Promise of a Puppeteer

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but my words can kill you.

             The stench of rot filled her nose, challenging her control over her stomach’s contents. She doubled over, pinching her nose and cradling her stomach.

            I smirked. The first weakening element in my attack. Once disoriented, my victims didn’t stand a chance of evading the assault. It was harder for them to run, to breathe, to concentrate. And it was easier for me to vanquish them. Of course, my puppets handled the dirty work. What else were they for?

            Dirty work…

            I preferred the more gruesome approach to revenge: pain, blood, misery, death. But why should I let the blood spill onto my hands when I had unwavering servants that existed solely for the purpose of exacting my will?

*

            Once, Abram called my ruthlessness sexy. He hardened at the notion that I’d go to any extent to make him mine. I played dirty. I manipulated. I intimidated. When wandering eyes lingered on him longer than a passing glance, it was an opportunity to arouse him. He loved watching me declare my possession. I wasn’t afraid of confrontation. I could take a punch, but I could dole them out even better. If words could bite, mine would devour.

            I had run undefeated for three years. Abram had been mine. We had lived a perfect life together. I knew he loved me. But two months ago, I found myself beaten. Conquered by the only person who could steal the deed to Abram’s heart.

             Abram. He told me it was over, and he was moving on. I suppose the appeal of submission had worn off, and he no longer found himself attracted to the cold woman under whom he’d spent so many nights. An eclipse veiled his heart, and he wished to experience the other side of dominance.

            So, Abram went out and found himself a bunny to satisfy his wolfish hunger. Clearly weak and fragile, she was an easy target. Easy for him. Easy for me. Ideal prey for my equally savage hunger for vengeance.

            I watched them for weeks. He wrapped his arm around her wherever they went. She allowed him to yank her about, never fought him. In bed, he flung her around. She wasn’t love, just an experiment. It may have been painful to watch, but it was all worth it.

            Why?

            Because I knew where she lived. I knew she walked there from Abram’s house. Most importantly, I knew there was a nine-minute window of opportunity to make my move.

*

            There I sat, perched in the shadows of the tree-lined edge bordering Abram’s property. I could see directly into the lantern-lit room where Abram held hands behind her back as he claimed her forcefully from behind. That was my place. My bed. My man. My dominance.

            Fury boiled in my veins, hotter with every plunge. I tasted blood as I tried not to scream. My heart, lodged in my throat, told me to barge in and slaughter them both, but my head kept me in my position. I’d get my vengeance soon enough. Besides, I worked better emotionally riled.

            Abram finished and flipped her over, planting a rough kiss on her lips before pulling on his jeans and shirt and covering up his impeccable body. I laughed quietly to myself. Doing all the work was not his style.  He couldn’t be having fun. Not the Abram I knew. The blonde sat on the edge of the bed, and I caught her expression: less than pleased. Within moments, she was walking out the front door, a slight hitch to her step. Poor bunny couldn’t handle the roughness I’d taught him to enjoy.

            I silently descended from my post and crept in the shadows after her. She stepped onto the footpath, and I darted into the woods, passing her up. Once ahead, I climbed into my designated tree to begin the Rising. Allowing the rage to consume me, I began the invocation in the language of the dead. I chose my puppet carefully this time. And quite specifically for this marvelous production. It lay in wait nearby. The incantation ended, and my fingertips emitted a dim cyan glow. The connection had been made. I closed my eyes and focused on the woman I’d arisen.

            The world came into focus again, but through my puppet’s eyes. I saw the wooded landscape, the worn footpath before me. In only a few seconds, the girl crested the hill and froze upon meeting my gaze. She stumbled backward, trembling and shaking her head. Her decadent fear thickened the night air.

            “No. You can’t be – Mom?” she squeaked.

            I reached out my arms to her and smiled. “Yes, baby. Come to Mama.”

            She shook her head and wrapped her arms around herself. “No. Who are you? My mother died! Three months ago!”

            “I’m back, sweetheart. Just to see you.” I glided forward, but avoided the moonlight.

            The girl took several uneasy steps toward me, struggling to see through the near pitch blackness. “Really?”

            “Why else would I be here?” I held out a hand but remained in the shadows.

            The girl eyed me warily. Finally, she slipped her hand nervously into mine.

            I gripped it tightly, digging my jagged nails into her flesh as I stepped into the light. The decayed flesh that had once been her mother’s sweet face peeled and dripped into a twisted smile of malicious intent. She screamed in dread and tried to pull away. My grip was unyielding. I yanked her forward and wrapped an arm tightly around her neck until her knees gave out and she collapsed.

            After releasing the bond to my puppet, I climbed out of my tree and stood over the girl’s body. With my bare foot, I tipped her head to the side. She was still alive, merely unconscious. I resumed control of the corpse, but only externally. It lifted the girl from the ground and followed me to Site B.

*

            We were such opposites, this bunny and I. She had a bright and charming appearance, mine was dark and powerful. She was so delicate, I was so strong. How else would I have her tied to a tree in the middle of a meadow? 

            She couldn’t escape the ropes if she tried. In fact, they were tight enough to hurt. I sat in the grass before her. Waiting.

            Finally, I felt the vibration of footsteps behind me. Abram was coughing and dry heaving, held prisoner by another rotting puppet.

            I let out a low, taunting laugh.

            “Elsie?” He craned his neck, trying to spot me in the tall grass.

            “Hello, darling.”

            “What’s going on? Who – Ugh! What is this smell?” He heaved again.

            “Don’t you pay attention, dear? Look around you.”

            Abram scanned the ground and saw the half-dozen cadavers piled at his feet. He choked on what would have been a yelp of surprise. “What the hell, Elsie! You’re the one who’s been digging up those bodies?”

            “Indeed.” I laid my hands on his shoulders, making him start. I watched his jaw drop farther as he absorbed his complete surroundings. The bodies rotting around us. His ex-lover smiling as if it were a beautiful Christmas morning. His girlfriend tied to a tree.

            “Did you hurt Chloe?” he asked, the surprise now absent from his tone.

            “Take a seat, love.” I led him to a spot in the grass right in front of the girl and away from the reek of the bodies. “You seem to have forgotten what I told you when our love was young.”

            “You said you’d do anything to make me yours. I remember.”

            “Is it any different now?” I crossed my arms and stared into his eyes, expression loving and gentle.

            “Apparently not.” He shifted, and I knew he was remembering. “So, did you hurt her?”

            “Not yet.” I crouched in front of him, never breaking eye contact.

            Abram’s eyes flickered back and forth between my eyes and my lips. I knew what he wanted then.

            “Would you like to watch me when I do?” I crawled towards him, one hand on either side of his body as I closed in. My face was only an inch from his. “Abram?”

            He exhaled, and I could sense the war of good versus evil waging inside his heart. I cupped his cheek with my left hand and bore my eyes into his. I straddled him and grinded my hips against his. He let me.

            “Abram,” I whispered in his ear, “Would you like me to show that fragile bunny how it’s done?” I pulled off his shirt and traced a line of kisses from his collarbone to his cheek, stopping just before his lips.

            “Yes.” His voice was raspy and exhilarated.

            I wound my fingers through his hair and pulled. “Tell me.”

            “Show her how to please me.”

            “And then?”

            He cocked his head to the side.

            I sat up and held out my hands to the sides. They lit up again, and the body that led Abram here walked over to us. I pulled a small knife from a sheath around my ankle and handed it to the corpse.

            Abram ran his hand up the back of my dress. “Then show her I’ll always be yours.”

            “She’ll never forget.” I grabbed his head.

            “And neither will I. Never again.”

            I closed my lips around his, and we shared another overwhelming and passionate kiss. Our bodies pressed together, and it was as if I had been recharged. My adrenaline boiled, and at the shriek that interrupted us, I was ready to explode.

            Abram jumped and looked at Chloe who now had the small knife stuck in her torso. Soon enough, she registered what she was seeing: her boyfriend with his shirt off and arms wrapped around another woman. She fought against the ropes, but in vain.

            “Abram?” she squeaked. “Get me out of here!”

            I ignored her and continued to kiss my lover. After only a few seconds, he closed his eyes and focused on me again. The passion heightened, and I nearly forgot she was even there, crying and yelling behind me.

            “Abram!” Chloe screamed.

            Abram didn’t falter.

            “What did you do with my mother?”

            I illustrated no sign of interest.

            “Answer me, you devil’s whore!”

            My hands slammed onto the ground, and I was on my feet striding toward her before the echo had died. I grabbed the knife and swiftly retracted it.

            She cried out and swore at me again.

            “Do you think you’re in any position to be throwing words like that around?” I admired the blade and the blood that stained it. I dipped my pinky in the blood and brought it to my lips.  “You taste awful, bunny.” I spat at her feet then met her eyes. Fear was evident, but she wasn’t yet ready to die. I could accept that challenge.

            “Hey, babe. I wasn’t done.”

            I turned and saw Abram standing shirtless with his pants undone. It was enticing, but my appetite for Chloe’s destruction outweighed my lust.

            “We’ll finish in a minute, sweetheart. I’ve got to take care of something first.” I returned my attention to the prey. She glanced shiftily at the knife I twirled between my fingers. I lifted the blade above my head and swung down hard.

            Chloe screamed and slammed her eyes shut, but the knife slit the ropes instead of her flesh. They fell limp around her. She stared at me and backed into the tree.

            “What was that for?” Abram and Chloe asked together.

            I threw my head back and laughed. “You really think I’d pass up the opportunity to have a little fun?” My expression grew grim. “Besides, what good would it do to kill her?” I took several steps backwards and began to chant again.

            Abram rested a hand on my shoulder, but I slapped it away and held out my arms. I closed my eyes and focused on the pain that commandeered my body, making my decisions now.

            Chloe took advantage of my pause and started to run.

            My eyes snapped open, and a cruel grin claimed my lips. “Excellent.” My loathe for the girl welled inside me until it became a swollen tempest, throbbing for release. I raised my arms and finished the invocation with a maniacal fit of laughter.

            “What the-”

            The corpses burst forward in a line of hell bound soldiers. They flew forward, running faster than anything dead had a right to. Chloe looked over her shoulder to see them gaining on her. The smell caught up to her first, and I saw her double over. She gathered herself quickly and kept on, pausing frequently to gag and vomit and examine her bleeding stomach. Soon, she had slowed enough for my puppets to surround her.

            I took Abram by the hand and pulled him along after the horde, but at a slower pace and at more of a skip than a run. I twirled and giggled as we approached the mob.

            “Babe, you’re twisted.”

            “Is that a bad thing, lover?” I asked, halting to meet his eyes, which were bright and enlightened.

            “I like twisted.” He grabbed me by the hips and pulled me tightly against him.

            “Quite good.” I raised myself to my tiptoes and bit his lower lip.

            Chloe screamed again, and reminded me of my game. I pushed past my puppets and stood over her.

            “I’m just going to stay over here!” Abram called from several feet outside the circle.

            I just stared at the pathetic lump he’d once called his “girlfriend.” The girl who would not fight me for him, just run away and hope to survive.

            “Help me!” She puked and whimpered and rocked on her knees.

            The circle tightened around us, and I crouched to her level. “No one is going to help you, girl. You’ve crossed me, and everyone here is mine.”

            “Are you going to kill me?” she sniveled.

            “Oh, no. I’m going to make sure you never forget that man is mine. You’ll remember for the rest of you pathetic little life. You’ll remember that you weren’t good enough. That you didn’t have it in you to fight for him.” I snickered. “You look relieved. Don’t be.”

            I backed out of the circle with a polite wave and brought my hands together. Abram wrapped his arms around me and held me close as Chloe screamed for her life. The bloodcurdling shrieks only put my mind at ease. I closed my eyes and watched what Abram couldn’t see: the puppets chewing at her flesh, pulling her limbs from their joints. Finally, when I decided she was mangled enough, a foot collided with her temple in a heavy downward thrust.

            Her screaming stopped. I broke the bonds with the puppets, letting them all fall into a heap on the ground. Chloe lay there among them, looking quite similar to the dead bodies surrounding her and nearly unrecognizable. Her eyes were closed.

            “I thought you weren’t going to kill her.” Abram asked kissing the top of my head.

            I pointed to her chest which was barely rising and falling. “This is worse.” I tapped her body with my foot, and she stirred.

            She tried to speak, but everything slurred together in an incomprehensible jumble.

            Abram nodded. “Much worse.”

            “Well, let’s go lover. We’ll have to establish an alibi.”

            “We’re just going to leave her here?”

            I grunted in affirmation and started in the direction of Abram’s home. My home. I saw him look behind us at the choice he’d almost made instead. When he slipped his arms around my waist again, I could sense the realization engulfing him. This was how it was supposed to be. He was to be forever tied to the mysterious woman who would do anything for him. This powerful, and probably satanic bride. And, he couldn’t think of a better way to live.


One Response to “Promise of a Puppeteer”

  1. You’ve perfected in with small changes throughout, and it’s now a fantastically vivid piece of writing. Well written, visually dynamic and just the right amount of gruesomeness to be horrific. Very nice piece of work Anna!

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