Published for Kindle as Echo of Darkness
Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Lesbian erotica | Dark fantasy | 2014
Before my death, I had been a sensualist. The only moments that mattered were the ones filled with pleasure. Maria said it was a weakness. She said that was the reason the darkness claimed me in the first place. I knew that wasn’t true. The darkness cares nothing for pleasure. I was dead far longer than I have been alive and know more about death than she will ever know.
Death offered a sort of pleasure, but only one. It was a certain kind of forgetfulness. When the heart stills and the breathing halts, memories fade. Such was a blessing at times. But life is not empty. It moves. It flows. It is sweat. It is blood.
Blood was all death wanted, and it was all around when I first met Maria those years ago. I had been staying in Chicago. I had been dead for two centuries.
I moved among the living, feeding on blood to sustain the darkness that animated me, always careful not to leave a trail of bodies. So when I heard of a civil war in Central America, I went. Where people hid their sins, monsters didn’t need to.
It was 1927, and the Army for the Defense of Nicaraguan Sovereignty “fought for its communist ideals.” Intent on driving out the U.S. Marines, the rebels hid from government forces with the help of peasants. Near a poor village deep in the jungle, a band of soldiers had set up camp.
Hunger kept me watchful for an opportunity to feed. I peered out from the trees as night drew the rebels together. A woman arrived. It was Maria.
She was alone, wearing a tattered green jacket and trousers. A red bandana kept her black hair off her neck. Her boots were too big, but cord kept them tight against her shins. She set her rifle near a log and shoved moldy bread into her mouth.
No army had ever admitted it gave guns to women, but I had seen women carry weapons in every war. Like the men, Maria believed she was fighting for her country’s poor. She believed she was free. She believed too much.
She was a killer, but compassion followed on her ferocity as easily as dawn followed the night. I saw her butcher a boy in an ambush but give food to children. A man tried to take what he thought he purchased, so she shot him, yet she bandaged the wounds of a man who had only minutes to live.
I followed her that day, the next, and many more. It seemed I was remembering something, but my heart had buried its losses again and again. There was nothing I wanted to remember.
While she slept, I joined the fog that lay across her body. There were two of her: the woman and the darkness. Both stirred my hunger, but only the woman reminded me of life.
Her choices were not so different from my own. She had been a victim and put a rifle on her shoulder to make victims of others. Like her, my life was filled with animal griefs, seldom touched by love. A drunken husband had beaten me, a dead child still tormented me, and a midwife accused me. My husband said I had a heart of stone, and a judge agreed, condemning me as a witch. Before the water could claim me, a monster carved death into this stone, and only then was I made guilty.
As I followed Maria through that wicked South American jungle, memories of my life continued to haunt me. No prey had ever stirred me in this way.
And then, one night, I watched from high in a tree as she let a man reach under her jacket. She turned her back to him and closed her eyes.
I didn’t feed that time. I merely tore out his throat when I found him alone later that night. After villagers found his corpse, they came for her.
It was the darker half of twilight the following night when I interrupted her escape. Although I was dressed as a rebel, she knew I was a liar. She told me her name anyway. The darkness inside her recognized me, even if she didn’t.
As my hand swept the space between us, I said, “No one can keep you from what you need, Maria.”
“They do all the time.”
I had traced the texture of her life many nights as she slept. I knew her from her skin. From her heat. Her sweat. Her pulse.
Her shoulders fit into my hands, and I drew her into a thicket. I slipped the bandana from her head to find her hair cropped and thick. Her anger was strong; her body, weak. Like most of her countrymen, she was malnourished.
Her breaths were quick and shallow. I tasted them. I had plundered life in such hidden moments, but I wasn’t ready yet. Not yet. There was more to know from her life before I took it away. The caress of eager lips. Soft hair, a quick pulse, a strangled breath.
My hands burrowed under her clothes and touched warm flesh. My dry tongue licked sweat from her neck. Her hands followed my hands across her body. My cool fingers journeyed lower, straying into the patch of fur between her legs. She trembled. Her muscles tightened. Her body strained. When I slid a finger inside her, I found her wet.
Her rocking hips began to rotate as she tried to feel more deeply. Every movement elicited a stifled moan of pleasure. I stretched the tight muscles as I sucked on her neck.
She wasn’t the first woman I killed, but she was the first one to feed on my darkness. Desire was a power I belonged to, not one that belonged to me. Like a flame, desire kept me warm, and sometimes it devoured me. I had wanted to taste her blood, drink her, let her die, set her free. But the darkness knows its own, seeks its own. It wanted to steal her life, enslave her, and I couldn’t resist its demand.
Against the pulse of her neck, my fangs erupted in spasms. They sliced out of my gums, pushing out my incisors. The roots ripped without the splatter of blood, while dry anticipation tormented me.
Death had made a desert of me. Nothing flowed in me except the darkness, and now it sought fertile ground in which to grow. As my fangs tore through her skin, her blood spilled, and the darkness inside me crept into her.
Like a gathering storm, a cold wind churned in me, leaving my fingers tingling from a creeping frostbite. As the animating force abandoned me, my muscles atrophied, my hands knotted, my knees buckled.
How do the dead die but in mockery?
I lurched and took Maria to the ground with me. She screamed as I seized her in a grotesque hug. My teeth had pierced her skin and were buried deep. Warm iron oozed around my lips. Life was set free inside me as the stillness of death swallowed her.
Blood sputtered from her mouth, and the fierce voice of her heart quieted. Her body convulsed as nerves spasmed. Her limbs took on rigor. I swallowed as much as I could before the blood, like the rest of her, died.
Although I was weak, I dragged myself to the edge of a steep ravine and realized it too late. Plunging headfirst, I tumbled over brush and rocks and didn’t stop until I splashed into a creek.
And then everything changed.
My wrinkled lungs swelled as water rushed in. I raised my face just above the waterline and coughed as my lungs, greedy for air, expanded. When they swelled, they cracked my ribs like sticks.
My dead heart twitched. The withered cup of muscle struggled to life in uneven spasms, seizing over-and-over as it tore and healed. As my heart stretched and pumped, blood burned through the dry twine of my arteries. Violent, irregular contractions followed. The flow of blood seared long-dead nerves to life. Nerves reawakened to lashing pains. The water around me swirled with blood. My blood.
Life returning was as painful as life leaving.
My internal silence was shattered. For a few moments, I could entertain a new vocabulary, with words like “pleasure” and “love.” I remembered the comfort of a warm body, the smell of cinnamon. I recalled laughter.
I was a demon endlessly generated by slaughter. This was my torment: to die and then to live again when the darkness left me to make a new monster. The darkness wanted Maria because it recognized its servants. It found those unwilling to embrace life, those forced to choke down the horrid meal, yearning for the silence. Those like me. Like Maria.
She was suddenly standing there, a silhouette among the trees. She was a chord in an ancient song. She was feral, a tethered beast wandering intuitive places. She came toward me. Her gait was awkward, slow, persistent. I knew the icy emptiness driving her. I knew the blind hunger.
Frantic to move, I couldn’t run. All I could do was wait. I worked to calm my pounding heart and laboring lungs.
She splashed closer as panic forced little cries from my throat. She grasped my leg and dragged me from the water.
Adrenaline scorched my gut. Tears burned my eyes.
She dropped down onto one knee. Her face hovered above me, eyes like black holes. I saw a beast, a nightmare, a demon. Face red, twisted, she descended on me. When I pushed at her chin, she snapped my arm at the elbow. Pain drenched the world.
I remember the rest of that death in glimpses.
Teeth cut and scraped my bones. Pressure tugged on deep tissues. As blood left my body, my veins dried. My heart shriveled and hardened. My breath, so recently brought to life, ceased when my throat was torn open. I quickly suffocated and my brief life unraveled again.
She shoved me away, back into the water, where I lay under the shimmering black current. The darkness would take time to reclaim its prize.
Over-and-over, I had died. The savage theft always left me in this terrifying amniotic in-between. Neither madness nor sleep freed me from the unrelenting logic of purgatory. Nothing remained but memory.
Creatures crawled through and flailed around me. They consumed me. They shred me before my flesh spawned again. It may have been days. Maybe weeks. It was nighttime when I rose from the hum of the water world to the chatter and squawks of the jungle. I stepped onto the muddy bank.
Life hustled around me, but inside, all was still.
Maria was there, sitting beside the creek, arms around her legs.
I had brought a handful of new monsters into the world in this way. I was a carrier of darkness, a contagion. I usually took blood and a human life with it, but I sometimes shared the darkness and stilled a life. But no monster had ever waited for me after feeding. A new monster fed on whatever nearby darkness called to it, and that wasn’t always me. The darkness would reclaim me in time even without the help Maria gave it.
Maria rose to her feet as I walked to her.
“You have the whole world now,” I said, puzzled.
“I have nothing.” Her voice was edged with fire. The forced air we used to speak made it so. She was now a desert, like me.
“You can have anything you want,” I told her.
“I don’t want anything.”
But she did. She still wanted. That was why she was different. And beautiful.
“What do you want?” I asked.
Her dark eyes glinted, though the canopy obscured the moon. When she kissed my cheek, she carried the warmth of the jungle. She wasn’t like other monsters. She wasn’t like me.
Her brown skin was unblemished, completely healed from her murder, but blood stained her jacket. My thumb traveled through one black eyebrow. I held her face in both hands. She kissed me as if she could draw her whole life from my mouth. I welcomed her as if I had it to give.
She took me in a violent embrace and whispered into my mouth, “What is this?”
I squinted and looked carefully at what looked back. Who hasn’t been torn open and left bleeding from discovering love meant nothing?
Life had left its echo in me, and I was unsure what was most real: the hollow in my stomach, the longing between my legs, or the constriction in my chest. I struggled with a desire so bruising, my body ached.
A lucid fear seized me, so I vanished into the fog.