This story is by DJ Cooper and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Fearful indeed the suspicion – but more fearful the doom. My thoughts returned to this, over and over again. Reminded of this passage by Poe; in the darkness, I could not help but fear the doom that has surely befallen me.
The air here is stale and lifeless, a scent lingers that is rancid causing an involuntary gag. The metallic taste of blood is in my mouth. I can feel it, the droplet making its drunken path from the oozing wound above my eye. Inward to the groove beside my nose getting lost in the hairs of my mustache before crossing my lips. A sense of dread overtakes me. Terror. The realization strikes, I have no idea of how I got here. I try to scream but nothing comes out. Like a vacuum the space consumes my cries. No sound can be heard from within this place. I now understand meaning behind the carefully chosen words; “the silence is deafening.”
My hands are bound in front of me. I can feel the rope as I twist my arms and it burns the skin. It is a small space around me. Smooth, almost like a pillow. Tapping my feet, I feel the bottom. And something below me, still there is no sound. I have shoes on. “Tap, tap, tap. I rap the bottom. Why is there no noise? I wonder? There is no sound, there is no light. What is this place and what lay beneath me? Something protrudes from beneath. writhing from side to side I struggle to reach it, yet I can’t. I’m growing more uncomfortable because it sits near my spine in its ever-present annoyance. In my own arrogance I surmise, “This must be a joke, who would play such a sinister prank?” Then again, I wonder?
I hope it’s a prank.
As if by chance, images flash in my mind. A memory perhaps, or a dream of sorts. A girl sitting on the tailgate of a truck. The smile intoxicating. Her lacy blue shirt shows the outline of a bra with its sheer pale flowers. The jeans she wears are ripped. Not tattered but in the fashionable way young girls wear them. The breeze sways the blond locks that lay in curly tendrils about her face. Fancy free is the dance of those that have escaped the clip atop her head.
She sits, arms propped behind her looking up at the puffy clouds that drift by in a dance of shapes. The sun lights her face, her pale white skin bathed in light. Pulling the clip from her hair she tousles it. The color shines as a halo around the head of an angel. Sitting there without a care swinging her bare feet off the edge of the tailgate. Watching her brightly painted toes, the carefree nature is intoxicating, and I cannot look away. A butterfly lands on the side of the truck and captures her attention. She studies it until it flies off. Following the butterfly her gaze meets mine as I watch from the seat of my car. The encounter making me blush and I feel my heart race.
She smiles my way.
Watching her, as if by some dream her shirt begins to turn red. No, not red but crimson. Her eyes stare at me, wide and fearful. The terrible color overtakes the front of her shirt and begins to consume her jeans. The crimson color of blood. Arterial blood that keeps pulsing through her slender fingers desperately trying to cover the long gash across her neck. I sit in shock unable to move. I can’t help her. I can only watch as the life drains from her eyes. The blood no longer pulsing from the wound. She is released by the hand that holds her and she crumbles to the pavement. Her flaccid body lay facing me; mouth open as though she would scream yet silenced by the knife. Arms outstretched. She was reaching for me, but the life now long gone from her eyes.
There is a man that now stands over her. His arms hang before him like pendulums. In one hand a lock of the girl’s hair and the other a long shiny knife. One last droplet of blood dangles from the tip in silent anguish crying out for the life it stole. I sink lower into my seat to avoid his watchful gaze while he scans the area for passersby. He picks up the girl. Looking at her, he lovingly brushes a lock of hair from her eye. Gently placing her into the bed of the truck, for what purpose I couldn’t fathom. I look down to find my keys. The question racing through in my mind, why kill her? I wonder?
Admonishing myself for lingering, “Go.” I need to get away from here before I too am unceremoniously dispatched. A shadow blocks the light. The figure stands outside my door, his bloody hands leaving prints on my window. The knife and lock of hair still firmly seated in each. I’d locked the door, but he would not be dissuaded. Fumbling for my keys, it is with a loud crash I’m stunned. The window succumbed to the force of the crowbar just before it struck my head.
Right above my eye.
I remember all this, it’s not a dream but a memory. I know now why I lay bleeding yet unaware of where it is I lay. My role in this? A witness to a horrific crime. I wonder. “What did the pretty girl…?” My thoughts trail to another place. Beneath me… somehow, I knew, it was her. The smell, the feel. I writhed, moving as much as I could. I feel it! My arm brushes against the cold flesh of another. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I lingered too long. I saw those decisive moments of the pretty girl and now here I lay encased alongside her. Panic settles into my soul. Somehow, I know it’ll never be light again. Forever darkness, the silence is deafening.
The long slow breaths grow slower and it is my own heartbeat I hear. There is sound, a rhythmic thump getting softer with each beat. I lay here beside the pretty girl, forever encased in an embrace that never was.
The darkness is here…