Indeed, an evil man would enjoy these dreams.
Kyle Harrison is not an evil man, and he didn’t choose to partake in the massacre at Horn Village; a lunatic with a gun took his choice away.
Kyle believed witnessing the carnage and horror of that day would far outweigh any further trauma that may affect his young life.
He was wrong.
Thursday, 20th October.
Kyle came awake and groaned, the persistent knocking on his front door nudging sleep further and further away with each bang and thud. He raised his head groggily and squinted at his bedside clock. The time beamed at him, bright in the darkened room. He groaned and buried his head in his pillow when he realized he’d only been asleep for an hour and a half.
After a thirteen-hour night shift, a mere ninety minutes of sleep just wasn’t going to cut it.
He turned on his side and groaned at the comfortable lazy feeling that came over him. It was bitterly cold, and he planned to stay in bed all day. He wasn’t working tonight, so that meant a chilled night in with a takeaway, computer games, and horror movies. His plans did not include answering the door any time soon.
Whoever seemed so keen to speak to him would just have to come back later. He grabbed his duvet and snuggled into the pillows, sighing with added relief when the knocking ceased. About three seconds of blissful silence followed just enough time for Kyle to think the person had gone away when the sudden loud bang made him gasp. Sitting up in bed, he glanced towards his bedroom door.
Whoever had been knocking on his door had not gone away. No longer merely knocking, it sounded like his someone’s kicking his front door.
Kyle groaned in anger. This had better be important. He clutched the doona and wrapped it around himself, glancing down at his wrinkled work uniform before he did. Exhausted after his night shift, he’d gone straight to bed without undressing. The loud knocking continued, and
Kyle became alarmed.
Had there been an accident?
He rushed along the hallway to his front door, squinting at the frosted glass. No use. All he could make out was a large dark figure.
Concerned and afraid, he hesitated by the front door, wondering if the person standing on the other side had seen him. Time seemed to stand still for a moment, and he held his breath. If no one saw him, perhaps he could look through the peephole and decide then whether to open his door or not.
Kyle leaned forward and closed one eye, ready to peer through the peep-hole―when he staggered backward, crying out in surprise. The person on the other side kicked the door again and knocked at the same time.
“Open the door, Kyle.”
Kyle froze. He knew that voice. It isn’t asking to open his door, it’s telling. He reached forward, turned the bolt and tugged at the security chain. Swallowing profusely, he pulled his front door open―then gaped in stunned horror.
The first thing he saw was the rifle.
Paul Davidson walked into Kyle’s house and smiled his eyes wide and his hair tousled. “Today’s the day, Kyle. It’s arrived.”
Today is the day.
The words slammed through Kyle, stinging him like a sudden sharp slap around his face.
Dear Jesus. He doesn’t mean…
Then Kyle saw the blood.
The green T-shirt Paul wore was speckled with a fine mist of blood. Here and there, larger spots splattered along with smears on his hands and arms. The green camouflage trousers Paul wore also had bloodstains on them.
“You’ve…You’ve shot someone?” Kyle asked, his mind tripping over itself.
Of course, he’s shot, someone. Look at all the blood.
“Two people are lying on their kitchen floor with enough holes in them to grate cheese.” Paul laughed, and then frowned. “I thought it might be satisfying, you know, it being my first time and all. But it’s just made me want to kill more.”
Maybe he’s shot an animal, and he’s trying to freak me out.
The look in Paul’s eyes assured Kyle that what he was saying was the awful truth: he’d shot and killed two people.
“Maybe I’ve been daydreaming about it for so long that it’s killed some of the buzz?” Paul shrugged thoughtfully. “Anyway, you’d better get your shoes on.
Someone must have seen me banging on your door with my rifle. We need to get going before the police swarm the place.”
“Going? Going where?”
Paul’s eyes darkened, and Kyle shrank back. “To teach this town a lesson, Kyle, to teach them all a lesson they won’t ever forget.”
Kyle hunched over, and the vomit burst from his throat. He coughed and gagged, hot tears streaming from his eyes as his throat burned. All the times Paul had spoken of this, all the times Kyle had dismissed Paul’s words as mere ramblings. Now, two people lay dead, and Paul spoke of killing more, with Kyle by his side. How was he going to get out of this? Would Paul kill him when he was done?
“We don’t have time for this, Kyle,” Paul said coldly. “You knew this day was coming. Today, they will all regret their silence. I thought you’d be as happy to see the town punished as I am, they betrayed you too.”
“This isn’t right…” Kyle groans. “You can’t do this to all these people?”
“I’ve been thinking: all these people need to learn their lesson and killing them isn’t really going to achieve that. I can’t stand the thought of them dying feeling like a victim. I’m not going to shoot to kill, Kyle. I’ll shoot to wound. That way, they can live the rest of their lives in fear. Imagine it; they won’t be able to leave their houses without remembering the day someone shot them. It’ll haunt their dreams every single night. Then, when they learn the reason, when they learn they could’ve prevented their own pain with honesty, perhaps it’ll teach them to lead better lives. In the end, it’ll benefit them … the ones who survive, at least.”
“You’re crazy. This isn’t right…”
Kyle’s words cut off by the rifle’s muzzle, a mere two inches from his face. “You’re either with me, Kyle, or you’re against me. What’s it gonna be?”
Kill or be killed.
Kyle hated the words as they resounded in his mind. It was his life or the life of others. If he refused to accompany Paul, his body would be found lying here in his hallway. His name would be on the list of victims of the massacre to come. If he did accompany Paul, his life would be forever tormented by the memories of today.
He hated himself, but he wanted to live. Maybe he could prevent some deaths if he went along.
Sure. If that’ll help you sleep at night.
“What’s it gonna be, Kyle?” Paul’s eyes bore into his and Kyle shuddered. He felt like Paul could see his soul.
“I’m with you,” Kyle said breathlessly and then said a short prayer in his mind, begging for forgiveness.
Paul grinned humorlessly. “Why don’t I feel like you’re totally into this? Why do I feel like fear is causing you to say what I want to hear, instead of a true desire to see this town punished?”
“I agree with you, Paul. I just think things need thinking through properly. You could end up in prison for the rest of your life. Is that what you want?”
“I’ll be a legend. People will shudder at the sound of my name. People will tell stories about me, about my past and their encounters with me. Everyone I’ve ever crossed paths with will grab their 15 minutes of fame as they clutch their hanky and weep in front of the cameras that’ll flock here as soon as the story breaks. For years people will remember where they were at that moment, the moment the gunman walked their streets, firing indiscriminately at everyone he saw. I can live the rest of my life in prison happy knowing that they can lock me up, but they can’t ever get away from me. The people of this town will remain terrorized by me long after today. I’ll stalk them the rest of their life in their dreams.”
A dizzying haze colored Kyle’s eyes and he swayed on the spot. This was becoming more and more real with every passing second. The cold feeling that’d swamped him earlier did so again, this time making him feel as if his entire body had gone completely numb. He desperately wished that he was dreaming this, sweating and crying as he tossed and turned in disturbed sleep. He’d wake to find himself panting and shaking, then he’d breathe a huge sigh of relief when he realized it was all just a bad dream. Then, his life would continue, and he’d forget about this terrible nightmare.
Paul’s enraged shout startled Kyle from his thoughts, and he cried out. “Snap out of it! Last chance.” Paul’s grip on the rifle tightened. “Are you with me, or against me?”
“I’m with you. I’m coming.”
Please, God. Please, anyone. Please forgive me. There’s nothing that I can do to stop this.
Paul grinned and lowered the rifle. “Then let’s go make history. Some people in this town will soon be dead.”
This is an excerpt from the Lessons in Murder, buy the eBook to read the whole story.