Ryan didn’t follow, instead staying behind to barricade the doorway, the drag of furniture so reminiscent but I couldn’t recall from which place or when. How many times had we repeated this process since the world changed? I didn’t know, couldn’t tell, concentrating lifting my heavy legs while I thought of anything but what I would find. Thought of anything but the flashbacks I knew would come, along with the embellishments my brain added as a punishment for my crime.
I looked down, my stare peering halfway up the stairs. Was this the first of the tricks played by my mind, or was the line of blood, widening as it rose, real or just in my head? I couldn’t remember if it had been there before. Was it dark when I was last here? I think so, but I couldn’t be sure. Was it hers? The question I should ask, but should I already know from the colour, or did it have a smell, her delicate scent I’d tasted so many times? If I truly loved her, should I be able to tell? I couldn’t. Did that answer my question? I shook my head and lifted another step.
With Ryan still busy at the foot of the stairs and despite my legs gaining weight, or my muscles losing strength with each rise, I made it to the landing, following the blood rising to a pool in the centre. Yes, I had seen this before. My hand reached out to the soaking wet bandage I’d forgotten until now. I looked down, following the blood smearing, blotting with each of my damp prints. Turning up to the spread of blood, the previous events which hadn’t taken place in this house slowly drifted through my head and I raised the pistol, the butt sticky with blood and I pulled back the slide, priming the chamber with a bullet and pushed it out to lead the way.
Despite my fear, I turned left, knowing it was the place I least wanted to go. Knowing it was the most likely location for what I sought, the keys to the van. Or at least I told myself it was what I looked for.
The room was dark; the curtains pulled closed, the air heavy and perhaps not all the atmosphere projected by me. Try as I might I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood at the door. Try as I might I couldn’t stop the chatter of my teeth, the constant vibration of my limbs, the wave of the gun as it swayed left and right to counter the buzz of my frozen arms. Try as I might I couldn’t see beyond the bed, couldn’t see past the mattress, the space between where I’d been held down, where I was close to being raped, later handcuffed, betrayed. Couldn’t see beyond there and the window. With one step I drew a shallow breath, lungs stuttering to take all the air in one go, my face expressionless, pistol still pointed out into the vague darkness. With the second step I let out an exhale, letting my eyes close but only for a moment, before they shot wide and I surged forward when her form appeared, projected at the window, knowing it was only inside my head.
The sudden movement stopped the shakes, calmed my convulsions as I grabbed at the curtains. Sweeping left and right, drawing back as the light poured, my eyes opening, tears rolling down my face, hitting the carpet soaked in blood as my eyes darted between each of the littered bandages and red sodden dressings. I saw the chaos in my head, watched myself disappear down the stairs, watched Toni’s mother catch her in her arms, lay her to the floor, breathless and silent as she fought to find the wound, screaming the house down for help.
I watched as more joined the panic, as lights crowded, pouring their beams on the holes in her chest, her clothes pulled up and discarded. I opened my eyes, searched the floor, but found nothing. All that remained was her life force spread across the floor.
I crouched, the tears landing on the back of my left hand as I touched the tip of my index finger to the ground. The blood sticky, not dry. I watched as the pain drained from her face in the torchlight. I watched as she replayed my destructive force over and again in her head, her last thoughts before they brought the long black bag, before they zipped her up from heel to head.
The stairs creaked. I looked up. They hadn’t made a noise as I’d climbed. At least I hadn’t noticed. I looked back down begging for the pain once more, begging for the punishment to fill my heart, but I couldn’t concentrate, the noise on the floor too great. I stood, whispering his name.
“Ryan,” I said in a voice only someone next to me would hear, but the reply was greater than I could have expected. Ryan’s voice shouted a hurried command, a panic male voice matching his volume. The two bucks squared off with indistinct, hurried words, but as I took the first steps with the gun shaking out it front, an explosion drowned everything out, throwing me off my feet and on to the bed, shattering the window, spraying razors of glass.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.