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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2256321
The kind of staring contest you really don't want.
“What the hell?!” I screamed at my brother. Looking down, I flinched at the sight of it. I dabbed at the circle of dark, sticky liquid with a finger as it soaked the front of my dress. Cold, damp cloth slapped against my slim abdomen, sending a swirling vortex of rage swirling upward from the deepest pit of my stomach all the way to my lurching, hammering heart.

“Damn you and your grape juice! How can you even carry that stuff around the house?!” I seethed from behind clenched teeth. “My dress is ruined!”

I gave him a shove, the retaliatory act transforming his vaguely remorseful expression into a flash of anger. The look in his gleaming eyes was predatory—a dark intensity that sent a shiver of terror down my spine. Then, it was gone. It disappeared so quickly that I almost wondered if I had really seen it at all.

My fury evaporated, my desire for retribution instantly eviscerated by my brother’s silent reaction.

“Look, it’s okay,” I said, taking a step back. “Not that big of a deal.”

Still, he said nothing. My brother was like that. At least he was now. Ever since the accident. He simply stood there, staring at me. I broke eye contact, shifting uncomfortably. “Well, I’ve gotta go change. Can’t go on my date looking like this…”

I turned and marched back to my room, slipping out of my stained dress. The doorbell rang as I stepped into another one.

Shit! He was here!

I scrambled out of the room, still struggling with the zipper at my back as I descended the stairs.

“Hi!” I said breathlessly, seeing Drew at the door, his brows furrowed as he stared intently at my brother. “Ready to go?” I finished zipping up my dress, shooting him an embarrassed smile.

Drew looked up, blinking, clearly still flummoxed by my brother’s strange stare. I knew the feeling.

“Ready?” I repeated, my eyes roaming the jumble of shoes piled on the rack for something that would go well with my new dress.

“Oh! Yes! Absolutely!” said Drew, giving my brother one last reticent look.

“Good!” I said, finally finding a pair of ballet flats that would work. “I haven’t been to the movies since COVID hit, and I’m really looking forward to it!”

Drew’s tense shoulders dropped slightly, some normal conversation apparently making him a bit more comfortable after being greeted by my weirdo brother’s creepy stare. His fingers remained clenched tightly into fists, however.

Slipping on the second shoe, I walked up to my unmoving brother, nudging past him to the door with a forceful shove of my hip. I saw Drew’s eyes widen, and I frowned, turning back to see what had caused his reaction.

Another death stare from my brother. What else was new? The hairs on the back of my neck tingling, I stuck out my tongue. The angry smolder in his eyes burst into an inferno, just as I closed the door in his face.

“Your brother is pretty seriously fucked up!” breathed Drew, still staring at the door.

“Tell me about it!” I grinned. I took Drew’s hand in mine, prying open his fingers to hold his hand.

“Come on! Let’s get out of here,” I smiled warmly. “We’ve got superhero zombies to experience!”

“Yeah,” Drew said, amusement tugging at his lips. “The best of the most popular two movie genres all rolled into one. The perfect date movie.”

“Well…” I said, pulling him toward me for a languid kiss. “I could have gone for a little romance instead, but love is compromise, I suppose.”

We headed to the movie, all thoughts of my brother gone for the moment.


When we came back, the lights were off in the house. “Thank God! My brother must be asleep,” I whispered, pulling Drew into the house for another kiss.

“Mmmm,” he replied, tucking my hair behind my ear as we snogged.

I broke the kiss, smiling as I crept up the stairs, my boyfriend in tow. I closed the door to my room, wrapping my arms around him once again. “Do you want to have some fun tonight?”

He nodded, his eyes hungry as we swayed together in a silent dance.

I removed my hands from his back, moving them to my own, struggling to pull down my zipper once again. Drew saw my difficulty, reaching behind me to assist. As he did, I saw the gleam of eyes in the dark corner of my room.

I stiffened, causing Drew to pull back in alarm.

“What is it?” he asked, his voice betraying his concern.

“Nothing,” I said, attempting to keep the quiver out of my voice. “Why don’t you go to the bathroom and freshen up. I’ll get out of the dress, and then we can… you know.” I gave him what I hoped was a convincing smile.

Dutifully, he opened the door, heading to the bathroom, leaving me alone with my brother. I stalked to where he stood, crossing my arms as I hissed at him. “You’re fucking dead, rodent. You need to stop messing with me and my friends! So I got you killed? Big whoop! It was an accident! Get over it already! It wasn’t even my fault. Not really. If Britt hadn’t sent me that text, I would never have run that red light.”

He continued to gaze at me from the darkness, saying nothing. I rolled my eyes. “That whole ‘if looks could kill’ thing? Not. Fucking. Real!”

I grabbed his shirt in an attempt to pull him from the corner, but the fabric fell apart in my fingers, as if it were made of ash. Then, I sniffed. He smelled rotten. Strange. I’d never detected a scent from him before.

Looking down at him, I thought I saw the glint of a blade. I jumped back, suddenly far more alarmed than I previously had been. “What’s that?” I said, my voice shrill with alarm.

His hand slowly rose, the tip of a knife pointed squarely at my stomach. I touched my belly, remembering the feel of the wet grape juice from earlier in the evening. I shuddered. “You d-don’t want to do that,” I stammered, backing up a step.

He smiled, an odd, overly wide grin stretching his lips until they looked too distorted to be real. I felt my fingers trembling at my sides, taking another step back. “D-doing something to me won’t give you your life b-back.”

I needed to get out of here. My hands held before me, ready to ward off an attack, I stepped back a third time.

My brother’s grin suddenly vanished, his head turning slightly to the side, his eyes flashing once again in the darkness. It took a moment, but I eventually realized he was looking at something behind me!

I turned, seeing the shadowed edges of Drew’s familiar face approaching from behind. Letting out a held breath, I closed my eyes thankfully. “Thank, God, Drew. Look, I’ve got to tell you something about my brother⁠—”

As I re-opened my eyes, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. “What was⁠—?” I started, my shocked gaze finding Drew’s.

Those eyes looked familiar. But they weren’t Drew’s. They were my brother’s.

A sinking feeling joining the agony in my core, I looked down. Hot, sticky liquid had begun to pool, soaking the fabric of my half-undone dress. It looked oddly similar to the spilled grape juice earlier. Felt similar too. Except for the heat. Last time, it had been cold.

“Drew?” I whimpered, finding my brother’s eyes in his face once again, my fingers and toes going cold.

He simply stood there, unmoving.

I turned, looking back at my brother. His horrifying smile was back, the knife pointed toward me. My knees began to wobble, and I fell to the bed, landing on my side, cheek pressed to the sheets.

I continued to stare at him, the prickle of heat as it spread over my stomach strangely comforting as I lay on the bed, vision dimming. He stared back.

“What the hell?!” I whispered, my lips moistening the crumpled sheets with warm saliva.

His cracked lips parted to speak, but I never heard his final words to me, my consciousness finding oblivion just as a scratchy rasp pricked at my unhearing ears.

1,393 words
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