Vengeance by Josh Lopez

My body was in pain, and my heart raced as I fell and tumbled down a set of wooden steps. The shock of each collision with the water-damaged steps added to every wound I’d already suffered. The last thing I saw was gray cement, and everything went black, consciousness was ripped away like lost pages from a writer’s manuscript…

*****

… The feeling of fresh sheets on my skin wrapped about my body; and before I opened my I eyes, I inhaled, feeling a slight pain about my chest. I dismissed the pain and savored the mix of the scent of Asher’s body mingled with mine amid clean sheets. I held my breath for as long as I could, and the pain grew a little more; yet, the sensory overload reminded me of Saturday night movie-marathons with wine glasses left forgotten on our nightstand and early Sunday morning jogs around summer green parks. Upon awakening this time, the bliss didn’t last, and my ribs were aching, something was wrong.

Where am I? Am I dreaming?

My eyes flashed open with alarming speed, and my muscles contracted with fear. The pain was still there, but it felt as though it belonged to someone else. I was still in bed, as I rolled over and found him awake and watching me.

I must be dreaming.

His midnight blue eyes were holding an ocean’s measure of strength and mystery only to be brightened by his generously infectious smile. He lay on his side, head propped up by a very muscular arm. The sun played upon his fair skin and illuminated his blonde hair. The contrast of fair complexion and hair with the depth eye color had always drawn me to him.

The pain returned, and as I flinched, I felt him caress my arm which came alight with a sharp pain that burned. I pulled away from him, and as the once cold sheets moved over my body, I felt an explosive agony. My heart raced and caused me to breathe. I felt as though chains were wrapped around my rib cage and tightened; it hurt regardless of breath.

I rolled out of bed and landed upon the soft cushion of carpet, and I clamped down and held the scream of agony building in my gut. As I pulled my eyes open breathing slowly into the pain so I wouldn’t send my body into another fit, I looked into distressed, yet sympathetic eyes.

A rich and melodic voice commanded, “WAKE UP!”

I didn’t understand the pain; I didn’t know why he was telling me to wake up. I cringed again as my body shuddered, and I painfully choked down the whimper that raged from the base of my throat. Asher’s hands reached to touch my face, those strong hands which held such strength and comfort tried to caress my face, which awakened more pain. My right eye felt as though it was swelling shut, and my cheek was swollen and tight. I opened my left eye; my body, which was a running an adrenaline-fueled marathon, trembled from the strain of holding everything in.

*****

The twisted dream ended, and a memory of what was wrong flooded forth. I was following up on a lead to find the serial killer, Ryder, before he would kill again. Asher’s ringtone played, and when I answered, I heard Ryder’s sultry baritone of his voice linger with a dream-like quality,

“Love, I forgive you. Let him go, and embrace….”

The phone went dead….

Everything changed, and I saw blood. Everywhere. I moved stealthily toward our bedroom, my Beretta 9mm in a tea-cup grip at eye-level. The house was silent, save for the hush of the air conditioner. On my way, I noticed that everything was untouched. Once I reached our room, I dropped to my left knee so that I wouldn’t take a bullet meant for my chest. I kept as quiet as I could, stealth was my only chance of getting Asher out of this alive.

The pound of my heart coursing blood through my body was felt and heard over the silence of the house.  My heart leaped as I scanned the while taking cover at the corner of the door frame and the outside wall.  I saw Asher. Laying there. Naked. Dead.

The world spun for a moment, and I felt my chest tighten. I rushed toward him and stood there staring blankly. I forced my eyes to stay open so the tears wouldn’t flow. My gun lowered, a forgotten mass of security gripped in my shaking hands. I was too late. Ryder had caught him in our bed because the mattress was thrown off the platform. His naked body was lying on our gray bedroom carpet surrounded by shattered picture frames. He’d defended himself, and lost. I’d seen countless murder scenes, from killers I had brought to justice; however, the usual cold compartmentalization that I maintained would not help because this scene contained my husband.

Too Late

“WAKE UP!”

I swallowed hard, knelt, and holstered my gun in the shoulder rig all at once. I wanted to grab the sheets off of our bed and cover him up. Though I was the only one in the room, he was exposed for everyone to see, body bruised and bloodied. I observed knife slashes, an odd cut to his right cheek

The cheek I caressed and kissed so often….

The final wound I noticed was one deep puncturing wound right under his sternum where something had been pushed out from the back. There were shards of glass from the full-length mirror we had on the far wall. The mirror was spider-cracked and had blood spilled on it with a gruesome trail to where he lay.

I wanted to reach out and grab his hand. I wanted to shut his eyes.

Your infinitely darkened sapphire set has faded…

I desired to cry, so I slammed my eyes shut and stood while wrapping my arms around me. I gnashed my teeth hard enough that my jaw screamed with pain from the tension. I did the only thing I knew how to do, I turned my grief into rage. I walked to the mirror, through the cracks and missing pieces, and I watched my rage-filled face go scarily blank. I called to that inner rage with promises of vengeance which would be paid with blood. My version of revenge was cold; something that would keep for as long as I willed it to stay. I allowed its frozen depths to bathe me and still my mind. The frigid waters flowed into my veins, freezing that moment in my mind. As of that moment, I was no longer the commander of the righteous justice of the law. As of that moment… I became a killer.

“Wake up!”

*****

The painful emergence of consciousness returned, and I opened one eye and inhaled the earthy scent of dirt and coughed, and my body spasmed with pain. I was face down on a cement floor, the unforgiving concrete had broken my fall after I had been thrown down the set of stairs a few feet behind me. My body screamed at me, and I knew I was too hurt to try to get up in that moment. In an attempt to think of something other than the pain, I took count of my injuries. I was bleeding from slashes to my forearms and biceps trying to fend off Ryder’s thrusts from his dagger. I was suffering from a stab wound to my lower left abdomen.

“Wake-up Tyler, I’m not finished playing yet,” Ryder’s sultry voice purred.

The swift clack of booted footsteps were all the warning I got, he swooped down and grabbed a handful of my sweat and blood-drenched hair while taking my left arm and twisting it behind my back and pulling me up and onto my knees. I let out a frustrated growl mixed with arduous anger and pain. There was a large mirror in front of us, our reflection was trapped within, capturing a morbid contrast of bloody onyx and alabaster. He intended to have me down here, he wanted to watch my reaction as I watched him kill me. He lowered his head to my left side and leveled it with mine and pushed his body into me adding to the stains of his own blood to his ripped white shirt and slacks.

Within our reflection, the perfection of his fair skin and symmetrical face was marred by swelling and cuts from the glass table I had slammed him into. The silky sheen of his longer jet-black hair pulled back into a ponytail rubbed against my tanned cheek. He moved so that he rubbed his cheek against mine, as though he were scent marking me. He then lowered his lips to my neck and licked a small line on my sweat-drenched skin and followed it with a teasing nibble. Through all the pain, a disgusting shiver of unwanted desire rushed over my body.

He lustily gazed at our mirrored echoes and smiled. His paler skin glowed in contrast to the black of my shirt, drowning out the light tan of my skin. He continued to grin, but it never reached his eyes, they looked as cold and distant as winter skies.

“We are quite a beautiful couple, don’t you think?” his tone hungrily sneered, “Almost as beautiful as Asher and I were in your bedroom mirror.”

As I spat out blood and sneered defiantly, and realized I had one weapon left, a hole in my right pocket led to one of my knives strapped to my bare leg. My heart raced and my breath quickened with the realization. He buried his head in my neck and closed his eyes while pulling my arm up at a sharp angle, and I screamed aloud.

Now.

I reached quickly into my right pocket and pulled the knife from its sheath as he bit down on my neck. Clumsily, I pulled back too quickly, and my elbow bumped against his upper leg. He looked up into the mirror and pulled harder on my arm, but the pain didn’t stop me as I swung my right arm up and across my body. The angle was a little off, and I nicked my throat as I saw my knife plunge into his throat. I saw the horror in his eyes as my blade hit home. Arterial Blood sprayed from the wound as I removed the blade, and those calm eyes angry, before they grew lifeless, I felt the searing pain of a knife enter my back and push out a few inches lower than my clavicle. We crashed forward, and my chin clipped the cement and then… There was nothing

Asher… please be waiting.

 

Bio: I am a student at Aims Community College and the University of Northern Colorado. I am currently an English major with a minor in creative writing and leadership studies. I had two submissions published in the Aims Review in 2014, I’ve written a feature article for the Greeley Tribune in 2002, and I was an honorable mention in “A Celebration of Young Writers” in 2001.