Jim woke on the third crow of the cock and lay there trying to open his eyes. Mary had pushed the move out to the country as a way to calm him down, to get him away from his work and what she thought was the pressure of the city. Maybe start a family. But things like that damned chicken howling to wake him up weren’t exactly relaxing.
Rolling to a sitting position he reached out for his meds on the bedside table and amazingly found the bottle without knocking anything over, but it was empty. He sighed and tried to keep his mind together – but that didn’t mean he had to crack his eyelids. Leaning back on the bed he reached out for Mary’s legs but instead stuck his hand in … what? Crap, the dog must have thrown up on the blanket again. Not so stress free this country living. Blinking sleep from his eyes he got up and walked to the bathroom to wash his hand.
The sun was starting to come up so there was a thin beam of light coming in the small window and illuminating the sink and toilet. With his one clean hand he turned the faucet and then glanced down as he washed. He stared at his hands, both covered in blood. That wasn’t dog vomit, it was blood. If his hands were covered in blood, then that must have been blood on the bed. He shook his hands quickly and turned back to the bedroom. He couldn’t see much, but he could see that there was a dark spot on the covers. He reached to the light switch on the wall and flipped it on. And he staggered back.
There wasn’t just a spot of blood on the bed, it was covered. But only on Mary’s side. And she was not there. Her side of the bed was bathed in red and crumpled, but there was no sign of Mary. He called out but got no reply. The house was silent. Even the rooster had stopped crowing. He called out again as he made his way past her side of the bed to the hall. He saw no more blood. Saw no signs of her getting up at all. “Mary!! Where are you?!”
The hall looked odd. Where had that green rug come from. But no matter, he had to find Mary, find out what was wrong. He headed for the stairs. Well, he headed for where the stairs should have been, but there was just a wall. And a painting. It was a painting of church in a glade with daylight shining down upon it. He thought it looked out of place in his house, on the landing at the top of the stairs.
Holy Hell where were the steps and why was he looking at this painting instead of finding Mary? He hit the wall were the painting was, where the stairs to go down should have been and the wall cracked. Fuck. he had no time for that now.
“Mary! Goddamanit! Where are you?” He spun around to head back down the hall to the bedroom and his feet sunk into grass. No carpet. No, this was grass. There was grass in his hall and not the carpet he had seen a few moments ago. What was going on here? He looked down to make sure what he was feeling on his bare feet, and yes, it was grass.
His head was starting to spin and he reached out to the wall for support, tumbling over into the grass. Where was the wall? Where was the hall he had just been standing in? He pulled himself up on his elbows and looked around, there was no house to be seen, but there were the trees in from of him on the edge of the property around his house. He could make out the neighbors cornfield off in the distance to his right, and he heard the sound of traffic off in the distance. Damn, maybe he was just sleepwalking. Maybe he had just dreamt everything and walked outside. Outside, yes. But where was the house? He stood up and looked around. No house to be seen.
“Mary!! Goddamnit Mary!! I need you!!” But his cries brought no response. He looked around again and saw something coming towards him in the morning sky. It wasn’t very large, but it looked to be heading his way fast. He was squinting into the sun when he realized that it was a large hawk and it was dropping down straight towards him with its talons out-stretched. “Crap” he said as he dove to his side covering his head. But the bird wasn’t aiming for him. It skimmed the ground and scooped up a small rag doll.
The doll’s hair streamed out behind it as the hawk, with prize securely in its grasp, headed back into the sky. Doll? What doll? Wait. His daughter. Where was his daughter? Jim spun around in panic.
“Heather? Heather! Mary? For God’s sake someone answer me.”
And he began to cry. He was getting dizzy looking around and now his eyes were starting to cloud with tears. He reached up to wipe his eyes and realized there was still blood on his hands. There seemed to be more of it now, even though he had already washed his hands. He tried to wipe away the tears and could feel the slick blood on his face and taste it in his mouth. The iron taste of blood. But who’s was it? His? Mary’s? He staggered forward a few feet and cried again, “Mary! Anyone! Help me please.”
It more of a pleading than a call, and he tried to shake his head clear. Tried to, but the sound of tears wouldn’t let him clear his head. But wait, those weren’t his tears. That crying wasn’t his voice. He stopped. Held his breath and listened. A faint cry and then a voice.
“Daddy. Please help me. Daddy.” In a panic he realized that this was Heather’s voice. This was his daughter calling to him.
Where? Where was the voice coming from. He turned around in circles again. He tried to listen carefully. To hear where the voice was coming from. The woods seemed closer now, but he didn’t care. What he cared about was the old well he noticed near the road. He had stopped wondering where these things were coming from and where other things were going. All he knew now was that his daughter’s voice seemed to be coming from that well.
He ran towards the well and felt the grass beneath his feet turn into the sharp stones of a gravel driveway. But he ran and ignored the shifting landscape around him.
“I am coming baby! Daddy is coming.”
“Daddy, please daddy. It is so dark.” Heather’s voice pleased again.
He slammed into the side of the well and almost threw himself in bough caught the old wood sides roughly. Splinters dug into his already stained hands.
“Heather! Baby, are you there? I’m here baby.”
“Please daddy! It is so dark here. Please.”
He could hear the tears in her voice, but he couldn’t see her. How was he going to get her out of there? How was he going to get to her? He called to her again, “I am here baby, I will get you.” He looked around for something to grab on to, something to lower into the well or to lower himself by into the well. He saw nothing, just the bare field around. No trees, no driveway, no house, no neighbors. But he had to do something.
He crawled up into a sitting position on the side of the well and turned so his feet were braced against the other side. His feet were bloody now too, from the gravel he had just crossed, and his hands still were covered. He knew he was a mess, but he had to get down to his daughter. He inched down and with his feet firmly on the other side of the well slid his back down on the opposing side. By sheer pressure of his legs pushing apart, he exerted enough pressure on both side of the wall to hold his position and then to slowly begin sliding down into the damp darkness.
“I am coming baby, daddy is coming for you.” But he got no answer. He listened hard. Listened for his daughter’s voice, or her breath, or maybe even her heart beating, but he heard nothing.
Something scratched across his hand. A spider maybe and he flicked it off. He could hear the smack of it against the other wall, and then again, and then a splash into water. That sounds were far too big, too loud to have been made by a spider. He shuddered, knowing he was about to find out.
He felt another scratch and then a pinch. This time on his foot. This was harder to flick off, and it was already too dark in the well to see what it was. And then something was on his other hand. He resisted the urge to just violently flail his arm and dislodge whatever was on it. Instead he tried to bring it into the light. There was no sound now in the well other than his breathing which was getting more ragged and frantic.
When he saw the crab on his hand he screamed and smashed the thing against the wall. But there was still the one on his foot, and he could feel another making it way up his leg. He tried to shake them loose, but he couldn’t move too much or he would lose his hold on the wall. The one on his leg was crawling farther up and he tried to twist more violently. “Daddy will be there soon baby!” he cried, but that ended with an outcry of pain as the crab clamped down upon his crotch and pulled. With a shriek he instinctively reached out to grab his groin, lost his purchase on the wall and began to fall backwards.
Backwards down into the well, headfirst, then slamming into the cold, wet, hard wall. He could feel the crack to his skull and his mouth slammed closed on his tongue. He wanted to cry out to Heather one last time, but everything went black.
He never felt the bottom when it hit. He lay there for no length of time. No length because there was no measure – no light, no sounds, no hunger, no dreams. In his mind he knew he wasn’t dead, but he wasn’t quite sure his body knew it. Time was gone, need was gone, want ceased to exist. But then, finally, he began to stir.
Slowly he reached out, testing for the pain of broken limbs, and he touched fabric. He slowly closed his hand around the fabric to his side, fearing the worse, but it felt crisp. Felt clean. In the darkness he brought the fabric to his face and he could smell fresh bleach and detergent. No blood, no dirt, nothing that made him think of a broken body at the bottom of a well. He slowly began to sit up, and then realized he was sitting on the side of his own bed.
He slipped his feet down onto the floor and gingerly felt for the cuts on his feet. The bed was soft beneath ass, the floor was smooth beneath his feet, and he could see the first glints of sunlight coming through the blinds off to the left in the bathroom. He could hear Mary gently snoring behind him and he reached for the nightstand. His meds were there and so was water.
Twisting open the bottle he grabbed a pill and gulped it down eagerly with a drink from his glass. The pill started to slide down his throat, but seemed to catch and he coughed. He coughed roughly and the glass in his hand crashed to the floor. He could hear it break. He could hear the shards of spreading out near his feet.
He held tight to the pill bottle in his hand and in that whispering call of early morning he turned his head and pleaded, “Mary. Help me. Please, help me.”
The cock crowed three times.