I wait on the porch, desperately wanting a cigarette. It’s been two minutes, so I knock again. A curtain twitches aside in the window and I get a brief glimpse of red light. Most nights, I’d think that unusual, but this is different. At this point, the only thing I’m focused on is the woman on the other side of the door.
The door slides open and she peeks out at me under the chain. “Landon?” she asks.
I give her my best smile. The whole ride over, I’d been reminding myself of the rules of the game: No real names, no attachments. The door closes again, and the chain slides away. She re-opens it with a smile of her own that doesn’t quite reach up to her eyes. She’s wearing a slinky black robe, and reddish brown hair cascades down over her shoulders.
“Come on in,” she says, her voice shaking a little. “Do you want something to drink?”
“Water,” I reply, looking around at the nearly empty apartment. There’s a sofa in the middle of the room, but nothing else. Every non-carpeted surface is covered in candles. Even with the warm light they’re creating, there’s still a chill to the room. Shadows dance across the walls as the tiny flames flicker.
“Not big on furniture are you?” I ask.
“I haven’t been here long. Guess I haven’t had the time to get more than the necessary stuff.”
She nods and smiles again. “Nothing sets a mood quite like candles.”
We make small talk for a few minutes while I drink the water. She waits on the end of the sofa, her hands nervously sliding over each other. The robe itself is small enough that I get a good view of things. She tells me her name is Susan. I’m tempted to ask what her name really is but that would be breaking the rules.
The small talk ends, and we stand there awkwardly. Susan takes the water glass from my hand, her fingers brushing against mine. Leaning forward, she kisses me, her hand sliding down my chest. Her breath tastes like cinnamon. She gently bites my lip and then turns away. Leading me by the hand, she pulls me towards the bedroom.
A small bed sits in the exact middle of the room. Dressers and small tables line the walls. Like the living room, every available space is covered with candles. These are red candles, and my mind jumps back to the devotionals of my youth. Somewhere in the room, incense burns, making the air sweet and heavy. My head spins as she pulls me onto the bed.
I pull my shirt up over my head as Susan runs her fingers over my stomach. She fumbles with the button on the front of my jeans. I pull her closer. She lunges forward, leaving small bites all over my neck and chest. I grab her hair and pull her head back to kiss her. She feels hot, almost feverish. My world becomes a blur of red light and skin.
She rolls me over on my back. Her hands move all over my body. She straddles me, sliding me inside of her. My hands slide up along her hips. She presses her body against mine. Her nails dig into my chest. She pushes me down hard against the bed. The robe slides down her body. I shudder a little at the smooth feel of silk against my legs.
She looks down at me with a smile. I’m dimly aware of her thighs pressing against my body. I sit up to pull her against me, and she pushes me down again. She moves faster. The room spins. It’s too warm. My throat is parched. My heart is thudding in my chest. I’m gasping for breath.
She’s grabbed my wrists, holding them above my head when I see it. A small seam forms in the middle of her forehead. Susan smiles down at me as the skin stretches. The reddish brown hair falls to the bed behind her. Holes form along the seam as the skin breaks apart. Tiny red eyes stare out at me. Her body bulges and twists above me. Her legs and arms are locked around me, holding me in place.
The skin splits down the middle of her body. It falls into two piles on either side of me, the warm flesh draped loosely over my legs. I stare in horror at thousands of tiny gray spiders piled together. They hold the shape of a woman for a few seconds before collapsing onto my naked body.
I scream and run for the door, brushing spiders off me as best I can. They’re everywhere, covering my skin. Hundreds of thousands of tiny legs skittering across my body. Thin voices call to me from the pile still on the bed.
Don’t go, Landon. We need you.
A sharp pain digs into my ankle, and my right leg becomes useless. I look down to see my calf is already starting to swell. I slap ineffectually at my leg, leaving a dark smear on the side of my foot. The floor is alive with tiny gray bodies, all surging towards me. Dragging myself to the hall, I force myself to ignore the wheezing in my chest. The door is there, twenty maybe thirty feet away.
All I have to do is get outside.
Landon, come back.
My head throbs, but I keep pulling myself towards the door. My legs are bound together, a solid white cocoon hanging off the back of my body. I still have my arms though, and I’m almost there. I ignore the hundreds of small bites that are slowly numbing my body. My fingers brush against the smooth wood of the door. The knob is directly above me, taunting me.
Sharp pain spikes in my left shoulder and the hand drops limply to my side. With one last gasp, I grab the door knob with my right hand and pull myself back, swinging the door open. The warm evening air floats into the room. My car is waiting in the parking lot.
You’re ours, Landon. Forever and always.
The numbness spreads to my chest, followed closely by the silk. My heart feels like a fist is squeezing it. There’s a slight lurch, and I’m vaguely aware that I’m being moved. My eyes look back towards the door as I slide away from it towards the bedroom. Laying on the floor, I see the bones strewn under the bed and I want to cry.
Every breath is a ragged gasp. The silk covers my mouth, keeping me from screaming. A sharp pain moves through me as my organs begin to liquefy, but by then I’m barely capable of caring. All I can hear are the dry whispers of the spiders in my ears before the world goes dark.
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