The scream ripped out through the dark night, bouncing off cars and houses standing dark and silent. Later, the entire neighborhood claimed to have heard it, but in reality, only one person did. This lone person had been tossing and turning all night, unable to sleep. A feeling of unease had settled in his bones, as if something bad were going to happen. Finally, sometime in the early morning, he gave up and walked to the back door, careful not to wake his wife. It was as he was opening the door that the scream came to him from the house next door.
"NO! Please don't hurt my mommy!"
The sound of this small voice, of young innocence shattered forever, embedded itself in the deep folds of this man's mind, bringing him nightmares until he was old enough to have some loss of memory. This memory was the first to go, and he gladly, almost enthusiastically, let it leave.
He threw the door the rest of the way open and sprinted across the lawn, vaulting over the fence between the two yards and dodging a few shrubs. He heard crying coming from inside the house, then the sound of a window breaking, very near him. A dark figure ran by him.
"Hey, stop!" he yelled at the back of the retreating figure, but he didn't take more than a few steps in that direction. Instead, he ran toward the back door. The crying had evolved to a high-pitched wail. The little girl, of course.
He found the back door locked. He felt around on the ground for a large stone, then threw it at the window in the door, shattering it. He reached in and turned the lock.
The girl was in the living room, kneeling next to her mother, or what was left of her mother. He could see the mother was dead. The little girl, only five or six, lay with her arms around her mother's neck, holding her mother's head in her lap. Wavy black hair had fallen in the girl's wet, tear-stained face. The mother was not in good shape either. Even from the other side of the room, he could see the gaping knife wounds in her back, her arms, her legs. The girl looked at him, her green eyes and his brown ones meeting. She hugged her mother's head tighter.
"Please help my mommy," she whimpered, tears spilling down her cheeks.
"Oh God," he whispered and stumbled to the phone.