Scorpion Nature

Posted: July 9, 2013 in Flash, Stories

scopion-and-frog

Written for the Another-Realm April Thru May flash competition.

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

-oOo-

Marcus walked the centre line of the dark desert highway and tried to think of something other than the Eagles’ lyrics looping around inside his skull. He tried to guess the odds he’d get a ride before daylight instead, and ignored the aching pulse of hunger in the pit of his stomach. L.A. was a bust, Vegas had to be better.

Headlights caught the back of his boots, pushed his shadow out, reaching into the night before him. He turned and waited for the vehicle, its lights blinding, washing out the starlight that had lit his way.

An old school bus pulled up next to him, the door hissed open and framed him with electric illumination.

“You need a lift, hon?”

She was whip thin, late thirties. Her forehead was smooth but there were hard lines around her mouth. Marcus could see the tendons in her arms and hands as she gripped the steering-wheel.

“Heading to Vegas?”

“Sure, get in.”

Marcus didn’t see the prayer beads hanging from the mirror until he nearly brushed against them. He flinched way too hard.

“Make yourself at home, hon.”

Inside, the bus was full on boho hippy crap, tie-dye and beads a major theme. Marcus sat on the seat up in front, across from her. The door hissed shut again and the bus groaned into motion, the engine straining.

Marcus caught her scent beneath the cloying incense that permeated the bus. She smelled of lavender, musk and desperation. His stomach flipped hard and his hunger made itself known to him again. Her makeshift bed, a rumpled mess of sheets, was behind him. He turned his head and took a deep breath; More of her, the men that had been there with her, and something else, something familiar, something darker.

She was watching him over her shoulder. “You’re not the first, you know that right?”

“What?”

“The way you flinched. It’s almost laughable.”

Marcus shrugged, pretended he didn’t understand.

“I waited my whole life, and then two of you come along, one after another.” She shook her head.

Marcus let the silence stretch. The road hummed beneath the wheels, a steady drone, hypnotic.

“I’m pretty beat. You want to drive for a while?”

Her voice jolted Marcus from his daze. He shook his head. “Can’t, never learned.”

She looked at him, puzzled. “Yeah, I guess under all that road dust you’re kind of young.”

Marcus said nothing.

“I’m going to have to pull over then, grab a little shut-eye.” The brakes whined as the bus slowed. When she shut off the engine, the silence that followed was a void between them.

She stood up from behind the wheel. Marcus got to see how thin she really was, bone thin, painful thin. Only the sharpness of her hips and her long brown hair marked her as a woman.

She stepped up close to him.

“The one before you was much, much older,” she said and reached out to stroke his cheek. Her warm fingers felt good against his cool skin.

“I asked him to turn me but wouldn’t do it,” she said.

She undid the buttons of her blouse, her eyes on his, and then pulled it aside to reveal a livid scar; Brutal and ugly, the tissue raised and angry, crossing her ribs where her breast had been. She took his hand and placed it there. Her scar burned into his palm, hot and pulsing.

“Cancer,” she said, matter of fact. “Took them both.”

Marcus reached up beneath her blouse with his other hand and found the mirror scar, felt the same heat and, beneath it, the steady beating of her heart.

“I’ve been good all my life, never stepped out of line, never made waves. Took nearly dying to realise I’ve never lived. Now it’s too late, the cancer’s in my bones.”

She pulled him onto the tangled sheets of her bed, her lips hard against his.

“Make me,” she whispered in his ear. “Make me like you.”

“I can’t. I’m not old enough, it won’t work.” The hunger was reaching up through his throat, making his tongue thick, his control weak.

“Then take me,” she said staring deep into his eyes, her breath sweet on his face. “Take away the pain.”

“I can’t.” Marcus pushed the words through clenched teeth, fighting the urge to bite, to tear, to suck her wasted body dry. He’d never killed before, still too new, too human.

“Make me or take me, I don’t care.”

Her lips found his again. She pushed her tongue between them and into his mouth, running it across the clenched cage of his teeth. Marcus’ jaw ached with the strain of keeping it shut.

She pushed herself against him, hard and insistent. His hand found one of the jagged, pulsing scars again. Every detail, every ridge, burning into the palm of his cold hand. It was the final straw. He growled as he tore his mouth from hers, opened his jaws wide and plunged his teeth deep into her throat. Salt and copper flooded his mouth. His stomach spasmed painfully and then accepted the bounty. She moaned, low and sensual like a lover, and clung to him.

Marcus could taste it; The corruption, the cancer, in her bones and in her blood, a bitter after-taste. The hunger didn’t care. Only the sweet agony of each mouthful he could suck down mattered. The thick flow ebbed too soon. She started to convulse. Still, he sucked at the wound, drawing every sickening, delicious drop until he felt her heartbeat fade, stutter and finally stop.

His hunger sated, he lay there tangled in her bed, her cooling body beside him. If he’d been older, if he’d been stronger, if he’d fed before he left L.A. It was too late, it didn’t matter. The horizon already burned crimson across the desert sand, the sun was rising in the East.

THE END

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Comments
  1. I think you give my subconscious more credit than it deserves, although now you point it out that does seem like an odd turn of phrase.

    Both stories deal with transformation and the perception of what is acceptable in that regard. But those are themes that I play with a lot.

    Thanks, that was an interesting comment and question.

    • More about “more” versus “less”- I think we artists give our subconscious LESS credit than it deserves. Our writings provide a cornucopia of data for therapists, guaranteed. If we but reflect a little ourselves, we can mine insights about our own insecurities, fears, desires, and yearnings. (As a chaplain with some training in counseling, I “more or less” know something about this.) -Karen B. Kaplan

  2. After re-reading your other story, “Less of Her,” the words, “more of her” stood out to me in this story. Companion stories? Subconsciously linked? If so, how in your opinion?

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