The music pulled me up from the black void which is, sometimes, inhabited by dreams, some good, some bad, and some worse. Much, much worse. I clung to the sounds, the notes convoluting upon themselves, and I hung on like a drowning man hanging onto the rope trailing from a boat that was fast heading for shore. And still the dream refused to leave me alone. It held on to me, just as I held onto the music; it held on tenaciously, like a shark with its prey within its jaws. I held on, praying the music would not stop, that it would just go on and on and on and never stop. And when I finally opened my eyes, I was so sure that the dream had followed me into reality, and while my mind fought against such an idea (why, dreams don’t follow you from your sleep boyo), I still saw his face, his bloody face, saw the blood on his hands, the wounds on his chest and face and that final slit on his neck, that slit which had been made by the knife; I remembered as the blade had gone through without much resistance, coming out from behind, and then the image disappeared with an audible pop! , and the air rushed to claim the space that had been exited. And when I saw the number flashing on the screen, I thought to myself no wonder I dreamt of him oh God it’s happening again he’s back oh no.
I crushed the thoughts by sheer force of will, telling myself that it was a lie, there was no basis for that conclusion at all, even though it had been what, six years? seven ? since we last spoke or saw, since that terrible night in the house, with the rain pelting the roof from above and the screams coming from down below, it still was no basis for any conclusion whatsoever.
If it’s no basis for a conclusion, a renegade part of my mind said, why don’t you just ignore the call and go back to sleep, if you can, that is? Just leave it, leave him, he’ll get tired of calling, and when you wake up in the morning, you’ll wonder what had happened in the night but you won’t suffer for it…yet. Maybe you won’t suffer at all. So just leave it alone boy.
So I picked the call just as it was about to stop for a second time that night, and said, “Hello?”
His voice, trying to be steady but doing a bad job of it-he sounded like an old man trying to do the soprano-dispelled all doubts that my night had just gotten worse, while confirming my belief that I would not sleep another wink that night. He said, “Hello, i-is that Samuel?”
“Yes, Ugo, it’s me.”
“Oh thank God,” he said. His relief was evident, and I recognised the feeling that accompanied the relief over the phone; the feeling that finally, he wasn’t alone. “Sam? It’s started again.” His voice caught for a while, then loosened. My skin stood up in little hill-like bumps, and I tasted something very bad in the back of my throat. I realized it was my fear I was tasting; a bitter, coppery, panicky taste. He continued. “He’s back Sam. The killings have started again.” Then after a moment, he asked, “Are you a strong born-again, Sam?”
“The first one happened three weeks ago,” he said. I had been quiet for a while after his question regarding my faith, then I’d told him to calm down that he’d better tell it to me from the beginning. “Three of them actually, three weeks ago when I travelled. I heard about it when I came back and one of them was my neighbour’s little girl Sam, she was only THREE! Her left leg was torn off below the hip man, shit. They still haven’t found it and now they have to bury her with just one leg oh God why?” I could hear the tears. He sniffled then continued. “Last week, one, a guy, young boy of fifteen. No heart, no liver. Bite marks on his neck, part of it missing. Heard about that one too. Got back last weekend, and I’ve heard of two more, saw the body of the last on and oh God it’s him. He’s back. God help us.”
I was silent for a while, then I said, “I dreamt about him, Ugo.”