They die. If you tell the truth. Sometimes slowly, sometimes on the spot. It depends on the truth being told and it’s weight. The heavier it is, the faster it flattens bone into fragment, pulverizes pulse into a bloody pulp.
The first time it happened was on the morning news, live. The camera panned across a generic studio audience to the show’s co-anchors, your typical man and woman duo. The man was tailored tight into his fancy suit, grin taut across his too- straight teeth. His arm was slung almost casually across the snug settee the pair occupied, his fingertips just skimming his female co-host’s shoulder, something the smug slant of his lips knew and savored. The woman did not smile. Her lips were set in a fine line. She was looking forward, maybe at the audience, perhaps at something beyond, her gaze focused but unknowable. She shrugged off the man’s prompting, probing fingers and scooted towards the edge of her seat, trying to escape his reach. Then, when the studio audience silenced and the show’s theme song died, she told the truth.
It was a crushing truth. A twisted one.
She told that studio audience and roughly several thousand watchers at home, psyching themselves up for their daily doses of drudgery, exactly what bottom line her boss really wanted to discuss with his female employees, herself included. More male employees than not followed their boss’s example, she said. Those who did not were more than willing to look the other way. Clearly, she had not informed her co-host beforehand of this deviation from the usual drivel, his hand he had not removed from her shoulder earlier now almost recoiling from her as if struck.
The woman probably hoped her revelation would have impact. She probably never believed that it would.
Not two very tense minutes after the reveal though, an intern came barreling into the studio, blubbering and soaked in blood. Every frantic jerk sent red splattering, some into the studio audience which sat stunned until now, perhaps believing the woman’s piece and the boy’s entrance a part of some poorly contrived bit. The screaming started all at once, people flinging themselves frantically over each other to reach the exit in the back. The camera remained fixed on the boy.
He’s dead, the boy managed in between sobs, his voice barely rising over the panicked clamor. He’s dead. I was handing him his coffee, how he liked it. Decaf, two sugars and…. Just blood, there was just blood. He…his body, it… There was just so much…
The boy seemed to succumb to his shock, then, bloodstained hands falling limp and listless at his sides and eyes vacant. His knees gave out next, springing back like over-stretched rubber bands, and he slid to the floor, the syrupy sludge of blood and viscera that formed beneath him making an audible squish at the impact.
The cameraman, perhaps not knowing what else to do, spun back towards the anchors. The woman’s gaze was still unknowable and focused but now slightly off-center, clearly intent on the boy covered in her boss’s blood. Former boss’s blood. Her male co-anchor was not as affected. In fact, looking back on it, he seemed downright scornful, his smirk a sneer, jaw clenched, and his frame strained beneath his fancy suit. An accusing finger now pointed at the boy collapsed on the ground.
He should be arrested. The man declared to the several thousand viewers who were no doubt glued to their screens. And, He turned on his co-host, positively scathing. So should you. For libel. Conspiracy. Premeditated murder. Whatever you call this shit. You should be ashamed of yourself.
That broke the woman out of her trance. She turned her sights on her co-host, slow and calculating, spine straightening but head remaining slightly crooked. The slant of her chin was more like a slash, severing shadows and cutting the glare of the studio lights on her skin into pieces, creating a jagged corona around her face. It seemed like the image of that bloodstained boy was embedded in her eyes, her gaze taking on a reddish hue as the camera continued to role.
Ashamed, she said at last. Is that what I should be?
The camera closed in on the woman. Her red-dyed eyes appeared to glow bright in their sockets, their glare alight and alive. Scorching.
That’s an interesting observation, Mr. Hands-On. But, She leaned in then, close enough her co-host must’ve been able to hear the click-clack of tooth against tooth as she asked, If I should be ashamed, then what should you be?
The man fell back from her and onto the floor as if shoved out of his seat, shocked and sputtering. His scornful gaze was now considerably softened, almost pleading. Rather than address the man groveling at her heels though, the woman turned her attention to the camera. There was something almost dreamy about her expression, transcendent even. Now, her eyes definitely gleamed, a shiny sharp red. The studio lights made her incandescent, blazing. Her lips twitched, the beginnings of a grin taking form.
If I were you, She stared straight into the eyes of her viewers. I’d be afraid.
On the floor, her co-host followed their former boss’s example for the last time. He twisted like a corkscrew, joints wrenched from their sockets, blood spewing and flesh flying. An arterial spray painted the brazen woman in jagged strokes of crimson, turning her into a living stained glass window. A lone, agonized screech escaped the man before he burst into a pool of bloody sludge, bits of bone and teeth soaring towards the camera. A full smile split across the woman’s face. Her tongue flicked out, licking at a drop of blood caught on the corner of her mouth. For a second, her eyes closed as if savoring the tang.
Telling the truth never tasted so satisfying.
Very afraid. She rose and started forward. You should be very afraid.
A scream sounded and another spray of blood sliced across the set. And another. And another. Till the camera finally cut out.
The woman never stopped smiling.
Hey~ I hope you enjoyed my little horror story ^.^ This week’s writing prompt was Censorship. I decided to explore the ways in which women who come forward against their abusers are often not only censured but censured. Women often have their lives ripped apart, everything they’ve ever done dissected. People are looking for reasons for why they deserved what happened to them or for why they may be lying. It’s almost more horrifying than anything I could write because it’s real life. To respond to that censure in some way, I decided to write a story where there are actually consequences for the men who hurt women. I decided to rip mens’ lives apart for a change. I think it came out terribly well. But, let me know your thoughts~
Drumbeat batters breeze bare-knuckled. Bloody, if it could. Tut-tut-tut transforms the atmosphere into something tormented.
Tortured. Just a sliver shy of a scream.
I sway to the sound, skin soaking in its scathe. Absorbing the maim and claim. The tug and tear.
In the thick of the crowd, illuminated by a mix of fire and faint moonlight, a figure fights the drum’s beating. Twists sharp turns to thwart possession. To prevail.
A losing game.
Once lured in, that’s it.
Other figures clap, pound flesh till the night seems alive with its own rhythmic pulse, thrumming steadily through the battered air. A grunted chant rumbles in time.
Somewhere, deep in the wood surround, a wolf howls. Tears at night’s skin. A territorial call if I’ve ever heard one.
A victorious brag. I grip the skin I’m in. Tame growl into grumbling chant. Return sight to the light bathing those gathered in shades of dark red.
The dancer nearest flame, so deeply red they’re shadow on smoke, throws back their head–theirs and the bear skull that swallows it whole. An echoing, bellicose bellow–growl–silences both flesh and drum beat.
Another deep sound, the wolf.
A last, me.
Closely, I watch the dancer shed the bear skull. Slide claws as long as fingers from their hands. Keep the grizzled pelt wrapped ’round their wide shoulders, though.
For warmth, maybe. The skin in place ’round their meaty waist.
Two figures donning wolf skulls and matching hides separate from the crowd as the lone bear dancer returns to it.
Beats begin their battering blows once more. Less heavy. More lean.
Like wolf meat. Night’s pulse picks up in a low thrum, a lower hum. Faintest scream.
I track the bear dancer as they cut through the crowd, one toothy smile at a time. A short laugh or two. My rhythm mirrors theirs.
Overtakes it. Sleek. Light. A slow skulk. Steady hunt.
We meet where the edge of the crowd kisses forest fathoms.
Bear Dancer slashes a charming smile across their face, distinctive jaw jutting upward with its self-assured slant as if to display the many scars crisscrossing sensitive skin like trophies. One rather deep cut is still raw. Fresh. I curl my fist.
A grin of my own begins to stretch flesh.
Tempt tearing. Bear dancer’s widens in return. Devours his face.
“Hello,” he steps into my sway. “Like tonight?” I nod, grin sharp enough to put Bear Dancer to shame.
“You dance good.” Another growl tamed into something softer. “It’s striking,” I motion to the pelt on his back. “your form.”
“Yes.” He preens, fingering the fur. I swallow fury. “A lucky catch, bear. Usually, they keep to their caves.”
“Ah?” I drag him back to me. “Where’d you get the bear then?”
“Clearing by Slim River.” His voice is proud. “Mama and cub hunting. Hare, probably. I got Mama first in the side with my spear. When she charged, I got her in the head with my handy ax. She clawed, though.” He taps his scarred chin. “A fighter.”
“Huntress.” I correct.
“Yes.” Bear Dancer nods, looking grave. “Very fierce. The others threw many spears till she went down. The cub though,” Bear Dancer’s grin returns. “was easy. Little fella. A club to the head.” Bear Dancer swings his arm past my face. “Dead.”
“Dead.” I repeat,
dead, stepping back into forest, spiny nettles brushing bare skin. Swirl my hips. Bear dancer follows. “Poor boy.”
“There were two.” He leans close as if revealing a secret. “Cubs. Two of ’em. Always with Mama but not this time. Very odd.” He quirks his head. “Bears don’t usually keep more than one. Too hard to feed. Keep only the strong one…. Wonder where the runt is? The little fella cried out after he was hit. Almost like a scream. Maybe–”
“She heard.” I finish with too much gnash. “The sister?” Bear dancer gives me a confused look and I reach for his hands–the ones that were wearing Mama bear’s claws–settling them on my waist.
“Yes.” Bear dancer tightens his hold on me. I lead us further behind branches. Beyond the fire light’s creeping reach. “You know the story?” Now, I quirk my head. Take another backward step. “About the sister cub. That she’s one of us. Child lost from the tribe long ago. Found by bears. Clothed in their skin.”
“I hadn’t heard.” Another step. So close.
“Not from ’round here?” Bear Dancer asks. “Was wondering…. You look familiar but can’t place face.”
Finally. Trees give way to open space. A clearing. Nearby, a watery babble replaces drum beats. Flesh beats. Moonlight overtakes flickering flame.
“It’s not my usual.” I brush Bear Dancer’s hands off me and he tilts his chin. That fresh cut. Shiny red beneath the moon. I flex my fingers. Feel nails sharpen. “Face.”
A swipe of my claw to the head and Bear Dancer is down. For brother.
I’m on him before he knows what hit him, my lithe body now heavier. My skin, fur. Much better. Weight settles on my shoulders–my skull
no prop large enough to swallow a head whole. Bear Dancer’s. I stare into his wide eyes, grizzly reflection in their glisten. I can’t smile anymore so a snarl will have to do. Recognize me now?
“S-s-skin-n-w-w-wwalk-ker-r.” He accuses.
No, a growl like a laugh rumbles in my cavernous chest. I told you. Huntress.
A claw finds purchase in the mark Mama carved
so I’d know and tugs. Jaw gone before Bear Dancer can scream. Then, claws like little spears and teeth like ax blades find flesh. Tear. Bite bone, too, creating their own beat, own chant. Rhythm.
And, when the song is done, I toss my head back. Scream. Tear the night in two. It’s no victory screech. No brag. Nothing celebatory. It’s a warning. An announcement.
The battle is mine.
*Side note: those last words are coincidentally my first thoughts in the morning…. Weird. ^.^
Find more of my delightfully disturbing/twisted tales under the Killing It tag~
As always, hope you enjoyed~*