Chance Bride

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Watch the Sky Media - Mystery, Crime & Horror
The cabin was rundown but not totally unusable. It looked secure, a little rough on the exterior and all the windows were boarded up, but whatever. I was just about to knock, out of courtesy more than anything else, when I heard the sound of a piano being played from inside.

Submitted: June 24, 2017

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Submitted: June 24, 2017

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Chance Bride

 

by

Grant Fieldgrove

 

 

  We made the trip to Maui together as a sort of final farewell to our rapidly fading youth. Both on the edge of thirty, neither of us had done anything very adventurous, and after a few glasses a wine three months ago, we decided now was the time.

  We arrived on the island on Monday, taking the first two days just to get used to the time change.  But today, today was for exploring. We’d heard about a place called Hana, on the far side of the island, which was gorgeous, and decided to make that our destination. What we’d also heard, however, was that the road was a long and twisty affair, and Tara was prone to carsickness during such drives.

  We had almost given up on the idea when we encountered two local burnouts outside of a gas station that asked us where we were headed.  I explained the situation and one of the burnouts, aptly named Bernie, informed us of the back way.

  The back way, he said, was much more straightforward and quicker, but you had to be careful of the tides. He said there was a reason that road was rarely travelled, except by locals who were well informed of the ocean’s fluctuating highs and lows.  He said the road was called The Beyond.

  He was also stoned out of his mind.

  But, with the whole trip planned just to be adventurous, we decided to go for it, although in hindsight, I should have been a little suspicious when the two burnouts started laughing.

  The Beyond, for the most part, looked like a road from an old abandoned town. It was obviously rarely travelled, alternating between dirt, gravel and mangled concrete, and didn’t seem to be any less curvy than the worst of what we could imagine. It was, however, a lot flatter than the road I had Googled the night before.  It was, no matter how isolated and quiet, gorgeous. The sea butted up to our right side, and lush grassland to the left.

  Things were going smoothly, Tara was driving slow and taking the turns in a no-rush fashion, until out of nowhere, a wave slammed into the side of the car, forcing Tara to swerve into some foliage.

  It scared the shit out of me and I remember yelling something, although I can’t recall what.

  I do remember Tara yelling holy shit as the car came to a stop in a small ditch.

  Another wave crashed onto the broken asphalt, spraying the car with a salty mist.

  Ahead of us, the road began to disappear and the water began to rise.  It was the damnedest thing I’d ever seen, the road just disappearing under water.

  I yelled at Tara to go.

  She pressed her foot onto the gas pedal and we heard the sound of our tires splashing water. We were stuck and the tide was rising.

  We both got out of the car, just as another wave struck me, nearly knocking me off my feet. Tara ran around the front, took my hand, and led me into the plants.  We ran until we hit the base of a mountain, about a hundred yards away. We walked up the incline and turn to watch just as our car was devoured.

  “Holy shit,” Tara said, on the verge of tears.

  I tried to be funny and said, “Did we get the insurance?”

  It got a laugh. A nervous, we’re screwed laugh, but a laugh still the same. The sad reality was that we were literally in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from anyone or anything. We had no food, no water, I was soaking wet, and our purses and phones were both left behind in the car.

  We had no choice but to walk. The higher ground the better.

  Trying to make the best out of a terrible situation, I pointed out that the hike was beautiful. We were actually walking through a rainforest; at least I thought that’s what it was. It was foresty and it was raining, so it made sense at the time.

  We had lost track of the sun over and hour previously but despite the heavy cloud cover, we could tell it was going down. It would be very dark very soon and we would be completely and totally lost.

  We picked up the pace, hoping, praying to find something before the blackness took us over like the ocean took over our car.

  In the distance, about a quarter mile, our hopes had been answered. There was a shack.

  Shelter!

  We approached and at first glance it appeared abandoned, which was fine. We didn’t care. If we could just find a place to stay tonight, out of the rain, I was sure we could figure this whole thing out in the morning. Our insurance would cover the car, and we would have a hell of a story to tell when we returned home.

  The cabin was rundown but not totally unusable. It looked secure, a little rough on the exterior and all the windows were boarded up, but whatever. I was just about to knock, out of courtesy more than anything else, when I heard the sound of a piano being played from inside.

  Someone lived here. And if someone lived here, that means there might be food, because honestly, that Twinkie I bought from the gas station was a bit of a disappointment.

  I knocked and the piano ceased. I shared a nervous glance with Tara. Here we are, in the middle of nowhere, knocking on the door of a strange shack. It could only play out two ways, I suppose.

  The door creaked open and the first thing I noticed was the lack of interior light. A shadowy figure appeared before us, and if I’ve ever read a horror story before, I know a shadowy figure is never a good sign. It was too late now, though.

  “Yes,” the man said in a soft, quiet voice, which made me feel a little better, although it sounded like he was missing several teeth.

  Tara laughed, then said, “Sir, we’re so sorry to bother you, but we are lost and wet and tired, and just a hot mess, honestly. We…we just stumbled upon your place and-”

  “Please,” the meek voice said, ”come inside, you’re soaking wet.”

  After another exchanged glance with my best friend, we stepped inside. A few candles were lit but they didn’t provide much light. I could see the piano off in the corner, and other than that, not much. Still though, we were out of the rain.

  The man led us father into the shack. “You say you came upon this place strictly by chance?”

  “Yeah,” I said as we trailed behind him.

  Have you ever been faced with a situation and right off the bat, you know it’s going to be bad?

  The man sat back at his piano and began fingering the keys slowly, producing no real melody. He was careful to always keep his face hidden, even with the light of the candles.

  My first thought was maybe he was an escaped criminal, but the more I thought of it, the more unlikely it seemed. That seemed like something out of a bad James Patterson novel or something. Not like there was a good James Patterson novel to compare it to, but still.

  Something wasn’t right.

  The man spoke again. “Strange how you found this place. Strictly by chance. If you had walked in even the slightest of different angles up the mountains, you would have missed it completely. I am the only person around for miles and miles, and yet, here you are. Lucky, wouldn’t you say?”

  “Yeah,” Tara said quietly, “lucky.”

  The man in the shadows stood and told us he would get us a drink. When he left, Tara and I once again exchanged glances, panicked again. “We’ve got to get out of here. I don’t trust this guy at all.”

  “Me either.”

  “So, let’s just go. Let’s make a break for it.”

  I was just about to agree when a voice from behind scared the living shit out of me. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

  “Hey look,” Tara said, “we appreciate the hospitality and everything, but we’re just going to go. Our boyfriends are probably out looking for us right now.”

  “Boyfriends, eh? Funny how the boyfriends weren’t mentioned before. No, I’m pretty sure there are no boyfriends.”

  He started to say something more, but on instinct, Tara and I made a mad dash for the door, only to find it locked with the deadbolt. When he had managed to do that without us seeing, I have no idea.

  “It’s so lonely here,” the man said. “I’m here all alone.”

  “Look you freak,” Tara said, “unlock the goddamn door or I’m going to beat your brittle ass into oblivion.”

  The man tilted his darkened face, and I realized I still have no idea what he looks like. There was a moment of silence before, “No. I don’t think you’ll be doing such thing. Please, ladies, have a seat.”

  I don’t know why we listened to him, maybe fear, maybe just buying time, but we did as we were told.

  “Let me tell you a story. I used to be married. I loved my wife very much. We lived out here in the quiet, away from everything, after becoming fed up with the constant developments inland, the endless flow of tourists. We lived out here in peace, never bothering anyone, until one day she fell ill. She was dead within six months and I was left with nothing but this house and my thoughts.

  “It gets lonely out here. So very lonely.”

  “Yeah,” I said nervously, with a touch of giggles, “lonely sucks. Right Tar?”

  “Right, Meg. Ya know, we’ve got this friend who would be perfect for you. Do you have a phone here? I’ll call her.”

  That, obviously, didn’t work.

  “Here is what is going to happen ladies. I miss my wife. I miss being married. It’s a feeling I want to experience again, so here is my proposal. One of you is going to be my bride.”

  My first instinct was to volunteer Tara, but quickly realized there was more to this disgusting story.

  “Does…” Tara stammered. “Does the other one go free?”

  For the first time, the man in the dark laughed. Not a hearty laugh, just a goose bump-inducing chuckle. “No, my dear. The other will be killed of course.”

  My stomach dropped and I thought I was going to throw up. I didn’t know what to do, how to react, what to say.

  Tara spoke first. You know what she said?

  She bounced to her feet and said, “I’ll marry you.”

  That backstabbing bitch. I had no other option but to follow suit, to tell him I would be the one to marry him.

  The argument went back and forth, each of us doing our best to throw the other under the bus.

  And just like that, with one threat a lifetime friendship was destroyed.

  It went on until the man interrupted us and told us, calmly and coolly, to shut up.

  We listened.

  There had to be another way out of this. I didn’t want Tara to die anymore than she wanted me to die, but in that one instant, it was kill or be killed.

  But…there had to be another way.

  The man spoke again as he slowly stepped towards us from the shadows. “When my wife died,” he said, “I tried to take my own life. I put a pistol in my mouth and pulled the trigger.  Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that would be fatal. Probably more than that; one in a million chance of not dying. You see, the gun I used was a low caliber model and just by chance, the bullet hit a gold tooth directly upon being fired. It changed the trajectory by just a hair, and instead of blowing my brains out; it blew my teeth out the side of my face. I laid there on the ground, bleeding, but not dying. That is why I prefer the dark. I should be dead, but chance kept me alive.”

  I wanted to throw up. His face was still shrouded in blackness, but knowing the details, I could start to see the outline of what was missing from it.

  I could hear Tara’s teeth chattering.

  “So,” he continued, “since chance saved my life and chance brought you here, I shall trust chance to decide who will be my bride.”

  He dug in his pocket and pulled out what I guessed to be a coin.

  “We flip for it. What is your name?”

  Tara told him.

  He looked to me. “What is your name?”

  “Megan.”

  “Tara and Megan. Tara, would you like heads or tails?”

  Tara stood there, perfectly still. Quiet.

  “Heads!” I yelled out, just trying to get this whole thing over with. “I’ll take heads.”

  “Very well. Tara, you will have tails. Are you ready?”

  My stomach cramped so bad I thought I was going to mess myself right then and there.  His arm extended and I heard the metallic hum of the flip. The coin seemed to hover in the air for eternity before hitting the floor with a few deafening tings.

  It was done. The coin had been flipped, our fates seemingly sealed.

  Out of nowhere, Tara lunged at the man, yelled something I couldn’t even understand, but just as quickly as she had pounced, she was laid out cold on the floor. The fist that knocked her out came so fast and unexpectedly from the shrouded figure that any chance I may have had of fighting him off vanished. What appeared to be gaunt and brittle proved to be much more powerful than what my first glance suggested.

  I screamed again but quickly shut up when he turned his head to face me again. I couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. I felt them roll down my face. “What…what is it?”

  “I feel it’s only fair to wait for Tara. If she lost, she should at least be awake to know. Otherwise, that seems unfair.”

  So we waited. Each second seemed like a minute. My breath got shallower and shallower and I thought I might drop dead from suffocation right there. The man just stood there, perfectly still. Patience seemed to be his virtue. It certainly wasn’t mine.

  The clock ticked on and Tara still lay there. What’s done is done, nothing I could do about it, at least not now.

  I could attack. It didn’t work out too well for Tara, but I could still give it a try.

  When situations like this arise, I learned it’s easier to procrastinate than make a decision. Every second of procrastination was a second I was alive.

  From the ground, Tara began to moan. I bent over to help her up, glancing at the coin futilely. It was too dark to see.

  I helped Tara to her feet and quickly explained what had happened. She rubbed her jaw and took a deep breath.

  “Now,” the man said, “let’s see what chance has to offer me. Who will be my blushing new bride.”

  He turn and walked to the piano, grabbing a candle from its stand and returning to us. It was the first time I caught a good glimpse of his face. The left side was missing. Scar tissue covered some, but light could clearly pass through the hole in his cheek. Most of his teeth were gone and his eye seemed to droop down a good two inches below the other one.

  If he bent down to look at the coin, I was going to kick him in the face. I had surveyed the room and didn’t see any real way out. The windows were boarded, the door locked…but there had to be a way.

  He didn’t bend though. The candle fell from his hand and hit the ground, illuminating the coin. “Well,” he said, “what is it?”

  Tara and I both slowly bent down. “Heads,” I said.

  I felt the blood and skull hit my face before I even heard the gunshot and saw the muzzle flash. Just as quickly as he struck Tara before, he had pulled a gun and taken her head off. Her stump of a body hit the ground, landing on the coin. I screamed. I screamed so loud it actually hurt my ears.

  The man grabbed me, dragged me into another room. He stood me in front of a closet, held the gun on me, and told me to try on dresses until I found one I liked.

  I had no choice.  I could hardly see but I knew I had no choice.

  As of now, until I can think of a way out, I was going to be this freak’s bride. I would bide my time and eventually I would escape. But for now, I was stuck. I was stuck in this shit hole shack trying on a dead woman’s dresses.

  But I’m a smart girl.

  Right?

  I mean, if I was smart enough to lie about that coin flip coming up heads, then surely I can think of a way out of this.

 


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