At midnight Monica looked at her alarm clock, she had woken from a terrible nightmare. The same nightmare she’s been having since she moved into her new home a week ago. It had been raining earlier in the evening and she could smell the faint scent of Jasmine from her yard. She was tired and knew she needed sleep, but the thought of dreaming scared the shit out of her. Monica couldn’t understand why she has the same dream each night, and she knew she should go back to sleep, but the fear of her nightmare kept her awake. Getting out of bed, she headed to the kitchen, she might as well get something to eat. She knew she should not be eating this late, but her stomach would not shut up. She could hear the angry sounds coming from right below her breasts, insisting she eats something. Opening the door to her refrigerator, she stared at the leftovers from last night debating if she should eat some of the Pasta. She was saving for her lunch but decided on eating the yogurt she kept for occasions like this. After eating her yogurt she decided that she should try to get back to bed and that the chances of her having the same nightmare would be slim. Who has the same nightmare twice in one night, right? Monica lay back down on her bed and closed her eyes determined to fall asleep and as soon as her head hit the pillow she drifted off. She needed this, her body tired, her mind exhausted, and she needed some uninterrupted rest. It has been a long week, the move, unpacking, organizing, and arranging her new home. Monica was starting her new job in a week and she still had so much to do. She had decided that she would paint the outside of her new home tomorrow and had a few friends coming over to help in the morning. Since she was not paying them, feeding them was demanded she would need a few hours of sleep before they came over. The house she had chosen was in an older area of Las Vegas. Monica had wanted a large backyard and the newer homes had no yard and their HOA fees were ridiculous. The home she bought was a bargain, for a first-time buyer like herself. She wanted to buy a house that could be paid off within the next three years. Just in case she left Las Vegas. According to Monica’s calculation, she could pay off the house within the year. Thanks to her savings and what she inherited from her great Aunt Rhonda. She also had enough to fix up the house if needed and live a moderate lifestyle. She loved her new home and the sizable rooms, she also loved the huge backyard and the private garden that came with the house. In all honesty, she purchased the house for the garden. Monica loved flowers and could spend hours talking to her flowers and plants. She found it peaceful and rewarding and although the garden needed a lot of work; she was ready to tackle the job. She had so many ideas of what she wanted to plant and her face lit up every time she thought about it. The garden overrun with dead plants and in the Vegas heat without care; the garden was in less than perfect shape. Although she was surprised by the cherry blossom tree that sat in the middle of the garden. Strange, Monica was no expert in Japanese cherry blossom trees, but she was sure they did not bloom in the summer, yet, here it stood. Even the grass around the tree had died from the lack of water and the intense Vegas heat. But this tree stood, beautiful, almost proud as if the tree were giving the finger to mother nature. Monica was in love with that tree and after many months of searching for a new house. This house with its beautiful garden seemed perfect. As Monica drifted back to sleep the last thoughts, she had been about her garden and the strange cherry blossom tree. That faced the harsh weather of Las Vegas and remained the victor. As Monica slept, she dreamed, but this time her dreams were of her garden and the lovely cherry blossom tree. Her breathing deepened as REM took her, in her dream she was in her garden. Lush with flowers unlike its current state she was watering her flowers and humming, as she watered her precious flowers she smiled, what a beautiful day. Monica felt a hand on her shoulder and she turned around and smiled, but whoever had touched her wasn’t there. Monica woke from her dream, strange she thought, what was that about? The rest of the day went by, the house took a few hours to paint, her friends were hard workers and wanted to get the job done. The faster they worked the sooner they could get out of the intense Vegas heat. In October the temperature in Las Vegas was still in its upper eighties it was still hot. It took a few hours to paint the house each person working. Monica made sure she not only helped the others, but she kept them hydrated throughout the process. Shuffling between her friends and passing out cold water bottles. After they finished painting. The rest of the night filled with laughter as they celebrated the purchase of Monica’s new home. At midnight her friends had left one by one. John, however, was a little too drunk to leave, so Monica helped him into the spare bedroom. After settling John into her spare room Monica went to bed. She was tired and her body hurt from painting all day. As her head touched the pillow, and sleep took her, she smiled thinking of how lucky she was to have such a tight group of friends. It was three A.M. when Monica woke up to hear screaming coming from inside of her house. She looked for John and found him still in bed screaming, his eyes wide, his face white as snow, he screamed. “John, what the fuck is wrong?” she said, wrapping her arms around him. “She’s here, he muttered out of breath. “What? Who’s here?” said Monica. “The woman, can’t you see her? She’s staring right at me,” said John. “Honey, the only woman in this room is me,” said Monica. John cried, tears fell down his face as he sobbed. “Hey, come on, I swear I am the only one here,” said Monica. As she patted his back trying to soothe him. She didn’t know what he was talking about or why he was screaming, but she knew she could not leave him like this. “Why don’t we get something to eat?” said Monica. That should make him feel better, John was always up for eating, out of all of her friends he had the biggest appetite. “I have to get out of here,” said John as he jumped up and ran out of the house. Monica tried to follow him, but it was too late he had left. “What the fuck just happened?” thought Monica and why the hell was her house so cold? She would talk to John in the morning, he had slept enough to sober up and lived only ten minutes away from her house. Monica locked up her house, tried to call John, just in case he would answer and when he did not, she decided that she would go back to sleep. Before she fell asleep, she wondered what happened. John was by every definition a man’s man. He was tall, athletic, muscular, and a firefighter who rushed into danger not away from it. He would be the last person who Monica would picture running away scared in the middle of the night. Whatever scared him, must have gotten to him. “I will talk to him in the morning,” said Monica to herself as she fell asleep and slept peacefully for the first time since she moved into her new home. John closed his eyes, he could see her staring at him. She was beautiful, in fact, he had never seen a woman more beautiful. He stared back her wondering if he were dreaming, she smiled at him and as she smiled, he watched in horror as his dream turned into a nightmare. Rotted flesh hung from her once angelic face, her smile that had captivated him moments ago showed flesh that that was sliced away exposing her teeth in a gruesome smile. Her silky black hair matted with blood. She moved closer to him, and he could smell the foul odor of death and decay. The smell of rigor mortis remained in his nostrils even as he layered himself with soap and showered, frantic to remove the smell of her. She had touched him and he watched as her hand decayed right before his eyes. Why was she smiling? What does she want? He tried to scream, but nothing came out of his mouth. All he could do was stare at her and whimper. He remembered screaming as Monica entered the room. All he could think about was running, he had to get away, so he ran. He knew he was being a coward, and he knew he was leaving his friend with that thing. He didn’t care, and he was certain that Monica would be okay, she has been living there for at least a week and she seemed fine. Maybe it’s all in his head, maybe this is nothing but a horrible dream. Why could he not get rid of the smell? John could hear his cell phone ring while he was in the shower, he knew it was Monica, checking on him. He didn’t know how to face her and, all he wanted was to get the smell off of him. He closed his eyes and sighed as the hot water caressed his aching muscles. I’ll call her back, he said out loud and closed his eyes. He felt something grip his throat, and he opened his eyes to see what was happening and there she was. Only a few inches from his face smiling at him with the same permanent smile. She glared at him as he tried to scream but couldn’t. As the grip tightened, he knew he was dying, he could feel his body weakening. John would die at the hands of a beautiful woman how fitting it was for him to die like this. John tried to say he was sorry, but he could never apologize to this monster, to his ex-wife. For beating her and he would never have the chance to see his daughter grow into the woman she would become. It served him right, for taking his daughter’s virginity, which should have been kept for her first love. No one knew the real John, if you were to ask his friends, they would say he was nothing but a stand-up guy. He had passed out at Monica’s on purpose it was the perfect excuse to sleep with her and if she had denied him, he would have taken her, anyway. No woman could refuse John and if one did, there would be hell to pay. John was an abuser, a wife beater, and a child molester served him right that he was dying. John would die staring into the eyes of a monster. His last word whispered would be “Bitch,” as the life drained from his body. John’s body was found on the floor of his shower the hot water beating against his face. His eyes bloodshot and his face frozen in terror. What was he afraid of? No one would know. Not his best friend that found his body, not the police that would investigate, nor the paramedics that removed his body to transport it to the coroner. His soon to be ex-wife would enjoy his life insurance money and his daughter would raise two sons that would become good men, unlike their grandfather. Both of the women in John’s life would be better off with him dead.Monica did not hear the sirens that rushed passed her house. She did, however, hear the banging on the door, a few hours later. As Monica opened the door to a woman dressed in a pantsuit. “Good morning, I’m sorry to disturb you, but do you know a John Carden? Said the woman Yes, I know him, said Monica. Who are you? Said, Monica, as she wondered why the woman was asking. I’m Detective Hunter from the Metro Police Department and I’m sorry to wake you, but can I ask you a few questions about John said the woman.”Is he okay? Said, Monica.”We are talking to anyone who has had contact with him within the last twenty-four hours.” said the woman. “We had a party here yesterday, and after we got done painting, we ate, drank and he got a little too drunk, so, I let him sleep it off in my spare bedroom. He woke up and bolted out of my house early in the morning. I tried to call him, but he never answered his phone. I figured that he went home and fell asleep,” said Monica.”He died this morning,” Said the Detective.”That’s not possible, I saw him this morning, and he didn’t seem sick,” said Monica. Did he seem upset or uneasy last night? Said, Detective Hunter.
You can call me Monica, and no he seemed fine, except for when he left in a hurry said, Monica. Do you know anyone that wanted John dead? Said, Detective Hunter. No, but John doesn’t talk about his personal life, I met his wife once and I know he has a daughter. We have always hung out with mutual friends, said, Monica, as she looked at the detective.
“Will you, be willing to give me the names of everyone at that party? Said, Detective Hunter. If you think it will help, replied, Monica as she wrote the names of her friends. Here is my card, said the Detective if you think of anything else, please call. Monica reached for the card and as her hand touched the Detective’s hand, she felt an electrical jolt. I’m sorry, I must have been dragging my feet this morning said, Monica, blushing. The Detective smiled, which caused Monica to blush more.”You have a good day and call if you can remember anything that may help.” Said the Detective. The Detective walked away from the surprised woman.Detective Hunter walked to her car and thought about her case, the victim was in perfect health by his physical physique a natural death seemed unlikely, however, with death, you can never tell how that person died until an autopsy is done.
There was no bruising on his body and no signs of him struggling. Unless the man had a heart attack, there was no convincing explanation for his death. His home wasn’t broken into, in fact, all the doors were locked from the inside. If someone murdered him the killer either had a key or could walk through walls. Working in homicide for five years Paige had seen a lot of death, but this was by far her strangest case. The victim’s eyes were bloodshot, but there was no bruising, no scratch marks or any redness on the victim’s throat. If it was Autoerotic Asphyxiation, there would be at least some bruising to the body.
Paige shook her head, she could still see the fear on the victims face. She had seen her share of dead bodies, but to see a person’s face, twisted in fear was something she would never get over.