tagNovels and NovellasFirst Death Pt. 02

First Death Pt. 02

byAfterDusk©

When I woke up the next morning my head still hurt. I thought at first that it had been a dream, until I grabbed my phone and saw a large crack in the screen glass.

The girls were downstairs eating cereal. They had gotten a better night's sleep but their faces were still swollen from crying. I joined them at the table, doing my best to strike up conversation to get their minds off of Teddy.

We all drove back to their house shortly before lunch. Janie was up, though she was still sitting in a robe with a cup of coffee at the kitchen counter. Her mom was working on trays of snack foods for everyone to graze on until supper would be ready. Dad and I promptly kicked them out, sending everyone to the living room to binge watch Hitchcock films, as was tradition.

Teddy had gone out of his way; there wasn't a lot to do but pull dishes out of the fridge and put them into the oven. Dad worked on making pies while I pulled the turkey out, draining the marinade before spatchcocking it so that it would cook faster. It was only a few hours before the house filled with familiar, welcoming smells and delicious food.

We all sat around the large table, filling our plates. Usually we would go around and one by one say what we were thankful for, one serious and one funny. This year though, there wasn't a lot to be thankful for because everyone was missing Teddy.

I could tell that Janie and the girls were close to crying; Dad wasn't far off. Janie's mom was trying to eat but she was just as upset. I poured gravy over my mashed potatoes and turkey, "Did your mom ever tell you about the first time she and your dad made Thanksgiving dinner for us?" I asked the girls.

"Oh god," Janie let out a horrified laugh.

This got my nieces' attention. I could see their sprits lift, they even started to eat a little.

"Oh yes. It was a failure of epic proportions," I forced a wide smile on my face. I used my animated story telling skills to recount the tale with as much detail as I could remember, painting a picture to include the smell of melting plastic from the turkey because they forgot to take the bag of gizzards out, down to the lumpy, crunchy mashed potatoes because they weren't cooked all the way through. It wasn't long before I had the whole table rolling, smiling as they ate the meal Teddy had intended to cook for them.

We were half way finished when the doorbell rang; it was Stu, Rodger and Josh, Teddy's three best friends. They were in the neighborhood and stopped by. I could see that they were just as depressed about the loss of their buddy; I didn't want them to bring down the mood I had so painstakingly lifted so I motioned for them to come in. We managed to squeeze in three more seats and passed them plates. I got the adults some beers and worked on telling them about the time Teddy came to visit me in Cali when I first started school there. Janie stayed at home with the girls so she didn't know much about the weekend, only that Teddy was a hurting unit when he came home. She was laughing so hard she couldn't breathe when I described how ridiculous Teddy looked on a surf board and how completely uncoordinated he was. He gave up half way through the lesson and went to take a nap on the beach while I finished my session out. It was only when I woke him up that we both discovered he didn't remember to put sunscreen on.

After dinner Dad stayed with Janie and the girls, watching the end of Vertigo. I went out into the backyard with the guys and we sat round the fire pit drinking beer. Though the mood was better than it had been, everyone was still a little down. The guys recanted the same great stories of Teddy that I had already heard a thousand times but I chuckled and pretended to listen none the less, yet my mild headache reminded me of the slender, pale woman with blue glowing eyes. Last night was hazy and the ridiculousness of it did seem like a distant bad dream. I decided that I must have slipped and smacked my head hard, my injured brain making up some wild story. The one thing that still didn't make sense was how such a petite woman managed to drag me out of the park, to Dad's and deposit me on the swing by herself.

...

Janie sat next to Dad at the grave side service. It was brisk for a sunny afternoon but not intolerable. Joan was leaning against her mom, trying her best not to cry. Maria had abandoned her chair and crawled into my lap, no doubt wrinkling my suit but I held her close, warming her small frame, trying to comfort her as the Priest droned on and on with his sermon. It was easier at the funeral than at the viewing. The casket was closed. It seemed more like a shiny wood box than the vessel that held the remains of my brother. I was able to detach a little bit.

I saw her there—she was standing in the back behind some other people but it didn't take me long to pick out her white hair tucked up into a wide rimmed black hat. She wore large black sunglasses but they didn't hide the fact that she was still crying. At least she was smart enough to not let Dad see her there, he would have flipped out.

I tried to feel sympathy for her—she gave life to Teddy and now she watched him be laid to rest—but I couldn't bring myself to do it. She had left us. I was born and barely home from the hospital; she gave Teddy a hug while he was getting ready for school then she got into her car and never came back. She mailed Dad the divorce papers, signing full custody of us over to him and never once fought for visitation. It was hard for him to deal with a newborn on his own and for years Teddy blamed me for her leaving. I knew deep down that Dad did too. It strained our relationship, especially after Teddy moved out. I hated the way Dad looked at me; I reminded him so much of himself. I wasn't a very obedient teen and while I did well in school, I would often leave without telling Dad where I was going. He'd try to ground me and I just wouldn't come home for days. As soon as I graduated I packed up and moved as far west as I could. After maturing a little in college I managed to settle into a relationship of tolerant indifference with him.

The wake was at Dad's house. I had never actually been to one, so I didn't know what to expect; people arrived with casseroles and drinks, the kitchen counter was packed with food. Everyone mulled around, seeming to make themselves at home. The girls had found a few of our younger cousins and holed up in the basement away from the prying strangers. People I didn't know kept coming up to me, offering their condolences, making half hearted attempts at conversation while eating. I just didn't get it—who is hungry after a funeral? How could I have an appetite, after watching my brother's body sink down into the ground?

I couldn't stand all of the apologies and the you-poor-kids that everyone gave me. I found it hard to deal with the fake sincerity of these strangers and distant relatives; I needed some air. Dad was occupied by a parent of a friend of Teddy's, they were clearly caught up in some conversation about something. I grabbed my wallet and phone and I sent him a text telling him I needed to get a drink and not to stay up.

The town we lived in wasn't terribly large; roughly 30,000 people. It was mostly centered around a college campus, with downtown not far off. Everything was within a 45 minute walking distance. It took me the better part of an hour before I reached the downtown college dive bar that Teddy had his last drink in. It was a favorite spot of his; he hung out here throughout college. When he and Janie met in high school they were both fifteen. They had barely graduated before she got pregnant with Joan, which meant throwing all of their dreams out the window. Teddy stayed and went to night school, working full time during the day while Joan stayed home. Not long after he graduated Maria came along. I was made an uncle at a young age but it didn't matter to me—I spent most of my high school years at their house just to avoid Dad and I was more than happy to take care of the girls just so I didn't have to go home.

When I finally picked up and left for college the girls took it hard. We had grown close—Teddy, Janie and I had even grown close in those few years. I called them often, talking to the girls about school or boys or whatever was on their mind. Whenever I had a problem, no matter what time of day or night I could call Teddy and he would answer the phone. I know it must have annoyed Janie sometimes but as we grew older the bond my brother and I shared grew stronger.

I ordered a scotch on the rocks in the bar, sitting at the counter. I looked at my watch—it was almost 8 but after looking around I didn't see her anywhere. Though a small part of me was hoping she would show I almost knew she wouldn't. I pounded at least two more—I think—over the next hour. When 9 o'clock rolled around a bunch of rowdy guys piled in. Must have been a bachelor's party; the almost half naked strippers, the hooting and hollering of a soon to be monogamous groom and the jaunts of his drunk buddies weren't enough to distract me from my own desperation. I paid for my drinks and I left.

My mind was a jumbled mess; between seeing my Mom show up out of the blue, almost getting mugged and losing Teddy, I was having one hell of a week. Man, I wanted to talk to him now. When I looked up to see where I was I realized I was only a few blocks away from the cemetery. I decided to go talk to him anyways, even though all he could do was listen.

It was starting to get cold out; by the time I passed through the cemetery gates, I wished that I had planned ahead and wore a coat over my suit jacket—the temperature had dropped ten degrees since the funeral, though the chill that made me shudder as my muffled footsteps hit the brick road wasn't from the weather. There is something very spooky about a cemetery during the day and with the absence of light it was much worse. I walked quietly off the path among the headstones, careful not to step on any. Usually I'm not too superstitious but anyone walking among graves under the cover of darkness would probably take precautions, quicken their pace and look over their shoulder too.

I passed through the older section of the cemetery. Tall, stone crypts dotted the night, towering markers with gothic angels perched on top sprung up in the shadows. When I rounded the last crypt that opened up into the new addition I stopped dead in my tracks. I squinted my eyes, trying to discern if what I was seeing was really happening. I pressed my back against the cold stone wall, hidden by the shadow of the crypt, staring at my brother's grave where I had just said goodbye hours earlier.

There she was—the woman I saw in the park two days ago—standing at my brother's grave. I could barely see her face in the darkness, the only light that night was the distant glow of the street lamps in the cemetery that lit the cobblestone paths. I thought that it was odd to have street lamps in a cemetery; I seriously doubt there were very many night time visitors.

Something was off, I couldn't quite put my finger on it until she reached down and pulled out an old man with a shovel from Teddy's grave. He wavered unsteadily when she set him down but when he caught his balance he leaned against the shovel to take a rest. She stepped forward and disappeared into the dark hole of my brother's final resting place. I froze; suddenly I felt very, very cold. It wasn't just an outwardly chill, it was as if the icy finger of death reached out and poked my spine.

I heard a crack like the concrete vault was broken open. There was a loud creak, almost a breaking sound of wood. I struggled to make sense of the noise. When I saw her again, she jumped out of the hole as if it were nothing, a large lump in her arms. She turned around, almost facing me and it was an amazingly garish sight. Teddy's 6'2", 220 pounds were lifeless in her arms. She couldn't have been more than five nine herself and very slender yet she held him up like he was a baby. She kneeled down, resting his body on the ground almost tenderly and brushed a bit of mud off of his collar.

My heart threatened to give me away-it pounded so loudly that I was sure that anyone within a three mile radius could have heard it. She pulled something from her pocket, I couldn't see what exactly, but she ripped the top of it off with her teeth, pouring out the contents into Teddy's dead, open mouth. As if what I had seen up until this point seemed remotely feasible, I couldn't believe what happened next.

I squinted my eyes when Teddy's figure seemed to shrink, almost melting away, leaving behind a more stout figure. His hair grew out a little, turning from a speckled grey to a dishwater blonde. His face—the skin looked like it tightened over his skull. He looked like he did when he was eighteen.

I gasped, forgetting to breathe when his eyes opened. She helped him to his feet. He ran his hands over his chest, feeling it through clothes that were now too big. He reached up and touched his hair. I was too far away to hear them but they appeared to be talking to one another. Then, Teddy's head turned sharply towards me. I latched eyes with my dead brother.

I swear I heard her hiss. She said something to Teddy; he nodded and walked away, leaving the cemetery. I watched him, shocked—I must have drunk too much. Maybe someone slipped something into my whiskey. Then I realized she was heading right for me and she looked pissed.

I turn and ran, or, at least, I tried too. I think I barely made it ten steps before she slammed me into the wet concrete wall. I froze. I tried to push her away but her tiny, icy cold fingers were clutched around my throat. She was unnervingly strong.

"What the fuck is going on?" I managed to squeak out.

"It's all very complicated," she hissed.

I struggled to breathe, but I muddled together my thoughts into a coherent sentence, "Then, by all means, explain," I thought of Marlon Brando in Casablanca when I said it but my efforts at trying to be suave were foiled when it came out no louder than a choked whisper as her fingers slowly tightened like a boa constrictor around my trachea.

She narrowed her eyes at me, threateningly. I felt light headed, the panic was trying to set in but my disbelief and choked airway was pushing it aside. No fucking way, this wasn't actually happening. I tried to swallow, my Adam's apple smashed against her palm, her icy blue gaze was terrifying. Something about her was different—when I saw her in the park, I never thought she was a threat, but now? I could have pissed myself. She growled at me, leaning in closer; I was able to get a really good look at her now. She was stunning—high cheek bones made her seem a little severe but her tiny plush red lips contrasting her flawless, pale white skin made her appear delicate, like a doll. Large, black curls trailed down the sides of her head and back, not quite reaching her elbow. She looked airbrushed to perfection; she could have been a model.

I struggled to draw in air through my mouth, making a wheezing sound. My heart pounded and when I felt my cock growing, I was mortified. I closed my eyes, willing the stupid hard on to go away. I tried again to push her arm off of me but it didn't budge. I couldn't figure out why—she was smaller than me, dainty, her frame seemed so unimposing. Fuck.

As if she realized she was slowly asphyxiating me, her land loosened around my throat, then she let me go. My knees felt like jelly; I thought I would faint. I was such a pussy it was embarrassing. She leaned forward towards me, her nose touching my cheek as she pressed forward. I didn't dare move. I felt her tongue against my skin, the slow lick starting at the base of my jaw and up to my ear; I shuddered. The hard on was back with a vengeance.

She pulled away, eyes narrowed, "You're human."

"No fucking shit," it came out before I could stop it.

She grabbed onto my arm, her small hand closed not even half way around my bicep. Half dragging me, half shoving me, she led me forward past Teddy's grave which now lie empty, slowly being filled by the ancient grave digger who continued as if nothing happened. As if my brother didn't just pop out of there looking like he did when he was eighteen.

I tried to run, tried to pull out of her grasp but she held firm, barely jarred by my attempt. Her unfathomable strength was unbelievable; I didn't try to make a break for it again. As we walked out of the gates she shoved me into the passenger's seat of her car. I couldn't make out what it was in the vast darkness but from the lines and curves it looked very expensive.

As soon as she shut my door I tried to get out—of course the fucking child locks were engaged; I was stuck. She climbed into the passenger's seat, turning the key to bring the roaring engine to life. As she shifted into gear and peeled out of the parking lot, I frantically grabbed my seat belt and latched it into place.

She drove quickly through town, turning out onto the highway. She didn't look at me even though I stared her down, just drove like a fucking maniac. I milled over every detail of her that I could pick out against the poor light from the dashboard, trying to commit my kidnapper's face to memory and trying to focus on something other than the sinking feeling in my stomach and the jerking fear her driving caused me; the only sound besides the rumbling of the engine was my own frantic breathing.

Aside from shifting and steering, she didn't move. She didn't blink. She didn't breathe. She must have though, I was probably just too scared to realize it. My eyes wandered over her body; she was wearing a slim fitting, green button up shirt and tight jeans tucked into knee high black boots. Her sleeves were rolled up her forearms; on the wrist that faced me, I noticed a line of raised, scared skin. I wondered if there was a match to it. I tore my eyes off of her when the car listed down an exit ramp.

"Where are we going?" I tried to demand but my voice came out almost apologetically, like I was some stupid kid frightened for my life. I wasn't stupid and I wasn't a kid but I was definitely frightened.

She didn't respond. I frantically looked around—she was driving over a hundred but it hadn't been more than thirty terrifying minutes since we left town. We had to be close yet I had no fucking idea where we were. I was lost. I could hear gravel being kicked up against the car; we must have been on a dirt road in the country. Then, suddenly, she yanked the wheel to the right; I never felt the car slow down, I was sure we would flip over but somehow we didn't and were going down a driveway, hidden amongst the trees, half over grown with weeds as if the forest were trying to reclaim its territory, trying to keep whatever was down that path hidden. The dark shape resting against the woods grew clearer in the flash of the headlights; an extravagant, compact log cabin with modern angles and large windows grew in front of us until we came to a stop just shy of it.

She shut off the car and said nothing before she got out. Just as I unbuckled my seat belt she was outside my door, grabbing my jacket by the cuff and pulling me out like a rag doll. She yanked me inside and flicked on a small lamp. The room was a lot bigger than the outside led me to believe, like we had walked into a different dimension. It was tastefully decorated in warm brown furniture centered around a fireplace. There were a few ornate paintings on the walls, some rather large game animals hung like trophies and a brown bear skin rug with its mouth open wide in a roar on the floor. A black cat stared at us from its perch on the back of a sofa. It seemed like his yellow eyes were evaluating me, looking me up and down.

"Meow."

"Yeah, no fucking shit," she said angrily to the cat. She opened a door to a bedroom, shoving me in. I stepped back as she walked towards me, my legs hitting the edge of the bed. Her hands were on my chest, she was leaning in, eyes locked on mine. Her pupils looked almost purple but all I could focus on where her full, red lips. I felt my heart pound, the blood rushing through my body, the heat of my cock as it got almost instantly hard. I wanted her. She parted her lips, slowly licking them before barely breathing out, "Sleep."

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