I had left before and went back, was dragged back, lost few days once. I even woke up back in bed beside that monster one morning in January with a raging fever and no voice to scream with. But this time when I left, I left with my life and my meagre belongings stuffed into the trunk of that piece of shit Ford he always insisted was worth the constant money drain. It amounted to a duffle bag, a small suitcase and one box that held treasure from my child hood. How did I become so small?
The further away the road takes me, the more it seems I’m able to breathe and the stronger the paranoia grows. I don’t know how I got away. It struck me so hard tonight that I had to pull over to the side of the road to vomit. 24 hours have past and I’ve barely eaten. I was too afraid to stop, to run the risk that he had anticipated me and was close, and so it amounted to little more than bile. I hate to puke more than anything other than cry, which I did, an act of momentary self-pity before turning to prayer in desperation.
Said answer came in a form of an angel mechanic who saw my car for the rolling hunk of junk it was. It also came from Reaper, who made his intentions perfectly clear. Whether Grim intended for my death or Brian’s, I was still not clear on. I’d just escaped Hell on Earth and I was not going back there alive. I still see him in the wavering air, his tattered robe fluttering in the negligible breeze that feels like dragons breath. Pushing Reaper out of my mind, I concentrate on the growing lights of the city ahead and the warm body against mine.
How the hell was I going to lose myself there? I had nothing but a few hundred dollars in an account under an assumed name. Hard fought for money that I was loathe to waste a cent of. Of course I had the identification to prove it, and that made things simpler should I need to use it. But I’m alone, and after all the fight, I’m afraid. My arms tighten around Brian’s middle, grateful for his presence and kindness. He might murder my ass but so be it. I’ve survived worse encounters. He slows to crawl and turns into a tidy little motel just off the highway, with the vacancy sign cheerily lit. Why were we stopping here? We were so close to the city and I sobbed a little as I was sure he couldn’t hear my tears.
Brian frees me from the helmet, laughing at my dismay, and sobering at the sight of my wet cheeks before smiling and brushing the hair from my face. “Can you sit here a few minutes? I know that you’re tired but I just need to check us in.” Alone? I glance around, eyes scanning the brightly lit lot. It was nearly empty, but for Reaper lurking nearby. “Yes, alright,” I agree, yawning and stretching up onto my toes to breathe life into my complaining muscles. He stares a moment, before narrowing his eyes at me and thinning his lips. I pull out one of the precious few joints I’d rolled before I rolled on the highway. He says nothing, just watches me a moment longer and turns to the office door. Brian disapproves of my choices, does he? I let it go as I lit the end and inhaled deeply. Its acrid smoke burns my throat. At least I know I’m alive.
Us. He said us. Crazy starts her singsong tirade, insisting scenario after preposterous scenario that boggle the mind I fog her out with another hit and the bitch chills out for a few. Not far away, Brian is laughing with the desk clerk, nodding as she hands him two keys and tosses her long blond hair over her shoulder. She appears vapid and I turn my attention elsewhere, uninterested in the flirting techniques of the modern single. I wish he’d hurry. I wish I was blonde.
A lone vehicle drives dangerously slow along the highway, its headlights swerving and correcting. Reaper is back, this time agitated and appearing annoyed. He stands very close and he is cold. The tendrils of his robe brush against my calves, and I shiver. I know why he’s here. A sun faded red pickup truck I know too well turns into the parking lot, its driver scanning the open area with a predators grin. I hadn’t made great time after all. If he sees me I am dead, and so is anyone who helped me. I’m a corpse and a killer. Everyone here is dead because of me. The driver stares right at me, his mouth moving with spit slick lips and my blood freezes and melts as he turns away still talking to himself. I bolt towards the office, bouncing off of Brian and falling hard to the ground. I need to get away. Mother urges with profane suggestions to HIDE and my demons concur.
“I have the keys…what’s wrong Jes?”
My throat has turned to sandpaper and my mouth has dried up. I can’t speak with my throat so dry, so I point to my left at the worn dusty red truck that was making a clumsy U-turn with my shaking finger. Brian watches a moment, understanding finally clearing the worried crease from his brow. He pulls me into the office, admonishing me to stay where I was until he came back and extracting a promise. I need to warn him, make a negative noise or even a gesture but I’m frozen in place. The bells on the door tinkle as he leaves yet again, and I am alone in the office with the gum chewing cutie. He’s. A. Dead. Man. Walking. And you did it KIIIILLLLER! Crazy screams in my head, and I’m sure she’s right.
“Holee shit. Girl, your man is a badass.”
“Your man. Brian whatever. I dunno what that other dude did but damn he is paying.”
I struggle to my feet to peer through the window. Brian’s fist rises and falls again and again into the driver’s face with a fierce smile. He would kill him at this rate. “No!!” I yell, pulling a nine iron from the golf bag in the corner and rushing out the door. “STOP IT!!” I shriek at him, raising the club over my shoulder. Brian glances up suddenly, his hand a cruor covered glove that goes exceedingly well with his snarl, and falls back with his bruised and bloody knuckles held out from his chest. He opens his mouth to speak and I shout into his face. “SHUT. UP.”
The driver is attempting to speak to me but the words sound like little more than gurgle. He spits and tries again. “Found you Cunt.” Brian watches me from the ground, his fingers beginning to swell and his with his dark eyes on the club.
“Yes. You did. And that means what?”
The driver smiles and three teeth speckle the glut of blood that falls from the ruined curve. “You’ll never see daylight again,” he laughs, hoisting himself to up. That’s when I swing. Hard and fast as I can, I swing that club for all its worth. Crazy is silent and all I can hear is my own primal scream in my head, all I can feel is the moment the side of his head caves in. The moment his forehead shatters and the iron is stuck in the cavity my legs give out and I feel nothing.
I wake on the lumpy couch in the office, my head pounding and body screaming. My monsters are hiding. The Mother is raging, her voice full of concern. “Oh you’re awake.” I sit up too fast and groan, feeling my arm muscles creak from exertion and remember the blood on my hands. Clean. Where is Brian? Why am I here? I clear my throat and the gum chewing cutie brings me a glass of water.
“Here doll. Your friend will be back soon. He just took your stuff over to the room. He’s cute… Are you guys a thing?”
Saved by the Bell. They ring lightly again as he comes through the door wearing a small smile. He speaks to her and I can’t make sense of a single word. I lower my head to my hands and rest my eyes a moment. His voice is deep and sonorous, filled with unselfconscious good humour and my heart almost relaxes. It seems too formulaic, like a bad film balls deep with clichés. The air explodes with glass and wood and Brian lands hard on the floor a gasp before the cutie’s head explodes in a shower of gore. It’s impossible and there he stands with the club dangling from his ruined forehead like some fucked up zombie. Behind him the chuckle of the devil I knew shatters what little strength I had left, I try to crawl away but the agony hits and I have no time to scream before the electricity takes me away.
I come to on the floor. Chained to the floor. To the wall. To the collar around my throat.It can’t be and I don’t want to be here. Where is here? How long have I been here? I count the time by the blood streaked handprints on the wall, by the thrusts of the stranger fucking me and by the used rubbers on the floor. I swore I’d never be here again. The stranger is whispering vile and horribly accurate facts into my ear and he brutally pinches my clit when I don’t respond. Biology betrays me and I sob when he ejaculates fire into me. He’s not protected and I start to cry. It’s not real. It can’t be real and he shoves me into the wall spitting “its real sweetheart. I paid twice, See you later.”
The chain is heavy. My neck is killing me and my thighs are turning colours. This is repayment for my betrayal, for running away again. For killing him. I will die here, by disease, by accident, but surely as a prisoner. Unless I end myself before that.