No Greater Monster

There are monsters out there, this I know. There are monsters.

Mathew said to himself out loud, as if speaking to an expectant audience, like he was in some movie and there was a fourth wall to break. He had always done that, speak to himself out loud as if anyone would listen. The years of isolation had only exacerbated the habit, made it a proclivity, an old crease in the flesh that you couldn’t help but run your fingers over obsessively time and time again.

He cleaned the tiles of the bathroom studiously, strenuously, even though the stains had long since been wiped clean off, eroded even. Matthew couldn’t help but adhere to the ritual he had perfected for himself. It was the cleansing, the only way he could cope with all he knew, with all he understood.

**********************************************************************

Shara had taken the day off. That’s what she had told herself that morning, in any case. Now she was back at the shop, idling and doing little more than twirling her hair as she waited for the hours to go by until she could get the fuck out of the convenience store. Eddie just had to get sick that day, the one day she was going to make her move.

The patrons today weren’t all bad, but she really had had it with the whole gig. She had been planning to make it out of Dodge, so to speak, that very day, and had been thwarted in her attempt by a strange sense of guilt. It wasn’t bad enough that she was leaving her old man, but she would do so, too, while being a work-dodger? Not a chance! She wasn’t going to leave her old man, near-senile as he was, with the burden of her bad reputation – though she hadn’t really gotten such a thing just yet.

It was her day off, goddamnit!  She could skip town on her day off, but not when she was required to show up to work.

She had been lost in her escapist reverie when she showed up. She had never been particularly infatuated with any person before, neither female nor male, at least not so much so that she had ever really tried anything physical. She had been quite content playing with herself over the years rather than giving in to the wooing of any suitor. This woman that walked into the store, well, she was something else.

The way she walked. The way she looked at Shara as she walked up to the counter to ask for a pack Virginia Slims. The oddly sheepish way in which she smiled when she noticed – surely, she noticed! – Shara’s silly, besotted grin and puppy-dog eyes… She was just too much!

**********************************************************************

There are monsters. There are, there really are.

The litany of Matthew, as it would have been known had anyone actually been listening, ever, went on. He scrubbed, on all fours, tears streaming down his face now, his eyes unblinking as they poured, as if it were someone else crying, not him.

There are ghosts of what has transpired there. The afterimages…

He couldn’t tell how long he’d been at it: the scrubbing. He couldn’t tell at all. His clothes were soiled, he knew. He had debased himself in ways he’d never thought possible, but it all seemed beyond him, now. It was all beyond any semblance of import. It was all of no consequence. He had to continue his cleanse.

**********************************************************************

Pandora. She had said her name was Pandora. How awesome was that?!

Shara had decided to close shop early and fuck the boss in the ear a thousand times, figuratively – though she would have paid good money to see that in a literal sense! Pandora, the promise of her, was just too much not to take the plunge. The sheer potential hinted at behind those intense, brown eyes…

In minutes, they were in Pandora’s car, going down the highway, to a place Pandora assured her would be so much fun.

Shara had no doubt in her mind; it would be such fun!

**********************************************************************

Mathew had spent days, now. Days.

It came to him, the memory and the notion, clear as day. Clear as that afternoon when, after waking up from a binge, with a terrible hangover, he chanced upon the intruders in his home.

Stiff morning wood pitching an unsightly tent in his cheap cotton boxers, Matthew had walked downstairs from his shitty bedroom, ever-unkempt, untidy. Shirtless, belly protruding over the barely-serviceable elastic waistband, he took the unceremonious trip to the bathroom that naturally preceded every self-loathing themed morning – err – afternoon, after a bender.

As he opened the door to the rather spacious bathroom – white-tiled, with two bathtubs of the old-fashioned kind – lion legs and all –, and a few drain openings on the floor that suited an autopsy room more than a bathroom – he was greeted by the sight of a young woman – barely more than a girl, really – hung from one of the shower pipes by her handcuffed wrists. She was naked, bleeding profusely from countless lacerations on her pale, sheer skin.

There was another woman, one that was obviously older, naked as well, though there was something venomous, toxic about her being unclothed. The very way she handled herself, it was… poison.

Matthew’s erection pulled a Houdini and went the way of the Dodo bird while the other naked woman spoke.

I know you don’t remember me. I know you probably don’t know who I am.

She chuckled in a husky voice, as if musing. Matthew had no voice to speak with.

There was a time when I knew you and you were important to me. You had so much potential, but you squandered it. Such a shame, really. Well, no good deed goes unpunished!

That last, she added in such a contrasting cheery tone that Matthew couldn’t help but flinch as if struck.

Well, this is so that you remember all that you’ve lost. A lesson. Maybe you’re not so thick to not learn it, the lesson.

The lady… She slit the girl’s throat and then walked out nonchalantly, not a care in the world while the girl bled out. Matthew, too dumbstruck to react, simply stood there, pissing his boxers. Literally.

**********************************************************************

Pandora was so unbelievable. They were breaking into some guy’s place, on a lark, just for the hell of it. The risk, the passion, the danger… They were all Shara had craved from since God knew when… She was so turned on!

There was nothing she could do to not want to taste Pandora.

Close your eyes.

Pandora had said that so vehemently, so authoritatively… Shara had felt a warmth at the pit of her belly, a familiar tickle that was also stronger than she’d ever felt before.

Then came the blinding pain.

**********************************************************************

There are monsters out there.

Matthew repeated out loud. He had seen it, crawling back out of a past he had thought long-buried. His own transgressions amplified exponentially, given flesh and played out before him like he could never have envisioned.

But there is no greater monster…

He went on, scrubbing, trying to erase his past, to erase his sins…

No greater monster than the human heart.

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