‘Til Death Parted Us – Horror Short Fiction
Picture prompt from Facebook group Elements of Genre Writing
‘Til Death Parted Us
Thomas drifted up from the swampy water and joined Elisha on the river bank. He glanced down at the two bodies in the water and then back up at Elisha.
“What happened? Are we… dead?”
In shock, Elisha could do nothing but nod at Thomas.
“But it is our wedding day!” Thomas screamed.
A guy dressed in shorts and a t-shirt with a cannabis leaf on the front stepped out of the shadows. “Dudes, you two are like wasted.”
“Who are you?” Thomas asked.
“Don’t mind me,” the guy said. “I am dead too. Twenty years now, in fact. Died in those very swampy waters. Drug deal gone wrong.”
Elisha turned to the guy. If her situation wasn’t so dire, she would have laughed. The guy reminded her of one of her uncles. The one who wore retro clothes from the 70s and was always stoned.
“Did you see who killed us?” she asked.
The guy swayed back and forth. “Saw it, but couldn’t do a damn thing about it.”
“So we cannot interact with the living?” Thomas inquired.
“Well, some say we can, but hell if they can’t give me some weed, I have no use for them.”
Elisha sighed and sat down on the riverbank. Thomas joined her and put an arm around her, pulling her into an embrace.
“Oh geez guys, don’t look so glum. This afterlife isn’t all bad! Okay, maybe it is. We are stuck here and unless you go to the Shrink for help, you will be here a mighty long time. Gotta go!” the guy sang out as he began to fade away.
“Wait!” Thomas yelled. “Who is this shrink person?”
The guy stopped in his tracks. “He isn’t really a shrink, or a person for that matter. Bad news really. Really bad news.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake! Stop beating around and just tell us how to find him… it… whatever!” Elisha demanded. She was growing increasingly frustrated with this whole being dead business.
The guy backed away and put his hands up in defense. “Whoa lady! Okay okay. See that tree over there,” he said, pointing to a large knotted tree in the distance. “Knock on it. That’s the portal to the Shrink’s office in these parts. But don’t tell him I sent you!” And with that, the guy dissipated into a cloud of fog.
Elisha stood up and dusted off her dress. “This is ridiculous!”
“Let’s just see if it’s true,” Thomas said as he got up off of the ground and walked toward the tree.
Elisha stomped along behind him. She hated the swamp. She hated the outdoors period. She couldn’t imagine living in this place for all of eternity.
Thomas stood in front of the tree and inhaled, held his breath for a moment and then exhaled. He glanced over at Elisha, then back at the tree. With a shaky fist, he knocked once on the tree bark. Nothing happened. He knocked again, this time twice. Still nothing happened.
“Great! That stupid guy was so stoned out of his mind… and we believed him!”
“Let me try again. Maybe it’s a three thing.”
“A three thing? What the hell is that?”
Thomas laughed. “Some kind of universal law, I think. Everything happens in threes.”
Elisha rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Whatever, just do it.”
Thomas braced himself again and lifted his shaking fist to the tree. This time he knocked three times. A furious wind stirred up around them, nearly knocking them to the ground. A red glowing doorway appeared. Two creatures stepped out. One had a male’s body but the head of a ram. The other had a female’s body but the head of an owl. They were both naked from the neck down. They didn’t speak, but instead stretched out their hands toward Thomas and Elisha. Although frightened by what lay ahead of them, they each took a hand and followed the creatures in through the doorway.
As soon as they stepped inside, there was a large bang! The portal’s door slammed shut behind them. Elisha jumped and screamed. The two creatures didn’t seem at all affected. They released the couple’s hands and lead the way through a long corridor that was lit by blazing sconces. Thomas reached for Elisha’s hand and curled his fingers around hers as they walked. They passed several open spaces where loud screams and moans echoed through the hallway. Elisha tightened her grip on Thomas’ hand and shivered. They continued walking, past a doorway with skeletons scattered all around the room, and another with men and women strapped in chains against the wall, their faces twisted in agony. Finally, they came to a closed door.
The two creatures stepped aside and the male stretched out his hand and pointed to the door. Then the pair walked on down the corridor and disappeared. Thomas looked at Elisha and they exchanged frightened glances. He cuddled her close to him as he knocked on the door. Slowly the door creaked open until the entrance was just wide enough for one of them to fit through at a time. Thomas released Elisha and let out a deep breath before stepping into the room. Elisha followed, but was startled as that door too slammed shut.
“Welcome,” a voice hissed.
The room, darkened when they entered, suddenly lit up with fiery sconces blazing on every wall. Another creature, similar to the one who had walked them in, sat at a desk. This creature was larger. The horns on his head more pronounced. His eyes glowed red and his mouth curled up into a snarl.
“Do sit down,” the creature said as he pointed to a set of chairs.
Thomas and Elisha slowly walked to the chairs and sat down. They clasped hands and stared at the creature with widened eyes.
“I am Mordred, or The Shrink, as souls around here like to call me. How can I assist you?”
Thomas tried to speak, but his mouth was dry and he could only mutter, “I… we…”
Elisha sighed and then spoke up. “We are dead. We want to know who killed us and we want that person dead too.”
“Oh, she’s a cocky one,” Mordred growled.
“Are you going to help us or not?” Thomas inquired.
Mordred leaned back in his chair. “I help all souls who come to me. However…”
“However what?” Elisha said, interrupting him.
Grinning, Mordred continued, “However, there is a price.”
“But we have no money!” Thomas pleaded.
“I don’t want money! I want a soul! One of you will give me your soul or there is no deal!” Mordred bellowed as he bolted upright in his chair and leaned across the desk. His eyes pierced into Thomas and Elisha’s eyes. Elisha screamed as she jolted backwards in her seat.
“Wh…where will you take our soul?” Thomas said as his voice cracked in fear.
Mordred laughed. “One of you will reside here with me and the other can go off to fairyland or some such nonsense place. It’s up to you.”
Elisha remembered back to the sights they saw as they entered this place and shuddered. She looked over at Thomas who was apparently remembering the same as his body quivered too.
Thomas stared into Elisha’s eyes. Was it worth losing her for all eternity just to get revenge, he pondered. He smiled at her and nodded. She understood and nodded back.
“I think we’ve made a mistake,” Thomas said as he turned his attention back to Mordred and began to stand up. “We’ll just take our leave.”
“Not so fast!” Mordred declared. “Once you come here, there is no leaving. Make a choice! One soul or both of your souls!”
“Fine! My soul!” Thomas screamed as he stood up and faced Mordred.
“Thomas, no!” Elisha begged as she held on to Thomas’ hand and tried to pull him back into his seat.
Thomas turned to her and caressed her face with his freed hand. “I won’t see you damned for eternity, Elisha.” He turned back to Mordred. “What do we do now?”
Mordred reached into a drawer and pulled out a scrolled parchment and unfurled it. He handed Thomas a needle and a pen. “Prick your finger and sign your name in blood.”
Thomas did as he was told. When he was done, he handed the pen back to Mordred.
“Excellent!” Mordred screeched. “A head-hunter is on his way now to complete the contract. Your murderer… her brother, by the way,” he laughed as he turned and looked at Elisha, then continued, “will be dead within the hour. You have five minutes with your bride and then you will fulfill your part of the deal!”
Mordred stood up and walked to the door. He turned back and bellowed a laugh before exiting.
Elisha clung to Thomas and wept. Thomas tried to calm her, but she was inconsolable.
“I don’t understand. Why would David kill us?” she whispered through her tears.
Thomas squeezed her against his chest. “It’s my fault. He told me the night of my bachelor’s party that if we went through with the wedding he would kill us. He promised you to his bookie in exchange for a debt. I didn’t think he would go through with it, Elisha. Honestly, I didn’t think he would!” Thomas buried his head in her shoulder and cried.
“Oh Thomas! It’s not your fault. Hush, hush,” she whispered as she ran her hand through his hair to sooth him. Neither of them heard the door open again.
“This is touching, but time to go!” Mordred said as he stood in the doorway. The ram and owl creatures reappeared. The ram grabbed Thomas and forced him out the door. The owl took Elisha’s hand and gently coaxed her out. The two were led away in opposite directions. Thomas kicked and pleaded as he called out Elisha’s name. Elisha wept as the owl woman caressed her hand, but continued to walk her down the hall to an elevator.
“I will always love you, Thomas,” Elisha cried out as the elevator doors closed, but the only response she heard was Thomas’ blood-curdling screams.
©February 2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.