Weekly Challenge- Week 1 ofAugust 2021
I flinch harshly at the sound. He clenches his jaw and holds me closer in the tub.
“It’s just the fire, love,” he sighs into my neck.
I hold back the tears and lean back into him. He is careful with me; he gingerly takes my forearms in his hands, rubbing lightly, trying to alleviate the pain and release the tension. I know it’s useless.
I chuckle, “I’m the worst at relaxing, I’m sorry.”
He shushes me and strokes my hair. I know he wishes that he knew how to help me, or fix me. Then again, there’s that nagging voice in the back of my head saying that I’m being greedy, and selfish, and that this is all for attention.
I don’t know how he knows, I never know. “It’s just… me being stupid. I mean, I know you love me but I like to convince myself that you don’t.”
He turns me around and cradles me in his lap. He is so careful, “Are your hands-”
“I’m fine, I promise.”
I wrap my arms around his neck and snuggle into his chest. He’s always had the most interesting heartbeat. I feel him rubbing my back, occasionally cupping warm water from the tub and letting the water run down my shoulders and spine. He’s too careful; holding me, loving me, kissing the pain away. Sometimes, it’s almost too much to bear.
The Family Business
“I’m so disappointed!”
Vali sighed loudly as he put down his fork. The news reporter droned on:
“Police say the killer, now being dubbed ‘Coyote’ after the animalistic injuries left on the victims’ bodies, is still at large.”
Vali begins talking, seemingly to his food, “Do you hear what they’re saying? Coyote? What kind of name is that?” He groans, “It’s ridiculous; it sounds lame!”
He scoffs to himself and continues eating. Soon enough, his alarm goes off. He reaches for his phone as he takes his last bite of food. He turns off the alarm and television, packs up his leftovers for dinner, and goes about his day, fulfilling his normal routine.
He meets up with his brother and sister for lunch. His older sister, Molly, sits with their orders already at their usual table.
“Hey, kid,” she checks the watches on the inside of her wrist. “Punctual, as always.”
Vali pulls a chair away from the table, and sits, uncomfortably, waiting. Finally, he hears his brother, Dan, running up behind him. Molly had her snarky comment ready.
“Riddle me this, Dan, you were born first, yet you’re always late.”
Dan smiles charmingly and Molly scoffs, “Cut the shit, you know it doesn’t work on me.”
“I haven’t even started yet, Molly,” Dan retorts.
Meanwhile, Vali stuffs his face with salad. It’s really just supposed to be a light snack between meals but he can’t help the harrowing anxiousness that makes his belly feel empty.
“Hey, kid, slow down,” Molly leans forward and rubs Vali’s arm.
“Yeah, don’t want you making yourself sick,” Dan adds on as he eats his own salad.
Vali laughs awkwardly, “Sorry, I just-”
Molly smiles warmly, “It’s alright.” She sighs. “It’s been sometime coming now. It’s only natural to be somewhat… nervous.”
Dan gives Vali a clumsy side-hug, “Yeah, dude. You’re finally getting a promotion!”
A man catches their attention; he’s loud and drunk at one in the afternoon. “Did you hear that shit? Stupid Coyote! Just a pathetic worm with mommy issues,” he laughs. The rest of his table laughs with him. Probably in fear- of not fitting in, of being cast out... of losing their jobs, maybe.
That night, it rains.
Heavy footfall resounds in an abandoned warehouse. It’s a shame that no one is there to enjoy how their pace increases in sheer desperation. The feet stumble and the body falls. The voice comes now, a deep groan, so unlike the loud, drunken laughter from this afternoon. How sad... he should’ve been more careful.
A new sound echoes throughout the room- soft, light steps, slowly approaching. The man, their target, still lays on the floor, and begins to think to himself: the Coyote. He admonishes himself for disregarding it- them. He’d just seen them on the news and thought the name was terrible, but he sees now how perfect it is. He wonders what the killer thinks of it. He wonders why, why do they do this? And why him? “Why me?”
Oh, and yet another mistake! That pitifully sobbed question led the Coyote straight to him. He crouches down to meet him and says, “You know, they always ask that?”
The man stares at him in shock and fear.
The Coyote clears his throat and elaborates, “They always ask, ‘Why me?’, which I think is quite a vain question. However, I suppose I can’t expect people like you to be all that smart.”
The man’s brain has finally processed what’s happening and his body pumps full of adrenaline as he tries to scramble away.
The Coyote shifts in their crouching position, unperturbed, “You know something else? You see, I find this quite interesting, but villains don’t think they’re the villains! None of you think you’ve done anything wrong!” He begins laughing, almost hysterically, throwing his head back. The man can see his sharpened canines from where he lays.
Again, he tries to get up, crawl away, anything!
Coyote simply pushes his head into the ground below them, “Now, now, I’m no doctor… well, not yet, but I don’t think you should be moving!” The target grits his teeth against the increasing pressure Coyote applies. “You were quite injured from our little game earlier,” he says.
He feels the man struggling beneath him, “So, you’re not going to take my advice then.” Coyote sighs and smoothly grabs the man’s head with both hands, harshly turning it. Then, he repositions himself into somewhat of a kneeling stance. He rests his target’s head on his right calf and keeps his left leg along the side of the man’s body, foot flat on the floor. He takes the man’s right arm in his hands and anchors himself, relying on his core and low center of gravity for balance and support. He slowly extends his left leg, snaking it under his target’s arm, forming an odd human crucifix. He can hear his target gag with every movement as his thigh presses against his neck.
“Ah,” he exhales. “Besides,” he continues speaking as he adjusts his grip and gets comfortable, “you control the head, you control the body.” As if to punctuate his statement, Coyote leans back slowly. They smile to themselves as they feel the man flail, knowing that his breath is rapidly leaving his body.
The Coyote looks down at the man, “Delicious isn’t it? The head rush? And, see- if I turn your arm this way,” the man kicks and blubbers, trying to get away or scream for help, all to no avail. “Exactly,” Coyote breathes out. “Here, I’ll ease up. Isn’t it glorious? Tell me! I’ll be patient, so take your time with your answer,” he says, almost gently. He moves forward, off of the man’s windpipe. He hugs the man’s arm with one of his to reach down and run his fingers through his target’s hair.
The man trembles. “Fuck off!” he screams. Immediately, he feels the Coyote grasping, pulling his hair. The tears begin to blur his vision.
He hears the Coyote sigh. “My, that’s not a very good answer!” The Coyote smirks, then snarls, releasing his hair. He feels the pressure on his throat again as they take a firmer grasp of his hand.
“Let me tell you something,” the Coyote says. “Hopefully, you can understand. The evil never repent until they are met face to face with the consequences of their actions.” Coyote turns to better see the man’s face, and the man looks away, struggling to breathe. The Coyote decides to take a break and make sure his point gets across. He squeezes the man’s face and turns it to his own. “Look at me,” he whispers. His eyes bore into the man’s, seeing into the depths of his soul, and says, “I. Am. That. Consequence.”
They release the man, resume their position, and without hesitation, chomp down on the man’s pinky. “Heh, not bad,” they say, ignoring the screeching, breathless wails reverberating throughout the warehouse.
The sound of a door being shut echoes in the man’s ears. He cries, fruitless, salty tears. He’s going to be eaten alive by the Coyote and his pack.
“Dalli, bring the extension cord through here!” The female of the pack. If he didn’t know better, he’d think she was the leader. No, the real Coyote was the one ripping off his fingers.
“I know, I know. Jeez, V, you could’ve waited till the sedative kicked in! The screaming is so-”
The Coyote turns back and smiles, “We decided not to give this one a sedative, remember?”
“Wait, which one is this one?” Dalli asks. He peeks around the Coyote and nods in understanding. “I remember now. Ugh, goddam pedophile icks me out,” he says, visibly shivering at the thought.
“Did you bring the stuff, Malice?” the Coyote turns to the female, easing up on tha man beneath him. The man mourns the loss of his three fingers. Soon enough, he’ll realize he’ll be saying goodbye to so much more than that.
“Mali will do just fine, you know Mom always liked the rhyme,” she says. Upon the mention of the loved one passed, the trio all complete a hand sign, an open plam with their thum tucked in, held in front of their chest. She hands the Coyote a phallus made of polished wood, “Here. You made the plan, you reap the harvest.”
The Coyote smiles, toothy and bloodstained with a glimmer of excitement in his eyes.
The next morning, the police found the man’s remains. The Coyote was true to their pattern- no organs were left. The body had been ripped open, hollowed out, and cleaned. It was always clean.
Even the area where the body was found hanging upside down… not even a trace of blood. It wouldn’t even look like a crime scene, if it weren’t for the body in the middle of the room, of course. At least it was helpful to the clean-up crew. Unfortunately, that’s where the Coyote’s generosity ended.
The bodies were almost always unidentifiable- eyes removed, cranium opened, teeth extracted, and fingers gone.
“Here, look, can someone say ‘signs of forced entry’,” an analyst asks.
“That’s not funny, get back to work!”
The analyst nods and looks away. Someone else says, “Well, we wanted this guy for child porn anyway. We just… never found enough hard evidence. The pun was unintentional.”
“And you think this is the way it should’ve been handled?”
“Well, he got what was coming to him. Sorry, again, unintentional.”
“You watch your mouth or I’ll write-”
The screens turns off. Vali leaves the police to stand around and scratch their heads, satisfied with what he’s seen from Dan’s homemade spy cams. He decides to make his way to his sub-level garage. Sipping a blood-red beet smoothie nonchalantly, he opens his deep freezer, looking for something to thaw for dinner.
He reaches into the freezer, “Hm, Mom always said a warm heart at night does a body good. A classic.”