Who Said Life Was Fair
A loud persistent voice was beginning to penetrate my brain fog. “Brookfield Police, Annie, are you alright?” I shook my head trying to clear it. Someone banged loudly on the door. The fuzziness was going but I could not find my voice. I could now hear talking outside my front door and I tried to rise. That was when I discovered I was no longer in bed; I was sitting on the kitchen floor. As I tried to lift myself up, my foot slipped and I slid back down. I heard a loud voice say, “Okay, unlock the door.”
I heard loud footsteps enter my apartment and felt a soft touch on my shoulder. A gentle voice said, “Is this Miss Harris?” I looked up. A uniformed police officer was standing over me. In the hall I could see the worried face of my landlord, Steve. He nodded. “Thank you Mr. Chan, you can go back to your apartment.” “Yes, yes of course.”
“Miss Harris, Annie, can you tell me where you are hurt.”
A voice from another room said, “There’s no one else here.”
“Okay Mike, tell the paramedics they can come in now.”
I found my voice. I whispered, “ I’m okay. I had a nightmare. I must have been walking in my sleep and fallen. Oh no, was I screaming? Did I wake my neighbors? I’m so sorry to have caused all this fuss.”
“How about we just let the paramedics check you over?”
“No please, it was just a horrible nightmare. I’m not hurt.”
“Then where did all this blood come from?”
I looked down. I was covered in blood. Pools of it covered my kitchen floor. It was sprayed on my cabinets, on my curtains, everywhere. I glanced up at the officer who had spoken to me. “It’s not mine,” I said, horrified by the sight. “I’m not hurt.”
The face of one of the paramedics appeared over the policeman’s shoulder. “Holy shit,” he exclaimed. The cop glared at him. “Hey, I’m sorry,” the paramedic said, “I’ve just never seen so much blood in one small space before, but I can tell you this much, it isn’t hers. She’d be dead if she lost this much.”
“Just check her over,” the policeman said sternly.
The EMTs entered the blood spattered kitchen avoiding the broken glass on the floor. They began looking me over. I just sat there, dazed and confused until I was loaded onto a stretcher. All the while I kept repeating, “I’m not hurt, it isn’t my blood.” The medics quickly confirmed what I had been saying. A few minutes later one of them said, “We’ll take her to the hospital as a precaution and have her checked out thoroughly, but I can tell you that her vitals are strong, her heart”s a little fast and her bp is high which is understandable, but we can’t see any wounds.”
The policeman looked down at me, a puzzled look on his face. “Have you been in the apartment alone this evening, Annie?” “Yes, I went to bed, alone. I must have fallen asleep and had a nightmare. Am I still dreaming?” My agitation began to grow. I glanced over to where I had been sitting in the kitchen. It looked like the scene of a massacre. It also looked terrifyingly familiar. It couldn’t be. Ghosts don’t bleed.
“Get me off this stretcher!” I shouted. “I need to get back to bed so that I can wake up. Please,” I added in a softer voice. “You don’t understand what has happened.” I struggled to get off the stretcher. I was now bordering on hysteria. “Get me off of this thing. Please,” the policeman nodded to the paramedic and I felt a slight prick in my arm.I looked first at the paramedic and then at the policeman who leaned closer to me. “Annie” he replied, kindly. “I found you sitting in a pool of blood. Something happened in this apartment this evening.For your own safety, we have to make sure you are really alright. The first step is to get you to the hospital.” I began to protest. I just need to be absolutely certain that you are okay.”
I suddenly began to feel very sleepy. The policeman’s face was getting fuzzy. I seem to remember mumbling, ”Okay,” before I recognized a voice I knew all too well, whisper in my ear. “Talk your way out of this one, bitch.” And then, oblivion.
“What do you suppose happened back there? ``One of the EMTs, Eric, called back to his partner Chris, who was sitting next to me in the ambulance.
“Beats me, but can you believe all the blood? It looked like someone bled out ….. Eric, pull over!”
“You have to see this, just pull over.”
Eric pulled into the curb and turned around in the driver’s seat. “What the hell”
The two men stared down at me.. As they watched, the blood covering me began to slowly dissipate. Chris was the first to find his voice. “You’re seeing this, right?”
“Uh huh, I don’t know exactly what I am seeing but I am seeing it. Let’s get to the hospital asap,” he said as he spun around in the driver’s seat. They arrived at BGH in record time.
“What do we tell the doctors,” Eric asked as they wheeled me into emergency.
“The truth. We play it like we would in any normal case.”
“How the hell will we do that?”
“Let me do the talking, okay?”
“You got it. I just want to get away from her as quickly as possible.” A doctor approached the two men. Chris began the spiel he had been practicing on the drive. “The patient is 36 year old Annie Harris. Neighbors heard screams from her apartment and called the police who in turn called us. We found her sitting on the floor of her kitchen, a broken beer bottle in her hand. We couldn’t find any outward injuries on the patient. Miss Harris was confused and claimed she had just been sleepwalking. The police asked us to bring her here as a precaution.”
“Any evidence that she was intending to cause self harm?”
“Despite the bottle in her hand, we saw no marks on her to indicate that she had tried to hurt herself,” Chris replied.
“Okay guys, we’ll take it from here?”
“Are you off the clock?” Eric asked his partner. “Yup, and I plan to get royally drunk. You?”
“Oh yeah, and I’ll join you if you don’t mind. And pal, let’s make a pact. We won’t ever speak about this call to anyone or each other again.”
Back at my apartment the forensic team had arrived. The policeman in charge, Gilbert Desjardins, greeted the head of the team. “Michel, at this point I don’t know what happened here. We found a woman sitting in this kitchen surrounded by all this blood. That broken beer bottle was on the floor beside her. Interesting thing, she didn’t appear to have a mark on her. Blood doesn’t appear out of thin air. Work your magic. Let me know what the blood tells you.”
“I’m on it,” Michel replied.
“Mike,” Gil said to his junior officer as the two men left the apartment, “Head over to the hospital and call me when Annie wakes up. I want to talk to her when she has calmed down.”
Taking one last look at the horrific scene, Sergeant Desjardins left and returned to the station. He had no idea the turn this case was about to take.
I began to wake. The first thing I noticed was the noise surrounding me. It was clear that I was no longer in my apartment and that I was most likely in an emergency ward. The hysteria that I had felt earlier had been replaced by an eerie calm. I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone until I could process what had led to me now finding myself in a hospital bed. As I lay there, it suddenly came flooding back.
That night, I had gone to bed fairly early, around 10 p.m. I fell asleep quickly and woke up with a start. A glance at my clock radio told me it was just after 2 a.m. My kitchen was down the hall from my bedroom. The kitchen light wasn’t on but an eerie silvery white light was emanating from the room. I got up and walked towards it, knowing and dreading what I would find. There, leaning against the counter stood my husband, swinging his customary bottle of Labatt Bleue in one hand. But something was decidedly different. Oh, his nasty sneer was still glued on his stupid face but this time he didn’t look the least bit spectral. Lord help me, Sean, my dead husband had somehow managed to manifest fully. I wasn’t looking at a ghost. What I saw before me was a flesh and blood human.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart, don’t like the new me?”
I somehow managed to stutter, “What…how?”
“I’ve been working hard,” he replied. “You didn’t seem near scared enough on my last visits. It’s no fun coming to call on my girl if I can’t get a rise out of her.”
I don’t know how I found the words but I managed to utter, “You scared me, happy? Now get out!” He was dead. He couldn’t possibly hurt me. Could he? It was as I was backing away that he lunged for me. I knew what was going to happen next.
Sean grabbed me by the throat and shoved me hard against the kitchen counter. He was a big man and normally I wouldn’t have stood a chance against him. But he appeared to be very drunk.I managed to knee him in the crotch. He uttered a curse, let go of my throat, and doubled over. The beer bottle fell to the floor and shattered, spilling beer everywhere. Without thinking I reached down and grabbed the neck of the bottle. With all the force I could muster, I drove the jagged end of the bottle into his neck, just like I did on the night I killed him. Blood spurted everywhere. Sean was vainly grabbing at his throat. He looked at me pleadingly. I could have run. I could have run screaming into the street as I had done on many other occasions. But after years of physical abuse I knew that if Sean survived, I was going to suffer badly. So I sat there and watched. Blood was now gurgling in his mouth. He fell to the floor, and reached a hand out to me. I watched, the broken bottle still clasped tightly in my hand. After what seemed to be an eternity he shuddered and fell still. That’s when I screamed and finally dropped the bottle. Next thing I knew, a policeman was standing over me asking if I was okay.
Gil arrived back at his desk to find his phone ringing. The display showed that it was Michel, from Forensics. “You're good Michel but you can’t have finished up at the apartment this fast,” he said good humoredly.
“Gil, can you get back here asap?”
“All the blood in this place, it’s disappearing faster than we can collect samples. I’d bet on my life that it is blood splattered all over this place but it vanishes as soon as I get it on a swab and now it is disappearing from the floor walls, everywhere. And get this, I tried taking a video of what’s happening. Nothing, the camera screen is blank. I want you to witness this.”
Gil had been walking quickly to the car as he spoke on the phone. “I’m on my way.” He called Mike.
“How is Miss Harris?”
“Still sedated but the doctors gave her a once over. No abrasions, no sign of blood loss. The only marks on her are two faint red marks on her neck. They are waiting for her to wake up to ask her about them but frankly Gil, I think the docs are a little ticked with us for sending her here.”
“Too bad. I am on my way back to the apartment now and then I will be heading your way. Something really weird is going on, Mike.”
“I’m not sure how to explain it. We’ll talk when I get there.”
A few minutes later, Gil and Michel stood staring at my pristine kitchen. Not a spot of blood could be seen anywhere and the shattered glass had disappeared as well. Michel was the first to say anything. “We both saw the blood. Hell, my assistants saw it. One of them took off like a frightened rabbit when it started to vanish. I’ve been asking myself if this scene was staged. Maybe what we saw wasn’t blood at all but with some new “vanishing fake blood.”
“Vanishing fake blood?. Like they might use in a movie or something?”
Michel turned off the kitchen light. The room was dark, not a single spot of blue. “I sprayed the floor with Luminal. If there had been blood here it would have picked up its trace. You can see for yourself, nada, nothing.”
“And the broken glass?”
“I haven’t a clue,” Michel said flatly. “It can’t just have disappeared.”
“But it has,” said Gil, “it has. I’m headed off to the hospital. If anyone has any answers it will be Miss Harris.”
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” a perky voice said. A poor choice of words was my thought. The voice belonged to a young nurse standing beside my hospital bed. “How are you feeling?” she continued.
I managed a small smile and replied, “A little groggy but other than that I feel fine, just fine.
“Good. I will just track down the doctor and tell him you are awake. Oh, and there is a policeman waiting to talk to you as well.”
I closed my eyes again. I racked my brains trying to figure out what on earth I was going to say to them. I called after her. “Did the doctor find anything wrong with me,” I ventured. “He will answer any questions you have when he gets here.”
All I could think of to explain what happened today was to play dumb.I would stick to “I don’t know” and “I had a nightmare.” But I had a much bigger problem. Sean. I closed my eyes.
I had my first visit from Sean about a month after his death. I had been asleep and was awakened by a whisper in my ear, “Hello sweetheart,” it said. I recognized the voice. After all, I had listened to it for years.
It terrified me but I really thought it was just a nightmare. This happened several times over the period of a year. I saw a psychologist who told me it was post traumatic stress disorder and put me on Paxil. The whispers stopped. But if I thought it was over, I was mistaken.
One night I was woken by Sean’s voice demanding my presence in the kitchen. “We’re out of beer,” he yelled. I remember feeling compelled to go. Just like when he was alive. He called, I jumped to attention.This time I got out of bed and walked to the kitchen only to find it empty, but the air was frigid. I think it was that night that I came to the conclusion that I was not having nightmares, I was being haunted. I decided to move.
I moved several times over the years but he always found me. He didn’t visit often but each time he did, he was stronger. First he was just a shadow and then a misty figure that I could recognize. I did try talking to a priest once, but he sent me on my way. Maybe because I wasn’t a member of his church. I don’t know.
I hadn’t seen him for two years when he showed up last night in his new form. I was scared but also angry. He deserved to die. We’d been together for seven years, the same number of broken bones I’d received at his hand. He got what was coming to him. I had even been cleared of any charges. Justifiable manslaughter they called it. I didn’t deserve to be persecuted by his ghost. Yes, they found traces of Atavin in his bloodstream. He had a prescription for them. They weren’t to know that I had ground some into his mashed potatoes that night. Not many, just enough that combined with his nightly beers, would make him a little unstable. Unstable enough that a well placed knee to the groin would disable him long enough for me to kill him. No, he was a brute and I was his innocent victim. But now what to do. How on earth was I going to get rid of him this time? Sadly, that was to be taken out of my hands.
Gil Desjardins arrived at the ER and spotted Mike sitting in a chair near the reception desk. Before he could reach him, an unGodly scream filled the room. Instinctively both men ran towards the source as did several doctors and nurses.
Just a minute before, I heard the curtain around my bed being pulled aside. The perky nurse stuck her head through and said, “Your husband is here to see you.” She smiled and moved briskly away. Before I could say a word, Sean appeared at the foot of my bed. He leaned towards me and in a menacing whisper said, “It’s time for payback, sweetheart.” I screamed in terror.
And that’s how they found me, dead, my mouth open, my eyes wide with fear. So unfair.