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The Doe Drinks Here

A string of murders in Rosenthal County leave the public mystified

By Claudia NeavesPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
The Doe Drinks Here
Photo by Joan Oger on Unsplash

The doe drinks here. Stripped bare, her skin puckers a mottled mushroom grey in the chilly October air. She shivers, gooseflesh prickling up her spine, dipping low to cup her hands in the water. While she drinks, her eyes dart, scanning the tree line, cautious against anything lurking in the wood. The last shards of light from the dying autumn sun lit upon her face, purple bruises cast under her eyes like shadows. The stream laps at her dirty feet, tasting them. Her hair hangs, long tangles matted with dirt forming curtains around her face. On her right hand flashes a chunky iron ring. So, she has not been stripped completely, it seems.

The ring marks her Sisterhood, but her disarray is a mark of shame. Shunned Sisters do not typically last this long in the woods. This one must be different. She is not especially careful, though. After a few moments of predatory watch, she drops her gaze, settles into the cool next to the stream with a fatigued sigh, and rests. Soon, she will be like the others.

When the first body was found, the police plastered her face on every source of media available. It was an image that was hard to stomach. Most cringed, pity blurring disgust for that horrible face, the horrible nails caked rusty, the horrible expression of fear and shock. Barely recognizable as human, the visage was a gory sight of bloated decay. Forensic specialists attempted to create something more palatable from the puffed-up features. The pretty engineered face of the murdered doe soon graced the screens of phones and televisions. It didn’t help much. No one seemed to recognize her. If they did, they certainly didn’t miss her.

The Sisters smiled when the police beseeched Rosenthal County to identify the young victim. Pretty Elisa—even her computer-generated face couldn’t accurately capture her beauty. Computers couldn’t recreate the green of her eyes, the coy bow of her lips, the defiance of her chin when she spoke. Elisa, Elisa, they giggled over tarot cards and cigarettes. Elisa, Elisa. No one will ever know your name.

She had tried to leave. She wanted babies and boyfriends and a cellphone, probably. She didn’t want to sign her name in the book, sell her soul, whatever whatever. The Sisters clicked their tongues, mock empathy cloaking the rage of betrayal in their eyes. They all had such tired excuses wanted normalcy because they were normal. They were dreary and drab and silly little things. It was nothing to kill them. First Elisa, then Hannah, then Kate.

Elisa was first and the only one to give anything more than a half-hearted struggle. She had packed her things in the dead of the night using only the moonlight streaming through the window as guidance. Her hands trembled with fear while visions of a future free of the Sisterhood danced distractedly in her mind. Riley kept watch at the door, his back to her while she unceremoniously crammed her belongings into her bag. He was handsome but every bit the idiot as she, not quite understanding the need for this furtive operation. He rolled his sore neck on his shoulders and released a heavy sigh, glancing into the shadows where she bent over her things.

“I don’t know why you’re getting so upset,” he had told her. “Why don’t you take a break? We can leave in the morning.”

Elisa froze, still hunched over her underwear drawer. The silky chemise in her hand felt frivolous, but she stuffed it into the bag anyway.

“I’m not upset,” she said in an even tone, commanding her voice to not shake. “Just watch the door.”

He obliged for a moment. But the call of her eyes green, her lips coy, and her chin defiant drew him closer. He placed his hands on either side of her waist, caging her against the dresser. His lips ghosted down her neck, despite her protests to please please please just go watch the door. His breath hitched in his throat, thick and hot. It was one of his last.

The shadows edged under that unwatched door. Shadows dark as a stain of ink, shadows marred with the glitter of something strange. Teeth.

The tale of retribution for abandoning the Sisterhood spread within its ranks. Each retelling of the story grew more and more sordid but painted a clear picture to all who heard it – the sentence for turning your back on the Sisters was a painful and inevitable death. Perhaps this is why Hannah barely even tried to disguise her departure and why Kate dropped to her knees in the middle of their last meeting and announced her intentions, not even attempting to flee.

The police scratched their beards and shook their heads. The morgue was overwhelmed with bodies, but the files that lay on the investigator’s desk were empty. One John. Three Janes. The Rosenthal Does. There would be more.

If this doe has a name, it will soon be forgotten by all except those she has forsaken. Still peering into the murky stream water, it takes a moment to register just what she is doing. No longer drinking, but something more focused. The look on her face is both pensive and reserved. Scrying, she must have been scrying. A clever girl, then, to use the water for more than just drink. The rippling stream doesn’t reveal the mirrored image of her face, but that of the monsters of the wood. She pauses, brow wrinkling, finding a threat. She crouches low, an animal on alert. Like she isn’t sure if she needs to flee or defend.

I push up on my elbows, my body stiff from so many hours lying in wait. The iron ring on my right-hand winks, a siren in the light of the fading sun. It won’t give away my position.

If she, exhausted, cautious, frightened at the water’s edge, is the doe, then I am the wolf.

And I am starving.


About the Creator

Claudia Neaves

Mother, Soldier, Physician, Reader, and Writer

If you like me on the page, you may enjoy a more immersive listening experience. Catch my episodes, Destinations and Beyond a Shadow on Full Body Chillls by Audiochuck

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Comments (1)

  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a year ago

    I love the way you were able to build suspense and tension immediately! I’m already sucked in from the first paragraph! The way you string words together is hypnotic and thrilling! You are so talented! It's hard for me to find words to explain how amazing your work is, nothing seems to be an adequate description! The best I have is that you simply inspire me!

Claudia NeavesWritten by Claudia Neaves

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