Base & Vile Things
- A Halloween Short Story
- Part Two
Read Part One Here
- A Halloween Short Story
- Part Two
Read Part One Here
Please enjoy this strange, oddly sexy, ghoulish tale. I hope it give you shivers of all kinds. Please, enjoy.
Eli shook his head.
He shouldn’t have come.
He should have stayed home.
Eli pouted as he stared into the mostly empty mug of beer tilted at a thoughtful angle in his hands. At least the lights were dim in the darkened bar packed with too many people, his discontent somehow less glaring under the mood lighting.
He sunk down on his stool near the scarred, spill-stained bar and stared out at the crowd, trying to pick out his friends from the undulating mass. His tired eyes scanned the small, congested dance floor, just a scratched mat of wooden tiles laid last-minute on the bar’s floor in an attempt to attract more business. Sipping his brew, he let his gaze sweep lazily over the swaying couples.
Eli choked on his drink.
Coughing roughly, his body convulsed, his mug tumbling from clumsy hands in a clanking thud on the bar, as his gaze caught on Her reflection—just a neon-tinged flash—in the bar’s large front window. Wiping dregs from his mouth as he swallowed hard, he turned on his stool to stare at Her.
Her body slipped and slid, dipped and turned, to the music playing tinnily through the softly humming speakers. Her dark hair spilled down Her back, swinging in time to Her swiveling hips. His breath stuttered as slim, nimble fingers dug into the heavy strands, lifting them as Her head turned—just slightly—revealing the slimmest line of Her face framed within the circle of Her arms.
His heart stopped as Her gaze met his in the glass, a calculated coyness coloring Her black eyes. Though a remembered heat simmered in those inky irises, an icy shudder shook Eli as they stared. Quickly, he turned away, flushing red with drink and nerves as he imagined he could hear Her tinkling laughter mocking him from across the room.
She was here. Out of the darkness. In the soft-glow of the happy-hour light, She was here.
Taking a deep breath, he turned back to scour the crowd. On the darkened floor with bodies bustling about, all the details dimmed, making each individual little more than a mob. Eli leaned forward and studied each passing face. He watched the ebb and flow of each body. He traced the line of every limb and form. But outside of the window, She’d been swallowed by the crowd.
He frowned and turned back to the wide window, sure She was here. He knew it. Could feel it like a humming hiss inside. He looked at the foggy-edged glass that revealed the line and shape of Her reflection to him clearly, unmistakably. He watched Her dance, Her back still to him.
She could have been anyone, Her face turned, hidden from view. But Eli knew, from the way She moved and breathed and was, it was Her. Every sway of Her shoulders, each swing of Her hips, attracted him, drawing his attention with undulating curves and away from the anonymous air She held like a shield around Herself.
She turned again—just enough—until their eyes met. Half-closed, Her dark eyes beckoned. They dared. With Her head bent low, Her gaze struck him like a challenge or a command beneath the fluttering fan of Her long lashes.
Eli stood, dropping from the stool onto unsteady feet. He stumbled forward, his eyes never leaving the window. He felt pulled to Her—pulled by Her—through the crowd.
The space felt steamy; the hot, humid stroke of sweaty people suffocated. He pushed between shoulders and elbows. He ignored limbs and hands that sought to stop him. He just kept moving closer.
Stopping in front of the window, he stood expectantly, his mouth parted on a series of short, shallow pants. She was beautiful. Undeniably. Under the dim lights, surrounded by the mob, and framed inside that glass, there was an inhuman perfection about Her. She was untouchable and unreal. A mythic spirit on a profane plane.
He watched as Her lips parted in a toothful laugh as Her back bowed in a deep dip. He blinked as another figure loomed over Her, his arms holding Her sure and steadfast, his face unforgivably familiar.
Eli shook his head, his stomach turning as James—unmissable and unmistakable within the windowed wall—lifted Her back up into his embrace.
Eli turned around sharply. Disbelieving, his eyes searched the crowd filling the floor. He passed by James twice, his unassuming friend unseen in the swarm. But, on the third pass, he saw him. James’s motions were stinted, awkward and outdated. He moved like a man who didn’t dance. But the smile on his face was wide and genuine as he stared down at the girl in his arms.
Eli studied Marisol shrewdly. A better dancer than James, she still wasn’t very good. Unsure and uncoordinated, she moved like a woman uncomfortable in her skin. Every swish of her limbs was cut short as if second-guessed along its intended arc. Her hips swiveled in almost stationary sways, more a shuffle of feet and knees than anything.
Eli puffed out a disappointed and confused sigh as he glanced back at the window. It couldn’t be. It was a trick of the light or a mirage. Eli took off his glasses, blinking at the lenses doubtfully. He was sure, as he reached for a corner of his shirt to swipe at his glasses, that he was just seeing things.
But, as he slipped his cleaned frames back on his face again, She was still there in the glass. Dark hair flowed about Her undulating body. A sultry spectre that spun around his friend.
Eli shook his head and turned back to the dance floor, focusing on Marisol. He supposed that she had Her brown hair, long and falling free to her waist. And she had Her dark skin that seemed to glow warmly in the low light. Even her body—he guessed—held Her same subtle curves that his hands—his body—knew blindly by touch.
But it wasn’t Her.
Outside of the window—outside of the shadows—Marisol was different. Somehow, she wasn’t as sinuous, as smooth, as sensual, anymore.
Suddenly, she was just Marisol. James’s girl. An alter ego of a more exciting person.
But, in the mirrored space of the window, She changed. Taking on the qualities of the glass, She looked lustrous and hard, Her features made flawless as the imperfection of Her faded into crystalline finish. Her teak-toned skin was impossibly smooth. The angles and planes of Her face drawn with such precision. Even Her clove-colored hair fell in an exquisite flow where not even a strand dared to stray. She looked airbrushed. She looked painted or sculpted. She had a level of beauty that seemed alien in its immaculate form.
He straightened, shocked, when Her head popped up, Her hair tumbling back in a cloud about Her shoulders. Her gaze stroked up him, making him shiver. Her eyebrow arched at him, an invitation. A challenge.
His own brows furrowed as She flitted around James, touching him, teasing him. Teasing them both. He watched Her subtly move his friend, pushing him with each touch of Her knowing hand. Slowly, She gracefully led James in a subtle sweep of steps until he stood directly behind Eli, until his friend’s reflection was entirely erased by his own.
Eli held his breath as he watched the mirrored Marisol dance—not around James anymore. But around him. Her hand rose to touch not James’s shoulder, but his. His skin burned with awareness as he saw Her hand trail down his back, feeling it—the delicate strength in those hands, the sharp rake of Her nails—between his shoulder blades and down the long length of his spine. He could feel those hands coast along his arms, his neck. He felt them tangle in his hair at the nape.
He stood impossibly still as She leaned down, Her eyelids lingering shut, luring and lulling his own to close. He turned his face—just a slight twist of his neck—to meet Hers. The heavy heat of the room stifled as She slowly neared, Her lips so close to his. Eli, almost feeling Her against him, stumbled forward, reaching out toward Her.
His breath wheezed out as his hands met cool, hard glass.
He shouldn’t have moved.
He should have stayed still.
But now, with his hands pressed against the pane, feeling it warm under his touch, he could see the mirrored reflection of Marisol. Her body held tight to James.
Shutting his eyes, Eli leaned forward until his forehead rested against the smooth surface. His head pounded as emotions battled within him, feeling like both the betrayer and the betrayed.
He shouldn’t have come here.
He should leave.
Staggering back from the glass, he bumped into a group of giggling girls, who barely noticed as he backed away blindly.
He shook his head, feeling tired and off-balanced. He looked up and saw Marisol—both on the dance floor and in the mirror. With her back turned to him, almost swallowed by the bar crowd, every part of Marisol—from the hand held in James’s grasp to the way her body leaned into him—spoke of gentle affection and unwavering connection. Eli winced at the sight as his shoulders slumped and his chest clenched.
But, as his gaze centered on the woman in the window, he swallowed hard. Caught in the window’s glare, a look of mischief sparked in Her eye as She licked Her lips, the pink tip of Her tongue slicking across Her skin in supreme satisfaction. His whole body tightened as he watched that perfect mouth purse into a soundless, smiling hush.
Left the dance floor.
Left the bar.
Left the dark, humid night.
In a daze, he kept moving, numbly noticing nothing, until he lay on his back on his bed. He lay there for hours. Lying still. And silent.
He wasn’t waiting for Her. He told himself that he wasn’t, even as he set his glasses down on his desktop with weighty purpose. It would be wasteful. Wicked. Unwise. He threw an impatient arm over squeezed eyes. He wouldn’t wait. Not for Her.
But, every time he heard a creak or a whisper of sound, his whole body tensed as he listened for the quick, clicked turn of the doorknob.
He lay there.
But She never came.
It was better that way. It was. She didn’t belong here—in his room, in the dark—and he had no business imagining She did.
But he couldn’t stop thinking about Her—try though he might. She was here now. In the house. He knew it. Could feel Her presence call to him. He felt it like a tug on his soul.
Eli sat up and stared into the inky shadows.
She was here.
He stood and walked out of his room and into the hallway. Blurry-eyed from fatigue and failing, frameless sight, he crept down the stairs. He stopped at the door to James’s—his friend’s—room.
God, what was he doing here?
Eli tried to turn around. Tried to go back to his own room. Tried to do the right thing.
He raised a hand to knock.
With a sharp shake of his head, Eli snatched his hand back.
He clenched his itching fist, the need to knock aching. Settling but still far from satisfied, he pressed his palm soundlessly against the door.
She was inside. Just behind the door. Where She belonged. He knew it. Eli could hear Her. Hear them. Soft voices and sighs. He could hear Her laughter clear and low as James’s quiet chuckle broke on a guttural groan. Beneath his palm, Eli swore he felt the heat of it—the heat of them—pulsing in a hard throb, like a heart. Like Her. He felt it scald his skin.
Eli choked as he heard Her moan, a sultry, seductive sound that sunk claws into his chest and squeezed.
On wobbly legs, he sank down to the floor. His knees hit the carpet in a muted thud. He pressed his crumpled body—his face, his chest, his hips and thighs—against the door, letting his dry, burning eyes close.
* * *
It had been a long day. Longer than it should’ve been. He’d gotten nothing done at work, feeling absolutely useless. So he’d left early, saying he was sick. All Eli wanted now was to disappear into his room. Close the door. Shut off the lights. And be.
He opened the back door, hoping to slip into the house with no one noticing. But as the door leading into the kitchen opened, he was hit with the hot scent of spices simmering on the stove. He inhaled, his empty stomach roiling as his slack mouth went slick.
“Hello,” he heard her greet.
Eli turned to see Marisol stirring a pot at the stove, the domesticity of it at once seemed well-suited and strange. Internally, he groaned.
He told himself to greet her back and go upstairs. To keep to the plan and leave.
But he couldn’t.
He just couldn’t.
“I’m making chili for dinner,” she said, still stirring. “For James and me.” Eli watched as she lifted her spoon to her lips, her pink tongue peeking out to taste. “You’re welcome to have some with us.”
Eli stared at her, her words not making sense to him. What was she talking about? His sluggish mind worked slowly through her words, picking out phrases.
“...won’t be home for a bit...”
“...let you know when it’s done...”
He glared at her, a goofy grin splitting her face, the expression ruining any claim she could have made to beauty. He noticed her weak, idle grip on the spoon as she stirred. The unsure way she moved about the kitchen, her hands hesitant as she added tiny fistfuls of ingredients into the pot. Even the way she stood, her shoulders slightly slumped, looked wrong.
With a dismissive sniff, Eli turned to look into the kitchen window, hoping to catch a glimpse of Her—Marisol’s mirror—but there was nothing reflected in the clear glass, just the warm day waiting. He looked to the small window of the back door and saw nothing but blue sky. Even the curved chrome angles of the appliances shone back clean and empty.
She was gone.
Eli closed his eyes and shook his head, disbelieving. A person couldn’t change so completely under someone else’s gaze. Marisol was here, standing at the stove before him, which meant She was here. Her. The woman he knew—the woman he loved—was there, stirring somewhere inside Marisol. Like a secret kept just beneath the surface. She had to be.
He glared at Marisol as she began to hum—some light, infectious tune that would echo through his head all day. His gaze narrowed with suspicion. He didn’t understand it. Couldn’t see how it could be. How she could be. How the woman he loved could be content to be locked inside. Locked away. A woman like that, so strong and sure and real, didn’t—couldn’t—disappear simply because you couldn’t see Her.
“Tell me.” The words clawed scratchy up his throat.
“Tell you what?” Her voice was sweet and distracted.
Eli growled, irritated by that tone. “Tell me,” he ground out again.
He glanced up at her from over the top of his lenses while she paused, time hanging heavy between them. His gaze connected with hers, meeting her worried confusion with hard, hot heat. “Tell you what.” Her repeated response was soft, barely a whisper.
He closed the space between them in the beat of a breath. He pushed in close to her, looming as he caged her between rigid arms. He felt the bite of the counter’s edge against one palm, the burning heat of the metal stove warmed by the burner’s fire against the other. He stared into her eyes and searched. “Tell me.” Please.
He could see—could feel—her ragged breaths, her heart fluttering beneath him. Her hands rose up to plant and push against his chest.
But he wouldn’t move. Wouldn’t be moved. “Tell me.”
“I don’t know what you want from me.” Her voice sounded scared. And that angered him. Her hands pushed at him, sending him a step back. His hands caught her wrists, pulling her with him.
Eli could hear thick liquid churn and pop, boiling between them. The spicy scent of it touched by char made his nose twitch as the edges of the pot burned and began to smoke. A cloud steamed up between them, obscuring her face a bit as it swirled and fogged in the air.
He held his breath, sure the smoke would show what she sought to hide. His eyes stung as he stared into the swirling gray, certain it would reveal the real. His hands tightened their grip on her wrists painfully as they shook. “Say it.”
The door slammed, making them both jump as they parted.
Both their gazes shot to the door, now wide open against the kitchen wall with James standing still in its opening.
“Hello.” The greeting was tight and questioning.
Eli swallowed hard as his hands clutched the counter behind him, the sharp edge digging into his back.
“What’s going on.” James’s voice was calm. Quiet. Almost expectant. Or resigned. Even as something harder lurked beneath his suburban surface. He didn’t move from the doorway. Didn’t charge in. Didn’t rush to accuse or defend. He just stood in the doorway, seeming large in the contained space. Turning toward Marisol, James’s gaze narrowed on her. “Tell me.”
Eli heard Marisol’s choked cry, a stuttering sputter. A wordless speech.
Frozen, unable to look away, Eli faced his friend as a suspicious furrow formed a frown on James’s face. Eli’s back bowed under the weight of his friend’s gaze. He would have staggered back on buckling knees but, with the counter at his back, he had nowhere to go.
He stared at James, standing stiff, still waiting for an answer. From the stove, the smell of burned spices singed Eli’s senses, leaving a bitter taste sealing his mouth.
* * *
Eli’s eyes surged open as he was jarred awake.
The room was quiet—soundless—but charged with a heightened energy. On his back, he tried to roll over, to see, but he couldn’t. He tried to move his limbs—to kick out his legs, to push up on his arms—but they wouldn’t. He tried to turn his head, but managed only the slightest twitch as the muscles in his neck strained.
Jerking at a flicker in front of him, he stared out his window at the barest hint of pink peeking out through the black sky moving from dark night to dim morning.
In the corner of the pane, almost unseen in the glass, Marisol stood in the shadows, ghostly and far away.
She really was quite pretty, standing just in the light starting to shine in through the window. Stilling, Eli watched Marisol study him, her gaze sweeping over him slowly. Almost hesitantly. Her arms clutched across herself, as if holding her back. His gaze narrowed on biting teeth that worried her lip while she stood at the foot of his bed, racked with indecision.
Eli lay motionless and waited. For Her to approach. For her to leave. He should have turned his head, should have at least looked at her directly. But he couldn’t. Though he knew it would be better—for her, for him, for everyone—he just couldn’t risk Her disappearing. Couldn’t risk that somewhere between the glass and the girl, he would lose Her again.
So for a long, hesitant moment, he just lay there, gazing into the smooth surface of the window. She stood behind him, seemingly as immobile—as rooted and stuck—as he was. They shared an exhaled breath, a mirrored motion in the window, heavy as it filled the tense space.
The room was impossibly quiet and, though he knew he couldn’t—not through the solid walls and floors that sheltered them—Eli swore he could almost hear James sleeping, his soft, slow breaths sifting up to the second floor. Looking into Marisol’s eyes that fought not to flick to the floor, watching her chest rise and fall in even breaths that matched their missing mate’s, Eli knew she felt it too.
This was wrong.
They were wrong.
But, as the clouds drifted, dimming the already shadowed room, it didn’t seem to matter. During the arcane hour of dawn, Marisol wasn’t Marisol; he was not himself. While time shifted and the world itself waited; that was Their time. The time where this—where They—belonged.
Their eyes met in the glass, glittering in the infant day’s light, as she swallowed hard. His breath hitched as determination set her dark eyes and her limbs lumbered forward to slowly, awkwardly join him on the bed.
His eyes widened while he watched Her move out of the light to stalk toward him through the darkness. As She slid through the shadows, they played over Her face, subtly changing its shape and planes as they covered Her. He watched them slip like a veil over Her skin silkily, coating Her—changing Her—completely. He saw them alter the motion of Her body, lending it a prowling grace and a purpose so strong he felt it like a threat.
He stared—stunned—as the slight spark he saw in Her eyes ignited Her whole body, creating some strange alchemy. That familiar fire that burned without warmth or light.
This—She—wasn’t attractive. Almost the opposite. In that moment, he wanted to withdraw, to scuttle away from this being so brutally beautiful the sight itself should blind.
Even through the proxy of the window, She struck him fiercely. He felt fear—a cold, electric mix of excited adrenaline—shoot shuddering through him as Her downcast face cocked up at him, the waking sun catching a feral gleam as She looked at him from beneath lowered lashes. His breath caught as Her tongue slipped out to slide across Her lips and teeth before touching the pointed tip of Her canine in a tight smile.
His heart raced as She rose over him, Her limbs slinking in place to cage him to the bed, before stuttering when She came to rest, seated atop him in a proud, possessive sprawl.
A faint laugh—almost a growl too low to hear—lilted to him as his back arched up into Her touch. With a lithe, lazy ease, She lowered Herself down, Her hips grinding into his a warm, welcome weight. His body jerked as Her legs tightened around him, anchoring him down to the mattress.
His mouth opened to gasp. “I love you.” In the glass, he could read the devotion forming words on his lips as he spoke. “I love you.”
Her breath hissed sharp between tense teeth as Her eyes narrowed at the feelings he knew flared like infinity in his eyes. He stilled, waiting as silence spread out between them.
He was opening his mouth to say it again when clawing hands shot out to clasp him, thrusting into his hair. She clenched tight to the strands as She smashed Her bruising mouth against his. Her tongue plunged deep between his parted lips, stealing his breath and smothering the now silenced words. Her teeth and tongue battered, unrelenting and ruthless, against his own.
He squeezed his eyes shut and writhed against Her hold, gasping and gaping for air, even as the movement pulled at the grip She had on him. She pushed down harder on him, Her weight a weapon against him as he wheezed.
His heart raced. His mind swam, thoughts and feelings flooding together incoherently. All he knew was that She was touching him and that he needed to touch Her back. On a ragged moan, he craned his neck up to meet Her, to crush himself against Her, making breathing—already impossible—an abandoned effort. Letting go, he gave himself over completely, opening his lips to mouth the muffled phrase into Her.
She swallowed the words, tasting their shape and subtle sound. Her head dipped, tilting to the side to bite at his neck, as Her hands lifted to grip his wrist, Her fingers squeezing mercilessly as Her hair came down to shield Her face. Her other hand snatched his other wrist as She pulled both arms up to press them punishingly above his head.
He didn’t fight Her. Didn’t struggle, except to push closer—more intimately—into Her. “Say it,” he begged, dragging his eyes from the window to meet Her gaze.
She looked fierce—almost angry—from this angle. So close, with the shadows streaking across Her face, as She heaved heavy breaths onto—into—him, She looked wild.
She looked beautiful.
He wanted the words—the power and force of them—back. He wanted them from Her. “Please.”
She stiffened. She sat back, letting the shifting shadows slink off dark skin as the sunlight hit her face. Her sigh hit him as her eyes fluttered shut. Eli frowned at the tight lines streaking the corners of her eyes and lips, lit by golden rays. The tight way her face was drawn made his stomach twist. He thought she looked weary. Tense. Struck by the rising morning, the planes of her face looked strange and stark in the sun.
Suddenly, she didn’t look like Her anymore.
Eli closed his eyes, feeling instantly sorry. He huffed out a breath and shook his head. He shouldn’t have spoken. He shouldn’t have looked.
He felt the pressure on his hips lift. Felt the weight of her release.
His hand shot out a second before his eyes opened. Almost shocked, he stared at the slim, soft hand caught—trapped palm-up—in his grasp. It looked—felt—slight, delicate and breakable. So different from the indomitable woman she was with him. He swallowed hard before turning her hand in his.
Holding her fingers loosely even as his tensed, he wondered which woman was really real. Wondered if he could ever really touch the woman who touched him.
Eli’s breath staggered out as his gaze rose to meet hers. He flinched, his eyes watering as daylight glared through the window and into his gaze. Still, even half-blind, he couldn’t stop looking at her as light surrounded her, almost erasing her from his sight.
But before his tearful eyes shut, he swore he saw sorrow—or perhaps regret—radiate from her. Pained, he felt her farewell in the slow slide of skin as her hand slipped from his.
When he opened his eyes again, he raised his hand to shield himself from the sun’s glare and sighed.
She was gone.
His room was sunlit but cold. Empty and alone.
He lay back down, rolling onto his side as he touched the warm space where She’d been. The warm space where They’d been. He sunk low against the bedding, all but burying himself in the last remains of Their heat and scent.
He should leave the bed. The day shone bright and new as sunlight fanned itself across his bed.
It was time to wake up.
And he would.
But for now, while Her warmth lingered, he lay here, pressed flat against the mattress and nuzzled his cheek close, as he felt the comforter inevitably cool.
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