Release by Roger Woodcock

He felt the thump, heard the scream. Then silence. He waited, sensed the sweat, clammy on his forehead. Seconds passed, a minute, two. He slid from the crumpled bed, unsteady feet padding across the bare floorboards. His hand, shaking, turned the handle of the bedroom door. 

A flood of light illuminated the landing. He stepped out, moved cautiously to the head of the stairs and looked down. She looked like a broken mannequin, legs and arms grotesquely twisted, a zig-zag of blood running along the peeling wallpaper. Slowly he descended the stairs, his nose wrinkling at the overpowering smell of faeces and urine, his bloodshot eyes momentarily fixed on the loosened handrail. He had meant to fix it, but like everything else in his drug-addled brain.. He bent down, a feeling of disgust sweeping over him as he felt for a pulse on the fetid, motionless body. It was still there, faint, erratic, the heart still pumping stubbornly to her abused, wasted body. He turned her head, saw the sightless eyes, his hand suddenly clamping over the thin, bloodless mouth. He felt no resistance, only the last remnants of warm breath oozing between his fingers. 

Then there was nothing. 

He removed his hand, wiped the sheen of spittle down his pin-pricked arm. Now she was free, able to soar above her pain-racked living hell. Somewhere a siren wailed, rising and falling until it disappeared into the rain-soaked darkness. 

They would come, offer their condolences, zip her into the dark green plastic bag. He would thank them, feel their comforting hands on his shoulder. He reached down, groping deep inside the folds of her urine-soaked clothing, muttering to himself as he clutched the grubby syringe one last time to his chest. 

`You won't be needing this then.` 

Published in Issue #21

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