Mariel awoke in the embrace of a dead man, his body cold and rigid. It took her some effort to disentangle their limbs, and when she finally did she threw herself from the bed shuddering in horror. She lay on the floor for a time hyperventilating and weeping, even as she cursed herself for this loss of control. She had nearly regained command of her emotions when she caught a glimpse of her hands and saw they were covered in blood. As were her arms and much of her body.
She stumbled into the bathroom, retching in the toilet, refusing to look at what came up. Resting her head against the cool porcelain she closed her eyes and focused on her breathing, on being mindful of anything but the corpse on the bed. When she felt ready she got to her feet and washed her face in the sink. She tried to get some of the blood off her hands and arms but soon gave up. Only a shower would solve that problem.
Before she went back into the bedroom to face what was there, she looked up in the mirror. There was no reflection staring back. That steadied her, and with new resolve she walked into the bedroom to assess the aftermath of whatever had taken place the night before. The man lay in a contorted pose, the result of her efforts to free herself, his face darkened with bruises. There was blood everywhere, staining his flesh and the sheets. She felt her stomach tremble again and had to look away.
Her eyes fell upon the tangle of their clothes at the foot of the bed. It told another story, a prologue to whatever else had happened in the depths of the night. Mariel remembered none of it. Her head ached and her thoughts were foggy, as though from a hangover. There was a bitter taste in her mouth from bile and blood. She closed her eyes, sick at the thought. What had gone so terribly wrong?
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