Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled This Night Did Not Go As Planned. Please enjoy.
The young man flushed the toilet. Normally an innocuous and mundane action but tonight it was the denouement of a night filled with terror.
It started innocently enough. Greg fiddled around with an object in his pocket as he sat on his girlfriend’s couch. He had never visited before. All their interactions had either been at his small studio apartment or in public and he was certainly surprised to learn that she lived in a mansion.
A tour was promised after dinner, one that he was especially looking forward to as Dharma had promised him roast lamb, his favorite meal. He practically leaped off the couch when she asked him to join her in the kitchen to help set the table. His mouth was salivating.
He was shocked to find that the lights were off and the oven had not even been turned on. The promised feast had not been prepared. He was even more shocked to find his girlfriend standing in the middle of the kitchen with her brandished knife glistening in the moonlight that shined through the window.
Greg asked her what was going on but received no answer. He foolishly approached.
Good instincts, quick reflexes and hop backward narrowly prevented disembowelment with her blade. A quick dive and roll allowed him to avoid the second and third swipes from his slim, chestnut-haired assailant.
Greg raced up the stairs toward rooms he had never explored in a frantic and thoughtless dash. He went to the one furthest to the right, the bedroom, and hid himself there.
His girlfriend had naturally been angry at him before but she had never quite been this homicidal. He needed to calm her down to find the cause of her ire. Thoughts raced in his head until he came up with the perfect plan.
The idea came from cartoons but not one of those silly ones with a talking rabbit or a talking duck. Those were for children. It germinated from far more mature cartoons, the ones with the talking pastel ponies and the talking anthropomorphic turtles. Success was guaranteed as long as he could find the right materials.
One of the things he needed was here, the rose-patterned bed sheets and the room’s proximity to the bathroom was a boon. Why the bed seemed only large enough for one person, he could not discern. Nor could he think of a reason for why there would be a sledgehammer next to it.
For a moment he thought it could be used as a weapon but the large size and weight made it unwieldy especially compared to his opponent’s more nimble knife. He decided to stick with his initial plan.
Greg searched the other rooms carefully while avoiding his girlfriend. Luckily for him, her singing betrayed her position.
“I’m walking on sunshine, wow! And don’t it feel good?” It was sung in a low cadence and at about half its usual tempo. It sounded like a dirge.
Every time her vocals resonated in the mansion, the young man covered his ears and winced. Dharma had never been an especially good singer but not only that, Greg hated the song. Sure, he always told her otherwise but in truth it always made him cringe. Way too saccharine for his tastes.
He went through the movie room, where he found a large television and shelves of movies that contained classics such as Misery, Single White Female, and Fatal Attraction along with some slasher movie schlock such as Friday the Thirteenth, Scream, and Sleepaway Camp.
There was a theme to these movies but he failed to notice. Instead, he was more concerned and agitated with Dharma’s willingness to watch a James Caan movie whose co-star was Kathy Bates but she absolutely refused to watch Rollerball with him.
The art room had nothing he needed though he found it odd that even though the frame’s nameplates indicated these were classic pieces such as The Kiss of Judas by Bondone, The Last Supper by Da Vinci, and Samson and Delilah by Reubens, they weren’t the originals, as might be expected, but they weren’t even replicas.
That is to say, they weren’t well-done replicas or even canvas paintings or the like. They were instead crude facsimiles drawn on butcher paper scribbled with the skill of a child and colored in with the maniacal care of a serial killer.
Greg realized upon seeing these drawings that he would never understand what constituted good art and resigned himself to the life of a philistine.
The billiard room seemed normal enough, except for the various colored pills spread across the bar. He hoped his girlfriend did not have an opioid habit. Greg made a mental note to talk to her about her exotic Tylenol when things settled down.
Descending the stairs proved to be far easier than expected as his girlfriend was nowhere to be found at the time. Greg assumed she was outside as her singing seemed distant as if it were coming through an open window.
The rooms downstairs were far less interesting than the ones above except for one. The garage proved helpful. Amongst the few odds and ends, along with Dharma’s Volkswagen Beetle, of course, there was a pair of bungee cords. Not exactly what he was looking for but would do in a pinch.
He initially hesitated going outside to the backyard. Much of it was hidden. Clouds had moved in by then covering what little illumination the moonlight would have provided. More concerning, though, Dharma was likely there.
Yet Greg still lacked a key item. If there was a shed outside, it would likely contain it. He decided it was worth the risk.
The song grew louder with every step he took. He relied on the darkness for cover.
As he tiptoed through the yard, his eyes scanned everywhere on the lookout for his crazed female companion. Everywhere, that is, but his feet and where he stepped. As such, he tripped over what he assumed was a large rock. He barely managed to keep in a curse.
He rose to his hands and feet and irrationally glared at what had tripped him only to discover to his consternation that he had not tripped over a rock.
It was a tombstone.
Its epitaph read:
Leonard really loved my Mom, so I sent him to Hell along with her.
Greg now realized he should have been more suspicious when she told him she did not wish to talk about how her mother was killed.
To his horror, there were several more tombstones, each containing equally disturbing messages. A few examples:
There once was a boyfriend named Jake,
A relationship he did try to break,
So my blade went into his head,
Then he lay there and bled,
Realizing he made a mistake
Once upon a time, there was a Prince and a Princess. The two were very much in love. One day, the Prince fell under an evil witch’s spell. He no longer loved the Princess. He loved the evil witch instead. This made the Princess very sad. The Princess invited the Prince to her castle. She tried everything she could, but she could not break the spell. SO SHE PICKED UP HER F*@#ING KNIFE AND STABBED HIM In THE F@#$ING HEAD!!!!!
The last one was especially odd considering whoever wrote it apparently censored the speech.
“I’m walking on sunshine, wow! And don’t it feel good?” The singing grew closer. There was no time to dwell on the various tombstones that adorned the yard. Greg stood and combed the rest of the yard with haste.
Eventually, he happened upon a shed. Inside he found various shovels and other such digging implements, as well as a wheelbarrow and cement. Amongst those items was the one he needed, a metal bucket.
“I’m walking on sunshine, wow! And don’t it feel good?” Without thinking, Greg fell to his stomach. His quick action allowed him to narrowly avoid Dharma’s knife’s jab.
He crawled on the ground hysterically, dragging the bucket and the bungee cords with him. He rose to his feet and sprinted before his girlfriend’s downward thrusts could turn his back into a pin cushion.
He scampered through the house and scurried up those stairs. When he tripped over the middle steps, he panicked and hastily skulked up the remaining steps. He hurried through the bedroom, paused momentarily to pull the sheets from the bed, and arrived at his intended goal, the bathroom.
Such haste turned out to be unnecessary. He learned this when he arrived in the bathroom and his girlfriend was nowhere to be found.
Her singing and footsteps indicated she had not given up her pursuit, though. She was just in no hurry. Dharma seemingly preferred a leisurely hunt perhaps enjoying the chase and wished to prolong it as long as possible.
This provided the young man with time. He filled the bucket with water from the bathtub and placed it over the slightly ajar door. He held the sheets in his hands and laid the bungee cord next to his feet.
Then he flushed the toilet to alert Dharma of his location. The young man did it several times and only stopped when he heard the song emanate outside the bedroom door. Greg had been running all night. It was time to go on the offensive.
“I’m walking on sunshine, wow! And don’t it feel good?” Dharma opened the bathroom door. A sadistic smile washed over her face as she entered.
The bucket fell on her head and landed with a resounding thud. Contrary to seemingly popular belief, a falling steel bucket has quite an impact on the skull so not only did her blade fall from her hand, it left Dharma a bit woozy. This provided Greg ample time to cover her with the blanket and tie her with the bungee cords.
She fell to the ground with a loud metallic clang as the bucket fell off of her head. This did not give the slight concussion she had any favors. Dharma was unconscious for several seconds before she recovered and even then, she needed a few minutes to recover before she was able to speak anything close to coherently.
That is not to say that her boyfriend did not pepper her with questions as he knelt next to her during this time. She responded mostly with gurgles and moans.
“What did you say?” Dharma finally managed to croak out.
“Why did you try to kill me? Did you get a haircut and I didn’t notice?”
The question woke her from her daze. “Haircut? You think I tried to kill you over a haircut? I mean, I did get one and you didn’t notice which was upsetting and I was pretty angry about it, but do you really think I’d murder that? What am I, crazy?”
“Then why, Dharma? I thought you loved me.”
“Don’t you see, Greg? It’s because I love you that I must kill you.”
Greg paused. “I must admit that’s pretty deep. Well, I mean, it sounds pretty deep. I don’t really understand what you mean. Then again, there’s a lot I don’t understand.”
Dharma sighed. “I know. Look, you were gonna break up with me. If I can’t have you, no one can.”
“What are you talking about? I wasn’t going to break up with you. I was planning on asking you to marry me, tonight.”
“Don’t lie to me!”
Greg pulled the object from his pocket. It was a small box. He opened it and showed her a diamond ring. “I was going to ask you after dinner.”
“So, you really were. But-but you said, ‘We’ve gotta talk.’ That’s code for ‘We’re going to break up’, isn’t it?
“Well, yeah, normally, but I only said it because I wanted to tease you a bit, that’s all. Make you nervous before popping the question.”
“I thought it’d be funny. Besides, you look so cute when you’re worried, sometimes I can’t help myself.”
“Really? Wow, that’s actually very sweet. I guess, I guess I overreacted a bit. Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed!”
“It’s all right. All’s well that ends well, right?”
“So you forgive me?”
“Aw, I love you.”
“Aw, I love you too.”
A month later, the two of them got married. It was a beautiful ceremony that involved all of their friends, the ones that were still alive at least, but that’s a story for another day.
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