My nightmare starts out as a sex dream.
After five consecutive days of having the same repetitive dream, I’ve become acquainted with the events.
It begins the same way. I’m pinned with my chest against a wall, naked and helpless. At his mercy as he caresses my curves with the edge of a cold blade. The cool sensation on my warm skin makes me shudder in anticipation. I enjoy it, panting for more. In a rapid motion, the mystery man spins me around. Though I can’t look at his face, it’s always blurred to keep his anonymity, I know it’s Silver Mask. In the dream, I mold my body against his. Then he holds his knife high in the air before slicing it between my ribs, cutting me open.
The last thing I see is his silver mask getting splattered by my blood.
I wake up shrieking in horror, fumbling around my bed as I command my heart to slow down. Glancing around with a hand over my chest, I make sure I’m alone in the room.
I always am. Nothing in my bedroom appears to be different, yet I scan every detail. Everything is right where it belongs. I’m the only one out of place, freaked out and paranoid, waiting for the day he will come for me and turn my nightmare into a reality.
The cops are looking for him, but they can’t do a lot without a physical description of the killer. No one saw his face, not even me. For all we know, he might be wandering around with his chin up high, laughing at the system.
There’s not much I can do to help with the investigation, either. All the details embedded in my brain will not confirm his identity. I don’t remember anything of relevance. What would I say? Sorry, I don’t know what he looks like, but I vividly recall the sounds he made when he came on me.
There’s not a person in the world who would believe me after that statement. Hell, I can’t take myself seriously. What are the odds of going to a haunted house attraction and unknowingly fucking an actual killer? The chances are so slim that I refuse to even confess my sin to anyone.
After the hospital, I haven’t tried to talk to Jen about it. Nance is entirely out of the question since she bursts into tears every time she remembers what happened, and I fear the fragile state of her mind. And I refuse to speak with the authorities about it.
Once the truth comes out, I’ll forever carry the shame of my mistake like a scarlet letter over my chest.
Though, deep down, I’m aware I only feel ashamed because of how badly I crave for it to happen again.
It makes no sense.
He’s dangerous and promised to find me, which means I sealed my death sentence days ago. So why do I still ache when I think about his face buried between my thighs? Why do I get wet when I remember how he controlled my orgasms?
Closing my eyes, I sigh in defeat.
I can’t keep living like this. This constant back and forth is killing me, shedding every ounce of sanity I have left. This is my slow descent into madness. With each day that passes, I’m one step closer to losing my mind. I’ll break down soon enough, and he’ll take the opportunity to finish me off then.
Running my fingers through my sweaty hair, I pull on the strands to release some of the frustration accumulated in my body. I climb out of bed and head to the bathroom, but not before I grab the knife under my pillow.
While I’m impatiently waiting for my death, I refuse to go down easily. Unlike the jocks, I won’t be caught off guard by Silver Mask. So, even when I don’t stand a chance of winning, I carry a knife with me everywhere I go.
Honestly, I need a miracle. But I doubt I’m in God’s good graces after the way I behaved in Slashed. Abuela’s prayers can’t save my rotten and corrupted soul. All I have left is delusion because hope isn’t enough to help me survive.
Peeling off my clothes, I turn on the shower and hop inside. I place the knife next to my shampoo bottle and let the water roam over my body, washing away the guilt and misery.
There are so many things I could’ve done differently that night. I should’ve requested a group change the second I saw the jocks and knew they were going to be trouble. I should’ve tapped out of the game when Nancy got stuck with the killer.
Hell, I shouldn’t have made my friends go with me.
But no amount of over-analyzing will ease the guilt poisoning my system. I blame myself for what happened either way because I didn’t connect the dots sooner. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t aware of the murders because I had the knife against my throat. Part of me noticed the sharpness, while the other part was too blinded by lust to notice.
I’m afraid my subconscious knew it was real all along. I just refused to believe it.
I felt the metal scratch my skin and thought about the possibility of him slashing my neck if he wanted, yet I didn’t recoil in fear. Instead, I melted and begged for more.
The root of the problem isn’t even him, it’s me.
I pursued him.
I kissed him.
I pleaded for him to fuck me.
There has to be some crossed wires in my brain, some rational reason to explain why I’d behave so… irrationally. I just don’t know what. And not having a good answer is probably why I wait for him to honor his promise and come after me. Maybe he can put an end to this spiral. To be quite honest, I’m not sure of what I would do if I had him in front of me. Contrary to what I believed five days ago, I am not final girl material.
I survived by doing the exact things that get horror movie characters killed.
Seeing red flags and choosing to ignore them? Check.
Making dumb decisions? Check.
Running upstairs with no way out? Check.
Having sex while a killer is around? Mother fucking CHECK.
I stare at my wrinkled fingers. I’ve lost track of how much time has passed in the shower and have been wasting water. On top of being stupid, I’m also irresponsible. Somehow, being worried about my impact in the environment should be the least of my concerns when I helped a murderer escape and now he’s hunting me.
Like I said, I’m beyond fucked up.
Shrugging my thoughts away, I tilt my head to rinse the rest of my hair when I hear the bathroom door creak as it closes.
Flinching, I jerk against the wet tiles, searching for the knife.
My heart rattles in my chest, wanting to break free and escape from its destiny. I bite the inside of my cheek to prevent any noises from slipping out. I’ve made plenty of mistakes that would get me killed, but I won’t call out to see who’s there. Not when I know the answer.
The shower curtains aren’t see-through, but I don’t have a doubt that he’s here.
He found me.
I hold my breath and tighten my first around the hilt, listening to the water gurgle down the drain. I don’t know how this night will end, but I refuse to die like the girl from Psycho. I will go down fighting, and I’m sure as hell not getting killed in the shower.
The light switch clicks off, and the bathroom is left in total darkness. I stand still, commanding my lungs to consume oxygen while I wait for the steps to get closer. A hand moves the drapes, and my instincts take the lead, swishing the knife around. I push through the fabric, slamming my body at full force against the figure behind it.
The blade slashes the curtains, slicing skin at the same time the rod breaks from the wall, crashing atop both of us.
“Puñeta,” I grit out, shoving the shaft to the ground where it clangs.
“What the hell are you doing?” he screams. “Fuck!”
The darkness in the bathroom is deep enough to prevent me from seeing the details of what’s happening, but I make out the silhouette of his body crouching and holding his right bicep.
I stare down at my hand holding the knife, and I touch the blood-soaked blade. Nausea rolls through my stomach. My heart rate spikes, making me dizzy, and I bright spots dance in my vision.
Am I about to faint?
I shake my head, forcing myself to stay conscious.
“Did you just fucking stab me?!” he shouts, grunting in pain.
“You broke into my house five days after your murder spree. What did you expect? I thought you were trying to murder me!” I yell back, louder than I intended to.
I’ve reached rock bottom in the way I least expected. Somehow, I don’t think my brain processed that I would have to hurt him when I carried the blade with me. Nor did I consider how I would react to wounding a living, breathing person.
“Murder you?” he echoes, sounding confused. “What are you talking about?”
I frown, but don’t lower the knife, keeping it high between us. As squeamish as it makes me to think about stabbing him, I will still do it if he comes at me.
“You said… Why are you here?” I interrogate when I’m unable to connect a coherent sentence.
“I told you I would find you.” Although his words are strained due to pain, his tone is nonchalant. “Can you stop pointing the knife at me?”
“No!” I exclaim immediately.
“Sadie,” he groans. “Please, will you lower the knife?”
“Do you plan on killing me?”
“If I wanted you dead, I would’ve done it when I had you pinned against the wall, don’t you think?”
A scoff abandons me. Of course, I’ve thought about it.
It’s all I have been able to think about.
“That’s not an answer.”
“No, darling. I’m not plotting to kill you tonight or any night,” he mutters, sliding to the floor without letting his arm go. “Will you drop the knife already and help me bandage this?”
I don’t obey.
Well, not entirely because I keep the knife up high, but step back to find the first-aid kit under the bathroom sink. I don’t know why I’m helping him; I simply do it. Hesitant and distrusting, I pull out the box and hand it to him.
The silhouette of his head sways to his left, motioning at me to sit with him.
“Please?” he adds.
My naked body shakes with fear as I descend to my knees next to him. Even when I’m the one with the advantage, I feel miniscule. If he wanted to, he could turn this against me. I doubt I’m a worthy opponent, yet he doesn’t make any comments about my fragile state. Instead, he waits for me to act, letting pained noises abandon his lips.
For someone so lethal, he’s not great at handling pain. Though it’s possible that the adrenaline sizzling in my system has heightened my senses, making everything louder.
With one hand, I open the lid of the kit, shuffling to find some antiseptic and gauze.
¿Qué estoy haciendo?
He has infected me with his madness, poisoning away all the parts of my brain that scream at me for being near him when he can kill me. I wouldn’t be able to catch his lies. For all I know, he’s tricking me because he finds it amusing.
“You’re scared of me,” he observes, and I may be insane, but I swear I detect a slight edge of hurt in his words.
I use my teeth to open the sterile packet.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” I retort. Using sass isn’t my best move, but I never said I was writing the tutorial on how to defeat a killer when you’re naked in a bathroom. I’m acting on pure instinct here. “You killed four innocent people.”
He has the nerve to laugh. To shut him up, I pat the antiseptic wipe over the area he holds before pressing a bunch of gauze on it to stop the bleeding. As expected, his chuckle turns into a hiss of pain.
“I wouldn’t say they were innocent.” It’s all he says in his defense.
“So, you consider yourself to be… what? A harbinger of Justice?” Sarcasm drips from my words and his muscles tense. “Is that why you killed them? Did you find them guilty of something?”
“I don’t want to talk about them.”
His comment is cold as steel and sharper than the knife in my hand, so I reluctantly drop the subject. The last thing I need is to trigger him into changing his mind about letting me live.
“What else do you want to talk about?” I inquire, arching a brow, even though he can’t see my facial expression.
“Why are you scared of me?”
The pressure I’ve been holding back for the past few days returns with the strength of a hurricane, trapping my chest with its weight and clogging my throat. My organs crumble and I shake once again, struggling to keep my grip steady on his wound.
Softly, his fingers cover mine over his biceps, gentle and caring. I cannot understand how he can be so comforting to me and lethal to the world. The hand he’s using to give me solace is the same one he used to murder four people. Blood will forever stain his touch, yet against all logic, I find peace in it.
I close my eyes, anchoring my wild emotions to the tranquility evoked by his palm. Exhaling the fear wreaking havoc in my system, I compose myself enough to answer, “I don’t know.”
“Have I done something to scare you? I mean you, not who I’ve killed.”
Wetting my lips with the tip of my tongue, I ponder his question.
It’s hard to respond because the experience from Slashed is distorted in my brain. I can’t quite separate the act from reality. I don’t know where the line was drawn. When he chased after me, was he doing it with an ulterior motive, or was he following my game?
“Explain it. I want to know what caused you to be so terrified of me.”
A watery chuckle emerges from the back of my throat.
“I—I don’t understand why you let me live,” I confess, looking down to hide the tears burning in my eyes. There’s no need for me to shy away when the darkness of the room protects me, but I don’t want my weakness to show. “It scares me because it means I did something that caused you to change your mind about taking my life.”
“It’s stupid,” I cut him off, shaking my head. “It doesn’t matter how I feel.”
“Of course, it matters.” He brushes his thumb over the back of my hand, drawing invisible patterns on the skin. “You’re mine, remember?”
My heart skips a beat at his words, and I hate myself a bit more for the way it flutters. With every minute that passes, I lose another chunk of my morals.
“What did I do?”
His sigh is loud and long.
“I don’t kill women,” he states. “Never have and never will.”
“Is that all?”
He turns his head away from me.
“No,” he mumbles, but stays silent for a brief instance. “I wish I had a better answer for you, Sadie. I didn’t go to Slashed intending to meet you. Actually, you were a plot twist I never saw coming, and I almost forgot my plans the second I noticed you standing with your friends.”
“I don’t know,” he confesses in a soft, raspy voice. “For so long, I’ve been numb, unable to feel anything but rage and anguish. My world had stopped spinning ages ago. I went to Slashed hoping to die at the end of the night, to be set free from the misery dragging me down. Then, I saw you, and I felt for the first time in years. The world started moving again.” Slowly, he abandons my hand to lead it to my body, brushing the tips of his fingers along the naked skin of my arms. His caresses continue until they reach my face, where he dries the tears rolling down my cheeks. “Tell me you don’t feel the same connection, and I’ll disappear from your life. It’ll be like we never met. In the future, I’ll be nothing but a faded nightmare to you.”
The knot in my throat tightens.
“And what about you? What will happen if I ask you to leave?” I wonder out loud.
“The world will stop spinning again.”
My heart thumps faster, wanting to run away from the heavy meaning of his confession.
“I’m not special enough to end your world. I was just a girl at the wrong place and time.”
He drops his hand, letting it fall over his lap.
“Is that what you believe? Darling, you do not realize how unique and incredible you are. I don’t know many girls who would confront a cold-blooded killer with a knife.”
I hold back a wave of laughter.
“Maybe, you know I wouldn’t be able to kill you.”
“Oh, I’m sure you could. If you genuinely wanted to, you could end this right now with just a simple slice,” he says, grabbing my fist wrapped around the hilt of the knife, and without giving it any importance, he places it against his throat. I choke back a distressed moan, completely horrified at the idea of harming him. What if he uses my hand to kill himself? “But I’m taking a page out of your book and trusting that you won’t kill me.”
“I didn’t know I was trusting you with my life at the house,” I remind him with a nervous edge.
“I think part of you always knew the knife was real.”
My chin trembles.
Because I did. Despite of everything I’ve tried to convince myself of, I knew the blade was real, and I loved it.
Unable to hide the truth any longer, I drop the knife, letting it fall to the floor with a clang. Like a dam cracking under the pressure, I break into wild tears, shamefully crying in front of him. The sobs rip my chest apart one by one, gutting me from the inside out.
His arms engulf me in a pacifying hug, serving as a refuge from reality. He moves me to his lap, and I straddle him, finding a more comfortable position as my pain spills from me.
“What am I doing?” I sob against his chest. “I’m losing my mind.”
It should be fucked up how safe I feel between his arms, like nothing in the world could harm me as long as I remain protected by him.
“I’ve got you. It’s okay, let it out, darling.”
And I do.
I cry out harder, evicting the pain and exhaustion inhabiting me. Every tear I spill is another part of me I mourn. As much as I want it, I can’t go back to being the same girl who was excited to attend a haunted house attraction. I’ll never be the same person who hadn’t faced death and danger.
And I grieve for the woman she could’ve become.
As I lose the old Sadie, I welcome the version of me who finds solace in the arms of a killer. I think I always hid her in the gruesome parts of my brain, waiting for the perfect opportunity to eclipse my heart with its darkness. I’m freeing the obscure wolf living inside of me. I find it poetic that I experience the rebirth of my soul, entirely naked in his embrace.
“My brave final girl.”
Keeping my eyes closed, I brace my forehead against his, feeling the feathery touch of his warm breath over my lips. For the first time since he appeared, I realize I miss the rubber texture of his mask because he’s not wearing it.
“You’re not wearing your mask,” I whisper, more to myself than for him.
“It serves a purpose. I didn’t come here for that reason.”
Gently, his nose nuzzles mine as he moves his head downward into a nod.
“Yes, the mask is only for killing, which is why I’ll never wear it around you.”
My breath hitches.
“Do you promise?”
“I promise, darling,” he mumbles, leaning in to kiss my tears away, drying the skin with his lips.
It’s a gentle act, full of devotion.
An unwavering sense of relief sets in the pit of my stomach, dissipating the tension accumulated in my muscles. All reason abandons me, and I’m left in a shell of iridescent bliss.
This stranger, a cold-blooded killer, is my ataraxia.
Delicately, I lift a hand to touch his face, memorizing every crease and texture. The skin of his forehead is soft and free of blemishes. Thick brows arch over his eyes, followed by long lashes. I’ve always found it amusing, if not a little irritating, that men always seem to have longer lashes than women.
I smile and continue my journey, discovering what his appearance is like without seeing his features. Intimacy is born in bizarre places. Sometimes we rely too much on what we can see, rather than getting to know another person by our other senses. Touching, smelling, tasting, listening.
A slight bump rises on the bridge of his nose. Maybe at some point in his life, he broke it and it didn’t heal properly. The skin over his jaw is rougher than when we kissed in Slashed; he didn’t have any trace of facial hair. I wonder if his preference is to have it shaved, or if he occasionally grows a beard.
He has a scar over his left cheekbone. It’s small, no bigger than an inch, and by the feel, it’s an old wound. Perhaps from his childhood.
I stop at his lips, tracing the marked cupid’s bow. He has a full and smooth mouth.
I reach the conclusion that my jagged killer is a beautiful man, and I’m at his mercy.
“Promise you’ll never harm me,” I ask, my tone pleading.
“I swear,” he vows. “I protect what’s mine.”
His mouth hovers in front of me, stealing my breath and making it his.
“Am I yours?”
“Always mine. Forever mine.”
And he seals his oath to me by conquering my lips with his.
The searing kiss shatters me from the inside, shaking me to my core. In an instant, I’m burning for him, aching in the flames of this untamable passion. His mouth doesn’t ask for permission. It takes and takes until there’s nothing left of me to offer, until we’re so close together that I can’t tell where he begins and I end.
He consumes me, obliterating everything in his path, erasing the memories of each guy who came before him. No one exists anymore, just him.
Moaning, I reach for the hem of his shirt, tugging at it. We break apart enough for him to discard the piece of clothing, pressing his naked torso against mine. I venture my hands over his body, discovering more scar tissue over his chest and back. My heart constricts painfully. Someone doesn’t earn scars like the ones he has without going through a circle of hell.
I want to ask about his past, to know every story behind them, but I don’t. Instead, I kiss them, feeling his muscles tense as I trace the healed wounds with my lips. A groan vibrates in his chest before he grabs a fistful of my hair, tilting my head so he can devour my mouth again.
His other hand slips between my parted thighs, where I throb for him. The pads of his fingers rub small circles on my clit, closing in on the sensitive spot with each passing second. It doesn’t take long to get me to the edge, but he doesn’t let me fall apart. Instead, he unbuttons his pants, and I help him free himself.
I wrap my hand around his thick cock, giving it a slow but steady stroke. I lift my hips and glide the head along my slit, lubing it with my wetness before I sink down on it. Inch per delicious inch stretches my pussy, filling me slowly. A moan escapes me as I tilt my skull back, soaking in the pleasure.
Unlike last time, he doesn’t mumble filthy words in my ear. He sucks on my tits as I snap my hips against his, using him for my satisfaction. Teeth scrape around my nipples, and I hiss. Covering the aching tips with his lips, he soothes the pain and licks tenderly. He worships my body, overriding my system with his touch. Mouth on nipples, fingers circling my clit, cock thrusting deeply.
“Mine,” he grunts.
Picking up his pace, he wraps my waist with one arm, forgetting all about his wound. Driven by lust and pure, carnal need, we move in synchrony.
Chasing a little death in the throes of passion, we meet each other.
Skin to skin. Heart to heart. Soul to soul.
We clash together until we implode around each other, coming so hard I lose contact with reality. In this moment, we’re the only ones existing in the world.
“Am I yours?” he questions.
I cradle his face with one hand and let the other wander to his chest until it rests against his heart. For an instant, I swear his pulse matches mine as if it were one heart instead of two.
“Always mine. Forever mine.”