Here's an unedited ditty from my early days, back in the early 2000s. I sent this story out to a few ezines, never heard anything back.
Then my sister-in-law Googles my name and finds it on some guy's emag-site! So I guess this is ~officially~ my first publication.
It's sexual in nature, a sex-horror. All my horrors are sexual, now that I think about it.
Funny that I've always lumped sexuality and horror together. My first novel is a horror, and one of my current wips is a horror, and both have deep, deep sexual undertones, with women who use their sexuality to manipulate and control men.
Oh, the HORROR!
This is mostly unedited from the original draft. I knocked out a few semicolons (isn't it funny how that is such a common newbie habit!), and cleaned up a couple of confusing sentences, but otherwise left this intact.
Go ahead and pick it apart if you want. There's a ton to pick!
Letters From the Dead
Waking that evening, Lionel reached out and expected to find her there, beside him in the bunk. How he hated her beside him. How he loved not finding her there. She'd swayed beneath him when they'd left port, and Lionel had begrudged her that, taking little pleasure in the appalling acts with Hillary, the thing he called his wife. For years she'd hexed Lionel with her seductions, her smooth words, her touch that melted him; now she swayed beneath him in another way, lurid, part of the endless sea, groaning in the sails and the wind.
Eleven years Lionel had opened his eyes and seen Hillary. This evening Lionel opened his eyes and found an envelope on the pillow next to his head. Outside the sun sank low on the horizon, and the cabin was too dark to be sure of it, but the white object looked like a letter.
Reaching for the light next to the bed, Lionel remembered it was broken, shattered. Last night, he'd swept up the glass after Hillary broke the lamp. Lionel touched his temple. There. That was where Hillary hit him with the lamp, ripped it free from it's bolts and struck him in her final desperate act.
Lionel stood. Naked, he felt his way to the aft light, next to the head, and lit the cabin. Seeing hurt his eyes. The sailboat creaked in the light. In the daylight, the ship's planks blanched in the sun and complained and refused to hiss against the water. But the night was a comfort to both Lionel and his boat. Cool darkness, like closed eyelids on a burning pair of eyes. In the light there was too much to see.
It was a letter, the white object, creased as if it had been hurriedly folded, or as if a child had done the folding, awkward; the letter lay half-open on his dead wife's pillow. On Hillary's pillow.
The letter gaped at Lionel like Hillary's mouth after she'd swallowed too much salty water, open, looking for air, finding none. Lionel hadn't seen the end of her when she'd gone under. Hillary drifted down into the dark water and simply disappeared. She was alive when he'd last seen her, Lionel was sure of that. She kicked against the rope, but an anchor is a heavy burden. Around your neck, how heavy is that? Can you support it as you swim? Resist its iron weight as it tugs you under, hundreds of feet to the bottom? It seemed oddly humorous last night, watching Hillary fight the weight of the small anchor, the fifty-pounder Lionel rarely used but kept on the deck anyway. He'd used the anchor last night, all right; and when he'd pulled it onto the boat this morning, the anchor hung alone on the rope. Nothing left of Hillary. Spread like forgotten ashes unto the sea.
But there rested a letter on his pillow. And Lionel knew what it said. He didn't have to open it. Hillary was a wicked woman. Evil. From the depths of the ocean Hillary reached up and stroked Lionel with her seductive dead fingers.
She'd looked up at Lionel as she sank, gaping for air, her panicked face wavy beneath the water, her hair wild and alive and reaching, the long auburn strands probably still alive, reaching now from the ocean floor like spines from an urchin. Lionel could see her eyes, bulging and blue. And her unsmiling teeth. Hillary had such perfect and wicked teeth, white and straight as they soaked in their salty grave.
Her teeth seemed to Lionel the most important part of his dead wife. When she'd otherwise wasted away, bored with her own condescending abuse, when she'd become a skull with a pointed tongue, all bones and ribs and sharp angled hips, Hillary's cheeks drew back and exposed more of her teeth. You're too fat, she said to Lionel. Then she flashed her teeth, snarled, and tore away at Lionel, ripped apart his self-respect with her perfect teeth.
Hillary wrote a letter once and put it in Lionel's pocket:
You belong to me
Keep that, Hillary said. It's true, you know.
Hillary made love to him that night, after she folded the letter and tucked it into his jeans, made love as if the letter represented a bonding, a covenant. She consecrated her vow—if that's what it was—on top of Lionel with her eyes closed. She couldn't look at him when they made love, she said. It ruins the mood.
Lionel kept the letter tucked beneath his pillow, where Hillary could see it when she wanted. Hillary asked about the letter regularly. Show it to me.
That was her foreplay. Lionel showed her the letter and then she took him.
And now, where they'd made love two days before, was another letter, folded as roughly as had been the first.
You belong to me.
Lionel could read it on Hillary's lips as she sank into the ocean. She hadn't been gasping, she'd been speaking, reminding Lionel of his place. She'd asked to see the letter. From a hundred feet below the world, Hillary gave Lionel her ultimatum. Show me the letter, and then I'll take you.
"No," Lionel said. He spoke to the letter as if it might answer back. It seemed a living thing, breathing as the sailboat shifted back and forth on the evening wind.
There was nothing left to do. Nothing else but to walk to the bunk and touch the pillow that still smelled like Hillary's hair. So Lionel stepped to the bunk and sat on the sheets. The sheets were wet, either from his sweat, or from the thought of being soaked in saltwater poured from a dead woman's eyes. She's coming. Hillary's coming to take me.
Lionel picked up the letter and examined the creases. The boat creaked, and Lionel thought he heard footsteps, a flutter that might be the sail, or that might be a loose-knit skirt flapping on a skeletal woman.
Surprising how calm a man can be at the end. That was Lionel's thought when he saw how steady his thumbs held the letter. He unfolded the paper.
The words didn't make sense. They were jumbled letters, nothing but scrawling lines:
You belong to the sea
Not what he expected, Lionel read the words again. He realized the handwriting was his, not Hillary's. He must have written the letter last night, in the calm aftermath of killing Hillary, after he watched her face disappear beneath the sea, written the words and forgotten about them. Easy to forget. There were so many things to think about, now.
He needed air. Lionel folded the letter and placed it under his pillow, where Hillary once kept her letter. Then he went up to the deck and stood looking over the stern of the boat. It was almost night. Lionel felt more at home in the darkness.
Lionel checked the rudder. He looked into the water, and below the rudder Lionel saw Hillary there, gnashing her teeth, wild-haired beneath the ocean. But it would be dark soon. And in the darkness, what dead things are there to see?
circa 2001, Eric W. Trant