Liz Colby jolted out of her sleep covered in tiny drops of sweat. A cold shiver ran down her spine. Moving her head to the loud grunt that came from beside her, she assumed her husband was still asleep. Good, she thought thankfully. That was the last thing she had wanted, for him to wake up. The last time she had woken him with a nightmare; he had beaten the living daylights out of her and then told her to grow up.
‘Nightmares can’t hurt you,’ he had snarled. Then he had gone back to sleep as suddenly as he had woken.
She lay back against the pillow staring into the darkness; the sweat now cold and clammy against her skin. She wished she could take a shower, but the sound would probably disturb David and he would beat her again. So she lay there shivering slightly with the covers tucked under her chin, listening to the snoring. She glanced at the illuminated clock on the bedstead. Three- thirty and still I can’t go back to sleep, she thought.
She was like this after the nightmares. She didn’t know what the dream was about or why she was dreaming about such horrific things. As if things weren’t bad enough in life already, she thought. She did a lot of thinking just lately. There wasn’t else she could do. A word said out of turn would mean a swift back-hander, which would leave her bruised and swollen for a week. This in turn meant she wouldn’t be able to get out of the house for a week at least. Failure to comply with these instructions meant being locked in the cupboard under the stairs for two days without food or water.
She hated being crammed in there; it was so small. By the time she was allowed out, she was soiled and had excruciating cramp for hours afterwards. She always obeyed him, and then he had no excuse to beat her and lock her up. The alarm clock suddenly began to bleep, which made her jump. All she could remember then was darkness.
When she came to, she found it hard to move. Her face and chest hurt badly and there was blood on the sheets. Before she could get halfway out of bed, David threw himself at her. She put her hands up to protect her already battered face. But he had his hands tightly around her throat.
‘You ever disturb me when I’m sleeping again,’ he said squeezing tighter, ‘I’ll kill you, got that?’
She nodded the best she could. Her eyes bulged grotesquely and she thought he was going to kill her there and then. As her vision began to blacken, she felt the grip on her throat loosen. A swift punch was delivered to her face and she coughed blood and saliva over the already dirty bed sheets.
‘And get that cleaned up while I’m out,’ he snapped, waving his belt in front of her face. She tried to get up but wasn’t quick enough to escape the pain dealt by the blow on her back. Pain exploded in her lungs as she rolled off the bed and onto the floor gagging. David began to laugh at her. He walked out of the room and she fell back against the bed trying to get her breath. She saw her reflection in the wardrobe mirror; it was a bad beating. He had really gone to town on her beautiful face; it was now a bloated mass of bruised flesh. She had three gashes, which bled profusely, but wouldn’t need stitches. She had thick, red welts over her torso, which was already turning black.
How could someone who used to be so loving and tender, turn into someone so evil? David had been so handsome and he would do anything for her. Then he started to drink and when that got worse, so did his temper.
She heard the door slam as he went out for the day. This was the last straw. This was going to take more than a week to heal. She suddenly rose and screamed; ‘To hell with it all.’
When David returned, he called to Liz. There was no answer. He stomped into the bedroom, expecting to see her still cleaning, but she was nowhere to be seen. He began to take off his belt and wind it around his hand.
‘You know what’s coming now, Liz,’ he shouted, ‘You’ve disobeyed me again.’
David staggered through each room in turn. He stank of beer and stale sweat, but he didn’t care. All he cared about was finding his wife. She was nowhere to be seen. In the lounge, he slumped into a nearby chair, too weary and too drunk to care anymore. He jumped suddenly as the back door slammed. Still feeling the effects of the alcohol, he turned slowly. He didn’t see the axe, but he felt the pain as it hit his skull, then blood ran down into his eyes. Even though he was hurt, he carried on turning in his chair. In front of him was the bloated face of his wife. She stood poised with the axe in her hands. He then realised that she meant to kill him.
‘Please,’ he begged. But she swung the axe, her face twisted into an insane grin. The axe struck his skull hard and he fell forward onto the carpet. As she swung the axe again and again, she remembered the nightmares.
The blood, axe and a murder.
‘It had to be, David,’ she said, laughing insanely, ‘My nightmares were trying to tell me what had to be done and now I’m rid of you forever.’
She saw the blood and the axe but was it a dream?