It wasn’t the first night Frank couldn’t sleep. Valerie slept inside their small home, in their small bed. He’d worked hard with her to make that house, to make the things they had.
Frank stood in their garden. Valerie cared for it, every day he was away. He was away often, with his wolf, bear, eagle, and hawk friends. The animals, all predators, walked through the world with him. They hunted men. Men who saw women at things, possessions, things they used, then disposed of.
Frank lost count of how many he’d killed. But he remembered them when he slept. Flesh and blood, like him. He saw the faces of the dead, some of them boys being raised by their fathers.
What they did was wrong, he knew that. Women were people, not animals, not slaves, not sexual objects. They were human beings. Flesh and blood. Like him. He remembered when it started. That long walk to the ruins of a city to find books and tools. Anything they could use. Anything they needed to survive.
He’d found Kelly on that trip, rescued her. The two of them found others, including Beth.
Beth’s body healed. But her heart, her soul, were to wounded. Too many nights Frank closed his eyes, and saw her body in the forest, in an ocean of dried blood. Beth killed herself
And Frank went insane.
“How many have I killed?” He stared at slivers of the night sky, filled with stars as it peeked through the leaves of the trees. “Before I become like them? Before I lose who I am. Before…”
His heart ached, his hands shook. He wanted to scream, but had no voice. To cry, but had no tears. He wanted to feel. Anything. Alive.
All he felt was empty.
A wolf entered the garden, stood before him. Jessica followed it. “Frank?”
Frank said nothing.
“The wolf brought me here. Told me you were here.” She stood beside him.
Frank said nothing. He wasn’t sure he was breathing. Maybe he’d never breathe again. Maybe he was already dead. Like the men he’d killed.
Jessica looked into his eyes. “Frank?”
“I’m not who I thought I was.” He didn’t know where the words came from. “I’m not a hero. Not a good guy.” He couldn’t look at Jessica. She was a hero. He wasn’t. “I’m a killer.”
Jessica took his hand, “It’s time. Go. Find yourself.”
Frank looked back at his home. “Valerie?”
“We’ll take care of her. You know that.”
Frank looked at the stars through the trees, then walked from the garden, into the woods.
Jessica cried. The wolf kept her company. She didn’t know if Frank would. She stayed in the garden, waited for sunrise, waited for Valerie. She had to tell Valerie where Frank had gone. When he’d be back.
And she didn’t know how.
The wolf spoke, “He’ll return. When he believes he’s paid for the things he’s done.”
This is my entry into #FlashMobWrites 1×16, hosted by Ruth Long and Cara Michaels. Please, go read all the stories for #FlashMobWrites 1×16. You might find something you like. But if you don’t try, how will you ever know?