Sundown Honeymoon – 2

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See Sundown Honeymoon – 1

*

He called the FBI. He drank coffee and smoked, alone in his office, until at 5 in the morning he turned on the radio. The fist chords of the mournful cowboy ballad jolted him awake and he switched it off. An idea slowly took shape, and he searched the station for his deputies.

Johnny was asleep in the break room. “Boss.” He jumped awake and quickly straightened his crinkled uniform.

“I’m gonna talk to Antionielli.”

“Boss?”

“He worked at court. And there’s no way Sue can pay his rates.”

“You think she’s fucking him?”

“Possible.” The old Antionielli had made the charges go away, but Booth still did not think it possible. “Could be something else. We still don’t know whatever queer whatever we’re dealing with – and where in tarnation’s Garcia?”

“Boss.” The deputy nodded to acknowledge the question but did not say another word.

Booth scrutinized the other man’s fatty jowls then said: “I’m off. Call me when he gets here.”

“Boss.”

XI

Booth did not expect the lawyer to be awake at this hour, but the thought of spending even another moment in the stuffy office made his skin crawl. The all too familiar song on the car radio seemed almost soothing and the houses and roads of Sundown, drenched in rising red and orange, calmed him. He reached the town center. Drove past the courthouse and the bank. He finally stopped in front of the brickwork store-front where Antionielli had his offices and made his home.

The show window was dark, and no light escaped from the drapes upstairs, but a shadow moved around on the flat roof. Booth left behind the cruiser and looked up.

“Sheriff,” Antionielli leaned down, telescope in hand and with sleep in his eyes. “I’ve been – nevermind – hold on, I’ll open up.”

After a few minutes, the lights went on and the lawyer unlocked the front door. The scent of fresh coffee and the pneumatic hiss of the machine could be heard from some back office.

“Sheriff Booth.” Antionielli shook his hand. “Coffee will just be a minute. Please, have a seat.” He led Booth past the waiting area and its new-fangled steel and white leather decor back to his office.

The old wood and brass had not been changed since the old Antionielli. Booth felt at ease among the brown spirits in crystal bottles and the faint smell of cigar smoke.

“Secretary won’t be in until eight so if you’ll excuse me… .” Antionielli pointed him to the time-worn guest chair and left to get the coffee. He returned shortly, carrying a well-laden tray.

“Milk? Sugar?” With unfailing politeness, the lawyer served his guest. Booth accepted with a grunt. Antionielli asked no questions and they sat silently and slurped their coffees.

“How’s business?” Booth set down his cup and broke the silence.

“I make do,” the other said; but by his tone he made better than.

“I’m surprised then,” Booth took another sip, “that you’d have time for pro-bono work.”

“I see.” The lawyer stirred his cup and sank deep into his office chair. Then he set it down and straightened, sat upright and met Booth’s gaze. Unflinching. “My business with Ms. Myers is covered by confidentiality. I will say, however, that I have noticed patterns – practices of our law enforcement and even judiciary – that any officer of the court should not tolerate. So tell me, Sheriff, why are you here?”

“Okay then.” Booth set down his cup and leaned in closer. The lawyer’s tired eyes were a steely grey. “There’s been a murder and I could care less about some yellow-bellied cocksucker’s ideas on procedure. This is my town and I’ll enforce the law as I damn well please. A judge is dead, and I don’t think the Doc was an accident neither.” He raised his finger close enough to almost stab the other’s eye. “Which means someone tried to do me in as well – and you just confessed to a motive.”

Silence. Antionielli had paled, but suddenly started to laugh. “We are doomed, then. If this is the state of law enforcement in our town then we are doomed. You think – what? That this is some conspiracy between Ms. Myers and I? That I’d beat to death a judge and behead him? That a – a woman of precarious employment – would try to kill you – how? Bioweapons or sorcery? And you two would hardly be her only clientele.”

Antionielli had raised his voice but caught himself. He paused and continued; calmer now: “Besides, if I knew that the judge was fucking his typist then you can be sure that his wife knew as well.”

“Hrmm.” Booth lit a cigarette and affected a smile. “Thank you. You have been a great help.” He rose. “And thank you for the coffee.”

*

The Chambers – On the way out he almost ran into a young woman. The elegant black-grey pantsuit had been rumpled and ruffled by travel, but still flattered her slender body. Long black hair framed an intelligent, almost nymph-like face.

Booth tapped his hat and mumbled an apology. She smiled, whispered something, and had passed him. A fine ass in the tight cut pants. He entered the car with a smile.

“Johnny? Come in, over.”

Static.

“Come in, Johnny.”

“Boss?” The deputy answered late and his voice sounded strange; dazed.

“Judge Diegife’s wife – she’s a born Chambers – right?” He did not wait for an answer. “They are in cattle – and something about timber? Or mining? Anyway, when the feds get here ask them to look up the M.O. in their databases – or whatever. Might be we got ourselves some bigtime contract killers in town. And you and Garcia get on any strangers checking in anywhere – drive all the way to the Ferry if you have to and -.”

“Boss.” Johnny’s voice was loud and desperate.

“What?”

“Could you drive by Mrs. Larson’s? She called and – and I don’t think Garcia’s okay.”

“What in the blazes?”

The deputy was silent.

“Roger. Just – nevermind – on my way.”

XII

She ran up to the car as soon as he entered her driveway. Her blue bathrobe fluttered behind her, barely held shut by the thin strip of frayed polyester. Booth, however, almost failed to notice her creamy tits, swinging as she ran. Blood fell in thick drops from her scarlet hands.

“What happened?” he asked, and she led him inside. Garcia’s torso lay, supine and naked, on the bloodstained mattress. He had been beaten, hard enough to crack ribs and to colour his skin in blue and green and yellow.

On her kitchen top, beside the coffee maker and white plastic radio, was his head. His eyes were open and burst blood vessels painted a picture of pain.

“What happened?” Booth felt queasy. He grabbed the counter for support and stained his fingers with blood. His own pale face grimaced back at him from the kitchen window. The radio played the song.

“I killed him,” she said. Her voice was cold and even. She did not try to resist, but Booth, nevertheless, almost dropped the handcuffs from her wrists. Neither spoke on the way back to the station.

Pale and shaking, she stood inside the cell. She was slow to react to his commands, struck deaf or dumb. And as soon as she stretched out her hands and he removed the cuffs, she sank down to the floor, sobbing.

“Are you okay?” Booth asked, “Do you need anything?”

“Some water.” A weak smile from puffy eyes. “And,” desperation tinged her voice, “I suppose one needs a lawyer in situations such as this.”

Booth nodded. He called up Antionielli and brought her water in a paper cup. Greedy and thirsting, she stretched out her hand and suddenly Booth started to shake. Drops of baptismal water hit his arms, and hers.

“Just the light,” he whispered and finally gave her the cup. But even as he left, the shadows surrounding her danced and menaced. He lit a cigarette and waited, panicked, in his office for the lawyer to arrive.

Another cigarette before he entered the interview room. He had ordered Johnny to escort her there and had given her and the lawyer time enough to talk. The metal of the handle was cold to the touch. Booth hesitated. He had given them ample time, but he needed another cigarette.

Both looked up at him when he entered. He snipped away ash from the cigarette, his third, and sat down on the metal chair opposite them.

“You can talk now,” said Antionielli to his client. His voice was soft.

Booth nodded and tried to smile. Her shadow was longer than his or the lawyer’s.

“I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.” Her speech turned to uncontrolled sobs.

The men did their best to calm her and when she had collected herself, she spoke slowly and mechanically. “I have not been myself. Ever since my husband died. Maybe earlier. I needed a change, so I came back. I fell in love. I loved Manuel – I really did, but – it doesn’t matter. I killed him. I was not myself, but I killed him. When I offed the judge, I was relieved. I thought I could control her! How can anyone love the moon, anyway?” She looked up and smiled weakly at his obvious confusion. “It does not matter anymore. I am a lunatic and she will go to Star Lodge and he will kill all.”

Her lips were no longer moving, but he could still hear her voice. “Star Lodge. Star Lodge. Star Lodge. Star Lodge. Star Lodge. Star Lodge.”

Booth could feel the cold sweat running down his chest. Opposite him, Antionielli was pale and shaking. The sheriff rose and buzzered for his remaining deputy. The men staggered outside, and Booth slammed shut the door.

“Star,” Antionielli’s voice was ragged, “Lodge. I know it. It’s our hunting lodge. My father used to – it has to be.”

Booth’s fingers were cold and stiff. He snapped the lighter until fire consumed another cigarette. Meanwhile trying to put his questions into words. Then he saw his deputy appear at the other end of the small, dim hallway. “Let’s go,” he said, “I’ll drive.”

*

“Want one?” Booth had turned the ignition and had turned on the radio. He pulled the packet of cigarettes from his breast pocket and offered it to the other.

“I don’t – yes, please.”

Booth lit his own, then the lawyers. He turned left on Main. Blocky houses and ancient elms rolled past. “So – where’s that lodge of yours at?” Booth asked.

Antionielli gave directions, then paused. “I have rented it out,” he finally added, “a colleague of mine came to town this morning and asked for a quiet place to stay. She had planned to appear in front of Judge Diegife and – well… .”

“Hm,” said Booth, “I think I saw her.” They fell silent.

The sheriff turned up the volume. The radio did not play any heart-rending ballads. Instead, violins wailed, horns blared, and the drum’s vibrations seemed to rock the car. A full orchestra, if diminished by static.

“What in tarnation?”

“Opera.” Antionielli smiled for the first time since they had left the station. “The overture to Cherubini’s Médée – if I am not mistaken.”

“I’ll be,” Booth said. He did not switch channels.

The drive was uneventful. Opera music blasted as they made their way deep into the dusty hills, to the creek and to the small pine forest.

The cruiser struggled along the muddy trail, up to the treeline, until they reached the small log cabin. Loamy soil stained the tires and lower body of a flashy red convertible parked in front.

XIII

Booth opened his door. Not a living being moved behind the dark windows inside the lodge. The shadows of the trees around him seemed malicious, long and growing ever larger. He reached for his gun but stopped himself.

“Stay here. I’ll check the perimeter. You can work the radio?”

The lawyer, maybe sensing the same subtle menace, nodded. Beads of sweat were rolling down his tired face.

“Good,” Booth said, not loud enough for the other to hear.

Gun drawn, he entered the underbrush and rounded the cabin in a wide arc. Through the shade he saw the elevated rear patio and holstered his weapon.

A tarpaulin sheet was unfurled across the rough-hewn wood planks. The woman from earlier was down on her knees upon it. Three men, brown skinned and hairy, surrounded her naked form. One, his back turned towards Booth, roared in some wild and guttural language. Then ropes of thick, yellow-white jizz defiled her porcelain skin and elfin face. The man half-turned and smeared her perfect hair with his filth.

Booth winced. He was disgusted, but his cock grew hard. He suppressed a scream. Rushing blood pressed against his burns and scars and threatened to tear open his wounds, barelyclosed. A whimpering sound escaped his lips and when the man turned fully Booth almost passed out.

But they had not heard. Instead the man grunted and massaged his softening prick. Even now it was enormous; horse-sized, veiny and bulging. And despite the pain Booth could not look away. The two others guided her upright. One, then the other entered her from behind.

Howling moans; clear, throaty and lusty, carried over and salved his ears. They then exploded into hard, throbbing pain. She reacted madly, crying louder to each frenzied thrust until one shut her mouth with his cock.

Booth touched his gun, captivated by the spit-roasted slut. Her debasement continued; a whore sandwiched between the nasty cocks of brutes. Each of her gurgling slurps a potent dose of sweet torture.

They finished in flurry of savage lunges and needy shrieks. When Booth left, he had seen his fill. She sat on the tarp, legs spread and smiling. The vile traces of their depravity, globs of cum and her own spit and juices, clung to her body. To her mouth. To her lips, blazing red, lipstick smeared and begrimed. Between her legs and down the inside of her knees. On her hair and breasts.

*

“Let’s go.” Booth rapped against the passenger-side window. Antionelli flinched away from the radio and joined him. They crossed the clearing to the lodge and Booth knocked on the door with the butt of his gun.

“One moment,” she called out.

A door opened and Booth could hear hurried footfalls followed by the splashing of water. The sheriff smiled wryly at his companion. “Your colleague seems busy.”

When she opened the door, she wore a bright blue summer dress and had tied back her wet hair. There was a faint smell of soap and unsubtle perfume, and Booth struggled not to stare too much.

“I’m Sheriff Booth,” he said, “and you know Mr. Antionelli. We need to search this place.”

“Victoria von Auric.” Her grey eyes sparked with hate. “Esquire,” she added, with mockery in her voice. “And I do not suppose you have a warrant?”

“This a matter of life and death. You will cooperate.”

“Since the local magistrate is unavailable, I am willing to make an exception.” She stepped aside. Booth started to resent her knowing smile.

They entered. Antionelli pointed out the telescope on its tripod and the symbols engraved into the beams of the roof. Stars, moons and suns. Triangles, pentagrams and even stranger runes.

“Dad never told me why they’re here. Maybe he did not know either.”

The woman had followed them closely and now studied the engravings with obvious interest. As she stretched towards the roof, her dress hugged tight against her shapely body and, despite his annoyance, Booth felt his gaze drawn to her exposed skin and taut ass.

Through half-lidded eyes he remembered her whorish nakedness. With a snort he chased away the pictures and said: “Get out of the way.”

She smiled her cloying smile. “I am sorry. An acquaintance of mine used to study folk religion. Superstitions and rituals, that kind of thing. He’d have field day.”

Booth paced across the cabin. Angered, he searched for the men he had seen, but did not even find their luggage. “Are you here alone?” he asked.

“I am,” she claimed.

“I see.” He dropped on the floor and looked under the mattress of the iron frame bed. He found nothing, jumped up and rounded the interior again. Suddenly, he stopped and stood, motionless. Then he ran over to her and grabbed her shoulders.

“Do you know anything then?” He could feel his voice breaking as he shook her. “Any information? Scraps of knowledge? Could you read those?” he pointed at the runes with trembling fingers. “You must’ve learned something – anything?”

Her hands were warm against his when she removed them with a forced grin from her shoulder. “I could check my diary. Maybe there is something in my notes, but… .”

“Nevermind. We were just leaving. I was curious, is all. C’mon.” Booth hurried back to his car. His heart was racing, and his cheeks were burning. Antionelli followed close behind. As soon as the other has closed the door, he drove away.

“I’m going mad,” he confided, “I haven’t been thinking clearly for a while now, but,” he paused, ” but you have seen her, right? I shouldn’t – I can’t believe, but I’ve seen too much. God have mercy, we will die. Tell me we won’t die.”

Antionelli shifted and cleared his throat as if to speak. He stared outside at the trees flying by. Again, he raised his voice and fell silent. He exhaled loudly and finally said: “I do not know. This morning I thought you a rabid dog, and now here we are. Maybe it is delusion. Mass delusion. You’ll hand my client of to the feds and it shall be a story we will tell for years. Still,” he paused for a moment, “my grandpa kept diaries, I think, and dad might have kept them. Let me take a look, just in case.”

They drove in uncomfortable silence, until they reached the town and Booth dropped off the other. Antionelli hesitated, car door in hand, and promised to call. He sounded desperate. Booth nodded and offered some platitude. Fears mirrored in their eyes. The door closed and Booth drove off.

XIV

The inside of the station was dark. Booth called out for Johnny. He stopped himself before calling for Garcia. No one answered.

“Are you asleep?” Booth stepped into the murky silence.

The sheriff pressed a light switch. A click and a short burst of blue fluorescence then darkness. Flashlight in hand, he walked in, past the empty break room and deeper still. He passed his own desolate office and moved deeper into the shifting shadows.

The beam from the flashlight hit the open cell door. Booth raced forward, then started to scream. On the cot of the otherwise empty cell lay Johnny’s headless corpse. Blood pooled around the lifeless form and terrified eyes pleaded from inside the head on the floor. The dead deputy had tried to open his pants, with his hands still grasping belt and zipper. Nasty bruises were visible even in the dim torchlight. Then a sudden, metallic ring cut through the oppressive silence.

The shaken ray of light jerked upwards and one the sheer concrete wall Booth could see the writing. Letters written in blood. MOON RISING. And again: MOON RISING.

The telephone rang again, and Booth nearly dropped his flashlight. Antionelli. He rushed back to his office. Outside the window an orange moon was rising.

Booth picked up the receiver. “Antionelli?” he asked.

A female voice. A question of “Sheriff Booth?” turned into an ear-rending scream. A maddened wail, rising in pitch until a panicked Booth dropped the receiver and ran to his car.

*

Tires squealed when he stopped it in front of the lawyer’s office. Booth pressed down on the horn until Antionelli appeared.

“Something’s happening,” said Booth. A passer-by exploded into flame.

“We may be safe up there,” the panicked lawyer said, “my grandfather was not… .” The radio, blaring the cowboy ballad, cut him off.

Booth raced through rising the inferno, until they reached the wooden one-story house at the edge of town. Emily opened after his second knock.

“Hyram!” She hugged him tightly and covered his face with kisses. “My roommate!” She dragged him inside. “Something’s not right with her. Come quickly. Come!”

Writhing on the floor of the small kitchen was another young woman. Short red hair and tattoos on naked, sunburnt legs. She screamed and thrashed and begged for help. Booth extended his hand, but then fire enveloped the screaming woman.

“We have to leave,” Booth shouted.

“But… .”

The sheriff grabbed his lover by the hand and dragged her back to the car. “We are not safe. We need to go. Go.” He raced away. To the lodge and to safety.

“What about your wife?” Emily spoke softly, with a deep sadness in her voice.

Booth cursed and slowed down the car.

“We have to safe her! I couldn’t – you have to safe her!”

Booth turned the car around. He lacked the strength to argue and breathing was difficult.

*

Mary Booth ran towards the car as soon as he had reached the driveway. Pale faced and sweating, dressed only in her nightgown and kitchen apron, she dashed and stumbled towards them. “I don’t feel so well,” she said and stumbled into Emily’s arms.

“Close the door!” Booth screamed and already pulled back on the road.

“Shh, it’s okay. All will be well.” Emily had closed the car door and held Mary’s limp form in her arms.

They sped away.

XV

As soon as they carried Mary over the threshold of the lodge, she started to feel better. A weak smile lit up her harried face and she whispered something into Emily’s ears.

Booth’s heart was racing. Blood pumped through his veins with heavy thuds. The woman lawyer had opened her door willingly, but he felt ill at ease. They were too far away to see the town, but even here the signs of destruction had followed. A strange smell had tainted the crisp forest air and menacing amber-red moonlight filtered through the branches. He touched his gun and tried to forget the not quite fire outside.

The lawyer with the foreign name had not attempted to hide her men this time and so eight people shared the small space inside the cabin. The talked in hushed voices while Booth looked around silently. The three men he had seen with the lawyer, even dressed in their denim overalls and flannel shirts, looked wild indeed. Long filthy beards and bulging muscles. And the disturbing memories of monstrous cocks. A pang of pain. Booth moved away.

The runes on the roof seemed to glow in a low, blueish light. He touched the etchings and felt sparks tingle on his skin. Refreshing cold spread from his fingertips across his body, until it calmed his raging heart.

Next, he checked on the windows and the backdoor. The other door had been boarded up and Booth ran his hands over the rough and sturdy wood. The windows looked to small for anything larger than a fox to crawl through, but their openness made him uncomfortable, nevertheless.

“Coffee?” The female lawyer handed him a cup.

“Thanks. Miss – erhm?”

“Victoria.” She smiled.

“Thank you, Victoria.”

She turned to leave, but something froze her in place. “What was that?” she asked.

A noise from outside. Knocks, punches against the boarded door. Splintering wood and breaking glass. He saw small hands snaking through the slits. He touched his gun, but the wildmen were fast. They hurried to the windows and forced back the attacker. With brooms and boards they beat at it, again and again.

Then scratches. Scraping and clawing at the door. Booth looked around for Antionelli, but the lawyer had sunk to the floor, pale and sweating he hugged his legs to his body.

“Tarnation.” Booth drew his gun. Another long and clawing scratch. “There’s something at the door,” he said. The female lawyer looked at him; determined. “Come,” he heard himself say.

*

“Should we open it?” Victoria’s voice was trembling.

Booth hesitated and finally nodded. “Yeah.” He aimed his weapon at the door and cocked back the hammer. “Open.”

She pushed open the door and jumped back. He trained his gun at the already fleeing shape. Thin, blue fabric fluttered behind the sprinting Mrs. Larson. She reached the treeline. Booth exhaled and lowered his weapon.

“Did you see them?” Victoria sounded panicked.

“Them?”

“There was another one. Another woman. Dark hair, similar build, naked. She was at the edge of the forest. Watching.”

“Are you sure?” Booth raised his weapon and scanned along the dark shadows and beneath the trees for movement. She did not answer.

With a sigh, he uncocked and holstered his weapon. “Tarnation,” he pointed at the deep scratches in the wood, almost enough to cut through the door. “Tarnation.”

“Can you…?” She ran inside and quickly returned, carrying a kitchen knife.

“What?”

Wordlessly, she pricked the tip of her finger. The first drop of blood fell to the ground. Then she began to write. A branching symbol smeared in blood.

“No.” She wiped it away with the sleeve of her dress and began anew. On the next she added another branch, nodded, and then covered the whole door.

“It’s all I found.” She offered a weak smile. “I hope it works.”

Booth cursed under his breath and closed the door behind them. Muffled laughter could be heard from the inside.

Furniture blocked the windows. They stood in the middle of the room, maybe relaxed, but all fell silent when they saw him and Victoria. Each looked at him, but none dared ask.

“We scared her -it- away,” Booth said, “but she may return. And there may be others out there. So – stay away from the windows and let me,” he paused, “let us handle it.” He did not mention the bloody symbols; witchcraft would not calm them.

At first there was silence, but soon hushed conversation, idle chatter, returned. He found himself at the edges, mostly checking the windows and listening out for any signs of intruders.

His wife laughed at some joke told by one of the wildmen and Booth seethed with rage. He moved to impose himself between her and the savage man, when he heard again scratching noises at the door.

He drew his revolver. The others stopped talking. The savages raised their heads, but he motioned them to stay away. Only Victoria followed him to the door. No invitation necessary and bloody knife in hand. The scratching continued, then stopped. For a heartbeat they waited, then she opened the door.

Elisabeth Lawson stood dazed, hand still outstretched, with blood covering her elongated, silvery fingernails. She looked at them with glazed eyes and opened her mouth to speak, but Booth had already pulled the trigger. Again and again, in quick succession. Six shots rang out and struck her in the face and square in the chest. She collapsed to the ground. He continued to press down on the trigger, even as the hammer struck empty cartridges.

“She’s dead,” said Victoria. The lawyer had checked the dead woman’s pulse and gently pulled down his arm. Booth stowed his now useless weapon.

“We did it,” he whispered. “We did it.”

XVI

The celebration inside rent his heart. From under the floorboards they had pulled a bottle of bourbon and soon their laughter became boozy.

He knew the tone of their voices and knew what their joy betrayed. Once, a long time ago, Mary had shared these moments with him. And recently, when he had fallen for Emily, they too had laughed and whispered blissfully.

His wife touched the savage’s arm and smiled. An invitation. The barmaid, his former lover, sat on the lap of another wildman, their lips mere inches apart. Even Antionielli had moved close to the third brown-skinned man. They talked in a way that made Booth feel deeply uncomfortable.

Only Victoria remained alone. She slurped her coffee mixed with whiskey and smiled a relaxed smile.

“How come you’re not jealous?” Booth asked.

“Why should I be?”

“I need a smoke.” He walked away.

She said something, but he could not hear her.

*

Cigarette in mouth and with lighter in hand, he opened the door. The corpse was gone.

“Sheriff Booth,” her voice whispered on the wind. “I am ready for you. Come to me.”

He followed the drag-marks and the whispered, minty lure. Deeper into the forest; every step a promise.

“Soon. Pleasure beyond mortal ken. You are ready for us.”

He found her kneeling over her own body. Her jaw unhinged, down to her naked, blood-covered chest. She cracked open bones with her small, pearly-white teeth. She sucked the marrow and stained her lips with her flesh.

“What are you?” Booth drew his gun.

“Shhhh. Soon.” She moved, snakelike and quick.

He pulled the trigger. The hammer struck a useless cartridge. Two more empty clicks.

“Shhhh.”

A punch; then another, enough to crack his ribs.

“Soon.” Her fist hit his head and he passed out.

*

He awakened, hanging upside down from a tree. Two Elisabeth Larsons looked up at him. One, lips still red with blood and naked, smiled and traced her fingers along his body.

“Sorry. I’m so so sorry.” The other wore her bathrobe. Still or again. It was bloody now, and tattered by bullet holes and powder burns. “I cannot control her. Maybe I never could.” She covered her face with her hands and sobbed softly.

“You are ready, now.” The other kissed his lips. He tasted mint and decay. “Ready to see.” His heart beat faster. Then she hit him.

She flayed his skin and ripped open his arteries. At first there was pain, red hot and searing, then she touched his heart. Her nails, dagger-like, invaded his ribcage as a steely stab. She punctured his heart with needle-like pain. He felt himself crushed in her vise, until he burst.

The naked woman bathed herself in the last drops of his blood. Laughing, she anointed her crying other with his life. Then she took her by the hand and led the moon-painted woman away, deeper into the forest.

Booth’s heart was no longer beating and he followed, dripping red from the naked woman’s breasts. He fell to the thirsty ground as she rose high on the moonlit clearing.

He burned on the robe-clad woman’s face. He was her moons and grew ever larger. Her tears mixed with his blood, until she wiped them away and smeared the moons. She raised high her bloodstained hands and offered a maddened prayer to the mad moon ravishing her other. Her sister, her self. Herself. She lowered her hands and parted, probed her sex.

Dripping they rose, higher and higher towards the amber-red moon. Light trickled down on her body and the weeping moon mixed with his blood. They filled her. She drank honey light and kissed the sky. He flowed with her arousal down her legs and entered her, splashed on moonish tendrils.

The women screamed. He could not; even as he was given to the moon.

************************************

Author’s note

Thank you for reading. I am not usually a fan of author’s notes, but since I decided to publish this story as part of the Valentine’s Day Contest (Please rate and comment) I might as well nod to site tradition and offer a few words about a somewhat irregular story.

1. I am still figuring out how to do content/trigger warnings. I would like to think that my use of categories and tags is enough, but I am interested in your input.

2. I have already alluded to the fact that this is not a typical Valentine’s Day story (Please rate, comment and favourite). And on the one hand I am perfectly willing to admit that this is in part a knowing attempt to pander to a crowd of my fellow cold-hearted cynics.

On the other hand, this is a story for and about Valentine’s Day and (romantic) love. So there is mythology, even if it is more the martyrdom of St.Valentine than red roses. And there is place, if only in the margins, for hopeful and fulfilling, human love.

The core topic, however, is love as greater than human. A cosmic force, inscrutable and destructive.

3. Thank you, again, for reading, and I look forward to any and all feedback.

Uther

************************************

‘Sundown survivor identified. The woman dubbed the “Red Bride” has been identified as one Suzanne Myers, a 42 year old Sundown resident. State troopers had found her on Tuesday morning during their perimeter search between Sundown and Scalper’s Ferry. Miss Myers had been unresponsive and was found wearing a blood drenched wedding dress. She carried with her what authorities are calling “a substantial amount of silver ore.” She has been placed in psychiatric care.

Meanwhile, hope of finding any of the other missing townspeople, including Sheriff Hyram Booth, alive is dwindling as systematic searches are nearing their end.

The town of Sundown had been struck on Friday night by a possible terrorist attack. While details of the massacre remain sparse, it has been described as an “attack the like of which has not been witnessed on American soil.”

And now music.’

Rode out to the plateau, out to the dying sun
you swore love and now – now I raise my gun
Out in the dusky moonlight,
prays a lonely tree
and I –
I long to be free

Ancient chapel, chains that bind
whiskey and cigarettes,
watched the blue, blue moon
pretty stranger, wished you blind
love is sworn forever,
but death comes soon oh so soon

Rode out to the plateau, out to the dying sun
you swore love and now – now I raise my gun
Out in the dusky moonlight,
prays a lonely tree
and I –
I long to be free

Fresh dirt, chains that bound
whiskey and cigarettes,
judged by the blue moon
ridin’ ranger, fiendish hound
love is sworn forever,
but death comes soon oh so soon

Rode out from the plateau, out from the dying sun
you swore love – and then I raised my gun
Out in the dusky moonlight,
prays a lonely grave
and I –
I longed to be brave

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