Friday, February 16, 2007

A Malignity of Ghosts - III

art by Alfred T. Kamajian.

I was standing there naked when a dead man sauntered into my bathroom.

Sauntered, not shambled.

That was the second frightening thing.

The rest of the controversial scene is a few posts back.

To continue...

So I heaved my entire container of rose-scented sea salt at him.

And watched him dissolve.

All lacy and pock-marked, like ice from your chest freezer when you dump it in the sink and pour hot water on it.

Even his clothes. The funeral black suit writhed and curled like burning paper and collapsed in a drift of dark dust on the bathroon tiles.

Salt. The essential element. The spew of crystals had caught him full in the face.

I envy women who can have hysterics. I suspect women who have hysterics only have them when there's an audience around. Right now an audience was something I didn't need. The thought of more company clamped like cold iron on any indulgence. I put the empty container on the edge of the vanity. It clattered into the sink. After three tries I managed to turn off the bath taps.

I fumbled myself back into my cream-coloured terry bathrobe and staggered across to the other bathroom door, the one to the master bedroom.

I had to check the doors. I knew I had locked them, I was sure I had locked them, but this thing had gotten in somehow.

The soft wind of an April evening fluttered the robe around my trembling knees as I tottered down the hall.

The front door stood open. With his key in the lock.

The key that had been unaccountably missing from his effects when the police turned them over to me.

I used the wide sleeves of my bathrobe to extract it and slammed the door shut. This time I shot the dead bolt.

The back door was secure. I went back to the bathroom and collapsed on the vanity stool and shook and shook and shook.

The drift of dark dust still stained the white tiled floor.

It seemed I'd managed to kill my husband a second time.


Erik Ivan James said...

"Bernita"...the master of the ending.

Goooooood job!

Bailey Stewart said...

Wow, I'm with Erik, you are the master, I bow in your presence.

Bernita said...

~laughing too~
Thank you, Erik and Bailey!
There's no need to exaggerate, but I gather you find it hooky enough to read a little further?

Amy Lavender Harris said...

Love it!

Question: What's with the suit if he arrived naked? (I do love the description of the suit burning and curling like paper).

Ric said...

this is a delightful way to start the morning. Great stuff.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Amy.
Where'd you get the idea HE was naked?

Kind of you, Ric.
~ delightful? she mused uneasily~
A jolt with your coffee?

writtenwyrdd said...

You know, you just finished a short, short story. I liked it lots, and thanks for sharing.

Are funeral clothes cut down the back? It doesn't matter in this story, but reading this made me wonder if that tidbit I'd heard once upon a time was true.

Carla said...

Hey, so did she kill him the first time as well? Is there more?

James Goodman said...

oh, I loved it. I agree wih erik as well, you really no how to write an ending. :D

Sela Carsen said...

LOL! What a great twist in the tail! I'd definitely read further on this one.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Written.
I have no idea. They might be for the convenience of the morticians, I suppose.
Don't think there's enough detail to satisfy a short story.

Yes, Carla, there's more.
She didn't really. Just "if only" guilt thinking.

Thank you, James!
So the cliff-hanger line is solid.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Sela.
Now, if I can just get past chapter one!

December Quinn said...

This kicks ASS. This is the kind of thing that makes me contemplate giving up because I can never be this good. And I mean that in a good way.

Jaye said...

Nice job, Bernita. You've got a great hook there.

writtenwyrdd said...

No, seriously, I've been reading short stories with the thought that I should start writing them, and this would probably sell as a short short.

Bernita said...

Thank you, December.
But that's bullshit. You ARE good, so don't be silly.
Awfully glad you think it kicks ass though.

Thank you, Jaye.
As always, the problem is maintaining the pace.

To me, Written, there are too many (deliberately) unanswered questions for a short.Which make it a scene, not a story.
But it's nice you think it has promise.

Sela Carsen said...

That's the beauty of the short short/flash fiction. They're scenes. Snippets of life. They don't need to be wrapped up neatly, because the thing that makes them so memorable is that little tweak at the end.

Anonymous said...

Great story!!
Husbands should stay dead once properly killed by their spouses, don't you think? Coming back as a zombie is really unkind of him! LOL


Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh, uh...girl! That was great....There's got to be a short story contest somewhere. You've got to enter that...

How cool was that!

you outdid yourself my sister. i would have never thought of that ending!

Bernita said...

I gather then a short/short/flash is not a "short, short story," Sela. My confusion with terms.

Thank you, Sam.
Very unkind of who/whatever animated him, certainly.

Bernita said...

Now you've gotten me wondering, my Bonnie.
Wonder if I dare.Not a contest, but as a submission.
Siblings, of course, are prejudiced.

raine said...

Oh, I love it, love it, love it, lol!! This made my day. :-D

She didn't really. Just "if only" guilt thinking.

Oh, c'mon, Bernita! Make her a murderer, pleez, pleez, pleez??

Marie said...

That's really great.

Bernita said...

Aw, Raine. Thank you.
Don't think I could, even as justifiable homicide, and I'd have to re-think the plot I'm working on.

Glad you liked it, Marie. Thank you.

anna said...

Delicious! love that little twist.
And oh yeah I'd read further

Robyn said...

Oh, beautifully done! Just wonderful!

If this was me of course, the sight of myself naked in the mirror would be the first frightening thing. ;)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Anna.
The wandering, impersonal undead don't do it for me.

Delighted that you enjoyed it, Robyn.
And. I Don't. Believe. That.

nuh ibn zbigniew gondek al kitab said...

As salaam alaikum.

Nice blog.

I write poems, essays, short fiction and articles for a largely Muslim audience. Please come by when you have time to read.

Wa salaama,


Scott from Oregon said...

My last girlfriend claimed I "sauntered".

I said "huh?"

She said "You saunter. You don't walk normally."

I am thinking "Uh oh..."

At least I don't "shamble".

Bernita said...

Thank you, Nuh.

Erm, Scott.
Never viewed a saunter as not normal.A strolling walk is casual and leisurely, the walk of a boulevardier. No need to be always in a mad whoring rush.