The Living Nightmare

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Damien Shadow, a 38-year-old pub owner, is accused of committing a crime that he remembers nothing about. He tries to remember what happened but first, he must overcome the nightmare that's haunted him for years.

Submitted: April 18, 2017

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Submitted: April 18, 2017

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I woke up in a pool of sweat again. Another nightmare. Every night I have the same vivid dream, the same images and faces scream at me and every time it feels so real that I wake up in a state, trying to figure out where I am.

I get out of bed, light a cigarette and look outside at the sun that is slowly rising. It’s 7.30 am and I only got to sleep around midnight or was it after? I can’t remember. I was drunk.

  I turn the TV on, make myself a cup of coffee and flick between the channels when I stumble upon the news, stop for a moment and read the headlines.

  “A woman in her twenties was brutally attacked and raped last night around 12.15am in an alleyway off Terry Road. Police are investigating the crime scene and urge any witnesses who think they saw or heard anything suspicious to come forward.”

  Shit. That’s two roads up from my pub. There hasn’t been a serious crime like this in Bluehill for years. Bluehill is a small town in Pentshire, a county in the north of England that not many people outside the UK know about. I’ve lived here all my life but I can’t recall any serious crimes happen in the past.

  I switch it off, jump in the shower and get dressed to go and open up “The Brew” for the day. I can’t believe I’ve spent almost every day of the last twenty years at that place. I got a job there at 19 after deciding university wasn’t my thing and I needed money to move out of my parents’ home. I bought the pub five years ago, when it was put up for sale after Mac, the previous owner, passed away two months after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. I love that place, it’s the only stable thing that I’ve managed to keep in my life, longer than any friendship, longer than any car and definitely longer than any girlfriend. What can I say, I love the ladies and I don’t like feeling tied down.

 I decide to walk to the pub today because it’s a nice morning which is something very rare for this time of year. Bluehill is dead in the winter, at night time it almost feels like a ghost town but I like it this way, I like the quiet. In the summer months, the place is swamped with tourists and families on holiday that are mostly here to go hiking in the hills and see the Bluehill Waterfalls which are the town’s most famous attraction. That’s where Bluehill got its name from; the crystal blue waterfalls in the hills.

  I unlock the doors and start re-arranging the chairs when Valerie arrives to start her shift.

  “Morning boss. What a lovely morning huh?”

  “It is indeed. Almost too good for February don’t you think? I bet you it’ll change within the next few hours.”

  Valerie smiles and walks to the little storage room behind the bar and hangs up her coat and bag. She’s wearing skinny blue jeans and a plaid red shirt that is really flattering on her. Valerie is only 22 and she moved to Bluehill from Manchester to get away from the crazy city life and her crazy family. She’s worked here for the last 6 months and she’s great at her job but I also like having her around. Apart from the fact she’s stunning, Valerie is the kind of girl that a man enjoys being around; fun, laid-back and did I mention stunning?

  “Heard about the poor girl last night?” she asks as she starts cleaning the top of the bar.

  “Yeah, I saw it on the news this morning, absolutely shocking. Hope they find the scum that did it and lock him behind bars.”

  “I hope so. Has Bluehill ever had a case like this before? You would’ve thought it would be the last place such a crime would happen.”

 “Not as far as I remember. Bluehill has always been a safe town.”

  We spend the next two hours cleaning up the bar, arranging the tables and chairs, checking what football matches are on today and the times so that the TVs are set on the right channels. The pub is usually really busy on Sundays, especially at lunch time when all the locals come down with their families and enjoy spending their afternoon eating and chatting away whilst the kids play in the park right next to the pub. Business has always been good for ‘The Brew’ because there aren’t many pubs in the centre of Bluehill.

  At around 2.15pm the pub is heaving and I walk into the kitchen to give chef Dave another order of his famous homemade pizza. Dave is half Italian so he is renowned for making amazing pizza for obvious reasons. As I’m waiting for the order I check my phone and notice that I have five missed calls from my mother. That’s weird. My mum hasn’t called me in weeks, let alone 5 times. I have never had a very good relationship with my parents and it is mostly my fault for giving them hell when I was a teenager. I thought I was cool by mixing with all the wrong people, smoking at 15, underage drinking and I never listened to anything my parents said so it’s been like that ever since. Just as am I about to call her back, duty calls.

  “Hey Damien, could I get another glass of white wine please love?” shouted Tracy, one of the regulars.

  “Sure thing Tracy, coming right up,” I smile back and run up to the bar to pour the wine.

  I pick up a wine glass from the shelf and pour the chilled wine into it and pop the bottle back into the fridge. Just as I’m about to place the glass onto my tray, the doors burst open and two police officers walk quickly towards me and I can feel the whole pub staring in shock. This can’t be good.

 

 

  “Mr Shadow, can you please answer the question?” I snap back to reality after replaying the whole day in my head over and over again trying to convince myself that this is actually happening. I’m in the police station and I have been here for the past three hours, being interrogated by these two police officers. They’re saying I did it. The girl from the news, Abbey, they’re saying I attacked and raped her.

  “For the tenth-time officer, I didn’t do it. I’ve never heard of the girl in my life, I wouldn’t even know what she looks like,” I yell back at them as my body starts to shake with anger.

  “Mr Shadow, we’ve heard that you are quite a ladies’ man and that made us suspicious to begin with. However, there are also witnesses that say they saw you running in the opposite direction of the crime scene in the same time frame that the attack took place,” says the woman police officer that seemed convinced that I was guilty.

  “Why would someone say that? I didn’t do it. I swear, I’d never hurt anyone.”

  “You keep saying this Mr Shadow yet you still haven’t given us an alibi. Where were you last night between 12 and 1 am?” asks the older looking male officer as he stood up indicating that he is getting impatient.

  “I closed the pub around 11.30 pm and then I started counting the money that was made that day, I checked the stock, wrote down any orders that needed to be made the next day and then,” I pause as my mind suddenly goes blank.

  Then I drank a bottle of Jack Daniels and probably stumbled home which was only a ten-minute walk away. Probably. That doesn’t sound like a trustworthy alibi now does it? But I did this almost every night, it was the only way I could get to sleep without thinking about the nightmares.

  “Then what Damien?” the male officer hits his hand on the table snapping me out of my thoughts.

  “Then I got drunk by myself and went home,” I reply with shame and avoided making eye-contact with either of them.

  “Do you remember walking home then? Do you remember what route you took? Do you remember anything between 12 and 1 am Mr Shadow?”

  “No, I don’t remember. All I know is that I would never hurt someone, even if I was off my face drunk,” I look up at both of them and my eyes start to water.

  “You are not the victim here Damien. There’s a 22-year-old girl in the hospital right now, with a broken arm, bruises all over her body who was brutally attacked and raped last night by a person that matches your description exactly and your alibi isn’t looking too good right now.”

  Both the officers walk out of the room at that point and I just sit there staring at the table. How did I end up in this position, why am I being accused of this crime? Why did I drink so much? Why couldn’t I remember?

 After being told that they are keeping me in overnight, I am thrown into a cell. I lie on the rock-hard bed and stare at the ceiling, trying to think as hard as I can back to last night but all I can remember is pouring one drink after the other until I reached the bottom of the bottle and then my mind goes blank again.

  Somehow, I manage to fall asleep and once again the nightmares begin. Every night I dream of a child, around 3 or 4 years old and there’s blood on its hands, he’s screaming. A woman is there too and she’s sobbing on the floor whilst the child is being pulled away by a man. The child is reaching out with its bloody hands, screaming and trying to reach something that I can’t see in the dreams. The child and the man disappear into the darkness and all that are left are the screams that haunt me every time I fall asleep but I can never really see the faces properly, it’s as if they are blurred out. These nightmares have been going on for so long that I can’t actually remember when they started, it was somewhere in my late teens. They got so vivid at one point that I would wake up and it was all I thought of every day, they took over my life and I was scared to fall asleep at night because I knew what was going to happen. So, I started drinking. I started drinking a lot, because I found that that was the only way I blacked out and fell into a very deep sleep. This time though, the images were clearer, I could see the faces of the people in my dream better.

  I wake up in a panic, breathing heavily, and my heart beating out of my chest. The child from my nightmares, it looked a lot like childhood photos of me and the woman, I knew far too well who that woman was because I’d seen that face all my life. It was my mum. At that moment, it hits me, this was far more than just a dream, it was a memory. All of this happened, it was real and I was there with blood on my hands being dragged away from my mum who was sobbing on the floor. What had I done? Why was there blood on my hands and why was I taken away from my mum?

  I stand up and feel so light-headed that I fall to the floor and it all starts to mess with my head. I’ve always known I’ve had a dark side, I’ve never been able to get close to anyone before because I have a problem. I did this. I’m a monster and I raped that girl. I don’t remember any of it but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I’m guilty, I did this. How many other awful things have I done when I’ve been in that state, I can’t even imagine. I deserve this, I deserve to be here. My parents hate me because I’ve been like this since I was a child. How did I let myself get to this, I hate myself.

  “Damien Shadow? You’re being released, you’re free to go,” says the guard and unlocks the cell.

  I don’t say anything because I don’t know what was going on. I’m so confused and lost for words so I decide to look for the officers who had arrested and interrogated me the previous day but they find me first.

  “Mr Shadow you are being released due to a new lead we have been given on the suspect. It seems like you’ve been framed on purpose by someone, who made it seem like it was you. We are doing our best to find this person and we are very sorry for the inconvenience and false accusations,” says the female officer and started to walk away.

  “Wait, what do you mean by that? Who tried to frame me on purpose?” I ask confused.

“I think it’s best that you speak to your mother Mr Shadow, she’s very worried about you,” she replies and walks into her office.

 

 As I walk out of the police station, I see my mother who is waiting for me outside, she does look worried indeed. As soon as she sees me she bursts out crying and runs over to hug me.

“Oh Damien, I’m so sorry my son. I’m so sorry,” she sobs and it seems like I’m back in the dream again, she is inconsolable.

 “Mum, it’s alright. I’m fine, it’s okay.”

“This is all my fault Damien, it’s my fault that you had to go through this,” she cries and hugs me even tighter.

“What are you talking about? How can any of this be your fault mum?” I stand back so that I can look at her and even though we were never very close, it breaks my heart to see her in this state.

“I should have told you the truth, I should’ve told you about the threats. I should’ve known he’d do something like this. He’s a monster. I told the police, that’s why they let you go.”

“Mum, what are you talking about, you sound like a crazy person. What threats? Who threatened you?”

She takes a breath, looks up at me and I feel it before she even says it. It all made sense. The dreams, the child that I thought was me, the blood on its hands. And then she says it, confirming my worst thoughts and fears.

“Damien, there were two of you. You were identical twins. You look identical but he was a monster. He hurt you, you were bleeding. You were just four years old and we knew he was troubled. I was terrified of what else he would do to you as you both got older. So your father took him away.”

I can’t speak. I don’t know what to think or what to say. It had been in front of my eyes, torturing me all of these years but I hadn’t realised it.  I had a twin brother. He tried to frame me for all this. He did this, he attacked that poor girl and he tried to get me punished for it. He was crazy and he threatened my mother. Our mother. He did this because our parents chose me over him and they loved me. He is on the loose and he won’t stop until he gets what he wants. I must find him and I must stop him before it’s too late. 

 


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