Written by J. Marie Ravenshaw
I was running down a dark, dank alley. Red Neon light framed a door to my left, casting an eerie glow to the narrow corridor. The sound of my heels hitting the pavement echoed off the walls surrounding me. Heavy footfalls followed close behind. Dead end ahead, no way out. I stopped in my tracks, heart racing, struggling to catch my breath, gasping.
My eyes darted around searching for a way out. No garbage cans to jump onto, no fire escape to speak of, just the endless red brick façade of the buildings that towered over me. The heavy footfalls slowed behind me. My mind was frantic…nothing…no way out. I was afraid to turn around, but I knew I needed to face my fear head on. I slowly turned…
I woke up, frantic. The alarm was blaring on the bedside stand. I reached over and quickly turned it off. Sweat beaded on my upper lip, my chest was heaving, my heart threatened to beat right out of my chest. My hair was damp and stuck to my face and neck. The sheets were soaked and I quickly realized I was nude. I could have sworn I put on my night shirt…
I glanced around the room; everything was as it was the night before. It was still really early, near blackness outside my window. The glowing numbers of the clock read five o’clock am. I sat up on the side of the bed and shook the cobwebs out of my head. I stretched my arms, cracking my back in the process. I grabbed my robe from the end of the bed and wrapped it around myself.
I stood, rubbed my face groggily and walked into the adjoining bathroom. I flipped on the lights and was temporarily blinded by the fluorescents; then walked to the stool to relieve myself. Morning piss out of the way, I turned on the shower, adjusted the temperature, and let the water run over my hand until it was just the right temp.
Disrobing quickly, I stepped into the glass enclosed space. As the warm water flowed down my body, I sighed and thought, Ah…serenity. It was a quick shower compared to normal. But it did much to calm my nerves.
When I was through washing and rinsing, I reached out and grabbed the fluffy white towel that was on the floor. I wrapped the towel around my body as I stepped out of the shower; the damn thing nearly touched my ankles. Ah the joys of being petite…
I stood in front of the mirror, staring into my haunted blue eyes. The big black circles surrounding them gave away the fact that I hadn’t slept well in over a week. The same dream woke me every night; ever since the letter came in the mail.
The letter read:
You are surrounded by people who would betray you. Watch your back. I know I will be.
It was handwritten in broken print with no return address. The police said it was totally clean; that there was no trace evidence to speak of. The only DNA they found on it was from me when I handled it.
I shook my head in disdain as I opened the door to my walk-in closet. I rifled through the racks of clothes and finally settled on a pair of skinny jeans and a v-neck tee. I pushed the ‘bell’ button on the intercom as I rummaged through my underwear drawer. Getting no response, I leaned into the intercom and pressed the ‘speak’ button as I spoke, “Patsy? You there?” Again, no answer.Odd, she always answers at this time in the morning.
I dropped my towel to the floor, quickly slid my legs into my lacy panties, and threw on my matching bra. I pulled the t-shirt over my head and started to pull up my jeans when I heard static coming from the intercom speaker. I paused and thought, Weird…
Cocking my head to the side, I strained to hear something beyond the static…nothing. I pushed the button, “Pats?” Again, there was no response. Fear washed over me, causing a shiver to run up my spine and goose bumps to make an appearance on all my exposed flesh. I rubbed my arms and bit my lip as I thought, Not good…
I walked back into the bedroom, knelt beside my bed, and slid the black gun case from beneath it. I flipped my soaking hair over my shoulder as I reached for the latch. I’d never had a need for such things in the past and cringed at the thought of having to use it now.
Opening the case, I reached for my Beretta 84fs Cheetah. I hit the magazine release and pulled the clip out. I’d just learned how to fire it the day after I’d received the threatening letter. I knew enough to handle myself should the need arise. The range instructor said I was a ‘crack shot’.
I grabbed and loaded one of the magazines that was nestled into the egg crate padding, slapping it into place. I set the loaded gun on the bed after checking the safety and slid the case back where it belonged.
If there were someone in the house, they had to know I was home. I grabbed the gun from the bed as I stood. I held it in a ‘teacup’ grip low in front of me, my thumb on the safety as I slowly approached my bedroom door. Staying alert, I tried to determine whether or not I could hear something, anything beyond the door.
I reached out and slowly turned the knob, opening the door just enough to squeeze my toe in the opening. A smell that can only be described as an over-used outhouse mixed with raw bloody meat assaulted my nostrils.
I covered my mouth and nose with my free hand and struggled to breath through my mouth. Even so, I could almost taste the horrible smell. I coughed and gagged, tears flooded my eyes. I quickly squelched the urge to vomit by remembering that someone could be in my home. Just biding their time…waiting for me.
I peered through the slit in the door. Not seeing anyone, I resumed my two handed pistol grip, and toed the door open. I raised the gun as I stepped out into the hallway making sure to keep my back against the wall. The stench was even worse in the hallway and only seemed to get stronger the further down the hall I got. I crept to the staircase and looked down the stairs.
At the bottom of the staircase, in the atrium, almost as if it was placed there strategically, was a barely recognizable human leg lying on the marble floor surrounded by a pool of blood. It was slashed badly, angry gaping wounds looking like parted mouths. I swallowed hard, trying to halt the bile that was quickly rising in the back of my throat. I slowly descended the stairs taking one step at a time.
The blood pool surrounding the leg was brown around the edges. Blood spatter fanned out around it, as if it had been dropped dead center into the crimson mess. I didn’t have time to sit and stare at the grotesque limb and wonder who it belonged to. It was a leg and if I gave it a name, I knew I’d lose it right there. I had to push on…face my fear.
With my gun at the ready, I tiptoed around the puddle and eased my way into the kitchen, quickly spotting a smaller pool of blood on the floor just in front of the security panel. It was then I noticed that the security system hadn’t been engaged. I quickly pushed the panic button and glanced around the kitchen.
My eyes focused on the smashed intercom panel on the far wall. That explains the static. I walked toward Patsy’s living quarters just off the kitchen; a convenient location for both her and I. She’d routinely get up in the morning when I called down for breakfast.
I approached her door, it was open and the bedside lamp was on. The book she was currently reading lay open, face-down, on the bed. No sign of Patsy, no sign of a struggle. She was so worried about me the night before. She sent me off to bed with a sleeping pill, and assured me she’d lock up and engage the alarm system.
Even though she was my cook and housekeeper, she was the closest thing to family I had since my parents were killed in the wreck. She was like a mother to me.
Patsy’s concerned brown eyes stared into mine as she said, “Sasha, you need to sleep. You look a wreck. Take this and wake up in the mornin’ refreshed.” Placing the pill in the palm of my hand, she squeezed my shoulders and pulled me into an embrace. She pulled back, her winning smile spread across her face, her eyes crinkling at the sides. She spun me around and slapped my backside playfully, “Now go! Git’ you to bed! Rest up girl, I’ll make you a fantastic breakfast in the mornin’.” I took her advice and wandered up to bed in a daze.
A hot tear rolled down my cheek. With my gun at my side, I angrily wiped the tear away with my free hand, and said quietly, “No one should have to live in fear like this. What the hell did I ever do to deserve this?”
I was pissed now, my anger overriding my fear. I quickly walked back through the kitchen, skirted past the pool of blood in the atrium, and headed for the living room. I stopped dead in my tracks when I entered, the outhouse stench hit me square in the face. I gagged, covering my mouth and nose with my free hand.
At first, all I could see was a silhouette; the rest of the room was bathed in darkness. The figure was much taller than I and seemed to be hanging from the support beam that ran down the center of the room. Sensing no movement around me, I buried my face in the crook of my arm and reached for the light switch with my gun hand.
Temporarily blinded, my stinging eyes struggled to make sense of what I was seeing. It was as if my mind was trying to protect me from the horrible reality of it all. The reality was, I was looking at a complete slaughter.
There, splayed in front of me, was Patsy. I fell to my knees, sobbing, “No! No! This can’t be happening…” I trailed off.
She was nude, a gag in her mouth, her head lolled forward unnaturally. Her body was riddled with slashes; the angry gaping wounds stared back at me accusingly. Her wrists were bound by a thick rope that had been hoisted over the beam and looped around the base of a heavy marble coffee table. Blood covered the front of her, trailing from her neck, and was drying in rivulets on her chest.
She was completely eviscerated; her bowels trailed out of her abdomen and coiled below her in a pile of blood and gore on the floor. Her leg was completely missing. Blood still dripped from her lifeless body, a crimson pool surrounded her, oozing ever closer to where I knelt on the floor.
I scrambled away from the blood and ground the heels of my hands to my temples trying to ease the throb. “Why? Why? She didn’t even know…”
I sat there and sobbed, struggling to catch my breath. Out of the corner of my eye I saw flickers of light. Instinctively, I pointed the gun in that direction- only to realize that it was the red and blue lights from the authorities that had just pulled up outside reflecting on the wall. I couldn’t hear anything over the pounding in my head.
It was then I noticed the writing on the wall. I read it through my tears. My heart thudded into my throat, nearly choking me. Written in blood, on a very white wall, was:
I DID THIS FOR YOU. PROTECTING YOU. I’LL BE WATCHING, WAITING FOR THE TIME TO BE RIGHT. WHO KNOWS? MAYBE TONIGHT.
My blood ran cold. Chills ran up and down my spine. I tried to catch my breath, but was unable. My vision clouded. Dizzy, I fell to all fours, gasping for breath. I retched, but nothing came. I fell to my side and then it all went black.
I awoke on a gurney in the back of an ambulance. A rush of movement around me; a man leaned over me shining a light into my eyes. I squinted and swatted at his hand as he yelled over his shoulder, “She’s coming to.” He turned his attention back to me, his storm grey eyes boring into mine. A look of concern upon his haggard face. He asked, “Can you tell me your name?”
I opened my mouth to speak, only managing a squeak. I cleared my throat and said in a roughened voice, “Sasha, Sasha Slattery.”
He smiled as his hand came into view, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
I swallowed and struggled to focus, “Four, yeah…four.”
“Very good, Sasha. How are you feeling?”
I turned away from him as a tear trailed down my cheek, “How would you feel to have someone that you love like a mother taken from you brutally at the hands of a monster?”
I must have hit a nerve because we sat in silence the rest of the trip to the hospital.
The doctors admitted me. They said something about me being a victim of a violent crime, and I’m pretty sure they considered me a witness. Apparently, that was enough to have a policeman stationed outside my door at all times. I slept, but had the same nightmare. Except this time, it was different…
My eyes darted around looking for a way out. No garbage cans to jump onto, no fire escape to speak of, just the endless red brick façade of the buildings that towered over me. The heavy footfalls slowed behind me. My mind was frantic…nothing…no way out. I was afraid to turn around, but I knew I needed to face my fear head on. I slowly turned and came face to face with…myself.
I looked directly into her blackened eyes, her platinum blond hair frothing around her shoulders, a sinister smile slowly spread across her face. The other me cocked her head to the side, “Why Sasha, you look surprised.”
I brought my hand to my mouth, smothering a sob. Dropping my hand back to my side, I said, “I am very surprised.”
I glimpsed a metallic flash as she lunged for me. I fell to the ground as she straddled me, pinning my arms to my side with her knees. With the knife gripped firmly in her hand and pressed against my neck, she leaned over me and spoke with her lips lightly brushing against my ear, “Now you’ll remember…”
She sat up quickly and raised the knife above her head in a two handed grip. As the gleaming blade descended toward me, I was flooded with memories…my memories…
FLASH… Stabbing Patsy in the back as she reached for the security panel
FLASH…her pleading eyes and muffled screams as I straddled her; placing a gag in her mouth and binding her wrists.
FLASH…her kicking and struggling as I throw the rope over the beam.
FLASH…the blade slicing across her neck, cutting deeply. Her eyes widening, the gurgling attempts at breath.
FLASH…her head lolling as I hoist her into the air and tie off the rope around the marble coffee table.
FLASH…slashing, cuts appearing on her near flawless skin. My lip curls up into a devious smile as the blood trails down. The unmistakable thought…more. I need more.
FLASH…knife slicing deeply across her fleshy abdomen. Her intestines spilling out of her abdominal cavity to the floor with a sickening…PLOP, PLOP, PLOP. The blood spattering, raining down onto the floor. Evil laughter echoing throughout the room.
FLASH…Using a meat cleaver, hacking through so much raw meat. Finally, her leg falls to the floor with an echoing THUD. I hoist it up and start to walk toward the stairway, but stop in my tracks to look down at the mess I made of myself. I drop the leg at the bottom of the stairs with a audible SLAP that makes me flinch. I walk back into the living room. Scanning the room I notice that only one wall was clear of blood, we couldn’t have that…
FLASH….Through the French doors in the living room, I walk out into the backyard, discarding my clothes as I go. I jump into the pool, the water surrounding me turning pink. After rinsing off, I walk zombie-like into the house and up to my bedroom.
Again I look into the cavernous eyes of my other self, she smiles devilishly, “Now you see…”
I awoke screaming, my hair stuck to my face and neck. Sweat trickled down my back and beaded on my upper lip. My heart was beating so fast and hard that I could hardly catch my breath.
The officer that was stationed outside ran into the room; his holster was unbuttoned and his hand rested on the butt of his gun. “What? What’s going on?” he asked as he looked around my room frantically, searching.
Right at that moment, two plainclothes detectives casually strolled into my room. The taller of the two looked at the officer and said, “Officer, cuff her.”
He looked confused for a moment, but then nodded, pulling out his cuffs as he walked toward me. I heard the click as one cuff was latched onto one wrist, then a tug and another click as the other cuff was secured.
I could feel a smile slowly spread across my face as the officer helped me to sit on the edge of the bed. The detective spoke as he moved toward the bed, “Sasha Slattery you are under arrest for the first degree murder of Patsy Lowry. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you? ”
“Good. Get her out of here boys.”
As I was led to the door by the two officers, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Instead of my normal blue eyes, they were a dark fathomless black. My brow raised as I quickly studied my new self, my other self. My lip curled into a devious smile, I looked away from the mirror and passed the smaller detective. He took one look at me, his eyes widened as he exclaimed, “What the fuck?”