Pieces of Candice | An Excerpt

{ 772-word excerpt }

Back at my place you should have seen the poor gal.  She was sopping wet with the sky’s tears and her own.  Candice had come out of her state of shock by the time we had reached my cabin.  I suppose that Franklin’s passing had finally dawned on her.  She had to be quite distraught for the multitude of resident house flies and other flighty, six-legged critters to go largely unnoticed.

“It’s my fault he died!  It was my shift to drive when the car must have lost contact with the road.”  She tried to control her sobbing but to no avail.  “We crashed into the trees.  I’m so stupid, it should have been me.  It’s not fair!”

However, I could not seem to make logic of her rationale on the subject.  But no one has ever accused me of having a reservoir of sympathy, either.  Actually, I thought her to be foolish and babbling.  Yet being the gracious and very anxious host that I was, I was determined to comfort her and provide her with whatsoever she required.  For example, if she needed a back rub to unwind herself, I would have given her the best rubdown she had ever known.  However, if she needed me to put her out of her misery, I had the perfect cocktail to do so.  Who could blame me for my magnanimousness, eh?  It was not often in my forty years of existence that I was needed.

I prepared some hot tea with my special blend of ingredients to warm her and put an end to her chills.  She sat upon my love seat with her arms folded and her legs drawn up close to her body.  I handed her the drinking mug and sat in the reclining chair that flanked the love seat.

“Thank you, Mister. . . ?” She paused, not knowing how to address me.

“Oh, how rude of me not to offer you my name.  I apologize.  Please, call me Jules.”

“Hmm . . . Jules,” she mused, “not very common.”

“Is that meant to be a compliment?”  I said, glaring at her. “I most certainly hope so.”  She did not flinch at my stern voice.  Candice seemed to be quite relaxed now, which meant my special blend was working its magic—its affects were instantaneous.

Oh, how I reveled at the prospects of what I could do with her.  Her beauty did not affect me in the sexual sense; I was far beyond sexual gratification at that stage of my life.  Odd, yes, but when you’ve lived alone as long as I have you either got over such things, or you’re doomed to be ruled by them without resistance.

No.  My attraction to her was in an artistic, aesthetic sense.  Corruption, pure and simple.  Perverting her beauty so that it matched my own hideousness was going to be most invigorating!

Noticing the odd odor that permeated the place, she said, “What’s that smell?”

I said, “Rancid meat. I’m afraid I got a raw deal at the butcher in town the other day.”  I chuckled.  “Be wary of the manager’s special.”  I didn’t have the heart to inform her it was the smell of old death.

“So, um, do you live alone out here, Jules?” she asked.  To a more attractive man you would call it flirting.  She took another sip of the magical earl grey.

“Surely you don’t picture me with a woman in my life, do you, Candice?  Take a closer look at me.  Really, what woman would share her life with me, hmm?”

While Candice pondered on the question, she gazed intently into her drinking mug, apparently wondering what else was in it besides the tea.

“To be honest with you, dear Candice, I do not live alone in the spiritual sense.  If you follow.”

Now wary yet slightly disoriented, she dropped the mug onto the wooden floor, spilling the remaining contents.  She started to rise from her seat.  “I-I-better be going now . . .”

“Where are you going, darling?  You can’t leave just yet.  You haven’t met my roommates.”

Candice tried to run, but to her detriment she fell to her hands and knees, and then collapsed onto the floor, her face kissing the wood.

“Candice, my darling?  Are you all right?”  I stood above her figure, watching her squirm and writhe in her pathetic plight to escape me.  She was like a helpless insect missing a wing and two legs, waiting to be squashed out of its misery.

“W-w-what-d-d-did you—?” She struggled to speak before falling unconscious.

My exotic potion had worked its magic.  She was going to be staying with us after all.

* * *

{ End Excerpt }

Taken from a story written in 1995, inspired by the works of horror legends Edgar Allan Poe and Ramsey Campbell. The full story was previously featured in Madness of the Mind, a print anthology published in August 2010 by Static Movement, edited by Chris Bartholomew. This sample is for electronic access and online archiving, and is intended for reading and reviewing purposes only — any other unauthorized use or dissemination is strictly prohibited.

This edition is copyright © 2016 by Brandon L. Rucker. All Rights Reserved.

Cover designed by Brandon L. Rucker and copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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