Nightmares From Him

(From the Writer’s Digest creative writing prompt “Bicycling Bovines” and continued from previous posts Haunting Memory and Memory Turns Nightmare)

I can’t leave work fast enough after seeing him through the break room window today. I need comfort food—chocolate. A glass of wine wouldn’t hurt either. I stop by my favorite market on the way home to pick up these essentials, as I try not to keep them in the house on normal occasions. I’m at the bakery selecting a beautiful piece of chocolate cake with fudge icing when the hair on the back of my neck stands up and I get the urge to flee.

I always could tell when he was near.

“Hello, Karen.” His voice is deep, soft, and to anyone else it must sound like the gentle greeting of a lover whom I should be thrilled to see. I tense as his hand grips my arm and pulls be back against him. His voice drops dangerously low, his breath tickling my ear. “I told you you couldn’t hide from me. Now you’ll learn your lesson.”

With that, I feel the sharp prick of a needle in my other arm. I try to struggle, but the strength is gone from my limbs and the world takes on a fuzzy, ethereal quality. I’m powerless as he guides me out of the store. I blink at the bright light in the pink sky, a splitting migraine beginning to form behind my forehead, brought on by whatever drug he injected into my system.

The people on the street change shapes, and I blink again. There are cows everywhere. Driving taxis. Walking upright as they cross the streets and stroll down the sidewalks. Riding bikes. It’s so ludicrous that I want to laugh, but I know how much danger I’m in. He flags down a taxi and the cow stops. He forces me in the back seat and follows behind me.

“Is she okay?” our Holstein driver asks.

“She’s fine, just a lightweight, y’know?” He lies so easily, and everyone wants to believe him. They always did—he has that kind of charisma.

“Ohhh, I gotcha. Where to?”

I try to move, to signal the bovine that all is not right with the world, but I can’t. The darkness creeps in, getting the better of me. When I can finally force my eyes open, I can see I’m in an apartment—my apartment. I can’t tell how much time has passed, but based on my headache, the normal colors in the room, and the feeling that my mouth has turned into the Sahara, I’m pretty sure that several hours have passed. Enough time that the drug has mostly worked itself out of my system.

As I become more aware, several things flood my senses at once. I’m lying on my side, my hands restrained behind my back. I rotate my hands and feel the steel against my wrists—handcuffs. My shoulder throbs from the position I’m in. I shiver as I realize the worst thing of all.

I’m naked.

I can hear water running in the shower, and I know I’ve not got much time. I doubt he thought I would be waking up so soon. I grit my teeth as the metal bites into my wrists as I bring my hands under my legs to bring them around to the front. Movies always make that look so easy….the liars. I shake the thought off as I hear the water shut off.

I try to get to my feet but my world tilts and I fall. I bite back a curse and pray he didn’t hear. I zero in on my closet, and slowly crawl toward it. I hear the bathroom door open, and move faster as my panic rises. He’s walking around the bed slowly, and I can feel his disdain. Almost there.

I fumble inside the closet door for what I hope will save me. I never imagined I’d ever actually have to use my little Benelli. My hands are trembling as I find the release in order to rack a shell into the chamber. I swing the 12-gauge around, balancing the pump on my knees as both my hands grip the butt stock.

His eyebrow twitches and he smirks arrogantly. “You won’t use that, Karen. You know I own you.”

He takes another step, and I shake my head as I thumb the safety. “Like hell I do.” Knowing I don’t have any time to lose, I pull the trigger. My ears ring from the shotgun blast echoing in the small space. His blue eyes stare at me in disbelief as he falls to the floor, his blood already staining the carpet.

It’s not long before I hear sirens. The neighbors must have called the police. I hear them break in the front door, storm the apartment. I can’t move, my eyes locked on the body of my ex, now dead by my hand. I feel my Nova being lifted from my hands, a blanket draped around my shoulders to cover my exposed body. Questions are fired at me from all sides, and I’m sure I’m headed to jail. Even with that possibility looming over my muddled mind, I can only think of one thing.

I’m finally, truly free. He’ll never hurt me again.

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