#12 – The Man

He was tall and dark with a clean-shaven face and big eyes.  When the long-lashed, giraffe-like eyes favored someone with their gaze, they hypnotized and imprisoned like an iPhone to a teenager.  He drew others to him with the sincerity that only the very charismatic possess.  He could make anyone feel at ease, man or woman.  More than that – he made people feel more wanted, attractive, and intelligent then they in fact were.  He seduced with his personality and only a few minutes after meeting him people fell over themselves in their haste to give him what he wanted.  Perhaps this was how he had achieved what he had – why he sat in the sleek, expensively decorated office with its simple décor with his custom-tailored, black wool suit that fit like a glove to his lean body.  He smoked Cuban cigars that never stained his teeth or fingers.

Bokor had fallen for him too.  There had been no other option.  And she thought that he had loved her.  But as is so often the case with people for whom things come so easily, his true character had revealed itself just as she had found herself too involved to get away.

“Well?” They had long ago stopped meeting in person and were communicating via Skype.

“There is a complication.”

He swiveled languidly in his leather chair and bit his lip with a perfectly white tooth.

“There are no such things as complications, Bokor.  Use the energy around you to your advantage.  There is much to be done and you have found the right one.  I congratulate you for that.  The plan can begin now.”

“But there is this boy… She is fighting him.  I don’t think I can –”

He stared at her.  It was the eyes.  It had always been the eyes – the pools of dark chocolate temptation.

“You will do as I say.”

And she knew she would – even if it meant disaster for her.

Spring Break Hiatus – come back in April for the next installment of Zombie Stories.  Peace!

# 11 – Deadly Danger

            Yellow eyes shone through the dark.  Hunter stalked prey.  Nocturnal animals prepared for nighttime rituals.  Thick canopy tried to block patches of light from the full moon.  Thin rays seeped through and fell in patterns toward the jungle floor.  Frogs chirped and birds called out.  Wild paws crunched on dry leaves and snapped sticks.  A lithe body was on the move.  Muscles rippled under grey fur.

            The victim limped in shadows but made good time, destination unknown.  Low grumbling vibrated through the animal’s entire body.  Stomach muscles contracted and growled in harmony.  But it wasn’t food he was stalking. 

            When he was thirty feet behind her he lowered his body until he was almost crawling on four legs.  A bird whistled.  A puma shrieked in the distance.  The scent of wet leaves and humidity mixed with sweet flowers.  Water dripped.  She stopped.  He lay down.  His ears perked up – alert – eyes blazing.  Her back was to him, shoulders slumped over, old-lady-like.  She was wearing the same sheer, white dress that he had seen her in many times.  There was a thin, triangular patch of red at the hem.

            She turned only her head until he could see her profile.  Long lashes fell on purple circles under the eyes.  And then her eyes popped open.  Her head turned further around, owl-like.  She stared at the ground just to his right.  She did not blink.

            “Come and get it if you want it, Ralph.” She croaked in a low voice.

            He snarled.  His hind legs pushed off and he pounced at her but his body cracked against the tree trunk that she had been standing in front of.  She was gone.  He was stunned for a moment.  Then the pain of ramming into a tree was overshadowed by the torment of something pulling him by the tail.

            Two pairs of steel eyes met; yellow fire against dark pools of soulless nothing.  He whipped his body around, claws out and scratched at her face.  She grunted and let go of his tail, wiping blood off of her face.  He sprang up, twisted around, pushing her to the ground pinning her there..  She looked up and spit at him.  A clot of blood landed on his snout and dripped back on her.  She laughed.

            “How are you going to do it, Ralph?  Not this way, surely…” She reached her hand around and pulled hard on the most sensitive area just below his hind quarters.  He howled.  She rolled away and stood up, her legs apart and her shoulders back in a warrior-like pose.

            They both panted hard as they stood facing each other – he with his hair standing on end, fangs showing; she melting back into the slumped posture that had become her nature.

            “You can’t have it both ways, my boy.” She said.  “And frankly, I doubt that you’ll ever have it.”

            She turned disdainfully and limped off.  Suddenly there was a sharp pain just above the ankle of her good leg.  His sharp teeth were clamped down hard.  She fell to the ground and fumbled for a stick.  He was still biting down hard.  He started to drag her away from the main path and toward a ditch when she swung her arm around and struck his leg with the stick.  A snapping sound crackled through the thick, humid air.  Zoya thought it was her stick.  She was just about to reach around for a thicker one when she heard a thump and saw a flash of white.

            Lifting her head up, she saw the man lying on the ground.  The wolf had disappeared and her leg was free.  The man’s clothes were ripped and he had blood and dirt all over him.  His eyes were closed, but she saw that his chest went up and down in small, shallow movements.  His arm was bent at a strange angle. 

She smirked and moved toward him, but stopped when she heard something coming.  The sound of voices approaching got louder.  Two people stepped off of the path.  The tour guide and Bokor knew that the rustling sounds had not come from any native animal, so they came to investigate.  The tour guide’s face blanched at the scene before them, making him look washed out in the rays of the moon. 

            Bokor assessed the situation and quickly glanced at her companion.  She knew without asking the danger that had just been averted.  In a loud voice she said, “Zoya, you’re bleeding.  Go back to the house immediately.  Sebastian and I will take care of Ralph.”      

“But surely the girl needs –”

            “Don’t worry about her, Sebastian.  She’ll be fine.” 

            The guide locked eyes with Zoya for a moment.  Horror met total blankness.  He looked away.  At that moment he realized what had been happening on the island and knew that he was in deadly danger…

            

#10 Maggie Rebels

            Ralph reclined back into the sofa and sighed.  All of Bokor’s planning had made him feel somewhat normal again.  The steak dinner had been perfect.  Candles glowed on various tables and the scent of lavender filled the room.  The radio played soft music.

He took a sip of wine and watched as Maggie got up from the dinner table and came up to him.  Slowly she untied her robe and let it flow open.  She was wearing the black lace negligee that she had brought down just in case she had an opportunity to be private with Ralph – and tonight was it.  Her full breasts overflowed out of the flimsy material, which came up to just above the areolas of her nipples.  She was moving languidly, taking her time to approach him.  Normally a secure and happy girl, she had been grappling with the unfamiliar feelings of insecurity for the last few days.  There had been an oppressive air pulling them all down.  But it was over now…

With supple movements began pulling down the string that comprised the underwear part of the outfit.  The negligee’s skirt was short, but still covered enough to leave a little to the imagination. 

            Not that he needed his imagination.  His eyes locked with hers as he reached long fingers down to his belt.  He felt a moment of pain as some hair on the back of his finger got caught in the buckle.  Damn it.  He hadn’t noticed his hair getting so long on his hands.  But there were more important sensations to be had in the immediate future and the pain was soon forgotten.

 

            Jon was bored.  Behind him, Bokor’s firm footsteps crunched on the leaves of the path, forcing him to continue forward.  He was not listening to the guide’s boring drone on the many and fascinating reasons why tree frogs came out at night.  They were on one of the many trails of the rainforest that abutted the beach.  This area was famous for its nighttime tours of nocturnal life.  But Jon had only come here to surf.  Unfortunately, his one attempt to surf at night had failed miserably.  So until now he had spent his nights talking to Ralph and Mike.  But Mike had gone home and Ralph was acting strangely.  And tonight Bokor was on a mission to keep him away from the house.  Jon sighed and looked back at her. 

            “Watch out for that spider’s web.”  Bokor said.  Jon screamed.

 

            Zoya opened the front door and stepped into the room.  The voiceless grunt that escaped her throat when she saw movement on the sofa startled the two lovers.  Maggie scrambled around for something to cover herself up.  Ralph pushed her the rest of the way off his lap and stood up. 

            “Zoya…” Maggie’s concern for her modesty was overridden by sharp anger at the plaintive tone in Ralph’s voice.  Her fury only increased as he stepped toward the door.  But Zoya was gone. 

            “Ralph!”  Maggie grabbed his arm.

            He looked at her, jerked his arm away, yawned and started walking back to their assigned bedroom.  The interruption had not allowed his physical desire to peak, but he was certain that Zoya had been drawn in by what he vaguely called ‘female jealousy’ and he was sure that she would soon come to him.

            Maggie got dressed, her face set in stone.  Without looking back at her lover, she went out the front door.  Once she was outside she looked for the slight figure of a girl with puffy blonde hair.  Her eyes strained in the dark and were rewarded for their efforts when they caught movement behind a palm tree to Maggie’s left.  She followed it, her chest heaving with angry indignation.

            “Zoya you bitch,” She called out, “stop hiding like a coward.  I want to talk to you.”

            Marilu heard the faint sound of Maggie calling out for Zoya.  She was tired and dirty after burying the students’ bodies.  She just wanted to go home, but she needed to talk to Bokor first.  She rounded the dirt path to the house just in time to see Zoya limp toward Maggie.  The hairs on Marilu’s arms stood on end.  Something about Zoya’s approach toward the other girl made Marilu feel fearful.  Marilu remembered the odd reaction that she and Maria had toward Zoya when she had come in to buy paints.  There was something not quite right about that girl…

 

            Maggie must have sensed it too.  She screamed.  Marilu ran.  She got to Maggie just as Zoya did. 

            “Stop,” Marilu called.

Zoya turned an empty gaze on the space above Marilu’s head.  Then she turned and ambled down the path toward the beach.

            “What is wrong with that girl?” Marilu said, going up to Maggie and putting her arm around her shoulders.

            Maggie pushed her away.  “Whatever.  I don’t need your help.  I will take care of Zoya myself.  She won’t get Ralph.”

            Marilu evaded the girl’s attempt to get away from her.  She grabbed Maggie’s arms so that their faces were close together.  “You don’t understand, girl.  I think that you are going to need my help more than you realize.”

 

            The little, deserted outhouse building with the half-moon on the door was the perfect place to store her paints now that she had a closet for a room in the new, much smaller house.  Zoya pulled out her supplies with uncharacteristically savage jerks of her arms.  Impulsively she threw the canvas away from her and it landed with a thump on the rocky edge of the beach, sliding onto the sand before it came to a stop.

 

            Half an hour later Jon took a hasty leave of Bokor with a quick, ungrateful ‘thank you for the tour’ at the entrance to the path leading toward the house.  Bokor turned and scanned the area.  She walked up behind Zoya quietly.  The canvas had a couple of holes in it.  Blended oil paints mixed together to portray a liquefied nude dripping into one of the holes.  Floating on top of the viscous, bloody puddle that had once been human was a man’s belt buckle.

            “Your art is improving all the time, Zoya.”  Bokor said, chuckling.

 

Next Week: Planning…

 

 

#9 New House

            Bokor closed the door to the house and smiled.  She had found Maggie in the living room of the bigger house.  The girl had been crying.  Bokor was expert in giving young women advice.  Soon Maggie was convinced that Ralph would be by her side that very evening.  There was only one thing.  Bokor would have to move the four of them to a different location.

            Maggie had been confused at first as Bokor led her out the door and down the beach toward the area where Jon was surfing.  But the older woman’s smooth voice comforted the insecure girl.  The other students had left already.  The house was too big for just four of them.  They would be more comfortable in the smaller cottage down the beach. 

Maggie shouldn’t worry.  Her things, and those of the other three, would be transferred to the new place by a villager.  Everything would be taken care of.  The visitors need not worry about a thing.  Bokor would set it up so that Maggie and Ralph had the biggest room together – with one bed.  And dinner that night would be cooked by an experienced woman from the village who would bring wine to serve with it.  Bokor would take Zoya and Jon to town for dinner. 

Maggie looked at Bokor and smiled a bright, white smile.

 

            Marilu’s shoulders slumped as she looked around at the dead students.  What use was it to be afraid anymore?  Whatever was out there would come.  It would come for all of them.  But when it did, Marilu would be ready.  She ground her teeth.

            “So you see why I had to get those four out of here as soon as possible, don’t you?”  Bokor appealed to her cousin.

            “Oh yes, I see.  And you called me here because you want me to help conceal this?”

            “Naturally – there is no one better.”  Bokor’s brown eyes reflected a darker color as she stared at the other woman.

 

            Zoya walked on the beach.  She was waiting – showing herself – inviting an encounter.  She shuffled down the beach slowly, deliberately staying away from the shadows cast by the trees on the edge of the beach.  But Ralph was not the one she bumped into.

            Jon was in a hurry.  His one-track mind had been annoyed when Bokor had interrupted his surfing only to summon him to see the new house.  Who cared where they stayed?  As long as he still had access to one of the best surfing beaches that he had been able to find in years.  He did not see Zoya until they collided.

            “Watch where you are going,” he said irritably, not recognizing the girl.

            Zoya’s eyes were circled by dark shadows.  She did not look directly at him.  Her hand reached out, her palm open. 

            “What the –” his exclamation turned into a squeak as he felt his face being squeezed unnaturally.  The sockets of his eyes and the apples of his sunburned cheeks drew together as if his face were being folded inward.  The long fingernail of her index finger separated from the rest of her hand like a tarantula’s leg.  Still squeezing his face with her unnaturally elongated palm, she scratched at his face, drawing blood.

            Zoya seemed not to notice what she was doing.  Her body pressed toward his and her breathing came hard and fast.

            Suddenly Jon reached around and grabbed his surfboard behind her on both sides, flattening her even tighter to him.  Then he drew it back briefly, tilted it a little and then brought it in fiercely, hitting her square on the back with the thin side toward her.  She gasped voicelessly.  Her hand loosened from his face long enough for him to step away from her.  He drew a long breath and was about to run toward the house for help when the sound of a particularly large wave beating on the packed sand of the shore distracted him.

            “I’ll deal with that bitch later.” He thought as he ran toward the backwash, into the froth and jumped on his board.

            Zoya lay facedown on the sand for a few moments.  Then, pushing herself up, she sat and glared toward the sea.  Something went wrong.  This one wouldn’t be as easy as the others.  She looked down at her hands and scrunched up her face.  How was he different?  Surely he wasn’t like Ralph.  Damn it – he couldn’t be another… She was still reacting to one of them.  She couldn’t handle another.  But no, she had gotten a different sense from this encounter.  Jon wasn’t the problem.  It was her.  But what about her exactly? 

            She licked the blood off of her finger and thought.

 

Still to come this week:  Maggie rebels

           

 

 

#8 – Triangle

            The whole house was in uproar.  Three of the seven students were upstairs throwing their clothes hastily into their suitcases.  The other four: Ralph, Maggie, Zoya and a boy named Jon were sitting on sofas in the living room listening to the shouting voices above them.

            Rumors had been flying about deaths in the village.  One of the girls had been half awake when the villagers came to see Bokor.  She hadn’t registered what she had heard until later.  Her reaction, upon realizing exactly what the dream-like voices of the villagers had been saying, was to become hysterical and insist on leaving.

            “They said murder, I tell you.  We need to leave.”

            “Murder,” the other girl, particularly high strung and slightly overweight repeated, “Oh my God.  Let’s go.  Quickly.  We have to get out of here.  Oh my God, what’s going on?  Why were they saying that?”

            “It doesn’t matter, Jane.  Let’s just go.” Her boyfriend said, throwing his surfboard on top of his zipped bag.

            Downstairs the others continued to listen.  “How boring – those guys are panicking over a rumor that Lauren heard when she was sleeping.  Ridiculous.”

            “How can we be so sure that it’s a rumor?”  Maggie asked.  She moved closer to Ralph on the shabby blue sofa and tried to grab his hand.  He shied away.  She looked at him.          

            “I doubt they’ll get far.”  Zoya said.

            The other three looked at her. 

            “What?” Jon said.

            Zoya looked at them.  Jon and Maggie were giving her puzzled looks.  Ralph’s expression held other emotions.  Zoya locked eyes with him and her eyes blazed fire.  Maggie noticed.  She looked at Ralph.  His face was flushed and he was breathing hard.

            “I mean that they won’t leave because they’ll realize it’s just a rumor.”  Zoya said.  She got up and left the living room.  Her footsteps could be heard going up the stairs. 

            “Well, I’m going out for a swim, anyone coming?”  Jon asked.  But the other two were busy in an eye-to-eye power struggle.  He shrugged and left the room.

            “What was that?”  Maggie asked Ralph.

            “What?”

            “The look Zoya gave you?”

            “How am I supposed to know?”

            “And why were you breathing like that when she looked at you?  Is something going on between you two?”

            Ralph’s handsome face turned purple.  “Leave me alone Maggie.”

            He got up and left the room in the direction of the stairs.  Maggie’s face crumpled.  She forced herself not to go after him.

 

            The desire was spent.  Zoya washed up in the bathroom.  It had been easy.  But it was boring.  She began yearning for a challenge.  She splashed water over her face and as she looked up to grab a towel, she saw Ralph’s face behind her.  She spun around, water dripping to the floor.  His eyes were narrowed but soft.  He looked at the bloody residue in the sink.  It didn’t surprise him.  He had just passed by the bedrooms.  He looked back at her face.  It held an expression of defiance and contempt.  He couldn’t resist.  He stepped forward, crushed his body up to hers, grabbed onto the back of her head, tilting it up to meet his, and kissed her.

            She felt it. 

            Then she pushed him savagely.  He fell backwards and growled, but turned and left. 

            There it was – the challenge.  She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and looked thoughtful.

 

            Bokor moved slowly through the two bedrooms.  The two girls lay on their beds.  Each one’s head was so severely angled that it looked like a giant had twisted the head off of rag dolls.  Their chests were slashed open and blood obscured the original color of their blouses.  What was left of the boy was in all four corners of the smaller bedroom. 

“This will be more difficult to cover up.”  Bokor thought to herself.  Something would have to be done before Maggie and Jon saw it.  She glided out and went to stand in Zoya’s bedroom doorway.

 

Zoya was painting.  This time it was a wolf stalking its prey.  Zoya had managed to capture the essence of this female elk’s power as it faced its enemy – defiant and alluring.  Behind the wolf was the dead carcass of another female elk.  This one, although clearly the animal it was supposed to be, also looked vaguely like Maggie…

 

Next week: Maggie rebels