A Short story of Horror
I’d been back a month, the city of light they called it, Paris and all its lovers, everyone hand in hand, lips locked like they were lynching the breath from each other and there I was, alone. It had become my city of shadows; dark, devious and doomed.
Why did I come back here, of all places, the one city that had ripped us apart, literally? It had found us, cracked us open and drained the beat of life that bound us, blood seeping onto sidewalks, terrorising terraces, drowning the river in crimson currents, from your veins to its bed.
I was back in our home, on our balcony, waiting, wondering if I’d catch sight of you. I lost nights chain smoking, drinking, hurting all over again. Everything inside still aching from that night, even the dust felt your absence and clung to your chair, your brushes, your side of the bed, your box of sharp, sadistic tricks.
It was the end of October when it happened, when the shadows gradually began to find their shape in the darker tones of the season. Breath hung in the crisp air when you exhaled, like an entity all of its own. It was almost midnight on that most hallowed of all eves, I was wearing your scarf, wrapped tightly around my neck. I had the feeling it was your hands wrapped around me, almost to the point of choking me, when I saw the shadow approaching. An icy shiver cut through my veins like I’d swallowed blades, large and hole. I froze to the spot. I recognised the shadow as it came closer and, as the form found its shape, I knew it to be true. I held my breath as it came to the gate, flipped the latch and entered the garden of dying flowers beneath the spell of the moon. The door downstairs groaned opened, followed by footsteps creaking their way up along those old steps, the ones you always demanded me to fix, I wish that had been your only demand. Keys rattled next in the hallway until one twisted in the slot of my door, which used to be our door. The lock clicked just as I stepped in from the balcony. My pulse was beating so hard it felt like the veins of my body were being strangled.
The form stepped into the dimly lit room and I recognised the scent immediately as tears burnt down my face. I opened my mouth to scream but your hand caressed my cheek, wiped my tears before you put your lips against mine and I was captive once again in your dangerous embrace, after so many years of being without, being lost, being broken, regretting it all. I thought I was dead. I didn’t think I could move until you whispered to me to hold you and, without knowing it, without controlling them, my arms wrapped themselves around you and held us together so tightly that I thought we’d break.
This is death, I told myself, I exist now among the dead and yet I could smell you, feel you; your cold lips, that putrid perfume I’d always hated and your body bolt against mine.
I didn’t know how it could be, how you were standing in front of me, touching me, your tongue piercing its way into my mouth. And then the doorbell rang and shook the silence of the entire moment, the entire building and maybe even the entire world that had flipped on its axis in a matter of moments, in the encounter of a kiss, a kiss from death itself.
“Those kids,” I said, as if everything was normal, unsure of what else to say, “it’s
Halloween… you always hated when they found their way into the building, begging for candy.”
You turned and somehow you were instantly out of my grip, standing by the door, turning the handle, but I hadn’t seen you move. You stood in silence regarding the children outside, dressed as ghouls, monsters and one peculiar child hidden from head to toe in a princess costume, perfectly in character except for the gaping wound on her neck. She held a knife in her tiny hand, as real and as sharp as a butcher’s pride and joy.
“You shouldn’t be playing with this, my sweet, you’ll get blood all over your costume,” you said to her before you took the knife from her tiny fingers and instantly you were back again, standing before me, looking right inside me.
The children were still standing in the doorway as you raised the blade, cutting through the thin breath of air that separated us, as if that was all that separated us.
“I don’t understand,” I said to you, knowing time had deserted me, realising I’d wasted my freedom, watching the shadows, terrified of what would one day arise from them, “you were dead,” I said, “I saw you bleed out on front of me.”
“I know, my love and I still am. The dead don’t come back to life, not after their lover has killed them, they just come back for what they left behind,” she said as she slashed the blade across my neck, just below her scarf and the warm blood gushed from the inside out. She grabbed me and pulled me close to her as the life drained from my body, bringing her lips down on my neck and savagely sucking what was left from my veins.
“You killed me because you discovered my desire for slicing up life, so I’ve returned to show you that very desire, first-hand,” she whispered to my fading life-force.
“Happy Halloween,” were the last words I heard her utter as I dropped to the floor while she took the hands of the children who watched from the shadow of the doorway and lead them off with a vengefully demonic laugh.
All words and photographs by Damien B Donnelly
This short story was published as a tale in the ‘Body Horror Anthology’ from Gehenna and Hinnom Books.