Small bite of Horror from Upcoming book “Dead Lady Bugs”

Well I thought I would offer a bit of short horror after the day of love.   This little story won a Literary Award and was published in the Corn Creek Review.  Thought some might like to see what happens when love goes wrong.

Vengeance

         The figure was always a shadow, half hidden behind outdated drapery in the front window of the aged and weathered Victorian home on the end of the street.  Children often ran by, laughing, as they pushed each other into the overgrown yard, challenging the other to ring the doorbell and run away.  Everyone wanted to glimpse the object of many sordid tales and rumors of the town’s gossip chain, but the door never seemed to open for anyone, or anything.  It was sometime before those in the neighborhood noticed that the strange figure which once stood at the window didn’t stand there anymore, and the demise of the lonely old woman who lived there went undiscovered, until the smell of putrid decay penetrated the dainty nose of the self appointed neighborhood watchdog, Adalay Thompson.

“Sheriff, you need to get up to the old Ledford home.  I think Ms. Sarah finally kicked the bucket!” she demanded of Russell Garrett one afternoon.

“Adalay, what has gotten you up in a dander today?”

The sheriff’s voice suggested that he had already been down the road of Adalay’s nosiness before, and he didn’t want to be bothered with anything in the humid heat of the Georgia afternoon.

“There is a God awful smell coming from that old house, so you need to get up there and investigate!”

“Alright, alright.  Keep your skirt on.”

Sheriff Garrett sighed lazily as he hung up the phone.  Grabbing his cowboy hat off the rack by the door, Russell Garrett stepped into the sunlight. Squinting up to the sky before putting on the prerequisite shades most of the good old boys in Georgia wore, he shook his head in dismay as he climbed into the patrol car and headed up the road to the old Ledford house.

Adalay Thompson seemed to always stick her nose into other people’s business, he mused, and Ms. Sarah was just a kindly little old lady who never bothered much of nothing.  He hated to go up there and knock at her door just to satisfy Adalay, who snooped more than anyone else he knew.  He recalled the last time he visited Ms. Sarah.  It was a few years back in his younger days, when there was some disturbance reported by an out-of-towner who claimed she was the sister of a Mr. Nathanial Clemens.  This woman stated that Mr. Clemens was to wed Ms. Sarah and that he suddenly disappeared overnight, after breaking off his engagement with her.  Mr. Clemens’ sister had the whole town in an uproar saying Ms. Sarah had killed her brother and disposed of the body.  It was duty which made him call on her that day.

“Russell Garrett!”  Ms. Sarah’s soft spoken manner always captured the attention of whoever she addressed.  “I buried Mr. Ledford a long time ago and have been a widow for these long years.  I don’t believe that I’m the marrying kind anymore.”  She smiled slightly as she offered him a plate of cookies, from which he took three.

Biting into the soft chewy morsel, he replied nodding, “Yes Ma’am I know, but when someone makes any kind of accusation like that, you know its part of my job to follow up.”

“Yes, I understand.  If I see this Mr. Clemens, I’ll be sure to let him know to contact you.”

With that Ms. Sarah ushered him out the door, and closed it firmly behind him.  It was the last time he really saw anything of her.  She became more and more of a recluse, keeping watch at the window during the day, and at night burning a small light from the upstairs window into the wee hours of the morning.  He always wondered what she was doing up so late, behind her curtains.

Pulling into the circular drive of the old home, he saw Adalay already standing on the front porch holding her nose.  As he exited the vehicle he too noticed a rather pungent odor.

“Either she’s dead or she got something that crawled up into the basement and died, because I’ve never smelled anything like this before,” Adalay commented as Sheriff Garrett climbed the old wooden stairs leading up to the front door.

“Now Adalay, I want you to be kind and stay out of the way when I go knocking.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Whatever you say Sheriff,” she nodded taking a couple of steps back.

Sheriff Garrett tapped on the door with his knuckle, the sound soft so as not to disturb its occupant.  After he waited for several seconds, he knocked again, but this time louder, calling out Ms. Sarah’s name.  When no response came, he beat on the door with all his might.  Walking to the front window, he cupped his hands on the pane and peered inside, past the dusty curtains.

“What the…?”  The question came as a surprise, and intent on getting in quickly he suddenly rushed to the entrance and kicked the door down.

Adalay followed the Sheriff into the darkened home.  The scene before them resembled something from a horror movie.  Furniture lay strewn amidst the broken glass from pictures which had been knocked off the wall.  The house was in shambles.

“What happened here?”  Adalay inquired as she gazed around the small foyer into the adjoining room.

“Ms. Sarah?”  Sheriff Garrett hollered, his voice echoing strangely in the quiet house.

“Look over there!” Adalay pointed towards the back of the house.

Squinting into the dim hallway, the sheriff noticed the basement door.  The panel hung from its hinges, torn almost in two.  Deep gashes ran vertically along the grain, the wood splinting in two.

“Looks like an axe beat that to pieces,” he murmured.

“Do you suppose they got in that way, through the basement?”

Sheriff Garrett touched the wood, feeling the splinters.  “I don’t know.  Adalay, you need to wait outside,” he whispered as he drew his gun.

Being the stubborn woman she was, Adalay clung to the sheriff’s back as he followed the axe marks in the floor across the living room and then up the staircase.  The brutal slashes were seemingly cut into the wooden planks as the intruder chased someone through the house.

Carefully, and quietly, they made their way to the third story.  Standing at the top stair, the sheriff paused at the sight of another mangled door at the end of the hallway.

“The smell is worse up here!”  Adalay whined softly.

Sheriff Garrett furrowed his brow at her.  “Don’t you know what ‘wait outside means’ Adalay?” he retorted under his breath as he shook his head.

The two tiptoed, making their way towards the sight of the torn wooden frame. When they reached the last room, the sheriff threw his back against the wall and with his gun held high, eased himself into the darkened hole.

“Oh my God!”  Adalay exclaimed gagging, as she saw the scene in the dimness of the bedroom from over his shoulder.

Centered on the bed was the decomposing form of Ms. Sarah.  Draped over her bloody body was what appeared to be a man’s remains, shriveled and mummified. The drab brown suit was covered in dirt and skeletal hands clutched an axe which had been deeply embedded in the chest of the old woman.  Russell took out a handkerchief from his pocket and covered his nose.

Edging closer he pulled on the ragged material of the man’s jacket.  The body came up, ripping lose from the boney arms and falling to the carpet.  Adalay screamed as the decayed corpse fell at their feet.

“What in heavens?” she cried.

“It looks like a dead man, that’s been buried a long time,” the sheriff observed.

“Well who was he?”

Digging into the protruding back pocket of the fraying material of the trousers, Sheriff Garrett pulled out an aging black leather wallet.  Carefully unfolding it, he rubbed at the dirt covering the driver’s license.

“I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” the Sheriff whispered with a weird chuckle.

“Russell Garrett, who was he?” Adalay demanded for a second time.

“Nathaniel Clemens.”

Digging out a little bit of Horror from the Writing Closet – “A Spider’s Web”

Recently I was browsing through some old stories I wrote, and came across this little piece of Horror.  I am putting together a collection Horror shorts, which I’ve written over the years, all of them pertaining to different characters of Hiawassee, here in the great North Georgia Mountains (fictitious of course).  The Book is called “Dead Lady Bugs.”  One of the stories contained in it won a literary award from the college I attend here in Young Harris.  So Enjoy, let me know your thoughts, suggestions, etc.

A SPIDER’S WEB:

Hiding him had been difficult, knowing he was so close.  It tortured my soul, biting like that of spider, irritating like a puss filled sore, pushing me further, tipping me downward, until I could not come up from the stickiness of my hatred.   Obsession has a funny way of creeping through one’s mind, twisting and turning like a spider creating a web, tangling even the sanest of people within the silk cords of revenge.  He still haunted me even after several years, my mind holding onto the memory of his betrayal, tightly weaving a psychotic need to make him bleed.

Luring him was easy.  His ego was his downfall.  I conjured up some event, and called him to
leave a message from a pay phone down where he lived.  I really do not remember what I said, but the excuse worked and he headed up to the mountains early the next day.  I followed until he stopped for gas.  The sight of him kissing her still replayed itself like a bad movie in my head, and I needed to make sure the gun was loaded before he got there.  I liked holding the weapon, it made me feel powerful.

When he finally pulled into the state park, he got out of his car with a smug look on his face.  It
was hideous the way he smiled.  I did not like the way his eyes lingered over my body.
I could hear his thoughts, as he must be congratulating himself that I had come back for more.

“Hey baby,” he said causally, the Italian cockiness evident in his arched brow. “Been awhile.”

“Yes, it has,” I replied coolly.

I fingered the gun in my pocket, intent on keeping my smile plastered on my face, and enticed him with cleavage, hoping the memory my breast held for him, would draw him closer.  He stood in front of me, his presence a sick, intoxicating thrill.  I fought with the demon inside of me, for I
did not want to love him anymore, and made it go away, only to replace it with the angel of unholy release.

“Couldn’t do without Joey could you?” he asked with a laugh.

“Yes, the spider said to the fly,” I whispered, as I felt myself leave. My smile faded, as I felt the coldness of the weapon, its steel melting with the flesh of my hand and my thoughts cleared, allowing only the emotion of anger to surface.

“Who is the spider and who is the fly?” he giggled as he pulled open my coat and tweaked a protruding nipple rather harshly.

I glanced at the spider web tattoo upon his hand, and realized I had died many times beneath it.
The flash of the weapon was quick, the sound echoing within the dead limbs of the trees which surrounded us. He sank to his knees, a praying zealot, who now bowed at my feet.  The calm which enclosed itself around me was peaceful.

“You didn’t…” he gurgled.

“Yes, but I did.”

After gathering his things, I stripped him and shoved his naked form into the trunk of my car.  I
chuckled as I laid the weapon on the front seat of his car.  How poetic that I used his own gun.  Perhaps he should not have been in such a hurry to leave me, I thought with malice, as I faced his corpse.  His mouth hung open in a frozen scream, and I bent to kiss it, if only for one last time.
Breathing in his scent, I remembered it, for soon the flesh of his shell would turn to putrid waste, and nothing of his human existence would remain.

“You forgot a few things,” I muttered to the blank expression in his eyes.  “Never trust a black widow bent on destruction.  You should have known that, Mr. Spiderman.”

Once home I waited until about two in morning before I retrieved his stiff carcass.  I wrapped
and wrapped, until the little insect was in a nice shower liner cocoon.  Placing him under the back porch in the crawl space, my body felt conflicted after I left him there.  I wanted to run and hold him, yet at the same time, I despised him, and wanted to chop him into tiny little pieces.  Would it matter, if I slept with him one more time, a bitter date of reminiscing?

I think it was about two weeks later that I noticed on the news report a bit about his sudden disappearance. There was a brief shot of HER, with black tears, and a sloppy bleach blond do it yourself hairdo, before they cut to his car, and police tape.  I think I remember the reporter suggesting suicide, but all I could concentrate on was the feeling of satisfaction, that my web was still intact.  It took another month before they knocked at my door.

“Ms…?” the young detective hesitated as he fumbled open his notebook.

“Black, Lucy Black,” I stated with a smile.

I extended a plaster covered hand.  “Oh, excuse me,” I laughed quickly.  “I’ve been working on an art project.”

Wiping the gooey white mess off with a rag, I opened the door wider, inviting him further into my studio.

“Thank you,” he replied stepping into the torrent of paints and other artistic paraphernalia.

“You must be Detective Henderson.”

“Yes, I’m glad you got my message.  I just wanted a moment of your time.”

“Sure. Why don’t we go up to my parlor?”

Detective Henderson walked around the maze of tables and stopped at my sculpture by the bay window.

“Is that a real skeleton?” he asked with a raised brow.

Laughing I moved over to the work.  “Yes, I purchased it from the science department at the local college.  Would you like to see the receipt?  I promise I’m not a grave robber.”

“No, that’s okay.  Just find this very interesting. I was somewhat artistic in school, but not sculpture.”

He poked at the skull protruding under the many layers of plaster and paper.

“I like the spider,” he commented as he pointed to another table.

I caressed the paper mache Black Widow, my eyes delighting in its shape and color.

“I have an art show coming up. This will be my center piece.  It’s a tribute to the spider.  She gets judged for only doing what comes naturally.”

“A natural born killer!”

“What?”

“She’s a natural born killer.  Death to whoever her mate may be,” Detective Henderson said gesturing to the spider.

“Oh, yes,” I sighed slightly.

“We don’t need to go upstairs Ms. Black.  As I said in my message this is just a
routine visit concerning an old boyfriend of yours, Joey Pagano.”

“What about Joey?”

“Are you aware he’s missing?”

“I think I’ve seen something on the news about it.  It’s been over two years since we parted
ways.”

“Did he leave on good terms?”

“Separating is never good, but if you are asking if it was violent, no.”

“I saw that there was a record of domestic disturbance in your past.”

I sat down on a stool and crossed my arms against my heart.  Looking at the sculpture in front
of me, I remembered the spider web tattoo on Joey’s hand.

“Detective Henderson, Joey wasn’t a very nice person.  He left one day when I wasn’t home.  Packed his bags and moved back down to Atlanta to be with a woman who he claimed was an ex-girlfriend, and then married her.  I didn’t know until later that he’d been living a double life.
He was engaged to both of us.  He broke my heart, but I was glad he was gone, he was very harsh and cared for nothing but material things…and himself.”

Detective Henderson scribbled something down into his little notebook.  Flipping it shut, he put both the pen and notebook in his front pocket.

“Have you seen him since that time?”

“No,” I replied shaking my head.  “Don’t care to.”

He stood quiet for a moment, contemplating the spider sculpture.  “Well we have to investigate
every avenue,” he finally commented, putting his hands in his pockets.

“I understand completely.”

Holding the door open, I watched him as he walked out.  My thoughts briefly danced to the
cold forest floor, where Joey’s blood mingled with nature.  One day I would visit there again, just to
light a candle.

“Good luck with the show,” he offered politely, turning back. “When will it be held?”

“March 25th, the Simpson Art Gallery on Peachtree Street near Buckhead inAtlanta.”

“Well I’ll make a note to attend.”  He raised his hand in a small salute.

I watched the car drive away and the tail lights fade.  Glancing at the sky I noted the brilliant reds within the clouds.

“Better finish before I lose light,” I said to nothing.

Picking up the bucket of plaster, I hurried down the basement stairs.  Clicking on the single
bulb, I stirred the bucket with a stick.  I laughed lightly.  Squinting in the dimness, I brushed at the cobwebs above my head.  Soon, this would be finished, this web of deceit I spun with Joey’s death.   He would be bound to me forever, and SHE would have nothing.  I glanced at the plaster in my hand, as I smeared it into the cracks, filling several voids. The new wall looked nice, I surmised smugly.  There was only one more place to fill, and then the spider web tattoo would do no more damage.