I slept twelve hours in a Nyquil induced coma of hell. Consumed by Her only to wake up under the ice on repeat.
I woke up in my bed that was soaked with what appeared to be gallons of icy water and a bluish tint to my skin. Shivering I took a like warm shower to regain feeling in my limbs, slowly increasing the heat at what I hoped to be a safe pace until it was finally scorching me. And I sat on the floor of the tub and sobbed until the water turned tepid.
All I could think of was Her. If she weren’t psychotically aiming to destroy me at every turn I would think she was into me.
And like every woman who has ever been into me she is either going to be let down immensely or is irrationally insane.
She is the first to slit my throat though. There is always that.
Wrapped the towel around myself and walked out of the shower. The mirror had fogged up from the long hot soak. And someone had written Soon in the moisture.
I would have peed a little had I not just gotten out of the shower.
I ran out and grabbed my phone and took a pic of the seemingly threatening note. Shaking and afraid like I had never been before I sat on the couch and looked at the pic. Compared it to the one in blood. They looked like they were done with the same finger. I am no forensic expert but it seemed clear who had done it.
Then I zoomed in and really looked at the new one. There seemed to be crystals, like ice in the letters. I ran back into the bathroom but it had all run down the glass.
I need to get the fuck out of Dodge. But where do you run when you are broke and your pursuer can come for you in dreams. Like a sexy Freddy Krueger.
Is it wrong to be attracted to the woman who most assuredly is out to kill and or consume you? It is, right?
I just sat there silently contemplating the fact that the first woman to show any interest in me in about a year and a half was not only out my league, out of my weight class, but out of her mind. Or a figment of mine. All of the above?
And also why was I so blasé about this entire thing today. Yesterday I was tripping balls. The day before I had my throat slit. And the day before that I discovered I was immune to suicide.
Maybe immune to dying altogether. Wong should have left a broken corpse and all I had was some bruises that in the light of everything else really hasn’t registered. What are the implications of death immunity? I have definitely noticed age creeping up on me. Or I had. My bad knee didn’t hurt much anymore, hasn’t for a while. Funny how when you live with something so long you stop noticing even when it is gone.
When was the last time my knee hurt? I couldn’t remember the last time I was sick either. I mean besides the trip to the hospital with pneumonia. Could I have gone a decade without getting sick or injured?
Not even allergies. It has been months since I bought allergy pills. Meant to and just sort of forgot the last year or so. I needed them since I was a kid.
My phone rang. It startled me because of how rarely that actually happens. If it weren’t for memes I would have gotten rid of the damned thing a year ago when I gave up on the dating scene. I still get updates from the dating apps that require a physical letter to be removed from the emails because I can just delete them. My suicide note is the only letter I feel confident in my abilities to write. But I am sure the ladies that liked my profile are not just trying to catfish me. They are.
“Hey buddy. Been a while since we talked. Been worried about you.”
It is my cousin Chad. Great guy. Only family that bothers to ever check on me. Might be my only real connection since my rapid descent into the sadness that had controlled me all these years. I love this guy.
“I’m still here. Not for lack of trying,” I tried a chuckle that came out pained and felt transparent.
“Not funny. What would I do without you?”
“I’m kidding. Just trying to figure things out. Still. How’s the family?”
“The kids are great. Doing well in school. Blah Blah Blah. Same shit different day. You know how it is, the struggle is real. Hahaha.”
“That it is. So what’s up?”
“We had our first freeze last night and it made me think of you. Always does. So I thought I would give a ring and make sure you were doing good.”
“Why does the first freeze remind you of me? It’s nice to hear from you and all but that is strange as shit.”
“From when we were kids. We used to always go out and throw rocks on the ice to see if the river was frozen enough to play on.”
“Oh yeah. Shit man, I haven’t thought of that for so long. Those were the days. Running around, no responsibilities. No rules. And your mom’s hot chocolate after. Remember when she put the fruity marshmallows in it and we all freaked out?”
“First time I ever heard you say it an abomination in the eyes of God. That was your saying the rest of the winter.”
“I stand by those words. It was wrong then and damn it to hell, it still is. How is she doing?”
“Old and bitchy. So besides the old part, exactly the same.”
“Good for her.”
“Yeah. Some things never change. I lied to you. I have been dreaming of that day lately and wanted to talk to the only other person who was there I still talk to.”
“Little more specific man, there were a lot of those days back then.”
“The snowball fight.”
“Again Chad, there were a shit ton of snow ball fights. Hundreds I bet.”
“But only one where my brother fell through the ice.”
“Oh. That day.”
We never talked about that day. Maybe twice since it happened. I never even think back to it. It was fucked up and unless whiskey was involved it stayed locked up in my mental basement. Somethings were better off forgotten.
“Remember what you said to our parents after the first night of searching for him?”
“C’mon Haley. What you said to my dad in the living room.”
Only he got away with calling me that. And he hardly ever did. Haley was a happy kid. He died with my innocence.
“I don’t remember much of that stretch.”
This was true. It was all a blur of half remembered moments and crying.
“Haley, it’s me. You told him what you saw right before Timmy went under the ice.”
“I was a kid. I barely remember anything but shock.”
“Well I never forgot. I guess I sort of did until the other day. Like I said, I have been having these dreams. And one thing keeps coming back to me. You saw someone on the ice you said.”
“Not ringing any bells cuz. I’m sorry. It was just you and him, me and the kids from down the street.”
“You said someone else was there though. C’mon, think about it. I want to hear it from you again.”
I replayed the day, what little remained of it.
“Like I said, nothing. We built our forts out of snow on the ice. Timmy launched the first snowball. One second we were at war, the next he was gone. You got your parents and we spent the rest of the winter inside. Never went back out there again.”
But I did. Years later to watch the stars. I didn’t mention that part though.
“But you told everyone you saw someone else on the ice.”
He was getting frustrated and I was getting pissed. I could tell this was going down a bad road. We have tempers, the both of us. This boiling anger has always run in the family. But Chad and I were the ones who always kept it in check. We fought once when we were teens, he is two years younger then me. We didn’t speak again for nearly five years. I couldn’t even remember why we fought then and we never brought it up. Just moved on like nothing ever happened. The family way.
“Chad. Listen to me. I don’t have a fucking clue what you are talking about. It was a dream man. Dreams don’t mean shit.”
Except when they did. Except when you woke up in a bed covered in freezing water.
“But you did. You said there was a lady on the ice. Dressed in blue with long black hair. You said she was the one that took him under the ice. Everyone said you were in shock. My dad slapped you so hard you lost a tooth. You were in my room crying, blood on your chin. You swore to me it happened. The cops said it was shock, that you made it up. I believed you then. We weren’t allowed to talk about it though.”
None of this rang a bell. But my heart seemed to stop. My hands shook uncontrollably, their new state of being. I sat there, seeing Her in my mind. I could not remember any of this. Not true. I remembered his dad hitting me. He was so upset, so mad at the world that had taken his son. He lashed out with a backhand that caught me square on the mouth. I fell back and spit out my lower front tooth. It was a baby tooth. My mother told me to get out of the room as she started screaming at him for hitting me. But I could not remember what I said to make him so mad. It was a blank spot in my memory. Something I had blocked out I guess.
“Haley. You there?”
“Yeah. I’m still here.”
“Do you remember?”
“Well I do. And I dreamt of Her last night. It was crazy but she was just like you described.”
“What color were Her eyes?”
“Her eyes? Blue. Real pretty blue. You remember Her now?”
“No. Just curious,” I said in a dead voice.
“Well the dream was seriously fucking creepy. Timmy was there. Just sitting by the campfire. It was blue like her eyes. And he just sat there staring into it. I tried to talk to him but I think he was made out of ice. It scared the shit out of me. I pissed the bed. Don’t fucking laugh, but when I woke up I had pissed.”
“Somethings never change,” I half heartedly try to joke.
“Not funny Haley. I am dead serious. She was just like you said. She was beautiful, but wrong.”
“What do you mean?”
“Like she wasn’t human. I don’t know. It freaked me out. When I woke up I couldn’t stop thinking of it. Shit came back to me I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Did you know I came to see you in the hospital when you got sick?”
“No. You did? When?”
“The day after you checked in. Your mom called and said you were pretty bad. I stopped by to cheer you up but you were out of it. You were asleep almost the entire time.”
“Almost? I don’t remember you being there. At all.”
“I figured. You talked to me for a couple minutes. It was hard to understand, you had the oxygen mask on.”
“I nearly died. My oxygen level was at twelve. They said if I were five years older i would have been dead.”
“You actually said that. Bragging on your death bed I said. You didn’t even smile. Know what you said to me?”
“Clearly I do not.”
“You said you were never going to die. Your fiance was going to protect you.”
“My fiance?” The temperature in the room seemed to plummet.
“I laughed when you said that. You were still pining for Beth. But I figured I would humor you. I asked you who the lucky lady was.”
“I bet it was Katherine Hanna, I was still in love with her back then,” I tried to make myself sound happy, joking even. But I knew I sounded like a zombie.
“You always had a thing for her. But she married a Beastie Boy. No it wasn’t her. Dude. It was the woman from my dream. The one you said you saw on the ice when we were kids.”
I knew the words before he said them. All of them. The Beastie Boy line was one I had said a million times. If I wasn’t going to win her heart at least it was one of my heroes that did. But it was the last part. I didn’t remember any of it but I was positive what his answer would be.
I heard them before he spoke them. Felt them in my fabric of being. Like a bell tolling they slammed into place with a sonic boom.
“The reason I called was because of what she said to me in the dream. It felt so real. It was a message for you she said.”
I just sat there. Unable to speak. I made a noncommittal grunt. Just enough to say I was listening still. That I hadn’t hung up.
“She said you were Her’s Haley. She said She was coming for her love and nothing was going to stop Her.”
I croaked out an unconvincing laugh.
“That was what scared the piss out of me. Haley, She meant it. It felt like it wasn’t a dream. Like I needed to give you the message for Her or it would not be good for any of us.”
“Sounds creepy like you said,” false bravado in my time neither of us bought.
“Look cuz, I gotta go and get dinner ready for the kids. Just felt like I had to tell you. To warn you. You sure you don’t remember anything? From that day on the ice? Or in the hospital?”
“Not a thing. Look man, it was just a dream. Don’t worry about me. I am fine, everything is fine. When winter is over maybe I will drive down and see you guys. It has been too long.”
“It felt like it was more than a dream man. But yeah. The kids would love to hang with you. You can show them your mad video game skills and we can get fucked up. This is the heart of bourbon country. I will get us a special bottle and we can stay up too late and get way too drunk. Love you buddy.”
“Sounds perfect. Love you too Chad. Oh, one more thing?”
“Put those rubber sheets on the bed, makes for easier clean up when accidents happen.”
I sat and stared at the ceiling. I honestly could not remember any of it. But it rang true. You know how you hear something and can immediately tell it was truth? Or the person saying it believed it one hundred percent? This was one of those moments.
I got up and put on my jacket and shoes. At times like this a walk soothes the soul. The chill air felt good, seemed to brush the cobwebs out of my head. I looked up and saw Orion’s Belt twinkling down at me. The three stars in a row always filled me with calm for some reason. I looked up and tried find the Big Dipper but the random clouds hid the North Star. Leapus and Lupus played at Orion’s feet. I felt refreshed as the myths played out above me.
I was barely scared to death, to the edge of death maybe. At the door of death level fear. Baby steps to blanket terror.
When I got inside and stripped back down to shorts and t shirt I saw my phone was flashing. I had a message. Busy day, I hoped the poor thing could handle this sudden influx of action. Deciding to savor the popularity I made a cup of cocoa, with proper marshmallows. I was the only abomination in the eyes of God in this place.
I hit the home button and it listed the message as unknown number. Yay, more fucking spam. I hit the icon and dropped my mug into the carpet. Hot cocoa and liquefying marshmallows went all over the place as I stared at the text.
One word glowed at me.