Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled The Leggy Mistress of the Waterfall. Please enjoy.
He didn’t go there looking for love. All he wanted was a stiff drink after a hard day working for the Northwest Logging Company. The Waterfall Bar wasn’t his usual haunt. It was far different as it emanated with refinement and class. Firefly lights, a dark, rich color scheme reminiscent of a cigar lounge and classical music melodiously playing in the background set a mood that was a far cry from the large fluorescent lights, the green and brown color scheme reminiscent of a pool hall and heavy metal and rap that blared at his favorite drinking establishment.
The price alone would have normally been a deterrent but he needed to go somewhere other than his usual joint, The Right Spot. He had to escape as he had grown sick of hearing Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song. Sure it was initially played by his buddies in the spirit of humor. And sure, he even laughed the first hundred or so times he heard the song warble over the airwaves of the antiquated jukebox. However, it got to the point where he would rather chew glass than ever hear the caterwauling of Michael Palin one more time.
After taking a minute or two to recover from the feeling of being overwhelmed in a foreign land, the lumberjack made his way to the bar to order a rusty nail without ice, the manliest of drinks. Though initially he wanted to keep to himself, the gregarious bartender was not the kind miss an opportunity to regale a stranger with idle chitchat. Though hesitant at first, the lumberjack loosened his tongue.
He and the bartender conversed on local events. Livestock in nearby regions were found dead and drained of their blood. His new friend warned him to not stay out too late or alone as there was a rash of missing persons and peculiarly it seemed like young men were the ones who disappeared.
The lumberjack winced as he heard this and turned the conversation toward more pleasant topics. Work was picking up for him as an apartment complex near The Waterfall was the victim of arson recently. Normally this would be considered tragic, but nobody was inside at the time of the fire it seemed and it had the left the building abandoned for all intents and purposes. It needed to be replaced with a new one which meant an increase in the demand for wood.
After exchanging such pleasantries, the lumberjack turned to take another look at the rest of the bar and perhaps see whether someone would catch his eye. Someone did.
She was a Japanese woman in approximately her mid-thirties with alluring eyes and crimson lips. Her obsidian colored earrings shaped as arachnids sparkled in the light. Her long slender legs, revealed through a slit in her red and black dress, faced him as she sat pointed away from him. Noticing his gaze, the bartender laughed a bit to himself before he told him she was a regular visitor. Her beauty made her more memorable than a typical guest. She was almost as iconic to the bar as the mock waterfall fountain display sitting in the far corner that gave the establishment its signature name. Hence, a patron, undoubtedly plastered, not long before the lumberjack’s visit had dubbed her the “Leggy Mistress of the Waterfall”. On the one hand, everyone seemed to agree that it was a pretty idiotic nickname, but on the other, the name somehow stuck.
Almost as a non sequitur, the bartender mentioned that she reminded him of a girl he used to date when he was on the track team in high school. A man sitting next to the lumberjack groaned upon hearing. He knew what was coming. The bartender once again discussed at length his days on the track team and once again bragged that he was the state’s top runner and placed third in nationals. He claimed that he was still as fast as he ever was despite the over fifteen years that had passed since his halcyon school days. Though this was dubious, he at least looked the part.
The mistress didn’t notice the lumberjack at first. Her gaze was transfixed on a news report. When she turned her head and saw the awestruck gaze of the lumberjack, a delighted smile crept upon her lips. She did so love younger men and the lumberjack was barely into his twenties. With the eagerness evocative of a lioness pouncing upon an antelope, the mistress slinked towards her prey. It was an awkward shuffle. Her legs moved as if the woman wasn’t used to having them. Some, especially the older men playing pool, found her gait unsettling. To the ensnared young man it was captivating.
She set her glass down next to his. It was encompassed by a sticky residue and odd white stains. He asked nervously whether she was hungry and wanted something to eat. She told him that what she wanted wasn’t on the menu. When she took his hand and led him out of the bar, he figured out what she had meant. She never went home with anyone before at least as far as the bartender could recall. This was the lumberjack’s lucky day.
Many nights of fun ensued between the two of them. Every evening after work the lumberjack would visit the bar to meet her. After a bit of dancing and more than a couple of drinks consumed, the two would run off to presumably engage in whatever activities two consenting adults of opposite sexes would choose to partake. The constant nights of fun eventually took their toll but not with the mistress. If anything, the constant nights of fun had an invigorating effect on the woman. Conversely, the lumberjack began to deteriorate both physically and mentally.
It was a gradual transformation. When it began, the bartender joked that the mistress was draining the young man of his vitality. As his condition worsened, a genuine concern emerged. A once stout, muscular young man became thin and emaciated. His eyes and face exuded nothing but exhaustion. It was as if the young man was dead on his feet.
His mental state was also a cause for concern. Though it wouldn’t be quite accurate to say the man was astute under normal circumstances, he at least had a variety of topics on his mind even if they were a bit basic. That all changed as his thoughts became a singularity focused exclusively on his leggy mistress. Outside of eating, sleeping, and working, the woman was the only thing on his mind. He was obsessed.
Then one day the duo suddenly stopped visiting. Normally this wouldn’t be anything of note. It is never particularly surprising when a pair of patrons decide to move on to a different locale or perhaps spend their time outside of a watering hole. However, the two were such regulars that the bartender was legitimately worried that something might have happened to them.
He didn’t have any means to contact the two as he wasn’t particularly close with either of the pair. Outside of a few sporadic conversations with the lumberjack and even less with the mistress, there was no communication between them. Despite this, he still found that he missed them.
One night the bartender was walking home as he was wont to do seeing that The Waterfall was a mere fifteen minutes away on foot. As he made his journey home, he noticed a figure out of the corner of his eye standing in an empty alley. She was a slender leggy beauty wearing a black and red dress staring off into the distance. It was her, the leggy mistress of The Waterfall.
She was looking away from him when he called out to her. Her mind was preoccupied with whatever or whomever she was looking towards. After being startled by the familiar voice, she stared back. With a large and relieved smile, he asked where she and the lumberjack had been and whether they were in good health and spirits. She did not answer and instead immediately sprinted away.
Sensing something was wrong, the man raced after her. The bartender was fast. His boasting at the bar only slightly exaggerated his speed. He had definitely kept himself in exemplary shape over the years. Yet, chasing her still proved to be a near herculean task. The mistress moved through the streets like a gazelle. She leaped over garbage cans and cars, scurried up ladders and dove through open windows with an almost inhuman quickness and agility. He managed to keep up with her despite this, though, if only just barely.
Eventually, she led him to the abandoned apartment building, the same one that had been set aflame earlier that month. The bartender had fallen far enough behind at this point that while he was able to see her enter the complex, he was unable to gauge where she had gone within. He hesitated as he was unsure whether it was wise to enter the locale especially since he realized, after having a little bit of time to think, that the woman’s mannerisms were the more than a little suspicious. It was almost as if she was leading him to an obvious trap.
A short debate occurred internally. Curiosity won so against his better judgment he entered. Unsurprisingly, most of the rooms were empty as the blaze had left them an empty shell of what they had been. The upper floors bore the brunt of the inferno much more than the lower. The stair’s steps leading from the first floor to the third were mostly intact and the rooms on the first three floors, though hardly in what one might call pristine condition, were still passably good. True, the upper floors were in danger of falling at any time and made the place a death trap. However, it seemed the lower floors weren’t about to crumble anytime soon.
When the bartender reached the third floor, he looked up and thought this is where the mistress must be as the fourth floor could not be reached without making a superhuman leap. His ears suddenly perked and his attention was turned elsewhere. He was barely cognizant of it at first. He dismissed it as his imagination or something from outside but soon he realized the noise was coming from one of the rooms on this floor though it was low and barely audible. It was a tortured yet quiet moan, the voice of an individual who was struggling to remain conscious.
It was distinctly male.
It was accompanied by sounds not unlike the sudden striking and ripping of flesh.
The man ran towards them with sudden haste. He could not quite figure out what was happening but knew it was something bad. He knew someone was in trouble and needed help. He arrived at the open doorway in a panic. A cold sweat formed and ran down his shoulders and back. A foul smell assaulted his olfactory nerves as the room contained the distinct odor of rotting flesh. His hands covered his nose before he had time to think.
Yet the horrific stench was but a meager concern compared to the horrific sight he was forced to witness.
Several corpses lied on the floor. Each victim was bound by duct tape from the armpits down. All had gashes across their chest and throughout the rest of their bodies. These cuts were precise with the intended purpose of inflicting as much pain as possible as these men slowly bled to death. The copper brown floor stained with their coagulated blood a testament to the success of this plan.
Standing amongst these bodies was a young, flaxen-haired woman wearing a white smock and surgical mask, though both were stained with so much blood it was impossible to tell their original color. She held a knife over her head that dripped with warm blood. She stood there and stared at the bartender’s terror-stricken face. Another moan woke the bartender from his trance. Someone was still alive. There was a man propped up next to the blonde woman against a nearby wall. He was bound similarly to the deceased who lay on the ground. Across his chest was a huge gash. There was no question what had caused the wound.
His head was down. He muttered muffled, incoherent words and displayed the mannerisms of a man who had been drugged. His breath was slow and pained as he struggled to breathe. He seemed familiar to the bartender. His features were difficult to discern in the darkness as the only illumination was the thin moonlight. The bartender let out an audible gasp when he realized it was the lumberjack.
Suddenly, the woman leaped at the man and swung her knife to catch the bartender off guard. His excellent reflexes and a bit of luck allowed him to avoid the blow, but as he did he tripped and fell forward sideways and landed with a thud against the ground. The man frantically rolled quickly then frantically crawled backward in a sort of crude crab walk as he attempted to escape the madwoman while still keeping her in his sights.
The woman followed him slowly. Her pursuit was slow and deliberate. She wanted to relish every moment she made the man squirm.
The bartender kept scrambling until he collided with the wall to the left of the lumberjack. Her mask hid her face so he could not see her sadistic smile as she raised her knife eagerly in the air. Closing his eyes, the bartender braced for blow and prayed to whatever power that might be to take his soul.
The knife never came down.
From the ceiling came the man’s savior. A gigantic spider had come to the rescue.
At first, only her yellow torso with dark blue stripes were seen from the hole above as well as a pair of her protruding legs. From her spinnerette came a web that covered the blonde in an instance which restricted her movement completely. The spider then turned around quickly and gazed upon the scene with her hideous eight eyes. She then leaned her hairy elongated face forward and revealed a pair of gigantic, hairy fangs that fastened onto the blonde’s skull. Her anguished screams faded quickly. She hardly had time to feel excruciating pain before she was devoured.
Not that the bartender managed to witness any of this. He was already far gone by the time his attacker was covered in the white gooey substance. He would not regain consciousness until long after the deed was done.
His vision was blurry when he awoke so the figure that stared back at him with a faint smile was initially nothing but a blog. Soon, his vision cleared and he was able to get a good look at her face from her lap. He made an audible gasp when he realized it was the leggy mistress.
After his mind cleared, he leaped to his feet. He told her that a dangerous creature was near and they needed to escape. The mistress gently grabbed his arms and pushed him back down into her lap. She assured him that the beast had disappeared and the threat was gone. Both of them, she added. The blonde assailant would never hurt anyone ever again.
The bartender’s attention turned towards the lumberjack. He breathed a sigh of relief when he discovered that the man was nearby, freed from his bonds, conscious and sitting upright. His breathing was belabored. His wound had been attended to. A part of his shirt was torn to become a makeshift tourniquet. A sticky white residue of some sort was added when the bandage was applied. It would work well enough until he received proper care.
After a quick scan of the room, the bartender asked where the dead bodies had gone. She explained that she had moved both men to an adjacent room away from the grizzly scene. How a small Asian woman was able to drag two grown men into another room or free the lumberjack from his duct-taped bonds for that matter, was never adequately explained. The bartender was so relieved, though, he did not pepper her with too many questions of logistics and instead asked the mistress what had happened and where she had been. She explained to the best of her ability.
Her relationship with the lumberjack soured a week prior. She did not go into detail regardless of how much the bartender pressed. The woman merely stated she was bad for him and would be bad for any man. This was something she had just recently learned from as dating the lumberjack was her first truly intimate relationship. Hearing this surprised the bartender. He let it slip that he did not expect somebody her age to have never had a relationship with someone before. The bartender immediately regretted saying this and apologized immediately. Though the mistress was visibly upset by his statement, she ultimately chose to let it go.
She continued and told him that the lumberjack’s heartbreak was short felt as he managed to rebound quickly and when he started dating a young blonde. She was not someone the mistress knew but did recognize from many excursions as she put it to the outside world. She’d see her hanging around The Waterfall and various other bars always accompanied by a new young man. Something about this young woman made the mistress uncomfortable whenever she was near though she could not quite put a finger on it. She also believed that perhaps this woman was nothing more than a gold digger or perhaps a lady of the evening, though admitted that both assessments may have been borne of jealousy.
Then she had an epiphany. Seeing the news report and the faces of those missing men made her realize that her discomfort was not merely envy. All of them were the blond woman’s various dates. She tried to warn the lumberjack who dismissed her pleas as the fabrications of an envious, regretful woman. The two of them had just driven off when the bartender bumped into the mistress and the night’s events unfolded.
Apparently, she did not hear the lumberjack’s moans and was still looking for him when the bartender was attacked. She arrived on the scene just as the giant spider began her feast. The mistress spared the bartender the details of the scene. This did not prevent the man from vacating his last meal when she told him of the blonde woman’s fate.
After the bartender had recovered, the mistress continued and told him that she did not know where the spider had gone. She apparently had disappeared after she devoured the blonde woman. When asked why the mistress did not answer which led the bartender to believe she did not know. The bartender speculated that the spider’s only motive was to satiate its hunger. Once it was full, it was time to leave.
The mistress winced after hearing his supposition. Whispering to herself, she asserted that she believed the spider wanted to protect the one she cared for along with an innocent man. The bartender didn’t hear.
The cops and the paramedics were called. While the paramedics attended to the lumberjack, the police questioned the mistress and the bartender. At first, they were suspicious of them, but after surveying the evidence and speaking to the lumberjack, they were convinced that the two were completely innocent of any crime.
From the description of the woman, the police asserted that the blonde woman matched the description of someone who had disappeared recently. She had been abducted by a madman at fifteen and forced to succumb to his debauched and degenerate desires, to put it mildly, for over five years. It was said that her only companions during that time were the spiders that found their way into that basement.
Though she was eventually rescued and her kidnapper was brought to justice or at least a close facsimile for a man willing to commit such atrocities, the woman never quite recovered from the traumatic experience as the scores of dead men in her wake would confirm. Unfortunately, the mystery was never completely solved. The blonde woman’s body was never found. Both the bartender and the mistress understood that it was futile to provide the true explanation but it left them scrambling for an alternative. The duo came to a consensus that she fled upon seeing the mistress but could provide no further details much to the frustration of the officers. Without any leads, the case soon went cold.
Afterward, the mistress and the bartender parted ways. When asked whether she’d ever return to The Waterfall, the mistress answered she wasn’t sure. Perhaps one day but for now she wasn’t quite ready. The bartender asked for clarification. Ready for what, he asked. To return? She just smiled and walked away.
It took time but the bartender was eventually able to move past the ordeal. His boss and coworkers gave the man a hero’s welcome when he returned and was able to work once again.
The lumberjack also recovered. The bartender checked on him daily and promised him he’d have free drinks for life if he ever made it back to The Waterfall. When the lumberjack eventually managed to return, he was greeted by an enthusiastic and jubilant crowd.
The bartender never figured out the mystery of the giant spider. Although he invested a lot of time into research of the matter and made several inquiries, outside of a few tales from Japanese folklore, there were no recorded incidents of giant spiders of that size nonetheless any that consumed human beings whole. It was yet another mystery that had to remain unsolved. The bartender never stopped thinking about it even though he never saw the creature ever again.
As for the mistress, the bartender always remained optimistic that she’d return. Every night he’d looked toward the door always thinking that the next guest would be The Leggy Mistress of The Waterfall.
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