(Author’s note: Some of the original ‘test readers’ of this short bemoaned the misogynous ramblings of its protagonist. Yes, the protagonist is a disturbed individual, and he invites you to share in his twisted worldview. That doesn’t mean I endorse said worldview; rather, I am simply acknowledging that we live in a world that is not always ‘sunshine n’ rainbows’. And above all else, I’m trying to creep you out. Stephen King gets paid the big bucks for doing that, right?)
I fought my restraints, wincing with pain…
I’d mustered far more strength the day before!
My right arm was free; why could I not rip my bonds away? Wasn’t duct tape meant to simply be torn apart?
Not this much duct tape, apparently…
I eyed the pile of empty cardboard spools scattered in a corner of my basement, wondering how long my current situation had taken to plan. Days? Weeks? Or had all this simply been a matter of impulse, born of a random trip to the hardware store?
Would I ever know?
I eyed my wrist, shaking terribly as my vision went blurry; I needed a drink, and sooner rather than later. Knowing that I was a mere floor away from my liquor cabinet was driving me slowly insane.
So was the thirst. And the hunger. And the stifling, maddening sense of growing claustrophobia; I felt like a fly wrapped a spider’s web. I held my wrist before my face, sweating bullets as the colors in the room grew brighter, more surreal…
I could eat, if only I possessed the courage; my own arm was within easy reach of my hungry mouth. My flesh was firm, meaty, strengthened by years of manual labor; it could ease my hunger, and my blood could slake my own thirst.
But could I withstand the pain?
My stomach lurched with gnawing hunger as my temples throbbed in agony. I didn’t have a drink available, at least not one with alcohol in it. But I could feed, if I so dared, and I could also whet the dryness of my parched throat.
Closing my eyes, I buried my eyeteeth into my shaking wrist…
“For the love of Pete,” I snarled, “will you just SHUT UP already?!”
My wife dodged the beer bottle that I flung at her, her green eyes full of fear.
I didn’t really mean to hit her, mind you; I just didn’t like her nagging me during a football game, you know? And I mean American football, not that lame soccer crap that my wife watches on our ‘telly’ when I’m not around.
Molly’s a ‘good girl’ and all that, but her favorite sport just bores me to tears.
I think that’s where our marriage stumbles a bit. Molly’s Irish; she’s got the red hair, freckles, and flat chest to prove it. So she’s accustomed to useless men, shiftless clowns who spend years on end being ‘laid off’.
She’s not used to a hard-working guy like me; she’s not used to someone who’s earned the right not to be bossed around.
So she tries bossing me around…
And I ain’t having it.
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” whimpered Molly, picking the dripping beer bottle up from the carpet. “I was just reminding you to pay the garbage bill, ‘cos you forgot last month and they stopped service.”
“I handle the bills around here!” I snapped. “You can’t balance a checkbook to save your life, and you know it! So lemme alone already, wouldja?”
“O… Okay,” stammered Molly. “Would you like another beer?”
“Duh!” I snapped, settling into my recliner.
Molly brought me another beer, already opened; I took a gulp as she disappeared back into the kitchen, watching eagerly as the Redskins and Panthers re-formed their starting lines.
The game was a complete blowout; the score wasn’t even close. I lost interest well before the end, so I turned off the TV and opened a novel.
I must have dozed off in my chair; I awoke abruptly around midnight, yawning. I felt little sheepish as I stretched myself awake; I had to work the next morning, and I was still half-drunk.
I climbed groggily out of my chair, hoping that Molly was in bed; if she wasn’t, she’d grill me like a drill sergeant. Did I have clean clothes for tomorrow? Did I remember to set my alarm? Did I need my jacket laid out? Did I check the weather for tomorrow…?
The woman treated me like a kindergartner! Her Irish brogue, once so soothing to me, had become nails on a blackboard. All I ever wanted her to do, these days, was to shut her pretty mouth…
Unfortunately, that wasn’t gonna happen.
I sighed as I opened the bedroom door. Molly was lying asleep, half-covered by a blanket.
I tried climbing quietly into bed beside her…
“Did you set your alarm?” asked Molly, her Irish lilt piercing the darkness. “And lay out your clothes?”
“Will you quit treating me like a kid?” I snarled. “Lay off already!”
“I’m sorry,” said Molly humbly. “I just want you to be rested and ready for work.”
“I learned how to get myself off to work well before I met you!” I yelled. “So shut up already!!!”
“I’m sorry…” whined Molly.
“I know you are…” I said, flopping into bed and leaning over her. “Are you willing to show me how sorry you are?”
Molly gave me a hesitant kiss…
I didn’t climb out of bed until I was completely finished with her, and I threw her discarded underwear back onto the bed.
“You wanna beer?” I asked.
“You know I don’t drink…” said Molly, staring at the ceiling with a blank expression.
“Some Irish girl you are,” I said sarcastically. “Water it is, then”.
I stumbled down the hallway, and clicked on the kitchen light.
Molly was standing at the sink…
I looked back down the hallway; hadn’t I just left her in the bedroom?
Then I looked back at her.
“Molly?” I whispered.
She turned to face me, her eyes jaunty, saucy even.
“Yes, love?” Molly giggled playfully.
“Were… weren’t you just in the bedroom?”
“Maybe,” she winked, giving her rear end a flirty shake. “I’m allowed to climb out of me own bed, right?”
“Y… Yeah…” I stammered, pulling a beer and a bottled water from the fridge. “I just… I didn’t see you come in here.”
“Probably ‘cuz you drank too much!” laughed Molly.
I backed slowly away from her, and walked down the hallway. Molly didn’t follow me; she just stayed in the kitchen, humming to herself as she washed the dishes.
I clicked on the bedroom light…
Molly was lying in bed; she squinted as I turned on the light.
“Did you get me a water?” she asked sleepily.
“Were you just in the kitchen?” I demanded.
“What?” yawned Molly. “No, I’ve been here in bed. Why?”
“I JUST SAW YOU IN THE KITCHEN!!!” I roared, my hair standing up the back of my neck.
“I wasn’t IN the kitchen!!!” wailed Molly. “I swear!”
“Quit yelling at me!” I warned. “I ain’t having that!”
“I’m sorry…” said Molly contritely, looking at the wall. “Just lay back down with me, huh?”
Shaking like a leaf, I climbed into bed as Molly took her water from my shaking hands.
My mind was racing as I took a gulp of my beer. Had I blacked out? Drank so much that I’d forgotten some interaction, a passing-by of my wife in the hallway?
Sleep… came hard that night.
Three days later…
I motioned the tow truck into my driveway, guiding the driver backwards as he dropped off my Chevy Lumina.
As I paid the driver, Molly came outside.
“What’s goin’ on?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I said dismissively. “Get back inside.”
“Shut up, and get back inside!” I ordered.
The tow truck driver gave me a funny look as Molly obeyed my command, but he wrote out his receipt without commentary.
I stormed into the kitchen as the driver pulled away, rudely interrupting Molly’s dinner preparations.
“What were you doing out there?!” I demanded.
“I just… I just wanted to know what was goin’ on,” said Molly, adjusting her apron as she looked down at the floor.
“You were questioning me in front of other people?!” I raged. “Really?”
“Well, me father was a mechanic!” said Molly, showing a rare spark of spunk. “And I told you the alternator was goin’ out! If you’d fixed it when I’d first mentioned it, you’d have saved us a towin’ bill!”
“What did you say?” I whispered dangerously.
“I… I…” stammered Molly, “you just mighta listened to me, is all…”
“Listen to THIS!!!” I snapped.
I slapped Molly across the side of her pretty face, as hard as I could.
She fell onto the floor, looking up at me with terror-stricken green eyes…
(I would NEVER hit my wife with a closed fist, you know? That’s only something a guy does to other men. But sometimes, a woman’s just gotta be put in her place; sometimes, a man’s just gotta show her who’s the boss. You fellas know what I’m talking about, right?)
Molly rose from the floor, holding her reddening cheek.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, looking at the floor. “I’ll let you handle the car issues from now on. I… I deserved that.”
“Yeah,” I said coldly. “You did.”
I turned, and walked out to the garage.
I’d hoped that replacing the alternator would be an easy fix, like it was on my old Impala: Remove two bolts, add the new part, and re-adjust the belt. I was praying that the repair wouldn’t be as hard as it was on my wife’s long-scrapped Nissan: Un-bolt the entire engine, dismantle the exhaust manifold, and then replace the part…
I lifted the hood of our old Chevy, expecting the worst…
I was distracted by a giggle, coming from a corner of the garage.
I lowered the hood, looking toward the garage door…
Molly was standing in front of it.
“What the hell?” I demanded. “Weren’t you just in the kitchen? How did you get out here?!”
“What?” smiled Molly, her cheeks glowing as though I’d never hit her. “I’m not allowed inside the garage?”
“No, you’re fine…” I said, gulping. “I just didn’t see you come out here, is all.”
“Well,” laughed Molly, “I’ll file a flight plan next time I change rooms! Is spaghetti okay for dinner?”
“Yes…” I said, backing away as Molly walked towards me.
“And would you…” asked Molly, shaking her hips seductively, “like to have a good time with me after dinner?”
“Y… Yes…” I stammered.
“Good!” laughed Molly. “I’ll see you soon. Dinner in ten minutes!”
I watched, unnerved, as Molly un-tied her apron and dropped it onto the garage floor. She hummed an eerie tune as she left the garage, leaving me alone with my uneasy thoughts.
It took all of my will to walk back inside…
Molly was scooping spaghetti onto our plates as I took a seat at the table. She wore her apron yet, and was chatting away as though I hadn’t just given her a well-earned slap.
Something wasn’t sitting well; something was off. Molly was acting far too chipper for the occasion…
I needed a momentary escape.
I excused myself from the table, giving Molly a lame excuse about having forgotten to lock the garage door.
My blood ran cold as I entered the garage; I saw Molly’s discarded apron lying on the floor. Hadn’t she tossed it carelessly away, before heading back to the kitchen?
And yet she’d been wearing the exact same apron when I’d entered the kitchen. Had my alcoholism finally gotten out of control, I wondered? Were my memories getting all mixed up? Was I suffering from ‘delirium tremens’?
I was careful to avoid touching Molly as I stumbled into bed that night. My habit was usually to read for a while before trying to sleep, but tonight I was just too drunk.
“Did you set your alarm?” yawned Molly. “You gotta go in early tomorrow, you know.”
“Piss off!” I snarled.
I lay there for a moment, thinking about how unnerved I was…
“I’m sorry,” I murmured contritely.
I woke up in the middle of the night…
After the day I’d had, I would like to say that I’d enjoyed some illuminating dream, or at least a memorable nightmare of some kind.
But I hadn’t…
I just had to pee.
I stumbled down the hallway, annoyed by the lack of light. (And also by the knowledge that I’d never find the hallway light switch in the darkness…)
I fell into the bathroom, finding the switch despite my assumption that I wouldn’t.
I moaned as I relieved myself, grateful that I’d awakened before soiling the bed. (Over-consumption had oft been responsible for the ruination of my sleeping place!) I was so wobbly that my aim was off; I sprayed a few drops into the basket of magazines next to the toilet.
I pulled my boxer shorts back up at last, and turned off the bathroom light before heading back to the bedroom.
The kitchen light was on…
I approached the room warily, blinking as I stepped into the garish glow.
Molly was standing at the sink, washing the dishes; she turned to face me, smiling as though she hadn’t a care in the world. Her eyes weren’t blacked anymore; they looked as though my after-dinner discipline had never even happened.
Molly was wearing an attractive pair of printed bikini panties. (That was strange; I seemed to recall that she’d gone to bed wearing her favorite frumpy pajamas.) Her hair was also stylishly bobbed… but I remembered dully that Molly always wore her fiery hair down to her tiny waist.
“WHO ARE YOU?!” I shouted.
Molly smiled wickedly, shaking the red curls away from her porcelain face. “Whatever do you mean?” she asked innocently.
“Did you suddenly learn to walk through walls?” I whispered, unnerved. “Cut your hair in seconds? Who are you, woman?”
“You… you’re scaring me!” whimpered Molly, wide-eyed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
I was about to relent, about to back off. I mean, my words were crazy, right? I was about to shrug off my irrational fears, and walk away…
And then I heard a loud snore coming from the bedroom.
Molly stared at me, wide-eyed, as more snores continued to drift down the hallway. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest now; my temples were throbbing, and I was shaking with sudden terror.
“Who…” I whispered, trying to sound assertive, “ARE you? And why do you look like my Molly?”
“Oh!” laughed the now un-masked un-Molly. “You’re sooooo…”
My guess is that she was about to say ‘paranoid’, but I never gave her the chance; I threw my arm around the back of her neck, and wrapped her hair around my fist.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” wailed Molly.
“Shut up!!!” I growled, slapping her.
She flailed against my assault, but alas… men are simply bigger and stronger than women, which is why I always availed myself the luxury of dismissing the complaints of the Feminist Movement. I dragged Molly down the hallway by her hair, ignoring her screams of protest as I fumbled for the bedroom light.
I flipped the light switch up, and threw my wife onto the bed.
Panty-clad, bobbed-hair Molly rose slowly to her knees… only to face the pajama-clad, long-haired Molly.
“What…” I grated, “is going on here? Do you two know each other?!”
My wife and her doppelganger stared each other in their identical green eyes, each unsure as to how to answer…
“WELL?!” I shouted.
“I… I don’t know!!!” whimpered pajama-clad Molly.
“What’s your NAME?!” I demanded, giving the panty-clad Molly’s hair a cruel yank.
“SAM!!!” cried the panty-clad Molly. “My… my name is Sam.”
“What the hell kinda name is that?” I demanded. “Is it short for ‘Samantha’?”
“Something like that…” smiled the panty-clad Molly, with eerie calmness. “Sure, Samantha.”
“Please stop!” moaned pajama-clad Molly.
“Oh, quit whining!!!” sneered the panty-clad Molly witheringly. “You’re such a spineless wimp!!! Seriously, stand up to him already!”
“What did you say?” I whispered, raising my hand.
“You heard me…” replied Sam coolly, as Molly stepped around me.
“Yeah, well,” I snarled, “I’M gonna…”
The ‘kick your ass’ never escaped my lips; my intended threat suffered an interjection from a blow, delivered decisively against the back of my head.
They left me a notebook. Or she left me a notebook. Or maybe no one did, and I’ve just lost my ability to keep my thoughts and memories straight.
I also had a pen, and a free right arm. (The rest of my body was wrapped in too much duct tape for my right arm to tear away.)
I was always too avid a reader to shy away from the chance to actually write something now. Was this Molly’s revenge? Enticing to me to author a memoir at which she could laugh for the rest of her life?
I can barely read my words now, I wrote. My hand is shaking too badly, and my blood is obscuring the pages. I’m also out of my mind with hunger, which makes my thoughts even loonier.
I tried to keep my grip on reality; Sam was a hallucination, nothing more, and Molly attacked me out of mere panic…
I turned the notebook page dully, doubting that I could write much longer…
Something slipped from between the leaves, a piece of yellowed paper.
It was a page, I realized dully, torn from the Gaelic-English dictionary that Molly had given to me as a wedding gift. She’d hoped that I would learn her native Irish tongue (which of course I never did).
I could barely read the page, but one thing stood out. A single word was highlighted: Samhnach.
I had to blink a couple of times before I could read the attached definition, and its very simplicity chilled me to the bone…
What had that fiery-headed phantasm said? What evil words had my Molly’s hellish doppelganger spoken?
My name is Sam…
God DAMN it all!
‘What the hell kinda name is that?’ I’d demanded, like a complete oaf. ‘Is it short for ‘Samantha’?’
I will perish haunted by the defiant expression in Angry Samhnach’s eyes, an expression that reflected all the years of suppressed rage that had conjured her to unholy life…
What the hell kinda name is that? Is it short for ‘Samantha’?
How Samhnach must have laughed inside as she answered my question!
Something like that…