Waking up at 3:00 am wasn’t funny. It was scary. Mostly after having watched a horror movie featuring a priest who explained the meaning of ‘the dark hour’ to a jury and listened to an Eminem’s song about the same subject. Peter was afraid he’d pee his pants after recalling those things. Besides, he’d never experienced such a fear before, just thinking about something as mundane as a Hollywood flick and a rapper’s song.
He shook his head, trying to get rid of those thoughts and think about something more positive. In all honesty, it seemed impossible to be positive at 3:00 am. He rose to his feet and walked to the bathroom, a routine he normally followed when he wanted to use the toilet. This time, though, Peter only wanted to stand up and was unable to find a reason why.
Opening the bathroom’s door, and switching the light on, Peter was taken aback by his reflection in the mirror. “Oh my God!” he said, looking perplexedly at the smears of blood he had on his once-upon-a-time white shirt and the sprinkles that covered his face. Blood spatter, as they say in Dexter, one of his favorite TV shoes. He froze, unable to find a reasonable explanation. Maybe because there wasn’t one?
There was an explanation, he just didn’t have a rat’s ass idea what it was.
Then, he remembered something. “Mary?” he said, still looking at the mirror and referring to his beloved wife and the mother of his unborn child; she was six months pregnant, and they both were happily waiting for the baby’s date of birth. “Mary should be sleeping next to me,” he whispered to himself, and the voice that came out of his mouth wasn’t exactly his; it was a rough, dreamlike voice that startled him as much as the blood on his shirt and face.
But he didn’t see her.
“Oh my God,” he said one more time. His voice morphed into a languid, weak tone as if the devil that possessed him left him weary as it got out of his body. He looked toward the bed and felt relieved to see her silhouette under the blankets. “Thank God! Everything is ok,” he said, but was suddenly stricken by reality after looking at the blood he had all over his body.
Then, the uncomfortable, yet feasible thought emerged from his head, “Is this Mary’s blood?” He felt his intestines moving and writhing, giving him an instant feeling of repulsion. Luckily, the toilet was an inch away, so he leaned down and puked, letting all that unwelcome vomit off his body.
After rinsing his mouth, Peter looked at Mary’s silhouette. She seemed to be peacefully asleep. Or dead? He thought, unaware of the rough, dreamlike voice that was taking over him once again.
He stepped out of the bathroom, but left the light on, so it could guide him back to the bed, where Mary was, either dead or alive. He shook his head again, thinking his thoughts would fall from his ears like trash would fall from a can when putting upside down. His gait was slow, a tiptoe more accurately, and the fact that something was wrong was driving him crazy. Maybe he was already crazy, unbeknownst to himself.
When he was next to Mary’s body, he quickly glanced at the clock on the nightstand. 3:15 am. Fifteen minutes had passed by like a puff, and he was unaware of it. Maybe at this hour, time is just an illusion. “Mary,” he said, moving her shoulder softly, and receiving no response in return. “Mary, wake up,” he said one more time, moving her a bit more harshly, but she was still in Dreamland, California, it seemed. “My God,” he said, not realizing he had said God’s name more times in fifteen minutes than he ever did in his entire life.
He had to know what was going on, so he stopped being gentle and moved her towards him, yelling in horror after what he saw. A collar of blood, like a necklace, covered her throat, and multiple bloody stab wounds covered her belly.
She was dead.
He panted, and began with his religious recital, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! What happened here?” he asked to the nothingness of the room. Mary’s eyes were open, looking at the ceiling in a pleading way as if begging for mercy had been her last statement before being murdered. He stood up rapidly; sweat oozing through his forehead, his heart throbbing in his chest. “What happened here?” he asked again, panting.
But later on, he wished he hadn’t asked, because this time someone behind him gave him the answer he was asking for, “Everybody is dead.”
“Everybody is what?” he asked in disbelief. Then, turning his head, Peter saw his chair moving slightly towards him as if someone was indicating him to take a seat. But he was still alone. His tongue was stuck in the back of his throat, keeping him from uttering a word.
“So you can’t speak now? The voice said, but he still couldn’t see anyone else besides Mary. He turned around a couple of times. Saw nothing. He looked up at the ceiling. Nothing. Hell, he even looked under his desk, and there was nobody there.
“Who is it?” Where are you?” he asked, silently praying not to receive an answer.
“I’m in your head,” the voice said. “And yes, everybody is dead.”
Peter looked at the door and thought about running out of there, but since the voice said that it was in his head, he realized there was nothing he could run from, was it? He preferred to stay still, try to think positively, in spite of the body of his beloved woman on the bed. “What’s going on?” he asked, agreeing with the idea -crazy idea, in fact- that he was having a conversation with himself.
“Well, my dear friend,” the voice emerged again, “what happened is that you went berserk tonight and killed a lot of people.” When the voice said that, it actually sounded like a triumph.
Peter looked at the chair and took a seat. He looked pensive, trying to relax a bit more and cope with the situation at hand. And it was hard because Peter had never even killed a fly. How in God’s name was he going to murder the woman he so desperately loved?
And a lot more people as the voice just claimed.
“What do you mean by that? A lot more people? I don’t get it!”
“I understand,” the voice said, sounding very supportive. “But listen, everything has an explanation. And your mission here -our mission, actually- is to find out why you did it.”
Peter shook his head, again, trying to stir away from that annoying voice. “No!” he yelled, and even if he didn’t see the person whose voice kept resonating in his head, Peter could still picture someone’s eyes full of surprise as he shouted. “I still don’t get it! What do you mean ‘everybody is dead’ when I only see Mary on our bed?”
An uncomfortable silence, in fact. It seemed as if the voice had finally been stirred away by Peter’s lack of wit and inability to see what was happening. Or maybe the voice wasn’t being clear enough.
“I apologize,” the voice said. “I haven’t shown you the rest of the bodies.”
Now it was Peter’s time to be shocked. “The what?” he asked.
“Open the door,” the voice said, “there’s something you must see.”
Peter didn’t want to do that. He didn’t want to know what was behind the closed door. He was afraid. He was terrified to find out. Being there, in the comfort of his apartment, was the best thing to do.
“Go! You have to face what you’ve done!” the voice urged him.
He looked at the door, which was less than four steps away, but it seemed to be miles in the distance. He took one step, then another, until his trembling hand reached the doorknob. He turned it, and the creaking sound the door made seemed more terrifying than the monster in the closet or the hand under the bed.
When he opened the door, it wasn’t just his hand shaking anymore; now, his whole body clenched to the floor as his heart throbbed faster than before and a shiver run up and down his dorsal spine. Six women and two men lay scattered on his doorstep, like old sheets of paper someone left on the ground. They were all dead, with multiple stab wounds.
“We need to know why you did this,” the voice reappeared. “That’s our task, Pete.”
Peter looked at his watched. 3:30 am. This was a crazy mission like the voice put it. However, it was right. Peter must know what happened. Why was everybody dead?