The wind kicked up all around me. I rushed to the top of the bridge’s stairs. The ocean stretched out beyond the horizon. My feet pressed against the concrete. The sound of a far off siren sounded. The bellow of a boat horn from the docks accompanied it. A gust of wind scattered a cascade of autumn leaves in front of me. Their colors whirled and danced off with the wind.
My eyes focused on what awaited me. She held her golden hair out of her face as the wind blew. Her white dress floated gently in the breeze. She pressed close to me. Her hands moved to rest on my stomach, such beautiful, frail things. I gazed into her eyes; a single streak of horizontal brown broke up two flawless oceans of azure. Her lips moved next to mine. Her strands of spun gold grazed my ear. She brought one arm around my shoulders. The scent of lilacs drifted off her.
“Do you love me?” she whispered by my ear. “To death?”
My neck felt sore. When I went to touch my throbbing neck veins, my hands didn’t move. The fear of being paralyzed replaced itself with the relief of it only being my hands bound. Surprisingly, I panicked again. My eyes twitched open. Dozens of squiggly bugs of light swam in my vision. The hempen rope pressed into my wrists tied behind my back. A hard metal chair chilled my calves. More rope tied around my ankles trapped blood in my feet. This wasn’t terrible because a deep cold chilled my bones. Some of that might have been from the situation. Just as I began to fear my vision had been permanently destroyed, it cleared. Hello serial killer lair.
A cement storeroom about the size of a basketball court, volleyball court? Some sort of court. The walls were drab, more concrete. Thick spider webs filled the corners of the room. Pale white spiders scuttled along their homespun tendrils. Tennis court, there we go. A large metal door sat to my right, iron studs ran the perimeter of it. In front of me rested a large wooden table with several objects laid on it. From my low perspective I couldn’t make them out. What? It was a tall table.
Are you wondering how I got in this mess? Yeah, me too. You see there’s this girl in my high school, named Eris, and she’s my soul mate (self-proclaimed). And she’s perfect, like seriously perfect. She’s smart and really beautiful, and she once told me her hero was Genghis Khan. So, anyway she agreed to go on a date with me. For some reason. And our first date happened today, October 31, Halloween. She insisted we go on our date near the docks. This was fine with me because everyone loves the water and nothing is more romantic than sailors. I assumed it would be like Titanic. We met on a walkway looking out over the water. The wind blew strong around us. She asked if I loved her, brushed her hair aside, and a hair clip with a tiny white flower on it fell to the ground. I went to pick it up and a weight fell on my back. Delicate arms wrapped around my neck and I felt a pressure before I blacked out. Did Eris give me the sleeper hold? Because that’s awesome, and it’s amazing she remembered the time I mentioned my love for wrestling. She used too much force and accidently knocked me out. It happens. Then some asshole tied me up while Eris was getting help. I have the shittiest luck.
But, yeah, I was locked up in some concrete room and it was quite chilly. I knew shorts had been a bad choice, even if they were cargo shorts. And why would I wear shorts on a date? Man, I am stupid. I should have worn a long-sleeve shirt instead of this damn navy blue polo; it would have been easier on my wrists. But then how was I supposed to know I was going to get tied up. Alright, alright, the Boy Scout motto is “be prepared” so I guess you got me.
To my left (and I really should have started with this) were three other identical tied up people. They were identical because they were tied up, they didn’t look alike. Now that would have been weird, edging out what was going on as the weirdest thing for the day. The person closest to me was a teenager, like myself. Shaggy brown hair, a douchey chin beard. Hey! I know that jackass. He has chemistry with Eris and me. It was none other than Martin: a very close acquaintance from my high school, Central Point’s Senior High (go Turtles!). Well, we knew each other. He’s a bit of a dumbass and, for full disclosure sake, a teensy bit racist. Don’t feel too bad for him. Next to Martin rested, or possibly unconscious, a giant of a man. His head inclined forward, his short-cropped hair beaded with sweat. His lip had been split open. He sat there with mouth open, dripping a watery red liquid onto the front of his blue sleeveless shirt. I know, gross right? Close your mouth, man. Next to him sat a moderately attractive girl with a thin neck and big scared eyes. The area around her eyes was red. Someone probably threw cayenne pepper in her eyes. Because, man, when my brother did that to me, my eyes were fire red for like a week.
“Sup, Martin?” I said. “You get your chem test back yet?”
“Jesus, Neb.” Martin almost cried. “Don’t you realize what’s going on?”
“Yeah.” I snorted. “It’s Halloween, remember? Do you not realize a prank when you see one? Someone’s gonna be laughing later.”
“We’re going to die,” Martin said, his eyes moistened. What a puss.
“Yeah, sure we are.” I shook my head with a smile. “There’s probably a camera in those cobwebs.” I looked at the darkest corner and saw a spider scurry to a tiny bug caught in its web. It moved in for the kill. Stupid bug.
“You were dragged here, just like I was dragged here, and Terry was dragged here, and Amber was dragged here,” Martin said, fighting back tears. “By that psycho bitch.”
“Wow,” I said, shaking my head, “Amber, I had no idea that was you. You look terrible. Have you been sick lately?” Amber burst into tears. We never did get along. Terry must be the big guy. “Hey, Terry. I’m Neb.”
“Keep quiet,” Terry’s deep voice said. “We need to stay calm, cool, emotionless.”
“Thank you, Samuel ‘Fucking’ Jackson, and I know that’s not his middle name.” I rolled my head back. A bead of water rolled from my hair down my neck. “This is gonna be the worst Halloween horror show ever. They want to see us crafting crazy schemes and freaking out.”
“This isn’t a fucking game,” Martin screamed. “That psycho bitch kidnapped us.”
“Alright, I’ll bite.” I sighed. “What psycho bitch?”
“That dirty fucking whore—” Martin stopped. The metal door emitted a distinct tink. The sound of hinges and metal scraping on concrete soon accompanied it. The door flung open and smashed into the wall. A slim figure glided through as the door rebounded back to close.
I rose from my chair in delight. Or I would have had I not been firmly bound. Eris in her golden resplendence stood before me. A thin wolfish smile spread across her lips when she saw me beaming at her. Her pure white dress clung to her body.
“Eris.” I smiled. “I think I accidently passed out from your sleeper hold. I didn’t ruin things, did I?”
“No, my sweet, of course not,” Eris said softly. She leaned forward, her face drawing near mine. Fingers gently caressed my face. She’s beautiful. Even with the benefit of hindsight I have to admit she did look pretty damn good. Dare I say crazy good? Muhahahaha.
“Eris,” I whispered, pushing my lips closer to hers. She pulled away. “Could you untie me?”
“I can’t.” Eris turned away with a pained look.
“You can’t?” My eyes filled with sadness upon seeing her misery. “Why?”
“Because people don’t understand,” Eris said. The faintest puddle of tears formed on the edges of her eyes.
“What don’t they understand?” I said, my body aching with pain. I can’t stand seeing her unhappy.
“The world—” She choked back a sob. “They don’t understand my beauty. I just want to make them realize it. Even if I have to take things to extreme measures.” Two streams of tears ran down Eris’s soft, rosy cheeks.
Eris’s reasoning made absolutely no sense. I realized that later. Never had I heard a more idiotic reason for doing such sick things. With that being said, at the time… That makes perfect sense. Dammit. Why won’t people understand her beauty?
“You’re a fucking psycho, you bitch,” Martin screamed, spittle landing on the concrete.
“Hey, that’s my girlfriend you’re talking to, asshole.” I snapped at Martin. And not like figuratively snapped. I tried to bite him. But being tied to a chair I sort of, well, fell over on my side. I added a new pain to my shoulder. “Eris, praline, do you think you can help me up? I seem to have fallen.”
“In a moment, my love,” Eris said, scooping a wooden baseball bat off the table. That’s really refreshing because you just don’t see young people using wooden bats like they used to. Everything’s aluminum aluminum these days. “Now what did you say to me?” Eris said to a shaking Martin. Her eyes turned suspiciously cold. A shiver ran down my spine, but that could have just been the room. Damn you, shorts.
“Y-you heard me. You’re insane,” Martin said in a whisper. His eyes looked everywhere else but at her. A devilish grin spread on Eris’s face as she smashed the bat into Martin’s shoulder. He cried out in pain then sat there crying and whimpering like a little bitch. Eris is quite strong despite her appearance. I once saw her push a truck and it moved. And it was in park. Seriously. On the animal scale I’d rate her prowess at an army ant level.
“You speak like that to me again and I’ll rip your throat out,” Eris said. She tossed the bat carelessly onto the wooden table. She scooped up a thick bullock knife and turned on Martin and I. Martin began shaking his head and weeping harder. If I was going to die I would try to keep a shred of dignity.
“Quit crying, you pussy,” Eris said to Martin before leaning down to me. She took the words right out of my mouth. I think I fell more in love with Eris at that moment. “Hold still,” she said to me. She placed the knife between my hands and began cutting the rope. I would have used a blade with a serrated edge, but what do I know?
“Did you tie these ropes?” I asked Eris. “That’s so impressive. I wouldn’t know how to do that. Where did you learn?”
“Internet,” she said, not looking up.
“That makes sense, if you don’t know how to do something the Internet is the way to go,” I said, noticing how her dainty hands seemed surprisingly capable with a knife. She must love steak, me too. Man, we have so much in common. “So, is anyone going to the Halloween Dance tonight? It’s supposed to be hot.” No one answered. “Having a bad attitude only makes things worse, you know,” I said with a shake of the head. “What about you, Eris? Do you have a date?”
“If I did, it would be with you, my sweet.” She smiled; another thread of rope split.
“What is wrong with you?” Martin said to me, his face tear-streaked.
“He’s got Stockholm Syndrome like I’ve never heard of,” Terry said in his deep voice. “But he had it before he got captured it seems. I could do a case study on this.”
“Piss off, Terry,” I said, “you have Dickbag Syndrome and its terminal.”
After what seemed like a very long time, Eris cut me free. In movies people tied up get cut free in like a second. That is a load of shit. It took forever, and she actually had a decent knife. I shook my cramped limbs out and checked my neck. It was stiffer than a corpse in a freezer. Which I’m guessing is pretty stiff.
“What now, my butter toffee?” I asked. I suck at pet names.
“You love me, don’t you?” Eris asked, her eyes misting. “And would do anything for me?”
“Absolutely, I would follow you to the ends of the earth.”
“Then you need to help me.” Eris leaned in to me. Her slender arms wrapped around my neck. Her face drew toward mine. “The police already know people are missing. They’re looking for someone. And they wouldn’t understand why I do this.”
“That’s why I need you. You can help the police find the true culprit.”
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“Him,” Eris said with a glow in her eyes. Her finger pointed directly at Martin. “He doesn’t understand. But we can say he’s responsible for all of this. You can say it. You’ll say he attacked you and kidnapped you. He’ll take the blame and we can be together… forever.” Eris’s eyes closed. Her lips moved to graze mine.
“You fucking whore,” Martin screamed. Can’t that asshole speak at a normal volume? “You’re hideous. Everything about you is hideous. You’re a disgusting monster.”
Eris froze. Her lips had only dusted the ends of mine. Her pure, untainted look of innocence faded. A demonic spark appeared. Pushing me away, she scooped up a large pair of rusted wire cutters that rested next to our cell phones. She strode up to Martin, who fell suspiciously quiet. Though only a little over five feet tall, she towered over Martin. Figuratively. The fluorescent light in the room flickered, casting a menacing series of shadows around Eris. I never thought of fluorescent lights as particularly evil, but that just goes to show you. You think that something is one way and it can turn out to be completely different. There might actually have been a better example at hand… but well, whatever. Eris leaned in and grabbed Martin’s squirming hand. She singled out a wiggling pinky finger. The cold metal of the wire cutters closed around it.
Slice. It made almost a crunching noise. Then a screaming noise, but that was from Martin’s mouth, not the finger. His finger landed on the cold concrete, and I swear I saw it twitch. Blood spurted out of his finger at the joint. Eris deftly stepped away from Martin’s squirt gun of blood. Terry gritted his teeth, and Amber began sobbing even harder.
“Holy shit.” The words materialized before I could stop them. “Think of the commitment something like that must take.” I’ll admit I had kind of lost it at this point. Just a bit.
“Help me,” Martin said weakly. He was crying. Again.
“I didn’t want to,” Eris said with a pained look when she turned to me. She tossed the blood-coated wire cutters on the table. They landed with a thud. She scooped up the baseball bat. “Now we need to carry out the final step.” Eris turned on me. She walked up and ran her hand along the side of my face. “You’ll need to look like you were attacked. I need to knock you unconscious.”
“It’s because I love you, don’t you understand? You love me too, don’t you?” Eris asked. I guess the fact that I’d already been choked out and developed a bit of a sore throat didn’t count. The bat cut the air in a wide arc. I ducked under that arc. I scrambled to position the table between Eris and myself.
“Quit moving,” Eris said. “I have to do this. Don’t you understand?”
“Don’t you understand?” I said. “I fucking hate getting hit.”
The thing is, I have three older brothers so I know what it’s like to be hit. It hurts. And as the youngest child, my body instinctively dodges anything moving towards me in a threatening manner. She lurched across the table to try and grab me with her free hand. I backed away. Eris ran around the table. I ran the other way. In a British comedy skit gone awry, we circled the table. Me in fear, her with the bat raised over her head. Eris kicked the table’s edge as I moved on the opposite side. It slammed into my hip and I stumbled to the wall. She advanced on me in an instant. The bat smashed the air… and the wall.
I evaded it by rolling by her and continued rolling under the table. She turned on me again, her eyes blazing. Had she been using an aluminum bat the reverberation would have stopped her in her tracks. Stupid wooden bats. I jumped to my feet to face the end of Eris’s bat. I tried to back up, but the table stopped me. Once again with hindsight being twenty-twenty, I should probably just have grabbed one of Eris’s implements of torture and destruction. With that being said, I stood there.
“We could have been so happy together,” Eris said. Tears welled in her eyes. What am I doing? She’s perfect. We can still be together. We’ll be happy forever. The bat cut down. A bone-crushing, earth-shattering blow. I stumbled to the side. The bat sliced near my shoulder. My clothes ruffled from the wind. Eris put everything into that swing. Her body lurched forward and she lost her balance. Her head hit home smashing into the edge of the table. She collapsed in a heap.
Strike three. She’s outta here.
Maybe permanently. That had to hurt. A thin layer of blood covered the edge of the table. A single tear-shaped drop dripped off to land on Eris’s hair. It tainted her golden strands. The wound on the side of her head opened to leave a tiny pool of blood under her hair. I stood there, shocked.
“Get me the fuck out of here, you asshole,” Martin screamed. But it really could have been Terry or Amber, too, because they were all screaming. Jeez, calm down spazzes.
I looked at Eris on the ground, then to them struggling in their chairs.
“Alright,” I said.
Aww, autumn nights. Is there anything better? Especially when you’re at the seedy docks in the bad part of town. Why are there always wooden pallets at places like the docks? The police arrived after I freed the captives from a creepy warehouse basement. I guess we were lucky it wasn’t haunted, with it being Halloween. Am I not right? Also, there was some talk about me being involved with Eris, but I did free them. And I called the police. I said that it was all a ploy to get her to drop her guard. The police believed me, which was the important thing.
“Weird, huh?” I asked Martin. His stub wrapped in gauze had already bled through. The paramedics looked over a still hysterical Amber before they were to take Martin to reattach his finger. His finger safely resided in a 7-Eleven cup packed with ice. Good thing I thought to mention that to the 911 operator.
“Fuck you,” Martin scowled. He pulled on one of those weird, burlap-y blankets you see on victims of tragedies in the movies. I discarded mine almost immediately. Mega itchy.
“Hold a grudge much?” I asked. “You’ll get your finger back, you baby. You’d probably be dead without me.”
Eris clearly meant to kill all of her captives. That’s clear, right? Also, her plan made no sense. How was Martin missing a finger going to be explained? And why would she untie me if she was just going to knock me out? I’m beginning to think Eris might have been a little off.
“You’re just as much to blame as Eris. I’ll make sure you pay for it.”
“Yeah, sure. I’m sure you can think of at least ten ways to make me pay. But don’t try to count them on your fingers. You’ll come up short.” I grinned.
“I’ll kill you,” Martin shrieked and charged me. A police officer grabbed him after I dodged his first punch, which was good because it was from his bloody hand. Eww. The paramedics loaded Martin up in the ambulance and took him away after that. Its siren blared and the lights turned the dark docks a patchwork of red. I hoped the two of us could have a wacky retelling of the events, but Martin seemed as if he was going to be a little bitch about it. The police had a now conscious Eris cuffed and were about to put her in the black and white (that’s a cop car).
“Can I speak to her alone?” I asked the young officer.
“Normally, no,” he said. “So, of course, today will be no exception. Speak to her in front of me, if you have to say something.” He took her by the shoulder and steered her towards me.
“Wow, that bandage makes you look super sexy,” I said, forgetting myself. A tiny square of white gauze had been taped to her forehead. It had not yet bled through like that undignified lout Martin’s had. It gave her a certain charm. Her hair possessed a slightly red tint on one side. “I mean, I’m sorry for what happened.” She snorted derision. “You’re a minor and attractive. You’ll be out of juvie in no time. I’m not pressing charges.” The cop looked at me like I’d just drunk a cup of piss. “So maybe when you get out we can grab a Coke?”
“Coke sucks, and so do you, dickweed.”
“What?” I asked, shocked. “Coke doesn’t suck. You suck, you psychopathic bitch.” Now I’d like to think I finally saw her true colors and the events of the night sank in. I’m not saying that what soured me on her was something as stupid as whether she liked my favorite soft drink or not. I’m not saying that… now if it’s actually true or not, well…
“Piss off. I’ll peel your skin when I get out,” Eris said.
“I probably wouldn’t say that,” the cop said. “Time to go.” He pushed her towards the car, sat her down, and closed the door. “The crazies always seem to come out on Halloween.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” I said. “So, am I gonna get a ride home or what?”
“Yeah, one of the other officers will give you a ride home,” the cop said. He placed a hand on my shoulder. “I hope this doesn’t ruin Halloween for you in the future.”
I looked at the full moon emitting a soft glow that spread across the water. The wind kicked up and blew a rainbow of different leaves in front of me. I turned to the officer.
“Why would it?”
Patrick Parisian is a writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. A native to the city he is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Writing at Metropolitan State University.
This is Patrick’s first published work. He hopes to work with Fabula Argentea again in the future as well as publish longer works.
WHY WE CHOSE TO PUBLISH “Eris Syndrome”
Sociopath meets psychopath. It’s rare to find an enjoyable story in which none of the characters are likable. In this bit of Halloween spoofery, it’s difficult not to drawn in by the voice of Neb, the young narrator, who is so well portrayed by author Patrick Parisian.
Lyn Gerry of Silver Blade commented: “The thing that I found most chilling is that his reactions are only different from many callous adolescent males, such as gang members who murder total strangers to be initiated—by degree. Ditto torturers. Ultimately Neb’s thoughts are only for himself and his desires. No compassion for anyone.”
We thank Patrick for sending us the unconventional piece for our enjoyment, and we’re delighted to be the first to publish him.