Deeds done in the daylight come back to haunt us at night.
A Lover’s Revenge
by David R. Ford
For THE HUNTER Award
It was around twenty past two when he returned to bed and finally, after much tossing and turning, began to drift off to sleep. It was a pitch dark night outside, typical Autumn chill held constricted to the air by the thick cloud cover, so heavy that no light from even a single star could pierce its ensnaring blanket. Even the Man on the Moon’s omniscient gaze was blind to the street below it, unable to keep watch over its stewardship as an ever present sentry to the world.
In his room, returning from the kitchen and with the sleeping pill just starting to take effect, he cracked the window to let in some air, then he lay back down with a duvet wrapped tight under his chin, caressing his throat with its satin fingers. His room was perhaps the only on the street that wasn’t illuminated solely by pin prick standby lights and the red sticks of digital clocks, shaped like skeletal fingers pointing towards the safety of the morning sun. No, his bedroom window had the unfortunate position of being right beside a street lamp. Tall, concrete obelisk that threw its dirty, orange glow through the curtains, pinging off mirrors and TV screens. The glow even brought life back into the dusty wedding ring that lay atop a turned down picture frame of him and the ex-wife he shamelessly threw out because he was bored of her total devotion, on his bedside table. The lamp hummed as it patrolled its beat, illuminating the shadows and exposing those that would rather hide.
He felt safe enough to let the lamp guard him and he let the pill take over, paralysing himself as the sheep danced above his head and he began to doze, one, drifting, two, not worrying, three, falling, four, gently, five, asleep.
But then his eyes jolted open. He’d heard a sound, a kind of metal on stone noise, just outside the window. He feared he recognised it, although it was probably nothing he thought as he tried to close his eyes again, though his mind continued to race with a million horrific causes of the mystery noise. He began to calm but just as he began to feel safe again and let the pill take him once more, the noise re-emerged, sharply attacking his ears, then struck again, and again. It clashed one beat per second, closing in, making him want to run but the only thing attempting to flee was his heart which was trying to smash it’s way out of his chest as it picked up speed with every rasp of metal on stone. He was frozen, petrified to the mattress by that wretched pill as the noise began to taunt him, climbing up then falling away from the window, up and down.
He thought the noise sounded familiar but as he struggled to fight off the impending drowse, he couldn’t bring himself to make the connection. Then he remembered the window was open, and he couldn’t close it. As if reading his mind, the noise clambered off the ladder and onto the roof of the bay window directly beneath his bedroom and a silhouetted figure very slowly rose, as if from the pits of hell. Its jet black form was screamed into his room by the streetlamp watchman, who was doing its best to warn its charge of a stealth attack. The imposing figure stood in front of the window and reached its arm to the cracked pane and teased open the portal, and he could have sworn that he saw the shadow on his curtain grin with a sinister vengefulness he’d seen on only one other before. The shadow then reached into itself and pulled from its insides a blade, so sharp its diabolical outline could have cut him open from outside. The figure then posed to reveal itself and removed something from its head, revealing behind it a long, flowing ponytail and womanly curves shaping her in the lamplight. She must have been watching him for months, till he took a pill and left his fortress open. Spying. Waiting. And now, as his guard was down, she was back to take the revenge she’d sworn on him as he threw her onto the street penniless.
She put her hand through the very last line of defence, the pathetic, polyester curtains and slowly eased them aside as she stepped into the room. Now all he could do was keep his eyes open for brief seconds at a time as she stepped callously in front of him. She stalked around the bed, rubbing the blunt side of her blade across the satin sheets, grazing his legs as she crossed, then she clambered in next to him.
Rubbing an X on his chest with her finger to mark the location the knife would soon plunder, she whispered into his ear “Hello, Honey. Did you miss me?” and took back what he’d stolen from her. Her life.