A cat meows and stretches at my feet, then I hear a scream in Apartment 608, where dispatch has sent me to investigate a domestic violence call. The scream is followed by what sounds like high-pitched panting, muffled through the apartment door. Sounds like a child.
A shiver races up my spine, jerking me upright. I pull my service pistol, call out loud enough to be heard from the hall.
“Police! Open up!”
The scream was one of those shrill cries that you couldn’t tell was born of fear or delight. Another scream inside, but away from the door and to the left, followed by the heaving sobs of a child too terrified to escape its tormentor.
A hot flash rushes through my body, flushing my cheeks. Bile rises in my throat. I holster my gun and prepare to break in the door. With my small frame, it isn’t likely to happen, so I try the knob. The door is unlocked.
I pull my gun out again and step into the living room, sweeping my gaze around the open layout. Solid wall on the right, living room clear. Dining room to the left, clear. Kitchen, open to the living room with a half-wall separating it from the dinette. That’s where the kid, now silent, waits. I can’t see far inside, but I can see the pool of blood spreading across the floor.
A powerful wave of nausea sweeps over me. The silence amplifies the ringing in my ears to a nearly unbearable level. Grey threatens the edges of my vision. I take a deep breath with each careful step to the kitchen.
I round the corner to find a boy facing away from me, staring down at a lacerated female, her face frozen in pain and horror. Likely the boy’s mother. On her back, her dead eyes stare at the ceiling. A black and white checkered apron is twisted around her torso, torn and soaked red.
The boy’s saturated with blood, too. He’s holding a kitchen knife that looks like a machete in his small hand. He turns his head slowly, his body frozen, weapon held aloft, until I can see the wide grin stretched across his face. His shining, manic eyes are the last thing I see before darkness takes me.
Originally written for Alissa Leonard’s flash fiction contest Finish That Thought #32.