Alice Loweecey

Alec popped out his fake teeth and downed his fourth beer. The teeth were the only bad part of his Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera costume. Worth it, though. He’d jumped out in front of one of those coddled newbie freshmen and she ran away crying.  
Something by Taylor Swift blared through his portable speakers. Two Women in White were dragging a Marley’s Ghost to the river’s edge. The ghost—Alec thought it might be his ex-roommate—was drunk enough to slur but sober enough to beg them not to drown him. If it was Alec’s ex- roommate, he deserved the dunking. Too bad about the costume. It was a good one.

Alec Hannigan’s Great Halloween Riverside Bash of 2015 was his best one yet, if he did say so himself. No rain; temps in the high 60s. Headcount at least fifty, and all those ten-buck admission fees more than paid for beer and snacks. The geekier college students had come to his call like rats for the Pied Piper of Hamelin when they saw his posters: Only literary, cinematic, or mythological horror figures allowed.  
A freaky spider-creature in a glittery dress held court with a mandolin under a weeping willow. Cerberus, Old Faust, Satan (lame; Alec would ban him from future parties), and all the tortured characters from the Hellraiser movies sat at the spider''s feet. A whole crowd of Lovecraftian creatures danced on the trampled grass. Must be one of the frats with one of the sororities. Alec poured himself three fingers of Jack and tried to figure out who was under the rotting-Asenath face paint. The prize for the midnight pre-unmasking guessing game, a liter of Laphroaig, sat enthroned on the booze table. Alec planned to win it for himself, even if he was the host.  
Alec jumped. A blood-splattered Headless Horseman laughed and grabbed two beers. “Gotcha, man.” Alec’s snarky answer died on his lips. A hot babe with glowing green wig sat amid the roots of a massive oak. When did she get here? She was combing the wig like it was her real hair. Her eyes glowed green too. Her dress clung to her like she''d just come out of the river. She was looking his way. His head swiveled left, right, and back but the Horseman was out on the dance area and Alec was the only person within a ten-foot radius. Oh, baby, this was his lucky night. Forget the Laphroaig. The rest of his evening was about to be devoted to the lady by the water.  
He staggered just a little as he walked down to the riverbank. The emerald hair seemed to beckon him like long, tapered fingers. 

“Nice costume.” The teeth altered his voice. He’d have to work harder to lure her in without his patented smooth tenor. 

Emerald Hair smiled at him.  
“I’m, uh, the host of this bash. You are, uh, really hot.” He must be drunker than he thought. He was much better than this. His collection of conquest photos attested to his skills.  
She kept combing her long, silky hair.  
“So, uh, what are you supposed to be? No, wait. I’ll guess.” He closed his eyes, flashes of her emerald strands visible behind his eyelids. “You’re not a Woman in White.” When he opened them, she moved her head the least bit in a negative gesture. He tried to remember the crash research he’d done when designing the party theme. “Selkie. You’re a selkie. All I have to do is take your skin and you’re mine forever.”  
He advanced on her. The comb ceased moving within the shimmering emerald waves. He stumbled to her feet. “Don’t stop. Please. Your hair is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”  
The comb began its work again. Alec couldn’t hear the dance music anymore. He should check the speakers. God, her hair was beautiful. His hands shook with the need to stroke it.  
“Tolkien, right? Tom Bombadil’s girlfriend, what was her name?” That last slug of Jack must have killed a few brain cells.  
Her voice was familiar. High with an edge. One of his conquests had a voice like that, hadn’t she? A while ago, though, before he began to specialize. He wasn’t into sopranos. Whatever. He’d keep her busy enough not to talk. 
Before she could protest, he stepped over the biggest tree root and had one arm around her. Chilly river water dripped onto his hand. Whatever. He kissed that hair. God, it smelled good. Like summer rain soaking into dry earth. 
She kept combing her hair while he worshiped it.  
She began to sing. A high, wordless melody that irritated him at first, but after a few more whiffs of her hair, he relaxed into it.  
“Come on, baby.” His words matched the cadence of her song. “Let’s go back to my room. We won’t miss the end of the party.”  
As part of her song, she said, “You haven’t guessed what I am.”  
“Oh, uh, yeah.” He should’ve moved onto her lips by now, but this hair… 
“Baba Yaga?”  
The melody continued without answer. Wrong, then. Okay. “Morticia Addams? No. Sadako from Ringu…no, no way.” His hands reached around her waist.  
“Think farther back.”  
“Baby, I don’t want to think.” When she didn’t reply, he forced himself to run through the non-standard monsters. The glittering spider-woman somewhere behind him, something along those lines… “Rusalka. You’re dressed up like a rusalka.”  
The comb stopped moving. “Correct.”  
“I’m awesome. So’s your costume. What’s your name, baby?”  
In response, she held out the insides of her arms. Long, ragged, puckered scars bisected tattoos of Disney Princesses on each arm. Alec blinked. Those tats. Brittany had the same tats. When did he add her to his collection? Spring of freshman year, that was it. She got clingy and he dumped her right before classes let out in May. She never came back to school, which had been perfect for him.  
He shook his muddled head. “I knew someone with ink like that.”  
The comb sprinkled more water on his arms. “Do you know the rusalka legend?”  
Okay, if she wanted intellectual foreplay, he could adapt. “Uh, sure. Yeah.” He said between kissing that hair, that sun on the water in spring hair, 
“Some broad kills herself because she gets dumped, then she comes on to guys so she can drown them. Whatever.” 
She stood. He followed that hair, those eyes. The hair slipped from his fingers and he groped for it. She stepped into the water. He stumbled in with her, reaching for the hair. It seemed to reach out for him now, twining around his arms, up to his neck, across his mouth and nose. He fought the current that didn’t seem to affect her at all. She sank into the river, pulling him in with her. The hair no longer smelled of spring rain and clean earth. Suppurating flesh oozed into his nostrils. He gagged and brittle white hair choked him. The leering-faced princess tattoos rose before his eyes, laughing at him. No, it was her voice laughing, like broken glass in his head. Blood spurted out of his ears, his eyes, mixed with the maggots and decay and fetid water in his mouth and nose. The rusalka clutched him to her rotted chest, laughing at his dying gurgling shrieks as the current took them.


Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year). 

Where you can find Alice: 

Jordan Drew - 10/26/2015 12:08 AM
Terrific story! Thank you, Alice!
Haggis Chihuahua - 10/26/2015 10:34 PM
"Suppurating flesh" *swoon*
Matt Roberts - 10/26/2015 11:59 PM
Really cool story! He should have seen that coming! Damn alcohol...
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