I’ll admit it—I’m a drunk. Been one for a while now. And that fact long preceded the videos, by the way. But it’s a sure bet that watching those freaking things didn’t help my condition at all. So when I tell you that the days following my first viewing of the tape I was black-out drunk and barely able to move from my bed, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. I just couldn’t stop asking myself the same question, over and over again: How could any human being be so black-hearted and despicable? I Had no idea that I’d get an answer to that particular question. Anyway, I would have snowballed into a complete mess if not for the nightmares…
The first dream came about a week after I’d watched the video. In it, I saw the woman again. However, the sum total of her face failed to come completely together before my eyes, allowing her to maintain a fairly faceless presence. She stood under a rain of burning flower pedals, smiling. At the foot of my bed. She just stared at me, within me, like she was looking for something. Her eyes weren’t like anything I’d ever seen before, inside or outside of a nightmare. They were beyond eyes, like things that weren’t just organs within a larger biological system, but complete and independent creatures, with desires that tripped beyond the skin.
Of course, I couldn’t move or speak, so I just looked up at her, praying she’d vanish. She didn’t. She moved closer, crawling animal-like onto the bottom of my bed. I could feel my legs burning as her red hair fell across them. As she drew even closer, her smile began to burn my face, and I could feel my hair beginning to smolder. Soon, smoke from my burning body began to fill the bedroom. She loomed just above my face, her nuclear smile melting away my skin. That’s when I felt her hand on my chest. It was so wonderfully cold. I wanted to scrunch my entire body into her palm. Then her hand pushed through my breastbone, releasing into my body what I can only describe as the overflow of cold autumn creeks. I felt my heart slip softly into her grip. I wanted her to hold it forever. Then she poured her volcanic gaze into my eyes, and said, “What heart isn’t afloat in darkness, my dear? Every one of them throbbing and thrilling deep within the shadows under the skin.”
After she concluded her sentence, she began tugging, albeit very gently, at my heart. I almost wanted to give it to her. But after I started to feel my breath abandon me, taking my life along for the ride, I begged her with my eyes to stop. She only pulled harder. Soon I began to hear the wet sounds of tiny strands of flesh, snapping and popping from somewhere inside my chest cavity. While she continued to pull at my heart, the smoke that had filled the room began to dissolve, and the morning sun began to trickle through the windows. With one final yank from her icy hand, my heart came out of my chest. My breath was almost gone. She held my bleeding heart up to the light of dawn, watching it slowly cease its desperate beating. Then she placed the dead organ directly in front of my face, and whispered, “Tell me, Genevieve, what heart ever benefitted from being shown to the light, hmm?”
Minutes after the nightmare ended, I broke-up with the bottle and made close friends with my coffee mugs.
I don’t know how long I drifted through the nights that followed, each one filled with pointless, mindless doldrums—anything that would get me through to the next sunrise. I assumed the dream’s intensity was a reciprocal of the horror I’d experienced while watching the video, as the video, like the dream, was beyond my typical range of experience. But I wasn’t taking any chances: I’d be sleeping with the sun and waiting-out the nights atop a guard tower of caffeine.
At some point, within the endless procession of fog and fear, I received a phone call from a newspaper about an assignment. Apparently, some young man had taken it upon himself to transplant the organs of his entire family into the corpse of the family dog; the man died shortly after he tried to add his own stuffing to the mix.
It was raining when I got to the crime scene, which I found appropriate for mood and for my pounding skull, as sunlight is no friend to migraines. I flashed my press credentials to the cop standing next to the yellow tape, and he waved me through to the crunch of reporters that packed themselves along the edges of a fat detective who was giving out a press statement.
Before I could write down a word of what the guy was saying, I felt someone tug at my jacket. It was Detective Jeffery Brewer, a cop I’d been dating, on and off, for about a year. He was a nice enough guy, and I really hoped that my interest in him wasn’t the singular product of all insider-dirt he’d dish out whenever we got together. (It probably was, so I guess I’m just an awful person.)
“Where the hell you been, Veeve? I’ve been calling and calling. I was beginning to expect a report from your neighbors, complaining about the smell of rotting meat,” Jeff said, as he led me into a house that looked about as suburban as suburban gets.
“Aww… ‘Rotting meat,’ That’s about the sweetest thing anyone’s ever called me, Jeff.” Our conversation was cut-off by the usual din of a crime scene, which I was glad for, as I had yet to perfect an excuse for my prolonged absence.
The inside of the house was unspectacular, and filled with busy police photographers, all of them snapping-off shots at different intervals, which, naturally, played complete hell with my headache. The initial banality of the house abruptly ended when Jeff whisked me into the cellar. It was like a nightmare lifted from a lunatic’s broken brain, and then built to scale within waking reality, no detail left out for its minuteness.
The basement was a pit of slaughter, a dark room filled with deflated corpses and strewn entrails. The entire family had been crudely unpacked of all of their internal organs, which were then repacked into the over-stuffed corpse of an English Mastiff. The dead murderer’s naked legs were still dangling from without the dog’s bloated bowels, where the man had crawled inside the dead creature, apparently in the hopes of, literally, spilling his guts.
“Veeve, do your thing. I mean, I can’t let you stay down here all day. And remember, you don’t release any of this stuff till I tell you it’s time, or no more guided tours of Crimeland, got it?” Jeff said, snapping me out of my stunned stillness.
I didn’t want to look any more dumbfounded than I already had, so I ignored his question and immediately got down to business, asking, “Did the sicko leave any kind of a note behind?”
“Yeah, it’s already sealed up inside an evidence bag, though. But, knowing you’d want to read it, I copied the letter into my notebook. Just wait till you read it…” Just as I took up Jeff’s notebook, I happened to glance down at an image the killer had scrawled, in blood, upon the floor: a smiling woman standing beneath a downpour of what looked very much like burning flower pedals. My gut tightened, and my heart felt like it was going to break out of my chest. My eyes, for a lack of other places to look, fell across the words written in the notebook.
As I sit here, a cold void tumbles through the city, piling up along the gutters, and growing heavy upon the tree branches and rooftops. She has left us. We were never her children. We were nothing but her dogs.
We are all nothing but dogs.
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