by George R. Kovalenko
The exquisite Lily Temple sat, naked, on the edge of a rickety wooden stool and popped her freshly rouged lips at her mirrored reflection. Just the right amount of red: any more would make her seem overbearing, any less and business would be underwhelming. The eyeliner was a different story. She piled it on gratuitously. It glimmered alluringly around those gleaming emerald eyes. The rest of her was a statuesque, porcelain doll. Lily Temple didn’t put much stock in clothing, and the world thanked her for it.
Satisfied with this illusion of composed, cultivated sexuality, she stood and made her way daintily through the graveyard of discarded underthings and used contraceptives strewn across her bedroom floor.
The closet was a sordid assortment of mid-priced lingerie and skimpy dresses. After a few moments of consideration she decided on a blood-red frock that revealed more than it hid. A pair of lofty stilettos and a quick glance in the mirror followed.
Venus never looked so good.
She took a deep breath that might’ve been the slightest bit unsteady and tugged at the yellowed piece of yarn that dangled from the ceiling. The light went out.
Heels clicked along the floorboards. Then, she heard it: that guttural, throbbing, moan. Silence followed. It had come from the dilapidated closet door at the other end of the room. In the dark, you could just make out her sweet, weak smile:
Work was rougher than usual that night. She tried three street-corners and turned down at least half-a-dozen wealthy Olympian figures before she found what she was looking for. He was a thick man with almost marbled skin. He was raging drunk and looked like he hadn’t done anything remotely like this before. His pale eyes twitched nervously in their sockets. Probably married, though he didn’t wear a ring. Still, it didn’t take Lily Temple long to sway him. He insisted that he had a place that they could go but a pout-and-a-half later, they were standing at Lily Temple’s front door.
She stumbled through the doorway with her intoxicated prey leeched to her face like some slimy annelid. He groped at her petite frame. With a quiet rip, her dress joined the other forgotten articles on the floor. Ogling her and grinning stupidly, the gentleman pushed her back onto the bed. A second later, his pudgy ribcage was smothering her. He was the sort of man who was perpetually perspiring. Little droplets of sweat clung to his chest hairs like ticks. With a wet grunt he fumbled with his belt and pushed aside the last remaining bit of fabric between them.
And then he felt it snaking up his back. Cold. Wet. Viscous. He froze. From Lily Temple’s shapely womanhood grew a single, black-green tentacle.
She tucked a strand of jet black hair behind her ear and cocked her head to one side. Those emerald eyes seemed suddenly bottomless. The man started screaming.
“What is this?!”
Up, and up, and up.
“Okay! Come on! Quit fucking around!”
At the first sign of a struggle, the extra appendage forced him even closer.
“Oh my god!”
To no avail, he flopped his arms against the unmade sheets in a feeble attempt to free himself.
“Oh Christ, please!”
The tentacle wound its way around his neck and up to his quivering, colorless, spittle-covered lips.
It buried itself deep inside his mouth.
With a great, gurgling, crunching groan, the writhing member forced itself deeper and deeper into the man’s swelling throat. His spasms grew more and more violent, and his eyes, which already looked fit to burst from his skull, rolled back into his head. The tentacle curled itself into a final deadly twist and withdrew from its victim’s limp and broken form. As quickly as it had come, it went, dragging behind it a string of intestinal scraps and shrinking back between Lily Temple’s creamy thighs.
She took a long moment to catch her breath. A post-mortem shudder ran through the body. The girl who wasn’t just a girl looked quietly at it. Then, in a swift motion, she flipped the corpse onto its back and straddled it, her raven hair falling in rippling curtains around her face. The mask of composure cracked. Her previously unclouded eyes brimmed with unbridled, animalistic lust. She was a starving beast and dinner had arrived. She leaned in close, so that she could smell the bile and the freshly congealing blood painted across his lips. Bearing her gleaming ivory teeth she…
This time the roar was deafening. It shook the closet door in a tremendous bellow of hunger. Lily Temple’s head snapped around to face the sound and snarled in frustration. Tonight, he was hers. It would not take him from her.
The thing in the closet replied with an even louder groan. Once again she rebelled against the unholy sound and once again it responded, this time with such menace that she was forced to cover her ears.
It had won. Defeated, she slipped off the bed and begrudgingly hauled the swollen body behind her with a strength far beyond her petite size.
The closet door seemed to vibrate with anticipation. Almost ceremonially, Lily Temple deposited the corpse in front of the door. She looked very broken and frail: a beaten child. After a second of composure, she turned the rusted handle.
Behind the door was a kind of tangible darkness. It seemed to sit perfectly still and simultaneously whirl in a manic dance that was sickening to behold. All feeling was sucked out of the air around it with a gluttonous glee. Whatever it was, it was very much alive.
The stench was awful: a putrid mixture of human excrement, rancid fish and the unmistakably metallic smell of blood. Lily Temple reeled back and thought only of dark places and running and hiding and burying herself underground. Instead, gasping, she stood against the footboard of her bed.
The darkness in the closet began to form itself into long, spidery tendrils. They reached out blindly from the doorway, quivering, furiously searching. When they found the body on the floor, they coiled around it, eerily maternal in their grip. Slowly, the corpse was drawn into the closet.
What followed was the terrible ripping sound of flesh separated from bone. Then, absolute silence, interrupted only by a soft dripping sound.
Lily Temple looked gaunt. Her face was smeared in a cold sweat that was not wholly her own. There were dark rings around her eyes, the worst of runny eyeliner and lack of sleep. She couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. The night was consuming her. Soon, she would be fed to the thing herself.
Still leaning against the footboard of the bed, she let herself slide to the floor. Her delicate chin rested on her knees. She was hungry. She was so very hungry. Her eyes began to shut. Sleep was the only, meager escape. That thing in the closet ate every night, thanks to her. That thing in the closet was alive, thanks to her. And she got nothing.
The soft dripping continued.
Something slammed against baseboard beside her head. Her eyes flew open, frantically searching for the source of the sound. Glimmering in the moonlight was a severed human hand.
A gift! Her eyes wide, she gazed up into the darkness of the closet with humility and gratitude. As if in reply, the door creaked gently shut. No sooner had the bolt clicked into place than Lily Temple scrambled for the bit of flesh. She sank her teeth into the tender scarlet meat. Again and again, she tore and swallowed, and again and again she felt her feeble sinews filling up with strength. One by one, she sucked the last drops of remaining blood off the hand’s digits and, finally, tossed the skeletal remains of her meal to the floor.
And a most curious feeling overcame her. Despite the thing inside her and the meat in her belly and the thing in her closet, Lily Temple felt wonderfully, wonderfully human.
Tomorrow was another night. And beyond that was another and another. It didn’t matter what else there was. She would survive. For now at least, she would survive. Wasn’t that what it meant to me human? Surviving.
So, she sat, naked, in the twinkling moonlight, her mouth stained with the blood of a man, and wept.
The exquisite Lily Temple wept.
GEORGE R. KOVALENKO is the offspring of a cossack and a viking. He enjoys finding earwax in surprising places and participating in weekly boar-wrestling matches. He currently resides inside of your mind.