In bed at last, Marie luxuriated in the soft linen and the breeze from the fan overhead. Sister Annabelle had insisted on moving to the girl’s ward so Marie could have a room to herself. Marie, exhausted, turned onto her side, hands under the pillow, and fell into a deep sleep. She woke as a knife slashed her face again and again. She screamed but no sound came from her throat. She tried to shield her face with her arms, but couldn’t move. Edward’s thugs sliced the flesh from her cheeks, exposing muscle and bone. Blood filled her mouth and eyes, ran down her breasts, her belly, her legs. Edward’s horrible laugh taunted her, ridiculed her, doomed her to a wretched life of scars physical and psychological. She screamed as Edward dug his fingernails into her face and ripped strips of flesh from her face. She was helpless as the razor-sharp knife, at the top its rise, glinted in the moonlight. She watched in terror as it came down in an arc toward her heart, down, down, down….
A noise from somewhere in the dark chased the dream away and she woke to a hand mashing against her nose and mouth. Another gripped her hair and pulled her head back. She couldn’t breathe. She fought against the panic that gripped her. Her only weapon was her teeth. She bit the hand covering her mouth and gave a muffled scream as she kicked under the bedsheet. Whoever it was cried out from her bite but retained his iron grip on her face. Wait – there were two of them. Hands on her legs restrained her. A shaft of moonlight through the window showed two dark figures, silent but for heavy breathing. One held her while the other attempted to tie her arms behind her. Why were they kidnapping her? Who… Edward. The bastard had returned as she had feared and Frank said he would. Frank. Where are you, Frank? The hand slipped from her mouth.
“No. No. Let me go!”
A slap across her face, another and her cheek stung. Her eyes watered from the pain. Hair tore from her head as the other hand yanked her head back so hard it forced her mouth wide open. She tried to scream but could not, the only sound a gurgle in the back of her throat. A knife flashed in the shaft of moonlight and her eyes widened. Oh, no, no, please, God, no. “Frank!” The knife was poised above her head. She closed her eyes and waited, waited, waited….
“No.” A voice. Edward. “I said restrain her only. I shall wield the knife when I think it is necessary.”
The men stayed out of the light as they lifted Marie from bed and onto her feet. Her knees gave and they yanked her upright, wrenching her arm and shoulder. She cried out in pain behind the hand still pressed against her mouth.
“Enjoy the pain you feel now, dear Marie, it will be worse, much worse, in a short while.”
Edward held a knife as he spoke, pricking the tip against his finger and drawing a spot of blood.
“You will wish for this pain to return. Gag her.”
His measured voice, sinister, menacing, struck terror into her heart. She struggled against the men holding her. Edward stepped forward, raised his arm – Marie struggled harder – and brought the back of his hand against her head with such force she lost consciousness. When she came to, they had dragged her into the hallway. One of Edward’s thugs opened the door at the far end. She moaned through the gag over her mouth; her face hurt, her head hurt, she couldn’t focus her eyes. Blood filled her mouth and she couldn’t breathe through her nose. She was suffocating. Panic returned. Her heart raced. Blood rushed in her ears and she began to cry. Where are you, Frank? Help me. Please come, Frank.
“Hey. What’s going on out here? Keep it down, will you. I can’t sleep.”
A head appeared from a doorway just beyond Marie and the men. The senior chief looked down the hallway, saw Marie and the men, and rushed from the room.
“What are you doing with that woman? Oh, my God. What have you done to her?”
He took a step toward Marie, but Edward stepped between them, brandishing his pistol. He pointed it at the senior chief who stopped in his tracks.
“Whoa. Okay. Okay. Put the gun away. I don’t want any trouble. I’ll just go back in my room here and go to sleep.”
“It is too late for that, my friend.”
Marie twisted against the men holding her, grunted, and lunged, kicking Edward in the back of the knee. He fell, twisting onto his side, but rose again. The other men let go of Marie and went for the senior chief, but she flung herself against them, buying time for Senior Chief Kelly to leap forward and wrap his arms around Edward. They grappled, each trying to throw the other. Edward freed his arm and raised the gun. One of the men slashed at Marie with his knife but missed. She kicked him between the legs. He howled in pain and fell. The other man threw Marie against the wall and she went down, too tired, too hurt to move. Senior Chief Kelly yelled for George as he grabbed Edward’s arm. The gun went off. They wrestled each other. The gun went off again and the senior chief went down, bleeding from the shoulder.
Doors opened as George, Frank, and Sam rushed out.
Marie screamed. “No! He has a gun.”
She struggled to her feet, bracing herself against the wall. Edward turned, drew the knife from his jacket, and stepped toward her, gun at his side. His eyes were wide, staring, oblivious now to everything but hurting Marie. Edward reared back and brought the knife down as Frank, two steps behind him, leapt, stretching frantically for his arm. Marie shielded her face. A shot rang out. Marie screamed. A second shot. She screamed again as Edward fell at her feet, the knife slashing through her blouse and nicking her belly. Edward’s head thudded against the floor. A button from Marie’s blouse rolled round and round and round before falling over next to his face. The body lay still, lifeless eyes staring at the button as blood dribbled from the back of the neck.