A sharp piercing whistle sound screamed out into the air. Jessica sluggishly made her way to the stove, and removed the kettle from the stove top. Sleepy time tea, it was her mother’s remedy for a bout of insomnia.
Jessica slowly poured herself a cup, and made her way back Into the living room. She plopped down into the lazy-boy recliner, and clicked on the table lamp. It was late, but Jessica’s internal clock was messed up. It was one of the flaws of being a flight attendant. Still though, she couldn’t complain. She got to see the world.
She always said she’d travel. Her last boyfriend had promised her that he would take her places. Unfortunately like many others, the only places he went, was in her pants. Their relationship was based off of orgasams, like many of the relationships before that.
Jessica was beautiful. She had a thin athletic frame, and was quite fit. She took care of herself. Unfortunately she never had much self confidence. Maybe it stemmed from her mentally abusive father as a child. Maybe it was the promiscuity of her mother. When she was young, her innocent eyes had grown accustomed to strange men kissing her mother when daddy wasn’t home. Who knows?
Her therapist tells her it’s a combination of both, with a poor self image. This often drove her into broken relationships. She tried to hard. Guys often told her she was to clingy. After a few months, most of her boyfriends would move on. She knew what guys liked. So she often let them have it. This was a mistake. She knew this, but she didn’t care. She enjoyed the attention, even if it was brief.
Jessica curled up in the Lazy-boy, and sipped her tea. She reached over, and logged onto her laptop. The soft blue screen illuminated the room as she navigated the web. She was searching for any news on her best friend Tracy. Tracy was Portland’s hottest news reporter. Was. Now she was missing.
According to the local police’s public records, she was last seen at the Harrison farm. They found her cameraman dead at the scene. There was also an unknown assailant as well. Both were murdered, but Tracy was gone. Jessica believed she got away.
She didn’t call. She always calls her once a week. She had to believe she was ok. Tracy was a fighter. She always was. Even when they were kids, she was always the brave one. After a few moments, she sighed and closed her laptop. Nothing new.
She grabbed her cellphone off the endtable, and dialed Tracy’s number. As usual it went straight to voicemail. She figured she’d leave her one more. They weren’t doing any good, but it did make her feel better.
“Tracy… it’s me again. I don’t even know if you’re listening to these, but I really hope you’re okay. Please call me. I just need to know you’re okay. I don’t understand what happened. It doesn’t make any sense. This isn’t like you. Just call me as soon as you get these. I… Just a minute!” She yelled to the door.
A loud knock at the door interrupted her voicemail. It’s storming out. Who could be here at this hour, she thought? She abruptly ended her message, and placed her phone back on the endtable. The faint sound of raindrops were knocking on the roof. Six inches of rain was in Portland’s near future.
Jessica slowly inched her front door open. A misty breeze crept in. It was colder than it should have been. Standing on her dimly lit porch was a soaking wet man. His hands were cupping his forehead, preventing the breeze from blowing mist into his face. His shirt dripped a puddle at his feet.
His eyes shot up, and met hers with an embarrassing glance. Jessica immediately noticed a sadness to them. Those were the eyes of emotional turmoil. She often wore those same eyes. She wrinkled her forehead in confusion. Who was he?
“hi. Sorry to show up so late… i… I honestly didn’t know where else to go.” Brice muttered.
“I’m sorry, do we know eachother?” She asked.
Brice immediately regretted his decision coming here. He should have called Amy, and went straight to the airport. He should have went home. Why didn’t he? Why find comfort from a stranger over his own wife?
Jessica wore a faded pair of Victoria Secret sweats with the word pink largely printed on the right leg. Her night shirt however, looked new. Her cleavage was very noticeable, but he maintained eye contact. She had her hair up in a ponytail. Her confusion washed away into surprise.
“Oh! From the flight? Tequila sunrise guy right?!”
“More like just Tequila guy.” He muttered, while half attempting to smile.
“You’re soaked! Jesus! Come in. Let me get you a towel.” She said, motioning him inside.
“Thanks. I’m Brice. I don’t usually just show up unannounced at people’s houses like this. I really do appreciate it.” He softly said.
Jessica smiled. He looked so vulnerable, like some lost puppy taking shelter under her porch from the storm. She couldn’t help but think he was cute like this. She loved vulnerability. She was so accustomed to it herself. Maybe she could offer him relief from whatever was bothering him.
“I hope I’m not imposing.” Brice said, looking around her small, yet homey living room.
He crossed his arms, trying to prevent himself from dripping onto the linoleum square in front of her door. It failed.
“Not at all!” Jessica yelled from the hallway.
She returned to Brice, and handed him a fresh white towel. Eagerly he took it, and pressed it’s warmth to his face. She uses Gain, he thought. He could smell something herbal brewing from the kitchen. Brice also noticed her scent had changed. She must have quickly sprayed herself with Purfume.
He could tell she was nervous. Her heart rate had increased. He could hear it. How? As confused as it left Brice, he couldn’t help but feel drawn to it. He ignored the cheap alcohol based purfume, and honed in on her scent. She smelled so… so… enticing. An ache washed over him. His mouth tingled.
“I was just having some hot tea. Care to join me? You look like you need to talk.” She said, a hint of nervousness to her breath.
“Sure. That sounds nice.” Brice smiled.
What are you doing here Brice? You need to leave. Nothing good will come from this, he tells himself. Just walk out. Politely say something came up, and you have to go.
No.. no.. no.. don’t go. If you go the fun will stop. Don’t you want some warm tea? Don’t you want to see where this may lead? I know you can smell it. She’s into you Bricey boy. I don’t have to point out what that… other scent… is that you smell do I? His dark cloud finally bellows out after such a long silence.
Brice bit the inside of his cheek. Shut up. Shut up. Just go away. There’s only room for one inside my head. Why now? Why do you pick the worst times to bother me?
If I’m bothering you, then why are you following her to the living room? You want to be here. Stop denying how you feel. Remember Brice… I am you!
“Please sit. I’ll get you a cup. It’s my mother’s recipe. I have been drinking this stuff since I was a kid. It really helps relax you.” She softly says.
“Thanks.” He shoots a warm smile back to her.
Brice sits down on the couch, and places his hands in his lap. She returns with a small ceramic mug, with steam dancing away into the atmosphere. He politely took it from her, and sipped it.
Jessica took a seat beside him. Bold. He would have thought she would have sat in the recliner across from him. He is a stranger afterall. What was her angle?
“Are you okay? You look like you had a rough day. I’m actually kind of surprised you came. I remember you said you were married.” She slightly chuckled.
“I am. But there are some things you just don’t tell your wife you know? Sometimes it’s better to unload to a stranger. Strangers tend to not judge as much.” Brice replied.
“Believe me I know all about it. Being in air travel you meet all sorts of people with problems. I guess your meeting went bad?”
“That’s putting it lightly. I never wanted to show up in the first place. My arm was twisted. I didn’t have much of a choice.”
“Forgive me for prying, but are you running from something? I just know the type.”
“That easy to tell?” Brice chuckled embarrassingly.
” I just grew up here. Bad things happened, and I left it all behind me with the people I grew up with.” He continued.
“Oh… I see.. well if it helps, I’ve ran from problems as well. It never really helps.” Jessica said.
“No it doesn’t. It just kind of follows you. I guess I just needed to come back home and tie up loose ends. Closure I guess. What about you? Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Not anymore. I guess it’s hard to find the right one. Until then I’m just having fun, and enjoying being myself. One of the perks to my job… I get to meet very interesting people.” She said, biting her lip in a shy smile.
Jessica inched forward. Brice tensed up. Her body language was obvious. Why was he tense? He knew very well what coming here would lead to. He chose this. At the same time though, what was he looking for specifically? He hadn’t even thought of s*x until now. No. This was different.
Jessica brushed her hand lightly across Brice’s, as it rested on the couch next to him. Her face was flushed. Brice could practically see her pulse throbbing in her neck.
He quickly stood up, trying not to express any panic in his face. Jessica looked alarmed.
“Maybe I should go.” He barked.
“What? No. Please stay. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a real conversation with someone. It’s nice.”
“Jess. I’ll be honest. If i stay… I feel like something bad might happen. You’re a beautiful woman, and you’re more than hospitable. I’d hate to take advantage of this situation.”
Now why the f**k did you have to go and do that Bricey boy? Why do you fight it so much? Look at her Brice. Feel what you’re feeling, and stop this. His cloud echoed inside him, reminding him of his dark urges.
Jessica stood up. Brice expected disappointment, and instead a devious smile spread across her pale face.
“If you’re being honest… I should be to. I wouldn’t mind if you took advantage of the situation.” She softly said, walking over to him.
Brice had nowhere to go. He backed into the wall, and hit against it with a soft thud. His heart started pounding against the inside of his chest. His jaw ached. His stomach growled at him like a wild animal.
This is it Brice. Take her. Just… let… go…
Thoughts of Amy flooded his mind. She’s in her wedding dress. It’s the happiest day of their lives. The sun is casted across her white veil. Brice lifts it above her face. Her eyes are looking at him, telling him how much she loves him without any words at all.
He smiles back. It’s choreographed like a cheap high school play. She never knew Brice. Amy never knew you didn’t love her. You tried. It was never your fault. She can never satisfy the cravings you have. Does this make you frustrated? Take it. Take it. Take it now! Do it or suffer this!
Suddenly the vison darkens. Brice’s face turns ash grey. Amy gasps as he sinks his teeth deep into her throat. He holds Amy at the waist, crimson soaks into the white fabric of her wedding veil just as it hits the ground below.
Is that what you want Bricey?! Till death do you f*****g part!?
“No!” Brice screams out.
Jessica stepped back, alarmed. She opened her mouth to apologize, and instead of words, her mouth was met with Brice’s. She staggered back, Brice leaned into the kiss. Jessica let out a soft moan, and kissed him back. Her hands slid around to his backside, stumbling around, until she found his hands, and grabbed them.
Without even thinking about it, she pulled him down the hall to the bedroom. She’s done this before. Jessica guided him until the back of her legs hit the edge of the bed. She pulled her head back just long enough to see Brice gently push her onto the mattress below.
Jessica let out a giggle as she softly bounced. The rain above was pounding on the roof like a stampede of bison. Lightning lit up the room for a brief moment before Brice was pulling at the waistband of her sweats. She arched her back to allow her pants to slide to her ankles.
Little s**t. His dark cloud laughed.
Brice inhaled deep, taking her in. A mixture of body cream, and sweat swirled around his sinuses. His jaw ached, as he salivated. Jessica mistook his mouth as foreplay as he traced the femoral artery on her inner thigh with his tongue.
She laughed, and tugged on his head, pulling him in the direction of her underwear. Brice bypassed it all together, and made his way back to her face. Jessica looked up at him, her eyes longing for more. Thunder cracked the sky. White light flooded the room. For a brief moment a dark sillouette was casted against the wall over the bed.
Brice turned his head to the window. A dark figure was standing outside peering in. It stood there still as a statue. Brice only smiled, and again turned his attention to Jessica.
“What’s wrong?” She asked
Brice ignored her. He sat up on his knees, and pulled her up to him. He let his fingers trace the sides of her cheek. She closed her eyes to his touch. He gently turned her head, exposing the side of her neck. The jugular vein popped out beautifully.
One last vison of Morgan popped into his mind. She was eating, eating her last meal as a human being in front of the fireplace. It was then Brice realized this was the last time he saw her alive. This would be the last moment before they all succomed to the darkness. It overtook them all right under their noses as they ate to survive in that cabin.
At what point did they notice? They were dead. He was dead. He is dead. Brice is gone. In its place sat something else. Something staring at the neck and face of a beautiful girl. His cloud stood idly by in the back of his mind watching him.
It’s time Bricey…
A confused look on Jessica’s face was the last normal moment of her life before Brice tore into her neck. He bit down hard, letting the hot liquid pour into his mouth. He squeezed hard and fast until he felt his teeth touch. When they did, he jerked his head as hard as he could to the right, taking a mouth full of Jessica with him.
She let out an ear piercing shriek, and her body hit the mattress in an unnatural flop, as hot blood painted the sheets around them. Brice’s eyes were lost to the madness, as he chewed. He stared at the darkness as he ate. Delicious euphoria flooded through his body as he swallowed. The beautiful warmth of satisfaction flowed through his veins like a herion junkie shooting up his next fix.
It was pure bliss. Then… like a light switch… he snapped back to reality. He looked down to see Jessica gripping her neck, desperately trying to stop the flow of blood that was gushing between her fingers, and onto the bed around her. Her mouth was opening and closing like a fish struggling to breathe. Her eyes were were full of panic and fear. She saw him too… death…
Panic overwhelmed Brice as he realized what just happened. Those eyes, the same eyes they had that night. Brice immediately tried to save her. He reached down, and lifted her limp body from the bed. He held her close, and began sobbing.
“Oh god! No! No! No! What have I done?!” He screamed.
Hot tears ran down his face. He was a monster. He killed someone. Her hopes, her dreams, he had taken that from her.
Brice felt a hand gently grab his shoulder. He jerked in a panic, only to see Morgan, she crawled into the bed with a look a worry pasted on her face. She was kneeling in the bloody mess Brice had made. She didn’t react to it. Her hands were stained in it. She wiped a tear from Brice’s face, leaving behind a smear of red on his cheek.
“Morgan! I… I… I..” Brice sobbed.
He couldn’t get out the words. His chest heaved in a panic. He felt his throat closing up.
“I know Brice.” She whispered to him
“I see you. It’s okay. I’m here.” She said, tears forming in her eyes.
“I see you Brice. I can see you.” She grabbed his face, and forced him to look at her.
“Can you see me?”
The now cool blood from Jessica’s body formed like a pool around them both as they sat.
Thunder exploded outside, as a flash of light lit up their faces. In that brief moment, he saw her. He finally saw Morgan for what she was, for what they all had become.
Her face was sunken in. Her teeth were sharp and deadly. This was their curse. This was the darkness that had become them underneath it all.
“I.. see you Morgan. I see you!” He cried.
She kissed him deeply. Like a lock to a key, everything seemed to fall in place. It was wrong. It was nasty. Yet it fit perfectly, balanced. A beautiful mess.
Morgan lifted Jessica’s limp arm from the bed. She held it out to him.
“You can’t think of them as people anymore. They no longer have meaning. They are flesh and bone. That’s the secret Brice.”
She bit deeply into it, tearing meat from bone as smoothly as a knife slicing through butter. Surprisingly, Brice didn’t flinch as the blood fell from her face, and stained her lips.
She crawled to him. Blood sloshed from the bedside, and onto the floor as she moved herself close to his face. She leaned into him. Brice was trembling until he felt her soft touch.
“Taste her Brice. Taste me. I want you to be with me. I want to be us again, forever.” She sighed against his face. She nestled herself against his cheek, painting the side of his face red.
Brice kissed her deeply once more. Thoughts of warm summer days filled his mind, memories of their youth making love in his bedroom. This time they were older, wiser.
Morgan threw Brice down into the red mess, and fell on top of him. It felt right. This is what he missed, what he needed all along. She knew him, and he knew her. They had shared the darkness that night, many years ago. They had shared death. Tonight, they shared the darkness once again. This time, immortal, primal, and released from fear.
Morgan’s body rocked on top of Brice in complete ecstasy, while the lifeless eyes of Jessica’s corpse watched in silence.
“Come home with me Brice. We belong to eachother. We always have” she whispered in his ear.
Morgan lay her head on his chest, and held him tightly. Brice let out a relieved chuckle, and broke the silence.
‘What is it?” She asked.
“My dark cloud” he said with a smile.
FLORIDA KEYS – Police department
A week had passed since Brice’s sudden trip to Portland. Amy rested her nervous hands on the cold metal table. She was trying to calm her nerves. She sucked the cigarette in deep, and then coughed. She hadn’t smoked since high school. She remembered how they used to calm her nerves.
At this point Amy was willing to do anything to calm down. Something was wrong. She had filed a missing person’s report at the local police station. She kept replaying that night over and over in her head. Who was James? What was so urgent that he had to leave like that?
She cursed herself for not quietly listening in with the other house phone. She had no reason to. She trusted Brice. Still, the way he was acting was off. He was afraid. She should have forced him to tell her more. She was afraid something bad happened. She blamed herself for letting him go.
The small four walled interrogation room reeked of stale cigarette smoke. It was bare, except for an old metal table, and two metal chairs. A large two way mirror rested along the east wall where the only door stood. She refused to look at her reflection.
She had just finished the final drag of her cigarette when the door softly opened. A young man of maybe 20 walked in. He looked nervous. He was new. He had a small stack of papers in a tan folder. He softly placed it on the table, and sat down across from her.
“Are you thirsty? We have some soda in the break room…”
“Just.. please.. tell me what’s going on.” Amy interrupted.
“Right.” He said, nervously clearing his throat.
“I wanted to show you something. I mean, it’s not alot to go off of but it’s definitely a start.” He said, pushing the folder to her.
Amy looked confused as she slowly grabbed the folder and opened it. Inside was old police reports, mostly police jargon, and locations in Canada.
There was an old faded map that had been folded so many times the paper was shredding at the creases. It was a map with dotted locations at specific points on MT Robson. What caught her eye were three worn out photographs.
She spaced them out, and placed them on the table for a better look. It was a grizzly scene. One picture was of an old bed. It was soaked in blood. The sheets were mangled. Amy could see numbered plaques placed on various objects. Amy guessed it was a crime scene.
The second was four young kids near a fireplace. They looked dead. the picture was taken at an angle where she couldn’t see their faces.
The last picture almost stopped her heart. There was a girl sitting against the fireplace. She was in the arms of a sickly boy. Both of them looked starved, and deathly thin. She knew that boy.
“Is that?” She stopped her sentence, afraid of the answer although she knew it already.
“Yes ma’am. That’s your husband.”
“I don’t understand. What is this?!”
The young officer looked at her confused. “You don’t know?” He asked.
He took his hat off, placed it on the table next to him, and folded his hands.
“My father was one of the investigators that worked this case. Your husband and his friends were snowed in, and stuck in a Cabin back in nineteen ninety seven. What was strange about this, was five of them went on vacation, and only four of them were found.” He said.
“I don’t understand.” Amy said.
“They matched his DNA in the database to the blood on the sheets. It was a direct match to Dillon Prescott, the missing person. They all suffered amnesia from severe starvation, and eventually the case was dropped. It was a complete s**t show.”
“What does this have to do with my husband being missing?” Amy barked with a frustrated tone.
“Well… you said his friend James called him before he left right? We think that it’s this man here.” He said pointing to the taller kid in the picture.
“He has a house in Portland.” He continued
“Yes! That’s where he went. He said he had to go home!” She was almost yelling.
“Well we are looking into this. I didn’t want to get your hopes up but if this is him, we may have a lead on your husband. In the meantime phone records are being pulled.”
“So you still have nothing? Great. I’m glad I could drive here for something you could have just told me on the phone.” She yelled.
He looked down. Amy immediately felt bad for raising her voice. She knew there was protocol for these things. She just missed Brice. She took a deep breath and started to walk out the door. Before she left the young officer stopped her.
“Ma’am… He never told you about that Cabin?”
Amy paused, and then walked out the door without saying a word. No he never did. Why? Why couldn’t he share something like this with her? Amy couldn’t help but wonder if something bad was going on. What if this had something to do with that missing boy?
Brice never called her. His phone had been off. Amy grew sick of hearing his voicemail. As she pulled into the driveway she saw a small tan UPS box sitting on her porch.
She routinely checked the mailbox, and made her way towards the front door. She picked up the small package, and went inside. It was light. She didn’t remember ordering anything. Maybe Brice had. He would sometimes order medical supplies or devices for work.
She took off her shoes and sat down at the bar before opening the box. Inside was a small black jewelry box. Had he surprised her with jewelry?
A confused look spread on her face. Then she opened it. Her eyes grew wide. Her heart fell from her chest. Amy stood up so fast, the bar stool fell over, hitting the ground hard.
Inside was Brice’s wedding ring. It was soaked in what looked like blood. It lay on a small handwritten note.
“He was never yours”