Alice’s husband was a man and a monster.
He taught English at the local secondary school and was well-respected in the community. What the community didn’t know, however, was that he was prone to the occasional bout of violence against his wife.
Alice loved him with all her heart because – most of the time – he was a wonderful and caring husband. They had no children and lived in a detached three-bedroom house that sat discreetly amongst similar looking homes on the street. As a couple, they often went out with their neighbours, held barbecues in their garden or just spent the evening holding each other on the sofa while watching a good film on the TV.
When things were going well, Alice thought they had a nice life. A good life.
The only problem was, every once in a while, the dark demon that lived inside Chris Henley would show his ugly face and turn her world upside down.
It was on a Thursday evening, sometime in the middle of spring, when the demon paid them his latest visit.
Chris had come home from work, moaning about something the Headmaster had told him, and sat down at the dinner table. She’d had a busy day herself – her sister, Janet, had been with her most of the day and the pair of them went shopping and had some lunch. Janet eventually left about half an hour before Chris came home and that meant that dinner was almost, but not quite, ready for him by the time he sat down. He glared at her with a look in his eyes that she would have recognised if she’d spotted it in time.
She brought a bottle of wine to the table and he suddenly exploded at her.
The bottle smashed against the wall, soaking the wallpaper and covering the carpet with broken glass. He grabbed Alice by the throat and then threw her to the ground so she landed hard on her back. She screamed as she landed, but he didn’t pay any attention as he was yelling at her. When she hit the floor, a bolt of electric pain shot up her spine and sat between her shoulder blades. She twisted on the floor to try and alleviate the agony in her back but he followed quickly with a kick to her ribcage. She screamed again and begged her husband to stop but he ignored her and landed a hard punch to the side of her head.
And Alice instantly blacked out.
She woke up ten minutes later to discover that Chris had moved her to the sofa. She blinked several times before looking around the room; she saw him sitting in the armchair, looking at her intently with a blank expression on his face. She winced as a bolt of pain shot up her spine, so she turned her body until she felt more comfortable.
Chris, without saying a single word, stood up from the armchair and went upstairs to bed. Alice watched him leave the room but didn’t try to speak to him: that look in his eyes was still there, lingering like a cat waiting to pounce on a bird it had been stalking. When the living room door closed behind him, she turned her body again – this time it was to relieve the ache in her chest that pounded at her from inside her ribcage.
And then she began to cry.
They never uttered a single word to each other over breakfast. Chris ate his toast and drank his coffee before silently leaving the house to drive to the school. Alice, however, just sat at the kitchen table staring at her uneaten toast and the mug of tea that had now turned cold. The muscles in her back screamed at her and her temples felt like there was a small man inside her head, banging her skull with a tiny hammer.
She rubbed her head as she fought against the temptation to ring her mum. Alice knew that her mother disliked Chris and she never told her about his violent tendencies, mainly because it would only give her more reason to hate him. He makes my blood boil, her mum would say with a grimace and Alice often wondered if her mum's dislike of her husband actually bordered on hatred. She wasn't sure why her mum didn’t like him but there was definitely a clash of personalities there. If her mum or sister knew what he did to her from time to time, they would tell her to leave him. It wasn’t as easy as that though.
She loved her husband, completely and unconditionally, and they wouldn’t understand that.
She rubbed her temples again to try and relieve the thumping inside her skull (the tablets she had taken hadn’t dulled the pain, so she thought rubbing her head might help a bit). She stared down at her mug of tea as her fingers made small circles against the side of her head and she felt a small electric sensation emanate from somewhere around her brain. Her eyes widened as she looked at the cold tea because, at the same time as feeling the mild electric shock, the mug moved slightly away from her. Surprise grabbed her and lifted her out of her seat.
What just happened? How did she do that? She sat back down in the chair and held the mug in front of her with both hands. She stared intently at it, turning it one way then the other and realised there was nothing even remotely out of the ordinary about it – it was just a plain white mug with ‘World’s Best Lover’ emblazoned across it in bold, black letters.
She placed it – slowly and carefully – back on the table and stared at it again. This time, she made a conscious effort to move the mug again; she ran a single thought over and over in her mind: move, move, move.
She sat back in her chair and rubbed her fingers against her temples again as she stared at the mug. After a couple of seconds, it moved again – not much, just a couple of slight jolts as the cup twitched away from her, almost as if the mug had a sudden case of hiccups. She felt the electric sensation in her head again so she quickly stood up and backed away from the table. Fear and confusion clawed at her insides as she left the kitchen, closed the door and stood on the other side with her head resting against the door's wooden panels.
Tears ran out from the corners of her eyes as she banged her head gently against the wood, wondering what the hell was going on with her. She stood there for a few minutes and managed to calm herself down before opening the kitchen door again and walking back to the table.
She wondered if maybe it wasn’t her that caused the mug to move. Maybe there was another explanation for it, although she didn’t know what that explanation might be. She knelt down on the floor and looked underneath the table, intently examining the legs and the underside of the wooden top. There was nothing unusual at all about it, even when she tapped her hand against it at various points. She stood back up and stared at the mug while she tapped the top of the table. She found nothing out of the ordinary, and the mug stayed perfectly still where it was.
The pain in her head came again, thumping hard against the inside of her skull, so she rubbed her forehead with both hands before moving them to cover her face. Chris had hit her hard last night and she wondered if he'd actually done any damage. As anger rose up in her chest, she heard a dragging noise from the table in front of her and slowly lowered her hands from her face, half knowing what to expect. She found that she was right.
The mug had moved again.
This time, it had slid across the table until it stopped right near the edge. As Alice stared at it, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, she noticed the toast on her plate. What she saw made her gasp.
The uneaten toast was broken up into tiny pieces.
She stepped back from the table just as the mug moved again and fell from the edge of the table.
She reached out – an automatic response – but she was too far away to ever catch it. Tea splashed on the floor as the mug tipped over in its descent. Before it hit the floor, however, something truly amazing happened.
The mug came to a stop six inches from the floor and floated in the air, spinning gently around. She slowly retracted her outstretched hand and the mug moved a few inches towards her, still spinning around as it gently bounced through the air.
She thought about last night - and the blow to her head - and she wondered if somehow (although she didn't know how, exactly) Chris had managed to unlock something inside her when he punched her. The pain in her head was subsiding and was being replaced by a nicer, more pleasant feeling that seemed to give her a warmth that covered her entire body.
I'm controlling this, she thought.
She concentrated on the mug until everything around her became a blur and then she held out her hand again. The mug moved towards her quickly and smoothly, and she caught it firmly in her palm.
She sat back down at the table while still clutching the empty mug and looked up at the kitchen window.
For the first time since she woke up, she noticed that it was actually a really nice, sunny day. She glanced back down at the cup in her hand and then back up at the sunlight beaming in through the window. An idea came to her and she put the mug down on the table before going upstairs to get showered and dressed.
Just under 30 minutes later, Alice was standing in her beautiful, sun-drenched garden that was surrounded by deep-green conifer trees and tall fencing; the garden had a level of privacy that – right now – she truly appreciated.
She didn't want anybody to see what she was about try.
Holding a kitchen knife she had retrieved from the wooden block beside the sink, she sat on the metal bench that stood at the edge of the patio and stared out at the trees and bushes that filled her garden. She opened her hand so the knife sat flat against her palm and concentrated as hard she could on the handle.
After a few moments, she felt that pleasantly warm sensation again and she knew it wasn’t due to the sun that bathed the garden in yellow light. The knife spun around her hand, gathering speed after each rotation until it was just a blurred, spinning circle. She looked down the long garden and fixed her eyes on the apple tree that stood at the far end, just in front of the conifers. She felt an invisible energy flow from her head down to the knife and it immediately left her hand at great speed. She smiled as the knife went flying down the garden and pierced the bark of the tree; it didn’t sink in very far, though, and the knife fell to the floor. Alice kept smiling.
This was a very good start.
And now, for her, came the ultimate test. It was possibly the most dangerous thing she had ever done in her life, but she knew she had to try it. She just had to.
She stretched her hand out towards the knife that now lay on the grass at the other end of the garden. She took a slow, deep breath before taking a few minutes to clear her mind. She breathed again and concentrated hard on the knife, picturing it in her mind. The sun reflected off the blade for a moment as the knife slowly rose into the air and turned around so it was pointing directly at Alice. She tried to concentrate on spinning it around so the handle would face her, but it didn’t work.
The knife sped through the air towards her.
She knew then that she had lost control as it hurtled forwards like a missile. She leaned to one side as the blade came speeding down the garden and she screamed out when it caught her arm as it shot past and clattered onto the patio behind here. She pressed her hand against the cut in her skin and watched as blood oozed out between her fingers.
She thought about using something else to practice on but she honestly thought the danger of using a knife would help her to focus more.
I’ll have to try that again, she thought.
Then she took a deep breath and stared down at the knife behind her.
It was early evening when Chris walked in through the front door, trying desperately not drop the bunch of flowers he was carrying as he struggled to retrieve the key from the lock. When he closed the door behind him, he called out to his wife but there was no reply – the house was eerily still and quiet, which he found a little un-nerving.
A noise came from the kitchen, so he walked down the hallway and gently pushed the door open. He immediately dropped the flowers and screamed at what he saw there.
Alice was by the kitchen sink, floating several inches from the floor and facing him. Her dress was torn in several places and covered with blood stains. He saw that her usually blemish-free skin had several cuts and bruises all over it, including her beautiful face, and she was glaring intently at him. Floating in the air around Alice’s head, like some kind of demonic halo, were several kitchen knives – all of which had their blades pointing directly at him.
“Come in,” she said.
He felt an invisible force jolt him from behind and he stumbled into the kitchen, yelping with pain as he landed hard on his knees. He looked up at his wife with disbelieving eyes as his brain tried to make sense of what he was seeing.
“Welcome home,” Alice said. “Things are going to change around here.”He screamed as the kitchen door slammed shut behind him.
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