Sunday, May 22, 2011

Flash Fiction: This Night

I was honored to read this story at the annual Oxford Writing Festival at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio on March 26, 2012.

Alone is Not Lonely - Digital Calligraphy by Sky Sloderbeck

This Night

Inspired by the song “This Night” by Black Lab.

The rain was heavy, but without an accompanying wind, it fell straight down in sheets. Thick drops drummed on the worn leather of his duster and cowboy hat. The sound was loud, but not loud enough to drown out his labored breathing. His head bowed in sorrow and the gun dangled from his lanky fingers, only a whisper of a breeze away from falling from his hand.

The body lay twenty paces from him in a pool of water that was rapidly turning red. He did not have to look to know that there was no longer life in it. His aim had been true and when the bullet is silver, there is no coming back.

A flash of lightning brightened the sky in an accusatory manner. Reflections in the water at his feet revealed the nearby church that loomed over him and the angel perched on the steeple who had been the sole witness to the horror performed in its presence. The gun dropped from his hand and he fell numbly to his knees with a pained gasp.

The ghosts of some of those he had ended under her tutelage haunted him on that lonely street: He had silenced Michael’s infectious laugh; he had dimmed Denise’s sparkling eyes; he had proven Richard’s endearing optimism false; and he had halted Tessa’s sharp intellect. Every victim had a name. Every victim had a face.  Every victim had a personality. Every victim had been his.

He raised his head slowly, woodenly, and blinked away the raindrops that filled his eyes.  The body was changing now, as he knew it would. He had known for weeks that the end would be like this, and she had never even suspected. The kills were for her, all of them, especially this last one. He had pulled the trigger to free her from her own madness, more than to free him from her.

Crawling on hands and knees to her, he knelt reverently at her side.  He brushed her long blonde hair, dyed dark by the rain and the night, from her face and bent down to kiss her forehead. She was naked now, but he didn’t cover her; he knew that she wouldn’t have wanted that. She was glorious in her half-wolf, half-female form, and more glorious in her human form, even in death.

She had made him who he was. She had delivered him to the coven so that he could be reborn to the night. “We will be the Adam and Eve of our races,” she had proclaimed.  The truth was that they had both become Cain, killing their brothers, human or otherwise. He succumbed to her madness, reveling in the bloodshed and in pleasing her. She was his Lady Macbeth, his Pandora, his Lilith. She was his drug; her offered blood made him even more drunk on her.

There were things he had done, things he regretted. He blamed her when his conscience became too much to bear. As she stood apart from him in the street, he knew that to end the killing, he had to kill the one he loved. As the rain poured down he wept for them both, and she came to him with a smile on her wolfish face.

He pulled the trigger.

She was dead and her heart was now as his. It was not beating. It was still.  But only he lived on.

The scent of her blood stirred that familiar hunger in him, but he ignored it. He remained there, cradling her head in his hands and mourning her as the skies wept and the angel witnessed.

Perhaps now, he could find peace.


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