Equal

by Charlotte North

 

She stood and clicked off the television set. She was trembling in anger.

How could they have let him out of prison on parole? The one who had killed her sister, stabbed her to death with a knife and then shot her just to be sure the job was done; leaving her body on the floor in a pool of blood, never showing an ounce of remorse, even when he was convicted of the crime — he was given parole? He was allowed to go free? It wasn’t right. It was wrong, through and through.

“Prison wasn’t harsh enough,” she thought. “If this is what it comes to. Well then,” she whispered aloud. “I’ll just have to take care of it myself. He will pay for what he’s done.”

The memory flashed vividly into her mind, as fresh as it had been on the day of the murder, six years ago. She’d come home, found her sister’s body on the kitchen floor. The stab wounds were deep. Blood puddled around her head in a dark, evil pool. The world came crashing down, splintering into shards of fire and ice and pain. Screams reverberated in her brain.

After that night, the quest for vengeance became her lifeblood, her breath, her obsession. The police’s investigation, the arrest of the killer, the trial and the eventual conviction brought little solace. Life in prison . . . it was not enough. Not for killing her sister in cold blood, for destroying so many lives afterward.

And now he’d been set free.

“He will pay,” she whispered again. “Don’t worry, sister. I will avenge your death. He will pay.”

 

The house was dark except for a dim light burning in one window.

“All too easy,” she whispered. It had been easy to find out where he was staying. It had been easy to locate the house. And the alley beside was so convenient.

It was dark outside. Her pulse racing, she stood in the shadows. The knife felt secure in her hands. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her pounding heart.

At last he exited the house, paused at the end of the stairs. She crept up behind him, quietly; raised the arm clutching the knife.

He turned — shrieked — jumped — tried to run —

She grabbed his shirt, shoved him into the alley, slammed him against the wall, and finally down to the pavement. “For you, sister,” she said. “Your due, your atonement.” She rested one knee on his chest, then plunged the knife in.

Power surged through her body. It was just as she’d imagined, every night, for so many years. The fantasy was being realized at long last.

Glorious, glorious vengeance!

She stabbed him again and again. “Not so funny this time, is it?” she asked him. “Not so much fun on the receiving end, is it? Bet you’re not laughing anymore, are you?”

Finally, she was spent. Breathing heavily, she dropped the knife, wiped sweat off her face, leaving a streak of blood behind. And she stared at him. In the darkness, the blood pooling beneath him looked black. So did the blood staining her hands and clothes. And his lifeless eyes stared back at her.

Something deep inside her began to churn.

Those eyes. They burned her.

The same way her sister’s had.

For the tiniest fraction of a second — less than the blink of an eye — it was her sister she saw lying there. Less than an instant. But that was all it took.

Oh, God, what have I done? she thought. What have I done?

She heard the sound of an approaching siren.

He continued to stare up at her with lifeless, accusing eyes.

What have I done? She thought. And suddenly felt absolutely frantic. She felt like she could jump out of her own skin. She had to run. Had to escape. Climb the walls of the alley, and run and run until she could hide from that dead stare. Get away from this place. She was shaking so hard, she could feel her bones rattle.

The siren was getting closer. It was almost upon her.

She didn’t run. She was frozen with the realization. I’m no different than he is. I’m no different. I’m just as guilty as he is. I’m no different than him. I’m just the same…

And she began to weep.

 

Breaks squealed and the siren shrieked to a stop beside her. The spinning lights from the police car illuminated the night. A moment later, she heard approaching footsteps.

When she felt a hand on her shoulder, she allowed the cop to lead her away.

 

 

FIN.  

 

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