Okay. Christmas is over. The tree is finally down and it's time to get back to it. Here's a flash fiction horror piece for your enjoyment.
It may be fiction, but I think we've all met someone like this. Makes you wonder...
This is her favorite restaurant. The low light and soft music ooze romance. I know she’s hungry enough to devour half the menu, but she orders sparingly; always afraid of what others think of her – especially me.
She’s beautiful, but refuses to let herself believe it. She looks at me with those perfect, sparkling eyes. It’s no wonder I was drawn to her. I meet her gaze as I take her hand and gently kiss her velvet soft skin. She’s breathtaking: the lithe frame, bountiful bosom, the silky hair pulled up to reveal the elegant nape of her neck. Her loveliness washes over me like cool water on a sweltering August day.
Every man in the room stares at her with lust-filled eyes. I know their thoughts. They all believe she’s out of their league. They’re right. All but one. He sits alone at the bar. Fair hair and deep blue eyes set in a comely face belie his true nature. He’s in search of prey.
For centuries humanity has known about his sort. Some, like this one, hunt women. Others hunt men, the old, or children – anyone they can worm their way into. Folklore has called his kind by many names. Fiend. Demon. Vampire. The closest to the truth is incubus. This beast wants to drain the life from her, but he doesn’t crave blood. His taste isn’t so crude. He feeds on pain and despair. He wants a part of her soul. He doesn’t kill his prey, but he might as well. He drinks his fill of the essence and leaves an empty shell. No doubt you’ve seen victims; miserable, self-loathing wretches devoid of hope, stripped of their youth, innocence, and humanity. The walking dead. Many end up finishing the job themselves – a razor blade, a handful of pills. He is a predator. And right now, he’s eyeing her like a snake stalking a baby bird fallen from its mother’s nest.
He knows what I know. He sees what lies beneath her Venus-like façade. The vulnerability born of abuse and rejection are concealed under a mask of cosmetics and feigned smiles. Like me, he smells her secret panic at being the center of attention. He tastes her desperation for love and acceptance. His hunger is almost palpable.
He also recognizes my weakness. The smattering of gray in my hair and fine lines around my eyes embolden him. He challenges me. He wants her. He wants to feed, but I won’t let him. I answer his threat. Neither of us moves. No one notices the confrontation. The subtle battle of wills is imperceptible to all but our kind. I may be weakened, but I can hold my own against the likes of him. I cast a warning glare at my opponent. He recognizes his likeness in me and turns away in submission to the alpha male.
I win. She’s mine.
No one will steal what it’s taken me months to build. She was broken when I found her crying in the alley behind that nightclub downtown. I began patiently putting the pieces back together – convincing her to trust again. I fed her equal parts hope and humiliation – backhanded compliments and half-hearted apologies. I took just enough of her to sustain myself until the feast. Making her feel pretty but not too pretty. Smart but not too smart. Always keeping her optimistic but never confident enough to stand on her own.
She thinks I’m going to propose to her. I see the fragile optimism in her eyes. She has allowed herself to hope. Perfect. I look deeper and see the fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of disappointment. Fear that she’s not good enough. The taste is so intoxicating I find it difficult to focus. She’s ready – a calf fattened for slaughter. It’s time to feed.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
She smiles expectantly. “Yes, baby?”
Delicious tears come to her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“I mean us. We’re over. I’m leaving you,” I say coldly.
“It’s not working out. I tried, but you’re just not the person I thought you were.” I add for good measure, “You should also know that I’ve been sleeping with you best friend.”
She’s sobbing uncontrollably now. People are staring. I whisper, “Pull yourself together. You’re making a scene.”
The rejection and public embarrassment are more than she can stand. Then it happens.
I hear her heart break. I ravenously sup the soul that comes spilling out. It is exhilarating. I squeeze out every last drop of exquisite pain. I’m engorged nearly to bursting.
I sit and watch her a moment more and then say, “It’s okay. You’ll meet someone else.” I glance at the hungry blue eyes at the bar. “Maybe sooner than you think.”
On my way out, I brush past my would-be adversary. “She all yours.”
By morning I’ll be rejuvenated – gray hair and wrinkles gone. Strong again. Tomorrow night, I’ll start again in search of some poor, vulnerable girl waiting for a white knight to save her.