The Fourth Day.
I'm awake now. It's the start of my fourth day in the cabin. I can feel soft sunlight on my face and my arm is resting on the pillow beside me. Sunrise has passed so I know Cheryl is already up. I roll onto my back and open my eyes. I immediately spring from the bed and stumble into the bathroom to throw up. I still haven't gotten used to the smell. I don't want to ever get used to that smell.
I don't shower or brush my teeth. I do get dressed today, I don't know why. I go out into the living area. Cheryl is in her chair. She's sitting by the window again. She doesn't acknowledge me. She's still wearing that awful necklace, I'd hoped she would've left it off after last night. The bruise around her throat from the first day she wore it is purple and angry looking now, it was on to tight. I cross to where she sits and take the floor beside her. She is looking out the window again, eyes unblinking and her mouth open slightly, making a slight frown. I sit with her for a while, not talking, just looking at her hoping she will speak to me.
She still hasn't forgiven me.
Eventually I get up and go to make some food. There's not much to eat, just some meat. I fry up as much as I think is needed and put it on some plates and bring them over to where Cheryl is sitting. I put them down on the ruined chessboard, moving some of the broken pieces to make room, and start to eat. Cheryl doesn't eat. Again.
I clear away my plate when I'm done. I put Cheryl's into the fridge with the rest of them.
I wish I could leave now.
I walk over and stand at the back of Cheryl's chair and look out the window. I can feel a storm rolling in from the horizon. A dark blue thundercloud of retribution.
I can't see it yet but I can feel the pressure building in the air already. It will destroy this place when it arrives but I'm not concerned by it. I watch out the window searching the field of daffodils. The cabin sits in the middle of this field. On sunny days like this, it feels like living on the sun. The ground radiates light. It's blinding and wonderful to watch. I watch the daffodils rustle and sway and look for the thing that stalks me from behind their reflected brilliance. Cheryl can't see it, if she could she wouldn't be here.
I see it trail through the flowers of gold, it's nearly here.
The Third Day
I'm awake now. I stretch my hand out across the bed to touch Cheryl but she’s not there. I open my eyes slowly and see a sliver of late afternoon sunlight bisect the bed. It splits the bed in two. It splits me in two as well, top and bottom. I lie in bed and look at the light blade that cuts across my stomach. I can feel the light pushing down on me where it rests on my stomach with a weight far exceeding what it actually possesses. I can feel the sharp edge of the light, like cool steel, poised on my skin waiting to slice through me. I don’t dare move for a long time, I lay and watch the slow inching of the light as it creeps past me navel. It’s a teasing lover, drawing my anticipation out to its last agonizing moment of ecstasy while I silently beg for it to plunge into me and take me away, take me over. The pain of what I want and deserve, I've earned this. I can’t wait for sunset to come.
Now I become aware of the smell that taints the air. I roll off the bed onto my feet and for a moment I expect to hit the floor because the light blade has severed my spine and left me helpless. My feet hit the floor strong and I move into the bathroom where I drop to my knees and vomit into the toilet bowl. The smell is a force, a presence in the room with me. I can feel it crawling over my skin and into my nose, eyes and throat. I vomit again. I crawl into the shower and turn on the faucet to let the water crash down on me and wipe away the film of sweat and bile that coats me.
Thirty minutes later I leave the bathroom having showered and I walk into the living area with just a towel around me. Still dripping water and tasting vomit. Cheryl sits in her chair by the window again, still refusing to look at me. I go and get some sausage links today and start on what feels like should be dinner. I eat standing in the kitchen looking across the empty space toward Cheryl.
After dinner I ask Cheryl if she wants to play chess. A soft rattling sigh escapes her lips and I take it as a yes.
We play for hours. She takes a long time to make her moves but I don’t mind I just sit and watch her as she looks out the window, watching everything, seeing nothing. Is she watching the thing I see when I look out there? It's getting closer. It can smell me. My fear. My shame. It will kill me.
The light begins to fade, sunset is fast approaching and I look back to the chessboard. Cheryl tells me that I will have to move her pieces for her because she has been having trouble gripping things since dinner. I oblige her willingly. I move first, a pawn one space forward and Cheryl does the same with a different pawn. I start with my usual gambit of bringing my Queen into play immediately to draw her attention and distract her from my true attack. Cheryl is cautious, using her bishops and knights to corral my Queen into submission. While this is happening I have removed most of her superficial pieces with my own pawns and knights. I move the pawn guarding Cheryl's Queen for her leaving it exposed to my ambush. I take the pawn with my rook and now Cheryl must lose her Queen. I will have checkmate in two moves. Inevitably. The last rays of light leave the board now. I reach over and turn on the lamp that sits on the table. Nothing happens and I remember that it has been broken since the long cord that trailed across the floor to the outlets in the kitchen, the only outlets in the cabin, was yanked out on the first night. I lose my temper. Screaming I grab the lamp from the table and I smash it down on the table over and over, again and again. The pieces scatter and the table falls over sending the board sliding across the floor. Cheryl is looking at me, it looks like she is smiling. She is illuminated by the last of the light in the day. Her necklace, seeming to drink in that light, is shining with a spectral aura that makes it look more then the cheap plastic it is. I realize she won. She always wins.
Well not always.
I pick up the pieces of the board and put the table back on its feet. I stand by Cheryl and we watch the sunset.
When it gets too dark to see I lift Cheryl from her chair and carry her to our room where I place her gently on the bed and we make soft quiet love.
She still has the necklace on. I'll take it off in the morning. When I'm finished.
The Second Day
I'm awake now. I sit up straight in the bed. I heard a noise come from the kitchen, Cheryl isn't in bed. I climb up from my bed, our bed, and out of the dead sleep that held me. I walk to the door that separates the bedroom from the living area. I stand in the doorway, frozen by the chill draft that brushes by me from across the kitchenette. Cheryl is by the modest table in the kitchenette of our small cabin. She has her back to me but I can see she is wearing a horrible white plastic necklace. It’s too tight on her. It makes her look too pale. She slowly rotates to face me, like a human marionette. Her movements aren't her own. We say nothing for a few minutes, just stand there looking at each other, Cheryl with her head cocked to one side looking at me triumphantly. Slowly, excruciatingly she turns her back to me again, head still tilted at that strange painful angle.
Cheryl finally speaks. She says she likes the necklace I got her. It’s the nicest thing I've done for her in the short time we have known each other she says. I tell her that it wasn't me, I never seen it before.
But she insists. Of course you got me this. Don't you remember?
I cross the floor to the window and look out at the daffodils. I can't look at her while she has that thing around her neck.
She keeps talking at me, her voice in my head clawing at me. She says smugly, you gave it to me last night, after we had all that fun.
As she speaks I watch the daffodils sway in the wind. Cheryl keeps talking and I notice something in the yellow ocean in front of me. A parting in the flowers that cuts slowly through the depths, circling towards me. It grows more distinct which each of Cheryl's words, more real, corporeal, undeniable. She is recounting our first night together and I realize I'm smiling even as the tears spill from my cheeks to the floor.
I turn and face her again and she spins toward me. I walk over and hug her. Then I lift her up and walk over to the window and put her in a chair, her chair, and we look out the window together.
I ask if I can take her necklace off.
She says. At least I got to see a wonderful sunrise.
I leave it on for now.
But I loosen it so she can breathe.
The sun is still rising and the thing that hunts in the daffodils is growing.
The Fourth Day
I'm watching the sunset out the window. The storm has arrived. It's smaller than I thought, little more than a lone cloud really. That makes me smile once more, I'd hate to see this place destroyed. There's such beauty here and I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for ruining it. It's probably too late for that to be fair. I turn my attention from that little black cloud to the Lion on my porch. It is just sitting there. It has waited and stalked me these last three days, it can wait for me to open the door. I hear a voice telling me to come outside but I ignore it. I walk slowly to the kitchenette and take a seat at the table. I watch as the front door slowly opens and the Lion comes padding in. It looks like no Lion I have ever seen before but I know it for what it is. We are the same, kindred. It looks around the small cabin and makes its way to where Cheryl sits. The voice outside on the porch is banging on the door and is calling my name but I just keep watching my Lion. It sniffs at Cheryl at first then it sinks its jaws deep into her calf and rips away a large part of flesh and devours it. After a moment the Lion decides it likes the taste and moves its head back to its feast. It takes the fingers from Cheryl's right hand in a quick chopping motion and quickly follows this with a chunk of her forearm.
Through all this Cheryl is watching me. I look up from the Lion to see her skin, pale and sallow, begin to dry and crack.
The lion is finished with Cheryl now and turns to the pray it has hunted for years now and finally cornered. I meet it's eyes and in an instant it has crossed the cabin and devoured me. Swallowing me whole.
The door bursts open and the storm rushes in and I greet it wearing the necklace I borrowed from Cheryl. The sun sets.
The First Day
I'm sitting at a bar in a shitty part of town. This is my ritual. It used to be my weekend thing. Now it’s my everyday thing. I come to these bars and watch. I'm looking for someone. Anyone. A cheap fuck. A distraction. A friend for a day. Anything. I look around the room and there is no-one here I would spit on if they were on fire. I finish my drink and leave. I walk to another bar I like on this street and order another drink and start again.
My daddy always said, “If you ain't hauling in the fish you're fishing in the wrong spot.” He wasn't as eloquent a man as he was perverted as you can tell but in this one thing he got it right.
Sure enough I am barely finished my first drink when I see a little cutey walk in. She has a nice rack and an ass I would kill for. I watch her for a moment, she moves toward the back of the bar with a confident sashay but this is betrayed by the anxiety in her eyes and the way she keeps darting looks at the door. It's her first time in a place like this. You don’t come on to strong with someone like that. Likely you would just scare them right out the door and back home to hide under their bed. I take a pen and a napkin from the bar and move to a table near the back. I write a short note saying hello and asking if she would like to join me for a drink at my table. I call a waiter over and tell him to bring a glass of wine and the note over to the girl who just came in.
A few minutes after the waiter leaves the wine she looks around the bar and stands up and hurries over to my table. She moves quickly. She’s lithe like an animal.
I notice she has a vivid yellow daffodil pin holding back her golden hair. She must have picked it fresh this morning.
“Hello” I say, “I’m Cheryl”
She smiles at me and then in a soft purr she says; “I'm Liona, nice to meet you”