(Annie are you okay?)
A low distant rumble surges across the thick atmosphere. Moisture was tangible, hanging heavily in the air like a saturated blanket. Livid lightening briefly sashays across the horizon with another low growl of intemperate weather. Rain is imminent, the scent of spring rain raw to the senses.
(Are you okay Annie?)
Startled by the sound of the advancing thunder, I forget what I was heavily contemplating only seconds prior. Beneath the ancient Elm I could hear the staccato beats of individual droplets of rain, sparse yet, only leaving a handful of translucent splattered foliage.
I’m disturbed by my lack of short-term memory. My once-involved thoughts evade me so quickly that I am left wholly disconcerted. For several long seconds I’m unable to familiarize myself with the landscape around myself. Heat radiates from bodies situated in my general proximity, the temperature almost corporeal and the only source that offers consolation to my otherwise-chilled form.
“Annie, oh god, Annie.” The name strikes a chord with me. I consider the name for another length of time, repeating it mentally until it becomes more profound.
The woman at my side weeps the phrase several times. Her voice sounds hoarse, her enunciation poor from the amount of stress of her mourning.
Both my sister and I reach out for my Mother at the same time, and in perfect synchronization we touch both joints of her elbows. The clustered congregation remains solemn and sober, their faces ashen and elongated in expressions of pity.
“Momma, it’s okay Momma.” I whisper, my fingers sprawling open to cup her bent arm more fully in familial comfort. The roses artistically decorating the lid of the casket bow with the heavy weight of rain, white petals drenched in moisture as the storm finally gives and drizzles down on the burial site.
(Annie are you okay, are you okay Annie?)
“Sshh. Momma.” I respond, pressing my arm more fully against her limb, touching our hips together so I can physically support her weakened form. Warmth rolls off her dampening figure in waves, being absorbed through my frail clothing to offer me greater heat than I am used to. I remain at her side to offer assistance, and also to selfishly siphon off her body temperature.
My sister’s hand spans over my Mother’s lower back as the priest completes the consecration. The mass once centered about the casket begins to disperse quickly beneath the oppressive rain. My Mother’s body sways, and then weight is taken off my side. Although she cries my name she favors my sister’s form for guidance, and so I allow her to envelop my mother in a protective embrace as my eyes linger towards the open trench fascinated.
Rain falls with determination, coating the laminated casket head with a thin sheen of reflective moisture. The droplets look out of place amidst the carefully arranged floral pieces that mount the convex covering. The scent of fresh earth becomes pungent, filling my nostrils with the scent of loosened dirt and clay. While my sister leads my mother to the car I stay behind for a moment, starting at the unmarked grave.
I remember what I had forgotten earlier.
Whose funeral have we just attended?
I wake up once more to the sound of the storm.
Immediately I feel the damp chill of the room sinking through the layers of blankets that cover my prone form. Digital light blares a time that takes me several seconds to recognize, before I become more attune with my surroundings.
The light outside has faded from a teasing gray into a mottled charcoal. The lamps that run parallel down the sides of the street are already on and cast a shallow reflection off glistening asphalt. Shadows stretch across my bedroom, shifting only when a car passes, allowing a brief interlude where the headlights would gleam off the farthest wall from the bed and then disappear behind the corner of the building.
Turning to my back, I drape the hilt of my forearm across my clammy brow. Eyes narrowed, I watch the mirrored images of the car’s lights blink across the naked wall, listening to the wet spitting sounds the tires make against the surface of the road. The drapes occasionally undulate, brushed back by the cold breath of the rain. A growing puddle has formed, the open windowsill having split from the warped planks of the ledge down to the ground below, leaving a smear of dusty rain to pool on the hard wood floor.
The stale scent of rain collecting in the alley’s gutters causes the scent of blood to go undetected for some time. The scent assails me from nowhere, finally able to focus on the copper rich odor. I brush my fingers gingerly across a dark stain of the coverlet, raising my digits right before my eyes. Through the dimness I can see the opaque secretion, and I can almost taste the viscous consistency of the fluid.
(He came into your apartment)
(He left the bloodstains on the carpet)
I’ve started menstruating.
I’ve watched cars pass me for nearly a half an hour. Darting between awning and doorway, I’ve tried to conceal myself as well as possible from the consistent rain that seems to have plagued the city recently. Occasionally when the glare of headlights round the street corner to face me, I pause, hoping that maybe it would be a cab, or some civilian who would be stop and help a drenched pedestrian.
No one stops. Not in this city.
I bring my fingers up across the covered edges of opposite arms, rubbing the soaked material against my goose bumped flesh. Nothing warms me, my clothing adhered to my frame as the rain stays as relentless as ever. Despite this, I never numb from the damp cold; it seems to only deepen and infect me completely, taking me to a new level of continuous discomfort.
Another car. A flash of headlights illuminates my frame and silhouettes me for an instant across the adjacent alley wall. I decide to continue walking, not finding enough energy to hail this time. A wave from the gutter crashes over me, the rear tires projecting collected rain. I gasp and freeze, pausing with an internal shudder as water races down my already sodden form.
“Oh, oh Christ. Oh god. I’m sorry.” I hear. I glance up, my hair hanging in long thin strands across my shoulders. The car has stopped, idling at the side of the road beneath a flickering street lamp. I attempt to not raise my hopes by assuming anything.
Seconds later the car reverses, standing parallel to me as I look inwards at the dry interior. The passenger-side window is already rolled down, from where I heard someone speak seconds ago.
“Christ, I’m sorry. I didn’t even look, really. You got to be freezing…” He continues, and I timidly tuck a drenched lock of hair behind my ears to peer inwards a degree, my fingers still clenched about my upper arms in what might appear to be a defensive movement.
“It’s alright.” I reply, teeth chattering against one another with my boldfaced lie. I attempt to piece together a smile at the pleasantly attractive driver.
“Listen, I feel horrible. Do you need a ride?”
“What the hell were you doing out in weather like that, anyway?” He questions only a couple of minutes later, once I have secured the seatbelt across myself. I offer a somewhat self-depreciating grin as my arms migrate from my upper limbs to my lap, balling fingers together for warmth.
My mouth opens, ready to answer, when I come to the conclusion that I don’t really have one to offer. My brows sink inwards, and I’m once again struck with a distinct disorientation. I have no recollection of why I was out defying the weather.
“I needed something.” I state, after a moment’s pause. I offer another weak grin as my fingers spread over the hot air blowing through the dashboard fans. It isn’t much of a lie, considering I have no idea what my original destination was. “Turns out I couldn’t remember what it was once I got to the store.”
“You’re drenched” he protests, a hand disappearing behind the back of my seat. I tense, feeling all my muscles go rigid for a second at his gesture, never fully contemplating the risks of accepting a ride from a stranger.
By the time my fingers begin to subtly grope the outskirts of the handle at my side, I can feel a patch of friction against the nape of my neck, and feel him drape an old car blanket over my shoulders.
“That should help dry you off, at least.” He concludes, causing me to force a feeble guilty grin at him, my hand immediately leaving the cold contour of the handle to tug more securely the blanket to my soaking frame.
“I’m really sorry about that earlier,” he begins, glancing from the road ahead to me with a trying sort of grin. “It was like you appeared out of nowhere. Honestly.”
“It’s really okay.” I reassure. “I’m just thankful you stopped. I couldn’t even get a cab.”
“In this part of town? You must be kidding…”
I shake my head diligently in response, receiving an acute chill when I focus on the song currently being played on the radio. He somehow instinctually comprehends my distress and leans forward and turns the music off.
“My name is David.” He offers, followed by slightly boyish and partially bashful grin. “I don’t normally pick up strays, but I have a load of bad karma I need to even out.” I grin in reply, sincerely, feeling connected to him for some inexplicable reason.
“Angela. But my friends have always called me Annie.”
Water rushes off the surface of my skin, but this time I’m grateful for the downpour. Steam rises in a dense covering from inside the shower stall as I lift my chin towards the spray of water. My frozen skin responds, a pebbling prickling sensation racing down my nerves as my body gradually defrosts beneath the boiling heat.
An uneasy sensation washes over me. At first, it seems nothing more than a minor gnawing at the pit of my stomach, but I can feel it rise, lifting and spreading through my entire body with a panic-inducing tightness. Trembling, I stand beneath the pressurized water, my fingers slicking my hair back from my face, as I will my senses to sharpen.
The door to the bathroom is closed. Darkness prevails in the apartment; nothing changes in the flow of light. I steadily watch the sliver of space between the door and the ground for any shadows that might dart across the tiny crack. Nothing.
I depress the faucet gradually. The water resigns to a trickle, and finally shuts off completely allowing only a handful of droplets to speckle the tiles beneath my feet. I hold my breath, not daring to breathe. I don’t even want to blink. I try to gently roll the glass door open, sliding it on the ball bearings lightly, pausing as the steam escapes the cell and fills the room.
(There’s a sign in the window)
(He came into your apartment)
My breathing is labored. I want to gasp for air, but afraid to make noise I take negligible and quick breaths. Lungs stinging, I reach out for a towel, pressing it against my upper torso as I carefully exit the stall. A shadow finally lurches beneath the doorframe and slinks off towards the left, the bedroom.
I swallow dryly, knotting the towel about my figure. Water streams from my limp hair, from the skin of my arms, which still glares vermilion from previous liquid heat. I try the doorknob, fingers extended, watching as tendons tense and my wrist slowly rotates clockwise, unlocking the hinge.
(Annie, are you ok?)
Christ. God. Help me.
(Are you ok, Annie?)
Please don’t let anyone be here.
(Annie are you ok?)
Light is thrown to the wall opposite the bathroom. Steam rolls from the threshold of the door and seeps into the damp chilly ambience of the apartment. The illumination from the bathroom slices darkness and causes shadows to recede. I stand at the very edge of the doorway, clutching the towel in my fingers to create a rigid prayer knot.
(He came into your apartment)
There was no one.
The sheer drapes flutter across the windowsill where the window stays adamantly ajar.
There was nothing.
“Christ. Are you ever warm?” His question is accompanied by an amused laugh. I offer a grin at him, between embarrassed and also warmly humorous.
“I suppose I’ve just got thin blood.” A wry sort of look attaches itself to my reply, lifting my brows together at once. He gives me an appreciative sort of smile as his hand recedes from my bare arm.
“Do you want to come in?” I question, stepping back from the frame of the door, giving room for anticipated entry.
“No, no. It’s alright. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t catch pneumonia.” He replies, despite seeming to debate between coming in or not. A sinking sense of disappointment fills me after what I presume is a negative response. I make a conscious effort not to frown, rejection settling nervously within me.
“Oh, no. No. I’m fine.” I respond, almost too quickly. I can only give him a blushing sort of grin afterwards, as an awkward silence falls between the pair of us. I enjoy the tension.
“Listen. I have to do something tonight. What about tomorrow?” His proposition causes an irrational, euphoric glee to rush through my veins.
“I can do tomorrow, if you think you can hold off on picking up anymore strays.” The agreement causes him to laugh, and I echo the reaction.
“Yeah, ah…goodbye.” I return.
We’re both reluctant to leave, but I finally muster the strength to close the door, separating him from the apartment and leaving me to look forward to tomorrow night. It’s only ten minutes after he has left that I realize I forgot to return his blanket.
(You ran into the bedroom)
A fatal wind blows across the open drapes, causing them to bow away from the windowsill. A shadow lingers, compact against the corner of the fire escape. I stir from sleep, feeling the unnatural presence of something unfamiliar close to me. The rain has stopped; only the aftermath of cooling breeze is left to occasionally shift the curtains from their stiff peaks.
(You were struck down)
Bedsheets crackle with movement, static electricity caused by the friction of sheets grinding against eachother. The hairs on the nape of my neck begin to rise with the acute feeling of being watched. I draw upwards in the disheveled bed, gathering the sheets close to my chest as my heart begins a dull throb of hysteria. Eyes are bearing down on me invisibly, boring into my figure from afar.
(It was your doom)
Retreating from the bed with a shaky movement, I approach the window cautiously. Wind kicks the drapes into a beckoning motion towards me, and I become entranced with the surreal quality of the fluttering movements. They scream as I open them, thrashing in a flurry of white and black when I throw them apart to expose the window.
Silver flashes against the darkness with a debilitating pain that comes crashing down on my spine. An explosion of heat sends metallic sparks up behind my eyes. I wrench myself away, and then scream.
(Annie are you okay?)
(Are you okay Annie?)
I wake up – breathless, and seeming to have bled through my tampon.
I’m cold. I’m always cold. A perpetual chill has settled into my body, and I can’t seem to exorcise it. It creeps from the exterior of my skin and sinks inwards, absorbed into muscles and even bone marrow to numb my entire body. I feel nothing but the clammy clasp of coldness.
The window refuses to close. The woodwork must have become swollen and waterlogged due to the incessant rain. What feels like an unnatural breeze continually seeps through the open window, and the drapes offer little protection, sheer and fluttering noiselessly in the silent draft.
I wear David’s blanket across my shoulders as a monument to comfort and assurance. The very foundations of my apartment seem to have shifted subtly within the span of a half a week. I begin to notice a permeating feeling of wrongness about the atmosphere within. It starts to overwhelm me – the feeling of detachment from my surroundings – as if someone had finally punched the last perforated edges and thrust me from my secure setting into a familiar, yet unfathomably alien environment.
I’ve begun to hate what was once my sanctuary.
I decide to move out.
“It was brutal.”
I crease my brows as I listen to him, offering only a wan smile of apology.
“I try not to keep up with the news…it’s too morbid for my tastes.” He grins in response. Our conversation has remained consistent since he arrived, albeit being mostly nervous introversion and timid testing of grounds on both sides. Watching him, I press my perspiring palms against my knees, smoothing out creases that fold into the material of my skirt. While not physically trembling, I can feel my breath shaking internally, rasping within my lungs in terse excitement.
“I thought for sure that you would have heard about it – I swear it was in this district…” He responds, trailing off to look sincerely thoughtful and mumbling the end of the fading sentence.
“The last time I bothered to get a newspaper was two years ago when I first moved to the city, and everything but the classifieds ended up in the trash.”
“Turning a blind eye?” He chides lightly. I study his frame and notice that his own stance mimics mine, his hands self-consciously cupping his knee joints as well. We sit and attempt to have a forced conversation between casually eyeing each other’s figures. A dull throb of arousal pulsates within the pit of my stomach, spreading with contractions and becoming the first instance of internal warmth I have felt since the funeral.
“Something like that,” I reply, feeling a blush rush to my cheeks because of his close proximity. Instantly I clench my inner thighs, which is wholeheartedly meant to be a more defensive stance – to make it less obvious that I’m slowly growing more sexually inclined towards him. Instead the pressure forces a jab of tense pleasure between my legs. “I feel more…protected. I guess. From the outside world. I don’t know what’s going on, so it doesn’t touch me. It’s stupid, I know-”
“No. It’s not. I understand.” He interjects, nodding with mutual comprehension of my statement. “Besides. I’d hate for you to change.” He concludes, causing a faint trace of red to appear at the outer edges of his cheeks.
I inhale sharply; probably giving him what must look like a tensely-wired smile after his compliment. My bare feet go askew and I knot my fingers together, the large single first pressed between my inner knees as a method of self-distraction. I clear my throat shortly after he clears his own.
“So…” I reply.
“So.” He reiterates.
“So.” I counter, laughing afterwards with an anxious pitch.
Warmth circles the lower edge of my jaw, and with the infectious touch I glance upwards. His fingers extended, the very trips of the digits trembling with apprehension, but making contact despite the pensive nature of the stretch. I swallow, able to feel a knot growing in my throat as the single finger is joined by several others, and he grazes my cheekbone with the hilt of his knuckles.
“I’d hate for anything to change you, Annie.” He insists again, his voice dropping to a near-inaudible level. I can feel the damp warmth of his breath spread across the crest of my neck before I angle my head to look towards him more fully.
It takes me a conscious minute to lean inwards, the jerky movement lingering, but finally being executed after a courageous exhalation. Blood rushes past my ears with a deafening roar of movement as we finally kiss. The world dims as I close my eyes, yielding to the anticipated union, allowing my racing heartbeat to blacken out the rest of the world.
Shhh, Momma. It’s all right.
(Oh god, Annie)
Something with voluntary control skims down the side of my cheek with a brief graze. The motion leaves a ripple of warm electricity against the corner of my cheek, and automatically I incline myself towards the source of the pleasant gesture.
(Can you hear me?)
Vibrations from the vocal chords emanate against my shoulder. The sound is only a faint smudge of words at the back of my mind, leaving an impression, but nothing intelligible.
(It was brutal)
Grey filters between my lashes, and before the flash of brilliant white light of day I can only make out a faint crimson caul draped over my vision. Before seeing, and before hearing, I’m automatically aware that I’m not alone in the room. A presence rests beside me, tangible heat drifting from it and circling my limbs.
“Mmmm…” I respond, the veil lifting from my eyes, able to barely make out the form beside me. I can feel the faint pull of a grin already tensing about the corners of my mouth.
“You’re freezing.” He states, concern evident in his voice. A faint print of moisture is left behind just beneath the lobe of my ear. I produce a pleased sound, bowing my head back to the negligible pressure of his lips against my skin. His exhale causes the smeared print of his saliva to sting with coolness, but I welcome the sensation whilst I begin the process of fully awakening.
“Is that what they’re saying to be polite afterwards these days?”
He laughs at my reply, and I can feel an enveloping bridge of warmth expand from my lower hip to my waist. David seems to appreciate my sense of humor, from his the way he laughs and how he shifts his body against mine in the bed.
“Mm. You’re part of that group of people I try to stay hidden from.”
He laughs for a second time, his grip about my waist tightening as the sheets above us hiss with our altering positions. I’m nearly struck asunder with the abrupt wave of descending heat from his body which presses coaxingly against the back of mine. I can feel the core of the chill within my body begin to protest weakly against the gradual flooding of temperature, partially submitting as David and I make love once again.
(So she ran into the bedroom)
(She was struck down, it was her doom)
A flush of hysteria races through my veins when I hear the lyrics of the song from a passing car. Immediately, I jam my palms down on the window, attempting to budge the locked wood.
“Son of a bitch, move…” I hiss with disquieted urgency. The sill cracks beneath my leaning weight, splinters of wood rising and bubbling from the pressure and the moisture that has seeped into the layers of compressed material. The window is ruined, from the warped planks of the ledge to the very mechanics.
I hate that song. I hate that song more then anything else. I can hear the words of the whispering chorus echo even when I speak to myself. The only thing that seems to drive the eerie song from my mind is David.
Rain has started again. The pelting drive of the shower slants inwards, staining my forearms with thick and musty droplets of water. A low rumble of thunder shakes the heavy atmosphere. Behind me, the drapes shudder against my frame, partially from the breath of cold air that slinks inwards from outside, and partially from my own heaving figure as I attempt to close the door.
“Close, goddamn you, close!” I entreat the window, groaning as it refuses to even consider a movement. It remains jammed in place, not even a squeal of protest from the metal hinges. The ancient pane of glass doesn’t even rattle with my incessant pressure.
I hate the rain. I hate the cold. I hate the breeze. I hate this window. I loathe the outside. I watch as morning turns into bleak day, and from bleak day into an unforgiving night. The greyness is unrelenting. The alley below remains drenched with moisture, sodden newspapers and cardboard adhering to the pavement. The stench of rotting food is washed away by the mildew scent of stagnant puddles.
The chill returned immediately after David had left. I drape the blanket about my shoulders and move from room to room with an endlessly nervous pacing. I hope the activity will inspire warmth, but it never does.
I can catch the edges of faint conversations – from neighboring apartments, from beneath my open window. The conversations seem to gather in my apartment, as if it was a magnetic focal point. I try to listen and decipher what is being said, but the words stay incomprehensible, leaving me with only impressions of emotions.
Bitterness. Rage. Sorrow. Disgust.
I can’t go outside. I don’t even want to open the door to the corridor. I wait for David, listening to the rain, and to conversations I’ll never understand. The apartment has a distinct feeling of being full, even when I’m alone. I don’t know if this comforts me or disturbs me, but I refuse to leave.
Have I become agoraphobic?
I wake up with a choking gasp. A sharp ramming pain plummets through my lower back and causes a spread of fiery agony across my vertebrae. With muscles tensed, my rigid form jolts heavily in bed at the instant of consciousness. The bed shudders with an aftershock from the unexpected movement.
A gurgle of distress causes me to sharply break my attention from my own personal ebbing pain to focus on the source of the noise. A woman crawls against the ground, blood weeping from a series of wounds at her back. I can follow trails of it across the carpet fibers have been stained only seconds before. She crawls on her forearms, digging her elbows into the plush surface with an enervated desperation.
(Wake up Annie, wake up)
Her nightgown adheres to her frame, fresh blood rushes alongside her limbs, her entire lower figure stained. The gown wetly rustles against her back thighs with her limp movements. I watch in terrified absorption as the dying woman attempts to crawl from the bedroom into the living room.
(Oh god, Annie, wake up)
Her entire body jerks, a spasm causing her frame to shudder heavily as bile-tinged blood forces itself out of her mouth, following what looks to be like a wrench from her diaphragm. It splatters against the carpet, her entire form sagging with fatigue-
(For Christ’s sakes Annie, wake the fuck up-)
The bed flinches.
“Annie? Annie? What’s wrong? Annie?” I can feel individual fingers wrapped around my upper arm and tensing with pressure. A gentle shake causes me to snap forwards and backwards, then finally out of my numbed spell. “Sweetheart, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
I sob. My lungs ignite with fire when I exhale heavily, feeling as if they were about to collapse. I lean forwards further, respiration jagged and uneven. Warmth exuded from his frame blankets me as I am embraced against his torso. Blinded by a flood of stinging tears, I latch to his figure and finally close my eyes for the first time since waking up from the nightmare.
“I need to get out of here.” I manage, the sentence broken and exhaled with a staccato rush. Weaving my arms behind his lower shoulders, my face presses into his sternum, and the scent of fabric softener and his masked sweat gives me some reassurance and comfort.
“Why? What happened baby?” His tone is much softer now, a hand skimming down the side of my head with a loving brush, soothing me. His tingling warmth seeps into my scalp, within my skull, penetrating my head with throbbing heat from his palm.
“The apartment. It’s haunted. Please get me out of here…please David.” I beg, gasping for breath that causes my chest to ache when drawn in. Both of his hands come about the sides of my head, tilting my chin upwards to meet his gaze, concern mixed with uncertainty.
“Yes. Of course. Anything you want Annie,” his reply whispered softly down to me, his fingers brushing back against my head with a coaxing gesture. I raggedly laugh, mixed with the heavy release of another sob, my hands entwining about his wrists as he grasps the side of my head.
From the corner of my eye a flutter of yellow elastic draws me away from my rabid packing. I will myself to keep my vision averted from the window. The smooth folds of damp drapes hide the flitting broken piece of thick tape, but after several long minutes my temples begin to pound from the stress of the constant stimulus at the corner of my eye.
(As he came into the window)
(It was the sound of a crescendo)
I hesitantly draw my unwilling gaze to the ajar window. Behind the thin gauze of the drapes, the single sash remains in constant motion, played with by the clammy breeze. Swallowing, I pensively approach the windowsill narrowing my eyes on the snaking plastic.
An unexpected wariness fills me. I’m unsure if I should even respire, holding my breath as my eyes burn from a lack of moisture. My arm remains extended, fingers sprawled open, suddenly afraid to rip off the thick piece of tape. With an abrupt deft movement my wrist jerks, fingers snatching behind the drape and securing a fierce grip on the loose ribbon.
I remove the elongated piece of plastic tape, water droplets clinging to the pitted surface of the blank yellow barrier. I finally exhale as the excess moisture dampens my fingers and palms as I tow my fingers across the broken particle. After carefully inspecting both sides I find the long piece blank, and the only significant aspect to it is the familiar yellow hue of warning.
Uneasily, I submit the tape to the breeze, the drapes tugging behind my frame as the waterlogged article is swept from my open hands and out the window. A familiar quiet tremble races across the thickening sky.
For the first time in days I finally recognize the pattern.
The rain begins and pauses at the same time every day.
“God help me…” I can hear her whisper. The voice is metallic and resigned, drawing away from life. Words are hindered, sounding as if her larynx has been damaged, preventing her from screaming for help – silenced purposely, vomiting blood on the carpet in wet heaves from her dying form.
I reach out to her, dragging my knees against the carpet, trailing after her while her blood wells up and stains my nightgown. The friction from the carpet beneath rubs my inner arms raw as I forcefully slide across the tarnished carpeting. Blood, viscous and steaming, smothers me like a second skin, my gown plastering against my figure from the adherent liquid coating it.
She gurgles violently once again, a shaking, paling hand forced against her severed throat, grappling at the wound in a feeble attempt to stop the pulsating blood. I watch as her body double up beside me, spine arching upwards in a bridge from convulsions, my fingers prying at her upper shoulder to turn the ill-fated woman over.
(I thought for sure that you would have heard about it, I swear it was in this district.)
My heart freezes, fingers ripping from her shoulders in mad disbelief as I viciously ram my back into the side of the bed. My own scream deafens me, roaring in my ears with a fierce sense of denial. Fingers sprawl forwards trembling feverishly as they hover over my lower abdomen.
(It was brutal)
An electric shot of pain washes over my body causing me to wrench against the bed as I force the thickness of my palms against the series of lacerations across my mutilated stomach. I grapple the nightgown, stuffing the weeping penetrations with the soaking material.
(Annie, oh god Annie)
I stare into my dead eyes a foot away.
A sudden slash of light cuts across the suffocating darkness of the apartment. I extend my quivering arm towards the source of the light, dragging my torn body across the carpet towards the front door.
“Annie?” David questions.
Another harsh thrust of steel rips into my lower back, jolting me with a gasp. I wait as the hammering of fire withdraws from my numbing form. I bend beneath the knife, and collapse as I lose control of my arms as the weapon is rammed back into my side.
Threads of blood separate within the space of my forced-outwards digits, extending out towards him, as my cheek is ground into the carpet.
When I move my jaw clinging warmth spills across my fingers. Nails bite into the flesh of my throat, attempting to pinch the severe jagged wound closed unsuccessfully. My diaphragm jerks, rising with a harsh tear as I mouth his name.
“Annie?” He questions again, light spilling further inwards as he steps into the living room. The grating sensation of the raw carpet against my exposed flesh lessens, until I can no longer feel the prickling textile.
Humidity from outside hinders blood from quickly coagulating. The thrash of rain, beating relentlessly against the opened windowsill, brings a hint of cool salvation to the burning in my throat.
David’s figure distorts. The roar of traffic outside battles with the noise of the rain. There is a ripe sound made as the knife impales me a final time against the floorboards, spearing me entirely until the knife cuts into the carpet and floorboards beneath.
I watch as my fingers begin to curl inwards involuntarily, my arm rolling limply against the ground without my guidance. I no longer try and struggle for air. Warmth comes. It touches the frozen marrow. It defrosts me. And I’m warm now, lulled into a strange sense of security.
David eventually becomes a fleck of gray amidst black, his form elongated into a thin line. Standing less than a foot away from me, I can no longer force myself to roll my eyes upwards to capture his face for one last time.
(You’ve been hit by)
(You’ve been struck by -)
Beneath the rattle of a rusting exhaust system the fading lyrics of the sound is heard as a car speeds past feet away from my open window. The edge of David’s shoe rounds about my knuckles, gently nuzzling against the bloody skin. He shrinks back from the touch, a visible shudder encompassing his body completely, causing him to turn and move towards the window.
Behind me something squeals, ramming down with such force that I can find my voice again for one second, letting out a scream in unison with the shrieking hinges before I sink into the finality of oblivion.
His expression shifts from concerned to confused, features pinching together as a sudden chill strikes at the core of his nervous system, unable to suppress the resulting shudder. Moving from the cold spot to the window, the apparent source of the breezy chill, he immediately releases the lock mechanisms. With a relieved groan the window slams downwards, fitting itself back into the structure of the pane as loose yellow police tape is caught between the barriers.
“Annie?” He questions again, frowning, thinking briefly that he had heard the sound of her voice. Perplexed, he stands for several more minutes, before finally picking up his neatly folded blanket off the stripped floor.
He glances back once again towards the skeletal interior of the abandoned apartment. With only a flutter of brows he ducks beneath the crossed lines of police tape that attempt to dissuade entry from pedestrians. The dominant odor wafts from rolls of striped carpet waiting in the hallway to be discarded. Hardened bloodstains afflict the exterior contours of the rolled ground cover, seeming to have seeped from the innermost regions.
Smooth edges of fingernails catch against the unraveling fabric, and with a slight tug he separates the dead skin from the woven material. With an arched brow he meticulously removes a single strand of fragile blonde hair from the cloth. Holding it beneath the glare of the scorching summer sun, it radiantly glistens gold against his tapered grasp. He studies the strand for a long moment, cautiously, before releasing it to the staunch breeze of the day.
David’s hair is brown.
Well folks, wish me luck. I’m going to try and send this story mainstream in hopes it’ll be published in a nationally/internationally known magazine. If you have questions or comments please feel free to e-mail me or check out my revamped ‘offical’ site. Cheers!