In Her Design
by Ashleigh Gauch
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
The steak was far more mild than I expected it to be, almost like veal. She — I? — hadn’t prepared a side dish; it was all the dinner I had before shooting up. It took all I had in me to steel my nerves to face her, but I had to know the truth.
I had managed to whip up another batch of “Amy” to contact her, in case she refused to answer my questions; I had plenty of time. I swallowed hard, closed my eyes, and thrust it in. It was almost one and a half times the normal dose, and I hoped it would give me more time with her.
When I opened my eyes, she was awaiting me with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. Her beautiful eyes reminded me of the color of the statuette, her hair of my cherrywood furniture. To this day it puzzles me how I hadn’t noticed it sooner. “Where is he?”
Her puzzled expression gave way to torrents of red. “Where is who?” Though she appeared to be surrounded in flame, her tone was of pure ice.
I couldn’t help but grit my teeth. “Don’t play stupid with me, Amy. Where is he?”
“Who? Which one are you looking for?”
“David! Who else would I be looking for?” Her angry expression twisted into a wicked grin. I could feel my blood chill.
“Oh, him. I can take you to him, if you want.” There was an almost sing-song quality to her voice, a deviant joy that infused her words.
“Please,” was all I could muster. The green swamp crept up around me, snaring my ankles, trying to drown me. I wouldn’t allow it to snare me this time. I had to know the truth.
The chill of the outdoors caught me off guard as I followed her out the front door, around the backyard, and into the alleyway nearby. The setting sun cast shadows on the bags of garbage and miscellany that littered the ground. Some of the darker-colored objects were obscured by the shadows which made the going treacherous. The smell was repulsive.
How I made it through without gagging and retching was beyond me, but in minutes we were out onto cracked pavement. It had been years since I had hopped fence, though I managed to and landed in what appeared to be an old construction site or demolished building.
The brilliant orange of the sunset on the horizon gave way to hues of scarlet and bathed the site in its ominous glow. A bulldozer and excavator sat abandoned alongside torn-up concrete and twisted wire cables, the yellow paint on each giving in rapidly to rust.
Amy appeared to glide in front of me. It was clear she had made this journey many times, and I did my best to follow her exact foothold, which gave me a relatively safe passing as we carefully ascended the rubble. After we reached the peak and had begun to descend, I watched her jump down and disappear, as though she had walked into the rubble itself. Within moments of following suit, I saw why.
Two huge slabs of concrete lay pressed against one another like the entrance to a cave or tent. It was tall enough to easily fit a person and, from the acrid scent of urine at its entrance, I could tell that more than one person had noticed. She beckoned me further in, though it took a moment of fiddling with my phone to bring up the flashlight before I was confident enough to follow.
The makeshift cave was far deeper than it had first appeared to be. The closer I got to the back of it, the more the scent of rot began to choke out my ability to breathe. Amy stopped and beckoned to me once more in front of what looked like a deep hole dug out beneath the rubble.
I sidled up alongside her and looked down, then turned to my side and heaved and retched. In the pit sat at least four bodies, three of which had clearly been there for some time. The distinctive golden flecks on the shoes of one told me it was another old friend of mine, though the flesh had rotted away from the face for the most part, leaving a permanent scream and making the face unidentifiable.
The body closest to the edge of the pit was clearly David. I would recognize all five of his gold rings anywhere. His face was utterly smashed in and chunks of his leg were missing, almost as though he had been butchered.
I heaved again, expelling the contents of my stomach onto the ground in the pit. Amy’s laughter echoed in the small space and smothered my thoughts. I turned from her, horrified, and ran towards the fresh air and relative safety of the construction site.
“What have you done?” I turned to her in a rage while the red inflamed me with its heat. “What have you done to my friends? My dealers? What have you done to my life?” I spat the words out in tongues of flame and received a look of bemusement in return.
“You know the truth and still accuse me? May I ask, Roger, what have you done?” There was no color around her this time.
“What have I done? I would never hurt the people around me! I would never, ever hurt David, of all people! He was the man who got me into all this! He made it possible for me to use my chemistry knowledge to actually make bank! Why in the hell would I ever hurt him?” The anger gave way to despair and fear in waves of red and green as her words sunk in.
“Yet you did. You’ve seen the proof with your own eyes, Roger.” The barbarity with which the bodies had been slaughtered shocked me. How could I ever have done such a thing?
“You can’t be me! You have to be a ghost, or a spirit, or, or, something! There’s no way...”
“Drugs do strange things to anyone. They can change you. Have you ever heard of athletes on steroid rage? Do you think that they would beat their girlfriends otherwise? In your rages you have even struck me, when you believed I was real. What makes you think you couldn’t take the next step?
“Besides that, you’ve been addicted to me for some time. What is more addictive than love? You used me to hide your guilt, Roger. You knew damn well what you had done, and you chose to ignore it.”
Memories cascaded down on top of me in a flood, drowning me in their totality. Screams, male and female drowned my thoughts. David begged me for mercy for having broken in, Talia for forgiveness when she cheated on me, Christine for her non-payment, Rick for having broken my vase. Each and every one of them had visited me while I was high on Amy, and all of them had suffered the same fate: strangled and then disposed of.
Amy began to fade from the edges of my vision. I turned to her and grasped desperately for her hand, to cling to her, despite what she represented. “Don’t go,” I croaked. Tears poured down my face. Her soft smile hurt most of all.
“You have to face up to what you’ve done, Roger.”
I nodded weakly, watching as she stroked my hand. The colors that made up my emotions faded from view with her as I came down from my high, alone and freezing as the cold of the night set in.
I reached into my pocket again where my phone was stashed and turned the flashlight off. My fingers moved slowly, painfully, while my hands shook.
“9-1-1. Police, fire or ambulance?”
“Police. I would like to report a murder.”
Copyright © 2015 by Ashleigh Gauch