This is a horror short available to my newsletter subscribers.
The rhythmic beeping rousted Justine.
The room was dim and unfamiliar. She reached to rub her eyes but realized she was tied down. The first flush of panic grabbed her, sending the beeping to a faster rhythm.
She closed her eyes and tried to calm down. She needed to be able to think to be able to take action when the opportunity presented itself. When her head cleared she realized she was left with the sharp desire to drink. Drink away the confusion and the uncertainty she had been living with. Drink away the … she had to stop that thought, the one that led to a three day bender and finding herself tied to a chair.
She heard a noise behind her. “H..hello,” she asked, “I..is someone there?”
She tried to turn her head, but between the pounding hangover and the bonds, she got nothing but a throbbing ache for her trouble.
The sharp tang of rubbing alcohol hit her senses a moment before the cool kiss of a swab around her head. It dipped across her forehead and around her ear. Passing with no resistance across the back of her skull and up around the other ear.
“You shaved my head?” She cried outraged as she realized what the path meant.
“It was not necessary,” a woman who sounded vaguely familiar said, “but gave me great pleasure.”
“Who are you?” Justine asked.
“Forgot me so soon?” The woman sneered, “I guess I am not surprised.”
“Please,” Justine said, “Tell me who you are and what I am doing here.”
The woman laughed, sounding wild and out of control. “I am here to bring back my family.”
“Bring back your family?” Justine asked, “I-I-I don’t understand.” She flinched away as another swab traced across the same path on her skull, leaving a long wet snail trail.
The coolness snaked down her neck to the crux of her elbow.
“Did you know that every woman who has carried a baby within her body carries the baby’s DNA?” She sounded as if she were having a conversation with a friend.
“Why does that matter?” The unease thickened inside her. She would never have a chance to escape, never have a chance to shape up her out of control life.
“Do you know what day it is?” the woman asked. Something about her voice made Justine shiver.
She didn’t want to know what today was. She resisted the urge to ask. The silence grew heavy. The question darting in and out of her mind. She knew the day she’d been trying to avoid with her excess. Could she have done it? “No, what day is it?”
“February 20th.” The woman moved to Justine’s side. “This might sting.”
Justine felt the sharp stab of a needle in her arm. “Fuck,” Justine yelped, “what they hell was that for?”
“I have not decided if you should survive this. I am planning for either case.”
“What the hell are you doing?” All thought of playing it cool and waiting for her opportunity to escape fled. Justine struggled against the bonds. Sweat trickled down her back and after one wild buck, she could feel raw burns on her wrists and ankles, but the bonds were no looser. “Just let me go.” She needed to lose herself on this day. She didn’t allow the thought of why hit her. She just focused on how good that first drink would taste.
“You ruined my future.” The woman’s voice was a low snarl.
“How can that be?” This day was her own day of personal hell. There was no way anyone else had suffered as she had on this day.
“Does February 20th mean anything at all to you?” the woman sneered.
Justine knew. It was exactly one year ago that she had gotten in the car accident. It was exactly one year ago that both her husband and baby son had died.
“Noo,” Justine sobbed, “Not that, don’t make me think of that.”
“There was a car accident this night a year ago,” The woman said as she re-swabbed Justine’s head.
“No,” whispered Justine
“My son and grandson were fatally wounded,” The woman said and then breathed deeply a couple of times. “Do you know why they died?”
“It was an accident,” Justine whispered. Susanne had been rational. A woman of science, surely she must understand that accidents happen.
“Yes, it was an accident,” Susanne said, ” I will grant you that, but was it preventable?”
“No,” Justine whispered.
“I read the police report. You were driving under the influence.”
“I was fine,” Justine whispered.
“You were drunk,” Susanne spit out. “drunk with my son in the front and your son not even strapped into the car seat.”
“No,” Justine sobbed. Her husband had been driving because she was in no condition to. They’d gotten their baby and had been driving home when the truck had hit them. The screech of the tires and the harsh jerk was what she remembered. She’d crawled out of the wreckage to find everything she loved gone.
“They at least died quickly.”
“Please,” Justine said, “Just let me explain. I–“
“I can’t bring back my son,” Susanne interrupted.
“Please have mercy on me.” Justine sobbed.
“It was a mercy that God let you survive that crash, if I take enough samples of your brain I should have enough DNA to clone my grandson.”
Justine looked up at Susanne’s face and saw the shine of madness in her eyes.
“No wait!” Justine got out before the world faded.
The last thing she heard was, “A grandmother should not outlive her grandchildren.”