This piece is by Mike Conradt.
To be Mine Forever.
My breath was coming in short rapid rasping sounds as I ran down the street. The details of what happened in the woods I cannot remember. I tried to think with some degree of clarity, but my mind was overwhelmed with confusion and anxiety. My running became slower and slower while my leg muscles burned from the exertion. I dropped to the ground and tried to cry, but it lacked sincerity, and my spirit ached for forgiveness. Getting up, I walked the rest of the way to my dorm room, fearful of everyone around me. Once inside, I threw myself onto the bed and buried my face in the pillow. My mind raced with confusion. The look on her face as she laid on the ground. Motionless, staring blankly, a trickle of blood from her mouth. Was she dead, or is this just a dream?
Of my moral character, I have little to say, but from the earliest memories of my youth, I have always been a person with a highly imaginative personality whose trivial wickedness increased as I grew older. As my depravity grew, I increasingly became ill-willed with a temper and a desire for sexual deviation of the most tortuous type. During college, I sought women with the same degenerative urges and experimented in various private areas, with the woods being the favorite location. At times, during clarity of mind, I recognized the irrationality of my fantasies and sought to find counseling. Some of the more authoritative professionals in the field questioned my sanity, judging me as some deviate capable of horrible atrocities. I found them to be arrogant and egotistical, smiling at their efforts.
After I received my degree in philosophy, I was employed at a small college in the Midwest. Although the community was small, it had all the amenities of a larger city. The apartment I lived in was near the downtown area and close to a café. While the restaurant was a manner of convenience at first, it eventually became a haven for my affliction with alcohol. Drinking eased the distraught I felt from my haunting dreams and disturbing memories, relief from my troubled days, and sleepless nights. The precise details of the deed remain hidden, forgotten out of fear, but the look on her face, the staring of her eyes unnerved me, especially at night.
As time passed, my reliance on intoxicating spirits began to affect my work as a professor, eventually coming to the attention of my superiors. It was their ultimatum that forced me to find an alternative to the drunkenness and lack of responsibly to my students. I searched for a replacement to the anesthetic effects of alcohol and found few, if any, which would give relief to my troubled mind. I buried myself into reading books, any kind of books, some interesting some not. They took my mind to another place where I could escape the anguish I was feeling. I brought some books and some I borrowed from the library. It was at the library I came to know a student who had similar interests in books exceptionally rare books. They had value and could be sold for a profit if the right one came into your procession. Finding a bookstore that carried such books was as unique as the books themselves. So, I continued to find solace in my drinking resulting in confusion, disorientation, and a slow decline in my mental abilities.
One afternoon, as I sought to quell troubling memories with a stiff drink, I headed to the café, and seeing it was closed, I walked to the end of the street. I stopped at the corner, and looking down the block, I noticed a bookstore sign hanging somewhat precariously from its bracket. I walked the half a block to the front of the building, and standing there, I became so enchanted with its quaintness and originality that I became curious and entered the store. The number of books lying on tables, shelves, full to the ceiling, and some stacked waist-high on the floor was staggering. I walked up and down the aisles, looking over books, some old and tattered, and some rare first editions. The store had a unique atmosphere and a fragrance emanating from somewhere within the store. I could not quite place it.
While the store had a few customers, none of them paid any attention to my presence. I surmised they liked their privacy as most patrons wandered quietly with an air of suspicion throughout the store. They studied each curious book inquisitively, carefully and meticulously, looking up only briefly to assure their complete anonymity. I picked up a book and started paging through it. It was then that I could feel I was being watched as if I did not belong, a stranger within their midst. At length, I found myself curiously watched by a young woman of incomprehensible beauty. I felt I should know her, someone from another time, perhaps a student. The vision of her beauty was exquisite and indescribable, something of perfection with her raven black hair and eyes which invaded my spirit, dulling my senses. Her facial features were allusive, hidden from view by what looked like a thin veil, making her strangely troubling.
She approached me quietly and slowly as if she floated. I began to feel nauseated with a sickness growing inside me, a weakness overcame my body, a sudden suspicion grew. I dropped the book and rushed out of the store. I quickly hastened up the street. My legs felt weak, and I staggered from one side of the sidewalk to the other. My breathing was erratic, making me feel dizzy and disorientated. I made my way into my apartment and collapsed onto the chair. I took a deep breath and looked out my window. The street was vacant with only leaves blown around by a breeze, which was not perceptible when I arrived.
The woman was entrenched in my mind, and her familiarly, I could not shake. I spent the next few days thinking about her, yet her identity is still elusive. How can I believe she is the same woman I befriended at a party and then left in the woods? It can’t be, my mind was playing tricks on me, the details are still elusive. My nightly dreams were filled with dark spirits whispering to me in a language I could not understand. They seemed sketchy at first but became more terrifying as time went. At last, it became apparent I could no longer hide from my soul’s desire to return to the store and confront my fears. The tugging at my spirit was persistent, and at last, it prevailed.
The next afternoon after having a few drinks at the café, I made my way to the bookstore. Once I entered the store, I could smell just a hint of the exotic fragrance I detected from the previous time. Immediately I began to feel disorientated, and from deep within my spirit, a warning, to leave, to run. Instead, I began to wander around, and then without notice, she was there in front of me. She appeared suddenly and came out of nowhere. With the suddenness of her appearance, I did not recognize her, and although she did not seem hostile or unfriendly, I felt uncomfortable with the way she fixed her gaze on me. A form of seduction with a mesmerizing look that held my eyes for seconds, then minutes. The fragrance, of roses with a hint of lilac grew with intensity. I could feel myself sinking, a feeling of being drugged and blinded while I began to feel trapped in the store. The tug on my spirit dragging me into an inevitable horrifying outcome. I found it hard to pull my gaze from hers, and I began to shake, barely at first, then visibly. I could not comprehend the feeling I was having. I had a hard time pulling myself together, yet I could not put to rest my anguish over the familiarly of her face. I hesitated with the rooms sudden sensual feeling, a peaceful atmosphere at first, a euphoric high overcame me as I looked for a place to sit down. I found a chair near the wall and sat down. Then she was gone! I looked around and could not see her anywhere in the store.
I sat for a while, trying to put sense to the disillusionment I felt. Suddenly I became perplexed and uncertain of myself, almost fearful. For no apparent reason, a weakness overcame me, and my breathing became erratic. I began to feel dizzy and sick. I got up looking to leave and steadying myself on the chair, I began to make my way toward the door. Suddenly she was there, standing in front of me. I did not see her approach or where she came from. It was her, now with all the clarity I recognized the woman before me as the girl I took to the woods, I felt unsteady and shocked, unable to move or say anything. She looked me in the eye, and I grew more nervous, frozen, more perplexed of her motives. She smiled and put her hand on my shoulder, her touch was reassuring in such a way it scared me.
She slowly slipped her hand into mine and gave it a light squeeze. I felt started at first with the reassuring warmth of her hand. A seductive warmth which vanquished the inherent resistance I had, replacing my fear with confidence, sickness with desire, weakness with the strength to be with her forever. I become utterly speechless as she gazed into my eyes and slowly sit me back down on the chair. She then sat on my lap and taking my hands into hers, she pulled me closer and kissed me. Her lips were soft and sensual, giving me a sexual rise. She began to speak, then stopped and smiled. “What are you saying,” I muttered, barely able to get the words out.
With a musical tone to her voice, like a lullaby quietly sung, and a hint of sadness, she said. “After that first night, I lured you into my heart, and with my soul, I made love to you. In the end, all I wanted was to be loved by you. My spirit so ached to be with you, forever. Instead, you rejected me, making false promises, ignoring me, twisting my desires.” She stopped for a moment then continued but with a rise in her voice. “Instead of love, you murdered me, putting me in a ditch covered with dirt and leaves. Hiding the deed so cleverly for no one to see. My body unclothed, unseen from the highway, deep in the woods. Oh, I cherish the thought to be with you again, to walk the woods together in perfect union. How I so loved you from the first moment I met you.”
She carefully brushed my hair off my forehead and fondly caressed me. Bringing me into her bosom, she tenderly kissed me. It was a dream, I thought, I could see her but felt numb to her touch. She rose and at the same time, pulled me up, embracing me tightly. Her body had no substance, and my spirit felt troubled, a dangerous warning coming from deep within me. I paid no heed and pulling me closer to her; she buried my head in her breasts. She stroked my hair softly, whispering words I did not understand yet, bringing a sleepy comfort to me.
I fought the sleep and the troubling dream associated with my deepening slumber. The vision, in its infancy, manifested images of grotesque human-shaped forms tormented slowly by degrees until they were no more, only to reappear. I become confused with the feeling of complete domination by the woman, a sense of being torn apart, revealing only my spirit and the horrors it contained. I shudder to think of its revelation. The room began to slowly spin, giving me a dizzy feeling. I tried to open my eyes, but the deep slumber had taken control, the dream becomes more realistic.
I had lost my sense of time, her tightening hold on me, pulling me closer to her bosom. She whispered something which sounded foreign to me. “Vos autem mea in sempiternum.” I recognized the language to be Latin but did not comprehend it. She began to laugh, at first silently, then louder until it echoed off the walls of the store.
Darkness began to deepen around us as I groped to find a sense of balance, but the spinning of the room increased, giving the effect of a carnival ride out of control. I felt lightheaded and become detached from her bosom. The dream became a reality, and I began to see the tormented human shapes with more clarity. Their grotesque physical appearance gave rise to an indescribable horror. Her mysterious and melancholy laugh echoed louder in my brain; her beautiful body evolved into a hideous unrecognizable shape. I spun wildly, faster and faster as I continued to plunge madly downward. Horror filled my senses, my heart, my soul as cries of anguished spirits came from all sides. I felt their despair as it suddenly becomes apparent, the horror of my descent into a labyrinth of hell.