Character Pieces, Home, Science Fiction

A Widow’s Kiss

In the dark, crumbling remains of what might have once been a warm home, stands a woman. She is tall, pale, with a perfect hourglass figure clothed in tight black leather and fabric. She bares dark eyes and even darker hair, with too sharp venomous teeth that she hides behind tightly pressed lips.

Arianna stands alone among the carnage, the remains of her old life, but this bothers her little. She has been alone for most of her life, after all. Even when she had her (lying, treacherous) beloved at her side. She had left behind the possibility of a normal and happy life a long time ago.

Arianna sighs and begins marching back to her car, glass crunching underfoot and dust rising in her wake. She walks with little care, eyes staring blankly ahead. The air still smells like smoke, and though she swears she washed her mouth thoroughly, her tongue still tastes like iron and her own venom. Her hands still feel wet with blood.

She had been so angry, burning with fury and betrayal only hours ago — but now? Standing in the ashes of the life she and Thomas had built? Maybe she feels the echo of relief, but she only feels a numb acceptance. She feels cold, but then again, she is always cold theses days.

She isn’t sorry. Arianna’s done too much to feel sympathy for the lives she’s ended tonight. She’s spent so long killing for others, isn’t it only right that she killed for herself? Just this once? Arianna had loved and trusted Thomas with all her being, and he had manipulated her. Placated her with plastic smiles, meaningless kisses, and false promises.

He had said he could help her. He had promised his procedure would cure her of this — twisted mutation in her blood. That when she awoke again, she would be normal. She could kiss him without worrying about her venomous fangs, she wouldn’t have to file down her nails and stop wearing those thick, uncomfortable gloves. He promised her he would stop the aches in her spine, fill the hollows of her surprisingly durable bones.

But Thomas had lied. His experimental equipment, those days she let him prick her, draw blood, and take samples of her bones — were meant to do the opposite. Thomas had never had any interest in healing her, he wanted to make it worse. And she had let him.

Arianna had climbed into that machine, let him stuff those chemicals into her veins — she believed in Thomas even as she felt herself be ripped apart and remade into something horrific.

In that moment it had been incomprehensible pain, and only now, after months, could she even begin to make sense of the memory. Of the agony.

Continuously striking lightning, her bones melting, her skull splitting in two, her organs imploding — god the memory nearly brought her too her knees. Arianna stumbles, nearly tripping over a wooden plank, and forces down that part. That’s not the important part. With a shake of her head, Arianna feels her fury return, and remembers what happened next.

Remembers being so disoriented, throwing out her fists with a wail, breaking the glass and stumbling onto the cold floor of the lab. It had been so loud, sirens blaring, lights flashing. And then her spine snapped.

Or, well. That’s what it felt like. Arianna had screamed as her back shifted and burst. She recalls herself fleeing, stumbling through empty halls, and flashes of darkness. Her legs had been so weak, but at the time, she hadn’t known those weren’t her human legs that were carrying her away so quickly.

Then, a distracting glint. A mirror. Falling to her knees, clawing at the reflective surface with renewed claws, forcing her blurred, strange new vision to focus — and then seeing why her vision was wrong.

Four dark eyes and a mouth full of fangs dripping with hissing green liquid had greeted her. She had screamed again, clawing at her face, heart pounding in her chest. Then she was made aware of the extra limbs twitching at her back.

She had sat there, staring, beyond horrified and terrified, and wept. On the cold ground she cried until voices called for her. Then, she scrambled through the winding corridors, crashing through one of the labs windows, and fled into dark woods beyond.

Over the next few days, Arianna came into her new abilities. She had always been flexible, in more ways than one. She hadn’t seen more than a flicker of her own reflection in the local lake, but even that had been more than enough. Her body was alien enough, she didn’t need to see her face again.

And when Arianna came into some semblance of control, she went home. Under the cover of night, she crept to the house that could hopefully grant her proper shelter, and where she would get answers from Thomas. She needed to know what had gone wrong, and tell him she was okay.

But when she approached the house and looked through the window, she found Thomas kissing another woman. She froze, and hidden by the darkness, she watched, and listened.

Thomas, with the other woman Arianna recognised as his assistant Margret, stared down at a paper-clad desk, as Thomas complained about the loss of his experiment. Arianna.

With Margret at his side, he explained how long he had worked to get Arianna to trust him, to let him take sample after sample until he could figure out how to strengthen her mutation. How to make Arianna into a simple-minded creature he and his contractors could use. How he was so upset that while he believed his experiment had gone mostly well — that Arianna had been too stupid and scared to stay in the lab and be contained.

Thomas bemoaned the loss of his subject, the angry of his contractors, the damage done to the lab in Arianna’s escape. Margret hummed at his side, one hand curled around his. She asked Thomas if it was worth it to search for Arianna?

He said no. He said Arianna wouldn’t have been able to survive with her new ‘adjustments’. He had sent out teams to look for her remains, but said that it wouldn’t matter much if she wasn’t alive.

In the darkness, tears rolled down Arianna’s face, her fangs bit her lip to keep in the sobs waiting to break free. Silently, trembling, she fled back into the woods, as something cold and terrible grew in her chest.


 

Six months later, Thomas finds himself coming home late into the night. He throws open his door and steps inside. As he removes his coat he wonders if Margret is already asleep.

“Hey, Thomas.” Hisses a familiar voice. A voice Thomas thought he would never hear again. Thomas flicks on the light and stares, face pale, at the figure lounging comfortably in his chair. Arianna, dressed in leather, with markings on her face and no visible extra limbs or eyes, sits with a gun pressed to the head of Thomas’ silently weeping fiancé.

Thomas gapes, bag slipping from his hands and crashing to the floor. He can’t breathe, he cannot comprehend what he is seeing. Arianna is alive. And Thomas can’t help but be beyond terrified at the predatory look in her dark eyes.

“Aw, what’s that look for? Didn’t you miss me, love?” Arianna grins, flashing fangs and fluttering her lashes. Thomas swallows, but says nothing. Arianna sighs, then with one quick movement, kicks Margret in the back, sending the woman skidding to a crash against the opposite wall. Causing glass and pictures to come crashing down.

“Margret –!” Thomas cries, but he makes it no more than a single step before something wraps around his middle and yanks him close to Arianna. Thomas gasps, scrunching down under Arianna’s intense gaze. She puts her gun away, but its loss doesn’t offer him a hint of comfort. Thomas wishes he was facing the gun.

“So you found a new lady, I see.” Arianna hisses, and this close Thomas can practically smell the acidic venom in her mouth. He swallows, but as he looks into the eyes of the woman he used and abused, he finds himself, for once, at a loss for words. He stands before a predator, a raging woman with stronger powers, and he shudders with the knowledge that this is his fault.

“You know,” Arianna begins, throwing the bound Thomas onto the couch with ease. “I’ve had a lot of time to think about what to do when I came back home. You know, after you broke me.” She says, strutting over to the fallen Margret. “Oh, by the way,” Arianna cheers, grabbing Margret by her hair and yanking her to her feet. “I should thank you for the ‘skills’ you gave me. I never would have become the world’s leading assassin without them. I never would have even considered that path, but hey.” Margret cries as Arianna slams her against the wall. Thomas screams.

“When life gives you betrayal and spits in your wounds,” Arianna lets go, but before Margret can hit the floor, she is encased in thick webbing that pins her in place as she bows her head and sobs. “You make do.” Arianna finishes.

She pivots on her heel and grins, marching over and dragging Thomas over to pin him next to Margret. Arianna steps back, watching the couple squirm with a hand pressed to her face. As if contemplating how she wants to do this. (She already knows what she’s going to do, but she does the motions for dramatic effect anyway.)

“Arianna, please.” Thomas pleads. “Don’t do this. Margret had nothing to do with this, leave her out of it.” Arianna stares back, and Thomas licks his lips, praying that flicker in her eyes is Arianna changing her mind. “This isn’t you. Let us down and we can go our separate ways, forget all this craziness never happened.”

As soon as the words leave his lips, Thomas realises that flicker was Arianna changing her mind — she was going to butcher them now.

“This isn’t me?” Arianna laughs. “What would you know about me, Thomas?” She growls. “I was happy, you know? I thought I knew pain and loss and sorrow — but you know what?” Arianna cackles, dropping her gaze to stare at her hands. “Nothing could compare to the hell you condemned me too.”

Arianna rises, smooths down her hair, and unzips her jacket. Underneath, her pale skin in marked by a sprawling black widow tattoo, and so many scars. She throws the jacket aside, and with a deep breath, her skin shudders. Bone cracks fill the air as Arianna contorts, and Thomas and Margret can only watch in horror as six spindly legs burst from her back. Her fangs grow, her forehead splits to reveal two eyes, and black scales and spikes burst across her exposed skin like armor.

In a flash, her rancid acidic breath is all Thomas can smell as Arianna leans down, one clawed hand firmly holding his head in place. The other drags down his front, drawing rivers of blood. Thomas whimpers.

“HoW aBoUt A lAsT kIsS, lOvEr BoY?” Arianna hisses before pressing her venom coated lips to Thomas’. Thomas writhes in Arianna’s grip as Margret screams and thrashes next to them. Thomas’ face burns, his skin almost melting under the green liquid as it drips down his face, down his throat.

The entire horrific and agonising death Arianna’s venom brings Thomas feels like it lasts for hours, when in reality it only takes a few seconds. And then there is just a silent, mutilated corpse hanging from the wall. Arianna turns to a weeping Margret, tilts her head, then slashes open the woman’s throat with one clawed hand.

And then the only sound left is the hiss of Arianna’s venom, and her heavy breathing. Arianna steps back, shifts back into the form she worked so hard to claim, and moves to wash her hands. She scrubs off the venom and blood, collects her things, and then sets the house on fire as she leaves.

She marches back to her car, uncaring of the blaze that no one will see, given how deep into the woods the cottage is. A wreckage no one will discover until morning at the earliest. She leaves, and doesn’t come back for several days.

In the present, Arianna marches back to her car, anger exhausted, and climbs in. She breathes, a weight sliding off her back. She grins and drives off, leaving her old, pathetic life behind, and moves forward to her next target.

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