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There's a dead body Under Hayley's bed. She can smell it. Touch it. Her husband can't see it. He thinks she's having a nightmare. Her therapist believes it's the trauma of the car accident. And Hayley doesn't believe in ghosts. But with every day that passes, the vile stench of death gets worse. Who is this rotting woman? Why is she Under Hayley's bed? And more, importantly... Who killed her?
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For my wonderful friends.
My ears are ringing. It’s so loud.
I don’t feel well.
The rain is heavy, soaking my clothes through, clinging to my sore flesh.
What the hell happened?
Where am I?
The wet road beneath my bleeding feet is cracked, unkempt. My neck hurts when I turn my head, staring at the thick bushes and fields on each side.
That noise. It’s getting worse.
I drag my aching legs towards God-knows-where, pleading with my eyes to focus. Rubbing them, I notice my hand. There’s a gaping cut at the back. Something is protruding from the wound.
A shard of glass.
The sun is trying desperately to puncture the grey clouds. I follow its weak glow to the red car behind me. It’s small, just a two-door. It’s my car. The front is buried in a thick oak tree, smoke coming from what’s left of the engine.
The noise is the car-horn. A continuous shriek, furiously stabbing at my eardrums.
I reach into my jeans pocket and pull out my phone. Shielding it from the rain, I search for Colin’s number. I can’t find it because the screen is fractured. I lift the phone closer to my face, trying to look past the damage. All I see are small droplets of red.
They keep coming.
More and more.
I don’t feel well.
Help me, Colin.
The phone slips from my hand, smashing on the tarmac.
And then my body follows...
Swallowing is torture, and my head feels like it’s trapped in a vice.
But none of that matters now because Liam is here.
My little blond angel runs to my bedside, almost knocking over the drip-stand. Ignoring the pain in my ribs, I reach over and hug him tightly. Tears fall from my eyes, but they’re tears of joy, relief, that I’m alive, that I get to see my family again.
“Careful, Liam,” Colin says from the doorway. “Your Mum’s not feeling too good.”
“It’s okay, Col. I don’t mind. He’s worth it.”
Liam is only four years old, but I can’t remember a time without him. Life before those breath-taking blue eyes seems like a boundless void of nothingness. I take his hand as he sits next to the bed. Colin is still hovering by the door, uneasy in his posture. “Aren’t you going to give your wife a kiss?” I ask, smiling, even though my lips are stinging.
“Sorry,” he replies, and then kisses me. He pulls another chair up to the side of the bed, and sits. I take his hand and notice the red scuff-marks on his right knuckles.
“What happened to your hand?”
Colin frowns for a moment, but then retracts it. “It’s nothing. Just scraped them on the wall at work.”
They look more like punch marks, but now’s not the time to press him. “The doctor said I can go home in a few days.”
“That’s good,” he says, his words a little cold, his eyes barely making contact with mine.
“What’s wrong, Col?”
He shakes his head. “Nothing’s wrong. I’m just glad you’re okay. You could have—”
I shush him because I don’t want Liam to hear how close I came to dying.
Colin’s chin starts to quiver and a tear rolls from his eye. “The doctor said you don’t remember what happened?”
“No. All I remember is seeing the wreckage, and then I woke up in the hospital. They told me some farmer found me on a country road.”
“What about before the crash?”
“Nothing. Where was I even driving to?”
Colin purses his lips. “I don’t know.”
Liam taps me on the shoulder, his face bright with excitement. “Can I sleep here with you tonight?”
I chuckle, his gentle voice warming my heart. “Sorry, angel. You’ll have to sleep in your own bed. But don’t worry: Mummy’ll be home really soon. I promise.”
I tuck Liam into his bed, probably tighter than ever before. He pretends that he can’t breathe, and we laugh. Such a clever little boy. So much like his father.
I kiss him and stroke the top of his head.
“Don’t forget Ralph,” he says. “He needs a kiss, too.”
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