If ever there was a person no one thought capable of murder, it was Luna.
Corey drove her to it, they’ll say. They were together two years. She walked in to an empty apartment and a note that just said ‘Bye.’ They all thought she would crumble.
She came to work like normal, ate, laughed, but no one saw her out nights. She stopped socializing with everyone outside of obligatory tasks. Understandable. Then one Monday, she didn’t come in. She didn’t call in sick, she didn’t return calls. The second no show day, their boss said ‘Fuck her then, post an ad for help.’ Work resumed.
Biels and Cernia went by her apartment after work. Luna wasn’t there; neither was her car. Biels had to bail, family needed dinner she said. Cernia stayed, waited. At almost midnight, she started walking home.
There was a horrible ache beneath her shoulder blades. Too much work. Too much stress. Some time off would do her good. She laughed at the thought, remembering she had three dollars and thirty-two cents in her pocket to last until Friday.
The bridge was dark that night, barren. Cernia’s stomach tingled, her arm hairs pricked. She wished she had cab money. She looked over the high ledge at the blackness of the water below. How strange that she could see the sky better than the water no more than a hundred feet beneath her ankles. There was a noise close by.
It was time to go.
Just passing the midway point, Cernia slowed, then stopped. Squinting, she saw a large silhouette, too large to be real, of course. She knew it was a trick on the mind. Her upper back ached. She rubbed her muscles. The things in front of her moved, swayed, like two tall but juvenile trees. Between them was a smaller, dense, stationary object. Cernia blinked hard several times. The shadows did not fade. She kicked herself for being a coward and took a step.
She only accepted that her vision was not an illusion once she could see past the darkness, see the flesh, skin, blood. It was Luna, and it wasn’t. Her face had pulled, stretched. She had a long, moth-like mouth that was stuck into Corey’s throat, suckling. White, powdered wings moved in a wave like a conductor leading an orchestra through a delicate, sweeping downbeat.
Cernia’s shoulder blades pinched. A hot, singe plucked a nerve and shot through her shoulders, elbows, wrists, knuckles. She crumpled.
There was a thud. Thick iron and sweat whirled in her nose. She wretched, then drooled. She swallowed. She could hear Corey’s blood thicken, his heart rate slow then stop; she could hear Luna’s skin peel from the cement with each step of her bare feet; she could hear the coat of small hairs all colliding into one another, like grass in a heavy wind. She covered her ears and squeezed.
“What have you done to me?” Cernia yelled.
“Me?” Luna laughed. “Oh dear. Have you never? You poor thing. Let me help.”
The hair on Cernia’s arms pulled up, like iron bits to a magnet, and pointed at Luna. She curled into a ball and covered her throat.
“Please don’t eat me. I won’t tell anyone.” Her face was hot, moist. Luna was over her, all light from the moon blotted out by her wings. Cernia held her breath.
Luna’s touch brought not pain but release. She poked her fingers deep into Cernia’s back, causing an eruption of powder and feathers. White wings sprouted from her own back. She reached to feel a tubular mouth hanging from her face, twirled into a spiral.
The wind rolling over the water sounded like ice scraping metal. Birds chirped sharp. Leaves rustling was louder than a shattered window. Luna held her hands over Cernia’s ears.
“This is the worst of it. Your ears will adjust.”
“What. Did. You. Do?”
“I set you free, mon amie. I didn’t do this to you. You were in hibernation.”
Crying, Cernia looked up. “What?”
“You are awake now.”
“No, no, I must be dreaming.”
“You can go back to sleep if you like.”
Was she making jokes?
“Come. You don’t have to suffer anymore. Let’s try those new wings, anywhere you want to go.”
“Got what he had coming to him. I ate his new girlfriend, too.”
Cernia vomited. It spewed out of her little spout mouth.
“I can’t…I can’t eat people.”
“You can, and you’ll drool for more when you do. Each flavor is as unique as a line of reds at a wine tasting.”
“But they are people, with…”
“Meaningless lives and humdrum jobs raising kids they don’t even like.”
“Gotten into me? The me you knew was but a portion of my timeline. I am hundreds of years old, sweetheart”
“How am I this, this thing? Was my mom…or dad?”
“One of them, yes.”
“No, no god sweetie. Just man and animal and a fucked-up planet.”
Cernia gathered herself. She considered two options. Leaving with Luna or latching onto her throat. Would she die? Was she capable? She thought about everyone she knew, everyone she had known. Was anyone worth the life they’d been granted? Were their lives worth her own? She was hungry. There was a new cave in her core already.
“Who would you suggest I try first?”
Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
To see the photo that originally inspired this story, please visit the Instagram link below.