Seeing as it’s Saturday and we’ve all managed to make it to the weekend in one piece, we at The Midnight Type thought you deserved a brand new Bleeding Heart to play with.
Last time we gave you an explicitly good short by the mysterious Violet Skies. Today, we have a story by one of our very own.
Devine in name, divine in nature, Jessie’s THE TELL-TALE HEART tips its hat to Poe in epic Valentine style. If you love it (which you will!) please leave a comment or hit him up online. We’ve even given you little links because we’re just that nice. Enjoy!
THE TELL-TALE HEART
The Tell-Tale Valentine
“Valentine’s Day. Do you think it’s totally nerdy to go to a Poe exposé?”
Coral pops her gum. “If she can’t handle the nerdy, she can’t handle you.”
I string the strands of black and pink hair over my shoulder with my fingers. “I s’pose.”
“You should get her to model for me. Then I could meet her.” She peeks around her canvas and gives me the stink-eye.
“Quit your bitchin’. If I survive tonight, you’ll meet her.”
Coral quirks her turquoise eyebrow. “Survive?”
“You know what I mean. Don’t get dumped.”
Maybe “survive” is the wrong word to use in our enormous Brooklyn loft. It’s been kind of creepy in here since Elizabeth died. Not that there’d been any sign of a break in, or even foul play. Still. Dead. The image of her quiet face as I pulled back the blanket that partitioned off her bedroom haunts me incessantly, and I don’t mean that like a pun. It’s like her ghost, and the only way I remember her anymore.
Though, I did meet Arlet just a day later. What’s that about karma? Out with the old, in with the new, I guess.
Coral rolls her eyes. “Girl, you aren’t getting dumped. If she’s as wonderful as you say she is, she’ll love it.”
“Hope so.” I slide off the corduroy couch. “Any idea when Noah will be home?”
“Think he and Casey are staying with Rob tonight. So we have the place to ourselves.” She waggles her eyebrows.
“Hooray.” My voice is flat. When I said it was creepy, I meant it.
Arlet is eyeing me sideways, her slick little smile around her straw. My heart’s beating in my ears. It always does when she’s around. “You look nervous.”
Her platinum dreads have sparkling beads in them, and today she’s added red feathers. I occupy my eyes with the Pit and the Pendulum game. There’s a swinging blade over a hospital bed with someone tied to it and screaming. His girlfriend is laughing at him. “Come on, let’s try that. I bet we can win.”
Arlet’s heavily-mascaraed lashes flick up and down as she studies it. “That blade’s not even real. What do you have to do?”
“Let it touch you, I guess.” I clear my throat. The prize is a couple’s massage, but I’m not sure if she thinks we’re a couple. My heart beats louder.
She tosses her soda in the trashcan and takes my hand. Her smile returns. “You know, Poe’s my hero. I would’ve ended up here tonight if I hadn’t met you anyway.”
“Ah, great. I brought you somewhere you’d go if you were single.”
Her eyebrows draw together. “That’s bad?”
I shrug. “I dunno. Seems lame to me.”
“No, silly. I wouldn’t’ve had as much fun. Come on.”
We walk over to the Pendulum, where the wuss is walking away with his girlfriend. There are a couple volunteers milling about. This isn’t a very popular booth. Which, yeah, with all the screaming.
“You want to give it a try? You have to sit through the entire run. No screaming. No asking to get off. No begging for mercy.” He smiles. “I mean, if you want to win. Who’s first?”
Arlet jumps into the bed, and the staff straps her down. She winks at me as it lowers until she’s flat, and the blade starts swinging.
At first, it’s like three feet above her body. My eyes are glued to it, swinging back and forth. It’s just like the story, except it’s dropping visibly every time. And we’re not in a dungeon.
The blade comes closer and closer. Finally, it swings down and hits her in the chest. She cries a battle cry, laughing, and the volunteers unstrap her. She hops out of the bed. “What do I win?”
“Nothing yet. She has to do it too.” The staff guy nods at me.
“You got this, hot stuff.” She flutters a kiss onto my cheekbone.
My heart beats out of control. This thing is so silly. It’s not real—for obvious reasons—and I just watched Arlet do it. Plus, it’s totally my thing. Poe, gore, the like. I have no reason to be scared.
But I am.
I climb into the hospital bed, feeling like they’re strapping me to death. I can’t even look at Arlet as they lower me down, and I clench my eyes shut when the blade starts swinging.
Arlet’s catcalling at me, but I won’t open my eyes. I’m afraid I’ll scream, and then I’ll look really stupid. After I feel like I’ve held my breath for ages, the shiny plastic bumps into my boobs, and the staff releases me.
“Congrats. First couple to do that all day.” The staff guy pushes a red envelope into my hands.
Couple. First couple to do that all day.
I flip my hair back. “Really? I mean, it’s just plastic.”
Arlet’s already found something else she’s interested in, so I smile at the staff and run to catch her. The couple’s massage is in my back pocket, and it’s burning on my tongue to ask her out. It’d be pretty romantic. We could go to the wine bar afterward, maybe listen to some music.
But it’s a couple’s thing. Strictly a couple’s thing. It even says so. Couple’s massage. And I don’t know if that’ll freak her out.
We’ve been seeing each other for a few weeks. We even kissed once. But . . .
Maybe I should just ask her straight out. Are. We. A couple. But what if she says no? I squeeze her hand on accident and she squeezes back.
“Not scared, are you?” Her eyes glitter.
I clutch the red envelope in my fingers. “No. Hey, I want to ask you—”
“Oh! Look, this is my favorite story.” She tugs on my arm.
“Wait, Arlet. I have a—”
She drags me inside the Tell-Tale Heart display. It’s dark in here, like a haunted house, and I’m not usually scared of the dark, but my heart pounds into my throat. I take a huge breath. “I gotta ask you a question.”
“What, what?” she laughs.
There’s something peculiar about this room. Not just the fake old man sitting up in bed with a slit of light over a gross-looking eyeball. No, it’s just, “It’s really quiet. Why aren’t there any staff in here?”
In the darkness, I can barely make out that sly grin. “I might’ve had a friend manning this booth, and he might’ve closed it just for me.”
“Oh . . . what for?”
Her head tips back, and she laughs in her gut. “You’re adorable.” She slides her hand into the back of my hair and pulls. I gasp, and her lips touch mine.
Like that, she kisses me. Her red lipstick is sliding off her Christina Aguilera lips onto mine, and for a second I despair that I’ll look like a kid with a Kool-Aid mustache.
But Arlet is kissing me, the world is falling out from under me, and my heartbeat is so loud I think she must be able to hear it. Her tongue twists with mine. I take her tiny, hourglass waist in my hands and pull her hard against my hips. Her breath hitches. Heat flares in the base of my spine and sets me lightheaded. Her hands tug at my hair, and I kiss her collarbone. She smells so good, like lavender and vanilla. I wonder how she tastes.
Her laugh interrupts my fantasizing as she falls to the floor.
“Arlet! Are you okay?”
She gives me puppy eyes and pats the ground next to her. I snort, and sit down. “Ah, that’s better.” She straddles me and pulls me to her by my lapels.
Her lips don’t quite touch mine. They tease. I can feel her breath, and it brings mine up short. I reach for her.
Darkness encases her as she rolls off of me and under the bed, giggling.
“What on Earth are you doing?” I can barely see her, but she beckons to me slowly with one finger. A thrill races up my back. “Why are you under there?”
“Because I want you under here with me.”
Breathless, I belly crawl under the bed until I’m pressed up against her. “Arlet.”
“Yes?” She slides on top of me and laces her legs between mine. Her thigh presses up into my crotch. There’s not a lot of room between the bed and the floor. We’re extremely close.
I kiss her again. “Wanna get a couple’s massage with me?”
“Are we a couple now?”
Thankfully, she can’t see me blush in the darkness. “I was hoping.”
“Alright.” She kisses me again, harder. Her teeth take my bottom lip in her mouth, and her hand slides over my jeans between my legs.
I moan a little. “Arlet.”
“Elizabeth,” she says into my neck.
My eyes snap open. “My name’s not Elizabeth.”
“Oh, I know, honey.” The sultry romance is gone from her voice. She pins me down, and reaches for the bed leg.
Elizabeth’s gray face flashes in my head, and my heartbeat grows louder. “So, why’d you say that name?”
“Because I know what you did to her.” Her legs are still between mine, but my blood has run cold. She jerks on the leg of the bed, and it inches across the floor.
“What? How? No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The last bit trails out of my mouth none-too-gracefully, and she smiles saccharine. She knows it’s a lie.
“I think you know very well what I’m talking about.” She heaves the bed up with her shoulder, and I’m too stunned to move. How does she know? She can’t know.
Suddenly, the wooden foot is smack in the center of my chest. The weight of it squeezes the air out of my lungs. My heart throbs against it, echoing in the darkness like a bass drum. “Wait, what are you doing? What do you know?”
“I know you killed her.” She rolls away and shoves the bed down like a stake through my sternum, silencing my hideous heart.
*And as usual, Jessie kicks ass!*
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