By The Incubus
Good morning, my darlings. Today on the Midnight Type, I’m bringing you a piece from a writer I adore. This is a short by Meghan Schuler. Not only is she brilliant and fabulous, an amazing writer, and a great friend, she is definitely the midnight type. Check her out, follow her on Twitter, and read this dark and dangerous story she wrote just for me.
Blackout by Meghan Schuler
I found myself sprawled on the kitchen floor, the ceiling coming into focus. It felt like waking, though I didn’t remember falling asleep. I ached, head and hands alike. I pushed myself from the floor, my other hand touching the back of my head. Flares of pain burned like rockets cracking my skull. My hand came away bloodied.
I forced myself to the sink, past the dizziness and the spots in my eyes. I turned the tap and watched the red swirl off my fingers, orange trickles of blood in white water in the silver sink. My bottles stood in rows, my personal abecedary of pills and potions. Living with a seizure disorder had its trials, notably when the blackouts are caused by pain. Vasovagal reactions. One sharp stick or wrong swallow and it’s lights out for twenty seconds to a minute.
The question remained: what had triggered me? There was nothing on the floor and I hadn’t been near anything potentially villainous. Not a stitch was out of place and that made me nervous. Not nervous; suspicious.
Mentally, I retraced my steps. I’d been in the kitchen. I was still in the kitchen. The teapot was on the stove, the naked burner still flickering. The pot was still warm when I touched it, the cheap black paint peeling in the middle. I’d wanted tea. And the doorbell had rang. There was only one person who ever had the nerve to ring the bell.
I turned the burner off. It was hotter than the kettle.
“I can’t understand why you don’t keep that filthy cat inside. He’s a menace to the complex. My poor Watson is terrified to leave the porch!” Ruth Somethingorother. Snide. One of those constant complainers. She lived across the way and down a few doors. Her nasty little mutt was scared of everything, even the sound of his own footsteps in the leaves.
I stared at her through the doorway, bringing the door in closer, wanted to slam it in her face. No need to aggravate things. “Ruth, I don’t even own the cat. It’s a stray.”
“You feed it, you’re responsible. Get that damn cat under control or I’ll call animal services.”
“I won’t ask nicely again. Stop yelling and get out of my house.”
“You don’t scare me, Isabell.”
“Maybe you should reconsider that,” I’d said, and felt the smirk slide over my face again.
Something was off about that.I hate that woman almost as much as I hated waking up on the floor, but threats were not my usual practice. Suffer in silence, they say.
I followed my own half-remembered steps into the living room. Bits of broken glass glittered across the floor, bright and deadly and promising another sleeping spell.
Ruth wouldn’t leave. I’d turned my back on her and she’d followed me inside as though I’d invited her. She’d kept yelling about that damned cat. I closed my eyes, trying to summon my faulty brain into playback. Ruth had shattered the glass. She’d thrown it at me. What next, what next?
I followed the trail of broken glass, the pretty white shrapnel turning pink, then red. A throbbing began in my skull, as though my bones remembered what my mind did not. A pan handle poked around the corner, slicked dark with oil or grime. My hand remembered the feeling of the plastic handle. I put my hand back to my wound to stop the throbbing as much as to stop the memory from itching, my fingers coming away with glass beneath my nails. I remembered the impact. Ruth had thrown the glass at me after I’d snatched the pan from the stove.
I followed my trail of breadcrumb gore to the larger pool of red, deep enough to swim in and shallow enough to drown. Ruth was still in my house, a burn mark bright across her cheek and temple, singed hair. I’d causally backhanded her with the pan. She’d cracked her head on the mantle. Served her right for invading my home, threatening me, breaking my glassware.
I poked her ribs with my toe, but she didn’t move. Now the layabout was on my floor, staining it messy red and sticky while I twitched on the floor. Unacceptable.
Now where was the damn mop?
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