From the author: A horror story for Walpurgis Nacht.
by Stephen Dedman
Brent liked the suicidal ones the best, and he was getting better at picking them, but any woman coming out of Hendrik’s place had potential. It was why he liked this taxi rank better than any singles bar, why he thought of it as the waterhole. It had been the skinny goth girl who’d first called him a predator; he’d forgotten her name, and nearly everything else about her, except for her tiny nipples and the way her pubic hair was so much paler than the stuff on her head or the clothes she wore. He couldn’t even remember why she was seeing a therapist, except that it obviously wasn’t nymphomania. Probably low self-esteem or some shit like that, like most of them.
The sign outside Hendrik’s office said she was a hypnotherapist and psychologist, though Brent had looked up her ads in the Yellow Pages and noticed that she didn’t have any letters after her name. He was pretty sure she was as much a quack as the other fruit loops she shared the building with, the iridologist and reflexologist and naturopath and all the other horseshit the place offered to hypochondriacs and hippies. He wondered, sometimes, what they got up to in those little offices, particularly Hendrik. He’d read a little about hypnosis, and though he knew you couldn’t hypnotize someone into doing something they’d normally refuse to do, he knew it was possible to trick them, telling them they were getting undressed to have a shower, or shit like that. Maybe even telling them they were sucking a popsicle. He grinned at that thought. He’d sometimes dreamed about being able to hypnotize women himself, though as his stepfather used to say, with a face like his he couldn’t get an optician to look in his eyes without wanting to laugh or throw up. Even at the most poorly-lit singles bars, he could rarely persuade a woman to let him buy her even one drink, and they always watched his hands instead of his face, as though scared he might try to slip a roofie or something into the glass. Not that this hadn’t occurred to him, of course, but he still resented it.
He smiled as a young woman walked out of the lobby, and blinked as though she’d forgotten how bright sunlight was, or that it might still be day outside. She didn’t automatically reach for a cigarette as soon as she was outside the building, so she wasn’t trying to quit smoking - a mainstay of Hendrik’s business - but she had the slightly weepy, oddly disoriented look of a time traveler. Probably reliving her earlier incarnations, Brent thought with a grin, and opened the window. “You want a cab?” He called.
The woman turned and stared at him for a moment. She looked to be in her early to mid twenties, and was a little plump but dressed to hide it, though not well enough to conceal a remarkable bust. What the hell, Brent thought, everybody who comes here carries some sort of excess baggage, and at least she carried it well. “I’m just going to the bus stop,” she said.
“Gonna be pissing down soon, and this is a bad neighborhood.”
“I have an umbrella. And pepper spray.”
“So have they.” He glanced at his watch. “Come on, I’m about to go on my dinner break anyway. Where you live?”
She looked uncertain. “Bayswater.”
“Five dollars. Off the meter. I’ve had a bad day too.”
She glanced at an expensive-looking watch, then at the sky. “Okay.”
He took a closer look at her face as she slid onto the back seat: a little puffy, a little nervous, a faintly haunted expression with red-rimmed eyes. Not too much make-up, which matched the discreet jewelry and the businesslike outfit. She told him her address, and he started the engine. “What makes you think I’ve had a bad day?” she asked.
“Just a feeling. You’ve just been to a therapist, and you look, I don’t know, a bit worried, a bit down, sort of lost. Didn’t mean to intrude or anything.”
“It’s all right,” she said, and was silent for a moment. “The day was okay, mostly. I made this appointment a couple of weeks ago.”
“What do you do?”
“For a crust. Let me guess.” He looked at her hands; long fingers, short nails. “You work with computers, right?”
“Not me. Even new cars are too damn smart for my liking nowadays. All brain and no heart. I’d rather work with people.”
“There are plenty of people like that, too,” she said, softly.
“Ain’t that the truth. Driving a cab, you meet all sorts. Some treat me like just another machine, but most… most are decent people. Like you. They don’t mind talking, and I don’t mind listening.”
“Maybe you should become a therapist,” she said, a little dryly.
“Hey, tell me to butt out if it’s none of my business. I don’t mind. But you sound like a smart woman. Why do you think you need that sort of help?” She didn’t answer. “You don’t look crazy to me.”
“You don’t know anything about me.”
“I know what I see.”
“No. You don’t.” She bit her lip. “You ever hear that saying, inside every fat girl, there’s a thin girl trying to get out?”
“I’ve heard it, yeah.”
“In my case, it’s true. She’s been talking to me for years, and now...”
Brent glanced at her expression in the rear view mirror, but said nothing.
“I had an X-ray taken,” the woman continued, after an uncomfortable pause. “I could see her skeleton. She’s just a little thing, not even a full-grown baby, but I knew she was there long before I had proof. And now she wants a life of her own.”
Jesus, thought Brent, either this woman’s a first-class bullshit artist or I really picked up a weirdo this time. “A baby?”
“Not my baby. My sister, my twin. She’s been there as long as I can remember.”
“How do you know?”
“She talks to me. She’s been learning to talk as long as I have, but I’m the only one who can hear her, and I think she can only hear what I can.”
“Like a baby?”
“She’s not a baby,” the woman repeated, emphatically. “She’s not shaped like a baby. I’ve seen the X-rays; she has teeth and… everything. She’s more like an adult… only very small,” she finished, a little lamely. “But she thinks like an adult. There have been other cases like this before. I’ve done some reading. They call them teratomas or auto-parasites, but I don’t like either word. She’s not some growth or monster or parasite. She’s real, and my sister.”
“What do you call her?”
“Anne,” was the soft reply, delivered with a grateful smile. “She chose it, after we started school. It was Angelina, but that’s too long for everyday…”
Brent nodded as he pieced the puzzle together. If she was telling the truth about having had this delusion, this extra personality or whatever they called it nowadays, since she was five or six, then it was unlikely to have been an aborted fetus or anything like that. Much more likely, he thought, that she’d been told young where babies came from, and for some reason believed she had one inside her. Probably molested as a child. He was going to have to play this carefully. “And your name?”
“Hi. I’m Brent. So why’re you seeing a therapist? You sound pretty together to me.”
“Just for advice.”
“What about?” When she didn’t answer, he said, hastily, “Look, I know it’s none of my business. Tell me to butt out and we’ll change the subject. You like sports?”
“I… do you promise not to laugh?”
“Anne doesn’t like my taste in men. We fight about it, and I… well, she usually wins.”
Brent managed to keep a straight face as he considered the possibilities of this. “What about the men she likes?”
Marie hesitated. “She says I care too much about looks and clothes, and I let that fool me. I tell her that I’m the one who has to look at them. But she shouts me down.”
“Do you tell them about her?”
“Not always. Sometimes I say my twin sister doesn’t like them, but I don’t tell them… where she is. Most of them don’t try again after that. Some do.”
Brent nodded; fucking twin sisters was a common male fantasy, especially if they were telepathic, though not one he’d thought he’d ever get to indulge. “Do they ask to meet her?”
“Some do, yes.”
“What do you say?”
“I’ve only told two of them the truth. They didn’t take it well. Women are more understanding, they… do you have any brothers?”
“Would you listen to him if he told you who to see, who not to see?”
“I might’ve, when I was younger, but I wouldn’t have let him make decisions for me. Of course, I don’t see him much anymore, so he doesn’t get much opportunity.” He decided not to mention that the only women his brother saw were the girlfriends and female relatives of his fellow inmates.
“I can’t get away from Anne, can’t do anything behind her back… women understand that better.”
“Does Anne…” He deliberately hesitated, then flicked the windscreen wipers on as a few raindrops splattered on the hood. “Well, could she be attracted to women, not men?”
Marie stared at him, then shook her head violently. “No, she… well, I can’t tell you what she says, but it’s…”
“Hey, I just thought… I mean, how much does she know about men, if she can’t see them and only hears what you hear? You’re the only person she really knows, so it’d make sense if she… if you were the… shit, what’s the word I’m looking for? I mean, you love her, you care for her, right?”
“Yes, but as a sister, not as -“
“I’m not talking about how you feel about her. She’d want somebody who loves her, somebody who’s kind, somebody who understands… somebody like you. She must think you’re beautiful, and she’s right.”
Marie was silent.
“Hey, I didn’t mean…”
“No,” said Marie. “She wants a man, too. The idea of women touching each other like that is…” She shuddered.
Shit, you’re the one who thinks you have a woman inside you, though Brent, but he kept his expression solicitous. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“No. It’s okay.” She smiled weakly. “Anne thinks you’re a very nice man.”
Brent smiled back. “Thank her for me. I think I’d like her, too.” He stopped the cab outside the apartment building, and said, “No charge.”
Marie looked out the window at the rain, and extracted a ten from her purse. “Don’t be silly,” she said, grabbing her umbrella. “You’ve saved me from getting soaked. Keep the change.”
Brent shrugged, and stuffed the note into his shirt pocket. At least the trip wasn’t a total loss.
Marie opened the door, then hesitated. “Anne… wants to know if you’d like to come up for a cup of coffee.”
He did a double-take, then asked, “If it’s okay with you.”
She smiled. “Sure.”
He followed her up the stairs, and watched as she took two mugs down from a shelf in the kitchen. The apartment was small and immaculately clean and tidy: the bedroom door was closed, but when he walked through it to the en-suite bathroom, he noticed the double bed. When he emerged, Marie was sitting on the end of the bed, her jacket and blouse unbuttoned. “Anne wants…”
He knelt before her and took her hands, remembering to look into her eyes instead of that impressive cleavage. “What do you want?” he said, carefully. It occurred to him suddenly that this was the closest he’d come to being offered a threesome, and he kissed Marie’s neck in an effort to stop himself giggling. She cupped his groin, co-operated as he removed her clothes, then guided his head down towards her crotch.
She’s not as naïve as she seems, thought Brent, with a small grimace. He’d never had much enthusiasm, or talent, for cunnilingus, but it seemed a small price to pay. With an uncomfortable feeling that he’d gone from being predator to pet, he extended his tongue, and she pressed his ear to her pubis. “Can you hear her?” she asked.
Jesus, he thought, she really is a loon. “No,” he said, after a moment’s silence. “I can hear something, but I can’t make out the words… I guess she’s not used to talking to many people, apart from you?”
Marie relaxed. “She says she likes you, and she doesn’t want to wait any more. But I want to get on top, so we don’t go too fast. Is that okay?”
He gulped and nodded, and she undid his belt and pulled his pants down. His erection had dwindled slightly, but she stroked it gently and wonderingly, and the feeling of that combined with the sight of her breasts and the smell of her crotch was enough to revive it. He lay across the bed face up, and she lowered herself onto him slowly. She was heavier than he’d expected, but it still felt wonderful, even when he felt teeth scraping against his glans. It took him a moment to recognize the sensation, and he looked up into Marie’s face. Her eyes were closed, her expression slack, and he suspected that she wasn’t in control here either, any more than he was. He moved his hands from his breasts to her hips, trying to lift her off him, as he realized with amazement that she’d mostly told the truth about her sister. Even the part about her not being a parasite was true. She’d only lied about her being a
monster, he screamed as Anne’s jaws clamped shut.
This story originally appeared in Brutarian #45.