The scream cut through the quiet night. It was piercing and animalistic. Peter jerked awake. Confused, he scrambled for the bedside light switch, but Samantha, his wife, had beaten him to it. They both looked at each other- horror mirrored in their faces. As if on cue, both scrabbled out of bed. Peter was faster and was already hurtling down the stairs at break-neck speed.
“I’m calling the police!” She shouted after him, “Be careful!”
On auto-pilot, Peter grabbed his baseball bat in the foyer and charged outside. He had only one destination. He knew where the scream had come from. Outside, his neighbours’ doors were opening- but slowly with trepidation.
He bounded across the narrow path, heading straight for the door of 12 Charlotte Lane.
It hadn’t been the first time he’d come to this door. But it was the first time – at 3 in the morning.
At his speed, he was vaguely aware of the door to number 12 flying inwards and a figure running towards him. He stopped just in time as the figure ran into him.
It was Kiera, his neighbour. She leaned heavily against him, her harsh breath intermingled with guttural sounds. She didn’t even look up into his face to see who she was leaning on.
Instinctively, Peter put his free arm around her. His eyes quickly went back to the darkened doorway behind her. A faint silhouette stood in the darkness. There was a slight movement. Peter’s right hand tensed around the bat again. Before he could form the next thought, the door suddenly slammed shut.
Kiera, moaned in terror at the sound. His own heart was thudding away like a freight train.
Quickly, he picked her up and whirled around – heading back home. His brain picked up the fact that she was quite wet and slippery. A random thought, “Just out of the shower- maybe,” popped into his head- and then it was gone.
Samantha was waiting on their well-lit porch.As her husband approached, her mind questioned the large red sack he was carrying.
Only when he came under the full beam of the porch lights did her mind connect the dots.
The second scream that night was Samantha’s, as she took one look at Kiera and fainted.
This time, the neighbours rushed forward as one- to help.
In the harsh hospital lights Peter and Samantha sat huddled in a private room. Opposite them sat 2 detectives from the London Metropolitan Police. Peter answered the questions they threw at him as best he could. Yes, he suspected Kiera’s husband, Michael had attacked his wife in the past. The proof? Well, there had been bruises which she always covered up with makeup and excuses.
Had he witnessed this abuse? Well….no. But he and Sam were fairly certain that Michael had been the perpetrator.
Peter’s irritation was mounting with the questions. Wasn’t it obvious that the bastard had tried to kill his wife?
The next question shocked him. Had he seen a male in a hoody running away from the property? Peter steadied his breath and recounted the image in the doorway before it had been slammed shut. Both detectives scribbled away and then mercifully took their leave, advising him to be available should they have more questions in the future.
Sam was disgusted. “So that’s his story is it?” she sobbed.
“It’s a case of he said/she said”, sighed Peter. “And what with Michael being a Judge……I really don’t know.”
Sam wiped at her tears, “I need to know if she’s out of surgery,” she murmured. What a night!
She shivered recalling the scene on her porch. Kiera had been covered in blood. Her face had been a puffy mask. Gashes through her thin nightie were oozing blood. But the worst injury had been to her left hand – her beautiful hand just had 2 fingers; the rest were oozing stumps. That was the last thing she saw before she’d fainted.
Sam had been vaguely aware of the ambulance and the police arriving and all the noise that followed. Her porch had been crowded for awhile until the police had dispersed the neighbours.
Now, here they were, waiting for news. Kiera’s mum had arrived shortly after they did, but the poor woman had to be sedated almost immediately.
Peter had been astute enough to declare himself Kiera’s lawyer as soon as the police arrived. He’d only given her legal advice in the past …but no one asked any further questions….and by God, the woman needed a lawyer.
Three hours later, a doctor walked into the private room. Both Peter and Sam sat up, alert. The look he wore confirmed their worst fears. Sam began sobbing again, whilst Peter’s heart sank to the soles of his feet.
Kiera had not survived the surgery. No, her mother hadn’t yet been informed. He was very sorry for their loss….
Peter was numb. Gentle, delicate Kiera. Impossible.
He forced himself to listen to what the doctor was saying. The doctor was holding out a sheet of bloodied paper.
“What’s that? ” Peter asked.
“It’s a death-bed statement,” replied the doctor, “She insisted on writing this prior to the surgery. Perhaps she suspected she wouldn’t make it. I’ve read it and it’s clear, concise and witnessed by 5 medics including myself. You could say she turned her blood into ink.”
With that, he departed, leaving them in the quiet room. Quiet, save for Sam’s sniffles.
Gently touching the bloodstained sheet, Sam looked her husband in the eye.
“Make sure he pays, Peter, she sobbed. Make sure!”
‘I will” he breathed, gripping Kiera’s last words, “On her life- I will.”
Copyright Vivian Zems
When I was nine, my dad introduced me to audio books. I was hooked. With his guidance, I fell into a world where words became life simply by weaving them together. So here I am, living out my passion- reading and writing- being transformed with each story. I blog at Smell The Coffee