No one can stop him tonight – not on his wedding night.
By Donna L Greenwood
The bride runs down the street, her wedding train glistening under the mad glare of the moon. She stumbles forward, trying not to fall or cut her feet on the hard, cold stones. Her mouth and eyes are wide with terror but another emotion is fastened to her face – anger. The bride knows she will find no sanctuary in this place – though curtains twitch and candles flicker – nobody will open their doors for her tonight.
He glides behind her – all polish and poise. His pale and delicate hands gesticulate in the night, conducting an orchestra only he can see. The Groom does not hurry for he knows his bride has nowhere to hide. He waves royally at the dark windows and smiles when huddled figures duck out of sight. No one can stop him tonight – not on his wedding night – it is his right to pursue what has been bound to him by the laws of God and man.
“Please!” screams the bride at the faceless houses, “For God’s sake, somebody help me!” A soft and distant echo of her own despair is the only answer to her plea.
Finally her strength bleeds out and she falls down defeated in the street. The Groom is upon her like lichen. He presses his face close to hers and he gulps down her breath and he licks off her skin and he drinks in her sweat and tears. He burrows inside her and he devours and devours until there is nothing left but bones and a blood-wet wedding dress.
As the early morning sun laces its insipid yellow fingers around the street, the townsfolk find a single red rose lying in the gutter where the bride’s body had been.
It isn’t long before some foolish girl, with dreams of romance in her heart, skips by and claims the red rose for her very own.
“There’s something unholy in the pond,” he said, and then he grabbed me with his ancient claw, rolled his bone white eyes around his shrunken head and died.
He hadn’t been popular so few came to the funeral and even fewer stayed behind for the wake. I drank cheap rum with his last three friends.
“He said there was something in the pond the last time I saw him,” said one. They turned and looked at me. I was the only remaining occupant of the house. Had I seen anything in the pond? I smiled and reassured them that the pond was cleaned every month and, as yet, there had been no discovery of any hidden treasures.
After they left, I unhooked my coat from behind the door and trudged down the garden path; curiosity had gotten the better of me. Had he seen something? He had been particularly agitated in his final weeks and he had been out there when he’d had his heart attack.
The pond was the size of a small pool and quite deep. I bent over the side and gave the water a quick stir, shifting the water lilies to get a better view of the depths. Beneath the green scum, on a ledge below the surface, just out of reach, I could see it. It was a child’s hand. The tattered skin around the bony fingers fluttered like white lace in the murky dark. I looked around the sides of the pond and found a rock about the size of a baby’s head. I dropped the rock into the pond. It quietly splashed through the dark water and fell as if through treacle upon the ledge. I watched the tiny fingers delicately thrum a final tattoo before being pulled down to the bottomless-black of the pond by the gently settling stone.