I saw, for the first time in my life, the fine line that separates sanity from insanity, and believe you me, it is cartainly a very fine line. Some who cross it, know when they do. They can feel the switch being flicked, and something shifting in their psyche. Others don't even recognise that anything has changed. They just continue as if everything is alright and they are still the same as they were yesterday. For some, it is an instantaneous change, for others, it is a slow, agonising decent into their paranoia, hell, despair, whatever it is that casued their shift. Regardless of anything, that line is still as fine as a small crack in a windshield.
My head ached. I hadn't opened my eyes yet. I just lay there, awake, but unmoving. The dull thud emanating from deep within my brain was numbing. From the safety of the indide of my eyelids, my eyes felt the blackness of my surroundings. They scanned, not seeing anything - wanting to , but not daring to. I moved, gingerly. I didn't expect my body had sustained any serious damage because I didn't really hurt anywhere. Other than my head.
I don't know how long I had been laying there for, but I thought it high time I opened my eyes and survey my surroundings. I didn't really know what to expect as I slowly squinted them open, but I was plesantly surprised to find that I wasn't in some squallid muck hole filled with vermin and other nasties. In the time I'd been alertly immobile, my mind had dredged into existence all sorts of disgusting places that I may have been stuffed, but this wasn't - thankfully - one that my imagination had dreamed up.
The ceiling, at least, was nice. There was one of those big sculpture-type-artistic-thingy's in the centre of the roof, from which hung a single cord that was exposed at the bottom to actually be three, as it brached into three seperate ornate light coverings. I couldn't tell if they were on or off, because the brilliant golden light that was streaming in through the heavy drapes that shielded the rest of the world from this room was dazzingly bright, rendering any other light source completely obsolete.
Squinting my eyes against the glare, I slowly turned to face the light. It was so bright behind the curtains, that if I hadn't known better, I would've thought someone had transported me to within mere metres of the sun itself. A noise behind me caught my attention. I spun swiftly, and instantly regretted the sudden movement.
My head burst in an entire brain pulse. It began somehwere deep in that organ and radiated outward, pulling pain along with it. It exploded out through my skull, and my hands flew to hold into the top of my head, gripping like vices, just in case it did actually split open. The wave of pain was followed by a few aftershocks, and as they abated, I was able to release my skull too. The throbbing continued, a bit more insistent than it had been moments before. I remineded myself - no sudden movement.
When I was able to focus again, I could see that the noise had emanated from a door. Had somebody been with me the whole time? Had they opened the door just now, seen me sitting there and quickly exited again? It probably didn't matter. They weren't here anymore, and if they were a threat, I'd not be sitting here anymore.
I gave myself a couple more minutes of sitting on the bed, sort of listening for footsteps outside the door, sort of recovering from the stupidity of swinging my head around so quickly. When I felt as good as I thought I would, I slowly stood. A fresh wave of pain washed its way around my skull and I swooned briefly before gripping my head again and slowly walking towards the door. I hadn't recalled hearing anything that sounded like a lock being set, and wanted to test it for myself. Upon reaching the door, I grasped the knob and twisted.
'Has she been taken care of?'
Harold pressed a button on the arm rest of his car door, and the machanism within, whisper-quiet, pushed the window back into place. He tapped the back of the driver seat head-rest, and the Audi purred to life. It was a fancy new car, and Audi A something-or-another, he couldn't remember which. The sales assistant had told him a tale of how wonderful a car it was, but Harold hadn't paid much attention, other than to the fact that it went from zero to sixty in some really small number of seconds.
As Harold felt the state of the transmission shift beneath him, the man to whom he had just been talking shifted on the other side of the door, and moved away. The car began a slow crawl forward, and began to pick up speed before slowing at the end of the street. Something insidee Harold stirred. He couldn't quite put his finger on it - remorse? Saddness? He couldn't tell.
The car, under the driver's careful guidance, made a slow right turn out of the street. Harold peered over his shoulder and looked out the rear window. He stared at nothing really, just stared, as the car carried him toward his new life.
The fresh morning sun washed the street in a golden hue, making the it look as if were actually paved from that precious metal. It was a beautiful picture, on that Harold would cling to for the rest of his days. The new Audi completed the turn, and the golden paved street disappeared from view. Harold knew that he would never return here. This was the last time that he would ever see his wife again.
I jumped slightly as the door handle turned - I'd pretty much expected it to be locked, so when it freely turned in my hand, I was actually surprised. I opened the door fully, and listened for any other signs of life. Nothing. I let go of the breath I'd been holding and stepped out of the bedroom. The thing that had been nagging at the back of my mind since I'd first opened my eyes began gnawing away again. This was not the headache - it was something different.
I turned left and saw a picture hanging on a wall, and the gnawing sensation stopped as utter realisation pushed it aside and backhanded me across the face. I gasped and my hands shot to my mouth. I rushed down the hall, and ducked left through the entrance at the end. I couldn't believe it. It couldn't be possible.
I was standing in my kitchen.
At least it felt like my kitchen. It looked like my kitchen. But, it couldn't be. I couldn't be in my house. Could I? Opening the top drawer of the counter, I looked inside, and quickly assessed the contents - well, that was certainly my kitchen drawer. I was incredulous. Had I been attacked on my front lawn, only to be taken into my house and left to sleep in the guest room? To what end?
I padded around the house, completely confused. Examining everything, yet taking in nothing. I went out the front and looked around the garden. It all looked the same as it had the night before. I wandered over to the treeline - the place where my assailant had been waiting. No sign of movement or that anybody had been anywhere near this place. I just couldn't wrap my head around it.
Back inside, I sat down at the kitchen table, a small round thing with two chairs. I put a foot up on the chair opposite and leaned back so that my head and neck were straining over the back of the chair I sat on. The stretch felt good. I held it until my muscles began to ache, and moved into a straight-backed position again. I was still not sure as to what had transpired over the past 12 or so hours, and was staring at the refrigerator, when The Muppet Show theme music started playing in my head. It took me a slow second to remember that my phone had that music as its ringtone, so I followed the sound to the source and picked up the phone.
Turning it over so I could see the screen, I noticed that my hands were shaking a little. No caller ID. Of course. Exasperated, I thumbed the green answer call slider in the direction it indicated, and rasied the phone to my ear, 'Hello'. Nothing. 'Hello?'
'Hello, sweetie. It's me. How are you>'
'Who is this?' I asked, a little perplexed.
'It's Roger, your husband, you ninny.'
Husband! 'I think you're mistaken. My husband's name isn't Roger, it's...'
'Honey, is everything alright? What sort of a joke are you playing?'
'What sort of a joke am I playing,' I threw back, 'I'm not joking. My husband's name isn't Roger!' I was quickly getting worked up. The stress of the past few months, last night, and now this. I wasn't sure what was happening.
'Well, I'm pretty sure I know my own name. Why don't you grab yourself a nice cup of tea nad get yourself some re...' I'd stopped listening. My eyes had fixed themselves on a photo on the fridge.
I wandered closer. The phone still to my ear. My 'husband' still taking about something on relaxation, but I heard nothing. I peered in at the photo, and held my breath. My hand shot to my mouth again and the hand that held the phone loosened. The phone fell and crashed on the floor. The talking on the other end stopped. I slowly held out an increasingly shaking hand and removed the magnet that fastened the image to the fridge. The photo flapped to the floor, and I stooped to retrieve it. It landed face down and as I straightened, I turned it over in my hand.
I was half expecting it to be back to how I remembered it, but it wasn't, and I think I screamed. The photo was only taken a year ago, at a local beach. It had been a beautiful day. One where the temperature is so perfect that it feels as if you and the atmoshpere are one. You're neither hot nor cold. Just perfect. Harold and myself had been in the photo, a nice couple from Italy had offered to take it for us. Despite them being the tourists, we were the ones getting out photo taken for us. We returned the gesture and they were so very grateful. The photo I held now was exactly the same, except for one thing. Harold wasn't in it. Instead, there was someone I'd never seen before. He was wearing a hat with an 'R' embroidered on the front.
I gasped. 'R'. Roger. There were dots that I couldn't connect.
I quickly moved to the top drawer of the kitchen again and opened it. Right were I expected was a business card. I retrieved my phone off the floor and prayed that it was still functioning. I dialed the number on the business card and pressed the dial button. Mercifully, the phone hadn't been too badly damaged when it fell from my grasp.
Within minutes I was connected to the detective who had been helping me. She might be able to shed some light on what was happening.
'Harold. I told her. You were here only yesterday, giving me a letter you had taken to the forensic office.' A pause. Some papers ruffling on her end.
'Umm, look, I don't know who gave you this number, but I've never heard of, or had a case for, a Harold, and I wasn't at a house dropping off a letter yesterday. I was at the station all day, finishing a heap of paperwork. I hope you find what you're looking for.'
The line went dead. My heart stopped beating momentarily. What was going on? What had happened to me in the past few months? Why had this happened? Despair began to wring its hands around my neck again, and I was taken abruptly back to the day of Harold's disappearance. The utter sense of loss that I had felt then came crashing back over me like a tidal wave. Comsuming every portion of me. I slumped to the floor, phone still gripped in my hand.
I sat there, lost. Broken. Roger stared up at me from the photo, grinning.
And my world came crumbling down.
So, that draws that series to a close. I hope you enjoyed it - wait, really enjoyed it! In fact, I hope it was the best thing you've ever read!! If you just read this, and you haven't read the first 4 chapters, the links below will now seem a little redundant, but I welcome you to have a read anyway. Hopefully you'll still enjoy them.
As always, I love to hear from you, so please throw any comments or suggestions below, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading!
- The Wheelie Bin Mafia - Chapter 1
- The Wheelie Bin Mafia - Chapter 2
- The Wheelie Bin Mafia - Chapter 3
- The Wheelie Bin Mafia - Chapter 4