Love & Monsters by Christina Butcher

Hunter watched her pour hot water into the French Press. She pored it clockwise, slowly covering the coffee grounds while letting the steam rise up into her face. She wanted slow coffee, she had told him. Slow love. Everything slow, slow, slow.

But he couldn’t stand it anymore. He wanted, and needed, more from her. She never let him kiss her lips, or hold her while they lied in bed. They seldom made love.

Hunter stood behind Aurora. He drew his hand across her back, feeling the soft cotton of her t shirt as he let his hand tangle up in her long hair. He leaned in to kiss her neck, but she stiffened and pulled away.

“Don’t, Hunter. You know what will happen.”

He sighed, taking a step back. This again

“No. I don’t know what will happen, Aurora. I know what could happen, maybe, but I don’t care. It’s been months since it flared up. And you still haven’t told me what it’s all about, either. Do you ever plan on telling me about your past?”

Hunter leaned back against the opposite counter, waiting for a response. Aurora still had her back to him, but he could tell that she was frustrated. He didn’t care anymore, though. Finally, she turned around to face him.

“I just don’t want to take the chance, Hunter. What if it does happen again?”

“You don’t know that it will, Aurora. And you can’t control the situation any more than I can, so I think I should have a say in this, too.” His hands were gripping the counter so hard that his knuckles had turned white. The corners of his mouth dragged downward.

  “It’s worth the risk, okay? I understand what I’m getting myself into.”

And with that, Hunter pushed himself from the counter and moved closer to Aurora.

“Don’t, Hunter …” she said, but she didn’t move.

Hunter reached out and took her hand in his, as delicately as he could. They both paused for a moment, waiting to see what would happen. Aurora’s palm was soft against his, and he pressed him thumb into the back of her hand, trying to comfort her.

“See? Nothing happened.”

She let out a long breath, allowing her body to relax just a little bit. She looked up at him, smiling, and met his eye for the first time that morning.

“Trust me, Aurora, I know neither of us has ev –”

Hunter’s body seized, he went rigid, his mouth still trying to form his last words. His fingers curled in, painfully, on Aurora’s hand, and before she could stop it, a bolt of electricity shot through her stomach and chest. It coursed through her left arm, where it finally surged out into Hunter’s open palm. They both knew the worst wasn’t over yet.

Aurora whimpered, clawing at Hunter’s hand as she tried, in vain, to dislodge it from herself. He was foaming at the mouth now, and his legs were bending inwards against each other. Just as he started to fall over, Aurora reached out with her other hand and wrapped her arm around his waist.

“No, no, no! Hunter!” She screamed. “Not now, not yet!”

Hunter’s eyes rolled back and his head lolled off to one side. He was no longer conscious, but his body was still convulsing. Aurora couldn’t free her left arm, so she held his body up as another shock of electricity burst out from her own. Tears rolled down her face as she sobbed, uncontrollably into his shoulder.

“Please, no! Hunter! I don’t want this, not with you!”

Finally, the energy emanating from Aurora’s body ebbed out and she was left holding her his limp body in her arms. The force that fastened their hands and limbs together receded. Aurora bent down, laying Hunter’s body across the hardwood floor. She wept, anxiously, as she checked for a pulse at his wrists first, then his neck. There was no pulse. She pressed her forehead against his chest, lost in grief.

*   *    *    *

When Aurora finally raised her head back up, she could feel the warmth of the afternoon sun against her skin. The light shone through the windows, illuminating the room and the dead man in the middle of the floor. She was lost in grief.

I tried to tell him, she thought, why wouldn’t he listen? I never wanted this from him!

She had loved this one. Hunter knew what she wanted; he knew how to give her space and privacy, and he knew when not to press her for more. He had only grown restless of their lifestyle in the last few weeks. She knew that there was nothing to be done, now, though. She’d have to get on with it, otherwise she’d risk upsetting the cycle.

Aurora reached into her mouth and found the small, soft zipper that was hidden between her teeth and bottom lip. She pulled upwards, slowly unzipping her lip until she rounded the top, the softest part of her body. Then, she pulled downward, unzipping the skin across her chin and down her throat. She stopped there. That was all she needed today.

Ignoring the blood, she placed her hands under her exposed jaw bone, pushing outwards until it snapped out of place with a resounding ‘POP.’ She placed it on the counter, next to the now cold coffee. Aurora then unraveled her true tongue and let it fall against her exposed throat. She sighed in relief. It just gets so itchy in there

She leaned over Hunter’s body, letting the small, razor sharp teeth that lined the top of her tongue lovingly glide across his face. She tasted the droplets of blood that formed in the tracks left by her tongue. Aurora took a deep breath, relishing the heavy taste of love in his blood. It was thick, and real, she realized. Hunter had truly loved her.

Aurora stifled her tears, trying to move forward with the ritual. She took his hand and placed it in her mouth. Her tongue clamped down on his wrist, then, and she stayed like that for a few moments, relishing the taste of him. And just like that, consumed him, slowly, just the way she liked it.