Published for Kindle as Echo of Darkness
Copyright © Teresa Wymore. All Rights Reserved.
Lesbian erotica | Dark fantasy | 2014
Sophie vanished into the night. When my strength returned, I left, too.
I clenched my coat tightly against the wind. The walk was long. My legs hurt. My skin stung from the cold. When I reached the city, I felt eyes all around. The street was empty in the early hours before dawn, but I felt surrounded.
A brisk pace brought me to an alley behind an apartment building. I wanted cover, warmth, a home. I hadn’t had a home in a century, when the habit had finally fallen away long after any need.
I didn’t know where to go.
Maria stepped out from the shadow of the brick building. I hadn’t seen her in a month. She moved unbelievably fast from the distance to my side. She smelled of dust and cinnamon. I smiled at the memory of cinnamon. Childhoods in my mother’s kitchen.
Maria startled me with a kiss. She let her lips linger on mine. “A pulse…” She murmured, her eyes were like flames. “You have a pulse.”
Maria was right. My heart was racing. Sweat cooled my neck. I was shivering.
“What happened to your clothes, they’re torn?” she asked. Her hands intruded under my coat. Her teeth flashed white in the shadows.
I pushed at her hands and licked my lips nervously. My tongue was wet. She noticed and let me step back.
I began to speak, but she put a hand to my mouth. Her finger pressed between my lips and stroked my teeth and tongue. She trailed her wet finger down my chin and neck.
Then she killed me.
I awoke in a morgue that stunk of disease.
Alone with other corpses, I searched around for something to wear besides my torn dress. A brown coat hung near a door along with men’s work boots. I took them and returned to the street.
The balsamic moon sat low, lending the promise of regeneration with the seeding of the new moon. I thought of the hope that had allowed me to adore Sophie as mythology, which now allowed me to believe—really believe—in a power beyond mine.
Maria was near. I sensed her, but I couldn’t see her. The darkness had reclaimed me all on its own.
I made my way to the street by Sophie’s office and waited.
The cool winter sun had reached its daily apex when Sophie left. She clutched a fox fur coat around her and adjusted a fur hat.
The cold day kept most people home. A few travelers took taxis and a few men walked to their jobs. Sophie walked five blocks to a restaurant. I followed her and watched through the window as she laughed with three other ladies. I followed her back home.
She wasn’t surprised when I entered her office. I had imagined different responses, but not no response.
She was drinking tea and reading a book. She peered up through reading glasses, set them aside and said, “You stink. Izzy will draw you a bath.”
She called her maid.
Later that night, I reclined on the couch in her office. Drawn velvet drapes hid the slice of moon but allowed a draft. The shuddering flame of a candle offered only her perfect profile.
We had not talked. I had many questions, but the answers would not have satisfied.
She bent to kiss me. When her lips touched mine, I fell onto a blanket of moss. Lichen-spotted stones lined a stream where wild fuchsia sprawled across a tangle of dull ferns. Barking beagles and shrieking horses leapt over me. The blood-frenzied shouts of their masters drove them on as they pursued a fox.
The scent of horse sweat and leather drifted away as Sophie stroked my face and sucked on my chin. She grasped me in her arms and kissed me deeply, her tongue thrusting into my mouth. She licked my face, bit my cheek, drew blood, licked more. Her strong hands squeezed my arms until they were bruised. She tore the blouse her maid had lent me and mauled my breasts.
She resisted when I tried to get on top, so I wrapped my legs around her. I trembled with desire. Desperation had me feeling weak, or maybe it was the power she possessed.
She drew back, leaving a chill behind.
I reached out.
Her eyes glinted like blue ice. “The dying will be harder.”
I didn’t know what she meant, and I didn’t care when her warm kisses grew hot.
She began to grind her hips against mine in slow, sensuous circles. The exquisite pressure took every thought away, every sensation except the throbbing pleasure between my legs. Soon, rubbing wasn’t enough.
I drew her hand down. Her fingers crawled along my skin, through hair, and into wetness. She pushed deep, penetrating me. Her fingers twisted, stroked, drove me mad.
Her cool eyes watched me as her elegant fingers worked. I bucked and groaned in a violent charade of life, and she watched through slitted eyes. I rode her hand faster and faster, trying to dissolve the night and the sight of her beast-like stare, but she didn’t let my desire find release. Before orgasm could free me, she pulled away again.
She left the couch, left me moaning. My body still throbbed, but with aching slowness pleasure died. I followed her up the stairs. I was naked and spitting threats of killing her.
She turned on me, eyes blazing. She was as strong as I was weak, as satisfied as I was needy. “I’m through with you,” she said simply. She walked into her second floor and closed the door.
I left her home. I stumbled through the street in a coat and boots I had found beside her door.
The cold air steamed with the wet vapor of my breaths. Even so, I didn’t recognize the well I had drunk from all my life. Not even when Maria arrived again. Not even when she killed me again.
She killed me every time.
Over-and-over, Sophie returned my life and Maria took it again.
I woke from one of many deaths to find Maria waiting for me in agony. The darkness had not yet reclaimed her. She was still alive, so I took my first meal from her and watched as she rotted and revived.
Her body dissolved in the trash of an alley as strays ate and insects decomposed her flesh. As it always did, the darkness reclaimed her with meticulous complexity. In a few days, she lay staring up at me, a beautiful brown body among the rot.
Where life requires movement, death is stillness—stillness of soul, of thought. So when Maria asked how I returned alive to the streets time and again, I didn’t have an answer. I had not even wondered. I had not questioned the compulsion that kept driving me back, because hunger was the landscape of my existence. Only the food had changed.
Yet, once Maria said it, I wondered. My question gave me one more reason to go again to Sophie.
Izzy let me in. Sophie told me to bathe. I couldn’t remember how many times we had done this. Maybe we had always done this. Maybe those memories of sharing philosophy and art in her office were merely my way of reconstructing a compulsion that had never found its resolution.
But it wasn’t just Sophie and me this time. This time, Maria followed. Her face appeared out of the shadows behind Sophie. Sophie was on top of me. As soon as I saw Maria, Sophie paused. She rose and turned and saw her, too.
She left the couch and became something different. Not a woman. Something. She was an animal, a beast. Scales and black spines replaced soft skin and blonde hair and the sharp odor of decay stung my eyes. Her dexterous fingers stretched into claws.
Maria launched herself at Sophie and they tumbled to the ground in a confusion of teeth, talons, screams, and growls. Fear sent me to the door.
I left Sophie’s home and ran as long as I could, making it from the city to a farm. I climbed a hill. The sun was rising over the cornfields. Chickens were waking.
The coat and boots I wore left my bare lower legs open to the crystalline winter air. Huddling, I covered my legs and massaged the skin to warm it.
I was hungry. I thought of the eggs in the chicken coop I sheltered behind. I thought of the chickens. I wondered how I could get food. I wondered why I wanted any.
When the farmer came to collect eggs, I hid. The south side of the building had a bit of warmth as the sun rose and its rays reflected off the wood. I sat huddle for some time before Sophie found me.
She arrived in her automobile near noon, parking on the dirt road and walking along, glancing about. I watched her from my position on the farm’s hill for a while. She had some sense that slowly narrowed in on my location.
She stopped on the road, across a low fence of barbed wire, and stared up at me. She was wearing her fox fur but no hat. Strands from her blonde hair fluttered in the breeze. The chickens, who had been scuttling through their feed and clucking, grew silent. Their eyes twitched this way and that, as if they were looking for a sound. There were no sounds.
Nothing moved, except Sophie’s hair.
I waited, wondering what she would do. She seemed to be waiting for me to do something. I began to wonder about Maria, if she would find me, too.
Sophie was unbelievably quick. I didn’t see her climb the hill, but she was suddenly beside me. I stepped away.
“Why are you here?” she asked.
“Waiting for you.”
I shook my head at the thought of returning to Maria, of losing this precious, tenuous breath.
“You like the cold? The pain?” answered Sophie, as if she heard my thoughts. “You’re hungry, cold, frightened. Soon you’ll be injured, lonely, sick.” She laughed lightly, a hand covering her lips. “Oh, you like the pain.”
“You didn’t kill her?”
“Kill someone who’s dead?”
“Who are you? What…” The memory of Sophie’s hideous body chilled me.
Sophie touched my face. Her hand was warm, and I turned my cheek into her palm.
“You’re a monster,” I said.
She studied me. “You’re an echo, and I’m a collector of echoes.”
“Maria will take it away. She’ll kill me again.”
“The value is in the wanting not the having. You of all people know that.”
I took her face between my hands and gave her a deep, searching kiss.
She pushed me away but held my shoulders. “You have nothing I want.”
Her words struck me hard. I couldn’t breath. I realized my desperate hold on life had nothing to do with breathing.
Despair sent me stumbling down the hill, hoping something might kill me quickly. I wanted to snuff out the small flame I had been guarding, extinguish it before more absurd expectations might make it grow into something unbearable.
Sophie wasn’t following. I glanced behind. She stood watching me. The snow around her melted. I turned and continued down the hill, down the road. I ran to the automobile, expecting to slip in and drive off. As soon as I opened the door, I saw Maria.
“You!” I exclaimed.
Sophie was behind me, pushing me in. “Sit down, Nadzia.”
Maria took hold of my arm, and I fell down beside her.
I had spent a hundred nights approaching an erotic paradise, never to arrive. I was an addict with a burning heart and unsteady feet making my way to a soirée, but there was no needle or dropper awaiting me. It wasn’t opium or laudanum that left me frail, but that warm body with its power to eat the darkness and leave me always wanting.
I expected to be dead by the time I arrived back at Sophie’s house, but I discovered Maria was alive.
We sat an arm’s length from each other on the couch. Sophie closed the door and sat in her leather chair from where she analyzed her patients.
I couldn’t be sure what was real. Sensation was mine now, but not the senses I had come to rely on. Maria wasn’t a monster. Perhaps. Sophie was. Perhaps.
Maria reached a hand to mine. I let her take it. Her skin was warm. She stared at me. Her attention was feral, as always, but not malevolent.
Sophie’s cool eyes took on the physician’s interest they usually had in our sessions.
“You feed from the patients you bring here,” I surmised.
“The darkness, as you call it, makes people my patients.”
“What are you?”
“No. That’s how you find us. Not what you are. What are you going to do now?”
“You have nothing I want.”
“So I can leave?”
“I would prefer it.”
“Then why am I here now?”
“To be sure you understand.” She smiled without conviction. “I like it here.”
“Is that why you killed your husband?”
“I have no husband.”
“And where’s your maid?”
“Izzy is upstairs.”
“She was like you.”
“And your husband?”
“I told you. I have no husband.”
Maria was still holding my hand. She squeezed it and said, “What does it matter?”
Everything Sophie did mattered. A future without her frightened me. “I’m not leaving.”
Maria’s dark eyes filled with emotion. She tried to smile but my expression didn’t let her.
Sophie was staring at Maria with the disgust one has for cold food on a full stomach. I understood now. I needed her, but she didn’t need me.
“I’m staying.” I squeezed Maria’s hand. “Maria, too.”