Punch & Judy
This is week the last of the #DiceGames fiction challenge.
Damp patches blotted the bitumen, gathering in number until the tarmac was sodden. He waited until the rain was at its heaviest to load the car. The old pickup wheeled and wretched as the burdened sheets were slung inside, dripping wet.
He paused before packing away the tailgate, allowing his eyes to absorb the blood soaked linen. It was going to be a long drive. The discordant jangle of keys rattled in his ear as they turned in the door.
The air in the car was clammy.
Rain trickled slow down the slick black fabric of his waterproof. The moisture on the tops of his eyelashes dripped to his lap where long skeletal fingers remained motionless. He pursed his lips, watching the rain through the fogging windows.
A cursory glance told him that the passenger seat was empty. He knew that, but he still expected her to be there. She was waiting on ahead for him now. There was no need to panic any more; it was all in hand.
He flexed his spidery fingers and felt his knuckles burn, taking the wheel and turning the ignition. His eyes remained in the same cold dry stare, lips pressed together. He’d been planning this one for months. Judy hadn’t understood.
Who could blame her?
He shifted the car into gear with a scream and a clunk. The engine shuddered. Outside the vehicle, the rain tumbled harder down. He’d planned it to coincide with the weather. Nobody would be looking out into this.
A slow smile took his lips but not his eyes. The rain was washing away all their sins.
He thought of his bloody cargo and the struggle she’d put up. They couldn’t be allowed to live, these people. They weren’t normal. Judy had told him that she wasn’t one, but he’d already made his mind up. For months, now, he’d known he was going to kill her.
The linen was off white, absorbing the blood in a pattern of strawberries and cream. He touched his lips thoughtfully as he drove. His knuckles were still tender from the game he’d played with Judy before she’d left. As usual, she’d initiated it, pleading with him. It was like she couldn’t get enough of it.
Windscreen wipers screamed in the shower.
Grey light made his blank expression cold, his eyes flicking to the familiar landfill sign. He tapped the indicator. The impatient tick tick echoed in the fusty air, accompanied only by his breathing. Eventually, the car curdled to a stop.
Something rolled in the back. Perhaps the body.
He smoothed back his hair and ran his fingers over his moustache before he killed the engine. The vehicle hummed and died. More rain collected on the windscreen, obscuring his view of the hooded figure by the pit. The shadow turned and made its way towards the car. Her wet skirt flapped in the icy weather.
The window howled as he rolled it down, but he only smiled. She dipped her head through the window and shared a kiss, her fingers tight on his collar, her hair sopping wet. Excited eyes stared up at him. A child’s fever trapped in an adult body shone from within. “Did she? Were you right? Was she another?”
He nodded slowly, smiling his grey smile, tenderness clawing at his eyes.
“How did you do it? Is she in the back? Can I see?”
He smoothed his hand over the imprint of knuckles on her cheek. She didn’t even flinch, the pain a welcome sensation. Her pupils dilated and he did it again. The slow smile spread to her lips too.
“After,” she murmured. “Right now I want to see the body. I want to see what you’ve done.”
Excitement buzzed, secreted from her every pore. He hadn’t the heart to hold out on her any longer. The keys clanged in his hand as he passed them to her. They were barely in her grasp a moment before she was thrusting them into the tailgate, demanding to see her present. Her gaze widened on the crimson sheets in an expression of wondrous ecstasy.
“Did I do well, Judy?”
His voice carried softly from the side of the pickup. A concerned stare beheld her, hoping she was happy. He watched as she ran her fingers over the sticky essence and then licked it off in pure delight.
“Yes. Yes, my Punch, darling. You did perfectly. Most perfectly. I couldn’t love you more.” The balls of her feet almost bounced as she bobbed up and down. “And she’s… She’s a… She’s one of them?”
He nodded, the smile below his moustache quivering.
“Oh, my Punch. Oh, my Punch. We are doing well. We will rid the world of their unnaturalness.”
He nodded again, more carefully, but her eyes were on her blood soaked prize. She prodded the material once more, giggling to herself and then wringing her hands.
“What type? What type, my love? What is she?”
“Was,” he corrected. “She was a witch.”
Judy turned to him, big eyes rounding on his face. He was her one, her all. “A witch? You took on a witch for me, my Punch? Was she strong? And did you have to beat her?”
Rain splodged the strawberries and cream lump that swathed across the back of the pickup. Judy stroked the edge of the material, giggling to herself. He was so good. How could he be so good to her?
“Yes, my love.” A dream-like expression took his face and his fingers sifted through her wet hair, gently stroking out the tangles. “She struggled so much.”
“How? How did you do it, my Punch?”
“I broke her neck, but she was still breathing. So I strangled it out of her.” Thoughts drew him back to the room and the shaking witch as he’d slashed at her and she’d cast his knife away. He could still feel the blood bubbling in her throat against his fingers.
“What out of her?”
“The magic, my love. Just like the others.”
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