Guys, I’m counting on Spring Break to catch up with my plot. This is actually a continuation of the last chapter….Don’t ask me what chapter that would be…:D
Ian woke with a start, but his nightmare projected into the pitch blackness of the cell. Flashing before his eyes, he stared at the blanched, terror-stricken face of Elaine. She foundered, collapsing to the floor, and into the image reached her persecutor: two gigantean hands. They grasped an over-flowing bouquet of crimson roses, its thorns digging into their palms, and streams of blood caroused down the hands in a net of rivulets. Looming ever nearer to her, they approached and encircled her neck. Twisting, twisting. Then the same blood-stained hands caressed her lifeless face. Aghast, Elaine opened her eyes in the mottled complexion and looked up into the face belonging to those hands: Ian fixatedly gazed at the reflection of himself staring back. Elaine’s shriek shattered the vision.
Cold sweat trickled down Ian’s brow. His hair stood on end. Every fiber of his existence shook with the echo of her scream. Anger and guilt reemerged in a swelling, inward cry.
“You scum, you let her die!” the vicious whispers hissed.
“What did you swear again? Oh, to ‘protect her from all harm’? You fool!” they spat.
“You might as well have killed her…killed her…killed her…” the voices chanted.
Breathing heavily, Ian rocked on the edge of the prison cot.
“No.” He spoke the word his soul shouted.
His tormentors faded into the night.
Ian’s chest rose with deep breaths and his heartbeat slowed to a constant thump-thump. He lay back on his cot and closed his eyes, but his mind would no rest. Blood-stained, blood-stained, blood-stained…the two syllables repeated in his mind.
His heart stopped. He opened his eyes.
“Back at Miss Guthrie’s School, a man—he—he brought me red roses every day for more than two months. He came and came and wanted what I couldn’t give. He wouldn’t stop coming…And his hands…he usually wore gloves, but he would take them off. Long and gnarly, his hands were covered with red blotches. I—I couldn’t stand it when he tried to touch me…” Elaine had confided to Ian one evening in the garden. He had offered her a bundle of crimson roses, but his hands were streaked in blood from wrestling with the thorny thicket. Elaine’s face had drained of its natural color as she stared in terror. Her explanation now came back to him vividly.
“I—I thought I could be free of him here. But sometimes I feel as though someone is watching me.” Her hazel eyes had brimmed with tears. “He haunts me, Ian. He haunts me,” she whispered in sobs.
Ian pushed away the memory of comforting Elaine in his arms. Instead, he focused on the object of her fear—the object of his anger.
A man who forced himself on Elaine. A man who was rejected, who wore gloves, who had red-blotched hands—hands stained with the blood of Elaine.