An obessed fan of a latina celebrity has special plans for her “Quincea?era,” a traditional coming-of-age celebration.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, to be read only by individuals aged 18 or above. The events depicted herewith are fantasy and do not reflect real world events in any way.
For quite some time, I could not shake the feeling that I had done something terribly wrong.
She was not, as I long had thought, perfect. My eyes found flaws where there were none, as though they had hidden themselves in the vibrance of her body in motion, only to be revealed as she lay still.
But those were the features that made Bella. Without them, she would be like anyone else. Perfection must accede to flaws to evolve into character.
I wiped the traces of berry juice from her lips, glancing over to the mirror on the floor nearby, stained by the same nectar. In a few days I would discover whether my endeavors came to fruition, but there were more pressing concerns at hand.
I swallowed a Ritalin and started to give her a bath.
* * *
It was October 3rd, five days before her quinceañera. Her empyrean hair gleamed from a distance, marking her amid the crowd on the busy promenade. The sight of it roiled my anxiety, but I stood fast against the tide in the greatest challenge of my life. Everything I needed and could procure was in place; all that remained was opportunity.
Knowing such a thing would never come if I did not place myself squarely in its path, I learned all I could about the crime I was about to commit, drawing inspiration from news articles, court documents and, of course, television shows. I had gained access to her e-mail and cell phone surreptitiously, enlightening me to her itinerary prior to her birthday. She was to pick up her dress from the shop after some last minute alterations; knowing that she would be at a specific place at a certain time made it easier to plan ahead. I parked an unassuming vehicle at a strategic location nearby, and carried with me a pair of latex gloves as well as a syringe containing animal tranquilizer. To become adept at using the last item, I spent many hours perfecting the art of jabbing a needle into a person’s neck by practicing on a mannequin.
It would seem that kidnapping someone in broad daylight in a public area might be ill advised, but a throng of people minding their own business also might serve as the perfect camouflage. As long as I did not allow myself to be interrupted at the most crucial moment, delivering her to the vehicle and making my escape would be simple.
Yet for all my preparations, I was under no illusion that my plan would succeed without a bit of luck. I thought it was a romantic notion: somehow, the proverbial stars must be aligned for Bella and I to be united. If I failed, then we were not meant to be together.
Setting aside the poetic implications, I stalked Bella from afar and waited for the right moment to act. Having hacked into her cell, I had arranged for my burner to receive her GPS location and text messages concurrently, giving me as clear a picture of her movements as possible. To draw her away from her companions, I sent her a text message from a spoofed source—purportedly from her boyfriend—asking her to sneak away alone for a few minutes. There were contingency plans in place if she refused or insisted on my coming to her instead, but when she acquiesced I knew my chances had improved dramatically.
On my phone I watched her icon on the map draw ever closer to my location, a cloistered section of the promenade through which Bella must travel to meet up with her “boyfriend.” My heart fluttered at the prospect of laying my hands on her at last, forcing me to seek the reassurance of the syringe in my pocket and visualize the encounter.
Bella came into view just as I completed the last practice run in my head. I kept my head down as though I were focused on my cell phone. She, too, was absorbed in her phone, oblivious to the world beyond the wall of sound emanated by her earbuds. The bill of her baseball cap was pulled low in a cursory attempt to remain incognito. Enveloped in what seemed like a cosmic singularity, I felt a strange calmness descend upon me as we came together.
I slipped the syringe out of my pocket and removed the plastic cap. Entrusting my fate to the cadence of muscle memory, I stabbed down at her neck with the needle.
She looked up at me just as I pressed down on the plunger. Cognition flashed in her eyes, and a nascent cry escaped her lips, but that was all her swooning body could manage before she began to topple. I yanked the needle free and caught her with my arm, bracing her against me as I shuffled toward the car. Along the way, I made sure to toss away her cell phone.
The journey to the car was a complete blur. By the time I managed to stow my captive in the passenger seat and get in next to her, I realized that I had been holding my breath, panting heavily while crushing the steering wheel in my clammy grip. An unexpected torrent of foreboding shattered my composure, and suddenly all I could think of was how many passersby and security cameras must have witnessed my actions.
Even as I continued to fret, comfort came in the form of Bella’s fragrance. Unbeknownst to her, that very scent was the providence I needed to survive the last mile of my challenge. Although she was asleep, her sweet smell rose like a specter to caress my ear, whispering assurances into it, affirming that everything will be all right. In her most fragile and vulnerable state, Bella became the source of courage I needed to forge ahead.
I quickly took stock of my surroundings and proceeded to drive home.
* * *
There were few things as intoxicating as the thrill of victory against incredible odds, and fewer still were the pleasures compared to holding Bella in my arms. I could barely contain my excitement when we finally crossed the threshold into my house. Fortune willing, we were going to spend the last few days before her fifteenth birthday alone, in the safety and privacy of my abode.
I both wanted and needed her to be awake for the next part of my plan. Knowing she would try her best to escape, I bound her hands and feet and laid her on a bare mattress as a temporary measure. The soundproof nature of that room rendered it impossible to hear us from without.
In between double and triple checking my setup for the night, I stole a moment to drink in the sight of her as she lay unconscious. Her breathing was shallow but her pulse was strong, a good sign considering my inexperience at using tranquilizers. Her eyelids fluttered reflexively, fanning her lovely eyelashes in the wake of their quaking. Her aquiline nose, the size of which was often a source of unfair ridicule, flared adorably as she slept. When my eyes fell upon her bare left shoulder, where a single bra strap was left fashionably exposed by her loose blouse, my commitment to observe finally broke; I embraced her and kissed her deeply, reaping taste and breath from her defenseless lips.
Contrary to the nature of her stardom, she did not rouse from my kiss like a fairy tale princess. She only began to stir an hour later, moaning as she fought the skein of grogginess. Perhaps she had regained alertness long before her faculties, because she broke into hysterics as soon as she found her voice, weak and hoarse as it were. I let her exhaust her breath before introducing myself to her drowsy eyes.
“Hello, Bella,” I addressed her and gave her my name, clutching her shoulders to steady her. “Can you hear me? Yes, you’ve been kidnapped. Let me know if you understand me.”
Her brow furrowed, her dark eyes squinting as she struggled to see me clearly. A sheen of tears slid over them as she mumbled her acknowledgment, which she reinforced with a nod.
“Good. I know you won’t believe me, but don’t be afraid, I am not going to hurt you. It’s just that I know there’s no other way for me to have my say otherwise, and I need to have your full attention.”
My tone must have been too severe, because her lips soon began to quiver, and she had to blink away the tears swelling in her eyes. I shushed her gently and wiped the moisture from her cheeks. “It’s all right, Bella, it’ll be over soon. You’ll still have your quinceañera, I promise.
“I felt I needed to tell you this before you became a woman. No matter what other people say, I think you’re a special girl and I feel very strongly about you. I’m not stupid and I know there’s no chance in Hell that we’re ever going to be together, but I couldn’t just let myself sit back and admire you from a distance.
“In a few years you’re going to blossom into an icon, and I may have moved on by then, but I’ll still feel like shit whenever I see you hanging on the arm of some guy. It stinks, but we all have to deal with it.
“I had to talk to you, face to face, so you understand that this is more than just a disturbing tweet or a creepy piece of fan mail.”
She had overcome enough of her shock by the end of my speech that she was able to hold my gaze. I let the statement hang in the air as an invitation to a response. She chewed her words deliberately and managed to squeak, “I understand. I-I believe you. But please, you have to let me go. I swear I won’t tell anyone.”
Under the circumstances, that was probably the best response for which I could have hoped; anything more endearing would have breached the boundaries of credibility. The chill of disappointment washed over me nonetheless, and while I had disciplined myself to resist its influence, my response was forestalled by a yearning for more.
She must have read into my hesitation, because she added, “Like…like I said, I swear to God I’ll never, ever tell anyone about this, but…I won’t forget you, either.” She choked back a sob and let her miserable countenance appeal to my trust.
My face never betrayed anything but genuine compassion, drawn from within and aggrandized for her benefit. She was doing everything in her power to appease me, and I had to admire her ability to speak to me insightfully without losing her composure. I would give her no reason to fear.
“Thank you, Bella,” I pledged, smiling and letting go of her. “That’s exactly what I needed to hear.” From the floor nearby I retrieved a plate of berries, scooping up a handful of the dark blue pellets and presenting them to her. “I’m going to free you now, but I need to put you back to sleep, so you won’t be able to find me again. These are just some berries from South America—you know, like açaí berries—that will make you really drowsy.”
Bella was understandably suspicious. I offered her an alternative, showing her another syringe with a large, menacing needle. “Look, Bella, I know I’m the last person on earth you’d trust right now, but it’s either the berries or the needle, and I really don’t want to have to jab you with that thing again.”
She knew better than to ask for a third alternative. Short of opening her mouth to welcome the berries, she looked expectantly at my hand and waited for me to feed them to her. “They’re a little bitter,” I warned her as I started to push each berry between her lips, “so you might want to wait until you’ve got a mouthful of them before biting down. They’ll work faster that way and you won’t have to deal with the taste.”
Once I had stuffed enough of them into her mouth, I nodded and said, “You can bite down now.” She did.
I watched her wince as the bitterness coated her tongue. I rocked back on my ankles, waiting to pounce.
Her eyes widened as she felt the poisonous nectar numb the inside of her mouth; they bulged from their sockets when she realized that she was too numb to chew, swallow or spit.
From my research, I knew her passing was imminent. Even though I had taken a prophylactic, I could not be sure that it was enough to protect me against the fast acting poison. I lunged at Bella and sucked hungrily at her gaping mouth, stealing the final breaths from her lips as I hugged her spasming body. I siphoned as much of the juices from her mouth as I could and fumbled for the mirror I had placed nearby. It tasted horrible, and my mouth grew numb almost instantly, but I managed to spit out most of it onto the mirror before I blacked out.
It had been said elsewhere that pain was a sign of life, and by the severity of the headache that woke me, I knew I was very much alive.
I lay paralyzed on the ground for some time, groaning and flexing my extremities as I struggled to rise. The room spun as I crawled to my hands and knees, but I could feel Bella’s body next to me. My heart leaped at the knowledge that what happened was no mere dream, and I drew strength from that excitement to spring to my feet.
I stumbled into the bathroom to wash out my mouth. The poison’s effect mostly had faded, but the lingering taste was unbearable. The fear of doubt returned to plague my heart in Bella’s absence, so I returned to her side hastily for the comfort of her presence.
Her head was tilted to the side, resting in a pool of her own saliva. Her posture was that of an angel in ascension, and no more could I disturb it than thrust a finger through the canvas of The Birth of Venus. Still, I leaned down to check her pulse just to be sure. I felt nothing.
Bella passed away on October 3rd, five days before her fifteenth birthday. She was dead, and I was her murderer.
* * *
I was far from content with possessing her body only. Even though I had frozen her in time ostensibly, keeping her forever at the tender age of fourteen, her flesh was only half of what made Bella. To possess her completely, I had to have her soul as well. Toward that end, I had no choice but to resort to the occult.
I had never been inclined to believe in black magic, or any sort of mumbo jumbo as it were. Yet to believe in the existence of a soul implied a belief in the supernatural as well, and if that were no stretch of the imagination, then the occult surely would fall within that faith. With a bit of legwork, I eventually stumbled upon a ritual that involved ripping the soul out of someone, with myself serving as a temporary vessel for it, and then storing it in a charm of some kind. There were many others, but none which allowed me to keep her body whole.
I was determined to preserve what I could of her body. The method I had chosen posed a significant risk to my own life, as it was meant to be performed by two practitioners, one of whom must siphon the soul from the victim while in a state of near death and contain it within his own body before it was destroyed, leaving the original body unharmed. Lacking a confidant whom I could trust to serve as the medium, I devised a new method using the poisonous berries. Now I had but to wait to see if it worked.
I busied myself with Bella’s embalmment while I waited—hoped—for her soul to take root in the mirror. I had set up the necessary equipment and practiced on other animals, but Bella was one of a kind; I had to take the utmost care at each and every step.
That did not prove to be too difficult. A steadiness born of reverence possessed my hands as I treated her remains. I burned her clothes and washed her body meticulously, permitting myself the one vice of penetrating her digitally to confirm that she was still a virgin. Her budding womanhood and its myriad qualities were next to impossible to resist, and there were moments when I was sorely tempted to ravish her. Yet, counterintuitive as it were, I loved her too much to violate her sexually, at least before I had ensured that her body would endure forever.
The method of preservation I had chosen was an advanced form of plastination—cleaner, proven to yield more durable specimens, and faster by magnitudes. I spared no expense procuring the equipment for that arduous task, as money and effort were of no consequence if I could preserve Bella perfectly.
Simply put, plastination involves replacing the fat and water in dead cells with a liquid polymer, which, once cured, would imbue the qualities of living flesh upon the cadaver, protecting it against damage and decay.
By plastinating Bella’s remains, I was going to turn her into a life sized doll.
After treating her body, I was weary but hopeful that soon I would be able to reap my rewards. Having spent hours draining her body of its fluids and gases and impregnating it with the polymer, I was ready to check on the results of my other endeavor: the preservation of Bella’s soul.
By the time her body was ready to be infused with the polymer, the night had lapsed into day. I had eaten very little and slept even less, but my body went on heedless of such mortal concerns. The mirror into which I had released Bella’s soul sat safely in a drawer, and when I went to retrieve it, I was both surprised and excited by the appearance it had taken. I had cleaned the berry juice from it, but the reflective surface had turned completely black. It still felt like an ordinary mirror to the touch, but a chill crept down my spine as I fingered the preternaturally dark surface. Gripped in suspense, I decided to call out to her.
I spun in shock to look behind me, but the image that appeared in the mirror was no reflection at all.
Bella’s visage greeted me as I turned back to the mirror. A number of rational, scientific explanations for this phenomenon rushed through my head as they were wont to do, but I was too overcome with joy to give them any consideration.
My elation was not untempered by her miserable state, however. Only her upper body was visible, and while she was beautiful as ever to me, an unbiased observer would have been shocked by her limp hair, her parched lips and her bruised, bloodshot eyes. Her mouth hung slightly agape as though she were panting softly, her eyes half closed and downcast.
“Good morning, Bella.” I had thought of everything except what to say to her entrapped soul.
She lifted her gaze slowly, fixing it upon me. That was a welcome sign; it appeared that we would be able to communicate.
“You,” she began, but the word seemed to sap so much of her strength that it took a minute for her to continue. “What did…what did you do to me? Where am I?”
I thought she would be served better by the truth than any lies I could concoct. “You died, Bella, but I managed to save your soul.”
She lifted her hands and scrutinized them like a lucid dreamer. Her lips pursed as the memory of the berries’ foul taste returned, and with it the recollection of her death.
“The berries. You fed them to me. They…they made my mouth go numb.” Bella’s tongue was black when she stuck it out, wagging as if to test it. “I couldn’t spit. I couldn’t feel anything. I…I couldn’t breathe!” She grew agitated when she recalled the full traumatic experience. “YOU KILLED ME!”
In spite of my distaste at playing the villain when it came to matters concerning Bella, there was no denying that I was culpable in her death. “You’re right, I was the one who murdered you. But hear me out, I just wanted to—”
“YOU MURDERER!” she screamed over me. “YOU KILLED ME! I HATE YOU, I HATE YOU! LET ME GO, YOU BASTARD!”
I let her rage. There was nothing I could do but hope that she would exhaust herself through this tirade. I had stolen her life and she had every right to hate me, but I was determined to change her mind.
Her screams turned to sobs not long after I set the mirror down. A pang of guilt struck me deeply as I listened to her baleful anger dissolve into mournful agony. Curiosity got the better of me and I looked into the mirror again.
She was crying bitterly—or, at least, that was how my brain must be interpreting her spiritual energies. I could see tears and snot running down her nose as she choked on her own anguish. Her fingers were woven into her hair at the scalp, pulling in a futile attempt to distract herself from her emotional suffering with physical pain.
“Daddy, help me, please!” she implored to her father, who had died some years ago. “Somebody, anybody…” It was as heart wrenching a sight as I had ever seen, but still I chose to wait.
When she began to accept that there would be no escaping her predicament, she ceased her cries for help and sobbed more quietly into her hands.
“Hey, Bella,” I probed her gently to see if she was ready to talk.
“Go away,” she whispered, “I don’t want to talk to you. I hate you.”
“I know you do, and I understand that. But you need to hear me out. Like I told you earlier, you are very special to me. Hate me all you like, but I had to show you how much you mean to me.”
She knuckled at one teary eye and peered at me with the other. “Then why did you kill me? What good does that do?”
“I killed you because I wanted you all to myself.” My jaw clenched as I confessed to Bella the true extent of my selfishness. “I put your soul in a mirror because I wanted to keep you around forever. I couldn’t stand the thought of you being with someone else.”
“So you murdered me and trapped my soul in here—the inside of a mirror?” I had not considered that she would be ignorant of the nature of her vessel, but it made perfect sense. “What…what happened to my body? Did you…” She shivered in disgust as she extrapolated upon my actions inwardly.
My tone left no room for doubt. “I didn’t rape you.”
“And my body?”
Several answers cycled through my head before I settled on one. “I’m doing everything I can to keep it whole. I refuse to bury it or cremate it. It’s not quite ready yet, but you’ll see.”
She cast my vague response in an inauspicious light. “I won’t be able to…go back into it again, will I?”
I shook my head. I took her resulting wail of despair as a sign that she wished to be left alone.
* * *
Even my dreams were filled with Bella’s pleas to be released.
I saw myself presenting a body to her soul—one that was alive, healthy, ready to accept its owner once more. I watched her beg profusely, even as I found myself unmoved by her pleas against a lucid yearning to do so.
“Oh, I know!” she ventured hopefully, having failed to elicit a response from me with other concessions. “You…you probably want to marry me, right? That’s why you did…this. If you let me out, I’ll marry you, I promise! I mean, I’m not old enough to get married yet, but I’ll talk to my mom. We’ll set something up.” She pointed, and I followed it toward the body’s hand, whereupon a gold ring clung to a finger.
“I’ll even wear your ring,” she offered, biting her lower lip. Tears of blood welled in her eyes, matching the black juices spilling from her mouth. “Please!”
The dreamscape dispersed as I woke to the morning of October 8th; it would have been Bella’s fifteenth birthday.
I had summoned her soul to the mirror every day since I captured it, but she seemed mired in perpetual melancholy. “I miss Mom,” she would repeat to me, “I miss Pia. I miss Zee. I miss Dani. I miss Kaili. I miss Remy. I miss Krystal, Marilyn… I miss Tris—” That last name would always whistle past my head. “Please let me go…”
I wondered if that were possible still. For all I knew, the image I saw in the mirror could be no more than a figment of my imagination, an illusion born of a mind gripped in psychosis—the sort that would drive a man to murder a fourteen year old girl and seek to enslave her spirit. I was still capable of the introspection required to see that I was evil.
There was nothing to indicate that shattering the mirror would free her soul, either. It was an inanimate object, and breaking it might succeed only in confining her soul to a smaller fragment. Worse still, her soul might be sundered apart, spread among a hundred pieces.
I wasted no more time on the question and looked toward concluding the process of plastinating Bella’s body. It had been curing under ultraviolet light for the last two days, and this was the day I would find out whether the procedure had been a success.
I could accept nothing less than perfection, and I would not be disappointed.
Where luck had abandoned me in the easing of Bella’s obdurateness, it bestowed upon me miracles in abundance when it came to preserving her flesh. Far from the grotesque examples exhibited in museums, what I retrieved from the curing chamber could be mistaken easily for a sleeping figure. Her flesh retained its firmness and elasticity, her skin its smoothness. Its scent was clear and discreet, though its sterility tended toward the unnaturally pristine. Only her hue emerged in a paler tone than before, a result of the absence of blood; now she seemed to be made of porcelain, within which a sprawl of veins lay under a sheen of glaze. The advanced plastination technique had worked its magic, and with some cosmetic touch ups, I would have my Bella doll at last.
It was early evening before the preparations were completed. Admittedly, it took far more time than was necessary because I was often distracted by her perfectly still form. The allure of its docility manifested in far sharper contrast to the vexation of her soul’s torment, which I realized only when I began to dress it in the gown that she had picked up from the store. She spoke not a word when I fondled her breasts and tweaked at her nipples, which stood perpetually erect. She did not complain when I made mistakes while painting her toes and nails, did not object to my sniffing between her thighs as I pulled a pair of panties over her lithe dancer’s legs.
She offered no opinion on the color of the wig I had chosen to replace her own hair. She did not blink when I inserted a pair of glass eyes into her empty sockets, nor did she smile when I kissed her lips after painting them red and glossy. Absent the vicissitudes of her personality, this was still not Bella.
Nevertheless, what I possessed was beautiful. I wheeled the doll into a makeshift studio, where I had put together a scene reminiscent of a memento mori and infused it with a festive touch to make it appear as least macabre as possible. Between two racks of candles, all white but for fifteen pink ones, sat a bed covered in the petals of hundreds of flowers. I placed Bella’s body upon the bed, dressed in her beaded, strapless blue gown and adorned in jewelery, which included an elegant diamond tiara that I had picked out. Her body was ready to be presented to her soul.
I brought the mirror into the room and summoned her, facing her away from the scene so as not to ruin the surprise. Despite her hatred for me, she would appear always without delay, though the same force that compelled her to respond gave me no leverage over her will otherwise.
Bella looked as downtrodden as ever, but the intractable cinch on her lips had given way to weary deference, leaving a pout that reiterated only her wish for freedom. Her eyes blinked in anticipation of a fresh round of cajoling, yet there was something else that I had not detected previously. Did I dare interpret it as relief that I had not simply abandoned her to oblivion? She was all alone in her prison, after all, with nothing to affirm her existence but my daily visits. I had no reason to believe that ghosts were susceptible to the same psychological stresses that ailed the living, but it was difficult not to anthropomorphize an entity that exhibited purely human behaviors.
“I’ve got something to show you,” I told her. “I don’t know if you know how much time has passed, but it’s been five days since you got here.” I turned off the lights and faced the mirror toward the bed.
As the both of us were staring in the same direction, I could not discern her immediate reaction to seeing her corpse in its current state. Tension began to knot in my throat as I waited for a response, until I could contain it no longer and turned the mirror so that I could look into it without breaking her line of sight.
Bella was crying, but her tears had washed away much of the fatigue that darkened the rims of her eyes. A hale color had gained ground against the pallor of her cheeks, and a sprightly luster also had reawakened the fire in her hair. She was far from the vigorous young lady who died at my hands, but her improved appearance gave me cause to hope.
I breathed deeply and tried to recall the words that I had rehearsed. “I promised that you would have your quinceañera. It’s not what you would have wanted exactly, but I hope this gives you a good idea of how much you mean to me.”
She kept silent, only to speak a minute later. “Closer,” she said, her tone cold and cryptic. “Bring…bring me closer.”
I did as she asked and approached the bedside, angling the mirror in such a way as to give her the best view of her body.
“You did this, all by yourself?”
“Yeah.” I tread carefully with my first response while gauging her reaction to the best of my ability. “You picked out a beautiful dress.”
“And I’ll never be able to wear it,” she snapped reproachfully. “You took that away from me. You took everything away from me.”
“I know.” Perhaps I had grown tired of feeling guilty more than I knew, but I found myself giving no quarter in my retort. “And I’m not sorry. You did nothing to deserve this, and I’m not yet crazy enough to think that you’re enjoying this, but I am never going to set you free.
“You are mine, Bella, and you can either try to make the best of it, or feel sorry for yourself for the rest of eternity.”
It was as though the jealousy and repudiation to which I had subjected myself collided within me, like a binary explosive being thrown together of its volatile accord. I snatched the tiara off her head and shattered it against the wall. I pulled one rack of candles to the ground and smashed them under foot, snuffing out the flames.
I was about to plunge the room into darkness by destroying the other rack when Bella’s shouts penetrated my rage. Her mirror had been tossed onto the bed during my rampage, but now I turned toward it at the behest of her cries.
“Wait!” she pleaded, her urgency behooving curtness. “Don’t. Please.” She clasped her hands together, her eyes perched atop her fingers as she gazed at me.
I brought the mirror to bear and wore my anger openly, giving her fair warning of its imminent return. She sought further concessions with her silence, but I refused to yield.
Finally she found her voice. “T-thank you,” she began diplomatically. “All this…must have taken a lot of work. It’s beautiful.
“I’m sorry. I-I let you ruin your work.” She stifled a sob and bulled ahead. “But you gotta understand! I…I feel awful in here. No—it’s awful because I can’t feel anything. I’m going crazy because no matter if I open or close my eyes, all I can see is myself dying. I can’t go to sleep, probably because I’m dead. You’re telling me that five days have gone by, but to me it feels like years and years. I can’t tell the difference because there’s nothing in here!“
Whatever effect it was that improved her appearance began to fade as she fell into the clutches of grief once more. “I know I miss my family; I miss everybody. But it’s like they aren’t real. Like I dreamed them up or something. I only…felt a little better when you showed me my body. It reminded me that I…that I still exist.”
She had hung her plight squarely on my head, but instead of closing with her sharpest, most combative words, she chose to supplicate to me with the softest ones in her lexicon. “You can keep me, if that’s what you want. Just…please be nice to me and don’t leave me all alone.” She would have fallen to her knees if she could. “Please. You’re all I have left.”
She looked small and weak, reminiscent of the time when her on screen persona pleaded to God to heal her badly injured friend. I had known of her before watching that scene, but I had been unable to actualize her until that moment, to look beyond my basest urges and appreciate her for the human being that she was. Her plea was puerile and heartfelt, and my fingers rose to answer it, caressing the mirror even before I could speak. For all I had done to steal Bella, I never had intended to make her suffer.
I used sincerity to assuage her fears. “I won’t leave you alone. What you’re going through…that’s how I feel to be without you.”
I retrieved the tiara from the floor; many of the diamonds and pearls had been dislodged, and the platinum frame was slightly bent, but I affixed it again to the doll’s head nonetheless. “Happy birthday, Bella.”
She was watching my hand as I stroked the doll’s hair longingly, seeming not to have heard. Then she addressed me by name.
“Do you…love me?”
I answered immediately. “Yes.”
“Swear you won’t just throw me away if you…if you ever get tired of me?”
I took one of the doll’s hands—Bella’s hands—and held it tight. “I swear I’ll never grow tired of you, much less throw you away.”
The change must have occurred when my attention was on her hand, but when I peered into the mirror again, I saw Bella as she had appeared when she was alive—empyreal, glorious, achingly beautiful.
“Kiss me. My corp—I mean…you know what I mean.”
I did, but first I grazed the mirror with my lips. She closed her eyes as I turned to kiss her body.
She gasped audibly. I broke contact, only to hear her mewl in distress. “No! Don’t stop…keep going…”
I needed no explanation to feel my pulse race with anticipation. Laying the mirror down on a pillow, I embraced the doll in both arms and kissed it deeply. The interior of its mouth harbored a certain bitterness, but I thrust my tongue into its depths eagerly, turning my head to seal my lips better against its own. If her soul could feel me kissing her body, then I was going to give her the best kiss of her life.
Minutes later, Bella and I found ourselves panting together. By kissing the girl I desired most, I had given her a much needed reprieve. I knew she wanted more, and I was only too eager to provide, yet we had arrived at a point from which, once crossed, there would be no return.
As Bella’s body and soul lay side by side, I slid a hand behind her gown and pulled down the zipper, taking the utmost care to undress her lest I inflict the slightest damage to her skin. Where her mortal heart lay still in her chest, the essence of her soul flushed with emotion, turning her cheeks red in the mirror as I laid her pale flesh bare.
Lacking the means to communicate with me through her limbs, she iterated her desires with her voice instead. Her virginity notwithstanding, I had long suspected that she was no timid lover, and she was not shy to exhort me vocally, guiding my hands and mouth to where she wanted them.
Her body was no warmer than the fresh sheets beneath us, but I wanted nothing more than to cleave myself to her; I tore the shirt from my back and draped my body over hers, relishing the contact even as her coldness seared my skin.
Still, I was haunted by one lingering uncertainty, as Damocles was upon ascending to Dionysius’ throne. Whose face did Bella behold as she felt my hands upon her? Was it mine, or was it the other boy’s? By both hook and crook I had claimed my prize, yet her most private thoughts were sealed beyond my reach. If this were a story, then undoubtedly I would be the villain.
I saw no other way to silence my doubts. I had started to wriggle free of my jeans when I heard Bella’s breath catch in her throat.
“Let me look at you,” she declared. Her expression all but added, “Let me see the cock that’s going to fuck me.”
I knew then that I was the one whom she wanted. So aroused was I by that revelation that I bit her hard on the collar, making her squeal in delight, before pushing myself off the bed to shed the last of my clothing. Not for a second did I take my eyes off the mirror, watching her study my shape with practiced intensity, piecing my contours together in her mind like words on a page. Her mouth gaped ever so slightly as her eyes made their way to my cock; her tongue pushed it open further, extending an invitation that I accepted without hesitation.
I was struck by the inspiration to wet my cock with a handful of spit, and then I was on top of her again. I had not forgotten that I was, in fact, about to make love to a corpse, but the strange juxtaposition of her body’s inability to resist and her soul’s fervent complicity painted the experience in a euphoric surreality. Drunk on her seduction, I plunged my cock into Bella gleefully.
If I had no wish to hurt Bella before, now I was loath to hold back at all. She whimpered sharply as I bulled past her hymen, pausing but for a heart beat to revel in the moment before engaging a steady stroke. The coldness of her vagina did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm, and coupled with her vocal incitement, I soon found myself ripping into her with all the savagery I could muster.
With no way to reciprocate except her voice, Bella more than made up for it with her unbridled ardor, calling my name as I gave substance to her incorporeality. Together we filled the night of her quinceañera with our carnal duet, taking only the briefest respite each time I came.
* * *
“I wish I could hold you,” she told me. It was early morning on October 9th, the day after I made all of Bella mine.
My ears had never been touched by anything more bittersweet. I drew her body’s arms around my waist and let her indulge in an approximation of the gesture.
She seemed content with the intimacy of it; it was impossible for me to judge save for the soft grunt of her approval, as the candles had long since burned out.
Having arrived at this juncture, I recognized just how unfathomable the events of the past few days had been. Whatever possessed me to commit this singularly selfish act must have known that failure could strike at each step, whether by misfortune or negligence. Yet I had achieved results that went far beyond my own expectations, the proof of which lay snuggled in my arms. Happiness and all its synonyms together could not begin to describe how I felt.
My eyelids grew heavy, but even in the darkness I kept them open to stave away sleep. I was concerned that she would feel abandoned again. Yet it was Bella herself who assured me that never would she feel alone again.
I fell into a deep slumber, comforted by the knowledge that, in this story, the villain had prevailed against the hero.
HOST: Welcome back to Coast to Coast AM. We’re speaking with Ivan Denk, renowned author and co-founder of the American Institute for Life After Death Research. Ivan, before the break, you were about to touch on the case of the Black Mirror that took place four years ago?
HOST: Now, for listeners who aren’t familiar with the case, it had to do with a…fairly well known child actress at that time in Los Angeles.
DENK: Yes. She was kidnapped and murdered by a man who then preserved her body post-mortem.
HOST: Pretty disturbing stuff. But before we delve into this “Black Mirror,” could you perhaps give us some background on what happened?
DENK: Well, a lot of the details were sealed by the courts, but we do have many factual accounts from sources who were close to the investigation.
HOST: I believe one of the investigators from the case, who is now retired, became a consultant with the Institute?
DENK: That is correct. As a former forensics specialist, he had access to the crime scene and direct contact with the mirror. The artifact was discovered next to the bodies.
HOST: The bodies?
DENK: Both the perpetrator and the victim were found dead at the scene, seven days after she went missing. Her exact time of death could not be determined because of the plastination process that the victim’s body was subjected to. It’s a process invented originally by Gunther von Hagens, a German anatomist, except the technique used to preserve the victim was very advanced. The perpetrator’s time of death was also ruled inconclusive.
HOST: How is that possible?
DENK: We don’t know. The circumstances were…truly mysterious. What we do know is that the cause of death was poison, from ingesting a type of highly toxic berry. Traces of it were found in the perpetrator’s blood and on the surface of the mirror.
HOST: This mirror, could you describe it?
DENK: Well, it was an ordinary mirror, oval, about eighteen inches tall and half as wide.
HOST: And why was it called the “Black Mirror?”
DENK: The surface was completely black, like the glass had been dyed—
HOST: —except it wasn’t, right?
DENK: That’s right. The color was anomalous. We have no idea how it became that way. But that was the least of its mysteries.
HOST: According to reports, nothing was actually seen in the mirror, but noises could be heard coming from it?
DENK: Yes. Not only did our consultant have first hand experience, but we have corroboration from other independent sources that two distinct voices could be heard emanating from the mirror.
HOST: Two distinct voices? That can’t be coincidence…
DENK: Well, the sources all agree, one of them most certainly belonged to the victim. The voices could not be recorded, so there’s no voice print analysis. Also, we were unable to verify the identity of the second voice, and the nature of the sound makes it even more perplexing.
HOST: How so?
DENK: They were both laughing, in a way that suggests they were, well, happy.
HOST: And you believe that the second voice couldn’t have belonged to the perpetrator, because there’s no way the victim could be laughing happily with her murderer.
DENK: I’m afraid it’s a little more complicated than that. There’s evidence to support the theory that the second voice belonged to the perpetrator, but it’s very circumstantial. Officially, his death was ruled a suicide, but we think it was death by misadventure.
HOST: Please elaborate.
DENK: Police found several occult manuals in the house describing how to create what is known to practitioners of so called black magic as a phylactery—that is, a vessel inside of which a soul could be stored.
HOST: You mean like in Harry Potter.
DENK: I suppose you could say that. And we think the Black Mirror is pretty solid evidence that the perpetrator succeeded in creating one. But we think he was caught inside it by accident. See, there is a ritual which enables a person to steal another man’s soul by serving as a temporary conduit himself; that’s where the poison comes in. Very likely he poisoned the victim first, and then, when he tried to transfer her soul into the mirror, he succumbed to the poison himself. Of course, with the level of preparation he undertook, it’s likely that he would have known of the potency of the berry and taken an antidote of some kind. But it would have merely delayed the effects.
HOST: For how long?
DENK: About five, maybe six days at the most. Or it could have been minutes. The autopsy was inconclusive.
HOST: If the perpetrator had died within minutes of the victim’s death, then who preserved the victim’s body? Was there evidence of an accomplice?
DENK: There is no evidence to support the existence of an accomplice.
HOST: Where is the mirror now?
DENK: It’s been destroyed. The last person in possession of it—our consultant—dropped it when he was startled by the laughter. The pieces are still sealed in evidence, but there have been no reports of any noises coming from them since the mirror was smashed.