By Julia Scheer

Allen woke with a start, a scream on his lips, his face covered in sweat.  It took a moment to realize it was just a dream, until he looked over and saw the empty bed next to him.  The reality came crashing home and he wept softly into his hands.  The pain was still fresh after two years, most of him had died that day. The nightmare was all too familiar, why him, what had he done to deserve this?

They had been childhood sweethearts in every sense of the word.  They met and fell in love in the third grade.  It was then that he asked her to marry him and she said yes.  Neither one ever looked back. They lived a modest life, Allen was a police officer and Mary was a nurse. They had a small but nice apartment and a circle of close friends.  And finally they were going to start a family.  Their life was wonderful, until Mary crossed the street at the wrong time that fateful night. 

The justice system had failed Allen, Mary and their unborn child.  The young rich boy had been given a slap on the wrist.  He had been convicted of leaving the scene of an accident, all the other charges, DUI, hit and run, and two charges of vehicular manslaughter had been dismissed.  Steve was sentenced to six months in a juvenile home and only served 60 days. His life didn’t miss a beat. But Allen’s would never be the same, what was left of him died that day.

Allen kept up with Steve, it wasn’t hard to do.  He came from a prominent family and their every move was recorded in the local newspaper.  It wasn’t long after Steve was released that his wedding announcement was in the paper. The time still wasn’t right.  Then the announcement came and he knew it was time, they were starting a family.

The family had a cabin in the woods and Allen knew Steve and his wife liked to spend time there, which would be the perfect location.  He followed them making sure they were going alone.  It was easy for Allen to go unnoticed, since the trial he had quit his job, stopped shaving and cutting his hair. He had picked up a nervous habit of chewing on a plastic straw, he didn’t even realize he was doing it anymore, it had become part of who he was. All his time was devoted to revenge for his wife and child.

Allen headed to the woods and set up his campsite, it was a small clearing in the midst of tall trees.  If offered perfect coverage and was a short hike to the cabin.  Allen hid in the tree line behind the cabin and watched as they happily unloaded the car and settled in for their time away.  Little did they know, their joy would be short lived. He kept watch on them for three days, figuring out their routine for the cabin.  The next day he would make his move. He headed back to his campsite and made sure he had everything ready.

Allen woke up from the nightmare and knew it was time.   He made his way to the cabin and there she was, sitting on the back porch enjoying a cup of coffee.  He easily snuck up on her and dropped a dark bag lined with ether over her head. It was a short struggle before she blacked out.  He easily carried her back to his campsite, where she was blindfolded, gagged and tied to a chair near the fire pit. Then he waited. In a short time he could hear Steve calling her name, getting more and more frantic with each passing moment.  Allen waited until he was sure Steve was at his wits ends. 

He walked back through the woods with his double barrel shot gun. As he neared the cabin he could see Steve pacing back and forth talking on his cell phone.  Allen stayed in the shadows until he was off the phone, then he stepped out with the gun leveled at his chest and said “come with me if you want to see your wife again”.

“Who are you? What do you want from me?” Steve asked with a shaky voice.

“Justice” the man said. “Now come with me quietly, leave the phone here”.  Steve put his phone on the porch and walked with Allen into the woods.  Allen led him to the campsite where his wife was.  She was just coming around from the ether.

Steve tried to run to her, but Allen hit him with the butt of the gun knocking him out.  Allen tied Steve up and sat him next to his wife.  By the time Steve came around his wife was awake.  She was trying to process what she was hearing, but was having no luck.

“Do you remember me?” asked Allen.

“No. I’ve never seen you before.” Steve replied. “Why are you doing this?”

Franticly chewing on the straw, “Let me refresh your memory. You destroyed my life two years ago and never paid for it.” he said stepping closer to him. “Now it’s time for you to suffer the same way I have.”

“You’re the man from my trial.  It was your wife I hit.”  Steve realized.  “I’m sorry.”

“Too little, too late. It’s time for you to pay” Allen said as he leveled his shotgun at Steve’s wife. “You will know my pain.  What it feels like to lose everything, your wife, your child, and I will finally have the peace and justice I’ve been seeking.”

Suddenly a gunshot echoed in the woods, the birds took flight and Steve let out a blood curdling scream. A second shot rang out and Steve screamed again and again. The straw fell to the ground and justice was served.