Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by Raven Starhawk

 

     1

     Nestled in a corner a desk stood. She caressed its top drawer handle, pulled it open and held her breath. Inside a shiny object gleamed under her stare.  To hold the cold blue steel and know six bullets hibernated within a sleek chamber sent shivers up her spine.

     Metal slipping into the deadbolt lock and activating the tumblers froze her in place. She lingered a moment between rooms, staring ahead at the front door, her eyes narrow. The sight of the stocky man as he entered soured her stomach. A name tag with lemons printed on one side was clutched in one over sized hand.

      As he approached, that ape like walk making her heart sink, sickness rose in her mouth. That expression he so often wore without regret, a vile smirk and playful glimmer in his eyes, signaled to one thing and she receded.

      Not again, she thought and turned, but in an instant he was there holding her by the forearm and yanking her against him. His fingernails dug into her flesh, pierced her and made crescent shaped moons. She wrenched away and managed two steps before he snagged her by the back of her shirt. He pulled and fabric ripped. She spun, eyes wide and nostrils flaring as a growl escaped her throat and she bellowed in his face.

      A laugh rolled off his tongue and through shiny pearl teeth as he forced her back against a wall he retorted, "I love it when you play hard to get."

      He breathed and clasped both sides of her face, forcing it still and as he leaned close sickness again spilled into her mouth. Sloppy wet kisses raped her lips.

      With unrelenting fists she pounded on his chest and thrashed her head from side to side. The onslaught of repulsive tongue strokes in her cheek and taste of soda pop and popcorn made it all but impossible to keep her stomach from pulsing and lurching upward. With a jerk of her knee, he doubled over, holding his groin. In a flash she remembered the drawer and what wait inside. The glistening barrel and sleek cold blue steel made an imprint in her mind and she dodged around him.

      She fished inside for the weapon. Her fingers curled around the easy grip handle and she whisked around, aimed and watched him freeze in his tracks.

      "Are you serious?" A sheepish grin played across his face.

      Her aim wavered. Hot tears stung her eyes as a distant voice called from someplace dark but not forgotten. She tried to listen to its sweet melody and the cadence of speech, strained against the pounding of her heart and whoosh of blood thundering in her ears. Then it was closer.

      "I cannot help it," he grinned. "I need it, Eve."

      Eve gritted her teeth. Her fingers itched to pull the mechanism that would project hot searing metal into him, but as she stared at the heap of wasted flesh her mind drifted into the silk wrappings of a voice echoing in her head.

      "Funny thing to say when someone has a gun aimed in your face," she replied.

      He backed away and slumped over a chair as he fell into its seat. He straightened his unkempt curly brown hair damp with sweat. "I am a man," he tried to say, but she was on him, the black eye of the barrel staring him down.

      She watched as her fingers squeezed the trigger and closed her eyes.

      2

      Wakened from a daze, Eve threw her legs over the ledge of the bed. For a moment she leaned forward, pressed her forehead in her palm and waited for the dizziness to subside.

      Rory lay a bloated hand on her shoulder. "You should come back to bed."

      Reluctantly she turned to view his length. Beneath the tangle of sheets she imagined his body flabby and unkempt. When her head lay on the pillow his sweat drifted to her nostrils. Its repugnant aroma made her reconsider another angle. Now facing away, his heat forced her still. She waited for him to reach for her, but he didn't and soon sleep found her again.

      Dreams spun their web and at first they seemed rather vague, but the more she fell under their spell the more vivid they became.  A calculating atrocity sat with wide eyes. Their piercing stare birthed sadist chills. A fabrication hung from her mouth with spittle.  Then as morning broke she resumed a wakeful state where the nightmares of night seemed heavenly.

      With her back turned to the window she sighed. A heavy cloud escaped her nostrils. Frosty air bit at her hook nose and nibbled at the tips of her fingernails, yet she stood with grace on those steps facing the ice slicked road.

      The three story building had only society's best walk across its threshold. Her eyes traveled along the gold trim and glided over the long arched windows. Inside she imagined dreams being fulfilled and careers being made.  With a rigid finger she pressed the white button, listened to the clever chime of bells that followed and waited. Her legs were stone pillars side by side. Her hands were folded just above her stomach and as the door swung open a smile pulled back the leather texture of her cheeks.

      Days blended into one right after the other. Are they watching her? Questions without answers accumulated in her brain. She never expected anyone to understand.  Inside she crept past the man whose rail thin figure might snap at any moment. She pretended not to notice. She rubbed her temples. Dark circles spun before her eyes, drawing in darkness from some neither region she had hoped to leave behind her but as the enchanted faces of America's elite melted away her mind turned in on her.

     Screeching tires from the street over made her tense and she paused. That could be them. The ghostly pair of headlights scoured her heart with doom. She knew they were coming. She knew they wanted to break her.  She thrashed against something. They felt like steel arms. Fuzzy faces looked in from high above.

     Damn government agents, she thought as now orbs of light circled in her vision. It did not cease the endless nonsense her voice manifested without her consent. "Sleep is not mine to be had. I do not deserve it and even if I did I cannot entertain it. They know it. They want me to crack and then they will find good reason to seize control."

      She stopped only as something sharp pierced her arm. Words floated in from the blurry images above. She strained to hear but could not.

     She bellowed over them, "How can I tell if this is for real or just delusion?"

     Her face twisted. This could not be happening, she told herself.

     "But how do I know for certain it is paranoia? Do you see my dilemma now?"

      Her eyes darted from up and down from side to side as the loud screech filled her ears.  Her arms felt bound, restricted in long sleeves and buckles. Now the white padded walls filtered in through the haze. Two men looked down at her as a third circled overhead. At her feet a door opened and closed. They were leaving her now. Where were they heading off to?

      Beams of light swelled around her, carried her to dreams that sung past tales but only from parched mouths. Once again she was among the elite and sipping fine wine, discussing nightmares that would snare the human race one night at a time. This was her America. She was what was best for it. They would be well to remember it now and always for as long her dreams lasted.

      Life...it was a tool for the art she manifested as nightmares. Its rules were never hers to follow. Boundaries of time were hers to cross.

       3

      With a chill, true morning began. Dew clung to uncut blades of grass. Over the horizon an autumn's sun crept. There seemed no reason to despair or sulk. Who could possibly ferment on a day so clean and crisp? It was a question she asked herself as she stepped down from the porch.

      Her arms folded, her fingers curled in the fabric of her red knitted sweater, the air threw a chill and she shivered. Though the scent was fresh, it left a bitter taste on her tongue.  The day was not a day at all, she observed.

      Her vision blurred. She blinked hard to correct it. A rush of nausea churned in her stomach. Darkness unraveled about her; at first a pinpoint in the distance that swelled until day became night and night a nightmare.  She did not hear the heavy door behind her open and close. Heavy footsteps fell on concrete and still she failed to prepare herself for him as he reached out to grab her. She jerked free of his grasp in an instant, whirled around and stared heatedly into his beady eyes. Behind his spectacles an impish smile broke.

      The only thing they shared these days were the gold bands marking their union as husband and wife. Pushing herself into a stand, Eve caught the glint of the sun on the wretched thing and wanted to twist it off and shove it down his throat.

      "You scared me," she said, forcing a smile.

      Rory adjusted his pants around his thick midsection as he explained, "I am going to be late tonight getting home. I thought I would tell you. Do not bother waiting up."

     He ran a hand down her side. With every fiber of her being she fought the urge to quiver in repulsion. His touch no longer sent butterflies to her stomach. Instead it reminded her how much she had grown to dislike the man whose bed she shared. Still it was best not to ignite the anger inside him and so she nodded with another forced smile pulling her cheeks back.

      Last night's dreams drifted back to her. Even in her night time hours, behind closed eyes, he haunted her. By now it had twisted her slumber. She slept unsound, tossed and turned and waited for the next time when she did something not to his liking, waited to feel the back of his hand or the force of his weight on top her.

      She quivered. Last time was not so long ago, but yet as she buried the memories as deep as she could they always had a way of clawing their way to surface to preoccupy her. They now had a life of their own.

      Please let this be another dream, she pleaded with herself, feeling the morning's sun wash over her as Rory pulled out of the parking lot. From the driver's side of the Oldsmobile he gestured obscenely and then sped off. Sure while he was away at work she might have thought about picking up and leaving for good, but wherever she went he found her and usually for months after she would pay dearly for it.

      No, she must stay. With her head hung she turned and drug her feet back toward the heavy brown door. Its silver handle gleamed under the morning sunshine and although she imagined it smiled upon her as she reached for it she also believed it mocked her. Then she paused. How could an inanimate object feel the way humans do?

      "It can't," she answered and curled her fingers around the curve of it. Its stainless steel slipped beneath her grasp and she struggled a moment to tighten it. She glanced over shoulders at the rising sun and sighed. If only there was something she might be able to do to make this life a less miserable one.

      The image of Rory remained imprinted in her mind. He would never let her leave. In fact the only way away from the man was through the parting of death. There was no way she could take his life though she thought about it from time to time. What woman hasn't when faced with a ugly truth her so called loved one was a tyrant bent on secluding her from everything she held dear in life?

      A frown sketched her features. The cords in her neck were pulled tight and the tense feeling started to creep up her jaw and straight over her scalp. Soon the ache would swell to a bitter agony and nausea would wash over her like a huge tidal wave. Climbing the stairs she glided her hand over the railing and slowed. No matter what the headaches would come. They would continue to haunt her regardless of how life presented itself. As long as Rory was in the picture they would come.

      She opened the door leading into the nightmare she was born to on the eve of their marriage. Here there were rules a plenty and seldom ones to forget less it meant swift and stern punishment from the Captain of Terror. One evening she had placed a dish towel in an awkward sit on the polished top of the toilet. She had meant to drape it over the rack but then the phone rang and his mother loved to talk and talk. When she was finally able to hang up and resume her daily duties the towel had escaped her mind.

      She took in a deep breath at the remembrance of Rory's dangerous tantrum that ensued upon his arrival from work. He claimed to have never seen such a rude display in all his life. She wondered how that could have been when the man was a walking tragedy.

      His body odor had been particularly strong and it burned her nose as she sank under his blazing glare. His long greasy hair looked matted and clung to the thick cords in his neck. His mouth was a tightly strung chorus of swears and insults, spittle dripping in his unkempt beard and occasionally hitting her in the face. It was no short of a miracle no one phoned the police. She imagined even if they did show up Rory would devise a clever explanation and shoo them away with a smile. Then as soon as the cruiser sped out of sight his rage would continue to boil and infect whatever chances she had for a peaceful night.

      She slid the latch over, securing the dead bolt. As her gaze slid across the room she wondered what she might attend to first. The breakfast dishes sat in the sink waiting to be cleaned. The floor could use a quick sweep. There was barely anything clothes in the wash, but she knew letting them gather in a pile would certainly provoke another lecture.

      She strode across the carpet and veered into the hallway. Since the bathroom was her most unwelcoming chore she might as well get it out of the way. The good thing was the tiles in the stall were free of build up and the tub itself was still gleaming white. The toilet on the other hand caught her attention right off. The starting of a yellow ring could easily be scrubbed away. Then there was the sink. Though it was not disgusting it should be wiped down and reorganized.

      A well maintained ship was a "happy" one, she told herself and busied herself with it.

      Moving on she darted into the master bedroom. Her eyes surveyed the room. She made the bed earlier. Books were carefully placed according to size in the bookshelf. Papers were evenly stacked on top a desk in the corner. Protective plastic hung over the computer that sat there. Everything seemed well in its place and she closed the door. Back in the hallway she took another deep breath. She trotted into the kitchen. There was no use in putting off the dishes a moment longer. Besides, it was better to have everything done before noon in case Rory decided to surprise her during his lunch hour and check to see if she was hard at work. Of course usually when he happened upon her for his supposed lunch hour he always wanted a quickie. Protesting only ensured a night of endless confrontation where she usually ended up across the floor with aching ribs and scalp since he loved hair pulling and kicking as much as he did forcing himself on her.

      Watching the suds in the sink she paused. It was all a joke to him. Her tears were his amusement and savage addiction. She denied it for so long, but no longer. It was almost as if he needed it more than air in his lungs. After all once her tears flowed hot and true he backed off only to laugh and mock her. There might be a few extra slaps or kicks for good measure but needless to say the worse would be over and he would leave her to watch porn or sleep, depending on the time.

      She let the plate sink back into the steaming water and watched as suds devoured it. There had to be someone who could help her end it, but who?  Mandy?  She shook her head. It was a blessing having relation in the same complex, but Mandy was just a kid and ill equipped to handle such cruelty in life.

      From the apartment beneath her she heard a groan. No doubt Old Joe Farmer was again protesting the soft padding of her feet as she scurried from room to room. The funny thing was he wasn't old and the furthest thing from a farmer, but whenever she caught his nasty glare in path of her she could think of nothing else. She supposed it was the ragged clothes he wore and perhaps the unkempt hair that reminded her of an old time farmer.

      She listened for a moment and then smiled. There was nothing to the business of ignoring. She mastered the art of it. Wiping away maple syrup from fork she started to hum. Thinking happy thoughts got her through the day just fine. Sure there were moments where the thoughts would stink just like maple syrup to a fork, but for the most part they flowed like...

      She paused, unable to compare it to anything at the moment. She leaned against the sink, watching suds gather around sunken plates and cups before sighing and realizing perhaps nothing could compare to it because nothing was ever easy.

      And she was about to learn just how true that was.



© 2019 Raven Starhawk


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Added on February 19, 2019
Last Updated on February 19, 2019
Tags: horror, fantasy, fiction, paranormal, occult, drama