The Girl Can’t Help It
Every morning she promises herself she’s not going to kill anyone but by midnight, somewhere, somehow she has another corpse on her hands.
And most nights it’s more than one.
Lora Cusack ended her shift at the offices of Midon Incorporated, she worked in the Human Resources department and irony of that never failed to irritate her.
None of the men working in the office ever gave her a second glance so she was able to leave without questions about how she was going to spend her weekend or worse yet some clumsy gallant offering to walk her out to her car. She hid her beauty beneath plain looking skirts, blouses and glasses that completed a look the other office girls called ‘librarian chic’. Of course they only said things like that behind her back but Lora heard them anyway.
All around her were decorations; orange streamers, rubber spiders and gaudy pumpkins. Alone in the hallway she paused to tear a particularly festive looking cardboard skeleton from the wall.
Holidays are the worst; no matter how much she tries to incapacitate herself with eggnog every Christmas is marked with a home invasion, Arbor day isn’t so bad but the less said about Friday the thirteenth the better.
And Halloween? Halloween was the worst of all.
Once she arrived at her mirrorless apartment on Lark Street she busied herself with laundry and fixing dinner. She kept the radio tuned to the news channel and paused occasionally to savor a particularly grisly story.
Soon enough her doorbell was ringing away with early trick or treaters, the young and the timid. She kept candy on hand to be neighborly but never answered the door on the first ring.
It was generations ago, a story of witchcraft and betrayal, a story a sisterhood and loss. In the story she had a different name, a sacred name that she had loved. She had carried herself with such pride but she had been brought down, her beauty and her skin peeled away.
And though her fingers had been broken and her tongue torn away the daemon lord Gesichtschatten heard her call.
By sundown the butterflies in her stomach had become a full fledged anxiety. “How many?” she asked herself, “Why didn’t I keep count from the start?”
All the self-reassurances and justifications can’t relax her, the six glasses of wine didn’t help either- she’s still sober and afraid.
Lora always kept a box of knives under the sink, she selected one and changed into an outfit as dark as it was simple; she took her car keys but left her useless glasses behind. Once she was on the interstate she pulled off her wig; the gray locks that fell to her shoulders were a sharp contrast to her youthful features.
An hour or so away from Albany she parked the car in an unfamiliar town and began.
The daemon lord Gesichtschatten is tall with skin the color of smoke and eyes like winter starlight. He’s more than happy to hear her plea and grant her request for one more day, one more day of life and strength to avenge her coven and herself.
In fact he offers her even more than that and like a fool she accepts.
On a quiet street a Lora asked a man for directions and as he answered she stabbed him in the throat.
That’s one and this time she’s kept count, for all the good it will do her.
In an alley she stomped a vagrant to death as he begged first for change, then for mercy. There’s something familiar and satisfying about the way each crack of bone seems to travel like a shiver up her leg.
Then it’s off to the Wal Mart…
One day for every 13 lives.
And that was more than enough.
More than enough to strike down the so-called forces of decency; more than enough to visit horror upon their loved ones and burn the entire town to the ground.
And she waited for the end.
The security guard was just showing off, just daring someone to stop her but as always luck, skill and the gifts of her patron protected her from prying eyes. She stowed his body in a bathroom stall and avoided her reflection as she headed back out into the night.
A little while later and a few streets away Lora strangled a woman at a secluded bus stop with her own purse strap; then she disemboweled a convenient man standing in a convenient doorway.
All the while families went door to door with costumes and bags of candy never knowing there was a nightmare in their midst.
She had never had a head for numbers and never bothered to keep track of how many she had snuffed out and as the first week of her restoration wore on thoughts of her death and its aftermath began to trouble her. Would the daemon lord make a meal of her or a concubine? And which fate would be more terrible?
Soon enough she starts killing again, piling body upon body but this time out of fear instead of rage.
If only she had kept count…
By midnight she’s left a house party in ruins; blood clots in the sink, bits of skull cling to the fireplace poker and the fireplace itself is clogged with bubbling flesh. Red stained the carpets and ran in symmetrical rivulets along the kitchen tiles, there are body parts in the washing machine, pets in the dryer and the microwave door hung open letting the remains of what she had found in the bassinet seep out.
The festive costumes her victims are wearing make the scene all the more surreal.
If anyone saw the woman leaving the darkened house on Kings Road all they would remember was her red hair bright as fire.
And now she lives century after century in fear, weary of living but afraid to die, giving herself over to bloodlust in the night only to curse herself in the morning.
She sometimes wonders if this is what the daemon lord wanted all along- a legacy of death and fear. She had never wanted to be a monster or worse yet a legend..
Home again by morning, she left her bloodstained clothes in the doorway and climbed into bed. It was just a few hours before she had to get ready for work.
Soon enough she would have to move on again before someone realized the circle of bodies centered on her, on the woman children called Hell Mary.
But she hadn’t called herself Mary for generations and every night she paid the price for her life rather than pay the cost of her sins.