I published my first book, now what? This is a question many new authors struggle with. The main problem is trying to get readers to buy a book from an unknown author. Why should they read your book instead of the next Steven King or Dean Koontz novel? I don’t have all the answers, but my solution is to post short stories here on my blog to give my readers a taste of my writing before committing to buying my book. Hopefully, it works. Fingers crossed.

I wrote this story for Valentine’s Day a few years back for a short story contest. It made first place. This is the edited version as I wrote the original in the wrong tense. It’s quick, short, to-the-point, and absolutely brutal. I hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by.

WARNING: The following contains graphic content and adult language that may disturb some readers. It should be read only by seasoned readers of extreme sexual horror and violence. Proceed with caution.

BE MINE Written by: E.B. Lunsford

Blood. Blood was everywhere. It dripped down the lacy, white tablecloths and pooled on the floor below. It covered the drapes, the ceiling, the walls, and everything in between. She stared with her mouth agape as a puddle of it edged towards her hiding spot under one of the tables. She wondered if it was over yet. She didn’t hear any sounds, but that didn’t mean he was gone…

Thirty minutes ago, everything had been fine. It was Valentine’s Day, and her boyfriend had taken her to the fancy Italian restaurant that just opened down the street. She had heard that they were booked months in advance. She didn’t even know how he could afford it, and she never got the chance to ask. The waiter had taken their orders and was pouring the wine when all hell broke loose, and shit hit the fan.

A man in a ski mask ran into the restaurant and started shooting. Our waiter was the first person to get hit. His head exploded, and his body crumpled to the floor. Everyone started screaming. They were all in a panic, running for the exits or cowering in their chairs. The runners were gunned down first, one-by-one. He turned back to the tables. He started shooting those closest to the front of the restaurant.

Jessica looked across the table at her boyfriend, Tony. They exchanged a look before she ducked under the table. She wondered if she looked as frightened as he did. His face was whiter than she had ever seen it. She couldn’t believe this was actually happening. She looked back at Tony and saw that he was clutching his leg. He had been shot. He was trying to stop the bleeding using his bare hands, but it wasn’t working. She had to get to him.

She started crawling on her hands and knees toward him. Two boots stepped into view before she could get very far. She froze and stared at them. They were caked in mud. She watched helplessly as Tony turned his head and looked up at the person standing over him. A hole opened up in the center of his forehead almost at the same time as she heard the gun go off. His head thumped back to the floor. She tried not to scream, slapping one hand over her mouth. She watched as his eyes glazed over, and the life bled out of him right in front of her. He stared past her with unseeing eyes. He was dead.

The boots disappeared. She stared at Tony’s body as memories of their time together flashed before her eyes. She could picture every moment, from their first kiss to the last moments they had spent together. She fought the urge to go to him, knowing that the killer was probably still close by.

A woman’s pleading voice jolted her back to the present. “Please. Please don’t kill me. Noooo! Please. Not that­­-” She broke off with a bloodcurdling scream that ended almost as abruptly as it had begun.

Jessica heard something rolling across the floor. She watched as a woman’s head rolled by her hiding place. She fought the urge to vomit as bile came up her throat. She bit it back. Her eyes started to water, and her throat itched enough that she almost started coughing, but it finally passed. She took a few breaths to try to calm down.

The room was quiet again. She listened carefully but didn’t hear anything. Then, she heard someone walking near the front of the restaurant. She peeked her head out and looked. The masked gunman was standing near the first table. He nudged a limp form on the floor with his boot. The person didn’t move. It was obvious that they were dead. He moved to another body and repeated the process.

The man moaned when the killer touched him with his boot. She knew something bad was about to happen but couldn’t look away. The masked man swung a machete that she hadn’t noticed him holding. The gun was nowhere in sight. He must have put it away. The machete hit the man’s skull with a dull thud that split his head open. She looked away, not wanting to see anymore. She ducked back under the table.

Jessica could hear the man as he continued around the restaurant. She knew it was only a matter of time before he got to her table. She looked around, but there was nowhere for her to go. If she came out, he would see her. She listened as he got even closer. He killed everyone he came across that was still breathing. Her heart started thudding in her ears as he came even closer. He stopped in front of her table. She held her breath.

The man bent down and inspected Tony’s body. He turned his head from one side to the other. He dropped his chin, and Tony’s head rolled to the side. She could hardly stand to watch, but she did anyway. The man continued past her table. She let out the breath she had been holding. He must not have realized that she was under there. She wondered if anyone else were doing the same as she was. Or worse. What if everyone else was dead?

Tears welled up in her eyes. She struggled to hold them back. She needed to stay strong until she found a way out of this. She didn’t want to die. Not yet. There was so much more she wanted to do with her life. It had only just begun. She was only twenty-three years old. This couldn’t be it.

The man stopped walking. She wondered if he were going to look under the tables now. She hoped not. She prayed that he would just go away.

“Come on out, Jess. I know you’re in here.”

Her jaw dropped. He was talking about her. The voice was familiar, but she couldn’t place it. She wondered how he knew her name. She realized that Jessica was a common name. It was possible that he was referring to someone else, but she knew in her gut that it was she that he was after.

“If you come out now, it will be better for you. Trust me. I promise that I won’t hurt you. You have my word.”

As if she could trust him. He had killed her boyfriend, along with everyone else in the restaurant. She wasn’t dumb enough to fall for that. She struggled to remember where she had heard his voice before. Her mind came up blank.

“Damn it!” He sounded angry now. “Come out, or it’s going to be very nasty for you. I promise you that.” He was heading back in her direction.

She cowered under her table. There was no way that she was going to come out without a fight. He was probably going to kill her anyways. Might as well not make it easy for him. She heard a crash and watched as one of the tables landed on its back. He was flipping tables over now, checking under each one. He would no doubt find her any second. She debated making a run for it but knew he would gun her down if she tried.

He flipped another table onto its side. It was the table right beside the one she was hiding under. She heard a scream. Someone must have been hiding under that one, too. Blood splattered the tablecloth in front of her. She jumped, and her head bumped the table. She tried to crawl out and make a run for it, but it was too late.

The table above her head was thrown to the side. She turned and looked. He was right behind her. He grabbed a fistful of her hair and hauled her to her feet.

“You should have listened to me, Jess.”

He sounded sad as he said it. She looked up at him, curious as to why. His fist connected with her face, and she passed out.

* * *

When Jessica woke up, she found that she was tied to a wooden chair in the center of a room that didn’t look familiar. She didn’t think she had ever been there before. Her head was pounding, and she tasted blood in her mouth. She couldn’t remember what had happened or how she had gotten there. Nothing made sense to her. She looked down and saw that she had been stripped of all her clothing except for her underwear.

She started to panic and tried to cover herself, forgetting that her hands were bound to the arms of the chair. Her arms refused to move, and she remembered. She started fighting to get free, but it was no use. She couldn’t even tip the chair; it seemed to be bolted to the floor. Her eyes darted around the room, looking for any way to escape. It was too dark for her to see much of anything. A bare, flickering lightbulb hanging over her head provided the only source of light. It casts shadows over the far walls. The corners of the room were pitch black. A shape moved in one of them.

As she looked closer, a man stepped out of the corner. He walked closer until he was standing in front of her. He looked very familiar, but it took her several minutes before a name finally came to her. Howard. One of her ex-coworkers that she had fired over a year ago. The creep was lucky she hadn’t pressed charges against him for sexual harassment.

From the moment he stepped into the office, she had known he would be trouble. She saw it in his eyes. The way he looked at her always gave her the heebie-jeebies. He had been infatuated with her from the moment they met. He hadn’t seemed to care or accept that she didn’t feel the same. It had gotten to the point that he no longer tried to hide his feelings. One day when he got her alone, he tried to force himself on her. That had been the last straw. She fired him the very next day. She hadn’t even thought about it since then, wanting to put it all behind her.

And here he was, staring at her with the same look in his eyes that he always had. There was something predatory in his gaze along with open adoration. She shuddered. What was he doing here? Everything started coming back. She remembered the restaurant, sitting down with Tony, placing their order. Oh God, Tony. He was dead. And all those other people. He had murdered them, every last one of them.

“Why did you kill all those people?” she couldn’t stop herself from asking. She didn’t really expect a response, but he gave her one.

“Because they were happy. They were in love.” His face hardened. “Why should they get to be happy? Why did they deserve to be loved? What makes them so special? Fuck them!”

Howard stepped closer. She could smell whiskey on his breath, and he reeked like he hadn’t showered in days. He reached out and ran a hand across her cheek. She resisted the urge to pull away, not wanting to piss him off any more than he already seemed to be. She knew he was capable of anything, especially after the restaurant.

“Why wasn’t I good enough for you, huh? Why did you reject me? You cost me my job. My fucking wife left me; my kids won’t talk to me. I lost everything, all because of you.” He slapped her hard.

Blood dripped from the corner of her lip. It tasted coppery in her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. It was the only thing she could think of to say.

“No, you aren’t. But you will be.”

He jerked her head back by her hair and leered at her. He was pulling her hair hard enough that it brought tears to her eyes. He brought his face closer to hers. It was now only inches away. She couldn’t help glancing at his mouth. She hoped he wouldn’t kiss her. His foul breath was warm against her face. She squirmed in the chair.

“I’m not gonna kiss you, fucking bitch!” He laughed out loud and let go of her. Then, his face turned serious again.

He crossed the room to one of the far walls. Another light turned on. She noticed a long workbench covered in various tools of all shapes and sizes. She realized that she was in a garage. It was dark outside, that was why it was so dark. She could now see windows that she hadn’t noticed before. She wondered if she cried out if anyone would hear. Maybe there were neighbors close-by.

He was running his hands over the tools almost lovingly. He finally selected a hammer and turned back toward her. She realized that if she did scream, he would make her pay for it. It probably wouldn’t even help.

“What are you going to do with that?” He was getting too close and raising the hammer over his head. She had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.

He didn’t answer. He brought the hammer down, aiming for one of her kneecaps. Her eyes widened as she realized what he was about to do. She turned her head at the last second, unable to watch.

The hammer connected with her knee. Jessica screamed. The pain was blinding. It was the worst pain she’d ever felt in her life. Worse than the time she had broken her ankle as a teenager or the time she had accidently slammed her fingers in a car door when she was twelve. She didn’t think it would ever end.

It took a while for the pain to recede enough for her to think clearly again. She shook her head. Howard was staring at her with a mixture of love and hate on his face. He grinned and headed for the workbench again. This time he came back holding a scalpel. He smiled and eyed her up and down, seeming to drink everything in. She realized that he was probably debating where to cut.

“Please don’t do this.”

He giggled like a girl. “I haven’t even started yet.”

He stabbed her in the side of her stomach. She screamed as the cold metal pierced her skin. It sunk in about an inch before he pulled it out. It hurt worse coming out than it had going in. The pain was excruciating. She screamed and screamed, pulling at her restraints.

“Howard, please. I will do anything you want. Please don’t kill me.” She was begging now. She didn’t think she could take any more. She would say anything, do anything, to make it all go away.

“Anything?” He seemed to think it over. He started to shake his head.

“Anything! Please. Just don’t kill me.”

He grinned, showing a row of crooked, yellow teeth. “Okay. I’m going to untie you, but I’m not gonna untie your hands. Understood?”

Jessica nodded. Anything so long as he didn’t stab her again.

“If you try anything stupid, I swear it will be worse for you. I will make you suffer to the very end. You’ll wish that you had never been born.”

She tried not to pull away as he neared her again. He leaned over and cut the rope that held her to the chair. He cut another rope that was wound around her ankles and stood up. He beckoned her to do the same.

She stood up and almost fell over. She wondered how long she had been unconscious. Did she have a concussion or something? Had he drugged her? She didn’t understand why she felt so out of it. Her head was spinning, and her legs didn’t want to cooperate. She stumbled a few times, her knee protesting every step. She felt dizzy as she followed him across the room.

He led her through a door that connected the garage to the rest of the house. A darkened hallway was beyond the door. He led her down it and into another room. It was a bedroom with a huge bed in the center of it. He led her over to it.

“Bend over the bed,” he commanded.

Her heart started pounding harder in her chest. She wondered what he was going to do. Was he going to rape her? She did as he asked, hoping that he wasn’t going to but knowing that he probably would.

He came up behind her and pressed against her backside. She could feel his erection, straining to escape from his pants. She whimpered. At the sound, he pulled away. Something bit into her back, making her cry out. She looked over her shoulder and saw that he was holding a whip. He beat her with it over and over again until she couldn’t hold herself up anymore. Her arms, which had been supporting her weight, collapsed to the bed. She fell forward with her ass in the air.

Jessica heard a sharp intake of breath behind her, and then he was pressing against her backside again. He tore off her panties with one hard yank. He tossed them to the side. He unbuckled his pants and pulled them down. He pressed himself against her. He was starting to slip inside. She tried to fight it, but it was no use. It was going to happen whether she wanted it to or not.

This couldn’t be happening. It couldn’t be real. But it was. He took her. She pretended to enjoy it, swallowing down her revulsion. Maybe if she let him, he would let her go. He kept going for what felt like forever. He didn’t stop until she passed out from exhaustion.

* * *

When she came to again, Howard was standing over her. He was placing a bandage on her side where he had stabbed her earlier. It felt like he had put medicine on it.

“Finally awake, I see.” He smiled at her. He seemed to be in a much better mood. “I love you so much, baby. We’ll be together forever, I promise.”

“What?!” She couldn’t have heard him right. He couldn’t just keep her there. Could he?

“What?” he shrugged. “You must have figured out by now how much I care for you. I’ve always loved you since the very first time I laid eyes on you. I knew you were meant for me. We were destined to be together.”

What was he talking about? He had said he would let her go if she did what he wanted. She suddenly realized that he had no intention of ever letting her go. He would have said anything to get her to agree to go to bed with him.

“You crazy motherfucker! Just let me go. I did like you asked. Please!”

He snarled as he drew his arm back. He punched her in the very spot he had stabbed her before. She screamed as pain engulfed her.

“You fucking cunt! You tricked me. I thought you loved me, but you were just pretending last night. Weren’t you?” He punched her again, this time in the groin. She gasped, not expecting it to hurt as bad as it did.

He pinned her arms over her head. She tried to twist from his grasp, but it was futile. He was just too strong. Maybe she shouldn’t have called him crazy. He flipped her onto her stomach, and then he surprised her by spitting on her backside. He was unbuckling his jeans. Before she could comprehend his intention, he slammed into her.

She screamed in pure agony as he slammed into her again and again. The hammer to her knee was nothing compared to this. She had never felt so violated. It felt so wrong. Just when she was beginning to think it would never end, he pulled away.

“That’s all you’re good for, ya know. A quick fuck. You’re nothing but a dirty whore. I wish I had seen it sooner. You probably enjoyed every second of it. Well, you ain’t gonna enjoy anything else ever again. Not if I can help it.”

* * *

Two weeks had passed. A news bulletin played across the television screen. Authorities had found a body dumped in the woods on the outskirts of town. A woman’s body. She had been raped and brutalized in every possible way. Her breasts had been removed along with her tongue and several of her teeth. She had strangulation marks on her neck. Cause of death was unknown but suspected to have happened around the time her heart had been removed from her chest.

Howard smiled to himself as he finished watching the news. He stood up from the kitchen table and walked to the closet of his bedroom. He knelt down in front of the shrine he had built. He kissed the heart placed at the base of it. “Oh, Jessica. My love. I knew your heart would one day belong to me.”

Copyright ©2020 E.B. Lunsford

Published by E.B. Lunsford

I'm a writer, a mother, and an animal lover. I've been an avid reader for most of my life and love anything horror related. Some of my biggest influences include Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, and Steven King. I like poker, golf, video games, and rock music. You can learn more about me by visiting my website, eblunsford.com

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