The frantic pounding on the door jerks you awake. Glancing at the clock, you groan when you see that you’ve only been asleep for an hour. The gin still weighs your brain down. You will the unexpected visitor to go away to no avail; the hammering continues, now joined by desperate yelling.
With a deep sigh, you swing your legs over the edge of the bed and snatch up the baseball bat kept next to the headboard. The polished wooden floor is icy under your bare feet and this only fuels your irritation. Oddly, you feel no fear, just annoyance at being disturbed. Out in the middle of nowhere, you shouldn’t have to deal with people just showing up. There shouldn’t be anyone around for miles, which is exactly why you bought the place. After the trial, all you wanted was peace and solitude.
The pounding hasn’t let up at all and the yelling is getting more demanding. You check the peep hole. A blonde woman, her tear streaked face turned up to the porch light, is hitting the door with her open palms now.
“Ok! I’m opening the door! Please step back!”
As soon as the door is opened a sliver, the woman shoves her way in.
“My babies! My babies are trapped in the car! I can’t get them out! You’ve got to help!”
There’s something vaguely familiar about this woman but you can’t place her.
She grabs your hand and pulls you out. She’s hysterical and you have no time to think.
You’re running now, the crying woman still holding your hand, pulling you through the woods. In the distance, you notice the glow of what seems like a large bon fire. The woman yanks on your arm and increases her speed, all the while crying and calling out to her children.
Moving at a full out run, you realize why the woman looks familiar. But she looks so different with her wild hair and face mottled by tears and fear. In court, she seemed nearly catatonic with grief and you tried to avoid looking at her at all. Your feelings of guilt and remorse and self-disgust had prevented you from doing more than begging for forgiveness and leniency.
It was shortly after reading the report of her suicide that you packed up and moved. Her suicide. You release her hand and fall to your knees and she stops running and turns to face you. Now you can see the bruises from the rope around her neck.
“My babies! What are you going to do to save them?” She stomps toward you, her face morphed from terror and fear to rage. Your clothes are beginning to smoke and you feel your body temperature rise quickly. Looking down, you see the leaves you’re kneeling on ignite but you can’t make your body move. You look up and into the woman’s eyes and, as your vision is overtaken by the rising flames, you say, “I’m sorry.”