She had been dreaming … perhaps was dreaming still. But the moment David crawled into bed beside her, the dream slipped away. Becca stretched, glanced at the clock, which read 3:02, and snuggled up to the warm body next to hers. Then she caught a whiff of scent that was strangely disorienting. His hand came down over her mouth.

Surprised, she made a muted appeal, tried to squirm out from under him. Was he being playful in the middle of the night? She couldn’t imagine it.

The hand pressed down harder. “Don’t move or scream or I’ll kill you,” said a muffled voice through what appeared to be a ski mask.

Becca reacted with the horror of a dreamer unable to run from her assailant. Wild with fear, she made an effort to cry out, but it was useless with the hand covering her mouth. She jerked her head to the side to loosen his grip, but he held on firmly. She was at his mercy.

Was this actually happening to her, or was it all part of a horrific nightmare? She pounded palms into the intruder’s chest, but with his superior strength, he managed to roll on top of her, pinning her beneath him. Barely able to breathe under him, she pressed her legs together in a desperate attempt to keep him out. But he jerked up her nightgown; tore off her panties as if they were paper; pried open her legs. And violently forced himself into her.

Becca screamed, fought back, tried to dislodge him, but he clamped down on her arms with his. Another scream escaped her lips.

“Shut up,” he said, “Or you’re dead.”

She swallowed the cry that rose to her throat; stifled the desire to kick and flail.  Her brain raced, her muscles tensed. “Please God, please God, please God,” loped through her mind with the insistence of a demanding child. A loud buzzing sound filled her head.

He groaned and moved harder against her. Her insides felt as if they were being torched. Pain followed every thrust. The more she struggled, the more it hurt, but she couldn’t lie still for long. He continued to hump steadily, ignoring her efforts to dislodge him, until she managed to free a hand long enough to smash her palm against his jaw and, with all of her might, shove him away. He reached up and slapped her across the face with such force tears sprang into her eyes. It was over for her, there was no winning this war. She shut down her mind, felt her awareness leave her body; became numb to his ongoing assault. After what seemed like an eternity, he grunted and collapsed onto her, his body slick with sweat and sickening to the touch.

The clock showed 3:15 a.m. when he finally lifted off her. “Be quiet,” he snapped. “Don’t move or call out, if you know what’s good for you.”

Becca watched, stunned, while he hurriedly pulled up his pants. Even in the dark with his back to her and a ski mask obliterating his face, something seemed eerily familiar about him. But what was it? Did she know her attacker? Before she could consider, he turned back to her and said, “You haven’t seen the last of me.” Then he was gone.

Becca lay paralyzed for a few agonizing minutes. Then she rolled onto her side in a fetal position, wrapping her arms around her knees, clutching herself. Every cell in her body quivered, every muscle quaked. Bile rose, sickening and sour, at the thought of the rape. Horror gripped her; nausea followed. She felt defiled. Disgusted. With slow, deep breaths she tried to calm the churning inside.

Minutes passed before she could lever herself up and lower her legs over the edge of the bed. A burning sensation flamed in her crotch, causing tears of fear and fury to run down her face, dampening her nightgown.

She listened closely, reassured by the silence around her, then stumbled from bed on legs that shook like jelly, tripping over bedclothes tossed carelessly to the floor. She had to steady herself with a hand on the footboard before she could tiptoe toward the living room.

All at once she remembered David. What had happened to him? Why hadn’t he been there to protect her? Another wave of terror gripped her and she wrapped her arms around herself. Something was terribly wrong. David might not be the most attentive husband on the planet, but he would have reacted to the break-in. He would have done something.

Becca hesitated at the entrance to the living room before working up the nerve to switch on the overhead light. She immediately spotted David sprawled across the sofa in a pool of blood.

In a panic she rushed to his side and tried to take a pulse. Although faint, his heart still beat. Relieved, she tore open his blood-soaked shirt and pants. The extent of the wounds on his chest and stomach could not be determined because of the profusion of blood.

She rushed into the kitchen and wet down a towel, returning to soak up blood which continued to pool beneath him. With the towel pressed against a deep gash on his belly, she hoped to staunch further flow.

She scooped David’s cell off the coffee table and dialed 911.

“Please help me,” she wailed into the receiver. “I’ve been raped and my husband’s been stabbed.”

By the time the police thundered into the apartment through the door she had left unlocked, followed by two paramedics, Becca was performing CPR. A policewoman had to forcefully remove her from David’s side to prevent her from interfering with the paramedic’s effort. Huddled in the corner with the cop by her side, she again glanced at the clock on the mantle: 3:42 a.m. So much had happened in such a short time, it seemed surreal. It struck her as strange she could measure such a monumental life change in mere minutes.

The paramedics immediately went to work, attempting to revive David. After vain attempts at cardiac resuscitation with shots of adrenaline and epinephrine, and shocks from a defibrillator, one of the paramedics turned to her.

His flat eyes told her everything.

 

 

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