The Damning Effect
Marci missed the smell of aftershave. She couldn't explain why. It wasn't one of Peter's best smells, but it was his. She sat up in bed, drenched in sweat, hair matted all over her stunning face and pressed against the front of her neck. She pulled it away in disgust. This had been the sixth night in a row of no sleep, just horrible nightmares she was unable to pull away from. She lowered her head in her hands and attempted to catch her breath before standing up. She was of average height, but felt so small she was surprised she didn't have to jump down off the bed. Crossing the room to the light switch, she tripped over a pair of Peter's jeans. They'd been there since that morning. That morning. She brought her leg up and kicked them under the bed, as if that would make everything go away. Of course, she just felt worse.
She wandered to the bathroom doorway and glanced at the toilet, hoping for the seat to be up. For once in her life she just wanted the seat to be inconvenient for her. No, it was down, just like she needed it. Tears escaped her dried out eyes and ran down her already moistened face. She began to cry harder now, falling to the floor in a shivering heap. Realization hit her like a wrecking ball, like it did every day; Peter was gone. Forever. And she couldn't take it. She lay back on the linoleum and recalled the day. It wasn't long ago, but it had already been an eternity without him.
She had woken up first, like she always did. With little convincing, Peter made love to her until neither one could breathe. He was an amazing lover, and she was never unsatisfied by him. She lay in bed chanting "I love you" over and over. He repeated it back to her, their bodies entwined with no evidence of ever separating.
Of course, later on they would have to separate, as he had to go to work at the chemical plant several towns away. He was an engineer, but that's all she knew. A military operation had contracted the plant for an uncertain amount of time, and Peter was not allowed to talk about it. She understood, of course, and wasn't about to ask him to break the rules. Peter was a great employee, always on time, and he never questioned the rules.
He tried on one pair of pants, but something had happened to it in the laundry, so he kicked them aside and chose another pair. Marci loved watching him dress; he always looked so serious doing it. He had an amazing figure, which helped provide him with the stamina she witnessed several times a week. He combed his hair to the side, and headed off into the bathroom. Leaving the toilet seat up was something he couldn't stop doing. They'd been married five years and he still acted like a bachelor in that respect. She'd tease him, but was actually fine with it.
He gave her a long, passionate kiss, then climbed into his SUV and drove away, waving like he always did. Marci stood at the door for a moment, then headed back into the house to watch some sort of TV. He made so much money, especially with this contract, that there really was no need for her to work, and she was fine with cleaning the house and enjoying the benefits of a wealthy husband.
Three hours later a man with a gruff voice and no emotion told her Peter was dead. Just like that. No "they tried everything they could", no "there's been a terrible accident", just "your husband's dead."
"Wh-who is this?" she could barely spit out. At first she was convinced he was joking, or the very least, an asshole ex-boyfriend.
"I'm not at liberty to discuss at this time the cause of death or who I am. All I can tell you is that Mr. Suttner's body cannot be recovered and as of now we need you not to discuss this with anyone. We will make sure your finances are taken care of. That's all." And click, that was it.
It was six days later. She couldn't even leave the house. She couldn't bear to be in public, couldn't stand to hear anyone else's voice. It was hard to convince herself to be clean. Six days of no television and no radio. No contact. This wasn't so much out of the ordinary, however, because they weren't real social people to begin with.
She sat on the couch staring at the wall, moonlight peeking in through the blinds and shining on her face. A scuffling outside startled her. She wrote it off as an animal, as several neighborhood cats loved to roam this time of night. When it didn't stop she got nervous. She slid one of her delicate, long fingers through one of the blinds and bended it down gently, and peered out. A human figure was lurking around not two feet from her window.
She gasped a little more loudly than she meant to, and the figure shifted toward her. She turned around awkwardly and fell to the floor, jumping up almost instantly and hurried to the kitchen. She yanked open a drawer and retrieved a kitchen knife. Then she headed back to the window and looked again. Nothing.
Noise on the porch stole her attention yet again. The sweat was back, and as familiar as it was, she definitely didn't like it now. She decided to deal with it. She had nothing to lose, so she turned on the porch light, unbolted the door, and threw it open.
"Oh.... oh my God! Peter!" Her breath was taken away. She stared at him in amazement. He looked so ragged standing there, his clothes torn in spots and one shoulder lower than the other. Was he hurt? What happened? So many questions flooded her brain she could hardly speak. Peter spoke for her.
"P-Peter? Come inside!" She stepped aside for him to come in. He hadn't looked at her, but then he brought up his head and she stared into his lifeless, gray eyes.
"Peter? W-what is-" She couldn't finish a sentence. She went to him, and threw her arms around him. He moaned a little and brought his arms up to her shoulders in an embrace. Then lowered his face to her neck and opened his mouth.
He had almost bitten straight through her throat when she pushed him back with force she didn't knew she had. Everything came to her at once. This had something to do with the chemical plant, the secrecy, and the government. She took one last look at Peter, who had started sauntering over to her, and she turned around to run, and ran into someone she'd never seen before. But the eyes told her enough. She knew both of these men were the same.
Peter and the other man showed no hesitation; Peter grabbed her shoulders, and the other one bent down to her arm. She swung the knife, nearly decapitating the stranger, pulled away from Peter, and backed into the kitchen. The light from the kitchen was brighter than the porch light, and she could make out the gray skin, the hair falling out, blood stains on both of their chins.
The other assailant continued to pursue, and she snatched a frying pan and took aim, this time twisting the head around and knocking it to one side, spitting out shots of blood as it fell. Peter wasn't even aware of his accomplice falling, he just kept coming. She pleaded, "Please, Peter, Peter! Listen to me! It's Marci". Nothing seemed to register.
He grabbed her again, and she stabbed the knife through his tattered work shirt and into his once stunning physique. He didn't even look down, just opened his mouth and once again descended. The smell pouring from there was so rancid; she spit up on him and herself. She swung the pan, knocking him to the floor. She looked at him for what seemed like forever, but there was no movement. She started to run to a phone, but his arm caught her foot and sent her into the side of the doorway, knocking her out cold.
She awoke to excruciating pain, and the noise of moaning and eating was unbearable. She looked toward her feet, and to her horror saw her legs were gone, in different corners of the room. There were several of them now, and they continued pulling pieces from her body until she lost consciousness. Several of the creatures stayed to finish up on her, while more headed out into the street, continuing to distribute their malice upon the populace.