Cinderella Inspired Paranormal Short Story


Midnight

by Dorlana Vann

 

“All black doesn’t suit you,” Dominick said. “I think you should choose softer more delicate colors.”

“Delicate?” I said. “Seriously, do I look delicate?”

He grinned like he had me all figured out.

“Tuh … You are such an idiot.” When I spun to leave his presence, he grabbed hold of my arm. I didn’t turn around, but I didn’t pull away either.

“I want you to come to my Halloween party.” He placed a piece of paper in my hand. Finally, after I didn’t answer, he let me go.

I walked down the hall, not looking back until I was about to turn the corner. The bastard was still there, stationary, as the student body seemed to move around him at an accelerated speed. Our eyes remained locked, until a wall replaced my view.

“You should stay away from him,” Amanda, my stepsister/cousin/shadow from hell said. My mom died a year ago, and my aunt— her only sister— moved right in. Two months later, she became my stepmom. My dad died three months after the wedding. I guess he realized that just because Aunt Molly looked exactly like my mom, she couldn’t replace her. I still hate him for it.

“Who?” I asked after I realized I hadn’t out-walked her yet.

“You know who. I saw you talking to him, again.” She cleared her throat and lowered her voice. “I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about him. Mom would freak.”

“Like what?”

“Everything from he’s creepy to he’s fresh out of juvie for murder.”

“Oh, please, this school is so stupid. It’s like no one has ever seen an emo kid before. Besides, he just invited me to some lame Halloween party tonight. He’s not that bad.”

“Mom will never let you go.”

“Grow up,” I said as I turned and went inside my classroom. But at that moment I knew I had no choice but to go, or more like, it gave me an excuse to. I didn’t want to socialize with anyone, but Dominick made it difficult for me to stay mad at the world.

***

Amanda stood next to Molly, my aunt/step mom/guardian from hell, with a look of, You’re in trouble now—combined with a dash of—Maybe I shouldn’t have told on you. I had to remember that Amanda was used to being a finger-pointer; she had been since I could remember. I also knew that she wasn’t like the other girls her age. For some reason, she seemed to be maturing at the rate of 2:1. When we had lived apart, I could handle her. But now that her tattling neared constant, she really got on my nerves.

“Stella … Pumpkin,” Molly said. “Can we talk?”

My skin crawled at the word pumpkin—my dad used to call me that. I exhaled and dropped my book bag where I stood and then walked over to the couch and plopped. At least it had become a little easier to look at Molly. Her and my mom could have been twins. She even stood the same way my mom did when she became upset: one hand on her hip and the other one fidgeting with her face. I guess I could see how my dad, who loved my mom to no end, could get pulled in so easily.

“I heard about the party,” she said.

“Big surprise there.” I glared at Amanda.

Amanda examined her pink fingernails.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea. Amanda tells me that this guy, Dominick, is bad news. After everything that has happened this year, I think maybe it would be best not to associate yourself with the type of people that might lead you into adolescent …”

I tuned her out at that point. Six months, and I would be out of there. She could have the house. She could have everything. Everything that had been important to me had already been taken away.

“Go to hell,” I said after she had finished her spiel, and then I went to my room.

***

I didn’t answer the knock at my door because I figured it was just Molly checking to see if I had climbed out my window yet. The door handle moved. Crap. I had forgotten to lock it.

She poked her head in. “Can I talk to you for a moment?”

“Go away,” I said through the muffle of my pillow.

I felt the bed move when she sat down. Didn’t she get it? Didn’t she get that the very sight of her made me want to throw up – made me want to die.

Molly sighed and then said, “I used to be so jealous of her. I had straggly hair and this enormous mole on the tip of my nose.”

I really didn’t want to look at her, but she left me no choice. I didn’t remember any mole.

“I had it removed. That’s why I removed Amber’s, so she wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. But still, she seems to be going through a lot of the same awkwardness. You remind me so much of your mom. She was a beautiful teenager, a cheerleader … and the school’s vice president, and the captain of the debate team. Me? Just her strange older sister, in love with the star football player. Your father.”

“Look, this isn’t helping,” I said and got off the bed she contaminated.

She exhaled. “They didn’t even know each other at the time. Me and your dad were seniors and in a lot of the same classes. He was nice to me, and I fell hard. I was so confused because it wasn’t anything like the fairy tales I had read. I physically hurt for him. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but I couldn’t. I know he wouldn’t have laughed at me, but I was afraid I would look in his eyes and see pity. I couldn’t bear the thought of him not talking to me, either. Complete agony.”

I heard the sorrow in her voice and the tears at the edge of each word. But I felt nothing but disgust. Still, something kept me listening …

“When I graduated, I was finally able to put him out of my mind. Out of sight out of mind, until that next year. Your mom brought home her new boyfriend that she had met in college.”

“Oh, wait,” I mumbled. “Let me guess. My dad?”

“Yes. I never told either one of them. Never told a soul … until just now. “

“Well, you didn’t waste any time going after him.”

“It wasn’t ugly. That’s what I want you to know. That’s why I’m telling you this. I don’t want you to hate me, or your father. I wanted you to know that I had loved him for a very long time.”

***

Molly’s undying love confession didn’t keep me in the house. Surprisingly, she didn’t take my keys but just assumed that I would be a good little girl and stay put like I was told.

Ha.

I stood at the end of the sidewalk looking up at the house that sat on a hill. The moon shone down giving it an old school horror movie castle appearance. I laughed but reread the invite Dominick had given me to confirm the address.

As I walked up the steps, a couple of girls dressed in skimpy fairy costumes passed by me. “Invitation only? How lame,” the one girl said.

I nervously approached, a little worried because I wore regular clothes. The invitation did say Costume Ball. Costume Ball. I thought maybe I should have picked a different party to go to; one of those where the kids had given out flyers saying B.Y.O.B.

The vampire at the door didn’t check my invitation; he just nodded as I walked by. When I stepped into the foyer, the faint sound of orchestra music teased my senses, but I should have known better than to expect silly Halloween songs and sounds.

A grand carpeted staircase rose a few feet in front of me, and the gaudy antique-looking chandelier that hung from the lofty ceiling probably cost more than my car. I stood for a second wondering in which direction to go, finally deciding to follow the newly arriving guests.

We walked through a room with table after table of food and drinks and then down a dimly lit corridor with old paintings. The classical music grew louder as we approached a doubled-doored entry.

As the doors swung open, the music whisked my hair back as it flowed out of the room on a breeze. Then the music abruptly stopped with a screech. Everything stopped, except for my heart that I hadn’t noticed, until then, had gained beats per minute.

There must have been two hundred people in that room, all looking at me through their masks. The men wore long black masks that seemed to be glued to their faces, while the women held their colorful, feather adorned ones on long sticks against their eyes.

The women wore elegant floor-length gowns, and the men were in black tuxedos; just like the guy at the door who I had assumed had dressed as a vampire.

I had obviously walked into the wrong party. I wanted to apologize for interrupting, however, my embarrassment made me speechless. I turned to make a quick exit but stumbled over my gown.

My what?

The long white dress sat low on my shoulders, tightened unmercifully around my waist and then ballroomed out to the floor. I squeezed my eyes together, hoping that when I opened them again, my delusions wouldn’t soon include the ghosts of my parents.

My eyes opened when a sudden gust of wind just about lifted me off the floor. I became completely nauseated by the change of scenery. Straight back chairs filled the room and were divided by a center aisle. The guests were now all sitting down, but still faced me, silent, and with their masks still pressed against their faces.

When I felt something tug at my dress, I turned around, and there were three little girls holding the train of my dress like it was a wedding dress.

Obviously, I was having a nightmare.

“Stella.” The echo seemed to travel from the back of the room and then reverberate loudly when it reached my ears. This sent a new sensation up my spine and around my neck that made me quiver. Ready to scream, I held my breath as I turned to face whatever came next.

Dominick stood right in front of me, but he didn’t look the same as he did in school. He wore formal attire like the rest of the crowd. And instead of his normal long straight hair that almost completely covered his eyes, he had it slicked back, which made him look a lot older. Oh yeah, and a lot hotter. So gorgeous I almost relaxed at his smile.

He said, “I knew you would come.”

“What’s going on?” I said through my teeth.

“Don’t be afraid.” He held out his hand.

I stared at him for a few seconds until finally forcing my eyes away so I could look around and remember. “If this is your idea of a joke …” Some joke though—the dress, all the people. “… it’s not funny.”

“I know this is strange but let me explain and then you will see how this is meant to be. Since your birth, your mother’s birth, her mother’s birth on up five generations, this has been your destiny. We are betrothed. We must wed and then consummate our marriage before midnight so that my son will carry on my name. My time has come to an end. After midnight, I will be dead. But before I leave, I must pass on my powers. You are the only one in the world who has the right combination of genes for this to succeed.”

“Right …” Well, my brooding finally attracted someone completely insane. And then thankfully, I noticed Mike Cole from 6th period. “Oh, you guys can’t trick me so easily.” I walked over to him and snatched the mask off his face. I gasped and took a step back. Not him. This guy’s face was cruelly cratered and monstrous. “I’m sorry.” I backed away and bumped into Dominick with a gasped.

“Don’t be afraid. Soon, you will be mistress of all of this. And all of them, your loyal servants.”

“That’s a generous offer, really, but I’ve got to go. People know I’m here. Wait, was that a knock at the door?”

The band started up again. I recognized the song: The freaking Wedding March. I don’t think so. I turned so abruptly that I knocked down one of the train-holding little girls, and I was so upset, I didn’t care. I tried to run. But even though I held up the dress the best I could, I stumbled and lost a shoe—high-freaking-heels that I didn’t put on when I left my house.

I was almost to the doors when I heard death curdling screams. I spun around. Like an old cowboy movie, Molly and Amber were at the back of the room with nooses tied around their necks. The tips of their toes were on stools, their mouths gagged, and their hands bound behind their backs.

I charged back down the aisle, but before I reached them, several men jumped up from their seats to hold me back.

My situation had become a little clearer, even though it made no sense at all.

“Do I have your attention now?” Dominick said.

I took one of those double-takes when I looked at him. His hair, that had been dark brown, had turned completely white. I couldn’t take my eyes off him because it seemed like I was watching really good movie special effects as his hair began to move up his head, slowly revealing skin. His ears and nose were bigger than I remembered, and wrinkles formed around his mouth and eyes. “What are you?”

“My name is Dominick Hamsphere. I am a 200-year-old warlock. My time in this realm ends at midnight, but I must plant an heir to carry on my name and to inherit the family wealth and power.”

Did he say 200 years old? “Gaa-ros.” I had been seriously attracted to him. “You have the wrong girl. I don’t know anything about any of this.”

He smiled, showing black rotting teeth.

My stomach churned.

“I have been following your line for five generations. I would have preferred to have met you last year, so I could have spent more time getting to know you. Unfortunately, I lost track of your grandmother when she moved to the states. I found you just in time.” He held out his hand, his fingernails beginning to curl with length. “I’m offering you marriage before the honeymoon because I am a gentleman. However, I do have a deadline.”

“You’re crazy! I’m not marrying you.”

He turned his head toward Molly and Amber. “Which one has to die before we get started?”

Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked up at them.

Amber sobbed, and Molly’s eyes were wide with horror. At that moment, I knew Molly feared for me too, not just for Amber. My mind became clearer than it had been in months. I knew what I wanted. I knew what was important. Annoying, yes, and everything that had happened over the past year didn’t automatically erase. But they were family. The only family I had left.

“Just let them go first,” I whispered. “Then I’ll do what you want.”

With a wave of his hand and a warm wind, they were gone. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get out of there way before midnight.

***

“I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

I didn’t want to move my attention away from the masked guy who had married us. But I knew I had to. Slowly, I turned my head.

Dominick’s appearance scared the tears right out of my eyes. I couldn’t hold back the whimper. I could see his cheek bones through his thinning skin. He was completely bald, except for one tiny section on the right side of his head. Where his lips had been before, only huge ugly teeth. I squeezed my eyes together as tight as I could so not even light would influence my vision. With a grimace, I puckered.

I felt something graze my mouth and then the atmosphere sounds distorted. I knew my surroundings were different, even before I opened my eyes.

I stood in a cold bedroom wearing the clothes I had arrived in, blue-jeans and a black t-shirt. I didn’t see Dominick, so I ran to the door. Of course, it had been locked from the outside.

Then I heard him say, “Stella,” with his teenaged voice. I turned my head slowly, and there he stood, dressed as he did at school, looking at me through his intensely dark eyes.

“I don’t want you to be frightened,” he said. “I’ve saved my last bit of energy, so I would be beautiful in your eyes. This is what you like, right?” He glided over to me. His skin looked silky white smooth. “I couldn’t ask for a more perfect bride. You look just like your mother, and her mother before that. It is amazing to see how your beauty has progressed through the years. I was a little taken back the first time I saw you, and a little concerned that you had removed the mark that represents your heritage. I can understand the temptation, but you would have looked beautiful with a hundred moles on your face.”

“Moles?” And when did he meet my mom? I began to laugh. I felt drunk with terror and the ridiculousness of the night “Do you think Molly’s my mom?”

Dominick looked at me with a curious smile that slowly became a curious frown.

“Hmmm …” I mocked. “Boy, did you screw up. Molly’s my aunt, not my mom. They had the moles. You thought I was Amanda!” I threw my hand over my mouth, wishing I could take my words back.

Suddenly, the window crashed inward, and a furious wind swept through the room. Dominick’s appearance changed in an instant, and he stood before me more hideous and post-grave like than he did before. The realization that he had redirected his powers to summon Amanda seared from the top of my head down into my stomach. I couldn’t let that happen.

I charged the old witch before he knew what hit him. His frailness lent no resistance as we rushed the window and fell two stories. I felt him crush beneath me.

So much for Midnight.

The End

 

New SFT cover 2019.jpg

 

Midnight is one of the short stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. It was inspired by Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault containing Stories or Tales from Times Past, with Morals, with the added title in the frontispiece, Tales of Mother Goose. France: 1697

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