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
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
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
“Oh, uh, yeah.” He should’ve moved onto her lips by now, but
The melody continued without answer. Wrong, then. Okay.
“Morticia Addams? No. Sadako from Ringu…no, no way.” His hands reached around
“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
The comb sprinkled more water on his arms. “Do you know the
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
“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: