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Thriller Crime Romance

He wasn’t sure why he woke up at first.

The slow, rhythmic thud of his heartbeat in his brain blinded him to the sound of knocking on the door for several long moments. Then, finally, he blinked the sleep from his eyes and sat up, taking in the dark room around him. For months now, he’d been sleeping in the back room of the large house. More than that, he’d been living his entire, miserable life between that small room, the kitchen, and the bathroom.

Empty whiskey bottles lined the table, along with cans, empty wrappers, cigarette cartons, and an overflowing ashtray. The TV glowed in the darkness of the room, too bright for his sensitive eyes. The pause screen let him know that his PS4 controller had gone to sleep hours ago, and the video game console was planning to do the same thing soon unless he gave it a reason not to.

The distant pounding on the front door finally registered.

He stood, wiping crumbs from the front of his shirt and pants, and made his way through the kitchen into the hallway. He stared at the door, waiting. If whoever was out there this late at night was really determined to get his attention, he’d consider answering. If not, all the better. No one came by anymore, and he preferred it that way.

Again, the pounding on the door echoed through the house. He sighed and lifted the blind covering the window, and his heart caught in his throat.

“No.” He whispered to himself. His heart began to race as he fumbled with the doorknob. He wasn’t even sure what to do or what he was going to say.

He pulled the door open and struggled for words as long dried tears began to once again form in his bloodshot eyes.

Before he could speak, the woman said, “I’m sorry.”

Sorry? He tried to hold those words in his mind for a moment. Wanted to feel them, to test their weight and reality.

“That’s not really what I was expecting.” He said, choking on the words.

“I know. But I am. I’m sorry.” She said again.

“I was, I don’t know.” He thought. “I was expecting an explanation, an excuse. Anything. Some other story. Not, I’m sorry.”

“I know. But it’s true, I’m sorry for just disappearing like that. I didn’t know what else to do. It was wrong. A lot of what I did was wrong, and I wish I could say I’d never do it again, but….”

“But you probably will. I know. You can’t help it.” He said.

“Yeah. Probably. Can I come in?” She asked.

“Sure.” He held the door open and watched the girl slink her way through the hallway, glancing around as she walked.

“It’s dark.” She said.

“Yeah. Just me.” He said.

“Oh. Then she’s….” She trailed off.

“Yeah.” She said. “Called it.”

He sighed, his urge to be defensive caught in his throat. “Fair enough.” He said. “I’ve been wrong. It happens.”

She glanced back at him, and an almost wicked smile teasing her lips for a moment. Then it was gone, and she disappeared into the kitchen. He followed after her, catching up as she leaned against the large kitchen table.

She stared at him.

“Kat.” He said.

“Don’t,” Kat said. “Just, don’t. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left like that, but I didn’t know what else to do. I told you, things, I couldn’t keep going like they were, and if I didn’t get out, it was going to keep getting worse.”

He just looked down for a moment, unable to stand looking at the girl for too long before emotions he’d nearly forgotten threatened to overwhelm him again. Finally, he looked back at her. “Yeah. I get it.” He said. “So, what then? What are you doing here now?”

“I need, well, a ride for something.” She said.

Of course. After all this time, she shows up asking for a ride. Asking for something she knows he’ll never be able to say no to, even now. Why? Because he’s still in love with her, because he still misses her, even after everything. Or just because he promised that no matter what, if she showed up, he’d be there.

And he would be.

“Alright. Where?” He asked.

“A guy’s house. I have something I have to get back.” She said.

“Alright,” He said again. “Let me get ready.” He left the kitchen, making his way through the dark house by memory. A blind man living on rote memorization. Nothing but instinct and habit. Wandering through the darkness of his life, not feeling anything anymore. Except now, now he felt something again. But it wasn’t what he’d expected. Not really. He wasn’t excited, he realized; he was terrified.

What this who he really was? Still, after all this time, was this all he was?

He grabbed a new shirt from a basket sitting on the floor in the long-unused bedroom. He tossed the one he’d been living in for several days on the floor. He pulled the clean one on, grabbing a mismatched pair of socks featuring comic book or video game characters from the bag on the way out. He walked back through the house, passing the girl as she wandered around the kitchen, eyeing all the empty places where decorations used to be.

In the backroom, he pulled the socks on and covered them with a pair of combat boots. He grabbed his keys and wallet from the table near the back door, then paused. Was he really doing this? Yes, of course, he was. It didn’t even matter if, after this, he never saw her again. He couldn’t help it. If she needed him, even just like this, he’d be there.

That’s who he was, he realized. But, of course, only she could ever remind him of that. Only she could remind him that no matter who he pretended to be, this was who he was at the end of the day. A man broken by a love he didn’t understand.

And probably never would.

Back in the kitchen, he said, “Alright. Let’s go.”

She smiled and followed him out the door to the car. “I’ve got some things I need to throw in your trunk.”

“Where are we going?” He asked as he pulled out of the driveway and into the dark, nearly empty street.

“I’ll tell you, just head towards downtown.” She said.

“Alright.” He said. They drove like that for a while. In almost total silence except for her turn-by-turn instructions as she guided him through town. Her directions were odd, as if she wasn’t exactly sure where she was going, simply directing him in a general direction.

Eventually, he said, “Look, I know you said don’t, but….”

“Then don’t.” She said.

“No, I…” He tried again.

“Really, don’t.” She said.

He sighed. “Look, I get it, I know you said you were sorry, and you clearly don’t want to tell me where you’ve been.”

“You don’t need to know. Not really.” She said.

“I know. I just want to say, look, I get it. I know that the situation I put you in wasn’t fair. That it wasn’t something, you could handle. I know that none of it worked for you, and it just made you feel even more afraid. I know I put more on you than was fair.” He said.

She simply watched out the window in silence.

He continued. “I know that living with me like that, it must have nearly killed you. I know that’s why you left.”

“It did. And leaving was worse. And when I wasn’t there, that was even harder. That’s why I just left. If I tried to hang on, to let you be a part of my life, let you know where I was…” she paused, “You would have found me again. We can’t help it. It’s an addiction. The only way to get away was to disappear.”

“I love you.” He said. “I did then, and I still do.”

“I know.” She said. “And I love you. But does it even matter now?”

He didn’t answer.

Instead, she directed him into a neighborhood on the north side of town. The tall houses were nice, spaced apart with large, well-manicured yards. These were the kinds of places he’d dreamed of living in. The type of neighborhood he liked to drive through around Christmas to look at the lights and the large houses covered in snow. The kind of place that filled him with awe and envy all at the same time.

“Turn here.” She said.

He did.

“There.” She said. “Pull forward a bit, and park. Yeah.”

He stopped the car just a little ahead of a large driveway, putting the vehicle in park.

“Leave it running, but kill the lights.” She said.

He did. “Alright, now what?” He asked.

“Just pop the trunk, and wait here.” She said, getting out. She rounded the car, unloaded the trunk, and disappeared into the night again.

He sat in silence for several long moments when a sound outside caught his attention. He couldn’t make out what it was at first. He could hear footsteps, followed by a hissing noise. Several moments later, he heard it again. Then, he heard something crunch. It wasn’t loud, but it wasn’t exactly quiet either.

Getting out of the car, he walked to the end of the driveway and watched.

Kat was standing in front of the car parked there, a bat in one hand, breathing heavily.

“What are you doing?” He hissed.

She looked back at him and smiled. “Getting started.”

He didn’t know what to say. Part of him wanted to argue with her, to tell her to get back in the car. To get out of here. But he knew it was pointless. So instead, he simply watched as she finished with the vehicle. His mind raced conflicting emotions at war in his thoughts. He was terrified but excited at the same time. And none of it, none of it mattered because here he was, with her again. Reminded of who he was. This was what he’d wanted for the last two years. This was what he’d wished for. Just to have her back in his life after everything that happened.

Did it matter if this was what it brought along? Did any of it matter?

This was what he wanted, so was he happy? Was he having fun? And again, did it matter? He really didn’t know. His mind was racing, a tortured mix of thoughts and emotions he barely understood. So he simply stopped trying. He was pretty sure he was disassociating, and even that was probably ok.

When she walked back towards the car, he just watched. She grabbed what was obviously a gas can and took it with her towards the front of the house. He watched as she poured the gas over the front porch, the door, the steps, and all around the front garden and windows. When the can was empty, she tossed it into one of the bushes and pulled something out of her pocket.

She flicked the zippo open, lit it, and tossed it onto the porch. When the fire lit, it went up fast. She walked casually back across the yard as the front of the house began to burn and stood beside him. They watched it together.

A strange thought seemed to form in his head. Are we having fun yet, he wondered?

“What happened to you?” He said after a moment.

“When I left, I met this guy. He seemed really nice at first. Offered me a place to stay, offered to help me get back on my feet and forget everything. I believed him.” She said.

“Yeah?” He asked.

“Yeah. Well, you know what they say about things that seem too good to be true.” She said.

“What did he do to you?” He asked.

She just looked at him for several long moments.

“Jesus.” He said.

“Yeah.” Let’s go.

“Wait,” he said, “Is he here?”

She was already heading back towards the car they’d arrived in. “No, he’s gone for the weekend.” She said.

He began to follow her when the sound of exploding glass caught his attention. He turned and looked towards the house. A man was pulling himself out of the broken window on the second floor. He might have been trying to scream, but the only sound you could hear in the night was that of the burning house. The man pushed himself over the jagged glass of the window frame, ripping his shirt and his flesh open as he struggled. A moment later, the man hauled himself out of the window and fell to the ground below.

The body lay there, smoldering in the night. If he’d been alive when he hit the ground, he hadn’t been for long.

“Well, he was supposed to be gone,” Kat said. “We should hurry.”

“Yeah.” He said.

As they drove into the night, he stole glances at the girl in the seat beside him. He was excited, and he was probably in shock. But none of it really mattered. She was here again, and that’s all he wanted. Yet, a part of him was screaming at him to run away. Was this it? Was this really the feeling that he’d been missing all this time? Was this even the same girl he’d known and fallen so deeply in love with?

Did it matter?

No, he didn’t think it did. He realized he was laughing. When he caught her looking at him, her eyebrow raised in curiosity, he said, “I’m never going out with you again.” 

July 27, 2021 06:57

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1 comment

Jacen Patchwork
06:57 Jul 27, 2021

Obviously inspired by both the prompt and the song.

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