|Photo by Michelle Simkins|
Today I’m shaking things up. I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I needed to post my entry for Michelle Simkins’ Give Me Your Cute Evil Longing to Eat Brains contest. The prize: a rather scary but adorable zombunny named Ryan that she knitted herself.
The competition is VERY fierce, and I know a few participants who would be more than willing to bonk me and others in the head just to win the yarn zombunny. *coughJustincough* I wasn’t going to participate, but alas, the brain had a lightbulb moment last Saturday, and I spent the afternoon sketching and concocting a short story to go with the drawings. So here ya go, and if you like it enough (and if I get to be a finalist), don’t forget to vote for me. 😉
Warning: Something cute and evil is afoot. Proceed with caution.
She was the girl who used to laugh. Nose crinkling, eyes squinting, the laughter bubbling inside her throat. He loved the sound of her voice, even back then when they would play tag, running around long grass and rocky stones, their feet bare and filthy. He remembered her hair, black as midnight and cropped short like a boy, catching sunlight and sticky burrs in the field behind his house. He remembered because there is nothing left of the friend he once knew, but her shell. Alabaster skin, the curves of a sixteen-year-old, and the face of a stranger. Her hair had gone silver in places, as if it was a dye job gone awry.
He watched her from his bedroom window, his fingers gripping the folds of the curtain, afraid she would look up and see him. He’d known what to expect; it was clockwork this unusual habit of hers, wandering down the street until she’d reach the bench near the cemetery. There she would sit as if waiting for someone. Her back rigid against the chapel wall, her fingers would touch the scarf on her neck intermittently. Once or twice, he’d thought of coming down the stairs and out the door to…do what? Sit with her out in the evening cold? Talk as if years of silence had never separated them?
The moon came out of hiding, illuminating her face. He caught his breath.
A creature stirred from the shadows, its coat of snowy fur glistening in the moonlight. He squinted through the glass pane, trying to get a better look. The thing hopped into the girl’s arms and nestled its head against her neck.
Ache and longing twisted in his gut. He wanted to reach her, touch her. He craved the smell of her skin, the scent of childhood and innocent love. To bring back what they had before.
The stairway seemed endless, and the halls were quiet except for the gentle snores of his father who had fallen asleep in the living room couch. The door did not creak as he pulled it open. He crossed the street in hurried strides.
The creature started at his approach. It jumped down from her lap and onto the muddy ground, peering at him with large, soft eyes. A bunny. He stifled a laugh at his silliness, at his envy.
“You must leave us,” she whispered, her voice brittle with fear. Her eyes widened, and now that he was near her, he could see how red and puffy they were, as if she’d spent hours crying. “Go now.”
“Selene, I…I’m sorry. I just wanted to see you.”
The bunny wiggled its nose and hopped an inch closer toward his feet. He smiled and crouched down, reaching out a hand to pet the animal. “Hey, little guy. You’re cute. Whatcha up to? Are you hungry?”
“No! Stay away from him,” she yelled, though she didn’t move from the bench.
“I won’t hurt him. Look, I’m harmless. Really. Do you remember when we used to feed the goats at the petting zoo? We used to have so much fun together.”
She pressed her palm to the side of her neck, as if making sure her woolen scarf was staying put. “The past is gone, Ryan. You don’t understand. You must leave now.”
He stood up, hurt coursing through his veins. “Okay, I get the message.” She turned her head away and sighed. A drop of blood slithered down her shoulder.
“What–” he began to say, but the bunny hopped around his legs, begging for attention. “Not now, little guy.” He gave it a gentle kick.
“You shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t have–” Selene stopped, her trembling hand covering her mouth. Behind her, a shadow grew and loomed, stretching, taking shape.
“The hell,” he said, his legs frozen in place.
“I was keeping you safe, Ryan. You and everyone else.” Tears trailed down her pale cheeks. “You should have listened to me. When I first saw it, I thought it was adorable and I couldn’t stay away. I had to come see it, night after night, to gaze upon its beauty. But it’s a monster, a demon, and I was letting it feed off me so it wouldn’t hurt anyone…especially the people I love.”
Her last words barely registered in his mind, though he did remember the word love. As cruel, sharp nails slashed his skin, he lay on the ground with eyes turned to the girl. Her face glowed in the night. Such beauty and sadness and pain.
“Selene,” he whispered, as the monster clamped its jaws over the wound on his neck and began to suck. “Help me.”
The girl bit her lips until blood oozed from the tear her teeth made. She pulled a short, silver dagger from her pocket. “I was going to end it tonight…but I couldn’t…couldn’t hurt it.”
“Selene…” Drop by drop, he was wasting away. “You can…do it.”
Her eyes widened–dark beautiful eyes–and with a swipe of the dagger, warm sticky blood spurted out, the fountain of life. He exhaled, feeling the monster loosen its bite on him. He gasped. “You did it.”
There was no answer. He turned his head an inch, slowly, slowly, toward the sight of the limp body lying prone on the bench, an ugly red gash smiling over where the throat should have been. The monster, lured by this fresh offering, left him. When it had its fill, it shrank back and resumed its former appearance.
His fingers clawed the dirt until he found the dagger. The bunny sniffed the air, and with timid steps approached him. It stood on its hind legs and regarded him through round, soft eyes. He raised the dagger and dropped it.
“Come here, little guy. It’s okay. I’ll take care of you.”