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Love, Unrequited

A recurring nightmare

By Brannan K.Published about a month ago Updated 26 days ago 10 min read
Love, Unrequited
Photo by Carson Masterson on Unsplash

Clark slouched back into the velvet armchair, half-hidden in the shadowy fringe of the speak-easy. On the edge of the wide, intimately lit room, light submitted to darkness. The haze of cigar smoke blended with the expectant murmuring of the audience, further cloaking him in obscurity.

He nursed the glass of straight rye and stared toward the empty stage, daydreaming. He glanced at his wristwatch and adjusted in his seat. It was time for the final performance of the night; Darling was the one he had been waiting for.

The stage-right door swung open on greased hinges and all voices hushed. Clark straightened and leaned forward intently. Her slender figure meandered gracefully onto the stage; every motion was effortless.

Darling beamed out at the onlookers, her pearly whites glaring against dark red lipstick. The smile evidenced a genuine pleasure and sense of ease that one would dream of attaining. Blonde locks fell down an exposed back that was taut and framed in fine, red lace. Sexy, yet sophisticated.

Entrancing, golden eyes cast outward like bait into the surf, hooking and reeling Clark in. Lashes fluttered like butterflies as the light throughout dimmed.

Taking center-stage, she was encased in circles of luminescence. She fed off the energy of those around her. Becoming the sun, her gravitational pull captured Clark’s very existence; she was the only light in his dark universe.

As the siren-song rang out, he reminded himself to breathe. Her hips and arms gyrated slowly, tantalizing. Her voice rose and fell with a nostalgic, serene tune. It poured over him, entrapping his heart like honeyed waves of amber snare a fossil. She lifted him to the heights of passion. Clark felt a jerk near his navel.

It's happening again!

He floated high above the room, hair brushing against the ceiling. Clark gasped and looked around, embarrassed; nobody seemed to notice or care. After a moment, he felt privileged to have the bird's eye view.

But not even she would see him there, high above the rest of the crowd. She sang on without a look in his direction; as usual. She held him somewhere between supreme joy and despondent emptiness. He balanced on a razor's edge.

It was the same act she forced him into every time. It always ended the same way; with Clark laying broken against the unrealistic expectation of his desire being reciprocated.

She brushed her fingers against her temples and arched her back with the crescendo. Clark’s chest tightened while his heart skipped a beat. He never wanted it to end, but he knew it would. The feeling would never last. He could never truly have her.

Darling’s voice tapered off softly into quiet outro, commanding his descent back to the chair. It was a sobering feeling. But something was different this time…

As he floated downward, her seductive eyes finally flashed to his. The fall was slowed, and a sense of warmth pervaded him. The serotonin dump was immense. He could feel it pouring between them.

Seated in the chair again, he was paralyzed in her endearing gaze. Hypnotized, his chest heaved. Was it stress or pleasure coursing through him?

This is it. She must feel it too.

Clark white-knuckled the arms of the chair as she sent a playful wink in his direction. The instruments ceased and the applause began. A curtsy and she was gone through the door, leaving him destitute after such a high. The room full of onlookers felt empty without her presence.

He couldn’t let her get away this time. Not after that. Tonight would be the night she came home.

She will be mine. Forever.

**************************

Clark waited in the alley, his back pressed against the grime-coated brick, concealed behind a dumpster. The dull glow from the emergency lighting projected a dingy cast upon the world. The fire-door clanged open loudly and the sound of stilettos echoed off the walls.

Darling strolled past his hiding spot unwittingly. There was an aura about her, as if she employed her own personal spotlight assistant to highlight her every move. It put the man-made fixtures in the alley to shame; it was supernatural.

Clark took a breath and stepped out behind her.

“Miss Darling,” he breathed.

She stopped and turned to face him slowly. Golden eyes found his and a smirk formed at the corners of her lips, cheeks dimpling. He felt another tightening in his chest.

“I knew you’d be waiting here,” she said, holding eye contact, voice like milk and honey.

“You told me to. You said it with your eyes. It was time, and you knew it, too!”

“I don’t even know your name. How could I tell you that?” she giggled.

"It’s Clark, and it’s a pleasure, miss,” he extended his hand.

She hesitated before polite etiquette got the best of her. Clark gripped her hand a touch too firmly for her liking, and she pulled her hand back with some effort. She felt Clark’s reluctance to release her.

“You’re another lust-struck man, is all. Though I do appreciate the flattery.”

“But you…”

“Listen, cutie-pie,” she grinned. “You’ve been my most attentive fan for going on weeks now. I’ve noticed you, as you’ve undoubtedly took notice of me. And it’s true, I gave you a little tease tonight. But that’s not an open invitation itself, dear.”

She took a half-step closer, confident in her mastery of him. Her palm lifted to his face and caressed his cheek. Her skin was soft and fragrant as rose petals.

“I’ve had many suitors before. I’m sure I’ll have more to come. I knew it was only a matter of time until we met like this.”

Clark’s heart heaved. Could she feel it beating out of his chest?

“But tonight just isn’t your night, baby,” she simpered, pulling back.

He reached for her, speechless. She spun on her heel and set course down the alley. Stinging rejection was followed by rage. The lights in the alley began to flicker as it built to an uncontrollable fury. His perceptions were shattered into pieces.

Clark glanced around, spotting a length of pipe jutting out from under the dumpster. He bent and scooped it, stalking after her. Gripping it in a tight fist, he closed the distance. The lights increased their chaotic tempo with each pursuing step.

He was upon her before she reached the street, the pipe lifted high above his head. Darling turned just in time to loose a wide-eyed scream.

A falling star, the pipe crashed out of orbit and into her skull. Her body crumpled to the ground like a ragdoll. The lights in the alley slowed to the dull throb of an expiring pulse. Clark stood over her limp body, seething.

“How could you string me along like that! Then leave me like some beggar in the muck?” he hissed.

He flung the pipe back down the alley; it clattered with a hollow echo, breaking his reverie. He surveyed the shadows surrounding him. Not even a cockroach moved in the alley; no cars or people had passed on the street.

He stooped and brushed the hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Fresh blood mingled with the silken locks where he had struck her.

“It’s now or never. You’re coming home,” he whispered, caressing her near the temple.

He cradled her in his arms and stood; she felt light as a feather. This close, the scent of roses was overwhelming. He hefted her down the alley and to the street, disappearing around the corner. The lights behind him flickered and then flatlined, leaving a consuming darkness in his wake.

**************************

Clark paced back and forth in the drab basement, head bowed and fingers interlaced. He mumbled to himself in a fervor. A single, bare bulb dangling from the ceiling illuminated the dreary scene, casting his shadow half-heartedly onto the filthy walls. Shelves of dusty glass jars filled with a glowing, golden liquid adorned them.

Darling lay flat on an improvised autopsy table; her body lay in a depression in the surface, angled for fluid run-off and complete with a drain near the feet. Makeshift restraints with leather straps worn from use were bolted into the frame, holding her wrists and ankles in place. A metal cart with surgical instruments was parked next to her.

“Do I have to carve my name into my forehead to make her see me? To really see me? She acts like I’m the slave here, but its her! I will be the master!”

He rambled on, each syllable more exasperated than the one before.

“I don’t exist for her to manipulate,” he scoffed, throwing his hands in the air. “Not when her existence is built around the desire of others! Self-indulgence! That’s her whole purpose!” he exclaimed.

The yelling finally roused Darling, who groaned lightly, rolling her neck.

Clark froze mid-stride and turned his gaze to her. He stared with a mixture of longing and animosity that all but unveiled his manic state.

“I see it now,” his voice cracked. “I despise what you are…what you do to men like me.”

The breath all but left Clark’s lungs with the words. He paused, wishing with self-righteous anger for Darling to quiver with shame.

Her eyes fluttered softly.

“Nothing to say for yourself, succubus?”

Her eyes snapped wide-open, meeting his with an unflinching strength.

“You don’t hate me, you hate the weakness in yourself, Clark!” she spat. Her voice was now harsh as vinegar and rumbling like a giant. It was demonic.

She lurched upward, straining the straps. Her strength was daunting as they stretched taut. She was no longer the angelic lyricist on the stage; her eyes blazed red and her body bulged with the muscles of an athlete.

Clark recoiled and took a step back; her words were more anathema than her new shape. They struck him deeper than a wound of the flesh. Sharp pains coursed through him.

Darling struggled against the restraints, snarling.

“You hate yourself!” she howled, gaining an inch against the restraints, “You’re weak!”

With every menacing iteration, she sat a bit more upright.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do,” Clark stammered, fear overwhelming his senses.

“You hate yourself! YOU’RE WEAK!”

“You’re not real!” Clark screamed back.

He side-stepped and edged toward the metal cart laden with sharp, shiny instruments. Creeping closer, Darling struggled against the reins, tracking him with her eyes.

“YOU HATE YOURSELF! YOU’RE WEAK!”

Clark’s hand lunged for a nasty looking saw-toothed blade with a long handle. Darling snapped the wrist straps and bolted upright, snatching Clark’s hand as his fingers closed around the hilt. Their eyes met again in a dance of animalistic desperation.

“You brought me here, Clark! You did this to yourself!” she cried.

“No! No, it’s not my fault!” he yelled.

With his right hand pinned, Darling grabbed a gleaming syringe filled with the glowing, golden fluid from the jars on the shelf. She jabbed the syringe into his neck. He shrieked in agony, releasing his grip on the knife. Euphoria and a partial-paralysis seeped through Clark with a frightening immediacy. It was the effect she had been striving for.

Darling spun the blade between her fingers and gained an overhand grip. She plunged the knife deep into the center of his chest.

Clark staggered backwards, aghast. The crumbling wall behind him stopped his retreat, supporting his body as he slid to the ground. Deep breaths came haltingly as he stared down at the knife in his chest. Blood flowed out and spread down his vest, pooling into his lap.

“I am the unattainable, the unrequited…the love you will never have,” Darling whispered.

Her voice had once again assumed a silken tone, her body lithe and feminine. She wasted no time and cut through the ankle straps with another tool left on the cart. As soon as she was free, she fled through a door in the corner; it swung aimlessly on noisy hinges, competing with Clark’s gasps.

“She isn’t real,” he murmured to himself. “I can’t make her real.”

Clark felt himself giving up as sharp pains racked his chest. The tremors built in intensity but slowed in frequency as the shadows creeped in.

“I can’t make her real.”

A particularly strong fit cascaded over him like a tidal wave and his eyes drooped closed for a moment.

They parted again, like the curtains on a stage. Clark slumped against the interior wall of the doorway. People bustled on the sidewalk and cars sputtered noxious fumes as they trundled by. No faces lifted from their phones to notice him; unseeing eyes tinged blue.

The fringes of his vision blurred. Jolts of pain continued to shoot through his chest. His heart felt like it was about to explode. He panicked and looked down at his arm.

The elastic tourniquet lay unraveled against his skin, dangling. The needle was still in his vein. All that was left inside the tube was his blood. A burnt, metal spoon with a melted, golden heap in the bowl lay next to his leg on the concrete.

Respirations shallow, he could barely think, let alone cry for help. It would just be a voice in his head.

A young lady with blonde locks and a red outfit entered the alcove. Casting a disgusted glance his way, she stepped over him without hesitation and punched a code into the keypad. The entry next to him opened. She disappeared inside without a word, door slamming shut behind her. The scent of roses followed her in. Clark was left, wallowing in the odor of death.

He bellowed on the inside, distraught. Why didn’t she stop? She knew him! She saw him there all the time, and had even called the ambulance before! There was no way she couldn’t have seen him! Why was he forsaken? Why this time?

This isn’t how it’s supposed to end!

As his heart exploded and the beating stopped, his last thought reverberated aloud in his head.

She isn’t real! She was never real!

PsychologicalHorror

About the Creator

Brannan K.

****Vivid prose and thrills****

Favorite Reads:

Terry Brooks - The Shannara Trilogy

J.R.R.Tolkien - Lord of the Rings

James Rollins - Ice Hunt

Ernest Hemingway - The Sun Also Rises

Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian

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Comments (3)

  • Jaye Pool26 days ago

    Fascinating read. Sounds like she shined a light on his insecurities big time. Entertaining story!

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a month ago

    Outstanding Brannan. This one kept me interested from beginning to end. Excellent work as always!

  • Brannan K. (Author)about a month ago

    I brainstormed this story quite some time ago, under the original pretense of turning a song that I love into my interpretation of a magnificently tragic story. But as this challenge was posted, I knew it fit perfectly here, and made some mild adjustments. I hope you enjoyed it.

Brannan K.Written by Brannan K.

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