Written for SCREAMS!!! contest.
|I must've drank too much earlier that night, because I woke at 3am, with a pounding head and a terrible nauseous feeling.
Ben's side of the bed was cold.
I threw on my dressing gown and headed downstairs for a glass of water, expecting to see Ben sprawled in front of the TV asleep, but when I peered into the lounge, all the lights were out.
I checked his office next, finding it similarly empty.
Concern gnawed at my gut as I made my way into the kitchen, leaving the lights off so I could see out onto the back porch and into the garden beyond.
Except... a sound? A vague scraping, coming from.... the basement?
I noted the faint glow beneath the basement door and and went to tug it open cautiously. “Ben!” I shouted. “Are you down there?”
“Elaine! Go back to bed. You don't need to see this”
The phrasing concerned me, as did his pinched tone.
I descended the steps, and heard his footsteps hurry to meet me at the bottom of the staircase.
“Elaine.” He grabbed my shoulders and made as if to turn me around and trundle me back upstairs like a child, but I was looking past him into the murky light and what I saw made me push him away.
She was laid out on plastic, beside a hole he'd been digging in the floor.
The new girl, Karen, from his work.
The one who'd come round the other night to drop off a file. She'd smiled at him, and I'd felt a momentary twinge of jealousy.
And now she was lying there, face bruised and bloated, about to be cemented over forever.
“You're sick.” I sounded hollow. “God, is she the first?” I put a hand up over my mouth, tears pricking at my the corners of my eyes. “Oh fuck, how many?”
He reached out to grab me and I took a step back, panicked.
“Elaine! Just calm down and let me explain!”
“Calm down! How-”
He reached for me again and I screamed, and whirled around, darting up the stairs and slamming the door closed. I fumbled with the key and let out a sob when I heard it click.
“I'm sorry, Elaine,” his voice came from the other side of the door. “Karen is the third.”
Tears were streaming down my face and I felt like invisible hands were choking me. I struggled to draw in a breath, and when I let it out it sounded like a wail.
“Elaine, listen to me. I love you,” he said. “After we got you help, I didn't think it'd happen again, but we can sort it out I promise. We'll make it go away.”
I sank to the floor, my back against the basement door. The headache was getting worse, and I pressed my palms to either temple and screamed, rocking back and forth until the pain turned to white noise.