Circle of Guilt: Flash Fiction
(originally from July 2007)
This was written for Reid’s 500 word challenge
Without an echo, she gently faded into shadows through the doorway as if she were a piece of the night. The only trace left behind the hammering of my own heart.
I dropped back into the bed, grabbed a pillow and covered my head with it in mock suffocation. If only it were that easy.
I closed my eyes but I could still see her visage. Blood splattered along her cheeks. Her dead eyes wide with horror as we dumped her into that drainage ditch and left her. Every nuance and detail of that scene was burned into my very brain: the dead leaves floating stagnant, the way her hair tangled in the damp grass along the banks, the way her hand still clutched at nothing trying to save herself from that fate.
“It was just a nightmare,” I told myself loudly, the words comforting and real. She had been found by the chief of police and her body was at the morgue, stuffed in one of those refrigerated drawers, a tag on her toe while they waited for someone to identify her. She wasn’t here and she had never been here.
I climbed to my feet, flipping on the bedside lamp, and made my way from the bedroom. The air too close and hot seemed to hold the terror close to my prickled skin, but the kitchen throbbed with life, the hum of electronic hearts beating within the machines that made life livable.
The light spilled forth as I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the gallon of milk to take a long drink. Cold liquid reality raced down my throat, soothing my fears and salving my conscience.
We’d had to finish her, after all. There’d been no choice, not after what Chalky had done. He hadn’t meant to, but too much Rum always made him unpredictable. It was her own fault for going with him, for letting him take her out of sight of the rest of us. If only she’d stopped screaming. That loud, shrieking noise still buzzed inside my ears when I thought about that night. Over and over that screeching sound, like nails on a chalk board to make my hair stand on end.
I shoved the milk back where it belonged and stared at the hands that had choked the last of the life from her. I could feel her weak pulse beneath my thumb still and her blood splattered on my skin, thick and warm, a pattern to decorate an eternity of guilt.
Shuddering, I made my way back to the bedroom and was soon wrapped in the cocoon of blankets, heavy eyes closing.
With a startled jerk I looked up to see her standing in the doorway, staring at me, anger in her eyes. “How could you?” she asked, her voice tight, her throat raw from her screams. “Your own sister, how could you?”
I didn’t answer and, without an echo, she gently faded through the doorway and into the shadows, as if she were a piece of the night…