Heartless by Design: Flash Fiction
(originally from July 2008)
This was written for a story colab challenge where we used lines contributed by other writers. Though I don;t know which lines they are, or if they survived edits, thanks all the same to Peg, barb, Lonnie, and nita.
Under the light of a full moon, she walked towards the pounding ocean, her fingers twined in his. He had strong hands, yet gentle, and his voice was as soft as the summer rain. She enjoyed the feeling of the sand between her toes as she walked along the shore with him, towards the trees. As they went he asked no questions, only gazed at her with a curious longing. His eyes should have made her uncomfortable but she felt nothing. Her heart was cold as stone.
The forest was still and silent. Even the animals sensed something was wrong. It was time to bring him to meet the goddess of the land; she couldn’t keep him a secret any longer, though she knew what they would do to him – what they would make her do to him.
The clearing was eerily silent, but he smiled as she released his hand. He thought he would impress her by building a fire, and picking her wild flowers. As the flames licked the inky night she settled down by his side and waited, her hand inside her coat and her fingers wrapped around the blade. He smiled his crooked, reassuring grin and settled himself in the damp grass. A chorus of crickets sang in the distance. It was deceptively peaceful. No one would guess this spot was once a battlefield; but it was, and that made all the difference. That was why they had chosen it.
They came from the trees, like wraiths from a dark nightmare. Their call was shrill as they descended. He jumped to his feet, but she choked him to his knees. He screamed as she forced him to the ground, with one hand around his neck the other in his crouch, both gripping tightly. His eyes echoed the agony of his cry, but she had no choice. He must be sacrificed. She was a natural born killer, she was raised that way by her mother, by the witches of the southfold. She was cold, she was cruel and she did not feel.
He fell unconscious on the grass and the women quickly disrobed. Their naked bodies flitted around the camp fire while they hummed their ritual song. She twirled in circles under the moon, chanting and singing with her arms held high. As if in time to her words, the heavens opened and thunder and lightning crashed. In the distance, they could hear the popping and cracking of trees being torn out of the ground by the storm’s fury, but still they sang and danced. The words grew more frenzied as the storm grew, and when it reached it’s zenith she straddled his unconscious form. With the knife to his throat, she ended his life.
The ceremony came to an end and the women rifled through his pockets, looting the corpse that had been her lover. With no feeling, she gathered up her clothes. As she dressed one of the women found the ring in his coat and threw it to her, laughing.
She caught the little black box in her hand. Inside lay a diamond ring. An engagement ring. She hadn’t known about, hadn’t understood his intentions, but now she did. He had loved her. Really loved her.
No on had ever loved her. Not men, not her sisters in the coven, not her mother. She was an item, nothing more, just as they were items to her – weren’t they? He was… he was just… She closed her eyes and tried to force it away, but his face swam behind her eyelids, his grin crooked and reassuring, as if he thought she was frightened of the dark! As if he was trying to tell her he would protect her.
He couldn’t even protect himself from her betrayal.
And that’s what it was. She had betrayed him. He’d given her his heart, his trust, and she’d handed him over to their bloodthirsty goddess, a sacrifice for the midnight meeting. He’d given her something that no one else had ever given her, and she had repaid him with his own blood.
She choked on the reality of it. Her sisters were oblivious to her pain and laughed in time to the rolling thunder. She looked back over her shoulder. His naked body lay on the ground among the dead leaves. The expression on his face still one of pain and confusion.
“How could you hurt me when I only wanted to love you?”
She ran from her sisters. She ran from all the blood she’d spilled on that forest floor, from the ghosts of the men she’d killed to feed a goddess. She ran from the sound of her sister’s chants, from the cold memory of her mother. Most of all, she ran from his face, from his warm, laughing eyes, from his final scream of terror.
The cliff was tall and sharp, outlined by flashes of lightning. She didn’t slow as she neared the edge and, as she leapt clear of it, she hung for a moment in the air, suspended like a raindrop; a raindrop with a soul as black as the night.
And then she fell.
The crashing waves welcomed her. Cold water pulled her down, but she didn’t fight. She let the water suck her down, down, deeper and deeper, but she refused to open her eyes. She knew she’d see nothing but darkness, no light to guide her home. It was somehow fitting. In darkness she’d lived and in darkness would she die. Ill fated as she was to discover that even she had a heart only as it shattered to a million pieces.
could use some more development, but the idea is there, anyway.
song playing at the moment – “Immortal” – The Rasmus