CW: body horror, violence, discussion of sexual violence, and egregious misuse/disregard of Lovecraftian canon.
To be unseen and see that which is unseen is the Whateley family’s blessing and burden, so Plumeria was quite certain that the slinking presence she sensed outside the camp had not been there for very long. She got a feel for it as the conversation around her slurred into meaningless sound, her eyes pointed at but not focused on the flickering campfire. The way it darted through the trees real quicklike, the rushy way it glided through the underbrush without making a sound, all these things spread like honey over Plume’s tongue. The wind whispered that she had been found.
So she was now in a bit of hot water, and not entirely certain how to get out of it. Were it only her she could pick up and run, or find some clever way to rout pursuit. What now, though, that she was surrounded by fellow doctors? She weren’t fool enough to think that they’d be a warding wall, no more than the bulwark of RVs and trailers that surrounded them, a white wall against the forest and the night. Or so the other doctors fancied.
Truth at whatever cost it carries is the Whateley way, so Plume didn’t waste energy on the comforting lie that the vehicles made them any sort of safe. Especially not from the stalker orbiting their camp like a black moon. Such things as she was sure had found her considered regular human folk hardly at all, save as food. Even folk with the right charms and spells were scarce more than an interesting diversion. Not a one of the doctors, no matter how counter-culture and unlike their fellows they thought themselves, would register to something such as that which was slinking closer and closer.
All humans is largely the same to those of Outside. Plumeria even now struggled to pick out the individual features of those she helped treat. The children that she vaccinated, the old folks for whom she wrote prescriptions, the leather-faced working people she diagnosed with every manner of parasite and poor man’s disease. But she was doing better. She was!
Why, when things were going so well for her, and she had been above all so very careful to leave no trace of her passing, had she been found?
A rattling sort of breeze more like breath of lungs than a rustling of air slithered across the back of her neck, shimmied down the collar of her dress. The campfire sputtered, obvious enough that another doctor, Billie Langston, noticed. She peered at Plumeria through the smoke and spark. Crooked her fingers for Plume to come close.
Plume crouched next to Billie’s folding chair, waited for the question.
“Hey, is it just me, Plume, or is it… it’s a little creepy out, isn’t it?”
Plume inclined her head at the fire and turned her gaze back out to the woods. Billie twisted in her chair to do the same. She was decently sensitive, was Billie, and Plumeria had trusted her with certain things that other doctors had not been privy to. Nothing serious, nothing that could harm her. Certainly not any of the uncomfortable truths such as would drive normal people mad. Just enough that Billie knew to expect oddities from Plume, and enough that she trusted her with her fears and intuitions.
“’Tis,” said Plume, and Billie hunched in her chair. “I think I shall go and have a look right quickly.”
“It’s no big trouble. I don’t think so, at least. Maybe even just a creepy night. Don’t wait up for me, Billie.”
Billie tried to catch Plume’s wrist in her long brown fingers, but Plume slipped away, went to her RV and got prepared. She took off her shoes, and fetched her sawed-off double barrel, which everyone had thought was very quaint for her to have until she adjudicated a robbery in their favor with it. Her flashlight on a cord went about her neck, and she slipped as quick and quiet from her RV as she had from Billie’s grasp. As she went, she saw Dr. Robbie squeezing on Billie, deliriously drunk and exuberant, enough of a bother that Billie didn’t see her go. Just the same, just the same. It would only make her nervous. Plume was frankly grateful to Dr. Robbie, to be honest, for keeping Billie’s attention on her and not the creeping sensation of predation.
The briers didn’t do much to stop her, clinged at her tatty skirt–soon she would have to get another and consign this one to flame–but couldn’t get ahold of the bare skin of her ankles and feet. Bare feet was always best for coming out into the woods to ramble, or in search of things such as what was stalking them. She put quite a distance between her and the camp, and the presence circled her still, weaving in and out without straying toward her friends.
The sound of the woods, narrow as they was, drowned out the wind on the prairie and the highway they’d pulled off from. All there was was the lashing of the branches, the sighing of the bushes, the gentle whispers of them what was telling Plumeria of hunger and triumph.
All at once she realized what was on her trail. Relief came, followed fast by horror and disbelief as rarely assailed the Whateley blood. What had she done wrong that she should find herself stalked by the creature now bearing down upon her? She could almost see the yellowed teeth slick with drool, the mouth parting in a grin as eyes fixed on her lonely form.
Thrill as only such as what had found her after all this time could cause raced through her limbs. Such a delicate situation she found herself in now, and still no real idea of how to handle it.
She’d been walking for fifteen minutes before she came to a stop, a far ways from camp and no mistaking. She took the shotgun strap from about her shoulders and set the weapon against a tree, untroubled by the looming spectre to her back. The smell of the river and the underbrush was not quite gone, but another scent had overpowered them. A heavy ozone odor, one that clung to the ground like mist and wafted up. Wound like vines up her ankles and calves and settled on the insides of her thighs, pausing at the legholes of her panties. Soon enough, soon enough.
She turned on her flashlight and hung it around a low-hanging branch. It was bright on that directly beneath it, far dimmer around it, a good and moody light. She took a deep breath, but did not turn.
“You’ve been a long time traveling to meet me in such a place,” Plume said to the waiting darkness. “And I didn’t figure you for a body what enjoys grasslands and highways, huh, darling?”
“Nah,” came the voice, gravel underfoot and very close to her neck. Heat bloomed out from the mouth across her ear, her jaw, dipped down again into her bodice. “A-travelin’ on such open spaces makes me itch fiercely. All them eyes what can sees you, y’know, no matter how careful you is.”
“But a-travel you did, I see.”
“Yiss I did, love, and now we two is going home.”
“Oh, you think so, Absalom, do you?”
Rough hands seized her by either shoulder, and beneath the heavy fabric of a trench coat, another limb twitched, straining against the buttons to touch her. Plume bit her lower lip to keep the shameful noises at bay, and rolled her head back against Absalom’s broad chest, bore her neck to him. The long white stretch of it, the fluttering of the major veins beneath, was always more than he could resist.
Even when they was just little children and had no knowledge of lustful things, Absalom would bury his face in the skin and breathe, curl all his limbs about her like a living cage. Twas his surest comfort despite the things which he had trouble bearing. Plume knew he must miss it most of all.
More than the squeeze of her thighs and softness of her cunt, those things which most men woulda concerned themselves with primarily. He was a good sort, her Absalom.
Good, but he had not stayed that chaste boy from long ago. Here in the now, he fixed his mouth on the vein and sucked noisily, scratching the three crooked rows of bottom teeth against the back of her neck. He groaned deep and shook her down the entire length of her spine.
“Oh, my little love,” he rumbled into her ear. “Surely you don’t believe that I’m a-gonna turn you loose now that I have my hands on you, do you? Not until we’re back in Miskatonic land.”
He commenced to sucking more dark bruises into her skin, slid his still-gloved hands down to her buttons. She feared he might pop them, then realized it would be no big thing compared to the marks his teeth were leaving, that his nails were yet to leave. She was going to have some sort of explaining to do.
How, by every angle and every sphere, had this man found her? She knew he was a coursing hound, tinged by one of the seekers from the Outside, but with all the miles she’d traveled, all the charms she’d cast, all the precautions she’d taken… she burned her old clothes and never paid save for small cash, stayed in this group of many people to disguise her unnatural scent in the teeming smell of prey…
And here he was, this coursing hound, worrying her white throat red like a chew-bone. Gonna mount her up against this tree like they were both earthly dogs, if she let him.
As his eleven fingers found purchase on her beasts, dug in tight, Plumeria wondered if she wanted to stop him or not.
“Plumeria Whateley, you little devil. Runnin’ off the way you done, treatin’ your man poorly the way you does.”
She had nothing to say to that. No real argument she could make. She had accepted that she was treating her Absalom poorly by running away as she did. Even though she’d promised to be good to him and join in flesh the way their spirits would once they reached the Outside. He was right about that, at least.
Plumeria shrugged her dress off, let it catch on her belt. Pressed herself flush to Absalom’s chest, pinning his minor left arm between the coat and his body but giving him an unhindered view of her. She met his mismatched eyes, one green as sweet pine needles, the other green-gray like the sea. The pupils reflected in a color that couldn’t quite cement itself, even to eyes as gifted as Plume’s.
He bowed his shaggy head to push their mouths together, slid his rough-textured tongue past her lips and bullied it between her teeth. The taste of him was sharp, the smell of thunder, surging down her throat as cool and tangible as water.
His beard scratched against her, left her smelling the dust of the road. A long time traveling indeed. Plume reached up and wound her fingers in his dark, dark hair, tugged encouragingly. Bounced on her heels to bring his attention back to her breasts. Her nipples had gone so tight they ached, she needed the pressure of his hands on them. She needed the pressure of his hands all over her. She had been so lonely, all this time so lonely and missing his insistent, needy touch.
The problem had never been that she didn’t love Absalom.
The problem had always been the whispers of the townspeople and her great-granddaddy shaking his hoary white head and fuming, “Plumeria, you are too important to concern yourself with lesser beings!” And the promise of staying on a pig farm, doing no good for nobody, forever and ever until she died. The promise of Outside was so bitter when it came at the price of a life long wasted. Rotting timber walls in the distant craggy woods, pressed on all sides by disappointment from the family and fear from the others.
Absalom pulled his mouth away and she chased it, kissed air stupidly for a moment until he replaced his tongue with the tips of two fingers on his major left hand. The leather was as dusty as his beard, well-worn in places where his nails were more scale than claw. She held the glove in place with her teeth, let him pull his hand free, and did the same for the right hand. The gloves she let drop to the leaf litter.
The frills of his major left palm pulsed and tickled on their way down her neck to her breast again. Under his trench coat, she heard the finger-spines along the side of his minor left clack together as the whole limb twitched. Back before they had their fight and she had her flight, he’d been keen to hold her to him with the minor left, tuck her against his chest.
If he still wanted that, then Plume was certain she could angle this. Make things work out so that there was a way for her to win. If she were to go back to Miskatonic country, that’d be losing, same as if she ended up—same if—oh, no use to dance around it. Were it not the Whateley way to face the unnameable and give it name, to glimpse the unseeable and give it form? Had Plumeria herself not spied out secrets of the outer places, and learned to taste the currents, hear the whispers that even now teased her with the depths of Absalom’s desire?
Why then was it so hard for her to say that there had always been a possibility that she might have to kill Absalom, or be killed by him?
“Oh, you’re thinking such awful thoughts as to make you feel so bad,” Absalom said.
Of course, he heard whispers too, maybe even louder than Plumeria did. Not well enough to hear the words which she thought, only the feelings, for which she was grateful. It would hurt him so deeply to know she had even considered they should fall to such dire blows.
He cupped both breasts, must have been looking down admiringly at the way they lay in his mismatched hands. Plume could only suppose. Her eyes were closed. For the moment, at least, she couldn’t bear to see him.
“Sad about the way things turnt out, is you?” He pinched her left nipple between two hoofish nails, snorted at the tiny squeal she gave him. “Me too. I’ve been torn up as one could hardly believe. I went a-beggin’ and a-pleadin’ to our kin all over New England for a spell or charm what would find you for me, so I could come and take you home.”
Plume widened her stance, adjusted her skirt so Absalom could push his thigh between hers without just getting caught in it. She didn’t hike it out of the way, not yet. She predicted he would like to do that himself.
“Can’t think of one in the valley that might know such a spell,” she said.
“Not even down in Dunwich with the library Esau builded. You must’ve gone and had a word with your daddy.”
“Ah, you’re sharp as a nail, love. Yeah, on the third thin day this year I called my daddy’s name atop Preacher’s Head Hill and we had us a short conversation.”
“And followed my scent all this way ever since, Lommy?” she asked.
“All this way.”
“I do think that since you still look upright it shall only last this one time, darling?”
“You can think whatever you like.”
If he wasn’t boasting and still looked the same as when they had their fight, Plume was sure she was right. He could’ve bought himself more power with the concreteness of his physical flesh. But then he might have forgotten what he was chasing her for. Or gotten distracted by a more appetizing quarry, one that ran faster and couldn’t bite him like she could. Or perchance even unraveled from the world and gone Outside, as what happened to his daddy when he called his daddy’s name from the hilltops. Gone to chase shadows and rend between his spectral jaws the squirming larva born from the thoughts of the Summer Gods, and the stray dreams of lofty thinkers.
Such dreams were already churning within Plumeria’s head. But so that Absalom wouldn’t be able to hear them, she ground herself against his thigh, hard enough to shake his leg a bit. Another growling sound, deep under the trench coat and not quite from the throat his normal words came from, and his hands moved to clutch her hips at once.
“Can you still smell me the way you did on your chase?” she asked, reaching up once more and linking her fingers behind his head.
His cheek was flushed hot against her bare skin, pulsing even through his beard. Both of his oversized hands traveled from her hips to the junction of her thighs, fingers wedging between her and his thigh and digging into her softness. The push of them sent a shiver all the way up her spine, made her spasm on nothing and hurt for the emptiness.
She had been so lonely ever since she left him bleeding and cussing and weeping for her in the river. There had been ample opportunity for her to find physical attention from all sorts of men, frightful and murderous men in nasty bars, on bikes outside seedy motels and RV parks. Big beards and calloused hands and leers so foul she could almost imagine the twist of features that would mark them touched as she was, as Absalom was.
But weren’t none of them he that she loved, even though they’d fought and she’d left. And even though she ought not have been under any obligation to faithfulness, she couldn’t make herself reach other to another. Though it would have been so easy and she’d been so lonely.
She was still Absalom’s wife, even after all was said and done.
Plume chased the jolts of pleasure with little rolls of her hips against his fingers, since he showed no inclination to further movement. It was selfish on more levels than one; Absalom was a coursing hound and no mistaking, but a dog such as that only follows one quarry. She gave him something more appetizing to focus on than whatever unhappy thoughts she was entertaining. And her lonely, barely-touched body was so, so hungry for it.
Men are simple. Absalom fell for it entirely. At once he brought every faculty to bear on the promise of the wet heat pressed to him.
“All I can smell’s this little cunt,” he rumbled, his voice thunderous as his smell.
Plume whimpered and thought herself an appropriate bride for a dog, the way she readied up so fast and whined from the heat of it. She was no bitch, though. She could keep her head above the water. Just a matter of keeping it low enough that he only noticed the sea. Funny to think of thoughts as the sea, which Plume knew to be frigid and inconstant, not like the burn wrapped around every limb and digit, blazing through her guts and dripping as slick to ease Absalom’s way.
“Open up your coat, Lommy,” she said, rocking back on his leg, against his fingers. “An’ let me turn around, I feel like I ain’t barely seen you, Lommy, don’t do it to me with my face against a tree. Do it to me so I can see you while you do it.”
“You talk so pretty when you’re like this.” He burrowed down between her arm and head, bit her shoulder not too harshly for how wound up he must be. “You always talk so pretty.”
She bucked against him as wild as a colt and he laughed at her. A wheezy sound, not just his lungs and throat working but all the structures built into him by a body not fully painted with the brush of Outside.
He tugged his leg from between hers and turned her so they faced each other. She took stock of him, proper stock, as he undid the his many tarnished buttons. His beard was wild as she’d thought, growing down his throat as well as up his cheeks. A shaving kit must not have been among the effects he packed for the road—if he indeed packed anything but a sackful of cash, which all Whateleys had long learnt was good as a gun for getting information out of normal folk. Or getting their own persons out of bad situations.
All of him was ragged from the road, his cheeks gaunt, his jeans patched up and the boots in need of a mending. The coat which ought to be black was practically brown from the dust and grime of travel. Had he ever stopped to bathe, to eat, to do anything but chase her? Race across half a continent along the trail his daddy had helped him to catch?
Twas truly a vicious trial, and his troubles were not to end now that he’d found her. Oh, Absalom. There was power and truth in the gifts the Summer Gods gave their children and devotees, but scant little comfort.
Absalom shrugged the coat to the ground and stretched out his three arms as wide as they all would go before doing just as he’d done all their lives. He wrapped them around her like a living cage and pushed her back against the tree. Plume embraced him in turn and put one leg around his waist so the long, obscene shape of his cock was pushed against her.
Plume was careful to avoid sticking her fingers in any of his mouths, though the beaks couldn’t snip her too badly. Used to be she’d reach down and let the rudimentary tongues in them twist around, draw her hand in as far as it’d go. So’s she could go inside him the way he always went in her, she said, and he thought that was funny or that she was yummy enough to let it happen.
Maybe he’d be cross enough with her that he’d bite her, though, and Plume thought it best she just not open up an opportunity to squabble. Not right now. Not right now.
Absalom covered her face in increasingly sloppy kisses, all on the corners of her mouth and across her jawline, tongue swathing across her eyelids. Without his trench coat the smell of Outside was stronger upon them, the far more mundane stink of unwashed man underneath that. All the many beaks clacked softly together to the quick, three-part rhythm of his heart. His skin changed texture and temperature beneath her hands.
His mouth traveled further down, skating over her throat, her collarbones, leaving them wet and lightly scraped. She pushed her breasts forward in offering, and he paused, but didn’t give them any special attention. Instead, he knelt, and pushed her dress up, pushed his face against her bone-white thighs and sighed through every mouth.
“C’mon now, hold them skirts up,” he said.
Though she could’ve argued that she was only wearing one, not multiple—would have argued that back before the fight, the river—Plume only obeyed, arched forward as he dragged her panties down to her ankles. She strove to take good care of what clothes as she had, especially her underthings, but now, she ground them into the leaf litter and loamy dirt as she adjusted to open her thighs up to Absalom.
“There’s my girl, show me that pretty peach.” With both major hands on her thighs, he brought his minor left up to smear the slick around. The three simple digits slid between the sodden folds of her easily, prodded her hole and the sweet spot at the apex. She was wet enough that when he pulled back to suck the ends of his fingers clean, the fluid drew strings between her and him. “Ah, fuck, Plumeria—”
She might ought to have protested him burying his dirty face in her cunt the way he did, with his unkempt, dusty beard. Might ought to have. She didn’t, though, she threw her head back against the tree and rolled her body against him. Moaned low and loud enough that she had a moment of irrational thought that Billie or another doctor might come running. Might come see her grinding against the mouth of some dreadful monstrous creature, tits out, eyes shut and hair tossing all around her shoulders. Supposing they didn’t just start gibbering, as normal people were wont to do, there would be no more traveling with them for her. Cut off entirely. Things’d be more convenient for the running, but how would she go about doctoring without them…? How would she help—
Absalom’s tongue cut up sharp along the cleft of her sex, and Plume swiftly forgot her concern about discovery.
His actions were clearly selfish, more about the taste and smell of her than any desire to please her. Still, if he was this eager for that intimacy—if he wasn’t just tossing her on the ground and raping her with her face shoved in the dirt like she’d sometimes had nightmares of—then there must be a way to win. There must still be some way to twist things so that he would be okay and she would be free. Gods, though, it was so hard to think with him sucking her so noisy and sloppy. Lapping and groaning and rabbit-thrusting into his minor left through his pants. Hard to think over the nostalgic smell of Outside that wrapped all Whateleys whom was blessed.
He pushed his right hand under her rump, all six fingers digging in tight as he forced the leg up and over his shoulder, his thumb moving to spread her open so his tongue stroked over her entrance. Plume brought the hem of her dress to her mouth, partly to muffle herself and partly so her fingers were free to curl in his hair. Bark dug into her shoulder blades and caught in her hair, and she didn’t care, didn’t care, not with Absalom’s tongue wriggling up into her. Having him in her again, even shallowly, made her head spin. If she didn’t think he’d get caught up in her skirt and drag them both down in a heap, she’d have let it fall and begged.
Either the whispers of her desperation moved him or he was done either way, but it wasn’t much longer before he sat back on his haunches, caught both her wrists in his right hand, and tossed her to the ground easy as breathing, the strength of an Outsider. He bore over her on four limbs, his minor left busy on his fly. Plumeria crawled backwards beneath him, both to give him a little chase and to get herself on his discarded trench coat.
The light was behind him now, his whole face thrown into shadow. His eyes were lit up, though, that Summer color, and the veins not obscured by hair too, faint and pulsing with his heart.
She wasn’t gonna be able to run with him on top of her. She—she—Plume tried grasping at reason and the need to escape but Absalom’s zipper was down and he was lining himself up with her, blocking her thighs open with his broad waist.
As he braced his hand on the cloth next to her, the light glinted on his wedding ring, and hers on the tiny sixth digit. Plumeria remembered how his hands shook as he put the ring on her, on their wedding, with all their family from the surrounding counties looking on. He dropped it, she recalled, as the blunt head of his cock pushed against her entrance. Dropped it, then they bonked heads trying to dive to catch it and everyone laughed at them, some meanly and some lovingly.
Plume put her arms around Absalom’s neck, buried her face in his neck the way he had done to her earlier, and sobbed as he split her to the core.
“Don’t cry, Plume,” he said, voice coming from all his mouths at once, some of them slower than others. “It’s okay, it’s okay, once we gets home it’ll be like none of this ever happened at all.”
Her feet bounced with the force of his taking. If she’d been on the soil, there’d be twigs and all manner of rot embedded in her skin. Absalom panted like a bellows above her, eyes fixed on her, muscles heaving under grimy skin. The length of him carved a space in her guts as sure as a blade, over and over, deeper and deeper as his cockhead battered her resolve into dust and moans.
Back home it had never been so sharp. Then again, back then, they hadn’t fought, and she hadn’t run, and he had been relatively clean and much better fed. They’d had each other every single day, multiple times a day sometimes, and she’d been able to see in him Summer’s patience. There wasn’t a lot of the Outside in his brain, for all it was in his body, but there was that patience. Hard to rile was her Absalom, easy-going in the same way a glacier is, calm in his instinctive understanding of forever. He may have had trouble bearing the harsher rites, the deeper truths, but he never bore any illusion of a hurry. Not before this, anyway.
Plumeria found herself drowning in the evidence of how much she’d wounded him. Not with the shotgun, for she’d known he’d get over that just as soon as some words was said over the wounds she left. With her retreating back and the knowledge that she viewed a simple life as his wife out in the woods, doing nothing helpful save keeping the Thin Days and the Summer Rites, with horror.
He was like the others. The Winter world was nothing to him, the humans occupying it hardly more than a source of physical material to be improved upon by the touch of Summer. And though he’d always been much sweeter about it than Great-Granddaddy, for instance, he still thought her love of those things was a personality defect. Something he could fuck out of her, something his children could distract her from.
She sobbed again, but Absalom’s cock hit the sweet spot in her, and her next noise was a high, long moan.
Absalom pulled her up against him with his minor left, the finger-spines undulating against her, all her weight on the narrow limb and her shoulders. She hooked her ankles at the small of his back for support. It just made the rocking more intense. She was unmoored from the earth. All of her born by the squirming flesh between her limbs. The filaments of Summer and Winter twisting like worms, physicality struggling to contain all that Absalom was.
For some reason, that idea was what knocked the sense back into her.
Plumeria sank her nails into reason and dragged herself out of the sea, hacked up the brine of her loneliness and her desire and the desperate self-delusion that the waste of a life their family imagined for them would be pleasant after all. Leave Absalom to have the petty dreams. His body bore the brunt of his blessings and that was fine for him. Plumeria was a Whately just as true as he. To see that which is unseen, to face the unnamable and give it name. Twas their family’s way.
“I love you, Lommy,” she whispered against his cheek, now clammy and flickering wildly between hot and cool.
He nodded wildly and kissed her. His tongue had begun to split into filaments, narrow seeking tendrils that curled around her tongue, prodded at her teeth. She pulled away and the muscle re-coagulated, swiping over the bottom three rows of his teeth.
“Just—just as you said,” he urged, eyes looking awful wet. “Just as you said, Plume? Always and forever?”
She nodded and he groaned, discordant to fleshy ears, the whispers of his need and pleasure almost tearing at her. His cock swelled and contracted inside her, fighting to remain something that could hold onto the feeling of her walls around it.
“You’re my man,” she said, to help keep him concrete. See the unseeable, give it form. “My big man. You’re the only man I ever let fuck me, the only cock I ever, ever want up me, the only one.”
He threw his back into it, fingers of his minor left and all the finger-spines digging in tight. His body was more solid but his pleasured noises had devolved to growling roars, things unmistakably inhuman. They boomed through the trees to the rythm of his pistoning hips, and Plumeria had it in her to be worried.
“Touch yourself.” The command came from behind her, alongside her, his voice hissing through the whispers while he was still moaning. “’M gonna come, Plume, get yourself off for me.”
That it was the least she could do for him, having left him all alone for this long time, was unsaid, and she didn’t need whispers to feed it to her. She did as he wanted at any rate, so it was the pounding of her heels against his back, and her cunt squeezing around him, that pushed him over the edge. He cradled her head in one hand, cheek to hers, as he pumped her full, working himself deep as he could before he started softening.
“You’re crushin’ me, Lommy,” Plumeria protested, and since it wasn’t a lie, he didn’t suspect a thing as he rolled over onto his back, still panting for air.
His cock lay against his belly, not all the way limp. Plumeria got to her hands and knees and bowed her head over him. Absalom hummed his approval as she ran her tongue lightly over the vein on the underside, flicked it over the slit at the tip. Like she was cleaning him up. She glanced sideways through her hair at him—his eyes were closed and he looked so pleased, smile visible under his facial hair. Trying so, so hard not to let it pierce the surface of her resolution, she prepared to flee.
Plume didn’t make it a foot. Absalom grabbed her around one ankle and she hit the ground hard, opening a gash on her forehead from a mostly-obscured tree-root.
“I just knew you were gonna try to run off again,” he accused, dragging her back to him, flipping her hard onto her back. A snarl twisted his face into something more hound than man-shaped, and tears dripped into his beard. “I just knew you’d pull something like this.”
Not quite panicking, not yet, Plumeria opened her mouth to argue—then Absalom, for the first time in their lives, drew back his hand and struck her. It knocked the sight from her eyes, the breath from her lungs, the pain of it, the crack echoing in her ears under the high-pitched ringing. Her neck ached, and the taste of copper oozed over her teeth, trickled down her throat, while she tried to remember how to breathe.
“I, I’m, I’m so sorry,” Absalom sputtered, staring not at her but at his extended hand, the back of it red from the force of the blow. Then, he snarled again, his finger-spines flaring, his beaks all snapping at once. “No, I’m not, I’m not sorry, you awful girl, you—you—”
Plumeria kicked him hard in the chest, careful to avoid the muscle where his minor left joined his ribs—it was a bit delicate—and reached for her shotgun. She couldn’t get it, it was too far away by a hair, then a yard as Absalom lunged over her and knocked it away.
There was nothing sweet in his looming silhouette, the burning lights of his pupils hot with rage.
“You promised me, Plumeria! You promised me in front of all our kin, and we said the Words and made it real and you—!” He roared, wordless frustration, and shook her by the shoulders. “They all told me it’d be okay to forget you but I didn’t, I don’t want nobody but you and I know you don’t want nobody else, why are you being like this!?”
“Turn me loose, Absalom!”
He crushed her to the ground and kissed her, gnawing at her lips until she opened them, his tongue sweeping across hers and tasting the blood. She scratched at his elbows, all she could reach, couldn’t bring herself to bite. The taste of dust and her juices, and above it all the thunderous taste of Outside, filled her mouth. The moment he gave her an inch she turned away—and now was his turn to sob.
Unlike her, he didn’t just lay there as tears overtook him. He lurched backward onto his haunches, fixed his major hands, curled like talons, into the white flesh of her legs.
“Don’t make me hurt you,” he begged, forcing her thighs open, minor left hand jerking at his cock to force some hardness back into it. “I—I—I swear on every fucking altar-stone in Dunwich County I’ll—Gods, Plumeria, I don’t want to hurt you but I’ll use force if you make me—”
There was a ratcheting sound, and Plumeria was just as surprised as Absalom as half his body and a good deal of face turned to ichor and pulp.
He fell backwards, bleating, and Plumeria, head full of the echo of shotgun fire, looked in the direction of the blast.
It was Billie, weeping and wretching, the shotgun still leveled at the twitching heap of Absalom.
“Plumeria!” Dr. Robbie grabbed Plume under the armpits and hauled her to her feet, tears tracking down her red face, blond hair sticking in the sweat. “Oh my God oh my God—”
“The RVs are ready, let’s go, let’s go!” Billie bawled.
Again, Absalom gripped Plume’s ankle. She looked down as Dr. Robbie, hysterical still, tried to drag her toward camp. His body was already re-constituting—nothing made by man could destroy something so touched by the Outside, no Winter could ward off Summer forever—but he was still so pitiful, greenish tears tracking down his face, not enough mouth left to make anything but gurgling cries.
Plumeria threw up, but she still ran, just as she had the night in the river.
The other doctors had already packed up camp by the time they got back. Dr. Robbie leapt into the driver’s seat of Plume’s RV and jerked it into gear, the engine clanking with the effort of hauling so much weight so quickly over rough terrain.
“Oh God, Plume, there’s bites all over you,” Billie moaned.
Nodding vaguely, Plumeria staggered to the back window and opened the blinds. Absalom was standing at the edge of the woods, trench coat under his arm. He was crying, as Plumeria had expected, but he was smiling, too. As he shrank to nothing, the whispers reached Plumeria.
He had all their scents now. She couldn’t run anymore. And though he was wounded, it was with the patience of them that understand eternity as one small step in a never-ending cycle that he promised to return with his pretty bride to Miskatonic land, where their lives would be able to pick up like nothing had ever happened.
Okay SO. I know that Wilbur and Fam are supposed to be unique aberrations but I am all about clans of disfigured cultists living out in remote locations. So we have an entire family of part-Outsider Whateleys, gettin’ married, havin’ babies, dancin’ wildly about bonfires on certain days. More dangerous than nightmarish freaks like Absalom are the ones like Plumeria, who looks pretty normal… but watch out. Though I didn’t get a good chance to show her being weird and creepy this time around. Maybe next time…
Fun fact, the text of the story is exactly 6,666 words long. Call me immature, it’s true, but I just couldn’t change a number that potently appropriate. Less pressingly, Absalom is hot, I’m going to have art of him prepared soon.
You’re free to tell me the horrible job I’ve done with Howard’s legacy in the comment box below! I hope to hear from you~