“Josh, wake up. I heard something downstairs.” Natalie was tapping me on my side under the covers.
I sighed. “It’s nothing. It never is.” I could only make out her rough shape in the dim and ambient light leaking from the street through our window blinds. I rolled over, pulled the blankets tight and shut my eyes. Then I heard heavy boots hitting the stairs.
I sat up fully alert, my heart beating in my ears. I lunged toward the open bedroom door. I was too slow to slam it shut. The butt of a pistol caught me first in the brow and then in the mouth, a warm trickle, the taste of copper, the sound of a scream, a flash of light.
I sat above my body. The world below was silent. I watched my head shake sluggishly back and forth. The man was standing over Natalie. She hid under the covers like a child. Without a word, the man took aim and fired. Natalie applied pressure to the wound in her stomach. Blood spilled through her fingers.
I tried kicking off the ceiling and off the walls, but I faded straight through them. I pulled at the air. I shouted at my body to rise from the floor. I squirmed. I shouted. I plead with God.
The intruder lowered his weapon and took a step toward the bed. He leaned down and moved a stray piece of hair out of Natalie’s face. His touch was gentle, almost loving. She didn’t flinch when he touched her. She met his gaze, surprised and in shock, but her expression hinted at familiarity.
My perspective shifted from the ceiling to the floor. I rejoined my body. My head pulsed. My vision was doubled. Everything sounded far away. I lifted my head. Natalie was groaning. The man was still facing her.
“Don’t worry. I shot you in the stomach. I wanted to make sure you lived.” The man took a breath. “At least for a little while.”
The man turned and pulled at my arm. “Jesus, you’re heavy” He grunted and pulled me back toward the bed. “It’s a wonder you didn’t suffocate under this guy,” the man addressed Natalie and came into real focus for the first time. His face was chiseled. His skin was without blemish. His eyes were pale blue and alight with fire. Once I was at the bedside he kicked my ribs. “Get up.” He kicked again. “Get back in bed.”
“Please.” Natalie stuttered too weak to say much else.
“What was that?” The man turned to face her. “Did you say please?” He leaned over and put a knee on the edge of the bed. “Please what?”
“Oh. It’s too late for that now,” He laughed. “It’s too late to go back. You can’t take it back. I can’t take it back.”
The man grabbed a handful of my hair and yanked. I followed him up until I was on my feet. I felt a dot of cold through the warm blood on the side of my head.
“Get in.” He pressed the barrel of the gun into my skull, forcing me toward the bed. I did as he asked. I laid next to my wife, her blood and mine mingling on the sheets.
“I’m sorry.” I heard her whisper.
The man walked to the foot of the bed. He was a black silhouette, barely outlined in the light leaking from the street through the window blinds. “Well, look at this scene.” He raised the gun, aiming it between us. “You two deserve each other.” He waved the gun back and forth between Natalie and I.
“I’m sorry.” Natalie whispered, choking slightly.
“I bet you are.” The man laughed and pointed the gun toward Natalie. “Now you are.”
I rolled over and threw myself across Natalie in an effort to cover her. My head was still fuzzy, and my limbs were still weak.
“Well. Would you look at that.” The man came around the bed on Natalie’s side. “And they say chivalry is dead.” I felt the cold steel ring of the gun barrel on the back of my head. “Do you think he’d want to save you if he knew?”
“Josh!” Natalie was shoving and rocking me back and forth under the covers.
I shot upright. It was full light outside. My chest was tight. My heart was racing. I was short of breath. “Fuck.”
“You were thrashing around in the bed and talking to yourself. Seemed like you were having a bad dream.”
“Yeah.” I let out a few deep breaths. “I’ve had the same dream a couple times this week.”
“Well, I read one time that dreams are how your subconscious communicates with your verbal brain.”
I flopped back down in bed, coming down from the adrenaline. “That so?”
“Yeah, supposedly your subconscious brain sees patterns you don’t recognize and dreams are how it tells you. That’s why dream analysis is a thing.” She reached out and touched my shoulder with her fingertips. “What’s the dream about?”
“It’s fuzzy. I only have flashes here and there. It’s hard to remember.” I lied.
“Well, my maw maw always said if you have the same dream three times it’s from God.”
I did my best to smile, “I’ve only had it twice.”
“Well, maybe you’ll remember what it’s about the third time.” She winked at me and then hopped out of bed. “I’m going to make coffee. Want some?” She grabbed her phone off the night stand. I thought I saw the blue notification light blink before it disappeared into the pocket of her pajama pants.