Everything went wrong.
It had only been a week since the last emotional breakdown; Joan was only just starting to rebuild herself. And today, in just one day, everything had changed.
She floored the accelerator and the car roared down the street.
Kate heard the car from several intersections away as Joan charged home late that night. It was the sound of the engine that was the first sign that something was very wrong. It roared with its own fury as though it was a monster hell bent on retribution.
She pulled back the lace curtain to see the headlights light up the street from a few hundred meters away at the cross road and only a second later Joan pulled into her driveway with a clunk over the curb and a screech of brakes. The sensor lights flooded the scene with bright white light and as Joan stepped out of the car Kate could see her hair was wild, her skin was whiter than usual, and the look upon her face would have frozen people in their tracks.
The car door slammed shut and Joan’s feet directed her immediately across the road. There was a score to settle. A line had been crossed. And her deepest fears had come true.
Worry was the emotion Kate felt as soon as she had heard the car, but that had quickly changed to fear as she watched Joan storm towards her. Something was very wrong.
Kate rushed to the front door and unlocked both doors just as Joan’s heels stomped up the three steps to the veranda.
Her eyes were black, not like the usual black that Kate had always seen, but a black like what was inside was black, murky and evil. Joan unclenched her right hand from the fist it was holding from pure rage and her white hand reached out and opened the screen door.
With adrenaline starting to rush through her body Kate instinctively stepped back a few paces deeper into the hallway. She could hear her own heartbeat rushing in her ears, her breathing was shallow and there was a sudden urge in her feet to run but she held her ground. She believed Joan wouldn’t hurt her, they had come too far, and Kate couldn’t think of anything she had done to invoke Joan’s rage.
“It was you,” Joan growled in a threatening accusation as she advanced upon Kate.
Kate continued slowly backing away as the fear inside her grew even more. She had never seen Joan like this before; she was stalking Kate like a monster cornering her prey.
Joan threw the front door shut and heard the latch strike home, it was at that moment she struck out in a quick instant, grabbing Kate by the face and pressing her up against the dividing wall jamb between the hallway and the lounge room. “You did this!” Her voice was a monstrous growl through clenched teeth just centimetres from Kate’s face and her thumb and fingers dug deep into Kate’s cheeks on either side of her jaw.
“Joan,” Kate struggled and grabbed a hold of Joan’s arm, trying desperately to find skin; it was all she knew to do to bring Joan back to reality, but Joan was wearing those black leather gloves and Kate struggled against the strength of her lover. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
“You should know! You did this.” The rage in her voice matched the pain in her heart as everything made sense in her own twisted reality. “You and that fucking psychologist colluded to screw me over. You’re all against me. My father warned me about you, he warned me about letting people get close and becoming emotionally weakened by others. He warned me not to fall in love.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about love.” Kate’s jaw was burning with pain, tears were streaming down her cheeks and she struggled against the wall as she tried to free herself, her back pinned against the jamb was causing her spine to crack and her neck to ache. She knew Joan was strong but she had never realised just how strong, and now she feared for her life.
“LIES!” Joan screamed and spittle flew from her mouth onto Kate’s face. “LIES!” With a reef of her shoulder she sent Kate sprawling onto the lounge room floor.
Kate scrambled to find her feet but Joan was on top of her within an instant, her hair half hanging loose from the tightly manicured bun she wore every day, her eyes alive with malice and rage, her breathing heavy and ragged as she sucked in oxygen to fuel her ongoing rage like a roaring fire.
Joan had straddled Kate’s body and pinned both her arms to the ground. In a sickeningly tidy manoeuvre she collected both of Kate’s wrists within one hand and held them tightly against the floor above her head with one arm so her other was free to stroke Kate’s cheek. “It only could have been you,” she said calmly with an icy cold voice of venom, as though having complete control over the woman beneath her had quelled the rage inside. “You were the only one I ever opened up to. You alone know the names and dates and places of my past indiscretions. You are the only one who knows where my dirt lies.” Joan tucked some loose strands of Kate’s mousey brown hair behind her ear and wiped a tear from her cheek. “I know you met with her. Probably at a bar. That night before you left. Is that when you started planning this?”
“Planning what?” Kate sobbed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about Joan. I love you.” Kate’s heart raced inside her chest with pure fear. She could feel the adrenaline coursing through her body and heightening all her senses. Things seemed to move in slow motion and she searched for anything that could help her escape Joan’s clutches. It didn’t seem to matter how much she tried to kick and buck to free herself Joan was just too strong to fight against.
“No, no, no, that’s not going to work anymore my dear. You have unleashed the beast with your treason and now you have to pay. You gave her my past. Now they all know. Now they are all against me and they are planning a mutiny, they are attempting to take me down.” Joan saw her father standing in front of her, over Kate. She looked up at him and smiled, knowing she was taking control of the situation and cutting off her emotional contact to gain the strength of a true warrior. “See dad?” she spoke to her hallucination, “I told you I’d fix the situation.”
“Joan please,” Kate pleaded as tears streamed down her face. “Please just talk to me, tell me what’s going on. I promise I had nothing to do with whatever happened.”
Joan pressed her hand against Kate’s mouth and dropped her hear to her lovers ear. “I smelled her perfume on you. She told you I was psychopathic, she told you I tortured that inmate in isolation, and she told you to leave me before it was too late. And you betrayed me.”
Kate shook her head furiously beneath Joan’s vice like grip, feeling herself suffocating already from the small amount of oxygen she was able to take in through her nose. She tried desperately to plead with Joan but her mouth wouldn’t free from the strong hand clamping it shut. Kate sobbed and choked as she panicked, pinned down on the floor without the strength to free herself.
“I loved you,” Joan whispered into her ear. “I truly loved you, and you betrayed me. I should’ve known better. You couldn’t possibly love me.”
There was a split second, Kate’s mouth was free, she sucked in a breath full of sweet oxygen and screamed, “I didn’t-” but that was all that got to escape before Joan’s hand tightened around her throat instead and Kate immediately felt her air supply cut off as her larynx was crushed.
Joan raised her head slightly and her eyes met Kate’s.
Bright green eyes; bloodshot from the struggle, but begging for reprisal through the fear.
Black eyes; full of revenge and psychopathic intentions, completely devoid of any emotion or empathy.
Kate’s face turned red as she tried to kick Joan from her body, but her oxygen was quickly being used as she struggled harder and harder and soon her skin was a deep purple, her lips swelling and her eyes became flecked with the blood of burst capillaries. She looked into Joan’s black eyes, the eyes she had come to love so dearly but they weren’t the eyes she knew. They were empty, not even a flicker of the Joan that Kate was devoted to and she knew that this psychopath was going to be the last thing she saw.
There was a whisper between them as Kate struggled and Joan held firm, a whisper of the many, many moths they had spent together, longer than a year of loving one another and longer than that of getting to know each other. It was a whisper of the things that would never be again.
A simple ‘I love you’ floated between the two of them, mentally, emotionally, and physically as Joan dipped her head and touched her lips to Kate’s swollen ones as she extinguished the life of the woman she loved.
There was no regret.
There was no sadness.
There was only calm, collected control. Difficult decisions were made; obstacles were removed from her path, all for the greater good.
Joan knew people feared her because they thought she was a monster. It was that fear that gave her control and power. It was that fear that she reigned with. She didn’t care that she was a monster; she only cared about complete control and power.
As Joan tidied up a few knocked over items around the house she wondered how long it would take before Kate’s body was found. She wondered which of Kate’s colleagues would be instructed to complete the autopsy on her body and how they would handle it. It would probably be the head pathologist, she though, and he would be cold and calculating about it.
Joan moved through the house with calculated determination as she collected her hair brush, tooth brush and a few other personal items she had stored there. She knew the house would be searched for any hint of who the murderer could be and when they find that her delicate hyoid bone is broken in her throat they will start looking at the people she knows, people that are close to her.
Picking up Kate’s car keys from the hallway table Joan removed her own house key from the collection and placed the bundle back on the table top. She knew she would be questioned, possibly even investigated depending on how much the other neighbours had seen and heard of their relationship. She would need to act surprised, sad even at the loss of her neighbour. She would make it clear to the police that she was simply a friend to the woman across the road. With one more look at Kate’s limp body Joan blew her a kiss before leaving the house, leaving the door unlocked behind her.
And she returned to her own house across the road quietly in the dead of night.
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