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L. B. Goddard
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someone.jpg
Art by Jeff Karnick 2010

Someone To Talk To

 

L.B. Goddard

 

 

          Carly slumped over the candlelit table, absently sipping her wine.  Good posture was never her strong point, but David didn't seem to take notice.  He was too busy prattling on about his success in the world of marketing, little bits of dinner roll falling from his mouth, his voice drilling into her mind.

 

          An uneaten mound of food decorated the fine China between her elbows.  Manners weren't her strong point, either, but that didn't seem to matter this evening.  David didn't concern himself with her behavior.  Why should Carly bother to be polite?

 

          She'd taken the time to cut her steak into tiny bite-sized pieces, feigning interest in the brown-gray lump of meat.  It somehow escaped David's attention that she was thoroughly uninterested in the dish.  She choked down a few bites, swallowing more than once to force the dry lumps of cow meat down her throat.  She nibbled for an eternity on the same leaf of lettuce.

 

          A part of Carly was relieved that David didn't catch on and offer to order her something else.  The other half was angry that he wasn't concerned with how she picked at the large plate of food.  Didn't he care if she enjoyed her meal?

 

          “So we've got this new guy, this intern, right?  He reminds me of myself at that age.  Such ambition, a real go-getter . . .”

 

          Carly resisted the urge to roll her eyes; it took a lot of will power.  All she wanted was someone to talk to, someone who might unlock her tortured thoughts.  Yet here she was forced into silence by the human encyclopedia for all-things-boring.

 

           Disappointment seized her heart.  She took another drink of wine.

 

          Across the restaurant, a violin began to play.  She let the high-pitched notes wash over her brain, drowning her thoughts in the melody.  She looked at David, but no longer heard his words.

 

          This was their second date, their third encounter. . . if you count the first night at the bar.  David's interest in her beauty was clear from the start.  He couldn't stop staring into her cerulean eyes and watching her slick, curvy lips.  She wanted to get to know him better, but not at a late-night dive.  So they set a date, and Carly's hopes were high.

 

          She'd been so lonely since the accident, afraid to open up to anyone, afraid her morbid memories would scare them away.  Visions of mangled skin, of looking down at her chest and seeing nothing but bloody muscle tissue, they haunted every minute of her day.  She saw exposed fat cells, yellow and sleek with gore, whenever she closed her burning eyes.  She was forced to relive the coppery scent of blood with every single breath that she took.

 

          But Carly cherished that breath, because it meant she was alive.  She had died once, and saw no bright light.  Thank God she was brought back to life.

 

          David touched her hand.  Carly almost jerked away, startled by the sudden human contact.  She was pulled from her memories, from her nightmarish past, as David looked into her eyes.  His eyes were dark, swirling pools of chocolate that made her crave his attention.  “Carly?” he asked softly.

 

          “Yes?” she replied.

          “Have you ever been in love?”

 

          She nodded.  “Once.”  Her palms began to sweat as she remembered her first love.  She was glad to have her palm against the table, instead of sweating all over David's hand.

 

          “Then how could she do this to me?” he pleaded.  “How could she leave?  Is there something wrong with me?  Tell me.  Why did she leave me, Carly?”

 

          Just as quickly as the conversation turned in her direction, David turned it right back on himself.  She felt like waving a white flag in surrender.  There was no point in trying to talk.  “I don't know, David.  What do you think?”

 

          “Well, I'm a complicated person―” he began.

 

          Carly sighed.

 

          That first night at the bar, the way he’d looked into her eyes, she thought David might be the right one.  The one to which she could open her heart, the right shoulder to catch her falling tears.  Apparently, she'd been horribly wrong.

 

          The restaurant was nice enough, she'd give him that.  Old Dave really knew how to pick 'em.  The overhead chandelier sparkled with mock diamonds and gold, little speckles of light dancing on the crimson walls.  The smell of food, she could tell, would have been wonderful once— grilled meats and broccoli soup, puff pastries, and frying fish.  All these scents mixed together with the burning candle wax.  She would have breathed it in deep a few months ago.  But since the accident, her appetite was gone.

 

          She looked at David.  Despite his selfish blathering, Carly still wanted to let him in.  She wanted to express her pain, and for him to understand.  She wanted to spill her guts.

 

          Earlier this night she had unbuttoned her sweater, revealing a spaghetti-strap dress.  The neck line was cut low, showing off a little cleavage.  Thick, raised scars ran across her upper chest.  She ran a painted fingernail across the rough pink lines, hoping to peak his interest.

 

          Surely he'd notice the scars, causing his vision to linger.  Sooner or later he'd notice the marks that spoiled her otherwise flawless skin.  Wouldn't he?

 

          No.  Other than changing the subject and interrupting his entire life story, there was no subtle way to get David to ask, What happened?  Would you like to talk about it?

 

          Carly couldn't talk about the accident in a restaurant, anyway.  The atmosphere was too public, too cold.  If he was going to understand, to really listen, she had to get him alone.

 

#

 

          Carly patted the couch cushion, inches from her thigh, circling a suggestive finger over the fabric when she finished.  She batted her eyes, and David was suddenly quiet.  He licked his lips with nervous anticipation.

 

          He walked over to the couch, carefully lowering himself onto the cushion next to her.  “So . . . uh . . . I had a good time tonight.”

 

          Carly, once again, fought the urge to roll her eyes.  There's one thing on this earth capable of turning almost any man into a stuttering fool.  The prospect of sex, a woman's promising glance, a sensual gesture that makes his lower parts scream, Play your cards right, old boy.  You might get laid.

 

          David's hands were on his knees, but they twitched with curiosity, wondering where else they might venture.  She answered his question by gingerly placing his hand on her inner thigh.  She nuzzled his neck; her hair tickled his chin.  She kissed him softly up and down his neck and face.  Hot breath made his ear canal moist.

 

          In a matter of seconds, his hands were at her sweater, quickly unfastening the buttons.  He undressed her with the hunger of a teenage boy.  The sweater fell from her shoulders.  He ran his palms over the straps, sliding them further down her arms.

 

          That's when he noticed the scars.

 

          The color drained from his face, a paleness forming in his forehead and quickly shooting down his neck.  She felt his hands tighten on her upper arms, his eyes never leaving the scars.  She reached for the zipper at the back of her dress.  The sound of the metal slowly ripping apart was excruciating for him, she could tell.  She lowered the top of her dress, and he gasped.

 

          He didn't even glance at her breasts.

 

          “W-what is this?  It looks just like . . . Oh God, it looks just like an—”

 

          “Autopsy scar.”

 

          He scrambled backward.  Why would a living human being ever have an autopsy scar?  His heart clenched at the sight of the intersecting pink lines, a perfect “Y” incision.  The lower half of the scar was still hidden beneath her dress.  He could imagine the line running all the way down the place he had craved moments earlier.

 

          “I was in love once, David,” she whispered, shakily.  The blue of her eyes looked silver now, a thin layer of tears on the surface.  “I was in love with a . . . vampire.”  Her mouth contorted with disgust, spitting the word “vampire”.

 

          For a few quiet seconds, she let that word sink in, not just for David . . . but for herself.  She threw her head back suddenly and let out a wicked laugh.  David wasn't laughing at all.

 

           “He was always so careful when I let him feed, taking just a little at a time.  But one night he got carried away.  I guess men do that sometimes.  It was an accident, that's for sure, but he panicked and left me for dead.”

 

          David's knees were pulled up to his chest, and he hugged them, shaking his head repeatedly.  Her eyes had some sort of hold on him, a pull that he couldn't resist.  He started crying.

 

          “They pronounced me dead, David.  You see . . . vampires don't rise immediately.  Some take longer than others.”  She placed a finger on her chin, angling her eyes in a thinking position.  “I guess I'm a slow bloomer.  It took me a while to transform.  I woke up with a slit down my torso, and some asshole peeling the skin off my chest!”

 

          He began to stammer, trying to form the right words with his trembling lips.  It came out in fragments, indecipherable gibberish.  “Don―I―pl―ease . . .”

 

          She crawled closer to David, on all four limbs, slinking across the couch.  She unlocked his fingers and pulled his knees apart, so that his legs were in a “V” position.  Forcing her way through his parted legs, she straddled his chest with her arms . . .  and placed a slender finger on his lips.

 

          “Shhhhh.  David, now don't say a word.  I know how you love to talk . . . but just listen.  Shut your fucking mouth and just listen.”  She straightened her back, pulling the dress further down, revealing the lower half of the “Y”.

 

          “I don't know why it didn't heal completely.  I mean, vampires aren't supposed to have scars like this! Any theories?  Oh wait . . . I told you to be quiet . . . that's right.” She tapped her chin.  “Perhaps because I didn't rise as an immortal until after the blade sliced my flesh.  Perhaps it was the silver in the scalpel.  I hear some vampires are allergic to silver.”

 

          She looked down at his sweaty face.

 

          “Either way . . . I did the stitching myself.  The doctor had a little accident, so he wasn't able to help.”  She looked down at the jagged lines where her former wounds had closed together.  Her brow furrowed, and she bit her bottom lip.  “If only I knew how to sew, maybe it would've healed a little better.”

 

          “I hate this thing!”  A sudden frown seized her face, a drastic change of expression that left David shaking.  She balled her fists and slammed them onto his chest.  “It's a constant reminder.  'You are dead.  You are dead!'   That's what it tells me in the mirror!”

 

          “It's sort of ironic . . . contradictory . . . coincidence—shit, I don't know what it is—that all this time I've been dying to tell someone about dying.  To spill my guts about the time someone tried to spill my guts!”

 

          She lowered herself, closing in on his face, and he noticed something different about her.  Two of her front teeth had elongated.  They tapered off into a sharp point at the end.  Those teeth glistened with too much saliva.  A drop of it splattered his cheek.

 

          “I only wanted to talk about it.  I meant you no harm.  But you didn't want to listen.  You wouldn't listen to me!”

 

          He shook his head, little beads of perspiration going wild.

 

          “What's the matter, David?  Finally speechless?”

 

 

 

 

“Someone To Talk To” originally appeared in Issue Four of The Monsters Next Door. 

 

 

I.D.K.

 

Lindsey Beth Goddard

 

The air was ripe with decay. Decomposing bodies walked the city streets. Darla had never imagined this could happen. It wasn’t the zombie apocalypse she'd seen portrayed in countless films growing up. It was a disease. A plague. Capable of rotting human flesh before the mind or heart stopped working.

Rap music blared from the speaker of her phone. It broke the silence of her defiled city, causing Darla to jump. She scrunched her brow, staring at the text message, confused. “IDK” was all it said.

“Damn it, Katie. What the hell?” she muttered. This was the second time Darla had asked if Katie was all right, only to receive the same generic reply. All she wanted was a straight forward answer. They'd been BFFs since grade school. Even if her friend was sick, Darla would come to her side. So why the evasive response?

She inched her car past the shattered remains of storefronts. Splintered glass lay everywhere, even in the center lane, as if an explosion had gone off, rather than looting. Her windows were up and she checked to make sure the doors were locked.

A hooded figure sprinted across the street two stoplights ahead, stopping only to kick a man who lay on the sidewalk. As Darla passed, she noticed the fallen man's face was decomposing. Ulcers blossomed on his skin like sickly craters, oozing blood and pus.

The movies had been right about one thing: people acted like assholes in the face of a pandemic. The city she loved had been ravaged by monsters... And it wasn't the infected who set fires and robbed stores, tipping over cars in great hoards. It was the panicked citizens, the ones who hadn’t fallen sluggish or ill, the ones who feared the disease.

She eased the car to a stop at the curb of an apartment building. “Are you sick? I'm coming up,” she typed, then pressed 'send'.

Before quietly exiting her car, she scanned the street for signs of madmen who might be on the prowl. A woman sat on the curb near the alley, hands covering her face as she wept. The skin of her arms was covered in tell-tale ulcers, huge holes that melted her flesh.

Darla hurried inside the building, pressed the elevator button five times before it finally gave a 'ding'. The doors opened to display a corpse-like man, wheezing heavily as he hugged his knees. He reached out with rotted fingers, and Darla quickly bolted, dashing for the stairs.

Her ringer sounded, causing her to flinch. She eyed the screen. “IDK” was all it said.

She reached Katie's apartment, fury rattling her jaw as she pounded on the door with both fists. “Dammit, Katie! Open up! What's going on with you?!”

The door swung open to reveal her best friend's face, badly decomposed, eyes rimmed with old pus. Through droopy lips and blackened gums, her BFF hung her head as she whispered, weakly, “I... de...cay...”

 

 

 

Lindsey's fiction has been sprinkling the horror genre since her first small-press publication at the age of fifteen. She resides in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO with her husband, three children and a daft feline companion. Visit her on the web at:  www.LindseyBethGoddard.com

 

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