Alarmingly Strange Stories
 

Strings Attached
by
Cyndi Kirkpatrick


Moving away once the spasms began to fade, she kneeled beside him, cradling his head in her hands, looking again into his face. He seemed to be asleep already, satiated, his expression happy and relaxed. She wanted to tell him to run but there was no time and she could not speak now. Her grip tightened and with a strength she should not have had, she gave a quick twist that resulted in the sickening crack of his neck breaking.The worst time had been when she had first learned the nature of her curse, when she found what she had to do her mates. She hadn't fought it then, because she hadn't known it was going to happen. She didn't fight it this time because it had been thousands of years, and never once had the killer impulse failed to dictate her actions, no matter what her efforts to resist. She had offended the gods and now she was what they had doomed her to be.

She dragged him to the bathroom on the soiled sheet, put them in the tub, turned the shower on to clean it all. She would wash herself later. She gathered his clothes and put them in a large wooden packing crate that was still open and empty. Then she went into her bedroom and quietly began folding the thousands of mutedly iridescent cloths of her bed, each woven for a lover and his child. Already she could feel the skin over her abdomen tightening as her fertilized egg grew. She briefly thought of suicide but all her attempts had been useless so far, so she didn't consider it seriously. Dying was easy enough, she did that as simply as anyone did. It was staying dead that was impossible. She always awoke after a dreamless sleep, curled up in her silken pillows, happy and content. That lasted for a few seconds but then she would remember what she was and why, and the inevitable horror would settle over her again.

She laid her egg as the sun rose. By then she had tenderly dried her lover of the night before and wrapped him tightly in her threads, taking care that the neat package she made was watertight. She put it into the open crate, along with his clothing, and sealed it shut. She would return to it a few days later but now she didn't have to think about that. She put her egg on the floor where the morning sun fell, letting the shell harden in the daylight, then wrapped it in the white casing she had woven for it days before, when she knew she was going to breed. Sometimes she killed her offspring right away. Doing that should have been harder than it was. This time as too often, she could feel pity for the child within it, pity for the dead father, pity for herself, so she didn't harm it. She put it in a soft carrying bag and put it to warm on the windowsill.

She had tried raising the first few of her children, not because she felt any desire to do so but because she thought she should. It was impossible. Each one hatched and at first looked like the sweetest little baby, the most darling little baby. She had been shocked when the first one bit her. She soon found they always arrived complete with sharp little fingernails and sharp little teeth, able to awkwardly scramble across the floor in a crawl that was much faster than it looked, good at climbing and escaping from closed rooms through small, unexpected exits. There was never any milk for them and no wonder, they came into the world wanting meat.

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