For Valentine's Day, I will play along with "A Dozen Roses Contest"
Friday the 13th falls right before Valentine's day this year. SPOOKY!
For Day 11, write a horror/dark story or poem, involving a rose & love. (I'll accept anything from entries similar to the black rose entries to vampire/murder/ghosts.)
When Love Stings
Erica Johnson bristled at the sound of his voice. How did he find me again? She hadn't recognized the called ID number, because had she known Artie Ober was on the other end of the line, she never would have answered.
"Artie, I warned you the last time that I was done trying to spare your feelings. This is harassment! Get it through your puny brain -- NO, I don't want to go out with you. Not to dinner, not to that freaky BUG exhibit, not to the f***ing circus -- NOT ANYWHERE." Her rigid grip on the receiver tightened with each word, until she realized her crimson fingernails were digging painfully into her cheek.
"Erica, if you'd just give me a chance, you'd know how deep my love---"
"Oh my God! There is something wrong with you! I'm calling the police, Artie. It's the only way. You have gone too far. If you won't respect that I am not interested in a... person....like you, then maybe a restraining order will do the trick!"
She punched the "off" button so violently that her fingernail bent away from the nail bed, chipping the polish. She sucked on the throbbing finger and stared out the wall of windows lining the main room of the apartment. Lights twinkled from the high rise buildings silhouetted against the sky's fiery colors from the sun setting across the river.
The doorbell broke the silence and sent her hammering heart racing. She strode to the door and put an eye to the peep hole. No one was there.
"Yes. Who is it?" she called out. The only sound was the hum of the refrigerator, and then the cooling fan kicking on. She strained to see as far left and right as possible of the distorted view, but still no one was visible. She slipped the ball end of the chain lock into its runner and slid it into the secured position, then she turned the deadbolt and knob locks to "open" and slowly pulled open the door.
"Is someone there?" she asked through the crack. From this vantage point, the corridor appeared empty. Then she looked down and saw the roses.
A bouquet of white and black long stem roses wrapped in burgundy cellophane lay on the welcome mat in front of her door. She narrowed her eyes at them and then scanned the hallway once more before shutting the door. She released the chain lock and opened the door wide.
Erica picked up the bouquet and carried it in the apartment, locking the door behind her. She breathed in the fragrant perfume. The contrast of black roses against the white made a stunning display; she'd never seen anything quite like it before. But how did they get here? She retrieved the phone from where she'd thrown it down on the counter and dialed "00."
"Concierge, may I help you?"
"This is Erica Johnson in 504. A bouquet of flowers was delivered to my door, but I didn't receive a call from you ahead of time. Would you check your list and tell me who they are from?"
"One moment, Miss Johnson." Erica glanced down at the bouquet, noticing the light from the waning sun refract suddenly off the wrapping. It almost looked like it breathed. "Miss?" Erica jumped. "I'm sorry, no deliveries have been made to your apartment today."
Erica thanked him and hung up. She picked up the bouquet and looked for a florist's card, but the flowers were tightly bundled preventing her view inside the wrapper. She pulled open a drawer with her free hand and fished out a pair of scissors. "Let's see if there's a card in here," she mumbled as she snipped the rubber band holding the stems together. Next, she inserted a blade under the plastic at the base of the wrappings, and slid the point up, slicing the cellophane as she went. The scissor snagged on a dense mass partway up. Her brow furrowed; Erica tugged firmly, driving the blade upwards again.
Sudden frenzied movement froze Erica mid-motion. With round eyes, she stared as hordes of tiny red ants poured out of the bouquet along the cellophane seam. Thousands of them rushed like spilled cranberry juice across the scissors and onto her hand. Erica screamed and dropped the roses to the floor.
"Holy s***!" she screeched as she slapped at her hands and arms. As she swiped at the ants, some clung to her other hand and moved swiftly up her arm. Searing, itching pain like a million red-hot straight pins stabbing her flesh consumed her. Rashes of angry, red welts spread across her skin as the vicious creatures stung her over and over again. With lightning speed, they made their way under her sleeves, and bit into the sensitive flesh of her armpits.
Amidst her panic, she cast her eyes down. "Oh my GOD!" she shrieked, realizing the scattered roses and some kind of small, burlap sack on the floor were entirely covered with ants, as were her shoes. Like an accident victim who feels no pain until he sees his own blood, at the sight of her infested feet an immediate burning pain in her legs penetrated Erica's terror-stricken mind. Her screams took on the raw tone of one who doesn't realize she is screaming.
The ants skittered up the legs of her trousers, into her crotch. They gathered under her waistband, into her belly button, in the valley of her cleavage. She flailed her arms and beat her body, and the venom blistered her skin and numbed her rational mind. She became conscious of nothing but the pain. By the time an ant stung the inside of the bottom lid of her eye, the panic and poison had weakened her. Her knees would no longer hold her up, and raking her face, she crumbled to the ground.
Two stories below, Artie Ober stared out the windows of his new apartment as the last sliver of setting sun sank behind the river. Erica's screams had become harder to hear, reduced to moans, and then abruptly stopped altogether. Artie slowly shook his head and mumbled, "If only she'd given me a chance..."
A sudden sting burned his arm and he looked down. He plucked a stray ant from his skin, rolled it into oblivion between his thumb and forefinger, and then massaged the painful welt left in its place.
Looking for a new sig or contest banner? Click here!
Visit me at: