Gillian checked her watch again. Only ten minutes had passed? Fuck, it felt like at least an hour. She should be home, relaxing in her nice air-conditioned apartment, not out here trying to recreate the melting act of the wicked witch of the west. Jesus H. Christ, this car was like a fucking kiln. She was going to die of dehydration to prove a point. Opening the car window might help, if she wanted her cause of death to be listed as exsanguination. Those fucking mosquitoes were just waiting to use her to satisfy their vampiric tendencies.
A hoot caused her to jump, hitting her wrist smartly on the steering wheel. Looking out the window she cursed. It was a bird, not a damned boogeyman. Her friends and family were getting on her last nerve just now. It was their suspicion that had her out here playing sleuth. Hadn’t they admitted David hadn’t done anything to deserve their wrath, so why the fuck could they not leave things alone instead of saying there was ‘something off’ about him, causing her to be filled with doubts about the best relationship she’d ever been in.
Nursing her wrist, Gillian’s attention turned to the cottage, which stood fifty feet away. A light flicked on. Two silhouettes were moving behind the curtains. The first form was significantly larger than the second. That was obviously David. His size was the most distinguishing (and often intimidating) thing about him. If only people knew he was a big Teddy Bear.
She wasn’t going to find out jack shit sitting here in her car, so Gillian quickly and quietly got out and made her way stealthily toward the cabin. She had to go careful both because it was dark, and owing to the uneven rocky landscape. The last thing she wanted was to break an ankle or something. That could lead to very awkward questions, and being out here was making her queasy enough.
Using the wall of the cabin for support, Gillian peered through the window. The curtains were shut tight. Damn, this meant she was going to have to go in. If David was innocent, she’d rather not have to explain that she doubted him. Hadn’t they settled all that a year ago? He was probably just out here to make sure they hadn’t forgot anything when they closed up for the season. David’s pet peeve was leaving loose ends.
As she got closer to the door, she could hear muffled sounds from within. Was it just her overactive imagination making them sound like screams? Could that thump have been from someone being beaten? That was ridiculous, wasn’t it? Could David be in there, under attack? If so, she had to rescue him. She couldn’t back down now.
The muffled sounds were coming with more urgency now, causing Gillian to pause just outside the door. She was here, mere feet, and seconds, away from ending this mystery once and for all. To ease her mind all she had to do was open that door. Behind that door rested her reassurance that she was only being paranoid, after which she could go home and tell her family to fuck off and mind their own business.
But she couldn’t do it. It had been a no-brainer for her to get in her car and drive a hundred miles out to this cabin, but she couldn’t extend her hand those last few inches and turn the knob. The sweat she was drenched in from the heat of the night now made Gillian shiver. Why was she here again? Had it not been she that had been telling everyone to leave David alone for months now? Suddenly she was just like them? No, wait, she was worse. She was spying now, and hadn’t really been given cause. Maybe David wanted some privacy, he was entitled to that.
The sounds from inside had not ceased. A loud cry of pain broke the paralysis Gillian had almost totally succumbed to. It could be David in there, in trouble. And she was standing out here acting like a fucking coward. There really was something screwed in her mind tonight. She reached for the knob and turned it with trembling fingers. The perspiration she was soaked with had made her cold, and her teeth were chattering. But it was more that that, she knew.
What if David wasn’t the victim? What could he be doing to that mystery person that would cause them to scream bloody murder?
“I really am unhinged tonight,” she thought. How could she think that he was in there kicking the shit out of someone? David couldn’t hurt a fly.
“Are you sure about that?” a skeptical voice asked. All she had to do was push that door open, but she didn’t. A pair of eyes swam in front of her vision, David’s eyes.
That argument had been three weeks ago. She had taken teasing him about her parent’s suspicions a little too far. He had been getting annoyed for some time, finally yelling at her to shut the fuck up before he made her. The fierce anger in his usually kind eyes would have made her cry, if she were the sort of woman who cried. It was the first time she had ever been scared of him in the whole two years they had been together.
“This is bull shit,” Gillian muttered furiously as she recalled herself to present. She shivered once more as she finally pushed the door open and entered the small cabin, not sure what she would see. As she slipped in she fleetingly thought of calling out. If David were in trouble though, announcing her presence might result in more harm than good. No, it was probably better to be as inconspicuous as possible. She silently shut the door and edged along the wall opposite the door, which blocked the rest of the cabin from view. Taking a deep breath, Gillian poked her head around the wall, thinking she was ready for anything.
She was wrong.
Whatever far-fetched, half-formed ideas about what she would see that had been running through her head did not come close to the carnage that greeted her. For a moment she thought her eyes had exploded, explaining why her visual field was all red. Unfortunately her eyes were fine.
The tiny interior of the cabin was covered in blood. There were spots of it near her hiding spot, great pools of it, half-congealed, in several places, and splatters of it running down the walls. The last thing to register before she turned and retched, was the lack of bodies.
Stumbling outside, Gillian clung to the rail on the stairs as she emptied her stomach of everything she had eaten for what felt like the last two weeks. When she was finally able to control her breathing again, she sunk to her knees, too weak to stand. What had gone on in there? Someone was surely dead, but where had the body gone? Where was David?
She needed to, but could not go back in that house. Gillian had to know what had happened to her boyfriend. Was he all right? Taking a few extra breaths, she struggled to her feet, and prepared to return to the bloodbath. She prayed that whatever strength she had left didn’t fail her now.
“Gill?” She was startled, but the sound of his voice rapidly soothed her panic.
Gillian turned to see David at the bottom of the stairs. She watched his formidable form standing there, eye to eye with her even though she was on the stoop, three steps higher. “What are you doing here?”
“David, there’s . . . in the house . . . horrible . . . “ she said, gasping for breath. The relief upon hearing his voice was replaced by a sense of urgency. They needed to leave, now. “I heard noises, I thought you –“
“I asked you what you’re doing here.” He spoke in a chillingly calm voice.
“I came to find you. We need to go,” she pleaded. How could he be calm when there was a madman on the loose? These questions were trivial.
“No. I’ve a job to do here.”
These words made Gillian stop and taken notice of several things she had thus far overlooked. David was drenched in blood. Though she was no expert, Gillian was certain it was not his own. How could it be when he was standing here, seemingly unharmed? There was only one explanation that could make sense. David spoke as Gillian came to fully comprehend what she had walked in on.
“If you’d have just stayed home when I told you, you wouldn’t know about this, like I wanted.”
Now she was wishing she had done as well. Ignorance really was bliss. Apparently everyone had been right to tell her she had horrible judgment when it came to men, but this decision would be the death of her. Now she had seen what he was, David would kill her. He had to. She was a loose end.
Her only chance of living to tell everyone they were right was to run, which she did. She was in the cabin, skirting around David to try and get out the same door she had come in. It looked promising until she slipped in a pool of blood and skidded uncontrollably. Before she could prevent what was happening, she saw the edge of the wall fast approaching. A nauseating pain filled her, and all went black.