The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Cadavera Vero Innumero
by Tiffany Michelle Brown
As Monica kissed the stranger, the taste of him changed. At first, sweetness rolled over her tongue as his hot breath mingled with hers. But as she wove her fingers through his oiled hair, the scent of gasoline, sharp and tangy, billowed between them.
He suddenly tasted like poison, and Monica had to fight back the urge to retch. She floundered, pushing against the man’s chest, afraid that if she continued she’d drown in an oil slick. Their separation was sudden and violent and left Monica leaning hard against the bartop.
Her breath coming quick, she stared up at the man who’d looked like a handsome savior just a few moments ago and now resembled some sort of dark, foreign animal. His slate-colored eyes twinkled in the sparse light of the bar.
It had been a mistake, kissing him. Monica knew that. Truth be told, she’d known it long before she’d drawn close to taste him. She’d known it when she’d sat down and engaged him in conversation, batting her eyelashes and rubbing the edge of her glass with her fingertips.
But it was the kind of mistake you made after your husband of thirty years left you for a newer, trimmer model, right?
The bar was throbbing and hot, but a chill snaked through Monica’s shoulders. “I’m sorry,” she muttered, more to herself than to him, and high-tailed it to the ladies room.
Inside, she gargled water from the tap, then ran her hands under the stream, desperate to feel something other than the oily kiss that lingered on her lips.
She sighed. She’d been so stupid. She’d come out to have a good time and let loose, and she’d royally fucked it up. Just like her marriage.
Monica was considering her next move when the room began to tilt and pitch. She clasped a hand over her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut. She leaned against the countertop, feeling woozy, then warm, then slick as oil. The episode passed as quickly as it had begun.
A toilet flushed, and a woman joined Monica at the sink to wash up. They enjoyed an easy, casual silence, the faraway echo of a country song from the bar providing an ambient soundtrack.
The woman turned to Monica as she dried her hands. “Does it smell like…what is that?” She sniffed. “Like gasoline maybe?”
In response, Monica produced a low, sinister whisper: “Cadavera vero innumero.”
The woman beside Monica froze. Her eyes glazed over, as if she’d spontaneously developed an advanced case of cataracts. She turned, took a few steps, tipped her head back as if stretching her neck, then bashed her skull into the bathroom wall — again and again and again.
A whisper of a smile painted Monica’s lips as she exited the bathroom. She scanned the bar, found the man who’d shared his gift with her, and winked at him as she headed toward the exit.
The night was young. She’d move on to another bar and do as he’d done for her. Kiss a stranger. Share the gift. Pass along the mission.
Cadavera vero innumero.
Fiction © Copyright Tiffany Michelle Brown
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com