These parties were meant for finding a lady to take home at the end of the night. Not with my arm around her, but with one hand firmly on her ass; a defensive measure to fend off the hyenas and secure the kill that was rightfully mine. I stay away from the property of others. All I ask is the same in return.
The one thing I hated more than those hyenas were the girls who attracted them deliberately. That was their own little game they played when they’d excuse themselves from the dining table together, and privately conspire how they’d attract competitors, employing their manipulation and determining which male was the most worthy. This doesn’t work with me. Liberal reapplication of cologne masks my jealousy, along with a cool front of convincing nonchalance that has been crafted over the years.
The first step to avoid their predictable trap is to infiltrate her own fantasy. With careful questioning and listening one can draw a rough sketch of the grandeur life she might want: have a couple kids, live in a house up against the beach where she can tan year-round, while she also acts sophisticated and paints the scenic view from her amateur art studio. I make promises aligning with those dreams, telling her exactly what she wants to hear, all the while parading around a façade on par with the best backdrops of Broadway shows. This façade is the most important aspect. It gets her digging for gold that isn’t there, never knowing the suit’s a rental, or that I can’t afford an expensive car if it goes on longer than just one night. They’re all suckers for men higher in social status.
No, I don’t feel any remorse for this deception. It’s merely a “check-mate.” Women have manipulated me my entire life. The only other option is to settle for less than what I want, and that’s not good enough.
All of that changed when I met her.
The violent-red dress fit her hourglass form in a fashion that made my eyes trace her over and over again. The way she swayed with every step amidst the crowd made me sea-sick. Through sheer willpower I broke from the trance and pursued with hopes that her face would be complimentary. The face was the ultimate factor on my list of criteria, and it was always worrying when it was the last thing needing a check-mark. If I couldn’t bring myself to look a lady in the eyes, I’d call it off.
She did not disappoint. Her features called forth the memory of a girl I had hurt. A girl I’d once loved before I became the beast that I am. It was apparent that she wore very little makeup because she needed none. Her face possessed hints of vixen qualities, naturally beautiful in a way that words only cheapen, bringing down to earth something ethereal and angelic, defining infinite eyes accentuated by long, silky black hair.
It was a shame that despite such an impossible feat of nature, the expiration date on her physical attractiveness might only be a decade longer than the norm.
The whole night we talked. From the bar where we poured one another drinks, to the upstairs balcony, to the garden below, and eventually on the way to her home. She was actually interesting to listen to. Intelligent, eloquent. A real rarity. She was about a foot shorter than I, just right for leaning in to kiss her after we climbed the front-porch steps. And it should’ve stopped there, at the place where the border between this world and some other plane of existence becomes blurred.
Candles were lit and cast queer shadows around the room as she joined me under the covers. I couldn’t help but notice archaic markings drawn in the center of the floor, and what appeared to be scratch marks leading up the wall.
Before I could look closer she mounted me with surprising strength. Our previous foreplay in the hallway had induced a hunger, and I made sure she received her fill. Yet a voice in the back of my mind was telling me something was wrong. I hadn’t sprung my trap at the party because there’d been no need. She didn’t give me the cue. Instead, I felt like I had been beaten at my own game.
In my mind I ran through fantasies, applying every trait of the only one I’d ever loved to her. Picturing a future with her. As my thoughts grew with intensity, so did our passion, until she started moaning and shaking at the climax.
She didn’t stop.
I wasn’t quite done, but I paused and asked her if she was okay. I thought she was having a seizure. There came no response. Foam was seeping from her gurgling mouth and dripping onto my bare chest as her emeralds rolled back into her skull. An unnatural twitching started at her neck and crept along her back, bones snapping from the inhuman contorting of the spine.
Panic overcame me and I tried to push her away. Her entire abdomen bulged, and legs covered in dark, prickly hair shot out from within, spraying blood and pus all over the room. They proceeded to pin me as her head slowly ripped apart, revealing a horrific monster with eight abyssal portals staring at me, and two hairy jaws where her pretty little mouth had been. Intermittent bits of cloth and flesh draped off the grotesque creature.
From the orifice that I wasn’t occupying, a web-like substance began covering me. As I squirmed and looked for a weapon, I realized the scratch marks disappeared into the darkness of the vaulted ceiling where numerous sacs hung, some of them writhing.
I recovered my wits and grabbed a candelabrum from the end-table, hitting the giant arachnid with a fleshy smack. It hissed and reared-back threateningly, momentarily releasing me from its clutches and preparing to sink its dripping fangs into my chest.
I scrambled from the bed and made for the hallway, the blankets having lit aflame quicker than I’d prayed they would. The arachnid shot a strand of its web and struck me in the leg, knocking me down and dragging me toward a pit opening in the center of the room.
My fingers held tightly to the door frame, but they weren’t strong enough. I clawed at the floor as I slid toward the edge. I grasped desperately to the bed.
The Madame — if there was anything remaining of her — clung to this realm by two of her long, spindly limbs. With a final yell I channeled all my fear and lashed out with my fists until she slipped and fell into the void below. The rift sealed shut.
I must’ve passed out from the smoke, for later I awoke screaming in an ambulance. Paramedics told me that firefighters had rescued me from a burning house and that I was being taken to the burn unit. I knew from that moment on what I was going to look like in the mirror.
While in the hospital, investigators visited on a few different occasions, asking what I had been doing there at the supposedly abandoned house. They thought it was a suicide attempt. I tried telling them this story but they were firmly convinced the painkillers were warping my mind. Eventually, so as to not be admitted to the mental ward after recovery, I decided to tell them that I had been drugged at a party, kidnapped, and left for dead by somebody I must’ve owed a favor to. It sounded so convincing that I even wondered if I hadn’t imagined the whole experience with Madame Latrodectus.