It's flash fiction time again, and because it's Halloween, you knew this one had to be creepy.
Chuck at Terribleminds gave us a set of parameters, including:
- Must-feature ingredient
There's, oh, around ten things under each. You choose one thing and go to work on 1,000 words -- which is never as much as it seems. I'm going with:
Southern Gothic; Revenge; Strip Club; Succubus
So, if it wasn't obvious from that -- or from the title -- this one may not be all too SFW, as they say. Happy Halloween, everyone, and enjoy.
# # # #
On cool Halloween nights -- just like this one -- if you listen close you can hear her scream, unchained and echoing through the low marsh like the wicked spell it is.
Waiting for the full moon, waiting for the right time.
Will it be tonight?
# # # #
The old plantation house withers among the overgrown sawgrass and stunted junipers, decaying cypress trees and the cottonmouths, the majesty of it long dead. What's left of it rots deep in the back woods, the sandy soil devouring the wooden carcass board by weathered board. The house, burdened only by the memories of old secrets and shame, slouches far off any road you'll ever drive down.
Not long ago enough, the moss and vines were part of the appeal of the place, part of the character of Sweet Dolly Fordham's.
Directions to Sweet Dolly's place were convoluted, elaborate by design. From Miami you had to drive clear up around the Everglades just to get to the back roads winding to the old plantation.
From Tampa, it was an uneven drive south, then east, across cattle and citrus country, before the old dirt ruts leading to the courtyard, then the house.
No one was going to simply stumble upon it.
There was a password involved usually, something
that changed frequently.
And you'd have to know to ask for Dolly herself. That was if you wanted to get involved in the real business of Sweet Dolly Fordham's place. Otherwise, for your trouble you'd be treated to a simple evening of fining steak house dining and the topless wares of some of the prettiest women north of Havana.
In the best of times, Sweet Dolly and her crew entertained dozens and dozens of men a night in the restaurant and strip club. The dancers earned hundreds of dollars a night -- unheard of at the time -- and on that business alone, it would have been a raging success.
But that was not the only business in which Sweet Dolly trafficked.
With the password -- and an up-front down payment -- the night would get much, much better.
Sweet Dolly had hired Clarice, a girl just 19 out of New Orleans, on sight. Gorgeous. Red hair, the perfect shape -- rounded hips and large, soft breasts. A smile tinged with wickedness.
Within weeks, Clarice was earning her way on the dance floor. Within a couple of months, she was on her way to being the star attraction in the back rooms.
Men would roll in from Tampa, Miami, sometimes, even Daytona and Tallahassee and ask for Clarice by name after whispering the password to Sweet Dolly. She was happy to oblige them.
# # # #
Like everyone else, the Mayor of Cardo -- a repulsive man and a southern politician in the worst tradition -- had heard of Sweet Dolly Fordham's but had never seen it, had never quite known where it was.
Except for hunting and fucking women not his wife, the Mayor didn't much care about very much of anything, except being Mayor. He got to appoint the local police chief -- himself. And the best part of that job was busting speeding college kids flying through the state to get to the beach. And carrying a loaded gun.
It was a late night, a dark night and the booze had long worn off the four men in the Cadillac, leaving it reeking of bourbon and a good time. When the Mayor -- red bubble light in the windshield of his Dodge -- pulled them over to the side of the desolate highway, they said they were headed back to Ybor City.
The Mayor could smell the lie as easily as the booze on their breath.
He pulled the gun and threatened to leave them stranded among the gators and mosquitoes if they didn't tell him the truth he already knew.
They called bullshit.
He shot out a tail-light, happy to be able to fire the .44 for a change.
A cock of the hammer on the Mayor's gun and they gave up the password. He let them speed out of town and hustled to his own car.
She didn't like the Mayor the minute she saw him amble out of the car. But when he offered the password and a sweaty handful of cash, Dolly Fordham had little choice but to bring him to the back.
There night could have ended no other way.
"Her," he growled, pointing at Clarice. "Let's go."
Clarice, ever confident, put her arm around the
Mayor and escorted him to her room.
Ten minutes later, the shots and the screams rang out. Sweet Dolly knew that instant it was the end of Sweet Dolly Fordham's.
Men ran out of the front, girls ran out the back, and Sweet Dolly stood in the doorway of Clarice's room, watched the Mayor fumble up his belt buckle and pants. She looked at Clarice's lifeless, beautiful form. Gorgeous red hair still cascading over her wicked smile. Her elegant eyes, still open, still shining like a secret.
"Dumb bitch," he was huffing and puffing, red-faced. "Wouldn't do what I say! Wouldn't do it! Teach that bitch a hard lesson... had to... had to..." He brushed past Sweet Dolly and was gone.
The disrepair to the once grand cat house happened virtually immediately.
Sweet Dolly moved away. Some say she retired to Miami. Others say L.A. She was never heard from again.
The Mayor of Cardo is still there, though, after all these years.
But he is not alone. He is never alone.
And as the full moon on this Halloween night approaches, his time grows shorter.
If you find old dirt ruts out past the tall sawgrass and the snakes and the mossy trees, listen close. They say she -- once called Clarice -- is prepared to take her revenge. You won't need the old forgotten passwords to hear the cackle and screams.
Neither will the Mayor.