Death and the Maiden


Jim whispered urgently, "Come on, Liz, run!"

So we grabbed the rest of our clothes and ran out of the trees, away from the light, down into the open part of the park, as undressed as we were.

With most of our clothes in our hands, Jim and I ran, fast as we could. We followed the winding paved path until at last I saw ahead of us the familiar park entrance.

We could no longer see the little light that had set us off running. I thought, oh thank God, Randy's house was now just a short distance away.

Jim and I were almost out of the park when two headlights appeared on the road at the top of the hill to our left.

The lights were moving a little erratically, and coming rapidly down the hill right at us.

I flashed back to what Westerling had said. His wife had been killed here, on this same spot, by a drunk driver, one year ago. I grabbed Jim by the arm and pulled him back away from the road.

Rather than careening past, out of control, the approaching car slowed quickly to a stop just at the entrance to the park. From our place in the shadows, we could see it was a dark-colored sedan, and that there was someone sitting uncomfortably in the front seat of the car.

The driver's door opened, and a man stepped out: it was Westerling. He took out a flashlight and started scanning the road.

When the man had his back to us, I edged toward the car to the point where I recognized the passenger. I gasped audibly, seeing that it was my friend Cathy. Her arms looked uncomfortable, drawn behind her back unnaturally, and there was silvery-grey tape on her mouth.

And it dawned on me. Good Lord. He was using her -- she was just a lure. It was me that he wanted. He was here to find me.

I set my clothes on the ground and rushed toward the car. Jim was right there beside me. But as I reached for the door of the car, I was brought up brutally short.

Westerling had somehow gotten behind me, and grabbing my arm viciously, he hissed over at Jim, "I have a knife at her throat. Now, you're going to do exactly as I say." I could feel the sharp blade touching my neck, and I had never been so cold.

When we had first walked out from Randy's party that night, I had joked with myself that I might die a virgin.

I had remembered that little joke while Jim and I had made love, just a few minutes ago.

Now I bitterly wondered if, virgin or not, this was the night I would die. I struggled to keep my mind clear as sheer panic contended with my ability to control my thoughts.

Westerling spoke again. "You're both getting into the car. Now." He gestured for Jim to go first, into the back seat.

Once I was inside the sedan with the door closed, Westerling hurried into the driver's seat, and pressed the point of his knife just below poor Cathy's ear. I heard her alternately whimper and struggle to breathe, taped as she was.

We circled around the park and approached Westerling's house. He pulled into the open garage, pressing a button to start the door closing before telling us to get out of the car.

Westerling grabbed me from the back seat and pressed his blade against the side of my face. He snapped an order at Jim: "Get the other girl," and he gestured toward Catherine.

When she finally stood, we could see that she was helpless, her hands bound behind her by the same silver-grey tape that covered her mouth.

Our captor led us into the house, and into another sparsely-furnished room. This one had a single stuffed chair, a floor lamp, and a bed. The bed was really just a frame with an old grey mattress on it. The chair, though, was draped in white fabric.

A dress.

The wedding dress -- the one in the album. Seeing it there filled me with dread at where this was heading.

The rest of the room was just a clutter of stacks of paper, and one other item.

Randy lay there in a shadow, lifeless, slumped on the floor.

Westerling pushed me free of him and walked over to the chair, where he rested one hand on the dress.

"Elizabeth," he said, smiling at me. "It's time you got ready."

I had no fucking idea what he meant. I stood frozen to the spot he had pushed me to.

"I am not your Elizabeth," I protested.

Westerling walked slowly behind my poor Cathy, and reached around and placed the blade of his knife against her cheek. It hurt me so badly to see her eyes grow wide with unreasoning fear.

"Don't make me angry," Westerling threatened. "You know what I want. Get out of those clothes."

My own heart pounding frantically, and again fighting panic, I glanced over at Jim. He had murder in his eyes, but tinged with frustrated helplessness. He turned away from me and knelt down by Randy.

Reluctantly, I slipped my t-shirt over my head, exposing my bare breasts to Westerling, and to Catherine.

"That's it," Westerling said, "now, finish."

With an effort of will I put my hands to the waistband of my panties, and with only the thought that I would buy time for one of us to, I hoped, come up with some kind of plan, I started peeling them down.

Aghast, I realized that they were fairly well soaked with Jim's semen from inside of me. But at that point there was nothing to do about it. I pressed the moist fabric down my legs the rest of the way.

Stepping out of them, I stood in the middle of the room without anything on. I started to shiver, and fought to control it, as it threatened to overwhelm me.

Avoiding the sight of Westerling, who was edging himself towards me, I looked around the room at the others. Catherine, the knife still menacing her, was staring straight at me. Jim was still on his knees with his back to me, bless him, attending to Randy. Randy was just starting to stir.

Then I found Westerling beside me, his body pressed against me, his face unwelcomely exploring my neck.

"I smell your desire, Elizabeth. You smell so...," and he paused to sniff at me, "delicious, and yet...."

He reached a pale hand down below my belly, and thrust a finger into me roughly.

"And yet, you are no longer a virgin." I could feel his finger drawing more of Jim's fluid out of me.

Then he grabbed my hair roughly. "Turn around," he ordered me, and having nothing better at the moment, I complied. "If I'm not mistaken, you are still a virgin in a few other ways."

I thought of the photographs. Oh God, please. No. I didn't want any of that.

"Bend over," he said, and with his hand grasping my hair painfully, he pushed my head forward.

As I stood there, with my bare backside extended towards him, I heard him rustling with his belt. I tried to prepare myself for what I knew he intended for me.

And then the floor lamp went out and the room fell into darkness.

There were brief sounds of a struggle, of someone gasping for breath, then, a hand on my shoulder.

Jim's voice. "Find your clothes. Quick! Let's get out of here."

As my eyes adjusted to the blackness, I saw that the cord from the floor lamp was wrapped around Westerling's neck.

Randy was pulling himself up, rubbing his eyes. Jim grabbed Westerling's knife and carefully cut Cathy's hands free. "I'm sorry about this, but...," he said to her, and he quickly ripped the tape from her mouth.

She swore at him, but rubbing her wrists she added, "no, it's OK. Let's get the fuck out of here." She came to my side and helped me find my panties and t-shirt.

We fumbled around through the dark house until we finally found the front door, and then we burst out through it, at a dead run.

Randy was first, and he encouraged us all to move faster. "My house is closest, right? Let's just get there." No one objected. But then Randy stumbled. He seemed still to be feeling the effects of having been knocked unconscious before.

"Go on, I'll catch up with you," he called to us, and Jim and I just kept on running. But I lost track of Cathy.

One more time, Jim and I crossed through the park. There was no sign anyone was following us.

At last, we reached the far side.

Jim and I hurried out onto the road, making straight for Randy's house.

But then, I heard a new sound. The sound of tires crunching on pavement, but without the noise of an engine.

I looked back just in time to see a dark sedan sweeping down the hill right behind us. I dragged Jim out of the road just in time. But the car veered just inches away from us, and as I was breathing a sigh of relief that it had missed us, I heard a sickening sound.

The sound of a car crushing a body.

Westerling landed in the grass not three feet in front of me. His limp body came to rest on the grass, and as I watched in complete horror, the flesh seemed to melt from his frame. Soon, only a curled-up skeleton lay on the grass, and I turned my attention to the dark car that had hit him.

The driver's window came down, and Cat looked out of it and said to us, urgently, "get in!"

"No, we don't have to run anymore," I said to her, and I gestured toward the dry skeleton there on the verge of the road. "You need to get out and see this."

We stood silent there for only a moment. Once she had seen the thing, we turned back and walked toward the entrance to the park.

As we neared the wooden fence, I took Jim by the hand, and drew him over to the little wooden cross.

It stood a bit crooked there, beside a clump of withered roses, and moving the dried flowers aside, we could read a few carefully-lettered words on the cross.

"William & Elizabeth Westerling. d. 10/31/93."

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