by Starsky Hutch 76
Anna’s bubble was burst one day when she was out shopping with her sisters. They were coming out of a clothing outlet when she spotted Damon across the street outside a singles bar. He was opening his car door for a beautiful girl in a miniskirt.
“Isn’t that your Damon?” one of her sisters asked. “That guy sure looks like the picture you showed me.” Anna wanted to die from embarrassment.
After the initial shock and a great deal of crying, she stopped returning his phone calls. She didn’t want to see him or speak to him. He had failed to live up to the image she had come to believe in. Damon was no different than all the rest.
Finally, he came to her apartment to demand an explanation. She let him have it with both barrels and told him what she had seen and what a phoney she thought he was. He didn’t even blink.
“I can explain what you saw,” he said.
“Sure you can,” she said haughtily. “I’m sure you have a great excuse. You could talk your way out of anything.”
“Have I ever led you to believe I was unfaithful before now?”
“No, not until I saw you with that tramp,” she said angrily.
“That tramp used to be somebody very special,” Damon sighed. “She was the one I was with before I was with you. I had already broken it off with her, but she didn’t take it very well. She’s been acting like a maniac. Did you ever see the movie Fatal Attraction? It was a lot like that.”
“I don’t think I can believe you,” Anna sniffed. “I’ve heard this sort of thing before.”
“It’s true. She left threatening messages at work, and when I’d leave the office, I would find that someone had let the air out of my tires. I was at my wit’s end. I had to see her again to try and reason with her and get her to stop. Even before I met you, I knew that I couldn’t keep going on the way we were. Her emotional blackmail was driving me crazy. It didn’t take a genius to realize that she was unstable. I had to get away from her. Our relationship was unhealthy. After I met you, I knew it for sure. You showed me how wonderful a relationship could be, how it should be. Once I met you, I knew just what it was that had been missing from my life.” His voice suddenly grew husky. “You can’t leave me now. I need you.”
“I just don’t know. I’ve been hurt before and given a guy a second chance, and I’ve regretted it. How do I know you’ll be different?”
“Don’t think with your head. Think with your heart,” he said, taking her hands. “You know what we have is good, because you can feel it! We love each other. I promise you, she is out of our lives for good. Neither of us will ever hear from her again.”
She decided to give him another chance and hoped that she wouldn’t come to regret it. He was worth that much. If there was any chance that he might really be what he seemed to be, she had to take it.
Things quickly went back to normal. It seemed like he was doing everything possible to restore her confidence in him. If his behavior was any indication, he was really sincere. She had no choice but to forgive him.
One evening, after a night on the town, they decided to drop by his house for a drink. They went into his kitchen to have a glass of wine. Anna noticed that blood had been spilled on the counter. Damon’s eyes grew wide, and he grabbed a dish rag and wiped it up. “I hate it when my father cooks in here. I’ve warned him that, at his age, he shouldn’t be eating red meat.”
“I thought you said he was your grandfather,” Anna said.
“He is, but he practically raised me, so I sometimes refer to him as my father.” This sounded crazy to her, but she couldn’t think of any reason for him to lie about something like that, so she quickly put it out of her mind.
A few weeks later, Anna discovered that her period was late. She went to the drugstore and bought a home pregnancy test to confirm whether or not her suspicions were true. She cried for an hour after she tested positive.
She had dreamed about what it would be like to be married to Damon, but she didn’t want something like this to happen to force him to propose. Being rich, she thought that women had probably tried this sort of thing before to force him into marriage. If he was ever going to propose, she wanted it to be for the right reasons. Abortion was out of the question, though. The last thing she wanted to do was kill their child.
Anna felt he had a right to know about this, and she didn’t think it was something that should be handled over the phone. Even phoning him ahead of time didn’t seem like the thing to do. He would be able to tell something was wrong by the sound of her voice. Instead, she decided to drive out to his estate, planning to tell him in person and hoping that he wouldn’t think she was trying to trap him into marrying her.
When she got there, the front door was unlocked, so she walked in. As usual, no servants were to be seen anywhere, and it was still very dark and ominous. Anna called out his name, but he didn’t seem to hear her. She walked down the long hallway and heard voices coming from the kitchen. He seemed to be in a very heated argument.
“I’m tired of covering for you!” his grandfather yelled.
“Cover for me? I’ve never put you in a position where you have had to cover for me. I’m capable of covering my own tracks.”
“Well, I’m sick of you bringing your victims here. There was blood all over the place last night. Do your business somewhere else. Not in my house.”
“Your house?” Damon said indignantly. “You wouldn’t even be living here if it weren’t for me. You would still be a dirt-poor immigrant living in a shanty town, eating out of garbage cans.”
“I summoned you!” the old man screamed hoarsely. “I can send you back to Hell. Don’t forget who’s in charge here!”
“You may pull the strings now, Belo, but I just have to wait for you to kick off, and then this world is mine. I’ve waited for five years, and I could wait for another fifty, if I had to. I don’t think I will have to, though. You look as if you could go at any moment.” He leaned forward and hissed into the old man’s face, “I can smell your body rotting.”
“Don’t you dare talk to me like that! I’m in charge here! You’ll do as I say!”
“Belo, Belo, Belo, you stupid old fart. You stopped being in charge a long time ago. Having to wear this form is bad enough. You can’t force me to adopt all your habits. If I feel the need to hunt, I will. Once you’re dead, you’re mine. So if I were you, I’d watch my step. You don’t want to piss me off.”
Belo eyed him with newfound fear. His previous defiance deflated, making him look weak and defenseless.
“That’s better,” Damon said, flashing an evil smile. He suddenly looked around warily and sniffed the air, like an animal picking up a scent. “Anna…”
Anna ran down the hall, nearly in hysterics. What she had heard seemed insane. She wondered if she wasn’t going mad and hadn’t imagined the whole scene. “Leave her alone!” she heard the old man scream. “I’ll not have another innocent girl killed in my home!”
“Stay out of this, old man!” Damon yelled back.
As she reached for the doorknob of the front door, all the locks slammed shut by themselves, and no amount of force could budge them. She looked behind her and saw his shadow preceding him as he walked slowly down the hallway toward her. It began to twist and mutate into the horrific thing from her nightmare of weeks past. His legs jutted backward, becoming something like the hind legs of a goat. As he grew in mass, his back grew bent and humped. His arms grew longer and took on a disproportionate amount of muscle. She saw a long scorpion’s tail grow down from his shadow’s back.
Over the scraping sound of his talons on the floor, she heard him say in a voice that became increasingly deep and voluminous, “Anna, I think we need to talk. I haven’t been completely honest with you, and I think it’s time for me to come clean.”
“Oh, God,” she sobbed, running from window to window trying in vain to get outside, “Help me! Please, God, help me!”
Anna ran down the foyer and into another long hallway. Every door and window she came across that would lead outside was locked. She tried throwing a chair through a window, but it just bounced off. She tried to break the window with her fist, but it was as if the window were made of stone rather than glass.
Her legs were beginning to feel heavy, and she was out of breath. The house seemed to go on forever. She ran upstairs, hoping that there was a ledge somewhere that she could go to and scream for help.
“Come on, Anna,” she heard his voice blast through the house. “Don’t be like this. I just want to talk to you — to hold you, to love you. To… to… to rip you to bloody shreds and suck the marrow from your bones!”
Anna could hear the scraping of his talons growing closer. She ran into the first doorway she came to look for a phone. It was a large den decorated with Indian tapestries. She picked up a phone to call the police, and she heard a voice on the other end say, “Naughty, naughty. Trying to bring an outside party into a lovers’ quarrel.”
She heard a loud rumbling sound and turned around to see him trying to force his massive frame through the normal-sized doorway. He was even more horrible in person than he had appeared in her dream. His horrific face was the compound eyes of an insect, an empty cavern where his nose should have been, and a misshapen, expansive mouth with rows of jagged teeth that jutted out in different directions. His head had two sets of horns: the smaller ones coming from his forehead and the much larger two sticking out from either set of his head as a bull’s would. His deep purple skin had a sheen to it, as if coated with slime. “Come give your lover man a big kiss!” he boomed, his snake-like tongue flicking out between his saw-like teeth.
“Stay away from me!” she screamed.
“Is that any way to talk to the man you love? Don’t push me away, Anna. Couples need to spend quality-time together.”
“Please don’t hurt me,” she cried.
“Hurt you?” he said, moving toward her. “Why would I want to do that? You’re everything to me,” he laughed.
“Then let me go.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. It’s eight o’clock, and I haven’t had a bite to eat. I feel like having a friend for dinner. I’m so hungry I could eat a whore.”
She picked up a lamp and threw it at him, but before striking him, it stopped in midair and flew off to the side. She picked up other objects to try to hit him with, but they all did the same thing.
“This is starting to look like an abusive relationship. I’m hurt. Truly hurt,” he said, moving in for the kill.
Anna realized she had let him back her into a corner. Nothing could save her now. He was going to kill her, just like he had killed the girl in her dream. She dropped to the ground screaming, burying her head in her knees and covering her head with her hands.
Suddenly, she heard a noise and saw Belo jumping from the top of a table with agility that defied his many years. He was holding a silver sword with both hands by the hilt as if it was a knife, and he stabbed Damon through the back. The blade came out the other side through his stomach, and he stared down at it in disbelief. “You stupid old fool! You ruined everything!” He brought his massive hand back to send the old man flying into the wall on the other side of the room.
Fire began to spew forth from the wound and then his mouth. He gave a horrible guttural scream that reminded Anna of nails being dragged across a chalkboard. He exploded in a massive burst of light, and then nothing was left but the smell of brimstone in the air.
Anna was gasping for breath from the shock of what had just occurred. Her head swam dizzily as she tried to rise to her feet. She suddenly remembered the old man who had saved her, and she ran across the room to where he lay crumpled on the floor. “Are you OK?” she asked, cradling his head in her lap.
“Of course not, you stupid girl,” Belo coughed. “I’m seventy-five years old. How can I possibly be all right after being tossed around like that?”
“Why did you save me?” she asked.
“I had summoned him, expecting him to give me everything I ever wanted. I got wealth, but no power. I was his prisoner. My life became a living hell. It was worse than being poor. At least when I was poor, and I had no control, there was nothing sinister about it. After I summoned him, my life became a cesspool. Pure silver is capable of hurting things such as him. I had this sword made and had a priest bless it years ago, hoping that one day I would have the courage to use it.”
His eyes grew wide, and a pained look came onto his face. “Oh, God, it hurts. I made such a mess of things. I could have had a family. Things could have been different. I could have been happy.” His eyes began to flutter, and he moaned, “I just pray to God that you aren’t carrying his child. I’d hate to think I died in vain.” Then, with one last groan, his eyes shut for the final time, and he grew limp in her arms.
Anna let his head drop to the ground, and she held her hands to her stomach. What sort of blasphemy could be growing inside her? She imagined that she could feel it forming slowly in her womb. Tears rolled down her face as the old man’s last words echoed over and over in her head, shredding the last veil of sanity the evening had left her.