What was that? I jolt awake, a sense of wrongness creeping through my body. It is cold, dampness soaks through my pyjamas, clings to my skin. My feet are bare, the ground underneath, cold and rough against my soles. My breath comes out in soft, white clouds dissipating almost instantly.
Where am I?
I blink my eyes a few times, rub the heels of my hands around the sockets as if to wake myself up properly. Look around.
I am in a car park. It looks like something out of a gritty British thriller. Low ceilinged, flickering strip lights, patches of water, slick with oil, grubby rainbows paint their surface. I am standing in a dead end and can see a pair of exit doors opposite me, their faded green paint, flaking and peeling.
“It’s just a dream,” I say to myself.
I begin to make my way towards the doors, keeping away from the menacing shadows lurking around the cars. As I step forwards, one of the lights overhead begins to flicker furiously then winks out with a slight crackle; leaving me in a patch of deepening darkness. I hurry onwards, I can feel the hairs on my skin lifting, my skin growing colder.
Stepping into the next patch of light, the car park opens up to my left and it’s more of the same. Dank and morbid, the feeble lights struggle to banish the looming shadows as they creep up the walls and along the ground, almost as if they are reaching out to grab my feet.
My pace quickens, I reach the doors, heaving them open with my shoulder, finding myself in a grim and grey stairwell. A slight breeze wafts up though the metal guard railings, it’s cool and fresh, reminding me of the air at the lake which now seems a million miles away.
I hurry down the stairs, keeping my left hand on the rail, taking each turn as quickly as I can; ignoring the exit doors on each level, just wanting to reach the bottom and get out of that most moribund of places.
The stairwell twists and turns; down, down, down. I am almost dizzy by the time I reach the bottom. Pushing through the exit doors; I stop dead in my tracks.
“No,” I whisper as the doors swing slowly shut behind me.
I am back where I started. The same car park, the same level, the same cars. The flickering lights and puddles of grimy water.
Only, there is something different this time.
I hear a noise, like the scuffing of rubber plimsolls on rough ground. It reminds me of my childhood habit of dragging new trainers along the ground to slow my bike down and my mum shouting at me for “ruining a perfectly good pair of trainers!”
The noise is coming from somewhere near the middle of the car park, where concrete support posts prop up the low ceiling.
I have to investigate the noise; I reason that to try the stairs again would only bring me back to the same place.
I look around for a weapon, something that can protect me but there is just me and the cars. Nothing loose on the ground from what I can see and I don’t want to try the cars for fear of what might be hiding within their shadowy confines.
Taking a deep breath, I make my way towards the source of the noise. My heart is pounding against my ribs, adrenaline courses through my body.
I stop dead on seeing him. Icy fear grips my heart, my mouth opens to scream but no sound will come. My voice is silent as the grave.
He is standing over a woman. She is dead. Blood pools around her body, soaking her once beautiful white coat in a deep red stain. It runs in rivulets, scarlet rivers snaking along the ground carrying her life away.
Time slows down around me, even the air stills. I feel myself stumbling slowly backward as he looks up and sees me, watching him.
Dropping the knife with its serrated, bloodied blade.
Stepping around the dead body.
Walking towards me, slowly, deliberately.
I try to scream, I am falling away. My movements are slow, fumbling, like wading through thick treacle. The air presses in around me from all sides, suffocating, squeezing my body.
I hit the ground, hard; time speeds up. The thick atmosphere fades away, my breath comes back, a whoosh of air into my starved lungs as I scramble away, back away from him, the scream finally forcing its way out of my throat, ripping through the air, piercing the gloom.
“Abbie!” he shouts but his voice sounds far away. He raises his hands, there is blood on them, there is blood on his clothes.
“Abbie!” he shouts again. “I didn’t do it!”
“Stay away from me!” I scream at him. “Leave me alone!”
He stops, he is standing a few feet from me. I have managed to back myself up against a wall. To escape would be to try to get past him.
I squeeze my eyes shut, pinching the skin of my underarm hard, digging my nails in.
“Wake up Abbie!” I yell. “Wake up!”
“Abbie! Wake up!”
I awake with a start, David is shaking me, his hands on my shoulders.
“You were having a nightmare,” he says gently. “Christ knows what the neighbours must’ve thought.”
“Sorry,” I say woozily. “Was I talking in my sleep?”
David laughs. “Screaming,” he says. “It sounded like you were being murdered.”
“Not me,” I shake my head.
“Was it him again?” David says.
“I think so,” I say. “I thought he was going to kill me.”
David frowns. “Why?”
“He had a knife,” I say. “But he dropped it.”
“He came towards me and shouted that he didn’t do it.”
David scrubs at his face. “Ok,” he says. “Tell me about the dream, from the beginning.”
“I was in a multi-storey car park,” I say. “I tried to get out via a stairwell but it took me right back to where I started and that’s when I saw him.”
“What was he doing?”
I take a deep breath, the memory of the lifeless woman still fresh. “He was standing over a dead woman, there was blood everywhere. When he saw me, he dropped a knife and came towards me. I was trying to get away but ended up trapped and that’s when he shouted at me that he didn’t do it. That’s when you woke me up.”
“Did you see the woman’s face?”
I shake my head. “Her hair was covering it,” I say. “She had long, dark hair and was wearing a white coat.”
David’s eyes widen.
“David?” I say.
“Melody Barnes,” he whispers.
“Who’s Melody Barnes.”
“We haven’t released her name to the press yet,” he says. “Her family were only informed last night. Abbie, she’s his eighth victim.”
To be continued…
© Grace McGowan 2016