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Horror Fiction

“Are you going to have another drink?” I say as he pauses The Lincoln Lawyer again. I hate it when he does that. He’ll pause it a dozen times; getting up to get a drink, a snack, to pee. Once or twice, sure, fine. But it’s never once or twice with him.

“Yes, I am. What’s it to you?” he asks.

“What do you mean, what’s it to me? I’m also here, watching this show, and I’d like to actually watch it.”

He gets up and walks toward the kitchen. As soon as I think he’s out of earshot, I call him an alcoholic under my breath.

He hears me, but maybe I meant for him to. “What did you say?” he asks me.

“Nothing.” He heard me, and I meant it. It’s always one more drink.

“I’m not an alcoholic.”

“Aren’t you?” I ask. “It’s ten o’clock on a Friday night and you’ve had a glass of wine at dinner and three whiskeys. That seems like a lot. I’m just worried,” I say. I mean, I am worried, but I’m also over it.

“I’m not an alcoholic. I have a couple drinks on the weekends. That’s it. It’s fine. An alcoholic drinks every day. I don’t. I’m fine.”

I sigh, loudly—on purpose. In the kitchen, I hear him mix his drink.

When he walks back into the living room, I shake my head. I can tell by his face he’s pissed.

He picks up the remote and unpauses the TV.

“Finally,” I say. When we finish the show I get up to go to bed. I’m going to read. I can’t handle another hour of pausing and unpausing the show.

“I’m going to bed,” I tell him. “Enjoy your whiskey. I’m sure you’ll have another.”

Before I know what’s happening, he’s up and across the room. He slams my back against the wall, the artwork on the wall shakes. His hands are around my throat, squeezing. I can’t breathe.

I try to scream, but I can’t catch my breath. He’s grinning, maniacally. His eyes are bulging out of his head and I’m sure mine are too. He won’t stop squeezing. All I can see are tiny pinpoints of light, like bright dust particles.

Then, I don’t see anything. Not for a while.

No idea how long I’m out, but suddenly I can feel myself back in my body. I’m slumped on the ground, leaning against the living room wall. I can’t move or speak, but I can think. I’m in here, somewhere. He’s nowhere to be found. If I know my husband at all, he didn’t call anyone. He’s going to try and cover this up. He probably had a drink and went to bed. Hoping things will look better in the morning.

I don’t know how much time has passed, but I feel him step back into the living room. I can’t turn my head or move my body. This feels like a terrible dream.

Now I see him. He takes a step toward me and stops. Fucker. Coward. He better not cry and whine and tear at his clothing.

He doesn’t. Well, he should cry and whine and tear at his clothing! After all, he killed me!

He leaves. I hear him in the kitchen. Is he pouring a drink? He is! I hear the ice cubes rattling around a highball glass. You’ve GOT to be kidding me. Only last night he swore he wasn’t an alcoholic, and now he’s starting his day with a drink?

Ah, well, he did kill his wife last night. I guess that might push a borderline alcoholic right over the line.

So, what’s he going to do now? I wonder. I’ve watched every true crime documentary on Netflix, and we’ve binged a lot of shows about serial killers. Maybe he learned something from them. He could pull a Dexter and chop me up into parts and throw me in the lake. But the only lake near here is always packed and we don’t have a boat. He’d have to toss me in the shallow water and pray the tide takes me out.

Or, what’s that musical where the guy kills people and uses them for meat? We don’t have a meat grinder, though. He could bury me in the backyard like they do in that one movie…’The Burbs’? But the neighbors might see and complain that he didn’t have a permit.

He could leave me under a floorboard like in the ‘Tell-Tale Heart’. Oh, shit, he just might. I bet he puts me under the house. We’ve got that creepy crawl space. I don’t think he’s read Poe, but wouldn’t it be juicy if he put me under there and then freaked out? I wonder if I could help make that happen?

I mean, look at him, he’s not even sad! I haven’t heard him cry a single tear. He’s probably thrilled his nagging bitch of a wife is gone. It will suit him to be single. Drinking, eating pizza, watching TV. No one at all around to nag (but no one around to clean or grocery shop, either).

The best part of all this is he can’t cash in my life insurance policy—and it’s a juicy one! Take that, you asshole.

I hear him make another drink (another one?!) and then he’s back in the living room, turning on the TV. What a prick. His dead wife is sprawled against the wall and he’s watching TV. But what did I expect?

Sometime later, he leaves the room. Going to bed I assume. I don’t know where I go, but suddenly I’m back and he’s here, in the living room. He picks up my body, or at least tries to, sort of muscling along, trying to get my body over his shoulder. He does a reasonable facsimile of this and stumbles under my weight to the back door (just for the record, I was a slim woman. Worked out, ate right. Thin, 5’8”. I can only assume the term ‘dead weight’ refers to the fact we seem to weigh more after death.)

He hesitates out on the deck. Probably checking there are no lights on in any of the neighbors’ upstairs windows. The coast must be clear because down the stairs we go. At the bottom, he drops me to the ground. That would’ve hurt if I was still alive.

Then, he grabs me by my feet and drags me under the deck. I hear the crawl space open and next thing I know I’m being dragged into that dark, dirty, scary place. I never ventured in here when I was alive. Too many creepy crawlies. And now I guess I’ll spend the rest of…what? Eternity down here? Fantastic.

He’s backing into the crawl space, dragging me along. I kind of enjoy it because I know he hates it down here, too. Spiders, bugs, maybe a rat or raccoon. He doesn’t go in for any of that. 

He drops my legs to the ground and runs. Must have hit a spiderweb or something. I can hear him slam the crawl space door. Now, it’s just dark.

He’ll probably go back to bed and sleep like a baby.

Alone in the dark, I wonder why I’m still hanging around. Is this normal? Can I do anything? I try and will my hands to move. My head to turn. It takes a while, but at last, I feel a wiggle in my finger. Just one finger. But it’s a win!

With a little more concentration, my entire hand moves. Then the other. Then a foot flexes. My head turns. I see beady eyes looking at me. Shit. A rat.

Can I get up? I push myself to a seated position, then I stand. I’m shaky on my feet, and my neck feels funny, but I’m up. I look down and realize I’m still on the ground, too. I’m here, and I’m there. Talk about an out-of-body-experience. I see my dead body lying there on the ground, but I’m standing over it—and I can see this body, too.

I can move it, albeit slowly and jerkily, but it’s me. I turn towards the door and push. Instead of opening the door, I fall through it. Aha, so that’s how it is.

I drag myself out from under the deck. One of my feet doesn’t want to cooperate. I’m not used to being dead; this is a bit alien to me. But I’m doing it.

It seems to take me forever to get to the bottom of the deck stairs. I grab the railing with both hands and hoist myself up the five steps to the deck. I trip on the top one and basically fall into the back door. He must not be around, because I don’t hear anything. No reaction to the noise I’ve just made. I try to turn the handle. My fingers are completely foreign to me; they don’t want to grasp the door handle. They don’t want to turn it. Finally, though, I remember what happened with the crawl space and I just push through the door. I lean against the kitchen island. Whew.

I would say I’m catching my breath, but I’m not breathing.

He comes into the kitchen and walks straight to the cabinet, not looking right or left. Doesn’t see me. This might be fun.

“A drink this early?” I ask. “And you say you’re not an alcoholic.”

I laugh as his head snaps to the side. I know what he’s thinking. This can’t be right. He buried me under the house last night. He’s afraid he might have put me under there alive. Backing away, he stares at my face.

I wonder what he sees. I haven’t seen a mirror. He probably thinks he’s hallucinating, after all the alcohol I’m sure he’s consumed since killing me.

“What’s the matter, honeybunch? Lost your desire for a drink?” I ask, laughing. “Consequences are ugly, aren’t they? Like, really ugly.”

He shakes his head. I can see he can’t believe this is happening. He runs off, and I hear the shower turn on. I chuckle again. I’ve got him. Got him good.

The shower turns off and I wait. I see him search the house for me. I see him let out a breath. He thinks I was just a product of his guilty conscience. But I’m right here. Watching.

I hear my phone ring. My favorite song. He searches for my phone. Grabs it to see who’s calling, then lets it go to voicemail. I see it’s my boss. She’ll be wondering where I am; why I’m late. I’d never miss work without letting her know. She’s a friend, in addition to being my boss. I’d call or text about a sickness, an emergency, right away.

I can see the wheels turning. He’s coming up with an explanation, an excuse. He’ll probably text her, as me. Tell her I had a family emergency. That’ll buy him some time.

Maybe he’ll eventually tell people I decided to stay wherever I am, at my mother’s or my brother’s. Tell people I left him. I see him make up his mind, he’s decided on a story. He grabs a drink, kicks back on the couch, props his feet up on the coffee table.

I sit down next to him. “Think that’ll work?” I ask. I smile with glee as he jumps a foot and looks over at me. I’ve turned my head but can’t seem to turn it back. Feels weird, like it’s falling off my shoulders. That’d be enough to run him out of the house, I think.

Let it fall off and roll across the floor to him. My smiling face looking up.

“I bet she’ll call again today, it’s not like me to miss work, you know. I’d least call her and let know why I’m not there. She’s definitely going to call again. Be ready with explanation,” I smile at him.

He doesn’t speak, just stares at me.

I leave, but I watch him. I see my phone ring again, a few hours later. I can tell he’s weighing his options, then he texts her. Over his shoulder, I watch him type. I’ve texted him enough over the years, he should be able to mimic my voice.

I’m so sorry! My mother fell this morning and she’s hurt. My brother called me early and woke me up, and I booked a flight and took off. I’ve been in the air, in cars, in with doctors, and just completely forgot to get in touch with you. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I’ll update you as soon as I know.

Well, he’s long-winded, but it covers everything. Should get him off the hook for a while.

Oh, no! I hope she’s okay! Please, don’t even worry about it. Let me know when you know something.

He’s patting himself on the back for a job well done. He has another drink to celebrate. Wonder how much time that’s bought him?

I hear him leave, probably going to the grocery store. Where else is he going to go? Work. Ha! The state he’s in, if he showed up at work, they’d fire his ass immediately. But that would suit me.

When he gets back home, I watch him unpack the grocery bags. As he turns to place the whiskey bottles on the counter, I catch him off guard. “This is how you live when I’m not around? You didn’t even buy a vegetable. Not one piece of fruit.”

I laugh as he starts and nearly drops the booze.

“I don’t know how single men survive without contracting scurvy,” I say. I do wonder. Are all the single men out there completely deficient in vitamins?

I can tell I’ve gotten to him this time, but he’s staring at me again in that odd way. I’m sure I look a fright. But still, he refuses to talk to me. He leaves the kitchen. Without a drink, though; maybe I’ll scare him straight as they used to say in middle school.

Days pass. One Monday becomes the next Monday. I hover in the periphery, just observing, mostly. I see his boss has just called.

Seeing his face after he checks his voicemail, I assume the news isn’t good. How long has it been since he’s been to work? How long have I been dead?

“You hated that job anyway,” I tell him.

He’s getting used to me now; he doesn’t jump. He just ignores me.

“Didn’t I put you under the goddamn deck?” he asks me. I’m getting to him.

“He speaks,” I say, surprised. “Yeah, I do believe you put me under the deck. With the rats. Yes, we have rats, I had no idea. Did you? I believe they’re eating my shoulder right now.”

I can see him shiver, disgusted. “Go away!”

“Hmmm, no. I don’t think so. This is too much fun.” I tell him. And it’s true. What else have I got to do?

He slams past me into the kitchen—if he could knock me down, I think he might’ve. He grabs another drink. There are empty bottles everywhere. He’s been buying booze from a delivery service. That can’t be cheap.

“How much did that bottle cost you, with delivery fees and tip?” I ask. I try to turn my head, but I can’t. Feels like it’s stuck.

“None of your goddamned business,” he tells me.

“Too bad you can’t cash in my life insurance policy,” I say, laughing.

“It’s a lot of money, but I guess that’d be a tricky explanation.”

The look on his face tells me he’s forgotten about my life insurance policy. Hilarious. Can’t cash it in without a dead body, and I bet he’s not willing to offer that up.

I’ve noticed he never even sets his alarm anymore. This morning, I decide to surprise him.

He wakes up and rolls over onto his side, face to face with me. His eyes open wide and he screams. “JESUS!”

“Morning, Sunshine!” I say in my brightest voice.

I’m never seen him move so fast—well, aside from that night he killed me.

He vaults out of bed and runs into the bathroom. I can hear him throwing up in there.

He comes back out and heads straight to the kitchen and pours another drink. Another day. Another drink.

He’s emptied the bottle. I see him look around for another one.

“You can’t even remember how many drinks you’ve had,” I tell him, “let alone how many bottles you bought. What’s the matter, can’t you order more online?”

Honestly, I’m not sure he can. When he looks at me, it seems like he’s looking into the distance. Maybe his vision is blurry.

“That’s hilarious. I told you you were an alcoholic. Always just one more drink. And now look at you,” she laugh.

As I laugh, though, his eyes seem to focus. He looks mad as hell. As mad as he was the night he strangled me.

I’m standing near the glass doors that lead onto the deck. Is he about to do what I think he is? Oh, how perfect. I move so my body is right in front of the glass. He rushes at me. Has he forgotten I’m already dead and underneath the deck? I believe he has. So delicious!

He’s moving fast, but I’m not really here. I think he realizes this, too late. He can’t stop. He plows right through where I was standing, right through the glass doors, right off the deck.

Outside, I look over the deck. Looks like his head hit the ground first, leaving his neck at an odd angle. Doesn’t look natural. 

August 07, 2023 21:50

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14 comments

C. A. Janke
01:08 Aug 14, 2023

Oddly fun story for such a grim situation! I particularly enjoyed the part where she lifted her ghost form (?) out of her body. Very cool!

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Melissa Behrend
18:13 Aug 18, 2023

Thank you!

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Kerry Clark
10:01 Oct 05, 2023

I love the way you have turned an impossible and awful situation on its head and given us a well written comedy instead.

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Melissa Behrend
19:50 Oct 05, 2023

Thank you! That's so nice!

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Sarah Saleem
12:12 Aug 18, 2023

Great story! I love your style it's really thrilling, Looking forward for more stories!

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Melissa Behrend
18:12 Aug 18, 2023

Thank you! I really appreciate it!

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J Hublick
01:06 Aug 17, 2023

I like where you took the prompt! I was compelled to know if he was going to become a ghost as well or if his death would set them both free. Cool story!

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Melissa Behrend
18:12 Aug 18, 2023

Thank you!

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Ellen Neuborne
16:44 Aug 14, 2023

A nice, creepy ghost story. I particularly liked the wry voice of the protagonist.

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Melissa Behrend
18:13 Aug 18, 2023

Thank you! I appreciate it :)

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Anna W
04:48 Aug 13, 2023

Wow! This was a compelling story! I have to admit, I'm glad she got to get a bit of revenge on him. What a great take on the prompt, Melissa. Thanks for sharing this story.

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Melissa Behrend
19:48 Aug 13, 2023

Thank you!

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Nicki Nance
16:03 Aug 12, 2023

This is a great spin on the prompt!

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Melissa Behrend
23:30 Aug 12, 2023

Thank you! It was fun to write :)

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