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Playing With Beasts

A man's greatest regret

By Amber FernPublished 2 months ago 12 min read
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We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cozy A-frame cabin. The car heater had broken halfway up the mountain, and the cold mixed with the silence made my skin crawl. My toes throbbed in my shoes, and I could see the goosebumps raising the skin on my thighs below the hem of my navy skirt. I was freezing but to say so seemed petty considering Aaron sat involuntarily shirtless and shoeless in the driver’s seat, his shivering body betraying his stoic expression.

I sighed, my breath fogging the glass. “How far?” We had been driving for hours. My heart was still pounding, but with every passing minute, the urgency of our situation seemed to fade further and further away. More like a bad dream than a reality.

“Almost there.” Aaron didn’t take his eyes off the road. They looked glazed. Exhausted. Those eyes had been so bright, even if a little sleazy. Now they were empty. This hurt more than the cold in my bones and the pit in my stomach.

He didn’t want to talk. I didn’t either, but there was so much that needed discussing. What had happened. What was happening still. What we would do. What we had done. I sighed again. I didn’t know what was worse: the fear or the guilt.

The car rolled up to the cabin, and my numb fingers were fumbling the door handle before the wheels had stilled. I stepped out, cussing as my high heels filled with snow. Aaron shot me a disapproving glance, not even flinching as his bare feet crunched through the snow. I didn’t like this side of him. It was my first time seeing it. His hand disappeared into his pocket, withdrawing with the key. He stared at it for a moment, an intensity crossing his face as his fingers curled into a fist around it. I shifted uneasily, clasping my jacket around my shoulders as I waited impatiently for him to have his moment.

The door to the cabin swung open, and Aaron gestured for me to go in. I pushed past him faster than intended, grateful to be out of the wind but disappointed to realize I would still have to wait for the heater to do its job. “You got a fireplace in here? Maybe we could start one while we wait for the heat?”

His gaze, icier than the weather outside, landed on me, and I regretted speaking up. “No fire. I’ll turn on the heat. There’s hot water. Take a shower or something while you wait.”

I knew he’d been through a lot, we both had, but I couldn’t help but be irritated by the way his cold, dismissive demeanor seemed to place an unspoken blame on me. As if this wasn’t all on him. Still, he was hurting.

“Ok.” I tried to smile at him, even though I could feel that it was awkward the second it hit my lips. “Will you be joining me? You need it more than I do,” I said, my eyes falling to the dried blood on his chest.

For the first time since this morning, he looked me in the eyes. I instantly wished he hadn’t. He looked disgusted. Disgusted by me. I stepped away from him, looking down. “Never mind. Ok yeah, I’ll be right out,” I mumbled as I tried to compose myself.

I locked the shower door and stepped into the shower. I turned on the water, shivering as I waited for it to come out hot. I sunk to the ground, wrapping my arms around my knees. A tear fogged my vision before it rolled down my cheek. Aaron had felt like a dream come true this last month. Dare I say I had let myself fall in love with him? Despite his wife. Despite his son. And, of course, I felt guilty. I felt so guilty. Especially after all this. To the point that my head ached, and my stomach churned, but the guilt didn’t change how I felt about him. And I had to believe it didn’t truly change how he felt about me. He was grieving. That was all. And then, of course, there were the creatures. That didn’t simplify things. But finally, he was mine. And there was relief in that.

I felt the water turn hot in an instant. It burned, but I curled under it, letting it run over every part of me. I was still shivering 10 minutes into the shower and my skin was numb and tingling, but the chill in my bones began to ease. There was no shampoo or conditioner, and I lathered my hair in the same cheap, lavender-scented body wash I used on my skin. I still had hopes that we would reconnect tonight. I just needed to jog his memory. I couldn’t lose him. Not after we had lost everything else.

I stepped out of the shower, thankful for the warm air now blowing down on me from the vent in the ceiling. I wrapped a towel around my body, pulling it down ever so slightly between my breasts for the right effect. I looked in the mirror, squeezing what water I could from my hair before tussling the rest with a towel. I rested my hand on the door handle, taking a deep breath. Here we go. I opened the door and stepped into the hallway, my eyes scanning the room for Aaron.

He was sitting on the couch, his feet soaking in a bucket of water, the steam from it rising into the air. Something about this made him look vulnerable in a way that comforted me. I stood in the room, waiting for him to acknowledge me, but he just stared forward blankly. He had a blanket draped over his bare back, barely hiding the curve of his muscled shoulder.

“Aaron,” I said, as confident yet sweet as I could manage. He started, finally noticing me. “Look, I know this is too much. Like way too much and I feel just like you do. And I don’t know what that was down there…but look, you still have me. You’ll always have me and maybe this…this can become something great. Let me…make it all better,” I said as I slowly began to unwrap my towel.

“Stop.”

He wasn’t even looking at me. “What do you mean?” I said, pulling my towel back over to cover my body, embarrassment turning my chest and face patchy red.

He glowered at me. “I mean stop. Do you understand what has happened?” his voice was eerily calm without the slightest hint of warmth.

“Well, yes, I understand…well no,” I caught myself stuttering, and sighed to compose myself, cursing Aaron for making me feel small. “But you don’t either.”

He scowled. “I know enough to know that my life is over. Everything that mattered is over. The world is over, Anna.”

The first time he had said my name since we’d left. That had to be a good sign. “But you still have me…Aaron, that’s all that matters.”

He lurched forward, slamming his fist onto the wooden table in front of him and dumping the water bucket his feet were soaking in as he did so. “Shut up!” He yelled.

I jumped backward, biting my lip as it quivered, trying to suppress the tears that welled in my eyes. “Aaron…” I whispered.

He stood, the blanket falling off his shoulders, exposing his muscular arms and chest, his frame looking intimidating for the first time since I had met him. “I have lost my wife! For Godsakes! I have lost my son! There are…monsters overrunning the city. The radios are down! My son is dead! My wife is dead! Do you fucking understand??”

I stepped back, my tears coming in streams, “Aaron…”

“I shouldn’t have brought you up here. I should have left you to that fucking thing. This cabin was meant for me, my wife, and my son. The way she looked at me…” his eyes glazed over as his head fell in his hands.

It took me a moment to realize he was crying. My back was against the wall and my breath came in ragged heaves. Together we wept in the room, memories from the morning flashing through our minds.

***

I sat on his bed, smiling as he kissed me. “I have to go to work,” I said, whispering as I brushed my lips over his forehead.

“Babe,” he said, his hand slowly untucking the shirt I had just tucked in. “You can’t just leave me here like this.”

I smiled, slowly guiding his hand under my shirt, as I took in his naked body. Just as his hand reached my breast, I stopped him. He signed in disappointment as I pulled away with a smile. “You’ll have to take me to that cozy little cabin you’re always talking about if you want to finish this. It's Friday, after all. It can be our little weekend getaway.” I loved that I, at 22, could be with a man wealthy enough to own two homes. Even if he came with a family.

“Oh baby,” he said, watching with dismay as I pulled on my little black heels. “I’ll be thinking about you. Maybe I will take you up there,” he said with a smile as his hand slid in between my thighs. “Stay horny for me, baby.”

I giggled and leaned into his arms, kissing him passionately. His hands worked from the top of my shirt, unbuttoning it. This time, I let him. His fingers reached my belly button before he stopped unbuttoning and slid his hand under the fabric. He found the clasp in the front of my bra, unclipping it as he pulled me on top of him.

“Aaron,” I said, smiling as I pretended to protest. You’ll make me late.”

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard the door slam. There was a flurry of noises. A voice crying out. Footsteps hurrying our way. His wife. I looked to Aaron in a panic, but he was already leaping from the bed, hastily pulling his sweats on.

“Aaron!” Her voice echoed through the house, undeniably distressed. A moment later, the door flung open. “Aaron! I-- her sentence froze as her bright blue eyes landed on me, hopelessly clutching my shirt over my chest. “Aaron?” She whispered, her terror changing into hurt. “What is this?”

Only then did I notice that she was covered in blood.

Aaron jumped to his feet. “Emma!” He screamed: the first time I had seen him lose his cool. “Emma, what happened to you??” He ran to her side, his arms wrapping around her.

I was instantly jealous as I watched him take her against him but satisfied when she pushed away. “Aaron, you’re cheating on me? How long…” She grabbed at her head, her long brown hair tangling in her fingers as she fell to her knees. “Aaron…Have you heard? Do you even know what’s happening? …Charlie…he’s…”

Aaron turned pale, as he collapsed beside her. “Emma! What about Charlie? Where is our son?”

Emma turned to him, her expression confused and angry. “He’s dead. They killed him.”

Aaron fell back against the wall. “What do you mean?”

Emma drew back, her gaze falling on me. “I can’t believe you,” she said with disgust.

Aaron clutched his head. “Who killed him?” He slammed his fist into the wall. “Emma what the hell are you talking abo-

Emma began to weep. Aaron wrapped his arms around her, and for a moment I couldn’t make out their voices. My fingers slowly re-buttoned my blouse as I shrunk against the bed. My heart was pounding out of my chest.

“We have to go,” Emma said. She tried to stand, but her legs buckled beneath her as she sobbed. The sobbing turned to retching. I looked away as she vomited onto the floor.

I slowly slid to the edge of the bed and stood, wondering what kind of danger we were in. A moment later, I knew.

The creature had come through the door soundlessly. I saw it first: a towering mass of flesh, almost humanoid, looming in the hall behind Aaron and his wife. Its white eyes rolled back and forth in its skull as it paused, a slimy tongue slowly licking over its protruding lips. I screamed.

Aaron and Emma turned. The creature charged. Aaron jumped to his feet, trying to drag Emma with him. She lagged a moment. A moment too long. The creature seized her fine brown hair and yanked her backward. Aaron lunged toward it as it opened its mouth over her neck, her screams turning to gurgling nothings as it devoured her throat. Aaron slammed into it, but with a grunt and a shove, the beast threw him across the room and turned back to its meal.

I screamed. Aaron climbed shakily to his feet. Within seconds, the beast dropped Emma’s limp body. It stumbled, turning its attention to us. Aaron grabbed my hand and ran. Through the second hall, into the back section of the house. Out the garage door and to the car. Aaron shoved me into the passenger side as I shook and cried. He pushed a button on the car mirror and the garage door began to open behind us. I turned my head, looking out the back window, and let out another scream.

At least five more creatures stood in Aaron’s driveway and yard. They jolted when they heard the gears of the garage and hum of the car. Aaron put the car into reverse and we flew backwards out of the garage, striking one of the creatures with a heavy thump--It screeched in pain, its huge white hand smacking against the glass, causing a web of cracks to splinter across it.

He threw the car into drive. A creature grabbed at my door, seizing the mirror. Aaron hit the gas. My mirror snapped off. Another dove in front of us with a screech as it grasped at our bumper. The car jolted and tipped as it crushed the beast. It wailed. I felt a rush of stomach bile run up my throat, burning my mouth. I swallowed it down. We pulled out onto the main road, snow swirling around our car.

The heater sputtered as Aaron took the exit toward the distant mountains.

HorrorLoveSci FiShort Story
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About the Creator

Amber Fern

Feel free to comment. All feedback is apprecieted. I write casually but would like to get better.

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