She told me to write it down.
The nightmare is always the same. I start by climbing a dirt path with cedar trees on either side, the sky shockingly bright. It hasn’t rained in a long time, and the trees are dry. The wind is blisteringly hot, and a tree bursts into flames. More trees catch fire, and I start running up the path, becoming winded.
Finally I reach the top and before me, erected on the dirt-and-stone bluff, is a crude scaffold. It’s a beautiful spring day, and the fires have faded away, changing into a light breeze. Three women in party dresses and bare feet hang by the neck from a wooden beam above the scaffold. They call to me for help; the first is Rose, the second Gwen, and the third that poor ballerina.
I sprint to Rose but cannot reach her. Her cries die out and she swings quietly, hands tied behind her back, feet twitching. At one side of the scaffold is a ladder to the beam, and I begin climbing, my eyes glued to the still faces of the women. In my hand is a straight razor; I must cut them down. At the top I crawl across the beam. Rose is the first in line, but as I come closer the rope that holds her disappears.
The landscape below me has changed. The women are gone, and I’m crawling on a log across the San Marcos River, twenty feet above clear aquamarine water. I could easily jump in and float to safety. The razor in my hand has changed into the Smith and Wesson, and a man’s voice directs me: “Shoot him now.” The command comes again. Scanning both banks of the river, I see no one; no one is there but me.
I slip on the log and fall as the water recedes a mile below. Day turns to dusk. Next to me, office building windows rush by. Sometimes I wake then, but usually I keep falling until I land in the water. Opening my eyes, all around me I see red. It’s blood. The blood comes into my nostrils and seeps through my clothes to my skin; it’s thick and slippery. I am deep in the river of blood and can’t find the surface. The blood flows into my mouth and slowly drowns me.
I sit up in bed, sweating, heart pounding, eyes aching, with a man’s scream in my ears.
She told me to write all that happened, from the beginning. She said if I write everything it would help me sleep in peace. So I’m trying to remember everything, to write it all down.
Hill Country Greed: An Austin, Texas Mystery, is set in the capital of the Lone Star State.
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Also available at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.
Hill Country Rage: An Austin, Texas Mystery is now available on Amazon and at BookPeople.
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