VOW


Been away for a couple of weeks but I'm finally back into the Wednesday Writer's Whatchamacallit group and participated in a group prompt. This weeks prompt was the beginning of the story (underlined). In the fifteen minute time limit, I was almost able to complete the story, but fell just short so I sat down this afternoon to finish it.

Just a note to you squeamish readers: this one is very dark and highly descriptive of violence...so, be warned if you decide to read on.

Now, without further ado...here's VOW.

“What a cute B&B!”

Marlene stopped at a door painted eggplant and adorned with the word, Blue.

“Sure, if old and odd’s your thing.” Kenneth slipped the antique brass key in, but the lock only turned halfway. “It must be caught on something.” He knelt and looked through the keyhole, “WTF!”

For a second, Marlene was distracted. Try as she might, she couldn’t figure out why a bed and breakfast would be called, Blue—yet the door was painted deep purple. Someone must have been colorblind.

Then it hits her what Kenneth said and she giggles, “Did you actually say, W-T-F?”

“Yeah, yeah…whatever. I didn’t want to curse in mixed company. Thought you might find it offensive.”

“Okay,” she said, a little confused. Offensive? They weren’t checking in to a bed a breakfast to do their taxes. She dismisses the thought and glances through the door’s window, trying to get a peek at the inside. The old-timey crocheted drapes blocked most of the view but one corner was pulled away just enough to make out what looked like a short hallway through the center of the house and a lone doorway leading to an adjacent room.

It’s just how she would imagine a 120-year-old home would look. White beadboard paneling covered the lower portion of the wall, broken by a strip of scrolled trim work which separated it from the floral wallpaper that stretched the remainder of the distance toward the ceiling. Thick, engraved molding bordered the ceiling, floor, and trim around the interior room’s door. An overabundance of black and white photos covered almost every square inch of the wall’s surface.

What really looked out of place was sticking out of the room’s threshold. A pair or legs lay there. The skin was pasty white, veins, as blue as the sky, zigzagged just under the paper-thin skin. Toes, yellow and cracked with age, pointed toward the ceiling.

Marlene gasped and jerked away from the window. “Kenneth! Do you see that?”

Kenneth doesn’t speak—doesn’t acknowledge her at all.

“Kenneth?”

He leans toward the door, eye still pressed to the keyhole. His arms hang by his side, limp.

“Kenneth?”

She takes a step toward him.

Beneath her feet, the old porch decking creaks. She reaches out…and stops. An unpleasant odor wafts up and around her, causing bile to rise into her throat. Then she sees it—a growing stain spreads across the back of Kenneth’s slacks as a pool of urine collects on the floor between his knees.

Then two things happen simultaneously: Kenneth begins to fall away from the door as the door is pulled open from within.

Her eyes are on Kenneth though. He slumps onto his side, his arm causing his body to roll onto his back. Head thumping to the wood, his face, covered in blood, gazes blankly at her. The source of the blood—his eye—or, what was left of his eye.

Marlene screams, backs away, forgets about the porch steps, and falls, her ass striking the edge of the bottom step on the way to the rough, brick walkway. Her scream of fear turns to pain and then to silence as she looks toward the now open door and the figure standing before her—in his hand is a bloody ice pick.

“Jack! What…”

Jack cuts her off, “Oh, don’t act all shocked, Marlene!” He uses her given name, not the nickname, Marley, that he’d used for the last ten years. “There’s nothing you can say to stop this.”

He kicks Kenneth’s body then steps over, making his way to the edge of the porch.

With her foot, Marlene pushes at the bottom step to put distance between them, but she pulls her foot away, gasping in pain—her lower back is on fire and she’s certain she can feel bones grinding. Tears flood her eyes, blurring her view.

Her husband reaches the top step.

“You remember our wedding?” He asks.

She remains quiet, afraid that even just the sound of her voice might cause the pain in her backside to flare up again.

He takes a step down. “Oh, I’m sure you do…”

Her eyes lock on the ice pick—there’s more than just Kenneth’s blood there. Something grey and semi-solid slides form the tip and falls, as if in slow motion.

Jack takes another step down, “…in fact, I know you do…”

Marlene tries to lift herself onto her elbows, but the pain is too much. She lies there and waits for Jack.

He’s on the final step now. Two more steps and he’ll be on top of her.

Kenneth’s blood is not only on the ice pick—it also covers Jack’s hand.

“…it’s the part at the end…”

His shadow falls over her. He stops. Blood drips from his hand. “…it’s the part when Pastor Sanders says, ‘Until death do us part.’”

“Please, don’t…Jack…”

His name is the last word she’ll ever speak.

- christopher j thomasson

March 1, 2019


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