It found its way to the surface after many years of struggling through the layers of earth. It oozed between the grains of soil and rock like an oil slick. Everything it came into contact with died: slithering vermin, blind insects, tiny organisms that fed on air, all wilted and shriveled at its touch. At first, it considered avoiding these living things. It sensed a kind of innocence in them it found distasteful, but after a time it realized these things fed it, gave it some kind of energy. When it first started its journey, it had barely been bigger than one of those tiny microbes. Now after many encounters with the living things, it had swollen to the size of a grape. It throbbed with pleasure after each encounter, absorbing what made these creatures live and feeding off their life force. It began to seek out all living things.
It followed a path towards sunlight. The light was something it had never seen before, never experienced its warmth. It was alarmed at first, but eventually grew to enjoy the heat of the sun. The warmth and light enabled the energy inside to grow. It nurtured what it took from the living things and helped its own growth. Somehow, it sensed these were good things to experience and desired more.
It reached daylight and sensed many living things, some very small; much smaller than it needed. Long, tall blades of grass, tiny leaves trailing along vines, wriggling life in the soil, all teeming with the warmth of the sun. It could feel the kinetic power in each tiny life source. Towering above were greater life forces, bushy headed trees that scraped the sunlit skies. Filled with jealousy, it longed to take those lives. The effort to move towards the behemoth trunks was exhausting. It could barely move more than a few centimeters in a day's time. Anger and frustration welled in the center of its black, liquidy body. The desire for those huge, blooming lives enveloped it.
Then the child appeared. The skies had turned misty and moisture drizzled onto the soil around it. The child was smaller than any of the trees, but she vibrated with life. Never had it seen or felt such life. For the first time since it had known sentience it felt lust.
The child was purposely stepping into puddles, enjoying the wet sounds she made. She splashed her way past the trees, never looking up at their magnificence. This impressed it. It watched as the child bent over to pick a soggy dandelion or stroke a clump of clover with its pink fingers. It longed to catch her eye. A glittering puddle of blackness the size of a quarter, it tried to reflect the sun in the child's direction. It shimmered, ebbed and flowed as the tiny girl drew closer.
She held a handful of grass leaves in one hand and brushed them against her lips. The tender caress of sunlight on her smooth cheeks filled her little heart with joy. Sunshine or rain, she loved to be outdoors. The world was wonderful and amazing to her infant heart. She was friends with all things and embraced every last one of them. Her crystalline blue eyes absorbed the colors around her, reflecting back a rainbow of happiness and love. It was all beautiful, all precious and all hers.
The cold reflection of ebony liquid attracted her. She thought it might be a shiny stone until she realized it moved as she stepped towards it. It trembled as if with anticipation as she bent over to look closer. It was stunning to view. She reached for it and her petal like lips shaped into a surprised "O" as the puddle of blackness pitched forward, eager to meet the child's out stretched fingers.
It permeated the meat beneath her tiny fingernail, spreading into the massive network of her circulatory system. The taste of her red body fluids was rich with metallic elements, sweeter than any tiny chlorophyll creature. It could sense the strength that was sumped into its matrix, a surge of power that expanded its domain.
The thing crept along the child's outstretched limb and raced towards her heart. The riches it absorbed along that path were intoxicating. It could feel the infant depths of pain and sorrow that made up the child's psyche. It drank in her baby fears and desires. These were tiny products of a young life, but it could sense the promise within the growing tissues. It exploded when it hit the heart, swelling throughout the intricate web of nerves, muscle and capillaries. The little girl rocked back on her heels, stretching out her plump arms to balance herself. For a moment her mind went white. Her clear blue eyes clouded over and her face went blank. Anyone watching her would have thought she was having a seizure.
The blackness spreading through her body fled to her brain. A surge of energy radiated through the creature's liquid body. It seemed to open up many doors within its own brain. It could see events that had left its mark on the child. Here a favorite doll was taken away by another, bigger child and stomped on. The pain was exquisite. Further back in the girl's memories, her mother took away her pacifier, leaving the child feeling vulnerable. If the creature had lungs it would have sung. More recently, the girl's father packed his things into his car and brushed her temples with a kiss before disappearing from her life forever. This was angst that lingered still in the child's mind, like an infection that continued to permeate the membranes, aching from time to time.
The thing nestled down within the coils of the young mind. It felt parts of its core reaching out, rooting deep into the tissue. Here it would find sustenance that would nourish its constitution and provide fodder to grow on. This was much better than a leaf or even a tree.
For nearly an hour the child stood, her jaw slack and her eyes blank. A string of drool slowly worked its way down her chin. The rain began to fall and she shuddered as fat droplets hit her cheek. She turned her dark eyes skyward. The vast blue field seemed so much closer now. Raindrops spattered her face for several minutes before she turned and trod towards the house. Her tiny feet had difficulty navigated the front steps and her hand sampled the doorknob before finally turning it and opening the door.
Her name had been Theresa. She had been five. She could remember her fifth birthday; it had been a very important day for her. It was the only good memory she had of her father. She remembered gifts and a cake and other children who she knew had been her friends. She remembered loving her mother and thinking she was wonderful and beautiful. She even remembered calling her mother, "Mommy." Of course, "Mommy" was dead now so it didn't matter what she had called her. There was no reason to call her anything anymore.
No one called her Theresa now. The people at school referred to her as Theresa. She had allowed it. At the time she had been too small and weak. She knew that eventually she would grow like a tree and become much stronger. There were so many things she would have to do until then. She knew she would have to continue to feed and grow and expand. There were things she needed to obtain to help the power inside grow.
At first it had been confusing. The things she knew she must do were alien to her childish mind. They were things she had never considered. But as time went by she found they were good and they made her strong. They made her hungry for more. She had experimented with tiny things at first and worked her way up to bigger, more powerful things. Breaking Tatiana's glasses was a very small thing. She was surprised at how effortless it was and what an incredible payoff it had been. She found the reward was so much greater when the subject was unsuspecting. Tatiana must have been a friend. She could not remember if she was present at her fifth birthday, but the child had been glad to see her and seemed to trust her and expect so many pleasantries from her. It had been a simple thing to snatch the glasses from her chubby little face and toss them on the ground. She had crushed them under her shiny red shoes and watched the girl's facial expression change. It had given her a sweet sensation that ran from her chest down into her thighs. She had wanted to do it again, but Tatiana only had one pair of glasses and she ran home with tears spilling down her cheeks.
There were other friends. She ripped buttons off Bettina's coat and pushed Leila into a mud puddle, ruining her crisp white dress. She found it remarkably rewarding when she sensed that Miles had a loose tooth and she was able to force her little fist into his mouth and twist the thing out. She put it into her pocket and watched him wail, blood dribbling onto his bright yellow shirt. She nearly swooned from the surge of pleasure she had gotten from that.
All these things made her stronger. She could feel the power rushing through her body. She felt her brain growing clear. The alacrity she felt gave her a sense of superiority that was inarguable. She had guessed that all these lives, even the taller, bigger ones, were far less important than she. They were inferior, mortal and dispensable.
The times she caused physical pain were the most potent. Her head would fill with a rushing sensation that made her momentarily weak kneed and her sight would sharpen to where she thought she could see the tiny particles that made up each individual part of the landscape. She felt that she could see through living things and make out the framework beneath that gave them life. It made her lust for more.
As her body grew, she found ways to cause pain without being caught by an adult. The adults had actual control, she understood. They were easily deceived and malleable. The smaller ones, the children were more accessible, although she learned to cause the adults pain in ways more subtle. It was subtle, but no less stimulating. Her mother was especially ripe for such manipulation. She would only have to mention her missing father to sense the agony her mother experienced. She drank in the wretched expression on her mother's face, the faint trembling of her frame. Her mother's body would go through luscious waves of trauma when questioned as to where was he, when was he returning or why did he leave? She could feel each transition like the stroke of a velvet glove.
Physical pain took more effort, but it was even more rewarding and well worth the effort. She found that certain chemicals should never be ingested by the human body unless the object was destruction. A spoonful of certain cleansers added to liquids her mother often imbibed would cause delightful anguish in her mother's abdomen that would last for days. She sensed that extensive use of these chemicals over time would eventually mean her mother's demise. She was curious to see how long it would take. It took nearly six years. She doled out the substances in small amounts: a spoonful of the pearly fluid used in the dishwasher in her mother's creamer, a few tablespoons of the crystals used to scrub the toilet dissolved in a pot of stew, a few drops of engine coolant she found in the garage added to her mother's container of diet iced tea. The pain she rendered on her mother's body led to an even more choice pain which included the angst and worry she suffered wondering what was wrong with her. That is how she discovered the well of fear that lived in all humans.
Dipping into that well with children was an easy task. The true challenge and the greatest reward she learned was delving into the recesses of fear harbored by an adult. Their fears were so much more complicated. She found multiple levels of horror and fright in the older people. Her mother feared growing old alone and unwanted. She feared her own pain and worried it would get worse. She feared her eminent death and even more delectable, she feared what she saw happening to her daughter.
Around the time of her mother's death, she learned that there were older individuals that held their own kind of power. There were adults whose power was unique and accessible. This power could be obtained, transferred and used to wield power over other adults.
Her body had reached the age of sixteen years when she learned how to truly control others. This marked a glorious triumph and the beginning of her reign as the Dark Queen. It began with an older man who held an office of some power in the community nearest her home. When she stood near him she could hear his heart struggling to keep his body alive. She learned she could manipulate how fast the muscle pulsed in his chest and make him sweat and breathe hard. She enjoyed the physical exertion he experienced, but even more so the anxiety he felt when she was near him. It tasted like blood.
She, of course, wore his feeble body out. She began to seek out the other adults who were useful to her. They included mostly older men and one middle-aged female who eventually ended her own life. She found them all to be delightful playthings.
The fragile condition of these adults' emotional state intrigued her. She enjoyed hinting at the true nature of her inky heart. The transformation she witnessed on their faces enticed her. She could feel the emanations of her own internal chemistry bubbling beneath the skin, gaining power from the tiny manifestations of their terror. With the fuel she earned from these nightmares she inflicted she gained more powers. She learned to make things happen simply with the strength of her own will.
The man who was in charge of the entire country was old enough to be her grandfather. She sat on the bed in the hotel room looking down at his naked body as he crept across the floor. He was trembling and she knew his nervous system was under great stress. She could taste the tiny injuries as they crackled through his body. They had both been silent for nearly an hour. He crawled as close to her as he dared and raised his eyes to meet hers. He visibly shivered.
"I don't know what to do--to please you. I want to make you happy." His voice was hoarse. She loved the sound of it.
She slipped a stockinged foot off the bed and planted it on his naked shoulder. He tumbled onto his side with a grunt.
His breath was labored.
"What do you want me to do?"
A smile curved her lips, but her eyes were unwavering. Tears began to trickle into the deep creases of his weathered face.
"Just--tell me what you want," he whispered. "I can make it happen--anything!"
She knew he would. Her foot landed on his face and shoved him to the floor. He gathered her tiny foot, encased in black nylon, and held it close to his lips. He ran his tongue over the sole of her foot as she watched.
Language was always a problem, but she needed to have him do something for her. "Would you die for me?" Her voice always sounded so odd. It vibrated in a way that reminded many people of the droning of insects.
"If you asked me to," he said. "I would."
She smiled. "Would you make others die for me?"
He swallowed and nodded. "For you--I'd do anything. Anything you asked."
"Would you kill many people? Hundreds? Thousands?"
He drew in a sharp breath and hesitated for only a second before nodding. He pressed his cheek to the ball of her foot.
She stroked his face with her foot before shoving him back onto the floor.
"Prove to me you would do this."
He was gasping for air. She could feel his heart contracting faster and faster. The sweet, singing sensation of pleasure she felt from his discomfort ran down her body to her clit.
"Tell me," he gobbled. "Tell me what you want. I'll do anything. Anything."
Like a long lizard, she pulled her body onto the floor and mounted his chest. He whined. She straddled him and slowly eased back until she was sitting on her haunches between his scrawny legs.
She glanced down at his crotch. His penis stood up like a pink grub between his thighs. Her hand closed around it and he uttered a thick sound in his throat. She squeezed gently and he could feel the pressure tightening like a vice. He craned his neck to see what she was doing. The pain was unbearable and yet he wanted it to last.
He heard a squelched popping sound.
She squeezed and pulled her hand back, taking his detached penis in her fist. His eyes bulged as he stared at the bloodless appendage. She opened her palm to show him the flesh colored prize she held.
"You will get this back when you prove yourself to me."
His eyes rolled back into his head and his skull fell to the floor with a thump.
She was disappointed.
The old man who was in charge obeyed her. He killed thousands of people who were nameless to her, but she felt the agony of their deaths. Thousands of little sparks of bliss exploded inside. He made a public announcement on the television, with her standing by his side, that he would continue to destroy more countries, more people, more lives. There was a small resistance, but they were destroyed. She let him use his militia and his armaments, but she found she could kill armies of humans who held a single thought among them. She could connect their minds and penetrate them all at once. They simply perished.
She was always by his side--in pictures, on television, at speeches. She could feel the old man suffering. His mind was conflicted. He couldn't understand why he did what she said. His hand often grappled at his crotch, searching for his missing member. Only she knew where it was. She drank in his pain.
They called her the Dark Queen. The world was a quieter place. She preferred it that way. She's grown strong on the many lives she'd ended. She fed off the pain she inflicts on those she allowed near her. She listened to those who whispered tales about her told by those who had never seen her. They said her heart was made of black ice. They feared and loved her.
But the Dark Queen had learned a new way to create pain. She realized she could spread herself across the planet like a thin layer of mucous. She would penetrate every corner and fissure of human life where she knew the old man would be unable to reach. She used the penis she stole from the man in charge and made something new with it. Deep inside her she felt the tiny wells of blackness forming and growing. She sensed their thoughts and felt their hunger.
The first of these little lives liberated itself while she was standing next to the old man on the patio of a wealthy sportsman. There were hundreds of men and women who worked for the man in charge. He referred to these gatherings as an affair. His patrons and their families came to these affairs to pay homage to the man, but she knew they were really paying homage to her.
That first little blot of blackness seeped from inside her and landed on the ground between her feet. It struggled through the gravel and sought a young host, someone pristine and void of malice, a clean canvas worth staining. It was drawn to the vibrant energy of the smallest of the guests as they ran across the lawn, squealing and laughing. There was fuel in those tiny beings. So much potential, so much to harvest.
Florence Ann Marlowe
Florence Ann Marlowe has been published by Horror Fiction magazines such as Black Moon, Macabre Cadaver, Demon Minds, 69 Flavors of Paranoia and Psuedopod. Most recently her short story "Here Piggy Piggy" has been chosen for the July issue of Death Head Grin. Florence lives in south Jersey, in the same neighborhood where the Jersey Devil was born. Rumor has it, he lives next door. Home - Florence Ann Marlowe
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