It was like waking up directly in the middle of a blackout. Not sure what had happened the night before, he knew it was something terrible before his vision even kicked in. The screaming subsided inside of his head but as he came to awareness, he vaguely understood that his inner thoughts hadn’t been the only screams that night.
His eyes were already open when he woke up. Trembling on the carpeted floor, he had been in the process of attempting to claw his way out of the room. The door was cut up and scraped. Bits of wood lay around his arms and legs.
He gasped and cringed back from the door. It seemed impossible. He looked down at his hands and was sure of it as they resumed their normal man shape. His nails were cracked. His knuckles bled. There was something under his fingernails, a dark gooey substance.
“No,” he whispered. His voice came out horse, a shattered glass window of a voice. He touched his chapped bleeding lips. They shook with terror, barely hiding the gleam of shrinking pointed teeth. Standing, his knees cracked and his muscles already ached from impending bruises. He was naked and covered in cuts and green and yellow marks of capillary damage, though not as much as he would have liked. What was left of his pajamas lay shredded on the floor.
He turned very slowly around his bedroom, his muscles moving with a robotic precision. The fog in his head evaporated gradually. His eyes became less sharp in the darkness. His hearing dulled.
Harry had always been so good with checking the schedule. He had calendars around his home, around his office, and programmed into any electrical device that would have let him. He was just trying to keep everyone safe. Something had gone wrong tonight. Tonight wasn’t on the schedule. It must have been some sort of anomaly like an eclipse.
Everything moved in slow motion as Harry realized what was happening. It probably took him less than a minute but it felt like decades. The grey light from the window fell into the room like a harsh mallet onto a baby’s head. Dawn approached with a subtle gentle light that was in so many ways more terrifying than the darkness.
Books were knocked off the shelves, pictures torn from the walls. A mound of stinky feces curled on the carpet. A vase lay broken with flowers scattering the floor.
He had changed in his bedroom.
Harry rushed to his bed, leaping over the mattress with the strength and agility that had yet to wear off. He couldn’t remember what had happened, but it seemed obvious. This had been what he had run from, planned for, strategized against for years. He had ultimately only been trying to avoid this one single moment.
Denise lay at his feet in a smooth puddle of blood.
Her eyes were open, staring up at him, wide and bright. Her mouth stretched open as if she had been ready to eat an apple, which she had loved so much. Her hands were raised, as if to protect herself, although that notion was almost laughable. To who would laugh at something this horrible was a riddle Harry feared the answer.
Kneeling at his work, he gently let his fingers fall to her neck. Harry sweetly moved the necklace he had given her out of the way and caressed her wave of blonde hair over her shoulder to feel her pulse.
With cold, calculating meticulously, he made the phone call to the police. Then he set the phone down. They wouldn’t be able to understand this, a corpse half devoured by a ravage beast. If he explained it to them, they wouldn’t believe him. They’d take him to a hospital, a building filled with innocent people, with his next victims.
He could run away, but this would happen again. No matter how careful he was, he would hurt someone. And even if he didn’t, he still was an aberration anyway. He had destroyed something beautiful and special, a human life. He was a monster. His existence was undeserved.
The police were still several miles away. Still naked, Harry sat in a chair, opposite his wife. A torrent of tears fell down his stern solid face. He wasn’t sure when he had started crying, he just became aware of it that he was.
He was a mistake. And the thing he hated most about himself was not realizing it sooner. The shotgun felt cold and real in his hands. He had never been a gun person, but this precaution seemed necessary when Denise had moved in. He wanted her to know that if she needed to, she had to do it. Why hadn’t she done it last night? Had she been to scared or too sentimental?
Wiping tears from his cheeks, Harry placed the end of the rifle in his mouth, while staring at the body of the last person who had loved him. He pulled the trigger and his naked body fell to the floor.