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Originally posted on PenoftheDamned.com on September 11, 2012

The Steps of Fear

My feet: the damn things are cold again. Jesus, they’re frigid! Where was I tonight? What did I do? I feel dirt between my toes: clumps of something, half liquid, half congealed, beneath my finger-nails; and my clothing is shredded, not affording any perceptible function. I might as well be naked. The couch: yes, I remember now; I fell asleep here. Shit! My sleep already sucks; the sofa doesn’t help.I’m a somnambulist and have been for as long as I can recollect. Fancy name. Yeah, I know. Sleepwalker is what everyone calls me except that little prick of a shrink. The high-nosed, tweed-wearing, pompous jerk thinks he has all the answers. The idiot knows nothing. I’ve been seeing him for years, lining his fancy-pants with my long green. I still sleepwalk, though. Every night. Somnam man that I am irks my sweet, loving wife. One more thing for her to nag about. She told me to see Mr. Tweed, or she would leave. Stupid me: I should have helped her pack.I get up and go to the john, stopping to look in the mirror before I attend to business.

Damn, Harry, you’re a fucking mess! There is blood all over you. Your clothing, face, hands, and feet are covered in the stuff. Remember, man! You gotta remember!

In a flash, I run to the patio door, following the bloody tracks my feet left. The trail of blood extends across the cement, vanishing at the start of the lawn.

Settle down, Harry. Maybe it‘s nothing. Could be some dead animal you found on the lawn, a poor creature trying to find a place to escape from its torturer. That’s it. Something like that. You merely tried to help it.

A search of the yard does not show any animals. Nothing that sports a coat of fur anyway. In the corner, the one next to the crab-apple tree, is where a dark form lies. The light is bad, but I can sense something is there. I am in no hurry to see what it is, yet I must.

The damned tweed suit of his, covered in blood, not at all in the prissy, almost effeminate way he wears it, but a crumpled mess, surrounds his lifeless body. His head, off to a rather obscene angle, greets me.

Now what? Did I find him like this? Did I kill him? I don’t remember.

For a while, I merely stand and gaze down at him, trying to force memories from out of my brain. Zilch. Nothing at all comes to me. I walk back inside the house.

I sit on the couch and put my head in my hands, staring down at the carpet. What the . . .

A syringe sits on the rug, almost under the sofa and out of sight but enough for me to see. I pick it up and see it is empty. He must have injected me with this, but why? Why was he here?

My head swirls, thoughts caught in a vortex of uncertainty. Nothing rams through into any order of reason. Conflicting paradoxes flit everywhere, changing what might have been to things which cannot possibly be and yet . . .

Reasoning is here, within my house, yard, and mind. Pieces of a puzzle to be put together, analyzed, and remembrance made. If I killed my doctor antagonist, there must have been good reason, especially for me to do it in a state of somnambulism where merely walking about after waking from slow-wave sleep should not push me over the edge of sanity.

I remove my shredded clothes and toss them into the trash. Slipping upstairs naked, I look in on my wife, peacefully sleeping, before I go in to shower. Ah, the power of hot water running all over my body, shoving the blood down the drain, is so comforting. Even as I allow it to wash over me, a relaxed, tired feeling embraces me.

After toweling off, I walk into my bedroom and slide into bed, my nakedness feeling good against the flannel sheets. My wife moves up against me, almost purring. Instinctively, I react but stop.

Something’s wrong, Harry. She hasn’t wanted you for a while; she has been as cold as cold can be. And she’s naked. She never sleeps in the nude. Even when making love, she has always worn something. But she’s naked now. Shit . . . shit, the air is heavy with the scent of her juices.

I glide my hand around and, not surprisingly, find the sheets to be very moist.

Lie back, Harry. You’re tired. You need to sleep. Everything will be better when you wake.

The voice makes sense and I give in to sleep.

Still dark when my eyes open, I once again feel the dampness of the blood and the dirt wedged between my toes. I am alone in my bed, so refreshingly solitary. It is over.

Not bothering to dress, I walk downstairs and retrace my steps from earlier. Her naked body lies across his, her head wearing that same twisted look her lover has.

I smile and go back inside. Two showers in one night. One must be clean.

~ Blaze McRob

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