A rapping on the door to room 114 brought Aaron abruptly back from his slumber; he was sat in the large leather chair in his room, elbows resting on the arms, his hands folded in his lap. The room was still as crisp and clean as he’d last seen it, though there was a depression in the centre of the mattress, fine creases radiating from its centre like a linen spider’s web, a faint, rolling shadow blemishing the pure white of the sheets. Had he fallen asleep on the bed and unconsciously transferred himself to the chair during the night? He did find the firmness of the leather oddly comforting, and far more appealing than lying on a soft mattress. A look of concentration came across his emaciated face as he tried to remember what he’d been doing the previous night; wispy eyebrows coming together as his withered brow furrowed, eyes sinking deeper into the pallor of his face as he half-squinted to aid his focus.
He remembered a girl, a pretty one too. She’d been in his room, lying naked on the bed. The thought of her modest breasts falling slightly outward toward the side of her torso, and the way she was presenting her pelvis up toward him, stirred Aaron’s penis into tumescence. He couldn’t remember having sex with her though, so why had she been here? A flash of blood red violently projected itself into his thoughts amidst the shriek of a young girl, a split second where he saw the teenager bloodied and bound; face bruised severely, scarlet liquid fell from her gagged mouth and a hole in her abdomen, drenching the sheets as she cried, looking up at him from the bed with glazed, pleading eyes. The sudden appearance of this image startled him, causing him to sit speedily to attention in the silence, rubbing his eyes in an attempt to erase the remnants of this scene from his mind. He lowered his hand and stared disbelievingly at the indentation in the bed, his stomach knotted and he felt the now familiar burn of vomit rising in the back of his throat. He clapped a hand over his mouth and began to rise from his seat in the direction of the bathroom.
You must have dreamt her up.
His mother’s voice stopped him before he managed to stand fully, the bile settling in his stomach at the familiarity of her voice, and he nestled thoughtfully back into the faded green wings of the chair.
Alone as you are, you must have dreamt up a little female company. Besides if she’d been hurt so badly there would be some sign; blood stains, or a body.
That much was true; the amount of gore Aaron had just witnessed briefly in his mind would certainly have left some evidence, even if it had been cleaned up thoroughly. He looked down at his hands; the skin was pale and thin, and his fingernails were long and starting to gnarl, but they were clean. No sign of blood even in the creases along his nail beds. Then he remembered that he was indeed alone, his thoughts reminding him of the absence of his family. He’d discovered that he had checked into this motel alone, so the next logical step would be to find a telephone and try his home number to see if Melody and Jemima were there.
A second rapping at the door, this one louder and more insistent, startled him, breaking his chain of thought. He rose slowly from his position, groaning as he struggled to push himself up off of the arms of the chair. He felt weak, like his legs were lengths of string and his feet were blocks of concrete, and he swung his hips as he walked, trying to shift them forward one after the other. His arms dangled limply at his sides as his awkward, futile gait brought him to the door. A withered hand moved through the air like it was swimming in treacle, and shakily unlatched the chain. A second hand found the handle and gently twisted it, its pale skin stretching over bone and sinew giving the appearance that it was almost transparent. Small, tendon-like tracks occupied each finger, subtly pulsating with each movement as Aaron pulled the door open a fraction. Fearful of what he might encounter outside his room, Aaron slowly leaned his head toward the crack in the door. The beam of light penetrating the darkness inside the room stung his eyes, shining through the loose strands of tangled hair that now hung before them and reflecting back off of his pure-white, unblemished sclerae as he saw, standing before him, Evita Marianna. Her makeup and clothes were unchanged from their previous encounter, but she smelled fresh and faintly of lavender as if having come straight from a long soak in the bathtub with expensive lotions and oils. She wore an expression of concern, her abrasive eye shadow almost hidden under an undulant canopy of wrinkles.
“Mister Aaron, you look so tired. What happen to you?”
Evita’s voice was a Hispanic whine like a stereotypical housekeeper in an American sitcom.
“I don’t really know. Listen, Evita, I appreciate your concern but I’m really rather busy at the moment and I’ve got a lot to do today. Maybe we’ll catch up some other time.”
Aaron’s reply was polite, and accompanied by him attempting to close the door.
“Ha! Busy with what?”
Evita pushed her way into the room, almost knocking Aaron backwards off his feet. She was surprisingly strong for an old woman, and obviously determined not to be dismissed. She caught the door as she entered, preventing it from opening fully, and hastily closed it after her, checking the car park as she did so, as if guarding the contents of the room from sight.
“There nothing here for you to busy with, mister Aaron. You just do what you feel, si?”
This last sentence didn’t make sense to Aaron, who now stood in the middle of the room looking at the trespasser bemusedly, waiting for some explanation for this intrusion. Before he could demand one, she busied herself tidying the bed; she moved to its far side and took hold of the corners of the duvet, raising it as if to shake the creases from it. The quilt did not ripple upwards into the air as expected, and seemed to snag on something in the centre of the bed. Evita held her side of the duvet above her head as she struggled to mount the bed and edge across it, advancing on Aaron like B-movie ghost. As she did so the depression in the sheets moved closer to the edge of the bed, as if it was the source of the sheet’s anchoring. When it reached the near side, close to where Aaron was standing, the indentation suddenly disappeared and the quilting moved more freely in Evita’s grasp. She shuffled backwards to the far side of the bed and, in one swift motion, whipped the edges of the duvet up and down, sending a wave of cotton towards Aaron as the bedding settled neatly onto the bed. As Evita skirted the bed adjusting the corners of the sheets Aaron looked at the edge, where the last of the indent had disappeared; he could have sworn he’d heard a thud as the quilt was freed, a wet, crunching noise like a heavy sack of potatoes dropped onto a frozen puddle, but there was nothing lying next to the bed now, nor had there been anything to see lying on top of it. In his befuddlement, Aaron hadn’t noticed that Evita had taken him by both hands and was leading him to the bathroom. She walked backwards, gently cradling his hands in hers and holding his muddled stare with a reassuring smile, like a mother teaching her son to ride a bicycle telling him that she wouldn’t let go before sneakily doing exactly that. Aaron, hypnotised by Evita’s stare and utterly confused as to what was happening, duly followed as she led him into the bathroom and to the basin. Silently she released her grip and turned to open both taps, a hissing noise filled the room as water gushed from both faucets, colliding noisily with the metal basin like a steel band performing a drumroll. Lathering soap in her hands until a thick froth disguised her wrinkled skin and her deformed fingers, Evita took Aaron’s hands again, gently pulling them forward into the flow of water from the taps and washing them; her slippery fingers slid over his palms softly, and felt like friendly eels as they interlaced with his own. The white bubbles gave way to clear water as the lather was rinsed from his skin, and she reached once more for the soap, leaving Aaron staring at his dripping hands hovering over the basin. He looked up to her face; busying herself with her task Evita’s cheeks wobbled and shook as she aggressively worked the soap between her palms, but she ignored Aaron’s inspection of her. He turned his head to face the mirror, feeling the resumption of his soapy manicure. It had steamed up a little but he could still make out his features well enough, and his face didn’t look the same; his skin seemed even lighter, and his jawline looked swollen. His eyes were as they had been before; dazzling white surrounding enormous pupils. As the relentless surge of water on the basin grew louder, Aaron became drawn in by his pupils, fixated on what lurked within them, he did not see that the soap dousing his hands was now pink, and that with every rinse his blood-stained hands were slowly being washed clean, scarlet-coloured water swirling around the sterile washbowl before disappearing down the plughole and out of sight forever.
Aaron’s awareness of his surroundings faded slowly, and darkness encroached on the peripheries of his vision as all his energy became focussed on his pupils and the movement he was sure he could perceive inside them. They were so dark though, and the reflection of the harsh bathroom light against the mirror and his corneas prevented him from focussing fully on the depths within. He was sure he could see something, and leaned closer to the misted glass; he saw a black tendril flash between the edges of his razor-thin iris. Before he could react, the insistent stream of water halted, and he felt a gentle caress move across his cheek and down to his chin; soft, moist fingers passed tenderly over his skin, leaving the slightest trail of warm, soapy water, and pulled softly at his chin so as to turn his face toward their owner. It was a very loving, sensual gesture, and one Aaron was not prepared to allow his elderly neighbour to think she could get away with, but as his eyes drew away from the mirror they did not find Evita Marianna before them. In her place stood Melody Stokes, smiling sweetly as she stared at her husband with electric green eyes, her straight platinum blonde hair tied behind her head so as not to obscure her perfect features; her skin was air-brush perfect, only blemished by a small mole above the left corner of her mouth, her eyes were perfectly set in her head and were spellbinding even without makeup. They were so green, like the water in the Icelandic volcanic rock pools that they once bathed in, and she maintained eye contact with such confidence and intensity that it felt like her vision was a laser beam penetrating Aaron’s soul like a futuristic Cupid’s arrow. Her nose was small and slightly upturned, and beneath it her thin lips danced like red-painted bows protecting pearl-white, perfectly even teeth. She almost permanently curled the left side of her mouth into a half smile as if needing to provide a crease for her mole to snuggle into, a gesture that gave her confidence an air of seduction that never failed to connect with Aaron’s loins. She was a full foot shorter than her husband in height, and her slender frame was draped in a red satin nightgown which clung to the outcroppings of her body, accentuating her thin shoulders and ample breasts. She stood still in the bathroom with one hand poised on Aaron’s chin, the other on his hips as he stared at her with an expression of disbelief, confusion and relief. He looked like a sceptical detective who knew he was being lied to, but who was happy about it.
She moved her hand from his chin to purse his lips with one finger, half-smile spreading to a purposeful grin, withdrew her other hand from Aaron’s hips and eased her gown off of her shoulders. It fell to the floor silently as she stepped back, presenting herself to her husband and revealing that she was naked underneath; her breasts had sagged slightly with age and the pregnancy, but still fought admirably against gravity despite their fairly large mass. The skin on her abdomen was not as firm as it once had been, but she had worked hard after giving birth to Jemima in order to preserve her youthful appearance. A thin Caesarean scar was faintly visible above her pubis, which had been shaved clean.
She stood for a moment, smiling at Aaron who continued to appear dumbfounded by her sudden appearance, jaw hanging lifelessly open as he watched his wife’s display, before approaching him and putting her hands around his shoulders. He was obviously aroused, pupils now so dilated they almost occupied his entire eye, sweat beading on his brow and a swelling in his underwear, but he remained motionless. He stared disbelievingly at his wife as she took hold of his hands, placing one on her left breast and squeezing it encouragingly. The other hand she traced down her stomach before thrusting into her groin, letting out a sensual moan as she moved Aaron’s fingers in a circular motion. He could feel how moist her vagina was in his grasp, and this aroused him further. He shook his head aggressively from side to side, as he had done in the park to dispel the dark image in the woods, grasped the back of Melody’s neck, her breast now free, lolling back into its usual position, and pulled her mouth onto his. The kiss jolted his body to life; he could feel the blood pulsing through his veins, the throbbing of his penis, and the grinding movement of her pelvis against his hand. He no longer felt weary, in fact he felt masterful, as if he would dominate this woman, maybe even beat her a little. That last thought brought a momentary furrow to Aaron’s brow but he remained embroiled in this lustful moment with his wife, he’d forgotten how much he loved her and how much he’d missed her. As their kissing became more aggressive, each biting the others’ lips, he felt a writhing sensation climbing from his jawline to his lower lip, like a series of balloons were being inflated under his skin. He felt a similar sensation in his hand as it became more and more forceful and purposeful between Melody’s legs, fingers swelling and writhing as if occupied by more than just his bones. He heard his mother’s voice again;
You’d do anything for this woman, wouldn’t you?
He answered out loud between hungry kisses.
Anything. Without question. Anything she asked?
Aaron now yelled his reply as if in the throes of an intense orgasm, and as he did so Melody pulled away from him and took two steps backwards as she had when she’d removed her gown. This time Aaron started after her, a mixture of lust and aggression in his eyes which were now almost completely black, but stopped in his tracks as she raised a palm to him.
“Bring me a girl.”
She spoke softly, calmly, eyes fixed unremittingly on his she was seemingly untroubled by the darkness there, nor by the tuberous appearance of his jaw. Aaron did not respond, but stood staring vaguely back at her, his expression fading into obscurity and an apparent under-bite forming from the cable extending through his enlarged jaw he now resembled a hapless zombie from a George A. Romero movie.
“Aaron, bring me a girl!”
Her voice was more forceful now, but her smile remained as she gently caressed her own stomach, creating goose bumps that provocatively encircled her belly button and tracked down in a line towards her vagina. Aaron was overcome with desire; he’d never known his wife to act so sexually, she was usually far more demure and her appeal centred around her beauty and class. Although this Melody seemed different to the one he knew, Aaron was so filled with desire that he could no longer focus on anything other than her; there was no world around him, Evita had never been in his room, and he would do anything to have his wife right now. The peripheries of his vision had blurred again so that his focus was tunnelled toward the temptress standing before him, the room around her now fuzzy and dark. While she played with her belly button she hid her other hand momentarily behind her, when it returned to view it was holding something; a small, square piece of card that shimmered slightly as she brought it to her chest. Melody stepped slowly toward her husband and, as she approached, it became clear that the piece of card was actually a Polaroid of a woman, a portly, middle-aged woman with cropped hair wearing a navy blue polo shirt with a white shield on the sleeve depicting a caduceus, the Greek symbol often used to resemble the medical profession. Melody was now close enough for Aaron to reach out and touch her, but he seemed paralysed. He refocused his eyes on his wife’s face; she was making puppy dog eyes like a child asking for a cookie but her half smile remained giving the expression a mischievous slant.
“Please, she’s nice.”
Aaron managed a nod and a vague grunt that sounded like a dog clearing its throat, he now felt like all the blood in his body had rushed into his groin, leaving the rest of him dizzy and weak once more. Melody dropped the photograph and draped her arms over his shoulders, she raised herself up on tip-toes and, as she leant in to kiss her husband, whispered,