If Only

The stairs creaked and groaned as she slowly descended into the pitch black basement, her flashlight a tunnel of light at her feet. Reaching the last step, she looked around to assess her surroundings. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him. He leapt at her, grabbing her from behind and pulling her hair. She hated having her hair pulled. What’s next, purse slapping and name calling? Holding on tight to the flashlight, she could feel his knee in her back, easing his grip on her hair. “Gimme that light”, he commanded. Like hell she thought. He moved his knee from her back. She thought now is my chance. If he could fight dirty so could she. She wriggled her face to his hand and bit down. Hard, until she could taste blood. He screamed in agony. She took the Maglite flashlight and beat his knee Nancy Kerrigan style. With each blow the flashlight moonlighted as a strobe light. She waited for the crack. And there it was. His howl sounded oddly comforting and familiar. She wondered if he could sense her smile. To make sure he saw it, she pointed the flashlight at her face, then back to him. He lay on the ground, writhing in pain. She found the chain for the light. She pulled it and the true horror of the basement was revealed. She covered her mouth but it was too late. Turning her head, she threw up all over him.

“If only we had taken the next exit or the exit before”, she thought. But, they didn’t. The check engine light came on and off the exit they went. Ashland, Mississippi was what she could remember but couldn’t be sure. It seemed like she had been there forever. But, it had only been 2 hours. 120 minutes for this man to destroy her life. Her husband of 25 years, gone. Their dog, gone. Her will not to kill, gone. Her life as she knew it, gone. And from the looks of the basement, theirs weren’t the only lives he had destroyed. Him. She clenched her jaw and held her fist. There he was lying on the floor covered in vomit and blood. His reign of terror was over. She would make sure of it.

She found some rope and a chair. It wasn’t hard to do in the torture chamber she had been forced to find. He winced in pain as she pulled him to his feet. He had had enough. Between the fight left in her husband and their dog and her, he had his hands full for 2 hours. It would all be over soon. He looked defeated. She remembered how she thought he looked like a stereotypical scary redneck. Never judge a book by its cover. That expression was meaningless now. She thought about how he’d probably never read a book in his life. Or maybe he had, Murder for Dummies or So, You Wanna Be a Serial Killer. Her book called, How to Kill a Man in 10 Easy Steps, was being researched right now.

He spat and grunted, “You ain’t got the stomach for this.” He was right. She didn’t but this trip was all about trying new things, expanding their horizons. Hers was going to reach new heights she never thought possible. It was like a treasure hunt, finding all kinds of devices she had never used before. A pitchfork, for cripes sake he had a pitchfork, blades, saws, chains, knives, power tools, nails, tape, rope and so much more. Again she thought, “If only we hadn’t come here…” But, they had, and now she was here. She turned towards him as he was mumbling something. She heard the words “worthless dog” and “not much of a man” and punched him in the mouth. Hard. He looked startled but not down yet. He said, “If only I had killed you first, I could have…” She hit him again. “If only you had”, she thought. Picking up a knife, she looked him in his eyes and said, “If only you had but you didn’t. If only you had…”

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