Nightmare’s End

The rain poured. I heard nothing but water hitting the tin shack. The floor was dirt, now muddy from the water rivulets coursing down the sides of the shack and beneath the walls. I huddled in a far corner of the small shelter, hoping I was well hidden in the darkness. My dress was filthy, and though my feet were cold and clammy from sitting in the water and the rest of me was soaked from running through the downpour, I did not move.

There were no windows in the shack, and the door had no lock. I watched the light beneath the door for shadows, and I listened to the few sounds outside that I could distinguish above the rain. He would not have given up, and I did not know how much time I had bought. I hoped I had been careful enough to cover my tracks. Probably not. I had been in a rush, and was not the smartest when it came to hiding.

I thought I heard a step outside, just on the other side of the tin wall where I hid. My breath held, I turned my gaze to the shadowy wall. Another step, this one rounding the corner on my other side, made me close my eyes.

He couldn’t find me. He had told me what would happen, and I ran anyway. I knew what to expect from him. Pain. Everywhere. So much pain there would be nothing else in the world. Pain enough to cast me into an oblivion I knew too well.

His boots made sucking noises in the mud as he stomped to the front of the shack. The rain lessened until all I heard was my own breathing and the occasional drip from the roof. The clouds scattered and the light beneath the walls and door brightened. I could see his shadow in front of the door among those of the tree branches. I took a deep, quiet breath and listened for his breathing on the other side of the door. Nothing. How could he be so quiet?

The door creaked open, and I huddled deeper into the corner. Hiding instead of running had been a terrible idea. Now I couldn’t escape. Shattered sunlight lit the shack. I closed my eyes against the light and the shadowed man.

“Addison,” the man said. It wasn’t him. I raised my hands to ward him off, but I didn’t hear him step forward.

“Stay back,” I whispered. “Stay away.” I heard him take a step, and I cringed away from him. “No.”

“Addison,” the man said again. His voice was so gentle, concerned, like he cared. No one truly cared. That’s how I ended up with him in the first place. No one ever cared. The man in front of me spoke again, but I didn’t like what he said.

“I came to get you, Addison,” the man said. He kept using my name, as if that would ingratiate himself to me. I pushed myself farther into the dark corner, away from this man, and away from whatever he wanted. “I’m here to help you.”

“No,” I said quietly. “No one ever helps.” My hands were still up, and my eyes were still closed. I heard him take another step, and I felt his hands on my wrists, but gently. He lowered my arms. I opened an eye to look at him, and I glared. His face was still shadowed by the light from the door, but I saw he wore a police uniform.

“Who are you?” I asked. He sighed.

“I am Greg Mason,” he said. “I’m here to help you.” His repetition made me more anxious.

“You said that already,” I said. I opened my other eye and looked at him head on. “And I told you that no one ever helps.” He said nothing. “And I meant it.”

“This time someone did,” he said.

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