THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Chapter Four
NINE DAYS AGO: WAXING CRESCENT MOON
Lucas hated clubs. Not just disliked them. Hated them. On a couple of occasions back in college, he’d been dragged along by his friends to one of their favorite spots. Both times, he’d ended up nursing a soft drink and a growing migraine, sitting by himself and watching them dance or socialize. He hated the lights. He hated the smoke. He hated most of the music, and all of it was cranked up so loud you couldn’t even hear yourself think, much less carry on a conversation with another person. Not that he’d tried to talk to anyone, anyway. To get to a pretty girl in such a place, a guy had to plow his way through a pack of horny competitors, most of them at least somewhat intoxicated. And then to somehow capture said female’s attentions in that microcosm of distractions? Lucas had sworn never to set foot in such a place again.
Yet here he was.
The View Carre in the worst ways resembled the other clubs he’d been unfortunate enough to visit. Loud, crowded, dark; his eyes began to water from the cigarette smoke. But this place was smaller, with more tables. Fewer people danced and the music blaring over the speaker system was a more mellow alternative rock, as opposed to Techno or Rap.
Still, as he stood back near the entrance, wondering what to do next–order a drink or find a seat or look for the person he’d come here to see–the subtle memories of previous experience came back to him. The awkward, isolated feeling of being out of place. The sensation of being watched, scrutinized. He couldn’t have felt more self-conscious dressed in a clown suit, or naked. Lucas headed for the door, for escape, for the freedom of the parking lot and his waiting car. Coming here had been a mistake.
“Awright, children!” A deep voice cut through the piped-in music and rumble of a hundred conversations. Lucas turned, looking back to where an over dressed man, microphone in hand, climbed up onto the stage. “I expect most of y’all already know this, but us here at the View are fortunate to have the rights to one of the dirty South’s best-kept secrets!” The man paused for a burst of applause, a catcall. Someone whistled. “Well, we don’t aim to make you beg.” He chuckled. ”So here they are. Boys and girls, I give you, Strange Ju-Ju!”
Lucas tensed as he saw her. Marley Kidde. She would have been hard to miss anytime, but more so amidst her band mates. A heavy man with the whitewashed mahogany skin of a perfect Creole seated himself behind the drums. A middle-aged white guy with a Grizzly Adams beard and a beret picked up his guitar. Another woman, bleached white hair and not at all pretty, maneuvered behind the keyboards. A little man with a goatee and ponytail positioned the strap of his bass around his shoulder.
Marley Kidde stepped up to the front of the stage, carrying her own guitar. She wore an old pair of jeans, faded denim spraypainted on, a tight black top, her short hair confined in a little ponytail. She smiled out at the crowd, and Lucas knew that he wouldn’t be going anywhere too soon.
“Hey!” Marley waved at the audience, grinned when some guy whistled. “Thank you for coming.”
A couple vacated their table and Lucas claimed it, not waiting to see if they planned to return. It provided an unobstructed view of the stage, though he kept his eyes open for a table closer.
“What can I get you, darlin’?” a waitress asked, stepping right in his way.
“Beer,” Lucas said without a thought.
“What kind, darlin’? We have…”
“Whatever’s cheapest.” He didn’t even like the taste of beer.
The waitress left as the band began to play. For over half an hour, Lucas’ eyes did not leave the stage. Marley had a good singing voice, earthy, not saccharine. Even more, she played a mean lead guitar. The band favored the classics, old stuff by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith, but threw in some occasional blues and, once, an exquisite Jazz piece. What most impressed Lucas, though, was when Marley exchanged her guitar for a fiddle and delivered a cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” that would have made Charlie Daniels take notice. The band closed the set with a frenetic performance of Dio’s “The Last in Line.”
Lucas got to his feet. He noted with some surprise that he had almost finished the beer. Sometime or other, the waitress had brought him another. He decided to take the bottle with him. Perhaps it would help him look less out of place.
A small crowd had formed around the band. Men, for the most part. Lucas’ grip tightened on the bottle. He would not allow himself to be overlooked this time. He forced his way between two men, getting closer. Marley Kidde happened to look up from where she sat on the edge of the stage. Her eyes met his and she smiled.
“Hey, Doc!” she said, motioning him over. “This is the man who got me back on my feet so fast,” she announced to the group in general.
“You’re incredible!” Lucas burst out. “I mean, well, you didn’t tell me you were such a virtuoso.”
“Not quite, but thanks.”
“No, you were amazing.”
Lucas realized the speaker system had started up again. They were shouting. “I said you were great.”
Marley shook her head. “Come on.” She took his wrist in her hand, leading him. Lucas almost dropped his beer. She led him through a door near the stage marked EMPLOYEES ONLY, down a short hall to an open door and a small room filled with a couch and a couple chairs, a coffee table with several ashtrays needing to be emptied, lit by an exposed bulb distending from the ceiling. She closed the door.
“Our backstage area, such as it is,” she said, sitting on the couch. “At least we can hear ourselves talk back here. Grab a seat.”
Lucas claimed one of the chairs, then chided himself for not sitting down next to Marley on the couch.
“I’m glad you could make it,” she said.
“So am I. You’re awesome. I mean, the whole band was amazing, but you…You didn’t tell me you were so good.”
She smiled. No, beamed. Lucas hoped she wouldn’t notice that his hands were shaking. He clutched the arm of the chair, squeezed the beer bottle tight enough he feared he might break it.
“I’m glad you liked the show. You gonna stick around for the next set?”
“Oh, yeah. Sure.”
“Good.” She crossed her legs, leaning back. Lucas’ stomach churned, threatening to purge itself of the beer. He wiped sweat from his forehead.
“My back is a hundred percent better,” Marley said. “Whatever you did, it worked.”
“That’s great.” Lucas exhaled. He could talk about chiropractic. Thank God she had mentioned it. “No pain at all, or tightness in the muscles?”
“Nope. Not now.”
“You’d put pressure on a nerve, I expect,” he said. “As soon as we took the pressure off…”
“So tell me about yourself, Dr. Vale,” Marley said. She caught him so off guard he must have gaped.
“What’s wrong?” Marley asked.
Lucas sought the security of the floor with his eyes. He found it still there. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not, uh, my social skills are a little lacking.”
Marley chuckled. “You are too cute.”
Lucas shook his head. Could this be happening? A beautiful girl interested in him, the world’s oldest surviving nerd? And she found his shyness appealing? I must be dreaming again, he thought.
“For real, tell me about yourself.”
Lucas gave a fragile smile. “Okay. Um, what would you like to know?”
“Well, you mentioned you had a twin.”
“Yeah.” Lucas did feel a little more relaxed. “His name’s Marcus. He’s in Mexico right now.”
“Yeah?” Marley drew her legs up on the couch, leaning on a pillow. “What’s in Mexico?”
“A girl,” Lucas said. “He met her online.”
“Oh.” She smiled.
“I haven’t heard from him in a few weeks. I don’t think he has access to a computer down there. He went with Susanna–that’s her name–to visit her family. They are from lower Mexico, the jungle area.”
“I didn’t know Mexico had any jungle,” Marley said.
“Me, either. But I guess it does. Anyway, I figure he’ll come home married.”
“Are you identical?” Marley asked.
“Yeah,” Lucas said. “In the physical sense, at lest. Our personalities couldn’t be more different.”
“I can relate to that,” Marley said.
“Do you and your sister get along?” Lucas asked.
“Yeah. Most of the time. I mean, we live together, so we’d have to, right? But some of the things she does, I could just strangle her, you know?”
“Are you and your brother that way?”
“Very much so,” Lucas answered. “All our lives, it’s been the same story. He gets himself into trouble, and…”
“He expects you to get him out of it?” Marley asked.
“Worse,” Lucas said. “He gets in trouble, and he ends up dragging me into it with him.”
Leland Crosper owned a mobile home out past Catoma Creek, at the end of a long gravel drive, in the middle of what had once been a sprawling cornfield. He had no close neighbors and he liked it that way. Nobody to put their nose in his business, or tell him he needed to cut his grass, or complain about the broken septic line. People were glad to leave Leland Crosper alone. The only ones to ever come visit him at all were the customers who drove out every once in a blue Moon to buy a rabbit or three. Leland raised rabbits.
Leland stepped out onto his front porch and into the night, stark naked. He shielded his eyes from the glare of the bug zapper, gazing down the driveway. Satisfied that no automobiles were approaching, no headlights, he headed down the steps. The wood creaked, straining under protest of his weight. Leland walked around the side of the trailer, past the rusted hulk of an old pick-up lying in state beneath an oak tree, past the clothesline, to where the rabbit house sat at the edge of the backyard. A security light hummed atop its creosote pole, illuminating his steps, bathing everything in a fuzzy orange.
He swung the screen door open, flipped on the overhead lights, went inside to the nearest pen and unfastened the clasp that held the chicken wire in place. He reached inside, grabbing a large white rabbit by the scruff of loose skin at its neck, lifting it out. Pink eyes dilated in terror. Leland stroked the rabbit, patted its head, smoothed down its long ears. It tried to kick with its back legs but he held it out to his side until it calmed down.
The spring on the rabbit house door pulled it closed behind him as Leland flipped off the lights, retracing his steps back to the trailer. He climbed the porch, going back inside. He’d laid an old blue tarpaulin over the floor, and he walked around it to where his 19-inch television rested on a faux-wood TV stand, a VCR of the old top-loading variety balanced on top of it. A video tape waited to be loaded. He shoved it into place with his left hand, still holding the rabbit with his right.
Next, Leland took a roll of black electrical tape from beside the TV. Leland put the rabbit down and pinned it to the floor with his foot. He tugged loose the end of the tape and picked up the rabbit, began wrapping it around the rabbit’s hind legs. He tore the tape with his hands, then bound the rabbit’s front feet. He set in down on the tarpaulin, then seated himself in a chair in the corner. Whistling to himself, Leland pulled on his work boots, lacing them up.
He went back to the VCR, feet clomping on the floor, and pressed the play button. The TV flashed to life. Three women in bikinis, washing a car. Leland felt himself begin to stiffen. A bikini top came off, then another. A bikini bottom tugged down and kicked away. Leland began to stroke himself with his right hand, the one that he’d used to carry the rabbit.
Two of the girls were just okay, though one looked to be part nigger and Leland didn’t go for dark meat. The other had great tits but an ugly face. The third girl he knew well. By now, he could almost tell you how many pubic hairs she had. The blonde with all the curves. Candy Paradise, she went by. But Leland knew that wasn’t her real name. Her father was supposed to be some kind of writer or something. Rich bitch, never had to work a day in her life. Did fuck films just for kicks. Leland had seen them all.
He stroked himself harder, shaking his huge penis. His breath came in grunts.
Candy Paradise lay on the hood of the Corvette, one of the girls hosing her down. The water must have been cold, Leland figured. Look at them nipples stand up. He began to use both hands. The half-breed started to eat Candy’s pussy, her face buried in dark, curly bush. Candy moaned with pleasure.
Leland took a couple steps back to where the rabbit lay on the floor, kicking and jerking, trying to get off its side. Its pink eye stared up at him. Candy started having an orgasm, screaming bloody murder on the hood of that car. Leland worked himself over hard, really going at it. Candy sat up, arching her back, pounding the hood with her fist.
Leland raised his right foot and stomped with all his might, bringing all his weight down on the rabbit. Candy Paradise collapsed back onto the car, water splashing off her goose-pimpled skin. Leland stomped again. He heard the crunch of bone, felt flesh give way. He stomped again and again, crying out as he burst. Semen sprayed all over the television screen, all over Candy.
Leland panted, his vision going gray, then back to normal. He swayed on his feet, regaining his breath. He looked down at the ruin at his feet. It no longer looked like a rabbit. Scarlet on white fur, protruding bones, a burst pinata of wet things. The pinkish eye remained intact, still staring up at him.
Leland stopped the video, pressed rewind. He’d clean up the TV later. Right now, he began to roll up the tarpaulin. The clean-ups were the worst.
He didn’t enjoy himself so much anymore, pleasurable as the experience remained. Not like he used to. Leland carried the tarpaulin out to the trash pile behind the rabbit house. Coyotes would take care of the leftovers. Leland walked back to the trailer, his 11-inch dick gone flaccid and soft, his oversized testicles dangling limp. A mosquito buzzed in his ear. A strange melancholy settled over him. Leland recognized it for what it was.
He felt bored.
I can’t believe this is happening.
Lucas lay on his back on the mattress in the close darkness of his bedroom. Marley Kidde sat astride him as he thrust inside her, grunting with each exhalation. She leaned down, hands on his shoulders, breasts dangling, to kiss him. Her hair tickled his cheek.
She leaned back and he grabbed her hips, pulling her down onto him. Her grainy songbird voice sang inarticulate sobs of pleasure. She dropped forward and kissed him again. He cupped her small, soft breasts, her nipples hard in his grasp. Her mouth tasted sweet. Lucas rolled over on top of her, thrusting deeper. He licked the sweat from her neck, the hollow of her throat, her skin hot against his face.
“Marley,” he whispered.
Another set of hands encircled him from behind. He turned his head as a wave of blonde hair spilled over his shoulder. Chaney Kidde kissed his neck, nuzzled at his ear, her fingers moving up to tangle in his hair.
He looked down at Marley. She gave a mischievous smile, pulled him back down onto her. Chaney eased herself onto the mattress next to them. His mouth left Marley’s and sought her sister’s lips. Chaney had the same sweet licorice taste.
Marley shuddered beneath him as she had an orgasm, twisting her head to muffle her screams with his pillow. While she was still trembling he left her, turning his attentions to her twin. Chaney rolled onto her knees, inviting, submissive, and he thrust into her from behind. The mattress springs creaked with their movements. Chaney whimpered. Marley began to stroke her sister’s hair, running her hand up and down Chaney’s back. Lucas gasped as he came, squeezing Chaney’s hips to hold her still.
“Having fun, little brother?”
Lucas turned. His brother stood inside the open doorway of the bedroom.
“Marcus?” he panted. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Mexico.”
“I’m back now,” Marcus said. “So, is one of those for me?”
“What?” Marcus asked. Neither Marley nor Chaney seemed to be aware of his brother’s presence.
“You are planning to share, aren’t you?”
“What about the girl down in Mexico?” Lucas asked.
“Susanna? She couldn’t handle me. Tried, though. Guess I was too much for her.”
“Well, get out of here,” Lucas said.
“No can do, brother,” Marcus said. “Afraid you got something I need.”
“What?” Lucas demanded. He found that he no longer shared his bed with the Kidde sisters. Marley and Chaney were gone. “What do you want, Marcus?”
“Why do you keep calling me that? It’s not my name.”
“What? What are you talking about, Marcus?”
“Marcus is dead,” the other said. “I ate him.”
Lucas sat bolt upright, his heart pounding. Just a nightmare. He rubbed his starched eyes. After a minute he got up, heading for the bathroom. He still had an erection, a reminder of the pleasant part of the dream, the Kidde sisters. But the latter part lodged in his mind, following him as he trudged down the hallway.
Awful taste in my mouth.
Lucas flipped the wall switch, flooding the bathroom with pinkish light. He ran the faucet, splashed water on his face, cupped his hands and filled his mouth. He thought about Marley Kidde. He thought about Chaney Kidde. He thought about his brother. He had to get in touch with him, put his mind at ease that Marcus was okay.
Lucas spat into the sink, rinsed his mouth and spat again.
He spat out a mouthful of blood.
Seeking his reflection in the mirror above the sink, Lucas opened his mouth wide. His reflection grinned back at him with a mouth filled with jagged, pointed teeth. Blood-smeared teeth and lips, trickling down his chin. Lucas gasped. His reflection continued to smile.
Lucas backed out of the room, hand over his mouth. He turned to the opposite wall and pressed his forehead against it.
Not real. It’s not real.
After a minute and a series of deep breaths, he went back into the bathroom.
His reflection was waiting for him, still smiling. But now it resembled him a little less. There was something wrong with his eyes. The pupils were expanded too large, the irises nonexistent, just two black holes in the bloodshot yellow. His reflection wiggled bushy eyebrows at him.
Lucas clamped his eyes closed. “Wake up!” he hissed. “Wake up!”
Lucas froze. Slow, reluctant, his eyes opened. What now stared back at him from the mirror in no way resembled a human being. A black, amorphous shape, a gaping maw of bloody yellow razors, a pair of pulsing red eyes. Its breath fogged the glass on the inside of the mirror, coating it with a film of condensation. Another growl, like no animal Lucas had ever heard. Not in person or in movies, not in any nature special or wildlife documentary, or even in a nightmare. Lucas felt warm urine spray down the inside of his thigh.
The glass shattered outward as the dark form burst through. It seemed somehow to grow as it entered the room, to expand, like black liquid or thick smoke, in the fraction of an instant it hung suspended in the air, a nightmare made larger by its entrance into the waking world. The glass shards hit Lucas in the face, then the thing slammed into him, driving him against the bathroom wall and crushing the air from his lungs. He fell beneath it to the tiled floor, bent double in the enclosed space. A harsh, musky stench filled the room, Lucas’ nostrils, his mouth. He gagged.
It was an immense wolf. Blacker than any shade of black he’d ever seen, as large as a calf or even a pony. It couldn’t be real. Lucas knew it wasn’t real. But it felt real. The pain felt real.
The Beast raked his chest with an oversized paw, dug its claws into his abdomen. Lucas felt skin and muscle give way, the monster digging out a clump of viscera.
Wake up! his mind screamed.
The Beast panted in his face, tongue lolling like a slab of raw meat, dripping saliva that stung like acid. It breathed steam and stank of rotting flesh. It snarled, revealing smooth, pointed fangs as thick as his fingers. It almost seemed to smile.
Then it reared back and drove its snout into the wound in his abdomen. Its hind legs kicked against the cabinet, the door, the wall. Forcing its way down, inside of him.
It began to eat him.
Lucas flopped and twitched, unable to do anything else, unable even to scream. Now the Beast’s lower half protruded from his body in a grotesque parody of childbirth. Somehow it had managed to get its head and shoulders and forelegs inside of him. With each bite it took it climbed in a little more.
The surreal agony of being eaten alive–from the inside–drove Lucas towards waiting oblivion. His senses gave way before it, unable to abide the pain. Just before he lost consciousness, Lucas felt the jaws reach his heart. It’s teeth clamped down. Then the Beast swallowed Lucas’ heart.
The pain ceased. He felt numb. As his vision faded, he exhaled, and the Beast slipped the rest of the way inside him. It felt warm. Not so terrible, now that the ordeal was over. Not at all. It felt strange inside him, tingling and alive, yet not painful, not anymore. It did not hurt.
It felt good.
* * *
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!