Dwindling twilight; a summer breeze. He hands her a chilled glass of wine. She smiles, thanks him, sips the dry fruity liquid and blushes. He returns the smile, sips from his own glass and looks out over the lapping water of the bay. Taking her hand, he leads her down the steps, across the patio and opens the gate leading to the surf. Slipping off her shoes, she steps through the gate and onto the cooling sand. He follows. Hand in hand they stroll to the water’s edge. Leaning down, he places a chaste kiss upon her forehead, her cheek, her moistened lips. They walk in silence, letting the water caress their ankles.
Rounding the tip of the inlet, the water is much more aggressive, the waves coming ashore with more force. The open ocean lies before them. They’ve always dreamed of sailing away together, escaping the drudgery of day to day life and living as nomads on the sea. They walk for what seems hours, both glasses long since drained, both sets of feet tiring of the sand. She smiles in the moonlight and nods the way they came, indicating they return home. Never one to deny her, he smiles his agreement. They turn, begin the trek back; the tide is coming in. She veers towards the gentler sand; he tightens his grip, holding her in place. She glances up, sure he has misread her cue. His face is shadowed, but seems harder, less indulgent. She tries to pull her hand free; he doesn’t allow it. He draws her further into the water; she tugs back, still believing he is playing. The moonlight slants across his face; she sees no mirth in his smile, but an ugliness she didn’t know existed. She begins to panic; he drags her toward the undertow. Being the stronger swimmer, he doesn’t fear the water at night; he relished the fight of the high tide. She swims only when the sea is calm, terrified of the unseen depths. Waves begin to crash over them; she sputters, he grins. Turning with an iron grip on her wrist, he drags her out into the inky blackness.
Eight days crawl by; he still clutches the swim trunks the police believe he was wearing the night he returned home, unable to find her. The detective sits on the opposing deck chair, tells him there is nothing more they can do. He begs, he weeps; he pleads for them to understand she would never enter the water at night alone. The detective understands, is sympathetic, but must still inform him they are declaring her lost at sea. The only item found thus far is her swimsuit that washed ashore. He identified it himself she reminds him. He is shattered, a broken man, the love of his life lost. The detective apologizes once more and excuses herself. The police presence withdraws from his home, his life, his world. He is the affluent one; there is no reason to suspect foul play. There wasn’t even a life insurance policy to question; she never had one. Playing the part of the grieving widower, he ceremoniously lays her to rest at sea; friends mourn his loss.
Three months later, he sails into port; she waits for him in the lavish bungalow they purchased on the French island of Réunion. They’ve had no contact in the months between. For two estranged lovers, it has been an eternity. They reunite; he pours each a glass of wine; she asks if there was suspicion. He tells her of his hysterics, burying his wife at sea, the long journey to reach the island. She asks again if he was suspected of having a hand in his wife’s death. He laughs as he answers that while he did indeed have exactly that – a hand in his wife’s death – they never suspected a thing. She asks how that could be. He smiles, places his wine on the table and cups her face while reassuring her the plan was flawless. Convincing her older sister to marry him, then gift him her wealth was a stroke of genius; it placed him above reproach and set them up to share a lifetime of extravagance. She’s the one he loves. The wedding; a ruse.
She smiles in return; she’s been swimming these waters for quite a while. She knows which underwater caves have air pockets, and which don’t.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
“I’ve heard it said that the first time is always the best, but that’s bullshit. It gets better with every experience. Pain, loathing, hatred and excitement, all rolled up into one moment of indulgence and release. These urges are altogether unique and exquisite.
“I was about ten years old when I first tasted this fruit. Mom babysat a noisy pack of snot-nosed shit factories that invaded my space daily. I couldn’t help but make a few cry at least once a day. At first I told myself it was for the attention, but I knew better. The real answer was far more sinister – I enjoyed their pain.
“It was never quite enough, though. I could feel the thrill build each time, but it didn’t increase, it always remained the same, until things changed. One day mom was asked to tend an infant. Go ahead, look at me with those horrified eyes, it only adds to the pleasure.
“At first I didn’t mean for anything to happen. Babies are innocent, right? I went into the house and saw mom holding a little girl. I guess you would say she was cute. I didn’t feel an urge to hurt her at first, and it filled me with hope that maybe I had some good inside me.
“I walked up to her sweet as can be and held out my hand. She looked at me and her cherubic smile was instantly sucked up by her fat little cheeks, and the ugliest scream I’ve ever heard tumbled from her quivering lips. Did you know that hope getting dashed to pieces has a sound? It’s abrasive, piercing, and throttles everything.
“I didn’t have any good in me. Rage seethed from my core and swelled like it never had before. Nothing was exempt from my hate.
“‘Oh, cute little Erica,’ I cooed as sweetly as I could while I positioned myself behind my mother where she couldn’t see what I was doing. I patted the babe softly on the back where my mom could see while my other hand pinched and squeezed as hard as I dared without leaving a mark. I looked into her wide eyes, locked in terror with mine own, and brought every ounce of hate to the surface. I pushed that torrent of violent emotions through my eyes and willed her to feel it.
“It was intoxicating, although you would never understand. But that’s enough about my past. Unfortunately for you, I’ve found over the years that an adult’s torment and screams are infinitely more satisfying than those of a child.”
The man stood up and stretched before speaking again.
“If you don’t mind, I’m going to go use the bathroom. Don’t go anywhere.”
Eric listened as Mark’s feet padded across the cement floor. The stairs creaked as he left the basement. When he was sure Mark was gone, he relaxed the stranglehold he had on his emotions and sobbed.
Eric had been in the basement for a few days now, secured to a metal chair with leather straps. He had screamed, begged, yelled and cried on his first day here, but quickly learned that any show of emotion sent his captor into a crazed fit of violence.
His heart raced wildly as the casual whistling upstairs approached the basement door again. Anxiety fogged Eric’s mind with its chaos and kept him from thinking straight. He hated himself for not being able to control his fear. He did his best to quiet himself as the door opened. By the time Eric could see Mark’s bare feet step around the corner, he had almost calmed himself completely.
Mark placed two boxes on a table and stood in front of Eric. “Have you been crying?”
Mark hit Eric in the face and looked down at him with a grin. “You say you weren’t crying, but I call bullshit. If you can make it through the next twenty minutes without crying hysterically, I’ll let you go.”
Eric knew better than to let hope sprout its worthless seeds in his heart, but desperation took over. “Yes,” he pleaded.
Mark pulled forceps out of his back pocket and gripped the sides of Eric’s face. “Open up buttercup,” he said. Eric’s eyes widened with horror when he noticed the forceps ended in sharp hooks.
Mark shoved the forceps into Eric’s mouth. Sharp pain shot through his tongue as the forceps bit into the soft tissue. Mark yanked on his tongue and pulled it halfway out of his mouth.
“I don’t want to do anything that will stop your screaming,” Mark said as he pulled something else out of his back pocket, “but I hate all of the pleading and whining. Besides, I have a surprise for you.”
Mark grabbed a large, sharpened tube and flashed it in front of Eric’s face.
“This needle is a 0000 gauge, which means the hole in your tongue is going to be nearly half an inch wide. It’s going to hurt like a bitch.”
Eric bucked against the chair and cried out as Mark pressed the tip of the needle against his tender flesh and pushed. He could feel the needle as it sliced through the meat, cleaving a hole the size of the tube into his tongue. Mark shoved a thick metal rod into the end of the needle, and retracted the tube leaving the rod in its place. Before he released the forceps, Mark screwed a nostril sized ball onto the end of the metal shaft. The rod was long enough that he couldn’t pull his tongue back into his mouth.
“There,” Mark said. “Now let’s get down to the fun stuff.”
Mark walked over to the boxes on the table. He picked up the first box and brought it closer to Eric. He shook the box fiercely and caused whatever was inside to react violently. Mark laughed as he put the box on the floor and brought the second box over and showed it to Eric.
“This box has only one opening. The inside is lined with mirrors, and there is an LED light in there. I’m going to put this box on your head because I want you to be able to see what’s going on.”
He placed the box in Eric’s lap and turned on the light. Mark walked back to the other box and carried it, with its living contents, back to him. He shook the box one more time and chuckled wickedly.
“It’s been a few days since these guys have eaten,” Mark stated as he opened the top of the second box. “If you ask nicely, I won’t introduce you to them.”
Mark flipped the second box over so its contents fell into the mirrored box. Eric tried to beg, but the metal rod through his tongue kept him from speaking.
“No? Okay, here we go!”
Mark flipped the mirrored box over and placed it over Eric’s head before the things inside could jump out. The light inside the box made everything horribly clear. Eric was looking into the beady black eyes of several rats.
The large rodents sat in corners and looked at him with a mix of curiosity and hunger. Eric tried to calm himself, but wasn’t able to as he watched them inch forward bit by bit, their noses sniffing madly at the air. They smelled his blood.
One of them darted forward and bit Eric’s bloody tongue. He screamed and tried to move, but he was secured too tightly to the chair. When he didn’t defend himself, the other rats dove into the fray. Raging pain tore through Eric as the rats began to take bites out of his tongue.
They quickly ate his tongue down to the rod that had forced Eric to keep his mouth open. He pulled what was left of his ravaged organ back inside of his mouth. One of the rats tried to follow it and stuck its head inside of Eric’s mouth to get the rest of its meal. Eric bit down on the rat’s head until he felt a crunch and spit the dead rat out as the remaining rodents started tearing at the soft flesh of his cheeks.
Eric knew Mark wanted to hear his screams and cries. The only thing he could think of was to rob his captor of that joy. He steeled himself against what was going to be an awful death and opened his mouth. One of the rats scurried around the other two and darted into his mouth. He fought against his instincts and let the rat climb inside. The rodent quickly cut off his breathing as it started to eat. Eric’s body demanded air, but his mind and heart demanded a quick death.
Eric’s vision started to grow dark around the edges, a welcome thing as he continued to struggle between wanting air and wanting to end the torment. He bit down on the tail and trapped the rat inside his mouth. The rodent squirmed for a few seconds before finally finding the only exit; downward. Eric’s throat bulged as the rat stuck halfway down his esophagus and started clawing to find a way out.
He couldn’t scream, even if he wanted to. He would die quietly, and that thought filled him with comfort. Death came slowly, but the last noise that came from Eric was muffled and haunting. It wasn’t a death rattle, or a cry, but the laughter of the dead.
~ Zack Kullis
© Copyright 2016 Zack Kullis. All Rights Reserved.
I sit here listening to the rain tinkling off the darkened glass of my window. Like so many nights before, I peer into an eternity of nothingness that shows only my blurred face in its shadows. Shadows that dance around in the ambient light as the wind whips and sways the tree limbs, keeping pace with the rain as it shifts from a patter to a pounding, to a more gentle touch on the pane.
I begin to turn away and see just the merest suggestion of movement from the corner of my eye, I turn back… But nothing has changed, nothing is different, no one is there. My blurred view is as it was before. Rivulets of rain running down the glass; impressions of shapes I know so well that exist beyond the safety of my window; my face looking back at me lost in the dreary visage of the existence in which I suffer. A face distorted by the passage of the rain running over the glass… a face twisted in pain.
I wander to the door, drawn by a force both within me and beyond these protective walls. What an exquisitely beautiful night to breath in the smell of the wet grass, the saturated earth, the dampness all around me. What a sumptuous night to twirl circles in my tattered gown, soaked and clinging to my body like a lover that has been released but wishes not to go. What a glorious night to stroll under the rows of the ever reaching Maple trees, listening as their limbs sing a song of agony as they rub against one another. I let the rain wash me clean under the hidden moon before wandering farther into the shadows of this night.
The beast, he wakes; I can feel him watching, waiting, growing from the pangs within me. Will he come to me, this creature of anguish? The rain is slowing, a mere drizzle now, barely even falling – floating on the breeze like his warm breath upon my bare neck. Will he stalk me in the lingering mist? I live knowing he terrifies me, even as I long for his touch; the touch of a soul as dark and tortured as my own.
The moon tries to protect me with its light, but I hide in the shadows as does he – this monster of beauty and destruction; this primal creature that will destroy me; this half-man half-beast that will ultimately consume me. How long can I resist his not-so gentle pull into the dark of the woods that now surround me? Do I even wish to try? Or would I willingly rush to him if only he would beckon?
I stand on the brink of the deeper shadows trembling with fear; fearing the need to take that final step. I feel his want calling out to me – yes, he wants me to enter his world, but he does not guarantee that my journey there will be a sane one. I move out of the shadows and fall to my knees weeping, begging him to emerge from the dim recesses and enter my world of glowing moonlight. But he fears the light, no – not fear – hate. He hates the light. This light that shines upon my upturned face and tangled hair has been his undoing. He was not always this beast, he was once a creature so different, so full of life, that he has no choice but to loathe the fact that I have not become what he is. His presence near demands that I enter his domain; his mind delves into mine impaling me with his desire. But I know his lust is insatiable, and once he has touched my darkness, I will never return to the light again.
Frightened, I cannot move; he is enraged – so angered that he nearly allows himself to reach out and grab hold of me, dragging me to him. I will not fight, I will let him take what he will, yet I cannot offer my submission even under his heated gaze. But no, he will not take me, I must come to him; my damaged companion, my kindred tortured soul who seeks nothing more than I – a release from this distant embrace of hellish pain we are destined to exist within.
With a snarl of anger and disgust, he leaves me yet again to weep at the edge of the darkness, screaming silently to be where he’d have me go.
I hear him howl into the night; he screams his rage while crying out his longing for that which may someday leave what meager light the moon sheds to walk in the dark at his side – owned by him for all eternity.
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2012 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
Heed the Tale Weaver: Celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Damned. Through May 7, 2013, upon each new post, a comment you will leave. A package of ghoulish goodies tainted with an offering from every member of the Damned awaits one fated winner – glorious books, personalized stories and eternal suffering at your feet. Now Damn yourself, make your mark below! But remember insolent ones, you must leave a comment, a “like” will not earn you a chance at our collection of depravity. Do not make the Damned hunt you down.
The crack of the loudest thunder clap roars; my body vibrates with the echo, an untamed longing for more.
The joy washed away; a vile deluge now pouring, the razor’s slash of the cruelest tongue.
Pain inflicted with intent to harm; ripping at my sanity in an unjust tumult of words, the harshest weapons of all.
My mind torn to pieces; this voice carries devastation, wielded with nary a care for the moments yet to come.
A shattering silence; how loud the quiet has become, how lonely this false sense of solitude.
The patter of a different storm; a shedding that cleanses, gently this time in a subtle downpour.
If only you’d count the raindrops with me; do you see – they are beginning to fall…
~ Nina D’Arcangela
© Copyright 2013 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.