His death was my fault.
No matter what people say.
I pulled the trigger.
The fluorescent bulb flickered. The wind howled.
Curled up in my duvet, knees drawn to my chest, I perused a copy of ‘The Origin’, by Dan Brown, chugging hot chocolate.
“Let it go”, Ambra Vidal said.
If only I didn’t drive. If only I let go.
Drunk and soporific, I drove him to death.
A fresh tear appeared, which rolled down my sullen cheek, to the book, manifesting a small round crinkle.
Shutting the book, I placed it on the bedside table, and hauled myself onto the wheelchair and drove it to the windows.
The night was dead silent; the howling had stopped and the crickets, owls and bats wound it up for the night.
I looked out; the cemetery gate was barely visible, though it was just a few yards away. The moon had blinked in and out of existence and has now disappeared altogether.
The clownfish frowned. The gate creaked.
I jolted, pushing harder and peered through the window. There was no one. Obviously, I smiled.
“Get stuffed!”, I spoke to the room.
The suburb was sparsely populated for the fact that it had a cemetery. For others, it would be a nuisance. For me, it was a desire. I could be closer to him.
The consequences were harsh, yes. Solitary. Wrenched apart from friends and families, though she visited them weekly once. No neighbors. No one to talk to. Except for the rooms, of course.
I couldn’t leave him alone.
“I am sorry, Richie. I am sorry”, I whispered, shutting the blinds, tears cascading down my cheek, as I moved to my cot.
Laying on it, I stared at the ceiling.
Shuffling of footsteps.
I sat upright with a start.
A long shadow appeared. Somewhere, a coffin had opened.
I gulped, lighting the lamp.
“Who is it?”, I barked.
“Amy? Is that you?”
My heart missed a beat, my body trembling. The sound clawed at me. My heart beat furiously, threatening to burst out. I could feel the blood rushing to my ears.
I tried to scream, but my throat was dry.
The shadow approached. I could only gasp.
“Please, don’t, please, don’t-don’t hurt me”, I whimpered, backing off, trying to move to the wheelchair.
A hand on my shoulder.
I screamed, recoiling away from him as if he were contagious.
“Amy, what’s wrong? Why would I hurt you?”, his naïve eyes scorched her.
“You are dead”, I spoke to myself.
“Me? What are you taking about?”
“GO!”, I screamed.
“I just got here. You want me to go?”, he asked, his voice hurt.
His face slashed at me.
I swallowed the fear.
“I’m sorry, Richie”, I blinked away my tears.
“It’s not your fault, Amy”
I looked away. It might just be a bad dream. Or a hallucination. It was one of the side effects of anti-depressants.
But he was still there, clad in the leather jacket he had on his back when he died. A fixed smile etched on his lips.
“Are you alone?”, he asked.
“Just go away!”, I bawled.
His face was not disfigured, nor his body, but the smile vanished.
“I will, with you!”, he lunged at me. I shielded myself with my hands, with a yelp, awaiting pain, but there was nothing. No sign of footsteps, or of any new human scent.
Was it a dream? Did I doze off? Hallucination?
Numerous possibilities. Specter would be the last thing on my mind.
Having missed the bus, I had to push my wheel chair across the road, to my home.
I moved in, six months back and hadn’t acquire enough contacts to expect an unexpected lift. A well-wisher, maybe. Unlikely at this hour of the night.
My brother’s death made me who I am; a lonely teetotaler. I shifted in the first place, to be near him.
After his death, nothing was alright. I was redundant for a month, after which I mustered up courage, with the help of my sweet counsellor, David Bells, to try and find a job. My grief knew no bounds. Bloodshot eyes were customary.
With him, I lost. I lost my happiness, joy and fun. Since then, life was stark. A bare road.
Now I realize, he was my happiness, he was my joy and fun. He was my everything.
He was all I had after our parents died.
The memories, tears of laughter and joy, the pranks, the scuffles, the surprises; all of this seemed distant. A distant dream.
Accosting my house, I sensed something was wrong.
The chilly air bit me. Snow hailed and rain drizzled. An owl hooted. Some bats rose to the ground in flocks. The naked twigs shivered.
“Keep it together, Amy. What’s gotten into you? Stop dreaming”, I spoke to myself, pushing the gates open and pulling the vehicle up the wheelchair ramp.
Crossing the threshold, I parked the wheelchair in the corner, taking possession of my crutches and walked to the lavatory through an aisle whose walls were myriad with photographs. Our photographs. At the end of the aisle, was him. Richard.
I blinked my eyes. He was still there.
“I miss you, Amy. I want to be with you”, he said incongruously.
“Stop messing with me. Who are you?”, I asked, just out of incredulity. There was no doubt that he was Richard, but I made my way to my phone, with my crutches.
Something was hefted and then I knew nothing.
Excruciating pain invaded me as I opened my eyes. I was bludgeoned. Now, I am being dragged.
It was not a dream. I could feel the raw pain, the smell of blood, the biting cold.
The night, again was oddly dark and silent. No hooting or screeches, bats or owls, wind or leaves. Just him and me.
I was gagged. My screams were muffled.
“Let me go, please. Please, don’t hurt me”, I mumbled. “What do you want?”
“My death was your fault, Amy. And now, there will be consequences”, he smiled maliciously.
“Please”, I sobbed, trembling with fear and cold. “Please, Richard. Somebody help!!”, I shrieked flailing my legs, trying to wrest it away from him.
“Shut it!”, he snapped at me, pulling me past the gate of the cemetery.
I bawled, horrified.
“No, no, no, please”, I beg. My heart is in my mouth, my blood racing through my veins. “Please, Richie, please, please, I’m sorry. No!!!”, I shrieked as I saw an excavated pit.
“Die, Amy. Know what it’s like to feel helpless”, he dragged me to the edge.
I clung onto his hands. “Please, Richie, Please, I’m sorry. Please don’t do this, please”, I sobbed, sniveling.
But of course, it had no effect.
This wasn’t Richard.
He wasn’t her Richard.
He was soulless; an apparition
Richard took a dagger and slashed at my wrist, severing my hold on his hand;
I toppled down into the void, with a shriek of pain.
Richard began shoveling to cover the grave, depositing mud over me.
“Somebody help!!!”, I screamed.
Mud in my mouth. I choked. More mud.
I was buried alive. I could feel everything; the mud earthy after the rain, the coldness of the night, the wind whispering past, the pain in my head.
Something was emptied onto me. Not mud. Something black. A creature, crawling towards me. Many same ones swarming around me. Scarabs!!
It nibbled on my body. I writhed and shook in pain, bawling and yelping, hands flailing to no avail. More scarabs. They crawl through my mouth, through my ear, through my clothes, through my nose.
I sobbed, pleading.
I choked, blood spurting from my mouth and nose.
After that I could barely hear the muffled sound of dirt covering the pit over my own screams.
Then, again, I knew nothing.