Short ‘dark’ story, set in London – Colin Devonshire
Did I Dream That?
The train rattled. The passengers didn’t. Those sitting were reading newspapers or playing with their phones. Those standing had thoughts of their own. No one talked. A briefcase tipped, ‘Shit’ said its owner, bending and standing it between his legs. No one cared or even looked, me included, my eyes were watching branches as we rushed by. My watch told me I’d be late for my appointment. “Must not keep the professor waiting” the nurse stressed.
I turned my head remembering. ‘I shot an eighty, last time I played golf there,’ I whispered to myself as we hammered past my boss’s golf course. ‘Will I play again? Maybe, but not with him,’ I chuckled to myself. Females were frowned upon in “that” club. I had insisted on joining DCI Hammersby’s twosome. Sure I knew he was on leave. I needed advice, and only from him. Laughing to myself, his face was a picture of pure angst when he saw me taking my clubs from the boot.
‘Okay if I tag along with you two?’ I asked.
‘I, eh, okay if you must. What do you want?’
During the round, I told him my side of the investigation and how I felt afterwards. He insisted that I got help from a psychologist. One from outside the force, thank God I didn’t reveal the whole story.
I had arrested a murderer the week before. Months and months of investigation led to the result. The man hunted “ladies of the night” and had killed more than once. We are trying to prove other bodies were linked to this killer. We work as a team, but they all knew I cracked the case.
My husband had been peacefully asleep next to me. I jerked out of a dream that rattled my whole body. It was too real, but when I added the few facts together, it seemed obvious. To me at least. Now, I was suffering.
The train jerked to a halt. We all piled out hurrying to various offices. The taxi pulled up and I pressed the buzzer.
‘You are late. He hasn’t got time to be kept waiting you know.’ The receptionist took a step backwards when she saw the darts loaded in my eyes. She quickly sat behind her desk, as if that would help her.
‘Shall I go through?’
My poor timekeeping didn’t seem to worry him. A huge smile split his heavily bearded face. Was that to reassure or relax me? It failed. He pointed to a chair, and said, ‘Coffee?’
‘Yes, thank you, sorry I’m late.’
‘Will our conversation be recorded?’ I asked.
‘No, I may take notes. That is all, I’m like a priest, you can tell me anything,’ his shoulders raised and fell ruffling his beard.
‘I think I killed a woman.’
His beard was motionless.
‘In the cause of justice? And it is affecting your thinking?’
‘No, not really. I don’t know how I should feel?’
‘Start at the beginning and tell me what happened.’
‘We caught a murderer. He enjoys torturing “ladies who work at night”. Then he kills them and hides their bodies at places where he was schooled or where he has worked.’
‘Did you know all this before he was arrested?’
‘No. Well, only part of it, I started putting it all together, and then I had my dream.’
‘Your dream? Tell me about it.’
‘That is what I’m scared about. I pictured the killer talking to me, he said, “Now we have something in common. You know me, and I know you.” He smiled and held out his hands to be cuffed.’
‘Is that what actually happened as well?’
‘Yes, but that is not all.’
‘After the dream, I walked out my husband.’
‘But why? Does he have something to do with this?’
‘No, but I don’t want him to hate me.’
‘Sorry, I’m not with you?’
‘I acted out my dream.’
‘Yes, but that is arresting a villain, is it not?’
‘In the dream, I cuffed the killer, yes. But he saw what I had done. Hence the “we have something in common” bit.’
‘And what had you done.’
‘I dressed in my shortest skirt and applied lashings of makeup and perfume. I wanted to trap him. I’d seen him there in my dream.’
‘Shouldn’t you have had backup?’
‘Normally, yes, but I acted out my vision, there was no time to gather the troops.’
‘So, you are worried about being in trouble for taking risks?’
I started laughing at him, I couldn’t stop, I felt like pulling his beard, and chucking my coffee in his face. But I didn’t. Then I burst into tears. He sat back watching, he slid a box of tissues to me. Then I laughed again, at him, at myself at the situation.
‘Can I carry on?’ I asked.
‘I knew he was somewhere near, I could feel or sense him watching. But didn’t know what he looked like. It was dark, with few people walking about, but of course, the prostitutes were hunting for trade. Cars cruised past, slowed, sometimes wound down the window and bartered. I knew my man was not in a car.’
‘How did you know? From your vision?’
‘Yes, he was in hiding in the shadows, watching the nightly scene.’
‘And what did you do? Were you trying to get him in the open?’
‘That was my plan, but, a woman was angry at me, “You don’t work here, this is my turf,” she was ranting and tried to slap me.’
‘What did you do?’
‘I couldn’t leave, I was working, but not the way she thought,’ I smiled, relaxed.
He then said stupidly, ‘So a difficult situation?’
‘Yes, even more so, as a man, the man, came out, and watched us.’
‘He was the man I eventually arrested, yes.’
‘But you couldn’t arrest him, just like that, could you?’
‘No, because the girl got even more aggressive, “He is mine,” she screamed at me. The man loved it. He was clapping. Especially when she kicked my shin.’
‘Did he step in?’
‘Far from it, he cheered her on.’
We had reached the point in my story I was dreading. The beard was stroked, and the professor leaned forward keen to hear my whispered words.
‘I stabbed her. Numerous times.’
‘Self-defence?’ he said.
I snorted. ‘I kept plunging the knife in, deeper and deeper. The man closed in taking pics with his phone. So I knifed him. Put the weapon in his hand and arrested him for murdering a street whore. The girl died.’
‘And how does your dream end?’
‘I get a medal, for actions over and above the call of duty.’
‘Congratulations,’ he said.
‘But was he the mass murderer we were after?’