Requited Love: Vengeance, Distillation and Transmogrification
By Travis Mushanski
door to the honeymoon suite and disgust contorted his facial features. A gust of
wind rustled past his legs, stirring up a decade of dust. The stench of dead
air and mold assaulted his senses. He tried to bury his nose in the elbow of
his suit jacket, but he was too late: his upper torso scrunched into a series
of uncontrollable sneezes. He leaned against the abused doorframe to regain his
motel room was
a relic from the early seventies: it featured a color palette of red, orange,
yellow and brown. He walked over to a round bed on a raised platform, plush
orange shag carpet crunched under his feet, and pressed a hand into its mass of
blankets. He chuckled to himself when a wave rippled across its surface. Surprise!
It’s a waterbed.
of the mirrored walls, he caught sight of what he had come for: a heart shaped Jacuzzi.
It sat nestled in the corner of the room, sunk into a platform covered in white
tile, and like the rest of the room, it was also surrounded by mirrors. He
traced its candy-red edge with his hand and smiled, nodding at his own
reflection in the mirror. Despite the tiles around the Jacuzzi showing signs of
wear and tear, the tub itself was in immaculate shape. Its beveled lip was
glossed to a high shine, and the interior glistened a pearl white.
and fiddled with the tap handles, and the pipes in the wall responded with an
annoyed clunk and jangle. A gurgle of brown sludge sprayed out of the spout
followed by crystal clear, steamy water. He cautiously ran a hand beneath its
flow, evaluating its viscosity with his fingertips. He sniffed the water to
ensure it hadn’t gone stagnant from sitting in the pipes for years. He shrugged
to himself in the mirror and inserted the stopper into the drain.
filled, he moved back to the waterbed and began to undress. He delicately slid
off his suit jacket and laid it out on the bed; he stopped momentarily to rub
off some dust and to pick off a stray fuzz. He did the same with his dress
shirt, tie and trousers. Once everything was in perfect shape, he neatly hung it
all in the nearby closet. Lastly, he slipped off his brown loafers, tied the
laces into a bow and placed them on the shoe rack.
moment to inspect himself in the mirror and smiled at the absurd creature staring
back. He now only wore a white undershirt tucked into his briefs and black
dress socks. He adjusted his glasses and chortled at his own middle-aged foolishness.
was three in the morning, he wasn’t too concerned about leaving the motel room
wearing next to no clothing. The proprietor of the property had been dragged
out of bed for him to rent the room in the first place, and he surely went back
to bed at once after giving Linus the key for the honeymoon suite. It was an
older property, most likely passed down through the family over a couple of generations.
They had been reluctant to enter the digital age: No computers, key fobs, or
security cameras. It was also situated off a deteriorated highway that is
hardly used anymore: it was a virtual dead zone.
unlocked the doors
of the Chevy Avalanche and grabbed a floral carry-on suitcase from the passenger
seat. He carefully carried it inside the motel room and placed it on the
counter next to the jacuzzi. He returned to the truck and paused, staring at
the handle of the truck’s box. He always loved the extra storage associated
with this vehicle because it had a hard top, and once locked, the contents
hidden within were secure.
to pull on the handle of the tailgate, and his eyes went wide with anticipation.
It was an out of body experience filled with dread. He imagined a swarm of
flies would burst out of the truck bed, or a putrescent stench would force his
stomach to regurgitate his last meal. In the end, nothing happened. The
tailgate dropped open, and the plastic wrapped bundle was exactly where he had
left it. He scanned the motel parking lot for any sign of life, took in a deep
breath and dragged the bundle towards the edge of the truck. He fought to get
it onto his shoulder and staggered beneath its weight into the motel room,
kicking the door shut behind himself.
made it across
the suite to the hot tub, sweat trickling down the back of his neck, and dropped
the bundle into the steaming water. Linus sat on the edge of the Jacuzzi,
sucking in long gasps of air. He wasn’t a proponent of rigorous physical
activity, and his racing heart was proof he hadn’t been to the gym for a long
time. He wiped his face with a musty hand towel and watched the plastic wrap drift
open in the water, exposing the pale hand of the dead man hidden within.
collected the carry-on
suitcase and propped it up on the edge of the tub. He carefully unzipped it and
inventoried its contents. Three bottles of concentrated acid: consisting of hydrochloric,
hydrofluoric and sulfuric acid; one bottle of concentrated caustic; personal
protective equipment: eye goggles, neoprene apron and chemical resistant gloves;
an assortment of garbage bags, duct tape and zip-ties. Once each item had been
accounted for, he placed them along the sink counter for easy access.
water off and gulped at the plastic shower curtain drifting in the water. He
leaned over the tub’s bright red lip and haphazardly unraveled the plastic cocooning
the dead body. It barrel-rolled through the hot water, splashing the tiled
floor. For a brief moment, Linus locked onto the corpse’s cataract eyes. The
reality of the situation hit him, and he cringed away from shock and disgust. He
fell to his knees, tears stinging his eyes, and started to stuff the discarded
plastic into a garbage bag.
himself. Let’s just get this over with and we can go home.
. . . us?”
The question gurgled out of the Jacuzzi’s water, causing the hair on Linus’
neck to stand. He bolted to his feet, knocking two of the jugs of acid into the
Linus,” he swore at himself in the mirror. His fight or flight response instantly
dried up all his saliva and made his heart flutter. He shook his head at the
corpse bobbing up and down.
the water and snagged one of the bottles of acid, but the other slid beneath
the dead body. He grabbed the corpse by its waist and pulled it into a sitting
position. He wrapped its arms around the edge of the heart-shaped tub, hoping
it would keep its position. Despite his best intentions, the corpse’s head
tilted backwards at an odd angle, exposing a purple and blue bruise around its neck.
the motel ceased to exist, and Linus was frozen in place, staring at the man’s
swollen and bruised neck. He looked down at his own hands, instinctively
flexing open and closed: a phantom memory of atypical violence. When he closed
his eyes, he could still hear the guttural begging pouring from his own lover’s
lips. Wide eyes of terror haunted his dreams, both sleeping and awake. But
Linus’ hands never stopped squeezing, not until his fiancé was long dead.
Linus spat. He slid his hands into the chemical-proof gloves, slung the apron
around his waist and squeezed the safety goggles over his own glasses. He
smiled to the mad scientist in the mirror. “Even in death, you’re a manipulative,
sanctimonious . . .” He trailed off, losing his train of thought, and growled
incoherently. His smile turned sinister, and his eyes went black; one by one, he
dumped in the three bottles of acid.
acids caused a
chemical reaction in the honeymoon Jacuzzi, and heavy, vaporous steam curled
its way out of the water. The acidic steam irritated Linus’ throat, forcing him
to double over from a coughing fit. He stumbled to the bathroom sink, expecting
to throw up, but managed to catch his breath. He gulped down a mouthful of
water, and choaked on it when high pitched laughter echoed through the suite.
Linus called out, scanning the suite through fog filled safety goggles. He tore
them off, but the motel room was empty, yet the icicle-filled laughter persisted.
He turned to the corpse and lost the ability to breathe, time skidded to a
sudden stop. The dead man’s head convulsed with each round of laughter.
around the tub, making sure he kept his eyes on Peter’s corpse. After only a
minute of exposure to the acid, bright red chemical burns spread across the
corpse’s flesh. The thermodynamic reaction of the acid mixing in the water
caused a sudden increase in temperature, which also increased the effectiveness
of the acids’ ability to consume organic material. The water had already turned
a mucus yellow, a sure sign of the acid dissolving the epidermis. He could also
hear a subtle hiss of the acid eating through the flesh above the Jacuzzi’s
water. Once on the opposite side of the tub, he grinned at the sight of long gouges
running across the corpse’s chest, exposing muscle and fat destined to be
liquified by the acid blend.
stopped and the corpse’s head tilted towards Linus with an abrupt crack. “Gonna
join me, lover?” The voice sounded like it echoed out from a deep well. Its
lips didn’t quiver when it spoke, but its laughter struck out at Linus like
impossible . . .” Linus pushed himself backwards against the wall and slid to
the floor. He buried his face in the chemical resistant gloves and muttered
incoherently to himself.
no, no. It’s
all just a hallucination,” the corpse mocked in a wheezy, high pitch voice.
“Such a pussy, Linus. What? Did you learn all this on YouTube?” it cackled.
up, shut up,
shut up,” Linus yelled, wrapping his hands over his ears.
a bunch of
random chemicals into a hot tub and hope for the best? You even brought caustic
to neutralize the acid for easy clean-up. But where’s your respirator? Did you forget
it at home?” The dead man’s laugh echoed through the suite. “If the acid isn’t
eating away at your lungs by now, it’s surely warping your broken mind.”
up!” Linus jumped
to his feet and splashed the corpse in the face with a wave of acidic water. “You’re
dead. You can’t talk!”
Peter’s face quickly turned dark brown, and his skin suctioned itself to his
skeletal frame in a case of instant mummification. Long thin cracks broke open,
exposing dried stands of muscle latticed over pink flesh. The hair of the
corpse’s head dissolved to the scalp, emitting a stink of burning plastic. Blood
trailed out of the open wounds, dripping into the growing murk of the Jacuzzi
this, Linus could only stare into Peter’s cold milky eyes. Even when the acid
melted them into the corpse’s sockets, aqueous humour running down the mutilated
cheeks, Linus couldn’t pull his gaze away from the bubbling, blackened pits of
despair. The entire time, the corpse’s laughter burned through Linus, consuming
his soul like the burning acid.
Linus yelled. His chest heaved with unchecked rage, sucking in acidic air with
each breath. He snatched one of the empty bottles from the floor and filled it
with Jacuzzi water. “This will make you shut up,” he giggled while he spoke,
making his words incomprehensible. He leaned over the heart-shaped tub and poured
the acid water over Peter’s head. The liquid hissed and spit, eating its way
down Peter’s face.
been eaten through, exposing bleached white teeth that caged in a black tongue.
The remaining cartilage from his nose melted and dribbled over his gaping
mouth, leaving behind a cavernous gorge for a nasal cavity. From his body’s
black depth, the stench of internal decomposition crawled its way out to mingle
with the acidic steam of the honeymoon suite.
are such a
pussy,” Peter said in a calm voice. His melting body remained motionless, stuck
in a state of perpetual serenity. “I’m in a pool of acid, and you’re still too
weak to finish me off. Pathetic.”
a feral animal and wrapped his hands around the corpse’s neck. Putrefied flesh
squeezed through his fingers like playdough until he had a firm grip on Peter’s
vertebrae. “I already killed you, and I’ll do it again,” he groaned.
mutilated hand, cleaned
free of human flesh, shot out of the water and gripped Linus’ apron. His lungs
turned to stone, and his eyes widened in disbelief.
the corpse said, dragging itself out of the water, inching its mutilated face
towards Linus. “In my sleep!” Linus twisted and tugged to be free of the
monstrosity, but the dead man’s grip was iron tight.
give me a
kiss goodbye.” The corpse snaked its black tongue into Linus’ mouth, exploring
every nook and cranny. Slick with corrosive acid, the tongue spread an
insatiable pain across the lining of Linus’ mouth.
broke free of
the corpse’s skeletal kiss. He tried to call for help, but the acid had worked
too well: blood pooled from his mouth, causing his words to gurgle into the
water with the crimson gore. His tear-filled gaze dipped downward and realized
he was being held over the pool of churning acid by a deteriorating arm. The
corpse’s skeleton jaw, weakened by the hydrofluoric acid, cracked into a jagged
smile. Linus’ eyes bulged, but when the corpse released his grip, he screamed,
falling face first into the Jacuzzi.
against the edge of the tub and sighed with contentment. Chucks of flesh and
muscle clung to his bones, gleaming white from the acid blend, but he was
already dead, all pain and suffering had been forgotten ages ago. Soon he would
return to the void, but in the meantime, he sat back and enjoyed Linus flailing
about in the acid-rich water: he wasn’t quite ready to accept he was already
Linus, but at least I finally got the honeymoon I always dreamed of.” Peter’s
manic laughter was drowned out by Linus’ gurgling death. “Such a romantic.” He stretched
back and struck a button labelled JETS with his putrefied arm. His
exposed Ulna and Radius bones disintegrated on impact, crumbling to a coarse calcium
A mechanical grind
filled the honeymoon suite and acidic water burst from the heart-shaped Jacuzzi’s
jets. The murky water turned mahogany, churning violently like boiling water. Peter
placed the remains of his arms behind his head and slowly sunk into the primordial
was born and raised on the Canadian Prairies where he
works as a professional brewer in the craft beer industry. He graduated from
the BA English program at the University of Regina where he focused on creative
writing. He occasionally finds myself writing short fiction exploring the
nightmares and horrors hiding just out of sight. You can find his other works
in Schlock! Webzine, Lovecraftiana, and horror anthologies from Gravestone
Press and Hellbound Books. Of course, all of this is possible because of the
support of his wonderful wife, Janelle, and beautiful daughter, Emma.