Previously posted as it’s own blog post, here is my fist horror story, finally at it’s permanent home. I hope you enjoy the tale of Jonnie, who searches for eternal peace. Repeatedly. . .
My story started the day my wife died. We were soul mates. There was simply no other way to describe the connection we shared. She was a wonderful woman and we had built our perfect life together. The day the doctors told me she’d never wake up again was the darkest day of my life.
I knew that my life was irrevocably changed as I watched the dirt slowly covering her coffin. The soft round mound of earth mocked me, keeping me from her arms. Each of us had been only children, orphaned early and connected by chance at the state orphanage. Predictably, we’d each had a fear of dying alone and had sworn that we would not let each other suffer such a fate.
Life made me a liar. I’d failed her.
Now I would always be alone.
There followed a period that I don’t actually remember, a time when I simply existed in the excruciating pain and darkness that came in her absence. When I recovered myself, I was driven by one thought, and one thought only.
I had to reunite with my wife.
The first time, I chose my companion very carefully. A beautiful, sad woman, she seemed to be wasting away in the months that I watched her. She loved walking by the river, and I often followed her there, a silent shadow among the trees.
The night I made my move, snow had started to fall and a thin coating of ice covered the bridge over the river on her favorite path. Coming up behind her, I cleared my throat softly. She turned towards me, a sad smile lighting her tragic face. A mere slip and stumble and we were both plunging into the dark icy water. I held onto her sleeve as we fell, the hope in her eyes causing me a moment’s guilt before realization dawned there.
The ankle weights I wore were just heavy enough to give me the edge I needed in keeping her down and I was blessed to see the moment life left her eyes. It is a wondrous thing, to drown in a mere eight feet of water, the world above seen through a watery filter. My shoes were soon buried by the soft silt in the river bottom and I felt myself embraced by the icy water. My hand was now locked in the waistband of her coat, and I pulled her into my arms briefly, kissing her lips, now cold and tasting of wild water. My vision was already dark as I let the current carry her away from me.
Light and sound returned together with a roar of pain that I would never forget. Some do-good passerby had seen our fall and raced to our aid. Of course, it was too late for Amelia, the current had swept her under the ice and down stream, hidden from view. I, on the other hand, was apparently made of sterner stuff. I emerged frustrated, in agony, but alive. Regretfully.
I was hospitalized, of course. I managed, somehow, to avoid suspicion in Amelia’s demise. I am convinced that having a witness see the “accident” made all the difference and I should have paused and taken stock of my situation then. The doctors and nurses saw a sad widower who was having a run of bad luck and treated me with nothing but kindness. I could have made the choice to change my fate then, but I didn’t. I was in love, stubborn and desperate to get to my wife.
Upon my release from the hospital, I found that the sight of running water terrified me. Any body of water larger than a kitchen sink sent me whimpering for cover for the first few months. Eventually I was able to handle bathtubs again, but I knew that drowning myself was no longer an option for my suicide.
Catherine was a young widow who smiled shyly whenever she saw me pass her on the street. She had deep red hair, so I felt it fitting that our destiny together be found in flame. I let myself into her house one evening while she was at work when I was certain she was the most fitting choice for my next attempt at reuniting with my wife. I made myself quite comfortable in a queer little nook under her stairs, tucked away behind some dusty boxes in the dark where she wouldn’t see me if she happened to open the little storage room door.
After she’d retired for the evening, I lit a fire with a candle that she’d left burning and crept up the stairs to her bedroom, my heart pounding in anticipation of being reunited with my wife. I knew that Catherine would be grateful to me for taking her away from her sorrow, too. Surely such a good deed would ensure that I’d be rewarded with my heart’s desire.
She was quite shocked when I climbed into her bed. I was equally shocked at the violent temper she had. From a dead sleep, she attacked me, pummeling me about the head and neck, driving me from her room. The smoke from the fire had already obscured the hallway and in the ensuing confusion of her aggression, I misjudged where the stairs were and went down them backward.
I’d like to tell you that I saw a white light at the end of a long tunnel and was soon surrounded by family and most importantly, finally reunited with Jeanette, my long-mourned wife. I’d like to, but I can’t. I didn’t see a light. I didn’t see anyone, no ghosts, no spirits, no corporeal beings. Just darkness.
I don’t know how long it took me to realize that I had died, horrifyingly alone. Flashes of disjointed images, alien sensations, and finally a dreadful urgency overtook my mind. I regained sense of who I was and took stock of the world around me only to be greeted with a sight that inspired disappointment and disbelief.
The world, from my perspective, was enormous. What at first looked to be tall, willowy trees soon resolved themselves into individual, massive blades of grass. Real trees were so large that I could not see their tops. Interesting, I supposed, but I couldn’t stir myself to really care.
Why was I here? Where was here? Why had I not been reunited with my wife? I had done everything I could to die with someone else who had seemed just as lonely and sad as I had been. Perhaps Catherine had made it out of the fire somehow.
As soon as I had the thought, I had a flash of her lifeless green eyes staring at mine through a thick haze of smoke, the weight of her corpse pressing against the searing agony that was my punctured and deflated lungs. No, she’d perished. I had at least succeeded in that. Had I missed some vital clue that would have pointed me down a successful path?
Beneath all these racing thoughts, primal urges were making their presence known. The will to live was new and not altogether welcome. The urge to feed. It seemed that Fate was a mischievous mistress and that reincarnation was, for me at least, real.
First, I attempted to take a hiker with me into death’s embrace as a Brazilian Wandering spider. A jumping spider whose venom can kill even those who are not allergic to it, I felt certain that this was a guaranteed trip into my wife’s arms.
Soon, a man came hiking by. He wasn’t my preferred choice of companion, but he’d do. I gathered what strength I had and waited. As soon as he drew close enough, I leapt. The tiny hairs on the ends of my legs allowed me to grip the material of his jeans, and I slowly made my way inside to bare skin. I was rather large for a spider and didn’t want to startle him before I was ready to strike.
I was counting on his reaction to the pain to be the instrument of my demise.
I could feel the venom swelling the sacs in my mandible. I could smell the warm, fleshy scent that emanated from his pores. It drove me mad. I struck, once, twice, three times. I managed a fourth before the hiker’s hand came crashing down on me.
I tried again, when this death ended in my rebirth as a bee. Housecat, shark, rabid raccoon, all followed, though none had any more success than the spider attempt. More animal forms were tried. I had no control over any of it until I regained my sense of self.
I can tell you that being a frog is a pretty decent life, though it was a challenge to try to figure out how to engineer my death and that of another while basking in the humid heat of the jungle.
My main fears were that another predator would claim me as their next meal before I could find my next companion and that I would run out of tasty things to put into my mouth. Luckily, frogs are pretty equal opportunity noshers; crawling insects worked just as well as flying ones to sate my hunger. Over the course of my amphibian life, I hatched the perfect plan. I spent my days hiding from birds and snakes and anything else that wanted to eat a delicate little morsel like me. I spent my nights gorging on insects and searching.
Finally, shortly after moonrise one night, I came upon the perfect victim. A camper, snugly cocooned in his sleeping bag, who was snoring loud enough that the forest was silent around him proved to be too perfect a target. Open-mouthed, shoulder-shaking gasps, his rhythmic snores proved perfect for my plan.
Creeping around without jumping, when you’re a frog, is no easy thing. I remember trying to dance in my first life, and I have to say that the act of being stealthy as a frog felt similar. When your natural instinct is usually to push off with both hind legs at once, getting them to move individually for long periods of time is no easy feat. When I was finally in place, I gave in to the urge and leapt from my hiding place among the leaves, landing squarely on the snoring man’s chest.
Once again, I forced myself to creep, slowly moving from the man’s chest to his chin. I perched there for a moment, my tiny heart racing. At any moment I expected him to turn, feel my weight and brush me off, or simply wake himself with the noise he was generating.
His throat was dark and damp and for a moment, my froggy mind was enraptured. I could still feel his breath slipping past me though, so I squirmed a little and slipped a bit further down his throat. This was it. I was positive that this time, I would succeed. His throat muscles tightened, bearing down on my soft, amphibian body. My heart raced in response and my eyes closed in anticipation of the darkness of death. Surely this time I would see my wife again!
I could bore you with all my failed attempts, but I won’t. Let’s simply say I’ve been doing this a while now. I keep dying and coming back, dying and coming back. Honestly, it gets kind of old, but I think I’ve learned to deal with it rather well. You see, I’ve kept all my memories from every incarnation and I think I’ve- finally!- figured out why I’m stuck in this loop. And, now that I’m in this form, I’m convinced that my journey is almost at an end.
With all my previous attempts, something was missing and I’ve finally figured out what it was. All of my previous victims and potential victims had one thing in common. And now that I’ve figured out what it is, I’m certain that this time I’ll be successful in reuniting with Jeanette, my beloved soul mate, my wife.
What’s that? You want to know what the missing element was? It’s simple, really. I can’t truly understand why it took me so long to figure it out. The answer was love.
I didn’t love any of those whom I tried to take with me into death’s embrace and they hadn’t loved me. What Jeanette and I had was based on love and any attempt to rejoin her has to include love as its core element. Luckily for me, love is most definitely present this time around.
You see, I’ve rediscovered what it means to love someone. I have loved again with all my heart and that makes all the difference. When love is present, anything truly is possible.
My mommy says that I am the smartest, prettiest little girl she’s ever known and that she loves me more than anything else in the world. You can be sure that I love her just as much. That’s why I know that this time, I’ll succeed. When my mommy dies, I’ll die with her.
Finally, I will have peace and be ushered into death in the presence of one who means more to me than anything else on Earth. Finally, I will be with Jeanette again.
I’ve got to run now. Mommy is calling me. I don’t want to be late and make her mad. After all, today is a very special day, if you know what I mean.