A short story by Cult
She had worried that this week away, one she had planned and saved for several years in order to take, wasn't even going to happen. The very recent and rather shocking news that the company she worked for was slated a takeover by an overseas company. “The Merger” seemed to be the buzz word of the day plastered all over the internal memo's circulating the office like wildfire. They had threatened to suspend all vacations regardless of how long they had been approved. This had been planned for months. The tickets purchased, the chapel booked and the week set aside for after the wedding. This would be their time to enjoy each other with no stress. It was to be their honeymoon and she swore she would quit if that's what it took.
Mr. Moorcoat, her boss though she knew not for how much longer, had pulled more than his fair share of strings to help save her day. The gesture was quite unexpected. She never believed he even liked her since they barely spoke more than a single word to each other on a day to day basis.
Recalling his parting words she couldn't help but smile, “For goodness sake child, have a good time. What will happen will happen, of that there is no doubt. Don't spend your week in paradise worrying about it. Enjoy yourself, you deserve it.”
Unfortunately it had been increasingly more difficult not to fret. Just minutes after turning onto the 565 her husband’s, Brian, recently restored Chevy, now covered in shaving cream spelling out “Just Married” with an assortment of other well wishes in cursive making it near impossible to see through any glass surface and dragging empty soda cans, had gotten a flat. An obnoxious chunk-a-chunk-a-chunk cacophony issued from the guilty wheel as it was brought to an abrupt stop against the highway's median.
Luckily, there was a spare but no sign of a jack.
Thinking back she realized she must have looked ridiculous flagging down passing cars as she was still wearing the dress she had been married in only a couple hours earlier. It was no surprise to her that no one wanted to stop or even slow down. She blamed those damned twenty-four hour true crime networks that virtually swore that a hidden killer was lurking inside of everyone, no matter the guise waiting for an opportunity to show itself.
Sandra remembered enthusiastically high-fiving her exasperated panting companion, her out of shape husband, it felt so strange to finally be able to say it. Fate it seemed had given them a respite to finally take a breath, freshen up and perhaps even find a few minutes to unwind. They were both sweating profusely, he in his tux, she in her ruffled satin wedding dress complete with wet spots under the arms spreading faster than pinkeye in a children's daycare. Those few minutes transformed themselves into an hour into two and finally twelve. On a positive note they had found the time to change into fresh clothes, have a bite to eat and even read a book (an avid reader she almost always had a book close at hand, much preferring a physical copy over a brightness screen in need of constant charging). Then, of course as most married couples do, run out of things to talk about, several times over in fact.
The announcement that their flight was ready to board came as if from the heavens, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She had caught Brian casting more than a few casual sidelong glances to the airport lounge with all its liquid delights on display. He had only recently quit drinking following a rather nasty incident involving a tree, a police officer, and a collision repair shop that had seemed intent on draining what meager life savings he had left after splurging on today's festivities. After finally boarding the plane she had quickly succumbed to the beckoning will of exhaustion but only after slipping into a slightly brighter frame of mind musing upon the relaxation that the coming week would bring. It would be well worth all the obstacles the day had tossed in their direction.
Sandra awoke to a moist weight bearing down on her shoulder. Brian had also fallen asleep. His drool soaked cheek was attached to her shoulder leaving a stringy trail of saliva working its way down her blouse. His hand was rapidly losing its sleep relaxed grip on a plastic container with the dregs of murky brown liquid swirling around its bottom. It was dancing a precarious jig on the plastic tray rising with the movements from his t-shirt pressed against it. She could see four mini bottles of Jack Daniels absent of everything but air bringing a look of disgust across her face more than her drool soaked shoulder had. It had been “one of those days” so for that reason she could forgive him. Now if only there wasn't the lengthy spells of regurgitation that accompanied their first few minutes upon their arrival to their hotel, quite a colorful ceremony to celebrate their honeymoon.
The bell hop had been none too pleased when in lieu of a tip (hand out, not too obvious) he was instead unceremoniously given a putrid shower of regurgitated Jack Daniels followed by a slovenly apologetic glance that spoke volumes.
After putting her new husband to bed, with an empty ice bucket and a stack of towels within easy reach where her warm body should be lying beside him, she decided fresh air and a walk was what she needed to clear her head. A few moments to herself couldn't hurt, besides it was unlikely the stench of vomit would follow her past the room's open balcony. She was wrong.
Wandering past the hotel's romantically lit landscape she passed a young couple who looked awkward yet comfortable in each others embrace. She found it hard not to catch snippets of their conversation as they turned their heads, noses wrinkling in offense as they quickened their pace.
“Damn natives... can you smell that?... if they aren't begging, they're drinking... puking on the tourists, everywhere.”
Sandra's focus was elsewhere as her footsteps brought her to a small outcrop of rock jutting out a few feet from the shore's bank, at this point the shore was transformed into a rocky uneven wall. Glancing back she followed the distinct imprint left by her feet barely able to make out the smooth road leading from the hotel grounds, far in the distance muted lights are all that betray its position. The shore rose in at a gradual gradient steadily into cliff like heights in the distance. She followed the curved outline of a small collection of boulders and shale taking caution not to trip over her own feet in the darkness.
A shadowy alcove welcomed her as she finally traversed the phalange like configuration spread across her path. She paused turning to discover she could no longer hear civilization. No horns, no rumble of motorized vehicles, no soft murmur of voices or laughter just... nothing. For a brief moment she held her breath standing stock still only to realize there were no sounds of any activity across the expanse of sand she has just traversed. The only sound was of the surf breaking on the beach which she found suprisingly relaxing.
A relaxed scan of the shaded area revealed an ideal dry spot for her to sit and rest her feet. Doing so she placed her sandals aside bending one leg to her chest clasping her arms around it twisting to stretch out a throbbing ache that had begun to radiate from her tired leg. Flattening her bent leg beside the other she proceeded to slowly stroke her hands up and down their length. In silent reflection of her head clearing escape she finds she is unable to recall much of it though she is certain she had walked over a mile at the least. Her hamstrings and thighs are tight, solid to the touch as her fingertips continue to gently knead them circular motions while her mind starts to wander. She closes her eyes succumbing to the water's soothing rhythm falling under its hypnotic spell.
A sudden warmth alights her spirit rapidly spreading throughout her entire body as the highlights of the morning's events play out behind her closed eyes. Her lips instinctively tilt uncontrollably at the realization that she it is now official, she is in union with her childhood sweetheart. His powerful torso and warm face fill her thoughts as her hand strays toward the sudden onset of moistness between her legs. Imagining his attentive caress, the tender touch of his lips on her bare skin with two fingers she pushes thin material aside. Like delicate petals belonging to an exotic flower, she willingly parts her flesh welcoming the visitors in search of precious nectar. A soft sigh escapes parted lips as she lowers her hand further enabling more fingers to explore her inviting depths patiently awaiting contact in a growing state of arousal. The first of many unhurried penetrations are accompanied by a softly whispered name. As Sandra nears climax her husband's whispered name transforms to a loud cry of delight. Quickening her pace the utterance sounds more and more like the staccato of muted gunfire. Barely recognizable as such his name slips from her lips a final time as her eyelids squeeze tight with her hand finally coming to rest atop her thigh.
Did I fall asleep?
Tilting her head and craning her neck she looks back along the path she had traveled. She had walked a fair distance, perhaps even a couple of miles. The lights of the hotel are no longer in sight, the only illumination coming from the moon perched low in the sky. She gets to her feet reality slapping her in the face. Her legs and the small of her back are not only damp but dripping wet. A singular tan sandal floats a few feet away to her left, its partner nowhere in sight. Rising water swirls into the alcove to above her knees, adding insult to injury she can no longer make out the jagged rock trail she had followed to gain access to the secluded spot.
Cursing her ignorance aloud, she mockingly shakes her fist to the heavens, “Fudge! Rising tide! DAMN you nature!” She is abruptly taken in a snorting fit of uncontrollable laughter that rocks her body as she recalled a classic feature in which a scantily clad well known actor plays out much the same scene, albeit with less enthusiasm.
A shelf of carved rock to her left grabs her attention and she turns to wade toward it. She struggles with every step she loses purchase of solid ground. A muddy viscosity pulls at her ankles as she finds herself gradually sinking.
Sandra panics unable to pull her lower legs free. Her motions turn frantic only causing her to slip deeper into the wicked clutches of a sucking bog beneath her. A splash of salty water stings her eyes as her arms flail in a wild attempt to propel herself away from the devouring sludge lunging for the rocky ledge. Swirling around her chest determined salty water tugs at the strings of the flimsy material tied behind her back. Rapid waving movement, inches from her face distract her momentarily as her efforts to escape turn feverish.
Great! That's all I need, hungry seagulls to peck out my eyeballs before I drown.
A sudden warm pressure clamps over her hand.
Fuck! What now?
Sandra found herself praying to a deity she had previously scoffed at, never a religious type she was now realizing the reason why many found a higher power as her own mortality crept ever closer. As one of her feet pulled free the sense of elation lightened her spirit, she wriggled the other sliding it loose with little effort. Careful not to scrape her legs on the jagged surface of the wall's steep incline she allowed herself to be pulled onto the rocky ledge.
She was unable to contain her relief falling into the arms of the stranger who had just saved her from certain death. She squeezed him tight to express her gratitude. His arms twitch as if unsure whether or not to return the unexpected embrace. Releasing him she takes a small step back looking back down as she does so into the raging waters from which he had just pulled her from. A bright green slip of material bobs on the rough surface trailing strings as if in parody of a sprawled jellyfish. She fumbled, slightly embarrassed, moving to cover her nakedness with both hands until she is able to discern his timid nature and constantly shifting eyes.
“Sorry. I'm usually presentable enough to be seen in public.”
He answers her with a furtive glance and sly smile as she took it although it could also have easily been a snarl. It was difficult to tell in the faint illumination provided by the moon's silver rays shining through the alcove’s entrance. Sliding an arm across her chest she managed to slip a hand free maintaining ample coverage to extend her hand in greeting.
“I'm Sandra.” Displaying her natural smile she attempts to hold his wondering gaze and continues, “Thanks again, I really don't know what I would've done if you weren't around.”
He clasps her offered hand with his own removing it swiftly after engaging in a brief limp shake. Sandra can't help but notice the rough hand that clasped her own and the stranger's aura, still one of nervous uncomfortableness. She reflected that the shake and introduction appeared somewhat foreign to him. It was obvious he needed more than a moment to comprehend and evaluate the situation before fully committing to it.
“I'm gathering the tide caught you unaware too then, huh?” Squinting he tilted his head to one side with a quizzical look.
He broke the instant of awkwardness with a minor shake of his head which Sandra would have laughed at in any other circumstance as it was rather out of place, unexpected and overly animated. The rapid movement of his head finally ceased, he made direct eye contact beckoning to her as he turned stretching out his arm to point along the narrow rock shelf. Barely two feet across it led into shadow hugging the surface and contour of the roughly hewn natural wall. It appeared to become narrower before disappearing though she assumed it may only be a trick of the light. She looked back to her companion noticing he had already begun to make progress toward the shadows. Treading carefully she followed noticing that the path was smooth, worn and absent of the studded, uneven and jagged lacerating rock hazards she had expected. She quickened her pace somewhat to catch up, her hand loosely held to her chest. She closed the gap falling within feet of her companion's lumbering gait. A glance up revealed his faint shadow as it danced a sinister jig to lead the way forward.
With a loud clatter the ice bucket slides off the bed bouncing as it hit the tile.
“I'm sorry sweetie.” He says rolling over on the bed to an empty space.
Stretching, Brian lazily swiped an arm in the direction of where he expected his slumbering bride to be.
“Sweetie?” His outstretched arm waved at the unoccupied space beside him making no contact. With a comical grunt he slowly snaked his foot forward and across the lower end of the bed. Sandra had sensitive and ticklish ankles and disliked being rudely awakened this way though he knew she'd get over it soon enough following the devilish things he had in his mind.
“Are you playing hide and seek sweetie?” Feeling no solid resistance he continued to swipe his leg from side to side, the faint whisper of fabric was all he found threatening only to entangle his lower limbs, “There's only so much bed you can hide in. Daddy will find you... eventually.” Brian more than understood that calling himself “Daddy” could be deemed creepy and indecent (by most, if not everyone) but he also understood it was something they both enjoyed behind closed doors. Squinting his crusty eyelids he finally opened them scanning the room for his new bride.
In jerky, uncoordinated movements he managed to prop himself erect against the padded headboard. The pillows encumber his every advance with a myriad army of sinister lace embroidered adversaries are stacked as a veritable squadron halting his progress. The veranda is open, a gentle breeze pulled at the curtains causing them to fold around the contours of the unfastened doors. The moon was low in the night sky reflecting to make it whole, its lower half shimmered upon the surface of the still water on which it appeared to rest. Sandra is nowhere to be seen.
“Sweetie?” It’s more of a question than a summons now.
Perhaps she's in the bathroom?
Brian clasped the edge of the bed slowly swinging his legs over the edge cringing as his feet touch the cold tile. He clumsily leaned his upper body forward nearly falling over in the process. He wavered preparing to rise, an abrupt and staggering spell of dizziness exploding in his head short circuiting his every sense. He was short of breath, covered in a sudden flop sweat (familiar to any drinker) he twisted sideways allowing his weight to pull him back into the warm, calm comfort and of the bed's embrace. Fumbling with the sheet it takes him several attempts as a wad bunches in his fist until finally he is able to pull it over his head. He closed his eyes only to wish the pounding assault in the confines of his head would cease but luckily the room wasn’t spinning.
Sandra continued to follow her savior. The smooth path oddly started to feel warm on the soles of her bare, unprotected feet. After what she perceived to be about a minute, it opened out into a larger cavernous space. A small fire blazed in the cleared space at the center of the room. It was casting sinister flickering shadows on the walls silently mirroring their approach. Distracted by the welcome sight of a warm fire, Sandra didn't notice that her companion had come to a stop. Side stepping quickly she managed to avoid a collision stumbling instead into a pool of murky water she had somehow failed to notice.
His hand seemed to shoot out of nowhere to grasp her arm halting her sudden flailing before she fell over completely. Teetering precariously on the edge of the path, Sandra's eyes involuntarily widened as her upper body shrunk back from the precipice. Her legs tremble uncontrollably as her companion reels her back toward him.
“Whoa, again! What can I say?” He answered with a barely perceivable nod and a smirk as he pulls her to her feet, “You're my hero, that's twice now!” His only answer a shift and facial contortion into an ear to ear smile replacing his sly smirk. She followed his gaze, intrigued only to realize he was admiring her exposed breasts.
Go ahead, you've saved my life twice in the last couple of minutes, it's the very least I can offer in return…
Leaving her arms against her sides she makes no move to cover or obscure his view of her ample, shapely assets.
It was true, he had not uttered a single word, their brief journey here was in complete silence although that may also have been her fault as she hadn't spoken a word either. She thought that she may be somewhat in shock, the events of the last few minutes had been exhilarating to say the very least,
“What's your name?” This time he extends a hand which she moved to grasp though taken aback after their initial contact.
He turned with his hand still over hers as if to tug her along behind him. A few moments passed and he quickly notices his movements and direction are going unheeded. He twisted around, his face covered in puzzlement, she thought it was due to the fact that she refused to let herself be willingly taken anywhere without an explanation. A beaming grin replaced the former look softening his features considerably. In a jerky movement, a sharp back and forth nod, he points toward the center of the cavern where the fire licks at the air, obnoxiously spitting and crackling. Sandra relaxed a little and allowed herself to be led towards its brilliance.
Brian went up and down the hallway ending at their suite at least five times now. He had also visited the hotel’s foyer three times in as many minutes with nothing for his efforts but a better geographical understanding of the layout of the hotel itself. He was beginning to get more than a little worried, sure, it is understandable that Sandra may have needed time to herself, she had often taken leisurely walks to “clear her head” as she liked to put it.
The last twenty four hours had been rather tedious to put it mildly. He understood he had more than disappointed her by knocking back a few too many on the plane to make matters worse having “slipped” on their honeymoon.
He found himself muttering under his breath a self deprecating mantra of sorts, “Stupid. Stoopid. Dumb-ASS!” He was going to find it very hard to forgive himself while he could only hope she could find it in her heart to do so. If not this was going to be a very long week indeed, “Sandra, where are you sweetie?” He asks the question at a level barely above a volume deemed polite at this ungodly hour, three in the morning, he had no wish to add a hotel full of disgruntled guests, having forgotten about the bell hop, to his litany of current worries.
He rushed back to the room scooping up a light jacket then found a scrap of paper to scrawl an apologetic note making sure to place it where he believes any female would quickly find it. The folded note skitters across the bathroom counter ever so slightly from the breeze of his hasty exit.
Confident footsteps take him across the multitude of patterns found on the hallway's carpet which have become quite familiar to him already. He aimed his feet toward the hotel's main entrance but he has another destination in mind. The sudden realization hit him like a thunderbolt (he was only a hair from being absolutely positive that the sensation wasn't in fact indigestion).
He vividly remembered his Sandra mentioning a “romantic moonlight stroll” while still aboard the plane before her eyelids and the day beat her into submission. As his hand released one of the ornate doors (a notice boldly stated that the automatic door was not operational at this hour) he took a moment to look to the horizon beginning to appreciate the night's relative silence and calm. He hoped that Sandra (maybe less than an hour earlier) had perhaps done the same thing. Heading toward the ghostly white orb that appears to bob rhythmically on the surface of the quiet waters he fails to notice the shadow that encroaches swiftly upon him.
The area around the small fire was clear of debris. On one side on a small, flat pile of rocks was a fish carcass with the skin already stripped. Sandra shivered uncontrollably with the eerie feeling that, much like a portrait in a haunted mansion, the bulbous and unblinking eye was following her every move. Her companion directed her to a slightly raised dais of sand. Reaching out his hand, palm out, in her direction as if to say give me a moment I'll be right back. After he noticed that she had positioned herself comfortably he turned away walking briskly around the fire.
A few moments passed. Sandra craned her neck to find she was unable to see through the flames to his current position. She can still hear him moving and the slight noise of him rummaging above the whispering blaze. A flash of movement caught her attention at something higher up, a strange rippling motion. The rough carved walls tower above her converging into a curved ceiling. Arching her back she concentrated for a second on a particular section that continued to tug at her curiosity. To her eyes it appeared to shimmer and contort more than the trick of flames in shifting shadows dancing erratically. A flash of white startles her as a shape in the fluttering mosaic above twists to reveal a small dull patch of something. It appears mottled and sickly in the light. The shape moves again, one of many it seems, surrounding the area she is studying revealing a yellowed angular surface. Flickering in the licking tongues of the flame’s illumination, it appeared to fall open upon a hinges of sorts. An elongated drop of liquid falls from the opening catching the light as she followed its descent. With a soft thud it landed on the sand between her feet and the fire forming a miniature puddle. Terror crosses Sandra's face as she scrambled in an altogether clumsy attempt to get to her feet before the heat of the fire rapidly evaporated the liquid the rest soaking into the ground. She was able to make out a very distinct dark crimson hue.
“The roo... roof... it ma, ma… something up there moved!” Lifting her visibly shaking arm Sandra directed his attention overhead, “There's something up there!” With a furtive glance she noticed his unwavering gaze still on her. He watched as her eyes bounced feverishly back and forth again and again to him then to the area high overhead, “Look, damn you! Look! There's something there, I'm sure of it!”
“I know.” As her head snapped around as her mouth fell open. Fuck...he can speak!
He advanced slightly bent over with a sinister grin appearing in the carves of his face. He was a visage that chilled her instantly to the marrow. Still unable to get to her feet she flipped over on all fours, as she did so her ample bosom succumbed to gravity. The compact sand rubbed abrasively against her nipples as they were dragged over its surface leaving faint furrows as she went. In any other situation, but this one, it would have been rather comical she thought as she continued to claw at the ground with her limbs. Dust and dirt flew from her toes as they made brief contact slipping and sliding spastically not attaining a grip of any use. Her progress toward the entrance was painfully sluggish.
She was brought to a complete halt as her right foot slipped into something soft. A tugging motion only made the obstruction's hindrance worse as her toe caught on it. Sandra cursed out loud straining as she dragged her leg and the unknown object toward her. With a sharp yank and a prayer she pulled her foot free but having seen what her movement had uncovered she faltered. This was more than enough time for the large rock in her pursuer's grasp to plummet. Sandra’s mouth widens to scream but it gets caught in her throat as both her heel, ankle and the partially uncovered ribcage shatter with a sickening crunch.
“Seeiirrr! Seeiir!” Brian twisted around hearing the unexpected, heavily accented address, “You arrr lookin fo her, si'?” Narrowing his eyes he stares at the slender framed man's features before him.
A brief second of study brings back a lurid recollection from a few hours earlier (not one of his finer moments) though the details are a bit fuzzy, understandably, and it takes a moment for the “pin to drop”. His look of confusion rapidly transformed to one of embarrassment then to one of suspicion and growing fear. It was dark, there was no one else around and he did not hear the man approach, how long had he been following him?
“I am so sorry man, I'll pay all of the dry cleaning. Shit! I'll even buy you a new wardrobe if only you'll re…!”
“Tis ok, tis ok si'. Please, please.” Brian slowly released the breath he'd been holding and relaxed a little. He had previously heard rumors and even seen news coverage of a ring of abductions, mostly of rich, tourists but never in this area (something he had been assured of repeatedly by the booking agent) and, truth be told, this fellow seemed harmless enough. He actually seemed more scared of Brian than the other way around.
“Have you seen her? Have you seen my Sandra?” The hotel's representative now had his undivided attention, intent and unblinking he hung on his every word, awaiting any further information, hopefully a geographical direction not directions on where to leave an unspecified amount of cash only to wait for more directions.
Cut it out Dummy, she's fine. She IS fine! Relax. She took a walk, end of story. You'll joke about this later over drinks with huge fuckin' brollies in em'. Re-fuckin-lax.
It sounds like more of a question, than a statement of fact, he took some solace in the thought that Sandra seemed to be alone. He continued to listen while trying to decipher fact from conjecture all wrapped within a tourist encounter learned language, heavily accented English that though broken was appreciated more than ever before.
“See wol far, tha way. It niice. Em'tee beec'. You mus go fine her. It vey dark si'.” Brian leaned forward to clasp the man's non-pointing hand in both of his shaking it vigorously.
“Thank you, thank you. I'll be back.” Brian turned to leave, with his eyes cast down he scanned for any tripping hazards in the low light his pace quickly turning from walk to a brisk jog. “We'll go shopping.” He yelled the promise back over his shoulder as an afterthought to someone who was no longer there.
“Please, I'll do anything! Please!” He stood off to one side looking down on her prone, terrified form. Sandra shrunk back in the belief that his slanted grin said everything she feared might happen, was about to happen… momentarily.
His hands dropped as he dug at the fastening of his shorts. Just give him what he wants without too much of a struggle and perhaps, just perhaps, he'll let you leave with your life and what's left of your limbs. Her mind was spinning, working in overdrive, torn between fight and flight or the only other option which seemed more likely in her current predicament, servitude to his every last twisted whim.
“Dddo you need help with th-th-that?” Her attempt to sound sexual and alluring were abysmal.
At this rate, she mused, she would be lucky if the weight pinning her leg wouldn't soon be used to quiet her. She trembled with fear at the prospect, her heart pounding as if it would soon leap from her chest. Sandra dropped her gaze as she watched her attacker do the same. The sinister grin slid from his mouth as his hands continued to struggle with the zippered crotch of his cut off khakis.
Go go go! Here's your chance, take it. Girl get the fuck outta here!
Using a tiny sliding motion without attracting his attention she finally succeeded in positioning her good leg near a ninety degree angle. Mentally preparing herself she pushed down sinking her heel into the sand. She placed her hands, palms flat, spread to her sides. She believed she was close to being ready, all the while rapidly glancing at his fumbling fingers and the determined look on his face for any indication that he had any inkling of what she had in mind.
Now, go girl go!
With a thrust and shove, she shuffled back but only a disappointingly short distance. A searing white hot poker of pain overrode the throbbing ache her brain (still in shock) associated with her injured foot. To keep from cursing aloud she grimaced gritting her teeth, her fingers clenched into tight fists digging deep fissures in the sand, her fingernails causing half moon indentations on her sweaty palms. Like liquid lightning, the pain traveled on invading her entire nervous system. The dead weight of her leg shifted slightly causing her to collapse with an audible grunt unable to withstand the pain overload a moment longer. As her rump painfully connected with the ground she glanced up fearing the absolute worst.
A distorted cackle escaped his throat while his upper body continued to contort as if melting in an intense heat. It soon disappeared from her view altogether. Transfixed she continued to watch in agony as the flesh above his crotch started to split, exposing his innards and a flesh splattered ribcage. The configuration of bone bent and elongated eventually cracking and splintering causing shards to ricochet in all direction. The acoustics of the cavern amplified the effect making it appear as though firecrackers had been ignited one by one. In a blur she raised her hands to shield her face as much as possible from the impromptu shower of ivory shooting at her. A single sliver lacerates her cheek continuing to spin straight past her ear with a whispered whistle.
With a soft thump the twisted form's face and shoulders alight upon the crimson tinted sand. The form’s visage was askew, partially buried in the moist soil. Between her spread limbs she could clearly make out the macabre parody of a mischievous smirk still leering back at her. She removed her hands from her face frantically pawing at the ground in a last ditch effort to put distance between herself and the grotesque form looming over her. Cursing she quickly realizes her efforts are in vain under his anchored foot her right leg flops back and forth uselessly in its sheath of skin while the other remains motionless, pinned no matter how ferocious her efforts. Like the blossoming of an exotic flower, the twisted form splits in two. There appeared a jagged line from his crotch to sternum, viscera slid out heavily over a myriad of lazily swaying protuberances landing in a steaming glistening mound on the tainted sand between her spread and trembling thighs.
An origami of folded flesh rather than paper peels back to be discarded like a deflated balloon as a squat alien form slithered free to present itself. Before Sandra could form her mouth to vocalize a scream, a pair of slender hook shaped limbs exit the flesh origami in a blur. They burrow into her instantly on contact with her warm flesh, shredding nasal cavities journeying on to violate the pliable gray matter within the confines of her skull. Sandra's eyes continued to flutter as the form lowered itself over her. She was deep in the throes of death as it came to a stop a hair's breadth above her rapidly mottling flesh. Writhing tendrils gently swayed on the creature's upper torso then, as if it were one unit, they congregated revealing a cavernous shadow filled maw. As if forced from within, the orifice widens stretching to its elastic limits, the movement ceased as a sudden convulsion shook the quivering appendages into stasis. The parody of anticipation was broken as a legion of offspring were spat from the depths of the birthing orifice. Plummeting out they twitch excitedly. Upon first contact with cooling skin they proceed to slither and squirm with some apparent purpose. The most basic natural instinct, hunger, urges them on to the nearest warm, moist and most importantly edible opening.
Slowing his pace considerably Brian looks around at what seems like the same patch of deserted beach again. Admittedly it is getting more and more difficult to tell, even one discarded object (ice cream wrappers most prominently) from another. The poor illumination of moonlight continues to cast everything a nice shade of grey with the only thing distinguishing one feature from another being a slightly lighter or darker tone in the same shade.
Although it was probably still not much after four (in the AM), Brian had concerns, the beach seemed unnaturally quiet, deserted and even the breaking surf sounded, it was hard for him to describe, just rather eerie. Thinking about the impressive verbiage evoked a mischievous smirk as it found a place on his mouth his mood brightened but only slightly.
An unexpected sound startled him, so much so that he fought to keep his composure and balance. He could feel a rush of adrenaline as his senses heightened, his heart beat a frenetic rhythm, even the most light-hearted fan of 80's heavy metal would appreciate. It threatened to give his position away, or so he believed, as it easily rivaled the loudest sound he'd heard in the last five minutes. Turning ever so slightly he began to scan his immediate surroundings, an intense study of gray on gray resting on a slightly lighter hue of even more grey. Perking up he heard the noise again, he would swear it was unmistakably that of a disturbance either in or on the water. It was difficult to pinpoint the sound's exact location with water surrounding him in nearly every direction. A science tidbit from a high school classroom, long forgotten, came to memory for some reason informing him that sound travels deceivably on large expanses of water.
Brian bent to remove his sneakers. They slip easily from his feet as yet another sound broke the silence much like the last one. He would swear it originated from out on the water, this fact alone suggested that a search might indeed deteriorate quickly without no results, a search that would inevitably transpire into a lengthy “needle in a haystack” one. Again the sound came but closer this time.
“Hello! Someone out there?” Without thinking he allowed an internal train of thought to flow from his tongue to exit his lips. Louder this time and closer still and accompanied by another recognizable sound, Brian thought to be muted laughter, and not just anyone's, “Sandra?” He was mentally crossing more than just his fingers at this point. “Sannnddrraaa?” Elongating the word he added a musical lilt, one he hoped she would recognize as the same one he would often use in his comedic pre-carnal bedroom antics.
Sneakers at his sides he decided to take a chance. He stepped forward. The water was cold, of course, nothing to rival that of the steely grip of the water within the lake he enjoyed vacationing at in his youth but pleasant as it moved against his ankles. Another five steps and the water level was at his knees. It ceased all forward momentum as he watched a shadow a little further out move. The hazy silhouette disturbed the otherwise monotone and undramatic color scheme.
She hasn't changed it since high school but it still look's great!
He often made that comment to his closest friends. He now knew it was her, she was unmistakable although it was troubling that she had yet to turn toward him or even utter a word of acknowledgement of his calls.
“I'm sorry sweetie. I truly am, you know I'll try my best to make it up to you.” Attempting a new ploy he closed the distance between them, the water rose gently swirling above the waistband of his shorts.
He was close enough now to make out the small gathering of moles on her left shoulder that she often (pointlessly in his opinion) fretted about. Lost in his own thought and guilt, he had yet to notice a subtle change in the light. He was only a few feet away now. He noticed the pull of the current as it tugged at him forcing him to take small steps in order to keep his balance while shifting his weight forward. The water's depth was advertised vividly by the razor edged level on his shirt as its material continued to absorb a miniscule portion of the dampness that surrounded them. He was now wading into dangerous and unforgiving territory. He inwardly mused having no desire to be pushy causing additional harm to her existing damaged emotions (she might still cling to) he opted instead to play it safe.
“Honey Bear?” It was a pet name he had given her years ago, none used since had ever gotten quite the same reaction. He added, “I'm sorry.” A few seconds passed in which he had the fleeting notion of dread, travelling home in tense silence to finally arrive on his doorstep, luggage in hand, as a single man once again.
Sandra's head moved. Just a slight side to side movement but it was more than sufficient to drag Brian away from the dark thoughts attempting to consume him. The water splashed lazily gently caressing her shoulders and neck in her unhurried rotation toward him. Lifting arms that had been pinned to his sides, Brian excitedly looked straight ahead though failing to notice the dark mass of slithering shadows just inches under the water's crystalline surface swirling around his bride's torso.
“I love you Honey Bear.” A beatific smile spread across his face before wavering as he looked down, distracted, detecting an unexpected sensation moving along the length of his extended arm and wrist.
The feeling quickly subsided. Surely nothing that bashful exists at these shallow depths, he marveled. Brian's face lost the look of momentary irritation, a smile taking its place as he looked to his bride. She was directly across from him now, her eyes were the first thing he noticed or rather the place where they once were previously. They had been a dazzling green, changing slightly depending on her mood. Her left eye hung by a single shred of optic nerve against the pitted torn skin of her cheek, no longer green it was now dull and opaque. Her other eye was missing entirely, a ragged cavity the only thing staring back at her newly wed husband.
Sandra's lips were nonexistent, what little remained was in fleshy shreds, slightly parted revealing an orifice dotted with the shattered remnants of ivory. The last vestige of a smile slid from Brian's facial features as he witnessed a slither of meat descend from bluing flesh to fall over a softly contoured chin that, only yesterday, he had held lovingly and covered with kisses. His bride moved as if propelled covering the distance between them in an instant. Brian dug a heel into the soft soil proceeding to push his weight back hampered by the water's volume his actions were not nearly enough.
He attempted to raise his arms to avoid contact. They, however, do not heed his command. With a jarring impact their bodies collide as his bride kissed him for the last time against his continued struggles. Brian shuddered against the cold flesh smothering him. With renewed intensity he twisted kicking, bucking and turning only to find his panicked actions have no affect on what he can now make out was just a mass of appendages wrapping tight around him constricting his limbs. His mouth dropped open trying form any vocalizations of terror but they go unspoken. Yanked off balance, his mouth filled rapidly with briny liquid. His throat was filled to capacity almost instantaneously. He still attempted to breath in vain, failing to stop the unforgiving and uncompromising liquid’s advance until his choking overloaded system finally gives out. A single bubble breaks on the surface to signify his last feeble attempt at stopping the conclusion of his death. His movements eventually cease with a limp hand falling over one of his own.
Together, as one, the newlywed couple drift on toward darker depths blanketed by a host of feasting predators.
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