By Rebecca Besser
The scream that echoed through the apartment was ripe with terror. It tore violently from Kyndra Thornton’s throat as she bolted upright in bed. Her eyes shot open, but she didn’t see the familiarity surrounding her. Her mind told her that she was in mortal danger and her emotions believed it – they convinced her that her cause to be frightened was real. Her jaw throbbed from an old wound, one that brought horrors with it, horrors of a zombie and a crazy woman from her past.
“It’s okay, honey,” John Daniels said, awakened by her scream. He reached out to comfort her from his side of the bed.
The hand that came toward Kyndra wasn’t human; the skin was hanging off with puss and blood dripping from the claws at the tip of each finger. She screamed again and lashed out at the hand reaching for her, punching it.
“Ouch, damn it,” John growled, sitting up and rubbing his bruised hand. “What did you do that for?”
Kyndra whimpered and shrank away from him as he moved, violently thrashing around to free her legs of the covers. She fell to the floor with her legs still tangled in the sheet and cried out.
“Ky, what’s wrong?” John asked, trying to reach for her again to help her.
A grotesque zombie face peered at Kyndra from above, growling unintelligible sounds at her, reaching for her trapped legs. She fought harder.
“No!” she screamed and clawed at the floor, trying desperately to drag herself away from danger.
In the faint illumination of the street lights shining through the blinds, Kyndra spied a weapon she could use to protect herself just a couple feet away. The possible weapon was a baseball bat that stood in the corner, and it was the only thing she could focus on at the moment. She didn’t have any time to waste since a blood thirsty zombie was attacking her.
“Calm down,” John said, trying to untangle her legs from the sheets so she wouldn’t hurt herself. Once she was free, he saw what she was heading for. “Ky, stop, damn it!”
He shoved back his own covers, jumped out of bed, and darted around it, gripping the baseball bat moments before she could reach it.
In desperation, and still in the depths of her terrifying nightmare/illusion, she started sobbing and shrank away from the zombie who’d foiled her plan to protect herself. She scooted backwards on her butt, shaking her head, trying to think of a new defense. Her hopes died when her back came up against the wall.
“Please don’t kill me,” she sobbed, crossing her arms and curling them up around her head.
John knelt where he was, a good six feet from her, and took deep breaths. They’d been through this before, but it had been months since her last night-terror. This was a full blown hallucination though, and they were more rare. They’d thought they were past them. This one was completely unexpected and the worst one yet. He knew he had to be patient and wait out her panic; it was hard for him, since all he wanted to do was take her in his arms and tell her that everything was all right, that he would protect her.
Ky sobbed and sobbed, tears running down her face to saturate the thin, soft fabric of her night shirt. Her body shook with fear. For what seemed like forever, she waited for the piercing pain of broken teeth tearing at her flesh. When nothing happened, she chanced a peek through the small gap between her elbows.
She frowned when she saw John kneeling on the floor across the room, holding the baseball bat they kept in the corner at his side, half-resting it on the floor. He was watching her intensely. What had happened dawned on her and she slowly lowered her arms and wiped her face with her hands.
“Sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
“You tried to kill my hand,” John said with a half-smirk, holding up the hand she’d punched. “But thankfully it survived.”
Ky giggled and sniffled. “What’s with the bat?”
“You were serious this time,” John said, lifting the bat slightly and looking at it. “I think you were planning to bash my head in.”
“Oh, gawd,” Ky sighed and covered her mouth with her hand. “I’m glad you stopped me.”
“Yeah,” John said, looking back over at her, “me too. I really didn’t want to lose what little bit of brains I have up there.”
Ky grinned. “I love you. I’m so sorry about all this. I thought it was over.”
John stood, put the bat back in its place, and walked over to where she still sat against the wall. He reached down, took one of her hands in his and pulled her up – she stood willingly. Once she was on her feet, John pulled her into his arms.
“I love you more,” he whispered in her ear.
Ky wrapped her arm up around his back and gripped his shoulders, squeezing him tight. She started crying again for an entirely different reason. She hated when she was like this. She hated what she had tried to do to John. But instead of getting angry with her, he was always patient and calm. She loved him more than she could ever tell him and was thankful that he understood. After all, he’d survived the same nightmare, so he knew exactly what she was going through.
“Thank you for loving me…and for putting up with all this,” she said before kissing the side of his neck multiple times.
John smiled. “You’re a handful, but you keep me entertained.”
She laughed. “Oh, is that what I am, entertaining?”
John pulled back and looked into her dark eyes. “Well, yeah! I’m not into boring women. You should know that by now.” He winked at her.
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