Chuck Wendig has regular writing challenges on his blog, which are awesome. This is my first time participating. First, he challenged people to come up with a story title and then he challenged them to choose a title created by someone else and write its story in 2,000 words or less.
If you’re here through Chuck’s blog, please leave a link to your ‘Choose a Title’ story in the comments, I’d love to see what you came up with.
This is my story, title courtesy of nkharrold… thanks for the excellent title!
She Never Dies Quietly
She screamed when I killed her for the last time. Of course she had. She always did.
Things had been going well with Amanda before I’d realized that she wasn’t really Amanda. She was Sonja. Of course she was.
It took me a year this time to recognize that Sonja was posing as Amanda. I’d been starting to feel safe, to feel comfortable. I was falling in love with her, goddammit! Amanda was perfect. She had been, anyway. Before she’d started to act… differently. Before she’d started to act like Sonja.
I couldn’t understand how Sonja did it but this was the third time—no, the fourth—that she’d posed as another woman to wedge her way back into my life. To manipulate me, to hurt me, to control me. No matter how I killed her, the bitch just wouldn’t stay dead.
The first time—this had been the original Sonja, not one of the four disguises that I knew of—I hadn’t intended to kill her. We had a fight, she said something that she shouldn’t have said and I lost control, simple as that. I hadn’t realized how often or how hard I’d hit her with the beer bottle until she’d finally stopped screaming.
We had met by chance in the parking lot of a random supermarket where I’d stopped on the way home from work one late night. We had started chatting and hit it off. We’d only been on three dates when I killed her and neither of us had met any friends, family, or even any acquaintances of the other, so I wasn’t concerned about being a suspect once I realized that I’d killed her. Not really.
If I’d ever stayed the night at her place or even had sex with her, I’d have been worried about leaving some kind of evidence. I’d done neither. I may have left some hairs behind, maybe some fingerprints and saliva on that fucking beer bottle, but I’d never been in trouble with the law before so I wasn’t worried.
About six months later I discovered that she’d come back, despite the fact that I was sure I’d killed her. Becky hadn’t even looked much like Sonja, not at first. But she had changed eventually. One night she had said it, the thing that Sonja had said the night I’d bashed her brains in with a beer bottle. Becky said it and I just knew. I didn’t know how it was possible, but I knew in my heart that it was really Sonja.
That was when her Becky disguise had begun to fail and she had started looking more and more like herself. Becky’s lovely blonde hair had darkened slightly and taken on a slightly reddish tinge, just like Sonja’s. Becky’s slight frame had become more athletic and a bit taller. Her eyes had gradually changed from brown to blue.
I wouldn’t have believe it if I hadn’t witnessed it. Within days, the lovely blonde that I’d been fucking for three weeks had turned into the bitch I’d killed half a year before. She still pretended to be Becky so I guessed that she didn’t realize that I could see through her disguise.
I started to plan. I knew that I couldn’t beat her to death as I’d done the first time. I didn’t want the cops to see Sonja-Becky killed in the same way as the original Sonja and wonder if it was a pattern, so I thought about it for a few days before I decided that I would stab her. That had worked a lot better than bludgeoning her to death and while it had been bloody, it hadn’t been nearly as messy as the first time.
But she had screamed a lot. Of course she had.
I swore off women for a while before I met Chantelle. Oh, she had been a knockout. Tall and raven-haired with dark pools for eyes, into which I could happily gaze for hours. She was smart and funny, and sexy as hell. It didn’t take nearly as long as it had with Becky for me to realize that she was really Sonja. In fact, I realized it the day after I met her. It happened as we were getting hot and heavy on her shitty little couch in her shitty little trailer, just after our first date.
I hadn’t been with a woman in months and I had wanted her so very badly. When she looked down at me as she straddled me on the couch and her dark eyes flashed to their true blue color, the blue of Sonja’s eyes, my heart nearly broke.
I’d killed Sonja twice but she kept coming back somehow. I didn’t know what to do. I was so horny that I was incapable of doing anything at that moment but holding onto the fake Chantelle while she had her way with me. I had really wanted her, even if she was Sonja.
In the days following the incident on the couch, I began to doubt what I’d seen. Was she really Sonja or was I just tormented by the memory of how Becky had really been Sonja? I couldn’t be sure, really. I watched Chantelle for the same changes I’d seen in Becky but after a few days, nothing had happened. She still looked and acted like Chantelle so I let it go, figuring that I had been hallucinating. Or drunk. That was until a few weeks after the first incident, when it happened again.
We’d ordered pizza and were on the same shitty little couch, watching some stupid chick flick that Chantelle had begged me to pick up at the Red Box on the way over. She laughed at something in the movie and it was her laugh. Sonja’s laugh.
I had stared at Chantelle, eyes wide. I noticed a reddish tint to her dark hair and my stomach roiled, threatening to reject the pizza I’d consumed. When she had glanced at me with smiling eyes, I swore that the color of her irises was lighter than their usual brown—which was so dark that her eyes appeared to be black in all but the brightest light.
“What?” Her smile remained intact but her brow furrowed. When I didn’t answer, the smile slid from her face. “Why are you looking at me like that? What’s wrong with you?”
She screamed as I backhanded her and reached for her throat, but my hands cut the noise off quickly. I choked Sonja-Chantelle while listening to the upbeat song at the end of the movie. She had thrashed around quite a lot, kicking the cheap coffee table over and sending plates and beer bottles clanking and crashing to the floor. She had also knocked over the lamp that sat on the side table, but that had been the last of her noisy flailing.
I had rented the stupid Red Box movie with my debit card, so I took it with me before I burned her shitty trailer to the ground.
I bought a gun after that. Illegally, of course. I didn’t want it traced back to me if it came to that. It was the first illegal thing I had ever done. Well, besides killing three women.
No, I had only killed one woman, I’d just had to do it three times.
I met Monica several months after I’d killed Sonja-Chantelle. Monica was a redhead and I didn’t usually go for them since Sonja, but her eyes were green and her skin was much paler than Sonja’s had been. Plus she was shorter and older. The differences seemed to be enough to separate her from Sonja in my mind so I went for it.
I had stopped at a new bar that night. I tended to visit places where I wasn’t well known, just in case I picked up a girl. Okay, to be honest, it was just in case I picked up a girl that turned out to be Sonja again.
I bought Monica a few drinks and after a while, she became very friendly. We went outside for some air and so that she could have a smoke as we walked through the sea of cars in the parking lot. As she finished her cigarette and I pressed her up against someone’s car, she seemed to change her tune.
She struggled against my hands, which I’d gotten up her shirt fairly quickly and easily. She’d let me feel her up inside but once we were outside she had decided to be a bitch and fight me. But I knew that she wanted it and by God, I was going to give it to her.
I had her skirt up around her waist and was fumbling one-handed with my belt as I kissed her when she bit my lip. Shocked at the quick pain, I jerked away. One look in her eyes told me all I needed to know. They were blue, she was Sonja.
Then she spoke and clinched her fate. “I said not here! What’s wrong with you?”
I assumed that the one shot from my gun wasn’t heard inside the noisy bar, since nobody came outside to investigate.
I went three years without so much as buying a prostitute. I didn’t want to take the risk that any woman I was dating, even if it was only for one night after money changed hands, would again turn into Sonja. It was a rough three years.
One of my work colleagues hired Amanda as an assistant. I’d seen her here and there, exchanged a few pleasantries, and offered a few ‘good morning’ and ‘have a nice weekend’ type wishes.
She wasn’t striking, wasn’t tall and lithe—as I usually liked my women—wasn’t glamorous or sophisticated. In fact, she was rather a small woman, a bit mousy, perhaps a bit thick around the waist. Some might use the word frumpy. All of those factors combined were probably responsible for my opinion of her as no more than a possible friendly work acquaintance.
Until I saw her out with some of the girls at a bar my coworkers and I frequented. She had her hair down, long and curly brown hair that cascaded down her back. She was dressed differently and she looked sexy. Her short skirt showed off lovely, shapely legs and her low-cut top revealed enough in the deep ‘V’ of its neck to make me want to bury my face in that shadowy crevice.
I was smitten. Though I took it very slow. So very damned slow. I had to be sure this time, sure that I was free of Sonja.
And it really appeared as though I was free. Days went by after the night at the bar and Amanda stayed Amanda. We started dating and our hesitant relationship finally began to relax as romance blossomed. Weeks, months, a year passed.
I relaxed. I was happy. I thought I was falling in love.
The first thing to change had been her attitude, she became brittle and defensive. I had a bad feeling immediately. Then, her eyes began to resemble those of her true self. Her brown hair lightened gradually. I worried.
It happened one night at my place. I’d been stressed out and distracted and when I couldn’t perform, she said it. Oh God, why had she said it?
“What’s wrong with you, babe?”
The fake look of concern on Sonja-Amanda’s face pushed me over the edge. When I pulled the gun from my bedside table, she’d screamed. Goddamn Sonja and her goddamn screaming.
I put a bullet in her head then looked around the room, feeling helpless. It was my place and her brains were splattered across the room. There was no getting away with it this time.
“You win, Sonja,” I whispered. I heard her laughter, faint but sounding satisfied, as I put the barrel of the gun into my mouth.