Previous caveats apply. Make that a double.
I don’t want her to go, but I can’t let her stay. She can’t live with me; I can’t live without her.
The thought chased its tail through David Bennett’s mind as he lay still in the dark. Leah was spooned against him, soft and round and warm. They fit together like puzzle-pieces. Her sleep-breathing did not disturb the dark, dead early-morning hours that she had made not quite so lonely.
I can’t let her stay” he thought. If she leaves, it will break my heart. If she stays, she dies, just like Gloria. No contest.
His eyes stung as he eased out of the comfort of her arms. She stirred, reached for him, then settled back into her dreams. He pulled on his sweat pants and slippers and shuffled into the living room. The little radio on the end table screamed “3:06” in glaring, bloody letters.
Her dreams. Her dreams were not the problem. His dreams were. They were back. He had hoped that after Gloria…but now they were back. Back and getting worse. He had to act soon if he was going to save Leah’s life, but how would he tell her? How would he tell the woman he loved deeply and forever that she had to leave?
Dave stopped by a cabinet long enough to retrieve a square bottle half-full of brown whiskey, then sank into his recliner and lifted the footrest. Gentleman Jack had seen him through a lot of times, both good and bad. He hoped the Man from Tennessee wouldn’t let him down this time either. He unscrewed the cap and lifted the bottle to his mouth. The fire in his throat was accompanied by a gurgle from the bottle. Jack was laughing at him again. He lowered the bottle and smiled. Good friends were hard to come by.
He watched a silver sliver of moonlight creep across the floor. Two hours until dawn. A long time. A long, long, lonely time. He soon found that whiskey at three A.M. was a mistake. His head bobbed, drooped, hung heavily, finally came to rest on his chest as his heavy breathing filled the quiet.
Leah in the sunlight, laughing. Her short, brown hair gleamed as if lit from within. Her green eyes sparkled. Her laugh excited him, filled him with joy, saturated his mind with love. Her teeth were white, square, and strong between her luscious pink lips. Laughing.
The knife she held seemed to laugh, too, the sinister silver curve of its blade a Satanic grin. Laughing even as the blade slid in. Bright, molten pain filled him as the knife explored his inner-most secrets. He screamed loud and high, but no sound came out. No one would hear. No one ever did.
Laughing as she pulled the knife free. Laughing as his blood fountained against her. Her nipples hardened, stretching the fabric of the already too-tight tee-shirt over her round breasts. Her tongue darted in and out, playing, licking her teeth so they shone. Even through the pain, even through his horror, he grew hard at the sight of her excitement.
Laughing as she slashed. Laughing as he tried to catch his slimy, bloody bowels in blood-slicked hands. Laughing as he failed, sank to his knees in a tangled, steaming mess of death. Laughing as she bent over and slashed again, amputating intestines and genitals with a single snake-quick strike.
Dave woke on his knees. Vomit pooled on the carpet in front of him, and the smell brought another heaving spasm. The whiskey burned more coming back up thanit had going down. He grabbed his stomach with both hands, expecting fiery pain and blood, but finding only unbroken skin. Tears streamed down his face as he retched miserably. His abs ached fiercely.
“Honey?” Her voice twisted in his mind like a giant steel spring. He heaved and retched again, dribbling bile.
“Dave?” Her hand touched his forehead, cool, healing. He tried to jerk away, fell over on his side. “What’s wrong, Dave? What’s wrong?”
What’s wrong? If he could only speak. If he could only tell her to get the Hell out of his sight, his house, his life. Get out! Run! Goddamnit, Leah, get away! All he could do was gasp and gurgle and choke. He had to tell her. She had to leave. Now. The next dream would be the last. Her last.
He drew a quavery breath.
[to be continued]