women, short fiction, grief

Last Train To Salvation

railway_to_hell_by_blackwhiters-d21sztr
https://alexandreguilbeault.deviantart.com/art/Railway-to-Hell-123964767

Casey shoveled coal into the furnace until his shoulders throbbed and he could not see for the sweat dripping into his eyes. He stood up and wiped his forehead with the bandana and looked over his shoulder as Nicola handed him a canteen of water.

‘Will it be enough?’ she said.

He unscrewed the canteen, poured some on his face before gulping it down and then poured some onto the bandana, rubbed it against the back of his neck. He glanced up and smiled at her.

‘So long as the tracks aren’t screwed, we’ll make it to the settlement.’ he said.

2.

Nicola had found him at the border, repairing engines in return for food and equipment. She stood outside his workshop and watched him hammer an edge into a spade and weld on a second handle like a scythe. He looked up from what he was doing, narrowing his eyes as she came in, shook the water off the brim of her hat.

‘I have a job for you.’ she said.

He grimaced and wiped his hands on a towel as he walked over to her. He folded his arms across his chest and looked her up and down with care.

‘What are you thinking? I’ve got a good gig here.’ he said.

She looked at the workshop and took her hat off to fan herself with it.

‘I know, but I need someone who can fix things. People say you’re it.’ she said.

Casey scratched his chin and smiled to himself.

‘It is nice to hear, but what are you proposing?’ he said.

She told him. A supply run to Salvation, a small settlement two hundred miles east of here, but there was a train which could be repaired. An old steam engine, built as a hobby but still in good condition.

He smiled.

‘You still think there are tracks to run on?’ he said.

She retrieved a map from inside her jacket. The revolver hung from a holster on her left hip, the oversized sight welded on with care. Casey knew his guns and she had a good piece of iron on her hip.

‘I’ve seen them for myself. On the Eastern Plain which the train runs on.’ she said.

Casey coughed and leaned on a scarred worktable.

‘How much of a load are we carrying?’

She took out a notebook from her coat pocket and flipped it open.

Six months of medical supplies and engineering materials, some ammunition. Food and seeds.’

He clapped his hands together and grinned.

‘Well, so long as I can fix it, I’m in. How long do I have to get it working?’

She told him and he rolled his eyes.

‘You’re fucking kidding me.’

Nicola wished she wasn’t.

3.

The infected lacked the higher functioning to register their passing. The noise drew them but they could not gain purchase and Casey had overhauled the engine as much as its age allowed. Nicola had asked for more men but they were stretched so thin, she took enough to divide funds for the repairs of the train.

Three hundred people waited for them.

They took turns but Nicola noticed how Casey shoveled twice as much so she watched the train eat the distance in slow bites, looking at the infected as they staggered towards them. It was a waste of bullets in the dark but she kept one hand close to the spade as Casey slept for a few hours.

He had been a husband and father. He lost them all when the commune at Portland was overrun and spent three months wandering around, looking to die.

When it didn’t happen, he made himself useful. Casey spoke about them with a quiet warmth which made her eyes prickle, grateful for the night to hide her emotions as he talked about how he had cared for them. Five years a widower and he spoke of them with a gentle awe.

Nicola had been a police officer, uniformed but studying for her detective’s exam when things fell apart. She had been dating, but they were boys grown older but not up. She wept for herself as much as Casey and his loss.

She felt his hand clap her on the shoulder.

‘We’ll be there by dawn tomorrow. Not much coal left, but it’ll get us there.’ he said.

She rested her hand over his and looked up into his eyes. They were soft, brown and gentle set into a face made hard by circumstance, ingrained with dust and oil until his skin was dark no matter how much he washed. His hands were horned with callus but she liked how they felt. She looked into his eyes and he brushed her hair back over her ear.

‘What happens then?’ she said.

He tilted his head and grinned at her.

‘That’s your department not mine.’ he said. ‘I’ve got ideas.’

She raised her eyebrows and he clapped her shoulder again instead of something he wanted but was afraid to risk speaking aloud.

‘We’ll see. Salvation needs help that’s all.’

He nodded and walked back to the front of the train, ready for his turn to keep things running.

4.

They were six miles away when they ran out of track. Someone had taken up the tracks for the metal and Casey swore as he gazed through the binoculars before he handed it to her.

‘One of us will have and see if we can raise anyone.’ Nicola said.

Casey glanced at the stretch of land ahead, studded with small groups of infected who wandered around with no will beyond appetite.

‘I’m faster.’ he said.

She patted the butt of her gun.

‘I’m a better shot.’ she said.

He looked down at her gun and her eyes followed.

Before she could look up, his hand came around and caught her on the side of the side.

Everything went black.

5.

She woke up in the container, a folded coat under her head and she found her gun still in the holster as she put her hands to her head and groaned.

‘Stupid asshole.’ she said.

Nicola tried the door to the container and found it locked. The toe of her left boot scraped on something and she saw he had left the key for her. She was about to unlock it when she heard the guttural moan of someone infected outside.

She put the key in the door and turned it as she drew her gun.

The infected was a young woman, a camisole top hung from her skeletal shoulders and a fist sized clump of flesh had been chewed from her neck, making her head loll forwards as she reached out for Nicola.

Nicola fanned the hammer on the revolver and took the top of its head off with a shot as she charged outside. She saw a group of eight converging on her as she turned and climbed on top of the carriage. She had three speedloaders of ammunition but she knew the noise would draw more of them.

Had he deserted her? She did not want to believe it but stranger things had happened in the world and she knew if help didn’t come, she would die six miles from achieving anything. She looked over and saw another group of five in the distance coming towards her. Nicola sucked in a deep breath and gritted her teeth.

Salvation had no transport to speak of, but she heard the thump of hooves against the earth as a cloud of dust billowed towards her from the the settlement. She looked down at the blank, hungry faces and saved the bullets.

Four horses with riders, aiming long rifles as they took each one of the infected out with the precision of a metronome as they approached.

They came over lowering bandanas from their faces as she climbed down from the carriage.

‘I’m glad he found you.’ she said.

One man, in his fifties grimaced and shook his head.

Nicola’s chest hurt as she holstered her pistol and asked him what had happened.

6.

Casey fought the ache in his chest as he ran from the train. He knew Nicola had been out here and survived, but her courage was leavened by a belief in her own talents which ran counter to his experience of surviving out here. He had the sharpened spade strapped to his back but otherwise he ran light and fast

A lack of willingness to care if you lived or died.

People forgot how the world had been before, how much they took for granted. Sure there were people who spoke about hierarchies and the cruel, causal nature of the world but most of them had ended up meat between a walking corpse’s teeth. The same as those cosseted children, grown older but not up.

His wife and children, for one.

He had chased oblivion and the world had took one look and decided it had other uses for him. Casey’s aptitudes were salvation, but they did not keep him company at night. He saw people in love, cradling tiny flames of comfort from the harsh wind of the world as it was and it made him want to curl up and weep for the want of it. There had been women, but after the damp spurt of release, they would turn away and it redoubled his loneliness. As a man, he felt disposable, a set of skills people needed but gifted to a man no one wanted once the work was done. Running over open land, watching the infected shamble towards him, Casey felt the burn in his lungs as he saw the lights of Salvation.

Which was when he tripped over the corpse and fell on his face. He tasted blood and soil in his mouth as he sought to get up despite his arms trembling with fatigue and the unresolved grief and rage which had him seek then reject death before it all came full circle.

Until Nicola and the promise of a chance to be noble. He ran the gauntlet towards Salvation, over open land and someone seeing him for more than what he could do, as faint and inconstant an idea as it was, still lent energy and drive to his efforts. He rolled onto his side and pulled the spade free, swung it in an arc to gain distance.
Which was when the corpse he fell over, turned and sank a mouthful of broken teeth into his hand. He reared back, lost a plug of tissue as a reward and stabbed the beveled edge between the eyes of the corpse where the nasal cavity and forehead met. The impact traveled down his arms but it was something to mitigate for the awful mistake he had met.

You’re not dead yet, he thought as he got up and swung at the gathered group of them. The edge sliced into the skull of a ten year old with grey skin and dry, flaking lesions before he pulled it free and jammed it into the head of a balding man with the dessicated remains of a moustache. He tugged it out as his hand bled onto the dirt. Casey ran on with his spade by his side.

The walls of Salvation were a hum of activity and he heard warnings echo to him as he ran. He waved the spade above his head, hoping someone had not cut the knot and reward his efforts with a bullet in his head.

He shouted and waved his arms, waiting for the curtain to fall on his performance but when the guns rang out, he found he was still alive. Casey saw the gates opening as he fought the waves of exhaustion which beat down on him like rain.

I hope it’s enough, he thought as he fell forwards and warm, human hands caught him.

7.

They took her to him. He had his own bed in the infirmary and tried to get up when he saw her but the effort took too much and he collapsed against the pillow. He was shining with sweat and jaundiced which was where she noticed the stump where his left hand used to be.

She sat down and put her hat in her hands as she sighed and shook her head.

‘You stupid old man. You weren’t that fast.’

Casey raised the bandaged stump, yellowing and damp with the antiseptic.

‘I got here, didn’t I?’ he said.

She looked away and wondered why she hadn’t kissed him.

‘Are you going to get better?’ she said.

He sighed and closed his eyes.

‘They think they got it off in time but you know how bites go.’ he said.

She looked around before she leaned over and kissed him on a whiskered cheek.

He shivered and brought his right hand up to the back of her head and stroked her hair.

‘We got it here. I think I’m done after that.’ he said.

She wrapped her arm around his neck and pressed her cheek to his for a second before she stood back up.

‘They better make sure they treat you right, Casey.’ she said.

He nodded.

‘Don’t think I didn’t see we brought antibiotics to these people, think warrants me a shot, don’t you?’ he said.

She smiled but saw the purple bruising under his eyes and the sweetness of impending decay.

‘Casey, you know it doesn’t happen like it.’ she said.

He smiled and raised his stump again.

‘I have to hand it to you, you cut to the quick, my girl.’ he said.

She laughed as tears fell and she hugged him again. With his mouth to her ear, he whispered one last question and she nodded her agreement. She kissed him on the mouth, a chaste final kiss before she fixed her hat, pulled the revolver and fired into his forehead as he closed his eyes and smiled.

Men came running but Nicola had replaced the gun and turned to face the gathered men. She stared at each of them.

‘This man helped me get the supplies here. You bury him with honours and you get the track fixed. It’s what he wanted.’

She walked out of the room so no one could see her cry.

7.

Nicola rode with a group of scouts back to the border. When she checked in with her commander, he saw the hard, brittle look in her eyes and the streaks of white at her temples. He told her to take the day off, but she shook her head.

She told her commander there was work to be done out there and getting the tracks fixed. Nicola looked at him with such pain in her eyes he could not meet her gaze for long. He dismissed her and she saluted before leaving his office.

It was sunset outside, people were doing final checks before the guards went up and they settled in for another long night. She wandered over to the rail yard, saw there were carriages and engines in various states of disrepair, but tried to see it through Casey’s eyes. She took until dark but she got there as she made a list of what she needed.

Advertisements
Standard
romance, short fiction, women

I Watched You Change – Episode 20 (Wolf Series)

For previous episodes, please start here.

 

‘Kelly, I will pull over and look at it.’ John said.

 

Kelly’s face was taut and pale with concern. They had been out in the woods for days, and she held onto the city girl’s uninformed distaste for the country. She came out in a sweat wandering around Whole Foods and she had managed days sleeping under open skies, covered with dirt and god knows what else.

 

‘I scratched it somewhere. It’s nothing a hot bath and a band aid won’t fix.’ she said.

 

John inhaled through his nose and kept driving.

 

‘We don’t know that.’ he said.

 

She gritted her teeth and looked away.

 

‘Could it be passed on through contact?’ she said.

 

He ran his tongue over his teeth before he shook his head.

 

‘There aren’t any traces of it in bodily fluids. I’ve done the work myself.’ he said.

 

Kelly nodded in agreement and in response, the skin of her lower back prickled and itched with a fierce, sharp heat which made her suck in a sharp breath. John pulled the truck over to the side of the road and undid his seatbelt before he turned to her.

 

‘Kelly, I need to look at your back.’ he said.

 

She undid her seatbelt and turned her upper body away from him as she lifted the hem of the t shirt she was wearing. One of his, but her other clothes were torn and bloodied after the plane crash landed. Kelly closed her eyes as she felt the tips of John’s fingers stroke against her back. Under any other circumstances, she would have welcomed his touch, but this was something else. An unspoken ugliness made manifest in the mark on her back and John’s demeanour becoming something more concerned and clinical than affectionate.

 

Kelly heard him swear under his breath before he tugged her shirt back down. She turned around and looked into his eyes as he furrowed his forehead.

 

‘I was unconscious in the water for some time, so I can’t say with any certainty what it is but we’ll get to my house and look at you there.’ he said.

 

The car stereo switched on.

 

‘I’ve arranged for the jet for you both. Will you require tranquilizers?’ the stereo said.

 

Kelly raised her eyebrows as she stared between the stereo and John as he put his seatbelt back on.

 

‘Are you asking him or me?’ she said.

 

The stereo chuckled in John’s voice but behind the wheel, John’s face was a mask of concentration as he put his foot on the accelerator.

 

‘I take them if I have to fly.’ he said.

 

Having a wolf spaz at thirty thousand feet is not safe for anyone.’ the AI said.

 

Kelly fought the urge to chuckle at the term ‘wolf spaz’ and how it contrasted with John’s sombre expression as he focused on the road.

 

‘How far?’ John said.

 

John’s phone vibrated with a notification and he picked it up and nodded.

 

‘Thank you.’ he said.

 

He turned to Kelly.

 

‘I keep a few things on retainer. John’s confirmed the hire agreement and they’re fuelling up for us.’ he said.

 

Kelly’s mouth hung open and she went to speak before she recoiled against another spasm of itching, painful heat across her lower back and she gasped with discomfort. John put his foot down and took the truck up as far as possible.

 

‘John, you don’t have to go so fast.’ she said.

 

He gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white as he grimaced.

 

‘I do if you’re sick with something, Kelly.’ he said.

 

She tasted the tension between them. She reached out and touched his thigh, pressed her palm against the ridge of muscle beneath his jeans and willed him to feel the reassurance she took from his actions.

 

‘Then I’m with the best person, aren’t I?’ she said.

 

His face softened and he smiled at her, his eyes damp with unspoken emotion.

 

‘I don’t want to think I’ve infected you.’ he said.

 

She shook her head and closed her eyes, struggling to bear the possibility of it with anything close to equanimity.

 

‘John, you understand yourself better than anyone, if you thought it was a possibility, we wouldn’t have -‘

 

Her voice trailed off as she failed to give voice to the fears they both felt.

 

‘The pilot has sent word he’s ready for you. I’ve submitted a flight plan. If you take the medication now, it will be in your system by the time you arrive.’ the AI said.

 

John glanced at Kelly, his mouth set in a line as his jaw trembled with the effort to control his emotions. Kelly kept her hand on his thigh and squeezed again for reassurance.

 

‘You’ve carried too much guilt for too long. You don’t have to carry mine.’ she said.

 

He put his hand over hers and squeezed her fingers before he turned the truck off the main road and down a stretch of road. The airfield was deserted apart from the jet on the runway, lit and prepared for take off. John drove onto the airfield and into an adjoining warehouse as Kelly craned to look at the jet. In her peripheral vision, she saw John open the glove compartment and grab a silver blister pack and pop two of them into his mouth and dry swallow them. He stopped the truck and got out. Kelly joined him as he locked the truck and put the keys in his pocket.

 

She took his hand and he squeezed it again as they walked to the jet.

 

2.

 

Amaro Felipe watched as the medical team prepared Olivia via a live camera feed. He had left the tank and fed, so he was free to sit in the dark and watch the process. Amaro envied her the care and attention she was receiving although it was to his specification. His circumstances had been less fortunate, ignorant of his biology and afraid to lose the station and wealth which had been fought for through his life.

 

He knew what she would undergo, having experienced it himself but he had placed her in the care of professionals who had helped him understand himself. Amaro was unique, but he did not wish to be, and the results had been disappointing. Olivia would not approach him in his capacities, but she would emerge from the procedure something more than human. The medical procedures were there to ensure she would be provided with nutrients and life support whilst her body underwent a series of fundamental changes. An induced coma would support the process as her body rewrote itself according to his design and he had the quiet pleasure of watching the rebirth. Most of the alterations occurred in the brain and nervous system, reverse engineered from the studies Amaro made of himself, and even those had only been in the last forty years. Before this period, he had investigated myths and legends, archaeological expeditions to far corners of the world in search of meaning and all of it giving hints but no solutions. Amaro knew the power of myth, having usurped it to allow him to slip free of his human identity and obligations to continue his existence.

 

The camera zoomed in on her face. Without the coma, Olivia would have suffered violent seizures as her brain altered, focusing on the cerebrum and brain stem but the transformation was not so much scientific as evangelical. In high definition, Amaro watched as her skin grew translucent, darkening over her abdomen as the secondary nervous system spread out and grafted onto her existing physiology. Her jaw jutted forwards and blood dribbled down from the corners of her mouth as the secondary set of teeth grew in, knitting sheaths from the existing gum tissue and connecting to poison sacs which ran down the back of her throat.

 

Her hair fell out of her scalp but Amaro knew it would grow back. The establishment of the primary form was brutal and violent, but she was kept apart from it by the coma.  

 

He had no such courtesies afforded to him. Five hundred years and he remembered what it was to be reborn into something monstrous. It was this knowledge which piqued his interest in the events in the forest. Amaro did not believe there were trained dogs involved, and after being informed about one of them surviving a rifle round, his interest piqued into something more urgent and important.

 

There was also the matter of restitution. The contents of the briefcase had represented the first chance of viable offspring in centuries and they had been cauterized to ashes to protect a competent thief and her protector. Amaro sat back in the chair, looking at the screen but not watching it as he considered his next steps.

 

Olivia would be ready to send out in only a week. Her physiological changes would be managed with his instruction and a clear set of directives for Jasper and the others to follow so they would act in a support capacity whilst she led the investigation.

 

She opened her eyes and Amaro smiled at how the irises had disappeared, now black with flecks of emerald. The medical staff increased the dosage, but she screamed as blood spilled down her chin and she revealed multiple sets of needle sharp teeth before she collapsed back down onto the bed, lost to the world again.

 

‘You’ll do just fine, Ms Nixon.’ he said.

 

The spectacle had stoked his appetite and he asked Miller to make the arrangements with a brief phone call before he continued to watch Olivia change.

(Let me know in the comments if you’re enjoying the series, what you’ve enjoyed and what you’re looking forward to. Thank you.)

cropped-untitled-1.jpg

Standard
love, romance, women

Episode 19 – No Good Deed

Previous episodes can be found here.

They drove in shifts. John insisted on doing most of it. He didn’t need as much sleep as he used to.

 

‘Isn’t that every doctor?’ Kelly said.

 

‘Eighty hours a week and twenty-eight hour shifts. When I went back after the infection, I cruised through the day.’ he said.

 

She shifted in her seat.

 

‘Weren’t you scared about having an episode in the hospital?’ she said.

 

He nodded as he turned onto the interstate.

 

‘Yes but I wanted to study myself. There were a lot of other things which came along with the infection and not all of them were negative.’

 

Kelly liked watching his face as he drove. His beard had hints of gold in it and his hair fell around his ears where he needed to cut it. She liked how big his hands were and how gentle he had been. She recalled the trembling release of his orgasm and felt a hot flush of blood rise to her cheeks.

 

He glanced at her, mouth drawn into a line.

 

‘Are you okay?’

 

She sighed and tilted her head against the seat.

 

‘Yeah, just thinking about what we will do next, you know?’

 

He shrugged his shoulders.

 

‘Someone took the paperwork and they’ll be looking for me. If I’m on home ground, I have a place to work from on finding out who these people are.’

 

‘What was the thing in the briefcase?’

 

John unzipped his jacket and got out his phone. He passed it to her and she switched it on. He leaned to swipe his thumb across the centre and focused on the road.

 

He told her to activate the bluetooth and wait for the app to finish uploading.

 

‘What, you’ve got a version of you on your phone?’ she said.

 

He shook his head.

 

‘No, there’s a version of me in the cloud. It’s modelled on me but he’s developed further than me. No episodes, doesn’t have to eat or use the bathroom.’

 

Kelly shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself.

 

‘Is that something you could do afterwards?’

 

He bit his lower lip and looked out through the windshield.

 

‘I think faster than I used to. I used to read comic books as a kid and all my favourite heroes were the smart ones. Tony Stark. Reed Richards. Bruce Banner.’

 

Kelly frowned and studied him.

 

‘I don’t recognise the last one.’

 

‘The Incredible Hulk. There’s been a few of them but he’s the alpha. So I liked how they could just think through any problem and I always believed it was possible until you realise how long and difficult everything is to do.’

 

He peered through the windshield.

 

‘We need to get gas and I’m hungry. How about you?’

 

She nodded.

 

‘I could use a drink.’ she said.

 

They pulled into the parking lot and John stopped the truck. He sniffed and froze as he clinched the steering wheel. Kelly went to undo her seatbelt and John whispered a single word.

 

‘Don’t.’

 

Kelly grew taut with concern as she stared out through the windshield.

 

‘I can smell blood.’ he said.

 

‘What are we going to do?’ she said.

 

He reversed the truck and Kelly looked at him.

 

‘You’re not just going to drive off,?’ she said.

 

He did not look at her as he drove down the road and pulled over. He undid his seatbelt and opened the door.

 

‘Wait here.’ he said.

 

He took off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt as he got out

 

‘John, please. Let’s call the cops and go.’ she said.

 

He looked over his shoulder.

 

‘I can’t do that. Kelly. It’s not who I am.’

 

She watched him disappear off the road towards the back of the store.

 

The shadows hid him as she watched him remove his clothing and his shape warped and elongated before he fell onto all fours and the wolf emerged. It stopped and looked at her with his eyes before it ran towards the store.

 

2.

Blood never lies.

 

John filtered it through his senses. The aldehyde triggered his hunger, but he leashed it to his consciousness and used it to focus his attentions as he charged through the trees towards the store. There was a fence and he charged before he transferred his strength to his back legs as he soared over the fence and landed in the delivery area of the store. His paws slapped against the concrete and he slinked into the corner, tasting the air for information. Three concentrations of corynebacterium jeikeium and five overall concentrations of thioalcohol compounds. Three men and two women. One of them was producing bursts of amino acids each time they breathed and John saw he was talkative by the bursts of scent which dominated the olfactory landscape behind the door.

 

There would be guns but he was used to them.

 

He nudged the open rear door aside with his muzzle and slipped through into the storeroom. It was dark, but he had no interest in the light. He raised his muzzle and growled from deep in his chest. It rumbled through the air, a low, cutting thing which would raise atavistic fears, the bowel-loosening threat which you couldn’t see.

 

He stopped and moved behind the door on the side it would open and kept himself low.

 

The debate came to him through the walls and he listened.

 

‘I’m telling you, there’s no dog out there, sir.’

 

‘The fuck you say, I heard something.’

 

‘Let’s go, man, Go.’

 

‘Please, you’re scaring my baby.’

 

‘You. You’re coming with me.’

 

‘No, please she’s just a -‘

 

John breathed in how two scent signatures moved in his direction. One of them reeked of corynebacterium jeikeium and amino acids whilst the other had a more metallic odour and a synthetic bouquet of stale perfume and laundry detergent. He would wait until the second signature came into the room.

 

The door opened and he squinted against the light.

 

‘Get the fuck in there.’

 

John watched her stumble through the door ahead of him but he leapt forwards and turned his head to the side, opening his wide mouth.

 

John clamped down on the denim clad knee and his teeth severed the ligaments and meniscus into shreds before he darted back, spitting the ball of gristle, bone and tissue out as he did. The gun fell from his hand as he fainted away, his face slack from unconsciousness. John moved through the aisle and kept his head low as he hunted for the other one.

 

John considered it fate the man was coming towards him with the gun raised ahead of him to fire. He remained in place, stepping to one side and rearing back, swiping with his forepaws to push the man off balance and knock the gun from his hand. He roared into the man’s face and caught the ammoniac tang of urine flooding the air before he backed off and bolted out the back door.

 

The woman sat in the corner of the storeroom and stared at the man with his leg bit in two at the knee. She screamed as John charged past and outside, leaping the fence as he moved on, looking for a place to shed his skin. He breathed through the pain as he came to a stop beneath a copse of trees, dissolving and reforming beneath the sloughing skin back into his human form.

 

Kelly’s lower back itched as she sat in the truck. She avoided scratching, but it prickled in waves of irritation which made her sweat until she reached and dug her nails into the skin at the small of her back.

 

Her fingers came away wet, shining with her blood. Kelly cried out and wiped her fingers on her thigh as she waited for John.

 

She watched him run towards the truck and opened the door for him.

 

‘We should go.’ he said.

 

She lifted her blood stained fingers to his eyes as she swallowed her fear and looked at his shocked expression.

 

‘There’s something on my back and it won’t stop itching.’

 

He started the truck and they drove off, hearing the shriek of sirens coming towards them.

 

Blood never lies, he told himself, but the truths were often worse. A small, ugly thought bloomed in his mind as he saw the cars go past. He needed to get her back to the house as he imagined the worst.

 

The phone pinged and John switched the speakers on.

 

‘How are you both?’

 

John and Kelly looked at one another, unsure of what to say.

 

‘We need to get back to the house. Did you run the tests?’

 

John chuckled through the speakers and sighed.

 

‘I did. There were multiple strands of DNA, not all human or even alive -‘

 

John lifted his chin

 

‘That’s great but I will need everything we have on any infection vectors we assessed.’

 

Kelly felt the blood drain from her face as she heard the one word she never considered.

 

Infection.

 

2.

 

Paul looked at Howie, soaked and shivering on the floor as he pointed the gun at him.

 

‘You stupid fuck, we went to school together, man. You come and rob my dad’s store, what were you thinking?’

 

Howie, coming down from the cocktail of amphetamines he needed to think this was a good idea and jabbered a litany of nonsense words as Paul kept the gun on him.

 

Laura came out from the back, soaked in blood with Joel’s shotgun in her arms as she leaned against the wall.

 

‘Something big got him.’  she said.

 

Howie sobbed for himself as Paul and Laura looked at one another, wondering how to explain what had happened.

 

‘Did you see it?’ Paul said.

 

Laura nodded and cocked her thumb over her shoulder.

 

‘The fucker pushed me into the stock room first and it waited for him. Bit his leg off and ran past me into here.’

 

Howie cackled as his sanity struggled to remain in check.

 

‘See, I told you, it weren’t no wolf. It was too fucking big, too fucking big.’ he said

 

Paul turned to Jenny who sat there, arms wrapped around herself as she stared at the floor. She had come in for a lottery ticket and a packet of cigarettes, paid for it in change before the two junkies had come in, hollering and spitting. She had borrowed Paul’s phone to call the police and thanked him when she handed it back to him.

 

Jenny looked up and Paul could not meet her gaze as she gritted her teeth.

 

‘It was a big wolf.’ she said.

 

She stared at Howie where he laid.

 

‘It should have bit your fucking head off.’ she said.

 

Paul saw the lights of the police cars and set the gun down on the counter as he waited for them to come in.

 

Standard
romance, short fiction, women

Episode 18 (Wolf) – Nothing Human

Previous episodes are here

EPISODE 18 – NOTHING HUMAN

 

Olivia got out of the car and looked up at the house. Her years of field office experience had taught the efficacy of bending the knee often and without prompting even if it galled her to do so. Olivia had a phrase from Quantico she used to inure herself to the worst excesses of the job

 

Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.

 

Nothing human is alien to me. It came from the roman playwright Terence, to remind her of their common heritage when building profiles for their incarceration.

 

Terence and Quantico was no use in her current situation but her instincts were careful in gathering observations about him. In particular, whether she could call her employer him at all.

 

Olivia’s skills were attributed to possession of an eidetic memory and she never corrected them. She had spent a long time developing foci and the discipline to deploy them over possession of anything so unique as an ability to recall things at will. The Talmud Scholars who told George Stratton which word of the Talmud he stuck a pin into were not gifted with anything beyond discipline and will. It took a particular person to apply themselves to a process, and Olivia counted herself amongst them.

 

If only she had such control over her vices, she might have been Deputy Director now, but here she was, on paper a security consultant but in reality, something else. If Jasper had asked her, she would have told him how it excited her. She solved mysteries, and here she was in the middle of one, unsure of how much danger she was in. Olivia wondered if she were an apogee, allowing Jasper with his honed instinct for self-preservation and her employer, with their wealth and condition to escape the consequences of their actions, should things go wrong.

 

Should, she told herself, should.

 

Your boss is a fucking merman who has enough money to convince the world it doesn’t exist. Her cynicism was not an affectation but a result of an earlier education in a hierarchy which cost her a career and a reputation which she had achieved through insight and diligence and was lost because she could not defeat the demons of her nature.

 

She wondered if her employer knew about the Cutler Case.

 

The doors opened and Miller ushered her in.

 

‘You will be entering a sealed environment, Ms Nixon due to Mr Felipe’s requirements. Whilst inside, any electronic devices will not operate or emit a signal and at no point are you to try to alter the environment to assist any proprietary levels of comfort or communication.’

 

He handed her a black ring binder and with the other hand, held out his hand. Olivia placed her phone and in his hand.

 

Mr Felipe. She retained the information for her own interest but kept her face still. Whether such intimacies were a prelude to something terrible or a recognition of her utility remained to be seen, but she had a name to go by. He pocketed her phone and took a pair of oversized sunglasses and handed them to her.

 

‘For your comfort, Ms Nixon.’

 

She took them and thanked him but did not put them on.

 

Miller led her upstairs to the double doors and opened them for her. A blast of chill air brushed against her, making her shiver as she stepped inside to complete darkness. She put on the sunglasses.

 

Mr Felipe was not in his tank, instead he was sat at the head of a table, wearing a black robe as he read through a stack of paperwork without looking up at her. His features were more human than the last time she saw him and remembered how they had altered once he left the tank. She saw all these details rendered in photoluminescent green and realised the purpose of the glasses.

 

Mr Felipe looked up and gave a thin smile as he put down the pen, held at an angle between his long, clawed fingers. Olivia caught the piscine scent of him as he gestured to the chair at the opposite end of the table. She pulled it out and sat down.

 

‘I never knew your name before now.’ she said.

 

He looked up with his gelid black eyes staring into her across the table.

 

‘No, you did not. Few people do.’

 

His voice was low and amused as he folded his hands. He had instructed Miller to drop the name in conversation with her and he was pleased to see she had picked up on it.

 

‘Of course, I don’t look Spanish.’ he said

 

Olivia smiled at his observation. She dared not laugh for fear of causing offence.

 

‘Of course not. A name doesn’t define a man.’ she said.

 

He nodded once and sat back in the chair.

 

‘I do not have these arrangements for theatrical purposes. My condition necessitates such arrangements and I wanted to see how you reacted.’ he said

 

She nodded and he shook his head.

 

‘No, Ms Nixon, do not feel you have to be polite here. If I disgust or disturb you then now is the time to discuss such matters. You are not at risk from me here. You have utility.’

 

Olivia listened to his voice. There was no vocal chord atrophy and his diction was perfect  although his pronunciation of certain vowel sounds was flatter and monophonic.

 

‘Were you Spanish?’ she said

 

He furrowed his forehead before his mouth curved into a smile, too full with teeth to appear warm or ingratiating.

 

‘A long time ago, yes. I am impressed.’

 

Olivia did not allow herself any congratulations for her insight. The question of time filled her with an intoxicating blend of curiosity and dread.

 

‘Thank you. I have an ear for these things.’ she said.

 

His smile widened

 

‘An eye too’  he said.

 

‘Two of them, in fact.’ she said.

 

Mr Felipe laughed. It was a grating, rusted clot of sentiment spat into the air and it made Olivia flinch to hear it. He stopped when he saw her reaction.

 

‘Very amusing, Olivia. Now I have something to offer you. It would be to our mutual benefit.’ he said.

 

Olivia’s heart leapt in her chest but she fought to keep her reactions under control, even if she was unsure as to well he could read her in the darkness.

 

‘It is why I am here.’ she said.

 

He got up and walked over to her, pulling his robe closed along the way. Olivia was taut with concern as he reached into the pocket of his robe and retrieved a small metal tin. As he drew nearer, she caught the smell of salt and a damp, fungal undertone to it, like someone had overturned a stone left too long in the earth. She shuddered at the moist slap of his bare, webbed feet against the flooring.

 

He placed the tin in front of her and told her to open it.

 

Her fingers shook as she lifted the lid and saw two small capsules which gave a soft green glow through the glasses.

 

‘Ms Nixon, I have an offer for you. Your reputation is someone talented but difficult to work with, and Jasper has mentioned this enough times to make me wonder if you’re being used to your fullest potential.’

 

Olivia looked at the capsules and wondered if this was an inhuman variation of seppuku or jauhar but why bring her here to do that? Jasper could have poisoned her drink or throttled her in his suite. With the amount of power and influence available, Mr Felipe had no reason to make this an act to witness himself.

 

‘No, these will not kill you, but they will make you stronger.’ he said.

 

She looked up at him and met his gaze.

 

‘What will they do to me?’ she said.

 

‘They will increase your value to me as my representative, Olivia. I have any number of operatives across the world, but you are someone who strikes me as being worth an additional investment.’

 

She glanced at the capsules.

 

‘I can find this man, Mr Felipe. The offer is flattering but I don’t want to put you in a position.’

 

He shook his head and with a swipe of his fingers, slid the box to her.

 

‘Your refusal would. Consider this a signing bonus and if nothing else, it will infuriate Jasper to no end.’ he said.

 

Mr Felipe grinned and she looked down, ashamed at being read with the same ease she used on other people.

 

‘I have no problem with Jasper, Mr Felipe. I’m concerned as to what they will do to me.’

 

He exhaled and tilted his head to the left, studying her with a clinical disinterest.

 

‘You will become what children imagine when they dream of a detective. There is a transitional period but there always is on the path to transformation, isn’t there? Jay Cutler would agree, I’m sure.’

 

He chuckled and tapped the table with his fingers, the tips of the claws making a rapid tattoo before she took out the tablets and threw them into her mouth and swallowed them. They were tasteless and she gulped them down without any problem.

 

‘Excellent. Now, I’ve had Miller prepare a suite for you whilst they take effect.’ he said.

 

Olivia looked at him.

 

‘You’ve done your homework on me. Is that to get inside my head?’ she said.

 

He shook his head.

 

‘The Cutler affair is why you’re here. Expediency is a trait I value above all else, alongside ambition and loyalty.’ he said.

 

He offered his hand and without thinking, she took it as he lifted her to her feet.

 

Six women. Blunt force trauma with excessive amounts of force. The autopsy had suggested a tremendous amount of strength was necessary and she had been given the case to make a profile. Whoever killed these women was a non-secretor and had worn gloves padded with deposits of powdered lead over the knuckles, which limited the investigation.

 

Jay Cutler had fitted it, which was unfortunate as he was the son of a Congressman and a successful professional bodybuilder. There were quashed warrants for sexual battery and possession of anabolic steroids which fitted her assessment of an assailant acting on focused bursts of rage, but his lineage made him untouchable.

 

Olivia had taken the case and when she learned about Cutler’s sister being murdered when he was twelve years old, she had gone to her superior with the righteous fury of certainty on her side. Justice was not respectful of a man’s station, she had believed.

 

She was disabused of the notion and Cutler flew out to Mexico for a tournament the following day. Olivia was placed on administrative leave without pay as a warning. She was on a plane by the afternoon.

 

They found his body in his hotel room, shot six times in the face and chest. The furore was intense but Nixon, disillusioned and corrupted by the tailored nihilism of inherited privilege had moved, if not on, then down to the point where she embraced corruption like a long-lost lover. One of her instructors had fed her a quote about revenge, in the observation that before you set out on the path, you dug two graves.

 

Olivia tried to speak but a sudden, intense throbbing began at the back of her head. She registered Mr Felipe’s arms around her as she lost feeling in her limbs.

 

‘ When you return, we will talk about your role in more detail.’ he said.

 

She heard one last thing before she went down into the transformative darkness of herself.

 

‘My name is Amaro.’

 

(Please leave comments and share this with people)

 

Standard
romance, short fiction, women

Episode 17 – A Finer World (Wolf)

1.

 

John kissed her on the top of the head when he came into the kitchen. He stroked her face with the backs of her fingers as he gazed at her.

 

‘What are you thinking about?’ she said.

 

John smiled as he leaned over and kissed her soft lips before he stood up.

 

‘I decided it was easier to show you.’ he said.

 

He went out the freezer and brought in more venison steaks, ran water over them and put it in the sink to thaw out. John wiped his hands on a towel and looked at her.

 

‘We will get out of here today. It’s safer if we go to my house.’ he said.

 

‘Your house?’ she said.

 

He nodded and poured himself a cup of coffee as he came back to the table and sat down.

 

‘One of them but I haven’t been to any of the others since Mom died. Also, I had to consider what would happen if I had an episode in a pressurized space.’ he said.

 

Kelly had not seen him have an episode. She had seen John and the wolf but not the transition.

 

‘What happens when you have an episode?’

 

He reached for his tobacco pouch and rolled a cigarette, lit it and sat back in his chair.

 

‘I turn into a wolf.’ he said.

 

Kelly asked for another cigarette and he rolled it for her.

 

‘You think it’s an illness? I mean, you’ve been investigating it on that basis.’ she said.

 

He shrugged his shoulders.

 

‘I don’t have a frame of reference for anything else.’ he said.

 

Kelly picked up the lighter and lit her cigarette. She breathed in the smoke and looked into his eyes.

 

‘I don’t have one either. You are self-aware and there being another one out there, without that self-awareness, it frightens the shit out of me but through all this, despite knowing you turn into a giant wolf and you’ve eaten people, I trust and feel safe with you.’ she said.

 

He shook his head.

 

‘ It’s why I work on solving the problem of myself.’ he said.

 

She leaned over and kissed him. He reached up and touched her cheek as her lips drew over his. It was sweet and brief before she stood back and looked at him, holding his hand across the table.

 

‘You saved my life. I’ll do everything I can to return the favour. Don’t feel you have to keep yourself apart from me.’ she said.

 

He shook his head and drank his coffee before setting it down and finishing his cigarette.

 

‘I won’t.’ he said.

 

When they had eaten and changed, John reached at the top of a cupboard and found a small black bag. When he opened it, the inside was lined with metallic padding and he picked out a small cellphone. He switched it on and stuffed it into the pocket of his jeans.

 

‘I must see if anyone’s asked about me.’ he said.

 

She had no luggage, but she had baggage and she had brought it with her

 

‘In case they’re trying to find out who you are.’ she said.

 

He locked the cabin and they walked up a hill as he took out his phone and switched it on.

 

‘Where is your car?’ she said.

 

He moved it after he had made her stable and comfortable. She asked him why and he said he was not sure if there anyone else from the plane out there. He had looked but he couldn’t assume anything and moving his vehicle dissuaded anyone from taking further advantage or even the possibility of it.

 

‘They still might have killed you.’ she said

 

He raised his eyebrows and considered it before he gave a short nod.

 

‘Yes, but with the exposure and no navigation, they’d be dead in hours, anyway. It was a calculated risk.’

 

Kelly moved closer to him.

 

‘Were you worried about me doing that?’

 

He shook his head.

 

‘It was a calculated risk on my part.’ he said.

 

It had not occurred to her to do anything like it. She wasn’t sure if it made her intuitive or a good person. She was a thief but killing wasn’t something she liked to be around. Tony kept her out of work which involved it, but even the awareness of it was a stain on her soul.

 

‘I’m glad it paid off.’ she said.

 

He grinned and took her hand.

 

‘Me too.’ he said.

 

He walked over to a tall mound of earth, strewn with leaves and John tugged the netting away with both hands until he had dragged it all off. He pointed his phone at the pick up and the lights flashed as the vehicle unlocked in a series of mechanical clicks and whirs and the engine switched on with a low, soft purr.

 

‘Bluetooth lock?’ Kelly said.

 

He beamed as he got into the drivers side and opened the passenger side door for her. She got in and put her seatbelt on.

 

‘It’s almost like you were a thief at some point.’ he said.

 

When Kelly sat down, the seat rubbed against the sore spot on her back and she winced at the contact. John glanced at her and asked if she was okay. She nodded and told him it must have been a bruise or a sprain she’d picked up. He took a deep breath and wrinkled his nose before he drove them out of the forest.

 

Kelly lowered her head and fell asleep, wondering if it was a bruise or a sprain after all and when she needed to let John know if not.

 

He emerged from the tank and towelled himself dry in the dark as his anatomy flowed beneath his skin and by the time he was finished and dressed, he looked like a tall, handsome man in his forties. He switched the light on and admired his reflection in the long mirror before he opened the doors onto the humid California evening.

 

His assistant was there to meet him and passed a folder detailing the operating issues and current reports on the areas of influence he had a particular interest in.

 

Water rights in Colorado.

 

Biotechnology start-ups in Silicon Valley and India.

 

Admiralty Law statutes

 

Government bids for flood defences around the world.

 

Military counterintelligence reports on pirates off the Somalian coast.

 

Satisfied with their direction, he handed the folder back to his assistant and thanked him.

 

The assistant, a severe but loyal young man named Miller told him his dinner was waiting in the dining room.

 

He smiled and thanked Miller once again as he rolled up his sleeves and walked through to the dining room.

 

The strain involved in remaining on dry land for this amount of time led to an increased need to process nutrients, and this was even more important when he had to spend long periods in a stable human form. He had mastered himself long ago as much due to necessity as to curiosity and his inexorable will to dominate.

 

He was tied to the chair with his head down and tousled blonde curls obscuring his face. Drugged, he thought, with a pang of disappointment and decided once he had eaten, to educate the team who had prepared this base of operations to meet his requirements.

 

Still it made for less drama and avoided the possibility of escape.

 

His jaw unhinged and a set of secondary needle teeth slid from recessed sheathes in his gum line.  His tanned skin became translucent in spreading blotches as he lifted his head, taking a grip of his hair and stared at his sleeping face.

 

He hated it when they were asleep. Part of the anticipation came from seeing them accept their fate or rage against it. Either way, his belly was full, but he still enjoyed novelty in his life. He bit down into his carotid artery, each tooth injecting a drop of anticoagulant as bladders pumped, creating a vacuum as his blood squirted into his mouth and he closed a set of his eyelids as the first coppery spray hit the back of his throat. His throat distended and throbbed as he swallowed without losing his grip on the back of her neck. The exsanguination was over in minutes due to his distaste at the bitter aftertaste of the tranquilizers. Wealth meant he could afford to be selective and exclusive as chemicals affected him in ways he never enjoyed. He dreamt of spiced rum and caught fish, but in reality, he had adapted to his diet with a ruthlessness borne of deep and uncompromising need.

 

He stood back without a drop of blood on his shirt and let him fall forwards.

 

‘Thank you.’ he said.

 

He left him in the chair and walked out of the room.

 

Miller had stood outside the dining room and he straightened his posture as the door opened.

 

‘See to it they are unconscious by other means than whatever was used on her. If we have to get soundproofing installed then we will but I don’t like my food drugged, do you understand?’ he said.

 

Miller agreed and said he would see to it.

 

‘I would like to see Ms Nixon please. Tonight. Alone.’ he said.

 

Miller took his phone from the clip on his belt and dialled her number.

 

‘Ms Nixon, there will be a car arriving for you and bring you to meet with your employer in the next hour. Please ensure you make yourself available.’ he said.

 

He ended the call and replaced the phone in his pocket.

 

‘Thank you, Miller. I will be in my tank for a little while. Please send notice when she’s on her way.’ he said.

 

Everyone around him called him sir. He used several names and identities to obfuscate unwanted interest but his identity was lost. There had been a time where he had devoted resources to finding others of a similar genus but had turned his efforts in a different direction which had been the reason for the attempted theft carried out on his orders.

 

He undressed and slipped back into the tank. The pressured silence of the cold sea water was meditative and here, he loosed his alien, inhuman thoughts as he dreamed of the world.

 

The world he was creating

 

Standard
love, short fiction, women

A Matter of Habit

light_addict_by_drkshp

 

https://drkshp.deviantart.com/art/Light-Addict-107971017

 

HABIT

 

1.

 

The camera gains focus and we hear Sarah Allen’s voice as she swears under her breath whilst getting to grips with the camcorder. Everyone has the weird bluish complexion common to home video and the information which shows the date, running time and settings like a heads up display for a poor Terminator variant. Her wife, Cecilia, looks like a more photorealistic cast member of Avatar as she narrows her eyes and asks her where he got the camera from.

 

We hear Sara swallow and Cecilia frowns before their eldest child Adam comes into the room and complains Evan has been in his room again. Everyone looks washed out and blue, aside from Cecilia who is wearing a white dress, and thanks to the inherent luminosity of home video, she looks ethereal and incandescent until a flickering horizontal line cuts across the screen, blocking her eyes as she looks at her wife with an expression which shows this is far from over. Sara says nothing but her breathing quickens as she follows her wife and son through to Adam’s room. Cecilia turns around and tells her to put the camera away.

 

The screen goes dark as Sara ceases filming.

 

2.

 

Cecilia Allen’s diary dated XX/XX/XXXX

 

She thinks I’m stupid.

 

There are no reasons for what she does, but there are always excuses.

 

She’s gotten fat too, and I remind her how heart disease runs in her family like red hair and being left-handed but she says she watches what she eats. She forgets I find the burger wrappers stashed in the glove compartment and each time, it’s a little reminder of how she thinks she can run rings around me.

 

Love will do that to people, sometimes.

 

It has.

 

She brought the camera. I found the box and the receipt tucked away in the basement on a shelf she thinks I can’t reach. It’s the thoughtlessness which stings the most, after all we’ve been through. Endless cycles of IVF, my parents inability to accept their darling Cece likes girls more than boys and now the woman I want to spend my life with orders shit we don’t need with money we don’t have.  We would be fucked if it weren’t for the house which belonged to her grandmother and god knows she has no problem bringing it up in arguments, knowing I don’t have a comeback. I hated the judgemental old bitch, but she had a deathbed conversion and Sara got the house. Her parents pitched a fit, but it was in the will.

 

I’m easy to love, aren’t I? I don’t think we need things to be happy. Sara gets the same look in her eyes when we go shopping as people get at tent revival meetings, the Holy Ghost of retail sends her wide eyed and shaking as she shows me things we should get for the house. If we buy them, they end up gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. We bought a doughnut maker and we still go out to Krispy Kreme, same with the coffee machine which looks like a fucking steampunk version of NASA Mission Control.

 

Guess how many times she’s used it?

 

Go on, I’ll wait.

 

Is it me? Am I some kind of bitch to know what we are spending. We’re still recovering from the cost of the IVF, and since the bottom dropped out of the solar industry, Sara’s had to temp which isn’t giving us a consistent income at all.

 

Sometimes, when we’re in bed together, I wonder if I’m just another object, a thing to possess and I fight the urge to cry about it. She loves me and I love her; we love the kids and it’s been a long time since anyone made a thing of us being a couple although I know she misses getting fucked up at Pride Parades, but the point was we didn’t need to go because people stopped caring about who you went to bed with.

 

I try to talk to her but the kids are demanding and we’re both stressed and tired from working all the time. She gets defensive and changes the subject until we are both screaming and weeping at one another. We end up fucking and we’re fine again but this is not good for us or the kids.

 

I wonder if she does this to keep me from addressing the issue.

 

I wonder if I excite her as much as the new phone she says Adam needs.

 

I wonder if I want to know the answer.

 

3.

 

Eli Harrison has the pallid expression of a man who spends too much time under fluorescent lighting and eats too much fast food. He retired from the police last year and I think his contribution is fuelled by a fear of irrelevance common to retirees, but it means he’s keen to share his insights with us.

 

Which isn’t a good thing once you get him talking.

‘The problem is we don’t see if someone is a victim or an actor in these situations. It’s cognitive bias, a soupcon of ignorance and maybe some homophobia.’

 

He lights up a cigarette and pours himself another tumbler of scotch as he sits back in his chair and frowns as though he is contemplating something serious and profound before he carries on speaking.

 

‘I always thought gay couples were the worst for it. We came across this guy once, stabbed so much there wasn’t a postage stamp worth of skin left untouched. His boyfriend sat there, a knife in his hands and sobbed like a baby over what he had done. Shameful but not surprising.’

 

I’m about to say something when a tall, aristocratic man with silver hair and a square jaw comes in and asks Eli if he needs anything from the store. Eli beams at the sight of him and tells him no thanks. The man smiles at me and leaves the room. I pretend to write something down and when I look up, Eli has an amused expression as he narrows his eyes.

 

‘Shame on you.’

 

I ask him to continue and make a note to cut this part from the finished product.

 

‘Lesbian couples have a higher incidence of domestic violence. Sara and Cecilia Allen were having issues and sometimes it takes one thing to make them flip out. It’s the kids who suffer though, isn’t it?’  

 

Not as much as Cece though, I think and keep filming.

 

4.

 

Sara pans the camera across the attic. The large windows stream in light and the luminosity of the video camera makes it look more of a portal to some celestial paradise as she keeps filming. There is the flickering horizontal strip across the screen and a vague shape in the corner of the screen.

 

‘Meemaw had weird shit.’ Sara says.

 

She holds the camera in one hand as she opens a brass and oak trunk. Inside are piles of dresses, ornate and threadbare from disuse, but she pulls out a few before she sneezes and moves onto another part of the attic. The shaking footage produces another effect of a shape in the corner as she opens another trunk.

 

Before she puts the camera down, the shape appears larger.

 

Sara reads from a book.

‘That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die. Jesus, Meemaw, where does this shit come from?’

 

She coughs, we assume from the dust, but it gains a packed liquidity, unpleasant to listen to. When she picks up the camera, she turns it around as though seeing it for the first time. Her face is a leering mask as she tilts her head and chuckles.

 

From downstairs, we hear Cecilia call her name and she looks down, angered by the intrusion.

 

Sara drops the camera and the side angle captures her as she walks down the folding steps, hands clenched into fists as she inhales through her nostrils with her teeth gritted.

 

5.

 

Sara has been incarcerated for seven years of her sentence. She has put on a lot of weight and smokes throughout the interview. Her tone is disbelieving and wavers as she keeps repeating the same phrases over and over.

 

‘The last thing I remember is looking through some dresses in the attic. I thought I could sell MeeMaw‘s things online.’

 

It had been her defence in court until her lawyer persuaded her a guilty plea would put the death penalty off the table. She appears panicked by her situation, odd when you consider the extent of the injuries inflicted on her wife.

 

I ask her about the book and she frowns as she shakes her head.

 

‘I don’t remember any book.’

 

No video recordings were entered into evidence, for or against. Cecilia’s diary entries and the overwhelming physical evidence made it a quick trial.

 

I change the subject and ask her if the children come visit. It is a question which prompts a savage and uninhibited crying jag as she shudders, the fringe of sagging adipose flesh jiggling under her orange prison coveralls as her hands, littered with needle and ink tattoos come up to her face.

 

It is when I switch the camera off that she lowers her hands and her eyes are dry, as a small, vicious smile crosses her face. I pack up my equipment and leave, struggling to make sense of what has happened.

 

6.

 

There was not much of Meemaw on paper. A few photographs, some correspondence and whatever was in the attic. Adam inherited the house and contents, but he sold it as soon as the deeds were transferred.

 

I took six months to track down the books in the trunk. A private collector, Kenneth Lisbon, a collector of antiquities invited me to his house on the lake. He does not hold his collection there, which is stored in a specialist environment, sealed and filtered to preserve his vast library of books.

 

I asked him over tea if he had read through any of them. He turned pale at the suggestion and set his cup of tea down.

 

‘The diaries were bad enough. I’ve never known the pleasure of a woman, and after reading about such a vile bitch, I’m glad I remained a confirmed bachelor.’

 

I asked him what he meant and he leaned forwards as though confessing a terrible secret.

 

‘Danielle Allen was a false name. Judging by the diaries, she went under quite a few identities and had no end of lovers, left something of a trail in her wake before she settled down into domestic bliss.’ he said.

 

He had photocopied entries for me. When I told him about featuring him in the documentary, he shook his head and said he’d deny it all if I did.

 

‘Read for yourself then decide if this is a lever you want to pull my dear.’

 

7.

 

There are no excuses for what I do, but there are always reasons.

 

The lump in my breast has made me desperate and thanks to Abdul’s ignorance regarding the intelligence of women, I’m able to educate myself on the practices he claims gave him a long and healthy life.

 

He’s extrapolated from several sources, including the Mass of Saint-Secaire and refined it down to a process which can be reproduced.

 

The problem is blood.

 

If I will return, I will need a relative to work with and a blood sacrifice. My children have moved away and my behaviour has scandalised them to where I am persona non grata.

 

The trick is to apport into a blood relation and carry out an act of violation. The resulting sacrifice means I gain another fifty to sixty years of health and vitality. It means sacrificing my identity but my death will be a relief to the spawn I didn’t get scraped out all those years ago.

 

Still, it’s a matter of habit.

 

8.

 

Things come to light during the creation of a documentary.

 

Choices are made to include or exclude particular events to establish a narrative.

 

I was editing the interview with Eli when my phone rang. A friend of mine who works at the hospital gave me the news.

 

Sara opened her wrists on the corner of her bunk and bled out before anyone could save her.

 

I was sorting out repaying the funding I had sourced from the internet when I came across a news report.

 

A burglary at the house of a collector of antiquities which ended in murder. There were several items stolen.

 

I can guess which ones.

 

A guard at the prison left the state before a warrant could be issued for her arrest when it was revealed she was a distant relative of Sara’s. The police believe she assisted Sara’s suicide.

 

I could tell them how right they are but they wouldn’t believe me.

 

Things come to light during the creation of a documentary.

 

Choices are made to include or exclude particular events to establish a narrative.

 

I thought I was making those choices and bringing those things to light.

 

There is someone at my door. I wonder what face she is wearing when I answer.

 

Standard
love, romance, sex, women

Episode 16 – A Knot Untied (Wolf)

Previous episodes are here.

Episode 16:

 

Kelly rubbed herself against John as they kissed, trembling with the tension which ran parallel with the exhaustion and desire running through her body like summer lightning. He was slow at first, light and gentle kisses but she felt the shudder of controlled muscle tension and the dynamic of a man risking his will in pursuit of pleasure. Kelly sighed as his warm, rough fingers traced concentric circles over her buttery, soft skin and his lips brushed against hers. She felt the rigid, jutting length of his cock through his underwear against her thigh and she pulled him close, wallowing in the languid waves of heat which emitted from his every pore.

 

He drew back and gazed down at her, his eyes dark with want and a fear of the want arising within him. His scent had darkened and she reached up and touched his face, fingertips grazing against the soft fur of his beard. His lips were parted as he took a deep breath and positioned himself on top of her and supported himself with his hands.

 

‘No, put your weight on me.’ she said.

 

He lowered himself down as her arms came around him. Kelly kissed him and pushed herself up against him but he was immovable as he kissed from her lips across her cheek and down along the graceful line of her neck. Each touch of his soft, full lips sets sparks in her nerves until the urgency leaves her breathless and flushed. He raises himself up and stares into her eyes again before returning his attentions to a continued exploration of her skin with his mouth. A beautiful topographical route, a silent meditation upon wonder and each passing moment adds to the fullness of the moment. He shoves her t-shirt over her breasts and runs his rough palms over them before he lowers himself so his mouth is level with hers and he alternates taking each nipple into his mouth, suckling on them with a soft, knowing pressure and pressing them between his fingers until they are stiff and aching in a way which sends bolts of sensation down her spine as she opens her thighs and wraps them around them. The only sound is their breathing, a damp circadian rhythm which rises and falls like the ocean waves as Kelly pressed against him.

 

He caressed her stomach and when his fingers slipped beneath the waistband of her panties, she gasped and flexed her stomach, lifting upwards to accommodate the raw need which his actions gave voice to. He studied her face as he stroked the soft fur before his fingers drew apart her labia and he eased a finger inside her. She throbbed and moaned as he withdrew it and stroked around her clit with a gentility which took her breath away.

 

‘You don’t have to be gentle with me. I won’t break.’ she said.

 

He furrowed his forehead as he removed his hand from between her legs and raised himself onto his knees. Kelly fought a moment of concern before he put both hands either side of her hips and took a grip on the cotton before he tore them off with one easy motion. He threw the two ragged pieces aside and stood up to take his underwear off. Kelly looked at his cock, how it jutted from his groin, which was as dark with hair as the rest of him, arrogant and potent in its length and thickness.

 

‘I have no protection.’ he said.

 

She nodded and told him it was ok. Kelly did not want to have anything between them and her intuition sung in concordance with her decision. He smiled and kissed her as she lifted her hips and reached down between his thick furred thighs and wrapped her fingers around the base of his cock. Kelly guided the head of his cock inside her as she sighed and felt him push forwards. John gave a thick grunt as he struggled to control himself, exhaling as Kelly felt him shudder inside her. He took a deep breath and eased himself inside her until his cock was buried to the hilt before he withdrew, the head of his cock remained inside her, held by the suckling liquid tension of her soaked pussy and the clenching muscles. He looked into her eyes and thrust himself inside her, still cautious and restrained even as she watched his face tighten into a mask of focused concentration. She nodded at him, fingers stroking across his arms where she held on. They rocked back and forth, Kelly moving her hips to take him deeper inside her and urging him with her eyes to go harder.

 

He nodded and grinned, flushed with the effort as he moved inside her. She raised her legs and hooked her ankles over the backs of his calves which made for a delicious friction between her clit and his groin. His thrusts found a spot on her anterior wall which sent exquisite sensations through her body, the impending rumbling of a summer storm in the distance. Between the two contrasting but complementary sensations, Kelly caught the stirring signs of her orgasm as she turned her head and kissed him on the cheek before whispering in his ear.

 

‘I‘m going to come.’

 

He gave a hasty nod without missing a stroke before she clung to him and surrendered to the explosions of her body. It surged within her as she cried out, loud and strident as she shook with the force of it, pressing her face to his as he pumped with urgency inside her. She felt herself gushing over the length of his cock as she came and when he whispered he was close, she gave an anxious nod before feeling him tense up as he lifted his head and cried out. Kelly felt him spurt inside her as he wrapped his arms around her, tight enough to take her breath away.

 

He fell onto her, as their limbs intertwined in a perspiring, flushed knot of mutual relief as they kissed one another, whispering sweet non sequiturs before John lifted himself onto one elbow and touched her face. His expression was tender, almost pensive and Kelly asked him if he was okay. He grinned at her.

 

I want to talk to you about something.’ he said.

 

Kelly fought a tight burst of anxiety but nodded, touching him to ensure he was real.

‘We will get free of this, Kelly, I don’t know how but we’re leaving here and we’ll figure it out on the way.’

 

Kelly blinked away tears but John kissed them away as she held him onto him and nodded.

 

‘I feel safe with you, John. I don’t know how we will do it, but I want to stay with you.’ she said.

 

They remained locked into one another until sleep overcame them.

 

When she awoke, John was there and she watched him. His face was relaxed, youthful and ancient at the same time without the constant necessity of control straining and testing him. She laid on her side and decided, whatever happened, she would go with him.

 

She got up and used the bathroom, wincing at a sore patch of skin on the small of her back when she sat down on the toilet. Kelly looked in the mirror, turning her head to check and seeing a small red mark just above the cleft of her buttocks. She smiled, recalling how she had not known of anything beyond their coupling and put it down to a sin of enthusiasm on his part. She padded back to the bedroom and watched him sleep before she wandered into the kitchen and made coffee for them. Kelly rolled a cigarette from the pouch on the table and lit it as she looked outside as the day began.

 

Kelly felt a fierce and unambiguous joy of still being alive. She smelled pine and good, clean earth, wished they could stay here forever, just the two of them but eventually, someone would come for them and they would be better prepared.

 

She thought about her situation and how she could get them both free of it.

 

Standard