Author: Hari Navarro
Raymond gulps the weight of his breath and it tastes like death as he lays unable to move on his bed.
“Does the name Lucas Lockwood mean anything, Raymond?”, coos the shadow as she paces, her bare-feet crunching on the tattered pile of his skull.
“Its people like you that throw away old things, precious things. He was your grandfather”
“I never had anything to do with…”
“My grandfather is long dead. But he sent a message. You see Raymond, your grandfather had sex with my grandfather’s wife. The dear sweet woman that I now discover she wasn’t”
“You aren’t, but give yourself a few minutes”
Raymond bites the cooling sweat at his lip in hope that its brine will jog away this smug thing and return the warmth. That safety, that base upon which his entire being steadies, that which now surely beats from the sleeping wife at his side.
“You know the prime delusion of adultery Raymond? Its that the act is contained, a feast solely for two. My grandad said it was like a hand had reached into his head and punched at his brain, beating it like rising dough in a bowl. It was like dying, he said. The deception a tumor, hooking its tendrils, raping every inch of everything he held dear. It’s not a dish for two, its purulence seeps down, fouling children and their children to come… am I boring you, Ray?”
“Good, ’cause it gets better. The message was an instruction for revenge, one which grandfather would wait, even past his own death, to exact. Not upon your grandfather… but upon you, dearest Raymond”
“You cant hold me responsible for…”
“The sins of the grandfather? Actually, I can. Mine died seeing himself the coward, an old and broken fool, unable even to enact even this his festered hatred. So he hands it to me. His final humiliation. I could have been a lawyer, an astronaut or the woman who cleans shit stains from the bathroom wall but, such luck, I’m a contract killer. I love it, I get to travel, no two jobs the same… its great. My grandfather wants me to kill you and your wife and if you had a kid… which I know that you do… then I’m to cut him down as well”
“God, please… I didn’t… ”
“But you did… didn’t you? I’m fucking with you, I’m not a killer, actually, I am a cleaner. I’m a dream-sweeper at the Sandman Corporation. You contracted us to help you and your beautiful little family sleep, we get rid of the clutter so you have more… storage. When I saw your name in the database, it was too perfect. Amazing what we find stashed away in your dusty old noggins, its like you want to be caught. You with your best friends daughter whilst your own sweet wife is in labor… that there is cold… Grandad Lucas would be so proud. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot your name little turtle?”, she whispers to the awakening sub-conscious of the boy who stands at the foot of the bed.
“This isn’t the dish he ordered… but I think he would have approved of its bite. Combining your dream streams, a group chat for all the family, and who doesn’t like cold cuts?”
Raymond awakens and shudders, he feels the weight of his wife at his back and knows her eyes are open, but he dares not turn. A tiny hand tugs at his pillow.
“I had a nightmare”, says Leo, eyes puff red from crying.