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Short Story (Dark Fantasy) Inspired by The Little Mermaid

This short story was originally published in the online fairy tale magazine, Enchanted Conversation . It is included in my fairy tale inspired paranormal short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales.

His Soul Inspiration
by Dorlana Vann

“Have you read this?” My husband, Philip, held the book of fairy tales I had bought from a used bookstore for my niece’s ninth birthday.

“Well, not that one, but I’ve read fairy tales before,” I said as I shut the door and stepped out of my heels.

He shook the hardback of nearly 500 pages. “Not like these.”

“Yeah, sure I have. ‘The Ugly duckling,’ ‘The Emperor’s New Suit,’ ‘The Little Mermaid’…”

“Right-right-right. These are them, but not like the ones I’m sure you’re thinking of. They’re not all fairy princesses and happy endings. They’re darker, full of hardship and pain and broken hearts.”

“All right,” I said. His excitement confused me because it didn’t match what I thought he was saying. “Do you think I should take it back and get Emily something else?”

“No. I mean, yes, you should get Emily something else. But no, don’t take this back.”

I scratched my head. “Are you okay?”

“I’m more than okay—I’m terrific!” He set the book down on the couch, wrapped his arms around me, and twirled us around. As he put me down, an amused smirk transformed into a wide smile and huge eyes. “The Little Mermaid!” he exclaimed.

Philip had been having a rough year, trying to find his inspiration to paint. This sudden strangeness made me queasy, and I was a little surprised that he had cracked before I had. Not that I didn’t respect his work, goals, and dreams, it’s just that I had some of my own. And working two jobs to support a starving artist had never been my plan.

 He had picked up the book again and was flipping through it when I decided to go run a bubble bath.

 “Syrena, here it is. I want to read this to you right fast.”

 “I’m really tired. I just want to go soak in the tub.”

“Please…. This is it. This is what I need to get me out of this slump. Please, just listen and see.”

 I sighed as softly as I could manage and took my place beside him on the couch. He began to read: “The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson… Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep…”

“Well, it’s definitely different than the Disney version,” I said after he had finished reading the tale. “I didn’t realize it was so sad.”

“Anything else?” He asked slowly.

I shook my head and shrugged.

“Her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea,” he quoted. “And she wrapped herself in her long, thick hair.”

“I’m sorry, Philip. I’m tired. I’m not getting what you’re getting at. Just tell me.”

“It’s you! You have to be my model.” His eyes sparkled, and he looked so happy, happier than I had seen him in a long time. I even felt a tinge of exhilaration myself. It had been awhile since he had asked me to model for him.

 “Okay.” I smiled. “Mermaids are topless, right?”

 He danced his eyebrows up and down. “You betcha.”

 “It sounds like fun. Saturday morning, I’m all yours.”

 “No, no, no. Now.” He stood up and held his hand out to me.

 “Now?” I whined.

 “I can’t take the chance of losing this, this feeling.”

 After a few seconds of staring into his imploring but loving eyes, I agreed by taking his hand and letting him lead me to the studio/guest room/home office. A few of his paintings hung on the walls: abstracts from his college years, pencil drawings sketched when we were on vacation at the beach, and one of me when we first met. The evening really made me think of that time, when he was so vigorous and full of dreams. When his passion oozed from his fingertips, and he saw the world differently than anybody I had ever met before; he noticed colors before shapes and talked in hues and aura, like others talked current events.

 It didn’t take him long to put me in position: on the floor leaning on my elbow, legs out beside me, and my hair down and draped over the front of me like a mermaid’s. I knew he was in his zone, no longer seeing me, but seeing through me and to my spirit.

“Beautiful.” He took his place behind the easel and white canvas.

Unable to see his face, only his arm as it gently followed the hand holding the paint brush, I knew not to talk, not to disturb him as he created the new, improved me. However, after what felt like hours, my mouth began to dry. I needed water. Surely, he would understand that I needed a little break—I opened my mouth to tell him, but my tongue was completely limp, and I couldn’t even swallow. The silly words from the story came to mind: “Then she cut off the mermaid’s tongue, so that she became dumb, and would never again speak or sing.”

 Trying to laugh at the thought, I felt a strange pinch in the middle of my stomach. An involuntary grunt finally came from my throat, and when I realized I could make this sound, I tried to get Philip’s attention, but he didn’t hear me—too focused in his work.

 I squeezed my eyes open and shut, trying to clear the buzzing that had begun in my head. And then I saw it…. waves of color beamed from me to Philip’s swooping arm. At first I thought it was the result of the light bulbs and my blinking, but it didn’t go away. It was dark outside, so there was no sun playing with the window’s glass. These streams of gold and red and blue were coming from me.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain run up my arm, and it couldn’t hold me up any longer. I collapsed. “…and it seemed as if a two-edged sword went through her delicate body: she fell into a swoon, and lay like one dead…” I thought Philip would soon look at me and tell me to sit up—but minutes passed, and he never glanced away from the canvas. The pain moved down to my legs and so did the beams of colorful light. “…she felt as if treading upon the points of needles or sharp knives.”

 As I grew weaker, my confusion faded. It became clear that if I didn’t get Philip’s attention, I would die, which promptly turned into: if I don’t stop Philip, I will die. “Haste, then; he or you must die before sunrise.”

 I pushed my torso up with wobbly arms, every muscle burning. I couldn’t feel my legs at all. “She has given us a knife: here it is, see it is very sharp. Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the heart of the prince; when the warm blood falls upon your feet… return to us to live.” I remembered the scissors on my desk behind me. I loudly grunted as I reached and grabbed them, dropping immediately back down. I lay there, time passing until I was able to pull myself by plunging the scissors into the carpet and using them as a means to move across the floor.

 With each breath, my lungs tightened as if the air itself was poison. I coughed and gagged, but still Philip did not stir. Finally, I lay beside him at his easel, taking a moment to gather some strength. The hand that held the scissors ached and so did my heart at the thought of what I had to do to survive. I used the rest of my might to pull myself up, leaning on my left hand, and brought the weapon behind my head with my right.

 When I shifted my view, the painting came into focus. It was complete, save for the sun. Philip dipped his brush into the yellow and orange mixture, and I examined The Little Mermaid, letting the scissors fall behind me as I marveled at her beauty. She was alive. This painting was Philip’s dream, his life’s work… his masterpiece.

 Easing the brush away from the bright sun, Philip whispered, “Finished,” as I fell into soft darkness…

 “…and then mounted with the other children of the air to a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.”

 

The End

 

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

 

His Soul Inspiration is one of the stories from my fairy tale inspired paranormal short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. .99 cent eBook available at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TBT Short Story: The Gift (Inspired by The Ghost of Christmas Past)

Before I started writing my short story, The Gift, I knew the inspiration: The Ghost of Christmas Past from “A Christmas Carol” the genre: western with a touch of steampunk, and I even knew how I wanted it to end. But I was stuck, stalled right at the beginning. So my daughter suggested that I write it backward. So I did. I started with “The End” and wrote the entire rough draft, line by line, in reverse order. I totally recommend this – maybe not for every story – it was a lot of fun and a creative challenge.

I’m not sure of the date, but I published the short story collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales, in 2011 so I do know that I wrote it before 2010. I should have the date written down around here somewhere …

And Speaking of gifts, I am giving away the eBook with the following short story and eight other on Amazon from December 4 – 8, 2015 (I know, I know, you were hoping for cash :) )

Love and Laughter and Merry Christmas,

Dorlana

The Gift

by Dorlana Vann

Paris, Texas 1873

 

At first Cynthia was afraid to look out the window. She was afraid she would see the ghostly figure out by the horses again, stirring them up, making them run and complain. But she was expecting someone; she had to look.

The speck of hope that the person riding up the path was her husband immediately died away. The man hunched over and rode at a steady pace, like he had all the time in the world. The sudden ominous sorrow she felt was overwhelming.

Cynthia moved away from the window and began removing the supper dishes from the table. As soon as she had set them down, a loud knocking erupted. She smoothed her dress and touched her hair, wishing she had put it up instead of the bowls, and opened the door.

The stranger’s head was down, showing the top of his brown hat.  He was tall and broad shouldered and dirty.  Pistols hung on both sides of his hips. When he raised his head, the smell of whiskey came with each noisy breath. He squinted into the light. “Ma’am, I’m looking for Tommy Two Shot.”

Thomas isn’t here.”

The man frowned and then spit out the side of his mouth, saliva hitting the porch. “Is that so? Well then, when ya expecting him?”

The only reason she didn’t reconsider her decision to ask for his help was because she was more afraid of the ghost than she was of the stranger. Besides, no one, who knew Tommy, would dare harm his wife. “Mr. Stockton? I’m Mrs. Thomas Garrison. I’m the one who sent for you. Please, come in.”

He wiped his feet, removed his hat and walked into the house but didn’t stop very far past the door. He cautiously examined the room, looking to the fireplace, table, and chairs.

“Daddy! Daddy!” Mary and Annie ran into the room but stopped when they saw the stranger.

A flush of embarrassment raced up Cynthia’s face. “No girls. It’s a friend of your Father’s.”

Mr. Stockton asked, “Where is ol’ Tommy Two—”

“We don’t use that name in our home,” Cynthia said quickly.

He glanced at the girls and nodded. “My mistake ma’am. I mean, where is Mr. Garrison?”

“Girls… go on back to bed now. Annie, help your sister.”

The girls did as they were told and soon Cynthia was alone with the stranger. “Please have a seat.”

When the man sat down, his guns clanked against the chair.

“I’m going to get straight to the point, Mr. Stockton.” She placed a kettle into the fire, moving a stocking that hung from the mantle out of her way. “I have a problem. You see, after my husband left on a business trip…”

“Uh huh.”

“… I’ve had a visitor that I need to get rid of.”

“Killin’ ain’t my specialty.”

“I know.” She turned around and peered at the filthy man who sat across from her. She considered her words carefully, but at the last minute decided it wasn’t the time to beat around the bush. “I don’t need a killer. My husband told me what you do. I need someone who can get rid of a ghost.”

“He told you about that, huh?”

“He told me you had a special ability of some kind.”

“Are you sure it’s a ghost and not some coyote or raccoon? That’s happened before.”

“I’ve seen it out by the horses. It ain’t no coyote. It’s shaped like a man, but I can see right through it. It rattles the horses, scares them silly, and just as it turns its head to look at me… I turn away and hide. I’m afraid if it sees me it’ll come inside. I don’t want it coming inside, Mr. Stockton.” The kettle whistled, and she jumped.

“I’m not sure what your husband told you, ma’am, but I can’t get rid of the devil if that’s what you got. I’ve had a lot of folks wanting me to get rid of the devil.” He laughed and shook his head. “You see, I’m kind of what you call an interpreter. All’s I can do is listen.”

She poured him a cup of coffee and carried it to him, the coffee spilling a little from her shaky hands.

“You have a mighty fine home, Mrs. Garrison.” He took a sip of his coffee. “Real clean.”

The compliment made her feel uncomfortable. The way they lived, always on the move, they didn’t have things like other people, so there was nothing to make things untidy. Sometimes they lived in hotels in town, but it was worse when they had to stay with “friends.” She was grateful that this time they had found an old abandoned house out on the prairie—at least that was what her husband had told her. She didn’t question why it had furniture and a nice fence.

He looked around, nodding. He pointed to the fireplace with his hat. “February is a little late to still have your Christmas up.”

“Shhh. I’m waiting on Thomas so that we can have Christmas as a family,” she whispered. “The girls don’t know Christmas is over. They shouldn’t have to wait much longer. Thomas will be back any minute now.” After the stranger nodded, his eyebrow up, and clicked his tongue, Cynthia stared down at the floor—She knew he didn’t believe her, and she didn’t really have a choice but be straight with him.  “I really don’t know when he’ll be back… I don’t have any money. I swear as soon as he does return…”

“A hot meal would do fine.”

Cynthia cooked. Even though she had to use the remainder of the breakfast food, she wasn’t too worried. Thomas had played it close before but always returned right before all the supplies were depleted. She smiled and thought maybe this was a sign that he would be home soon.

After Cynthia put a plate on the table in front of Mr. Stockton, he dug in like he hadn’t had a meal in a while. She turned away when he started sopping up the eggs with the biscuits, the yellow dripping down his chin as he talked. “I was given this machine by a feller down in San Francisco. Sorta payment for a debt he owed me. I’ve had it for twenty-some-odd years. It’s never failed me. It brings ‘em out all right, and I can hear ‘em. I can’t talk to ’em, but I can hear ‘em through that machine. Don’t ask me how the dang thing works, cause I don’t know…”

Cynthia wanted to believe that he would be able to help. But what he was saying seemed impossible. Perhaps it had been a mistake. Perhaps Mr. Stockton was crazier than a mad dog and what Thomas had told her about him that night had been a joke, maybe just drunk talk. She shook her head for being such a hypocrite… most folks would probably think she was crazy, too, for seeing a ghost.

After Mr. Stockton finished his meal and after Cynthia checked on the girls, they walked outside and stood on the front porch.

Mr. Stockton walked from his horse, which was hitched to the porch, to the steps carrying a strange apparatus in his hands. It was round and made of a shiny metal. It reminded Cynthia of a compass. He pulled at a thin stick that came out of the top of it, and it seemed to grow. A strange noise resounded from the thing: a mix of frogs and unknown insects after a heavy rain.

He held it in the palm of his hand and put his arm way up high in the air, walking out into the sandy yard. “If there’s a ghost out here, this will detect it.”

She eased her way down the steps and followed him toward the fenced-in horses.

“Over here, right?” Mr. Stockton asked. “You saw it over here?”

The little machine lit up. Cynthia put her hand over her mouth and looked at Mr. Stockton.

Mr. Stockton nodded, acknowledging her unspoken question.

Like a flash of lightning on a black night, a sudden bright light shook Cynthia to the core. The figure of a man she had watched night after night through her window stood directly in front of her, but this time it was close enough that if she were to reach out, she could have touch him… and close enough that she couldn’t deny what she saw. Cynthia whimpered and her head swooned.

It was Thomas, her husband. He hadn’t come home for Christmas because he wasn’t coming home at all. He was dead.

Thomas didn’t seem to notice them. He walked by and through the gate, as if it didn’t exist. The horses began to move about. He looked over at the house and sighed. The little needle on the machine started twitching and then madly rotated around and around.  His faint voice came out of the machine. “I hope this will be the last time I gotta leave y’all.” In the next instant, the ghost of Thomas (Tommy Two Shot) Garrison disappeared.

Cynthia’s body shook, her worst fear realized in that second. How many times had she worried he wouldn’t come back home? How many times had she worried he would be killed? However, mourning would have to wait. She was now the only one responsible for her family. She wiped hard at her tears, and stood tall. She pressed her lips together before clearing her throat, and through a restrained sob said, “Good bye, Thomas.”

“Are y’all going to be okay?”

“We’ll be fine.” Cynthia gave a confident nod, even though she knew living without a husband would be more difficult than living on the run with an outlaw. “Thank you, Mr. Stockton.”

Mr. Stockton climbed on his horse and tipped his hat. “Ma’am.”  He rode away toward the moon, his saddlebags carrying the same as when he arrived and a trail of dust the only thing he left behind.

Cynthia knew she wouldn’t be afraid if she saw her husband’s ghost again. However, she had a feeling he had left for good, that he’d only come home long enough to give her a Christmas gift: she could stop waiting for him to return. Even though it was one a.m., she went to the room and gently shook Annie and Mary. “Wake up,” she whispered. “It’s Christmas.”

The End

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

Story Time – TBT short story (A fairy tale)

Here’s my TBT short story – I’m really not sure when I wrote it (before 2010) and it wasn’t one that was inspired by a classic fairy tale but is my own fairy tale.

The Kingdom of Pillars

by Dorlana Vann

“I didn’t do anything!”

“Do you want father’s wings to be taken off? Is that what you want? You march yourself right back there.”

I stared at my sister, all blue and getting bluer by the minute. If we would’ve been having this conversation a couple of months earlier, I might have turned my back to her and aired her out. Instead, I smiled.

“What are you up to, Rose?” she growled.

“I understand everything now. I’m happy and miserable at the same time.” I sighed and sat down on a buttercup. “I even understand love and how it can fill your heart and break it at the same time.”

“You did go to the Kingdom of Pillars, right?” Indigo glared at me.

“I didn’t have a choice. Remember? Guards with sticks and mean words.”

“Hmmm… Are you telling me you fell in love in there? With what? Your reflection?”

“It is a lovely sight, isn’t it? But no, you see, I was once like you, only able to see outer beauty.”

“Is that so?” she said. “Let me get this straight. You think the Kingdom of Pillars is beautiful … or is the King?” I could see her thinking herself into a small gag and look of distaste.

“When I’d first arrived, I looked at them the same way everyone does. It’s like a line has been drawn between the lands. One side, our side, is light and green. You make one tiny step and the world becomes scary and dark. And I was scared.”

Indigo looked a wee bit uncomfortable, almost guilty, so I kept going.

“I understand why father picked me to go instead of you. You were already betrothed to Emerald before you were born. He had no choice but to send me. It wasn’t your fault I was born second. Always second.  I understand that a princess had to be sent in order to bring peace. Besides, if I wouldn’t have gone, the curse might not have been broken.”

“Wait a minute.” She smoothed her long, sparkly blue hair behind her ears. “You’re telling me that you broke the five thousand-year-old curse?”

“It was the most wonderful sight in the whole entire world. First, let me tell you what happened in the beginning, when I arrived in the Kingdom of Pillars.”

Indigo arched her eyebrow as she sat down in the morning dew.

“I was a bit grossed out when I first met the King. You know how Pillars look, right? Kind of round and prickly-looking. Those black and yellow spots and rings aren’t very flattering either.  Oh, dandy me, he crawled so slowly … on the ground. He had tiny little legs and those black little dot eyes. He was no where near as hideously handsome as Emerald.”

Indigo had been staring at me with curiosity and a growing grin, but at this, she looked down.

“I suppose I wasn’t the best guest,” I continued. “But I was in shock, you know, out of my element. Could you blame me? I was surrounded by these … grubs. Not to mention, I felt like my own family had deserted and sacrificed—”

She shot me a look. “Now you’re just being dramatic.”

“Really? My husband had sixteen legs.”

“You just told me you thought he was beautiful,” she said smugly.

“Well, maybe at first, I didn’t. I hated him, the place, you …”

Indigo crossed her arms.

“The first night I did nothing but sulk and refuse anything offered to me. Really now, how could I eat that dull food? Everything was already half dead, like winter had already arrived. It seemed strange to eat and live in such sadness. That was how I felt; alone and sad as I sat there and watched them eat and eat in the madness of the day. King would look at me every once in a while and ask if I was okay. I hate to say, but I turned my back to him and fluttered my wings.

“He kept asking, again and again, so I let him have it. I told him exactly what I thought about him and his ugly kingdom. I hurt his feelings, and I was glad … until he said, ‘I’m sorry, my Queen. I will not bother you again. Even though your presence makes this gloomy world bright, you are free to leave.”

“So you did?” Indigo jumped up and put her hands on her hips. “You came back home! How could you, Rose?”

“But I didn’t!” I smiled. “At that very moment, I felt special. More special than I had ever felt in your shadow. Indigo this, and Indigo that. I was Queen, no longer a princess.” I wrapped my arms around myself and flew into the air, twirling around as I did.

“Get down here, Rose,” she shouted.

“Come with me,” I said. “You have to see.”

She sluggishly stood, but a second later she was beside me, and we flew through our forest.

“Oh … he lavished me,” I continued. “He was kind and made me feel like I was the most important creature in the world. He brought me flowers and dew drops and honey. The food didn’t taste as dull as it looked, it was fine. Everything was fine.”

“Hmmm … so then, if it is such paradise, why are you here?”

“One day he told me not to worry, that he would be sleeping for a couple of days. He said the kingdom did this every couple of months. Still, when it happened, I grew scared and cried and cried over him.”

“You cried because he went to sleep?”

“No, not just asleep; it was bizarre. They were all wrapped in these web-like cases.” I tried to explain it with my hands. “I didn’t think he could breathe in there. Something was wrong. I thought he was dying, so I sprinkled my life-dust on him.”

Indigo’s mouth grew into a giant circle and she stopped mid-air. “You used your personal dust on him? Rose, you know you can’t use it on yourself any longer! If something happens to you—”

I held up my hand. I understood the consequences. “It doesn’t matter. The most amazing thing happened. His prison started coming apart, and the most beautiful, amazing winged creature emerged. It was my King! He had huge double-like wings, oh so much bigger than any fairies.  So many colors! Not just one, like ours. He was bright yellow and white and orange.” I put my hands to my face.  “And then, and then… they all emerged. The entire kingdom, all so colorful and beautiful, floated into the air. They reminded me of buttercups, daisies, and roses, being blown by the wind. Even the dark, gloomy clouds drifted away and the sun began to shine.”

Indigo’s face froze with an expression of bewilderment. Then she said, “I didn’t think it was true. I had heard that they used to be beautiful creatures before one of us cast a spell.”

I closed my eyes as my thoughts turned bittersweet. “We played and flew and chased for days on end. Even when the sun set the splendor of the colors was almost more than one could bear. But then …” I grabbed her hand and flew faster to my destination.

“What?” She asked, letting me drag her through the air. “What happened? Why do you look so sad? If it was so wonderful, why did you come back?”

I choked back a cry with a smile as I looked at my sister who seemed genuinely concerned. “Like snowflakes they all slowly began to return to the earth. I went to the king, who balanced on a leaf barely able to move. I asked what was happening.” I held my hands to my heart as I remembered his words. “He told me not to worry, that I had broken the curse. That he and his kingdom owed everything to me and my sacrifice. My little fairy dust did all of that. I went to give more, and he told me he didn’t need it. He said he had finally been able to live out his cycle and now it was time for them to move on—to die. They had been trapped and unable to evolve for thousands of years.”

Indigo gently pulled free to wipe her eyes. “That is so sad,” she said.

“The fluttering of their wings quietly died away. The last words my king said to me were, ‘Long live Queen Rose.’” I pointed down to the valley below. “Look! Can you see them?”

Indigo sucked in a quick breath. “I thought you said they all died.”

“They,” I said looking at my adopted children, “are the next generation. A generation that will live, fly, and die like they are suppose to. This is why I came back to see you one last time; I needed to tell you, to tell father, that the feud between the two lands is truly over. And from now on, my home is no longer to be called the Kingdom of Pillars, but the protected Land of the Butterflies.”

The End

Zombie and the Beast – a fairy tale inspired short story for Halloween

Beauty and the Beast + Zombies =

Zombie and the Beast

a  supernatural fairy tale by

 Dorlana Vann

She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, loosening her jaw, before she spoke. “You can’t be serious. Marriage is no longer something we can consider.”

He stood far away, at the other end of the long, formal dining room table. She couldn’t believe how handsome he looked now: tall, regal. She had fallen in love with him when he’d thought he was so hideous he had to hide. But his compassion and heart were so big it had swept her away. So she wasn’t surprised by his proposal even if it was a bit insane.

“I love you,” he said. “I want you to be my wife.”

“I know you love me. I love you, too. But we have to face facts. You have to accept this. You shouldn’t even be feeding me. Look at me. What kind of bride would I be?”

“A beautiful one. When I was beastly, you saw something inside me and loved me for me. I love you for you. I know who you are on the inside.”

The rancid taste in her mouth distracted her for a second. Was it from the meal she’d just had or her own tongue? What did he say? He was comparing them. “But I’m not like you. You were cursed by a witch. I’m–”

“Doesn’t matter.” He slammed his fist down on the table, making everything on it jolt. “If I have to, I’ll use every last cent I have to find a cure.”

“You’re not listening to me.” She tried to stand up but the chains around waist stopped her. It took a second to remember why she was chained to a chair. Oh yeah, that’s right; dinner had taken a little too long last night. When she was hungry, nothing else fit in her head. If it hadn’t been for the butler with the Taser, they wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. “Sweetheart,” she said sweetly, trying to calm him, “There’s no cure for dead.”

“Maybe one of my tears, or a potion of some sort … or maybe a kiss.”

“Right,” she said with a roll of her eyes. They stuck like that for a second until she shook her head to get them straight again. “You’re going to kiss me? Do I even have lips, anymore?” Just as she pushed out her tongue to feel for lips, a twinge in her head stopped her. What was she doing?

“There’s got to be something. But first, we will get married.” He walked beside the table toward her, stopping halfway, a hint of fear in his eyes.

The fact that he was obviously scared of her didn’t upset her, didn’t really faze her. Something else came to mind. Hunger. The hunger didn’t feel the way it had when she’d been alive. This hunger was in her head. It rumbled, it stirred, it wanted, it hurt …

But she’d just ate an entire plate of … Who? Where was the maid? Had he …? The sudden spasm in her head caused her to let out a moan.

He was saying, “I mean, we can’t really have a honeymoon right now. We’ll postpone it until later. When you’re better. But please let me prove my love and devotion to you.”

It had been a delicate, light meal tonight. She tried to remember how many more maids were in the house. A series of intense, sharp pain ricocheted inside her head. She held onto it with both hands for a second.

Her brain pulsed and rumbled. Wait? What was this house? Who lived here anyway? Who was this stranger walking closer to her? He was so close – she sniffed the air – and luscious. Her mouth watered, and all she wanted was one little taste, one little nibble.

“Right after the ceremony, I will hire the best researchers on the planet …”

She tried to get up, but for some reason she couldn’t move. She tried again, and again, and again. The hunger pains moved down to behind her eyes, making her have to squint to see the delicious meal that was igniting her senses.

“So? What do you say? Will you marry me?”

The food was right there in front of her now. Maybe if she stretched out her arms as far as she could, she’d be able to reach it. All she needed was a one bite to make this unbearable torture end.

“Oh, Beauty. I don’t know. But you did just eat, so I guess one hug, to seal the deal, would be okay …”

The End

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