It began some nights ago. I was awake, or trying to stay awake, in preparation for night shift duty the coming week. I don’t know about you, but to me it’s always easier to push the waking hours two or three over a period of time instead of getting the full 24 hour awareness in one big bulk once you return to work. Never one to stay up late I’ve learned to make it past my limits. In fact, it’s getting hard to actually have a fixed time I end the day and go to bed, no matter the time of day. Call it what you will: occupational hazard, weird sleep pattern or just plain stupid. Doesn’t really matter – it’s the same to me.
So, this story begins in the middle of a week off. This means that I had successfully turned the day and night cycle to something what most people consider normal and was on the start of returning to be up at nights again. Sometimes I go the whole week not bothering switching back – this is mostly in the winter when it’s not much light and my vampire tendency come in full force – shunning sunlight like the devil and becoming paler than a Scandinavian love affair. This week I didn’t because my boyfriend had asked, nay, pleaded me to come to a dinner with his parents, aka my future in-laws. I didn’t really want to: I had been looking forward to staying in my antisocial mode on the computer and write down some thoughts, play a few games and have a chat with my digital pen pal on the other side of the world. Still, I didn’t want to disappoint him. A relationship is give and take. I was always a sucker for love.
The big day for the visit was to be a Friday. They apparently had this big thing planned: dinner, coffee and even possible a movie if the time favored us. Knowing my in-laws I was looking forward to an evening of home baked pizza with thick crust and lots of cheese, beer at the meal, strong coffee and cakes you could break a skull on if you smashed it in between one of them and a rock before the dreaded talk about grand-kids, the discussion following if I had any other career plans than staying a night shift nurse at the hospital and the questions about my brother really being into online gaming and thus spiraling towards becoming the new psychotic killer they had read so much about on their local newspaper forum.
- You know I only do this for you, right? I asked him.
Smiling in that smug way of his he kissed my cheek.
- Relax, darling, they love you.
- No they don’t. They love the IDEA of me and the fact that you’re getting married.
- Honey, you known that’s not true. They love you.
Sometimes my boyfriend can be so blind. His parents did not love me, not one bit and we both knew it. He however, as well as them, was perfectly happy to go on believing the lie. Me? I’ve had enough dishonesty to last a lifetime. Great game, though, while it lasted. Like buying a red bikini at the local supermarket.
So, there I was, sitting in our slightly too old car, blinking my eyes to stay awake with a wish of being back in bed, naked and just taking it slow to actually having to do anything. The hospital had called me the week before during some sort of grand emergency – big traffic collision in the middle of a holiday season with multiple victims – so I was entitled to some well deserved rest at last. Apparently “rest” and “relaxation” meant having dinner with your in-laws. I’d rather do another big highway disaster.
The radio was on and some punk rock hipster news reporter with terrible pronunciation kept talking about the fugitive situation and the aspect of changing our national culture – to be honest I wasn’t really listening. My boyfriend always keeps the radio on when he drives, he calls it his a-game. Go figure why men need stimuli all the time.
Then all of a sudden the adverts were over once again and I caught the word “disease”. Naturally, as a nurse, my interest sparked.
- …and while we’ve had numerous reports about these cases there is no evidence to support the claims of an epidemic in the making.
By now I was wide awake and had leaned forward to turn the volume higher up (much to the disapprovingly “hey!” from my boyfriend who has it tuned up EXACTLY just the way he likes it) not wanting to miss the latest update of what my colleges had begun calling “the second coming of the chicken pox”.
- Typical news in a slow season: a mysterious…
- Sush. I want to hear this.
- …all points to be related to the death three years ago in the swamp lands where Henry Jessinger disappeared in the search of Maria Herinla – the body was covered the next day…
- Really? This interests you?
- Yes. Please be quiet, I’m trying to listen.
- …as nobody have been able to verify the murder weapon in question the case had previously been closed by the police, only to be reopened in light of the resent findings at Utmyra Hotel. So far the nearby residents have been unwillingly to comment on the forced isolation, but we have confirmed reports about armed forces patrolling the area…
Wait, armed forces patrolling the area? This wasn’t just some sort of sickness, if there were military presence sealing the border of the quarantine zone… Shit. My cousin was probably there, trying to get a story out of my sister. My sister joined the special forces three years ago after the miscarriage and a messy divorce. Not a nice guy – I had half a mind to show up on his doorstep and give him a piece of my mind, but the thought and care of my sister had always held that urge back. Anyway, these days she was doing a lot of secret missions for the government and couldn’t even tell us where she was when she wasn’t answering her emails. I knew better than asking – I respect her too much to bring that “sorry, that’s classified” look on her face.
- …as this year is coming to a close we ask all drivers to show responsibility on the roads and if you happen to be on highway eleven: there’s a large convoy of trucks up ahead so you better be patient and keep the rush to a bare minimum. Remember, people, one large disaster is one too many for any kind season.
Pop music started to pour out of the speaks again. Some sassy love story about a teenager and his unresolved parental issues, most likely. I turned the volume down.
My in-laws live in a house build 20 years ago – one of those rows of houses that serves as the last resort against nature, situated just far enough from the medium city they claim to live in to actually be inconvenient and not far enough out to be “in the country”. Zombie hunters would call the entire thing “infill” – there’s nothing more than a background for a suburban subculture of racial trauma, freshly mowed grass and small talk to cover the better part of a talk show host’s wet dream. Never really liked the place to begin with I wasn’t particularly thrilled when we were spooked by a deer the first time my boyfriend (back when we were both students) brought me over to say hello and be judged as a possible womb for his offspring. Having undergone gender reassignment when I was five I hadn’t been able to tell them that I could not conceive a child any more than my boyfriend’s chances of getting pregnant – witch, if the talk in the generics department were to have any credibility, were on the rise. It’s amazing what we considered sci fi just years back could actually become a reality. Unfortunately, time travel were yet undiscovered and I was stuck with the prospect of having to suffer an evening with people I had nothing else in common with but the fact that I loved their son.
As my boyfriend pulled over and began taxing into the car park I must have sighed, for just as he had turned off the ignition he exhaled tiredly.
- Look, I know you don’t fancy doing this. I don’t either. Seeing you uncomfortable eats me up inside.
He paused, most likely awaiting my response. Not knowing what to say I simply looked at him, feeling uncomfortable all over.
- Don’t think I don’t notice: you don’t come along with my mother very well after that whole insufferable incident with my father.
The episode he referred to was best known as “the incident”. Don’t ask me why, I still struggle to find a logical response to the the question/phrase “so you’re that girl that fucks my son with his socks on”. Seriously, that’s what you want to leave as a first impression on an already insecure female with kinks best remained unknown to you and your family?
- Look, I didn’t mean to…
- Just stop. Please, this is hard enough for me as it is.
I stopped talking. Sometimes I’m an expert of not talking. My first girlfriend was deaf and as such I learned to go days without uttering a word. It’s amazing how much impact a smile and a hug can play in terms of communication as a couple. Also, the sex was fantastic: I was finally able to let go my restraint for not screaming during the best parts of intercourse. That’s the only time I ever saw her blush: when our neighbor bought us a ball gag and left it in the mail along with a note kindly asking for whoever was screaming next door in the middle of the night to have the courtesy to use it when they were enjoying themselves as much as we were. At least I think it was our neighbor: we never did really find out who had done the deed. In any case, that ball gag opened up a whole new world of exploration that in the end forced me to leave her. I still miss her, but we both knew that our time together as lovers had run out. Just like sand.
- Honey? Are you listening to me?
- Hm? Oh, sorry.
- That’s all right. You had that distant look on your face again.
- Yeah… it’s… it’s not really perfect timing due to my work schedule prep. I must have let my mind slip there for a moment. Sorry. Better here than at your parents, right?
There was an awkward pause.
- I’ve been thinking. Perhaps it’s best if this is the last time we visit my parents.
- I know you’re unhappy leading up to it and you’re feeling down for at least a day once it’s done. I don’t want to see you like that. And yes, I know it’s a different kind of unhappy when you lock yourself in the basement with the RP-sign on the door. I don’t mind sharing you with others in that guild you’re part of. Heck, I don’t even mind that play partner you’ve got binding you to signal posts.
That’s actually true. I do have a fetish for being tied to lamp posts, traffic lights, traffic signs and the like. Don’t ask me why because I’ve got no idea why I enjoy it as much as I do. There’s this particular spot, down by a off beaten path, a former highway, now replaced, where I can stand in bondage for hours without a passing car. I wear a hood, so they wouldn’t be able to notice me for my breasts and slightly broader shoulders than your average girl. You’ve not been able to experience true freedom before you’ve been tied to a lamp post in the middle of an early spring morning sporting nothing but a blindfold, gag, fish stockings, high heels and neon blue underwear. Trust me, you haven’t.
- So, here’s the deal. We do this right one time and it’s the last. No bullshit, no strings attached, no nothing. They don’t have to know it, just you and me.
- Yes, I’d do it for you. It’s the second best thing after restarting the car and just drive away, bailing out of it entirely. Sadly, I can’t, because I’m going to have to come back to them at some point. Without you.
Those last two words were added with passion. I noticed how the fire burned inside him, making him irresistible and unpredictable. He knew that I knew and that it turned me on and that in turn turned him on…
When we exited the car sometime later had both had to adjust our clothing. Thank the goddess that I haven’t worn something expensive, fancy or even lots of makeup. My boyfriend shrugged, trying to hide a smirk. He wasn’t doing a very good job. I touched his arm.
He turned around.
- Thank you.
I pulled him close and kissed him. It was a warm, grateful kiss, full of love and sweet tenderness. It was a kiss of equals and returned sentiment. It lasted for an age, and when it finally broke we stood there, looking at each other.
- I love you.
- I love you, too.
He grabbed my hand.
- C’mon, let’s get this over with.
We walked the few steps out of the car park and into the falling snow. Dusk had finally settled, the metropolis gleamed in the far, far distance and that dreary, lingering sensation in the lower part of my gut had vanished. I had not felt so… so alive, so full of life and anticipation. We climbed the few steps and staircases that lead up to our destination. Date with destiny, I thought to myself, and then instantly regretted it for it’s ominous sound.
As we started approaching the end of the street we came to the turn at the end of the row of houses. At one side there’s people’s homes, fences, gardens full of grass and the occasional plant or item to make it look prettier. Then there’s the road. On the other side it’s the forest. Dark, foreboding, wind rustling through the leaves and blocking out the street light, making us realize just how small we Humans are in this world. I held my boyfriend’s hand tighter.
Then I began feeling watched.
In the blink of an eye I was convinced, utterly convinced, that there was something out there in the forest, watching us. Watching me. Bidding it’s time. I froze. Well, I froze mentally as I kept on walking, kept on holding my boyfriend’s hand, kept on ignoring the signs that this was wrong, horrible wrong and that I was about to die.
Pardon the melodramatic – I tend to assume the worst.
My boyfriend glanced over at me.
- Are you all right?
- You’re holding on kind of tight.
- Oh. Right. Sorry.
I didn’t want to let go of his hand, but I tried to relax the grip. A little.
And then we were there. Outside the gate in the small fence. The front door looked dark and out of place between the pale painted walls. They were white. The walls, the fence white and what looked like black under the electric light from the closest lamp post. I didn’t want to go in.
- Okay, what is going on?
- Nothing! I mean, I’m just feeling nervous, that’s all.
- No, you’re not just feeling nervous. I know it when you’re nervous. This is something else.
He was right, of course. I was feeling something else that nervous. But I couldn’t tell him how that door scared me into my very core, made me want to turn, run away, scream – he couldn’t know, this was his childhood home, a place of happy memories. To me, it was terror.
What follows next is not something I remember.
The last I can recall with certainty is standing there, in front of the fence with my boyfriend, ready to enter. If we did or if we didn’t I honestly can’t tell.
What comes after is a vision of red, of dark iron bars, blood, horror, shackles and me being led by a policeman. I remember being delirious, taking, not making any kind of sense. Then, as the cool night air touched my skin, I began saying something over and over again.
The screams spoke to me.
It wasn’t until the ambulance came that I’d be able to make my statement. Six short sentences long, but it made quite the impact.
I couldn’t help it. The screams spoke to me. I didn’t want them to, but they did. The screams were a mixture of agony and ecstasy, and some dark part of me longed to join in. In the end, I did.
Now I can’t stop thinking about those screams.
To be continued...