A Living Nightmare
Tom woke up gasping, his own yell ringing in his ears leaving him breathless.
His whole body was trembling while he was rubbing his eyes trying to make the memories that had been haunting him for two days now, stop, the memories he had buried in the depth of his subconscious mind. Now they were back, chasing him, pushing everything else aside, making him feel helpless and unable to think straight.
It all had started on the crime scene of a homicide forty-eight hours ago. There he had seen him; the man that once again had scared the hell out of the young cop just by his pure presence. Since that day Tom was not able to get this face out of his head; the face of Tremaine, Jason Tremaine.
The man he had embarrassed about fifteen years back at Florida State. The day Tremaine had promised him to take revenge, revenge for the incident on the football field where he, freshman Tom Ryan, had been responsible for his disgrace in front of the whole team; and the night Tremaine had carried out his threat.
Tom winced. It was like he was being beaten up all over again. He could feel every single punch, every single kick; his entire body becoming a bundle of pure pain and despair.
Why? Why was he so afraid of this tall, dark-skinned man? Why was he the only one who noticed that his eyes were sparkling with pure harassment?
When Cassie had told him about her dinner with Tremaine he immediately had felt sick. How was she able to spend an entire evening with that man; the man who had done so much harm to him?
Tom sighed and wiped away the tears that were blurring his vision. He did not know if he was crying out of rage or anxiety, to him it just did not matter right now.
He had never told Cassie about the events. Actually he had never talked to anyone about it. Perhaps he thought this would make it easier to forget. Now he had to realize that he had forgotten nothing. Not a single detail.
Moments later he got up walking on shaky legs to the bathroom. He splashed his face with fresh water; then looked into the mirror, seeing his own eyes glistening with unshed tears, noticing his own features trembling with fury.
"You gotta stop it, Ryan. You cannot go on like that", he whispered.
He clenched his fists resting on the sink until every single knuckle had turned white.
Where was that good-looking, self-confident Sergeant Thomas Ryan everyone in the police department knew? Where was that charming smile; those hazel eyes sparkling with life?
How was one single man able to destroy all this in one instant? How was one single man able to make him feel like a frightened, defenseless child?
He had yelled at Cassie for nothing in the squad room, in front of everyone, even their captain Harry; and it had not mattered to him. Maybe it had been a desperate call… a call for what?
Tonight he had destroyed a washing machine in the Laundromat loosing control because it had not worked properly. An incident he would normally laugh about trying the next washer not thinking about it any longer; but this time he had totally lost it. Moments later a little boy had looked at him wide-eyed asking him why he was so mad.
Because he was not able to forget about the events fifteen years back, because Tremaine was still treating him like a freshman, because he was just not able to find his strength face to face with that man. He really was starting to hate himself for that.
He closed his eyes not caring about the tears that were running down his face. Perhaps he did not even notice them; perhaps his whole body and mind were just numb from the confrontation with Tremaine.
Tom took another glance in the mirror knowing he would not be able to go back to sleep. Honestly he did not even want to, because he knew what was awaiting him there; another nightmare of Tremaine humiliating him, calling him "Red Shirt"; punching him; looking at him with pure fury in his eyes telling him: "Later is almost here, Ryan. Are you afraid of me yet?"
Yes he was afraid, afraid like he never had been in his entire life.
Only moments later the young man was back in his bedroom getting dressed. Maybe a run and some fresh air would ease his tension. When he opened the door and walked out he took a deep breath; then looked up into the starry sky. Accidentally he caught sight of a falling star; closing his eyes he made a wish.