This story is by Lisa Nowatzki and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
Why do I always attract the dogs? Joe thinks as he smacks the dashboard of his hell-fire red Porsche 911. Ramming the gear shift into first, he tries to let out the clutch in one smooth motion the way the car dealer taught him, but the engine doesn’t cooperate; it spits and sputters and stalls out.
Looking in the mirror and adjusting his thin comb-over, he yells “A perfect way to end another miserable date! Joe Weiner, you deserve better.” He starts the car. Sputtering and jumping, he manages to maneuver the Porsche out on the highway and heads home. I want a beautiful girlfriend to reflect my status in the world. Is that too much to ask? He thinks as he zooms by endless yellow canola fields.
Lightning flashes off to his right – again and again. Curiosity overrides his aversion to stopping and starting the manual shift. He coasts onto the grassy shoulder, stops, and walks in the field, toward the lightning.
“What the hell?”
The lightning morphs into an eight-inch round ball of iridescent static. In twenty years as a physicist, Joe has never seen anything like flashing orb. He reaches out and touches the glowing conglomeration. Slowly the sphere changes into a flowing diaphanous, six-foot-tall woman, floating inches above the ground.
“Can you help me?” she asks.
“You are the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.” Joe blurts out. “What can I do? Wait. What are you? I’m seeing things. Someone spiked my drink at the restaurant! You can’t be real.” Joe says as he touches the creature again. Visions of hot, sweaty sex with the being and forbidden desires fulfilled, assault Joe’s mind.
Her lilting voice brings him back. “I am called Apate. I need help finding back to my home.”
“Sure, let’s go!”
“Not this plane of existence. You call the different realities alternate dimensions. I lost my way through the dimensional portal.”
“I can’t believe this is happening. You are lucky I came along. I am a world-famous physicist, and if anyone can help you find your way home, I can. Let’s go back to my lab.”
During the short drive to Joe’s home laboratory, he only stalls the car twice. She is impressed with my car and driving skills. Now, to amaze her with my brain and find her a way back to her home, he thinks.
Pulling into the driveway, he spots Patsy in the driveway. Oh no, why is the troll here? I should have never given her a key to my house, even though she cleans and does my laundry for free.
“She’s a colleague of mine, Patsy. She is nothing to me. She cleans my house sometimes. I need to explain you to her. Please wait in the car.”
Patsy greets Joe. “I hope you don’t mind me coming over, I cleaned a little and used your microscope. Your scope is so much better than the one at work.”
“Sure, no problem.
“New Birkenstocks?” Joe asks as he flashes a watered-down smile. I wish she would wear heels and makeup when she comes over. Are you finished in the lab? I need to run a few tests.”
“Can I help?” Patsy beams, with her heart on her sleeve.
Ugh! Joe sighs. “Sure. Can you tidy up the lab and break down some of those empty cardboard boxes?”
Shoulders back and chest puffed out, Joe goes over and opens the passenger door of his car. “This little lady needs my help. “
Patsy stares, “What? I don’t understand.”
“I’m going to help her find her way back home. Isn’t she beautiful?” Joe says as he looks at the apparition with love in his big doe-brown eyes.
“You’re so funny! The car is empty,” Patsy said, walking back into the house, heading for Joe’s basement laboratory. Joe motions for Apate to follow him.
In the lab, Patsy is busy cutting up cardboard when Joe comes in with Apate.
“Come over here Patsy and entertain my gorgeous friend while I set up the lab.”
Patsy sets the utility knife down and walks over to Joe.
“Another joke?” Patsy snickers.
“Talk to her, Patsy.” Joe huffs. “Apate, please tell us more about your world.” Joe encourages.
“My people survive in this dimension and travel to my world through our connection to your kind. We bond with humans to move from this reality to another.”
“Did you hear, Patsy? She needs someone to bond with.” Joe said as he imagines fulfilling all his dark, unspoken sexual desires. His dream comes true. A beautiful woman wants him!
“What are you talking about! Enough joking. There is nothing there!” Patsy says as she waves her arms around and goes over to where Joe is looking.
Patsy’s arm touches something – something evil. The world stops. Heat, hellfire, and the stench of sulfur fills her nose and throat. Her eyes water. Apate is there, walking in the flames among countless tortured souls. Patsy chokes on the burnt flesh of the fallen. Joe’s voice yanks Patsy back to the laboratory.
“I will help and bond with you!” Joe tells the specter, giddy with lust.
Apate floats over to Joe. Patsy screams, “No! Don’t! Run, Joe! The thing is evil. I saw hell when I touched the demon! It needs a voluntary host. Where is it? Don’t let the wraith touch you!”
“You are just jealous because I love her! I’ve finally found my beautiful girlfriend,” Joe chokes out as Apate engulfs and consumes him.
Patsy watches Joe tremble and shake. He foams at the mouth and goes deadly still. His head jerks; He looks at her. The firelights of hell shine in the back of his eyes. The pungent smell of brimstone hangs in the air. Patsy trembles.
“Come here and let me show you how much I love you,” Joe tells Patsy as he picks up the utility knife laying on the counter top.
Demonic laughter drowns out the screams of another sinful soul.