would die if she did not know. It was the same threat of impulse which ruled the lives of most naïve youths, a boundless barrier that blocked all sense of reason and warning from entering her pretty, airy head. Just a peak, it would hurt no one. Perhaps if she memorized his face, she could identify him for the police if need be. It was the right thing to do. Her hand against the roof of the lid, she propped it ever so slightly, but it was enough.
The creak of tearing leather and oil-lacking metal hinges cut across the room, seeming louder than the screams, and Joanna's eyes narrowed as her dilated pupils shrunk from the sudden light, but the brightness could not stop them from widening as the tall dark form straightened sharply, vigilant and alert, spinning around so rapidly that caused her eyelids to involuntarily blink. She gasped at the twisted face, smeared with blood and range, advancing towards her faster than the lightning she watched during storms as a child.
His footsteps accelerated as he drew nearer, and Joanna dropped the lid back over the chest, as if truly believing that her vanishing would make him forget her appearance. If only it was possible to turn back time. She waited short, timeless seconds for the inevitable, until he threw the lid back with a deafening roar. She tried to scream, but terror stole it from her heart before she made it, and all she was able to do was watch her fate unfold.
She gaped at the ghastly sight of him; his loose, white sleeves converted its color, dying it a stark red with the judge's fluid. A single ivory streak that blazed across his jet black hair was painted crimson, dripping on to his leather vest and down his spine. Scarlett drops of liquid rubies precipitated from his body and down on to her flinching, pale face as he loomed over her, a humorless, threatening grin carved into maniacal, ragged face as he held a silver razor in his right hand, glinting in the dim, overcast light as if smiling at Joanna as well, winking at her and daring the girl to come hither.
His hand lashes out before her, and she shrinks away, yelping as a pale, iron band wraps around her thin, upper arm, marking her alabaster skin even through her filthy cotton shirt. His expression terrorizes her, and the look in his eyes is almost more than she can bear. They are split with rage, dark with hatred and fury, and without a hint of tender mercy residing anywhere in the gloomy blackness. He pulls her up and drags her out of the coffin-like chest, her bony body spilling out on the grime-encrusted floor, slick with the Judge's blood.
"Come for a shave, have you, Lad?" He snarls, his lips upturned with glee in the anticipation of another kill.
"No!" She shrieks. "I…" She tries to wrench away, pushing against his chest, but it is like shoving with all your might against a mountain. A hard-labored effort, but a fruitless outcome.
He ignores her pitiful attempts of escape, appearing as if he did not even feel them. "Come now, everyone needs a good shave." He mocks, his voice inviting with artificial warmth, the epitome of congeniality.
She claws at his arm, stabbing her nails into his skin, but he hardly flinches. He throws her into the dreaded barber chair, still wet and sticky from the judge's ordeal. It looked like the chair was bleeding. She recoiled in shock and distaste, blood and fear tainting her soft features. "Sweeney Todd will take care o' you." The name of Satan does not terrify her more.
She has no time, this she knows, and her eyes dart around the room as he advances towards her, leisurely unsheathing his blade, which within uncountable moments was pressing its cold body against the soft skin of her marble neck. Her chest rises with her breathing, and she forces herself to look the madman square in the eye. She did not know what she could do, but she knew that life was worth a try.
But he ignored her.
"There was a barber and his wife!" She shouted up at him, urgent for him to listen. "And she was beautiful!"
The barber's savage expression does not alter, but it did not escape Joanna's notice that he lowered his blade a fraction of an inch.
Thank you. I beg for your opinion. Enlighten me. Always appreciated to an addictive extent. :D