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Immortal Love

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She waited patiently for her next victim to drive by. Her butt rested against the field of grass next to the highway, the autumn wind blowing both the leaves and her golden hair. Every one of the woman’s features seemed to radiate with virtue, from her pale and perfect skin, to her thin but luscious lips. Her watchful eyes scanned the endless road, the hunger for flesh aching her stomach, and the thirst for blood drying her throat.

Not a dab of light marked Tonnele Avenue. Most people would find it impossible to go through such a dark area without the assistance of headlights, but her eyes had grown accustomed to the tenebrous vicinity. This area had become her new home.

She drew dozens of circles with her scrawny finger on the dirt below, trying to find ways to distract herself. She disallowed her thoughts to bring her any amusement for two reasons. One of them being that her memories and cognition skills seemed to be fading away as the days passed by. The young woman found it harder to keep a straight and thorough thought, or to not lose focus when concentrating on something for a long time. The only thing that kept the gears on her head turning were her instincts, and the utter desire for murder.

Sometimes these two mixed together perfectly.

The second reason involved the fact that, as much as she denied it, her sanity was slowly depleting. She tried convincing herself that this was just an after-effect of her recollection skills failing on her, but she soon realized there were more layers stacked upon this conflict. Sometimes the murders got to her head, and the shrieks of her victims rang inside her enigmatic mind at quiet nights like this one. Sometimes it was the loneliness that tore her soul into shreds.

Most often than not, it was the memory of that one unforgettable night. That she will never forget, even after life itself ended.

Off in the distance, a little speck of light glowed. This caught her attention almost immediately, and without hesitation, she sprang to her feet. The woman dusted off whatever dirt and patches of grass was attached to her blue denim jeans.

That little gleam of light grew brighter and larger, and with it came the sound of wheels gliding against a wet road. A smile rose up on the woman’s face. A natural one. Not one she used to practice in front of a mirror in order to gain attention. That artificial smile rarely revealed her true contentment. This natural smile, the one where her teeth don’t touch, showed her genuine happiness.

The huge blob of light separated into two individual light beams. The car still seemed far away, but she managed to catch a glimpse of the driver before the brightness began blinding her. She saw a man, around his mid-twenties, a little overweight, a fuzzy beard on his cheeks and chin, and to top it all off, glasses. Maybe an average college student, driving back home after a long night of either studying or smoking pot.

Perfect, she thought.

The vehicle’s headlights illuminated the woman’s figure, and at this, she began waving her frail arms up, while at the same time jumping up and down. In retrospect, she thanked her past-self for unbuttoning her black leather jacket, and leaving her thin, white crop-top exposed. Her jiggling breasts should be enough of a sight to catch the young man’s attention.

The car started slowing down only a couple of feet away from the woman, the sound of the engine losing its fierceness. The woman felt the first of many excitement tingle her skin, and in an exotic sort of way, send a rush of euphoria all throughout her sexual organs. She found the chubby bastard as ugly as a pile of horse shit, but the single thought of killing him aroused her.

The man’s silver Chrysler pulled up in front of the woman. It looked like an expensive car, but money can’t fix a hideous face.

The woman watched as the young man struggled to exit his car. She expected the man to be taller, but as he strolled over the other side to meet with her, she noticed his puny height. The man must’ve been at least an inch shorter than her. He maybe could’ve been her same height if it wasn’t for the fact that he slouched as he walked.

“Oh. My. Goodness! Thank God you freaking stopped!” The sound of her own high voice almost unsteadied her. She hadn’t heard herself speak in days.

“Hey. Uh-“ the diminutive man said, his words stammering, as if locked on his tongue. C’mon, you never gotten any pussy now, haven’t you? She had to resist bursting into laughter.

“You’re honestly, like, the biggest life saver right now. I can’t, like I really can’t right now.” She rushed towards the man, and embraced him with an unexpected hug. The woman felt a sudden lump on the man’s lower body. Jesus, and you’re premature? She nearly gagged while smuggling her breast against the man’s chest.

“Yeah, um, no problem, miss,” the young man mumbled. He restrained himself from wrapping his flappy arms around the woman. Blood rose and spread all over his face, coloring his cheeks. “What seemed to have happened to you?” He gave himself props for finally completing a full sentence without sounding like some nervous fool.

The woman finally released the young man. His faced frowned with subtle disappointment. “Oh, just the worst! You won’t believe the shit I had to deal with this entire goddamn afternoon.” Before she gave a chance for the young man to respond, she continued to ramble.

“For over three hours, three hours, I’ve been out here in the night, wailing at any car that drives by to stop for me. And you wanna know what happened? Every rude bastard kept on driving past me, ignoring me, and abandoning me. I was starting to get so mad and sad, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt so paranoid and scared for my life. The woods, like honestly, give me the creeps.

“But then, you finally came. Thank god you did. I can’t thank you enough honestly.” That’s right, buy my shitty story. I don’t even need to offer you a proper backup story on how I got here in the first place. The way you’ve been ogling my boobs, you’ll be willing to do whatever I want you to do.

“That sounds terrible,” the young man squeaked, little by little getting more comfortable. “If you need a ride back, I mean, I can, like, drive you to where you live or need to be. I’m sorry, I didn’t even catch your name.”

“Martha,” the woman said, and smiled. Her fake smile. “And yours?”

“The name’s Denis,” the young man said, and chuckled. Fucking dweeb. “So, do you still, uh, need a ride?”

“Ohmygod, yes that would be awesome, please.” Martha almost stretched out her hand to strangle the little bastard. She wasn’t usually this rambunctious. Something unnerved her.

“Alrighty. Well, get right in the passenger seat,” Denis said, and marched his way back to the driver’s seat. As he adjusted himself inside the car, and closed the door, cutting off the harsh breeze, he glanced over to his right, only to right Martha still standing outside by herself. She stared out into space, her mouth slightly gaped.

Denis rolled down the passenger’s seat window. “Hey! Uh, are you gonna get in?”

Oh shit! “Oh, yeah, yeah! My bad. I was just dazing out and all.” She entered the car, and they drove away.

The car smelled like piss and virgin. A bunch of CD’s were stacked inside the shelves in front of the passenger seat, Martha barely giving them a second glance. She assumed they consisted of some crappy and vacuous music, anyways. She found distaste in today’s modern music, but Denis, she admitted, didn’t look like the type of loser to enjoy radio singles. But he had that hipster or nerdy appearance that made him just as god-awful.

“So… Hey, um, where exactly do you need me to drop you off?” Denis managed to say, even though his heart seemed trapped in his throat. Martha gazed over at Denis for a quick moment, and the young man made eye contact with her. Ew, you have “fuck me, I’m desperate” eyes right now.

“Just keep driving straight,” Martha informed him. “Actually, can you do me the grand favor of driving me towards Journal Square in Jersey City? I’ll be fine from there.”

“I don’t mind, really,” Denis said, and did his awkward laugh. Horny, loving, and intimate thoughts stormed inside his brain like a tornado of emotions. Sweat began pouring right out of him palms, his fingers staining the steering wheel. ”You know I live near Jersey City.”

“Really now?” You don’t fucking say. “Where exactly, Denis?”

“Union City,” he said. “It’s an alright place. I’m sure you’ve been there, or at least heard of it.”

“Oh I’ve been there,” Martha lied. “Listen, thank you very much again for doing this. I really appreciate it.” At that note, Martha slid her small and lanky hand towards Denis’s lap, and rubbed her silky hands for more than five seconds. His knees rattled like a motor, and a groaned left his chapped lips.

“Yeah, hehe, no problem, Martha.” His voice cracked, which made her giggle. Martha felt eager. The time had arrived. She forced herself not to lose character, but boy did her excitement burned her soul. A mixed feeling of both fear and anticipation rose up to her chest, and lingered there like dead weight trying to crush her down.

“Hey.” She tapped Denis’s shoulder to get his full attention. The roads were clear of any vehicle. The area seemed stripped away from any living thing except the trees and these two young adults. There would be no witnesses. “You see that area over there?” Martha pointed towards an exit sign a couple of yards ahead.

“Uh, yeah. What about it?” he asked as he stared at the number 87.

“Well,” Martha began, “that’s where I had my car accident and died.”

“Whadoyou mean car-“ Denis began as he turned his corpulent face to stare at Martha. He stopped midsentence, however, as he gazed at the woman. All the color drained out of his face, and left him as pale as the moon shining above.

Martha gazed at Denis with a crooked smile, finally revealing her imperfections. He stared at a woman with eyes filled with pain and sorrow. For one split second, he empathized with this woman, and he felt the full extent of her dismay. It tugged at his heart, and almost brought tears to his eyes.

The next second, all hell broke loose.

Martha unleashed, from the depths of her stomach, a cry so loud, it broke the sound barrier. Denis’s eardrums popped and exploded inside his skull, instantly causing him to go deaf. Blood leaked out of his earhole, and spilled all over his hands as he covered them. All the mirrors in the car broke and shattered into billions of pieces, glass hailing down upon them and slicing Denis’s open skin. A scream of his own grumbled out of his throat, and although he failed to hear his agonizing shout, he certainly felt it rip his vocal cords until his neck felt sore.

Denis lost control of the wheel, but that was the least of his concern. He watched with horror creeping into his limbs, making him shake like a person having a seizure, as Martha’s face deteriorated. Several scars sketched her once gorgeous face, the lacerations so deep and irritated they almost glowed with a red and bleeding hue.

Her skin continued to crack and puff into dust as she widen her mouth to yell even louder, this time her formidable voice causing Denis’s face to vibrate. As Martha stretched her lips apart, she revealed her black and slithering tongue flopping out of her face. He endeavored to turn away, since he could no longer bare the doleful sight, but the morbid look on her face hooked his eyes into place. The only option he had left was to pray it all ended quick and painless.

The car swerved towards the woods, the wheels running over a number of bushes and dirt holes. Before Denis could compose himself, his Chrysler crashed into a ten-foot long tree, the impact causing instant combustion.

A cloud of flames swallowed both Denis and Martha whole. This time Denis swore he yowled so loud he could hear his own corrupted voice even in his current state. The fires licked at his skin, the young man baring the pain of a thousand lighters torching his nerves with ultimate fatality. It felt as if he dove inside a pool of boiling water, his skin burning and turning into crisp as each lengthy second ticked by.

Through it all, he witnessed Martha’s face and body melt and drip with black goo. The fires scorched passed the first layer of skin, and transformed her muscles into a black and hellish shade. Passed the pile of flames engulfing Martha’s face, Denis saw a wide and demented grin form up her roasted mouth.

This image alone was what finally ended it for Denis.

Justin held the newspaper article with one hand, the bottle of prescription pills with the other.

Both hands shook with anxiety, the dry papers rumpling with sweat, and the colorful continents rattling inside the little tube. Only two thoughts plowed inside his mind; Suicide and Martha. It could be so easy. All he needed to do was pop the cap open, let his mind go blank, and gulp down the full bottle of medicine. At most, all of that would take him no less than five seconds. Five seconds. That’s all he required in order to diminish this misery, and escape his hell.

“Why not?” he whimpered. He dropped the article—the papers swerving left and right—and wrapped his hands around the round tap. His fingers struggled to loosen the damn thing, his entire hand tenuous as if he suffered from arthritis. Eventually, he managed to release the cap open, and the sight of dozens of tiny pills innervated him. Each one dazzled and shone under the light of his room.

Justin hovered the cup of lethal drugs close to his face, close enough so that his lips and tongue tasted the very edge of the bottle. Bitter.

Those five seconds became more than twenty seconds of doubt and dissuasion. As much as he craved to swallow everything whole, and let his parents deal with the consequences, he ended up slamming the pills down at the hardwood floor. If he failed to do it two years ago, he wasn’t planning on doing it now.

Fuck, man!” Justin shrieked, and flung the chair next to him across his room, near where his pile of dirty laundry laid. He thanked God that his parents weren’t around to witness this. He never exposed his vulnerability to his parents, even after the tragic accident. Justin relied on repressing his emotions, burying them where not a single person could detect them, and then dealt with his own baggage when alone and able to sulk in peace. That’s his way, and nobody can tell him a damn thing about it.

With sudden impulsiveness, Justin picked up the crumbled newspaper from the floor. His eyes, for the fourth time, scanned the entire article. Disbelief crawled at his brain, but he knew, deep down, it was all true. He could no longer ignore the previous signs as just mere coincidences.

It was the third, and probably deadliest, accident that happened in Tonnele Avenue this past month. Police reported a silver Chrysler collided with a large tree around four in the morning, during one of the cop’s early drives around the area. The officer informed authorities that the vehicle appeared burnt out, as if it was caught on fire, but was put out due to the heavy showers. When the paramedics arrived, they only found a single male body, Denis Rodriguez, blackened and severely burned inside the driver’s seat. Investigators already began looking into the case. After a thorough autopsy, the hospital found no trace of drug or alcohol abuse. The car appeared in great shape, despite its burnt condition. Some detectives speculate the crash occurred due to the wet roads, but some people disclose this conclusion due to one surreal factor.

The deceased man’s sweatpants were damped with semen. Officers started wondering if this guy was masturbating while steering the wheel, and that this distraction caused him to lose control.

“That’s all bullshit.” Justin neatly placed the article on top of his wooden desk, and sat down on his bed. The young man ran his fingers through his wavy and long hair, and tried to prevent more tears from spilling down his eyes. His skull pulsed with an aggressive and stubborn migraine. He never felt so much pressure on his head before.

Three times was enough for him to finally wake up, and realize the omens. Three accidents happening within the same month, taking course near the exact same areas where Martha’s disastrous rampage took place. Justin fought so hard to deny every aspect of it, but now the situation called for him to stop being so pertinacious.

It all came back to Justin in a tsunami of disquiet and rumbling emotions. The depression he felt, and the guilt he lived with. The distress man collapsed on top of his bed, and allowed his eyes to drain away all of his sorrows. As he cried, Justin felt the weight of it all shift off his shoulders, and for a moment, he felt utter paradise. Justin loved that about crying. He found some uprising whenever he broke down, and let his pain and sadness wash away from him.

The young man thought back to when he and Martha began dating four years ago. They were as young and audacious as sixteen years old can be. They became each other’s spark in their life. Martha, growing up with a single mother and an abandoning father, depended on Justin and his family for the comfort she always mourned for as a child. She felt grateful every moment she spent with him, and never stopped to thank Justin for the hope and love he gifted her with. Even during their most critical arguments, Martha always told herself to thank life for being with such a loyal and caring man.

Justin, on the other hand, felt accomplished once he began dating Martha. He always admired her, even during middle school. As a young boy growing up to an awkward adolescent, he sometimes caught himself staring at Martha for too long, and turned away shamefully afterwards. He saw her as the perfect woman to be with. Intelligent, beautiful, hilarious, and those were just the basics that made Justin fall head over heels for this girl. Once they first kissed, and they became official, Justin unraveled all different types of traits and layers Martha cocooned herself with.

Justin found some of Martha’s hidden truths appealing rather than annoying. He sympathized with all the problems she faced at home, and always pushed himself to make her smile at the end of the day. He once took Martha to Subway in order for them to have a quick date while enjoying a meal, when out of nowhere, she began crying while munching on her sandwich. He left the store with Martha sprawled all over his shoulders and chest, her moist tears flooding the sweater he wore that day.

Something had happened at home the day before. Martha and her mother argued for more than an hour about Martha leaving the house too many times, and labeling her a whore for spending way too much time with Justin and all of her guy friends. Usually a topic like this never really agitated Martha, but since so much tension had been going on between she and her mother, all of those raging discussions piled up inside her head. The whole time after Subway, Martha cuddled against Justin’s body, and let herself forget about her worries at home. And the entire time, Justin made sure to deliver his words of endearment in order to make Martha feel better.

Throughout their relationship, that was how they anchored one another. Their last two years of high school, they spent appreciating their own presence. Sometimes Justin wondered to himself if his life seemed too good to be true. Every day he saw Martha more beautiful than the previous day. They both skipped pass the passionate stage of their time together, and dove into the compassionate angle quite quickly. They became each other’s diaries, shared their true feelings, informed one another when something major—whether good or bad—happened, and before they realized it, they became each other’s partners. Some might have suggested they were inseparable.

But of course true love always fails to prevail, right?

It was late one night in the summer. Martha was driving back home after visiting her distant father who lived in Passaic in New Jersey. She had recently began acquainting herself with the fifty-year old man. She never imagined herself reuniting with someone who missed out on almost eighteen years of her life, but one thing Martha learned from Justin was that everyone—no matter who you are—deserves a second chance.

No one could state the true cause of her accident. Maybe her mind was crowded with thoughts about her father, and how this sudden shift in her life was going to affect her future. Maybe it was due to the heavy rain pouring down from the sky that night. Maybe the shitty roads was what made her vehicle skirt towards the woods. At the end it all doesn’t matter.

That entire night, Justin stood up, waiting to receive a phone call from Martha explaining to him why she never arrived home on time. Moments where they were unable to contact one another always occurred between them. But at the end, they always ended up calling or texting each other back, and gave a proper explanation as to why they couldn’t respond to their missing calls or messages. With this in mind, Justin omitted all of his worries.

As the hours ran by, however, he couldn’t resist the anxiety consuming his conscious. He imagined Martha staying over her father’s house, the both of them in a deep conversation, which would explain her absence. But then it became midnight, and his thoughts curved to a more menacing realm. Sick thoughts infiltrated his mind, Martha’s dad kidnapping her, some thug grabbing her from the streets, and raping the poor woman. Justin hated that about himself. Whenever shit seemed close to hitting the fan, he imagined the worst. Never, however, did his malicious thoughts ever become a reality.

And in a sense, this still is true. Justin never pictured Martha dying in a car accident. He knew what a safe driver his girlfriend was. The young man never expected a phone call from Martha’s mother around two in the morning, Justin’s first time ever hearing her cry. She told through muffled breaths what the police just discovered in Tonnele Avenue.

Justin never saw his life turning into hell.

Both he and Martha’s mother rushed towards the scene around the middle of the night. She only informed Justin that Martha had been in a terrible car accident, but gave no report on her condition. Knowing this, Justin kept his hope high. Even when his stomach turned as the miles grew closer to the scene, he kept an optimistic mindset. Life wouldn’t betray him like this. He was always aware of the terror in this world, but Justin knew nothing this impactful would ever happen to him. He’s just an average Joe, after all.

They finally arrived. They both departed from the car, and sprinted ahead of the officers. They ducked under the yellow police tapes, and shoved their way pass dozens of men wearing rain coats and holding umbrellas. Justin’s head raced with billions of lugubrious thoughts, but he concentrated on that single hope. Despite the depression settling on his soul, he just knew in his heart everything was going to be alright.

He never knew who screamed first; her mother or him. Either way, their shouts of bereavement were barely audible due to the heavy thunderstorm tearing a hole in the sky.

Justin couldn’t turn his eyes away from the utter calamity displayed in front of him. The car was wrecked. The front hood laid crushed and ripped just a couple of feet away from the main vehicle. Smoked still hissed from the top of the car, clouding everyone’s vision with a black fog. All the windows were smashed into scattered pieces, smoking blowing out from the open holes. What was once a pretty Toyota Corolla, now remained a pulverized and shredded piece of black metal off a junkyard.

Justin took his time stepping closer into the scene. His mind went blank at that moment. He held his hand up in the air, and a smile curved up his lips. What was I thinking? I’ll find her, I always do. Martha’s okay. She survived this frightening scene. Why the fuck wouldn’t she, right? Martha? Martha?

“Martha!” he yelled, still grinning. “Honey, where are you? You had me worry, baby. Where the hell are-“

Justin walked close enough to see who sat in the driver’s seat.

Her name barely left his throat. Justin chocked on his words, and kneeled down towards the muddy ground. He buried his face deep inside the soil of the earth, and screamed until his lungs begged for oxygen. Justin pulled at his hair, and continued to fill his mouth with dirt and grass. Warm tears flushed out of his eyes, competing with the rain on who can wet his face more. Everything ended for him.

The sight of her burnt body. All of her hair turned to crisp. The image of her bones poking out from her muscles. Blood, black and foul blood, drowning down her naked chest and legs. Justin wished to run away from it all, but his eyes just had to look back one last time. Even then the young man clung to that tiny speck of hope that maybe this was all some sinister delusion. That hope rose his face from the ground, and made his eyes stare straight ahead.

That was when reality settled in, and all hope abated.

The young man jumped out of his bed, buckled his knees down towards the trash can in his room, and vomited inside. The puke plunged out of his stomach with a forceful push, and stung the inside of his throat. Yellow, slimy, chunky liquid drained out of his mouth.

“Oh God!” He gasped for air, and fell on his back. Justin closed his eyes for a few second, letting his mind rest while he still had a hold of himself.

After a few minutes of relaxing, he slipped back to his bed, and thought what to do next. Justin knew the next few steps he were going to take would be crucial.

He fished inside his pocket, and took out his phone. Justin unlocked it, and searched through the contacts for the phone number he was looking for. Once he found it, he pressed the “Call” icon.

The phone rang three times, and then the person picked up. “Hey baby… Nothing just in my room, chilling. How about you? Oh! Sweet, at least now you can study in peace… No, I’m plannin’ on going over his house later and picking up my books. Listen, there’s a reason why I called you out of nowhere. You doin’ anything right now? Perfect… It’s nothing, just some things we need to talk about…”

Martha knew this time she caught his attention.

She laid slumped against the bark of a tree, quietly crying as her smile kept on widening. Martha felt her cheeks rise all the way to her eyes. She couldn’t stop sobbing and grinning. Some intervals passed where she completely stopped all her actions, and she would remain dumbfounded, unaware of anything. But then her thoughts and pain returned to her conscious, and she would resume her hysteria.

Martha pulled at the few remains of her burnt hair, and twirled her fingers with them. More tears slid down her hideous, deformed face. She pushed her stress further, however, and began feeling around her entire face and body. She smuggled her crispy fingers over her burned scalp, over her bruised cheeks, over her lacerated chest, over her skinless stomach, over her eviscerated legs. She clawed at her once busty, youthful breasts, and grinded her knuckles against her once adorable, flawless face. This all made her smile and cry more.

Martha reached out her skinned hand, and snatched at the small triangular-shape shard of glass she had once snatched while roaming the roads. With it, she brought the tiny mirror towards her face, brushed off some of the dirt on it, and stared at her reflection. Martha gazed long and hard at herself, taking in the full image. She noticed every discrete detail, analyzed all imperfections, and captured the monster staring right back her. And she both loved and hated it.

Without a second to miss, Martha dug the rapier piece of glass into her wrist. Hot blood oozed from the deep cut, boiling her skin as it washed all over her forearm. A sharp and wakeful sensation stung the nerves on her arm, and with it she planted the glass deeper into the final layers of her skin. A mixture of black and red blood squirted out from the wound. Martha hoped to stab at a vein this time. She winced more and more as the edge of the mirror shattered inside her body, but through it all she also moaned in complete pleasure.

“Oh baby, yes. Ooo, I got you now, Justin.” Her tears mixed with her blood. When she received enough fun, she pulled the blade out in a single motion, skin and muscle tissue bursting out. Martha slumped her arm near a patch of grass, her blood puddle the area.

She rested her head against the tree, and sneered lazily up at the luminous stars. Dozens of them winked and twinkled at her. Martha blocked away any incoming thoughts involving Justin or her victims. They banged and tried to barge inside her mind, never rendering her a break. So Martha resorted to the stars. They always told interesting stories, formed creative shapes, and kept her mind at bay.

“Come. Come here. Come here and give me a hug. That’s all I want.” Martha waved her arms in the air. “Please, just come back! Come back!”

All of her memories with Justin exploded in her head, and with it came the pain of losing him after the accident. Martha didn’t know what damaged her the most, the fact that she died and could never touch or be with him again, or the fact that a year and two months after her death, Justin hooked up with another woman.

Martha thought she took every precaution for this to never occur. She used what little spirit-force she was able to gather in order to haunt Justin’s dreams. Whenever she did so, Martha made sure to replay their most special moments inside the young man’s mind. Even when she knew Justin woke up from those visions with a jolt of fear, and this caused him to immediately break down and lose control of himself again, Martha insisted she never quit. It pained her to see him close to suicide, but it hurt her more to witness him move on.

Martha saw Justin’s demise in life with clarity. She was there at every declining moment. Martha saw the first time he slit his wrist. She remembered seeing the young man experience the worst case of insomnia. At every outrage, depression, and self-abuse Justin put himself through, Martha witnessed it all. It killed her she couldn’t do anything about it except remind him in his sleep of the love they once shared and nourished.

Then Linda entered Justin’s life around a year later. Martha hated the bitch instantly. She did everything Martha was supposed to do if she were alive. Linda helped Justin off his ass, and brought a new sense of hope into his destructive life. Even when Linda took sign of the self-abuse, she aided him through recovery. Every problem both Justin and Linda fixed together only brought them closer to one another. Justin’s nightmares about his ghost of an ex left without a single trace, and in exchange, he dreamt about his new lover.

Martha went on to lure people into her forest around this time, and gutted anybody she managed to fool. Each murder only caused her more joy, and helped guide her mind away from thinking about fucking Justin and Linda. Every head she decapitated, every limb she chopped off, every neck she hung, only made her more vicious and ravenous.

Until one day, she couldn’t help herself from thinking about Justin. And she also couldn’t help but to ponder about fucking, stupid, ugly, bitchy, hideous, annoying, and piece of shit Linda! Martha felt desperate to do something.

As Justin slept one night, Martha rushed towards his presence. At the sight of his sleeping body, the glass of rage she stored inside her heart cracked open, and all of her egregious emotions flooded her heart and soul. Martha crept inside his mind, and once again influenced the man’s dream.

There chaos erupted. Justin experienced probably his worst nightmare in his life. He saw as Linda, tied to a chair with barb wire, was burned alive. All her skin dissolved before his eyes. Justin made to move towards her, but his feet were rooted against the floor. For what seemed like a lifetime, he had to stand still as he watched the light of his life die and decay into piles of ashes.

That night Justin woke up with sweat pouring out of his body, and attempted to jump out of his bed. Some mystical force, however, prevented him from moving a single joint. He struggled to swerve his shoulders or kick his legs free, but he seemed locked in place. Soon he began panicking, and thrashed around his bed while pleading for somebody to save him.

Justin had no idea that Martha was on top of him, holding his arms and legs in place. The entire time she kept on reciting how much she loved and cared for Justin, and how sorry she was for making him endure such pain. This close to Justin, Martha felt happier than she ever did in such a long time. But she noticed the tremor in his eyes, and how he kept on repeating for Linda to help him.

After this eye-opening episode, Martha avoided Justin for a couple of months. She couldn’t bear the way his life turned out, and how easy it was for him to just move on and forget about her completely. Both heaven and hell seemed to not want Martha. She tried to find some closure in order to enter the next stage in this dull life, but she was constantly rejected. Or maybe this was her hell, and there was nothing God or anybody could do about it.

But soon after this, Martha realized what she needed to do in order to move on. She saved up enough spirit energy over the past couple of months, and only used little doses of it in order to act as a “hitchhiker”. Around this time, her mental state began collapsing. This provided an incentive to proceed with her goal faster. Her time was soon running out, and she didn’t know what awaited her once she completely snaps.

Martha’s devious plan worked out exactly as she pictured it.

“Yes, yes! You’re mine. You’re soon to be mine again!” Martha felt like skipping, but her head felt too light at the moment. It took her strenuous force in order to eliminate Denis the way she did. She wanted to end her last and final victim with a spectacular bang. Martha complemented herself on not only making him cum, but also causing him to go deaf. That, Martha admitted, she never expected.

“What the fuck happened here?” Martha picked up her hand, and stared with astonishment at her wrist. She placed an index finger on the crusted wound, and staggered back once she felt the inflicting pain.

After a while, though, she scooped her finger back down on the bruise, and reopened the cut.

Justin told himself he would never lie to Linda ever in their relationship. He never had a problem being a loyal and trustworthy boyfriend, and after the death of his first love, Justin told himself whoever he loved next, he would make sure he wouldn’t do anything to betray that person. As he drove towards Tonnele Avenue, the first effects of guilt ate as his stomach like parasites.

Well, he didn’t necessarily lie to her. Justin did inform Linda that he planned on visiting the crash site where Martha died. He also did discuss some of the paranoid thoughts flushing in his head. Through Justin’s abysmal speech, Linda listened and allowed the man to free his thoughts. After the phone call, Justin felt good about himself. He could always rely on Linda for emotional support.

What he didn’t tell her, however, was the fact that he may be reuniting with his ex.

Well, I can’t be sure about this shit myself. After all, I simply told Linda that I just plan on mourning over her for the rest of the night. She understands. She always does.

That was what killed him inside. Justin’s first lie to Linda involved such a controversial and bizarre subject. She had a clue that Justin still suffered from Martha’s death, but this didn’t stop Linda from loving Justin for the strong and confident man he became. Still, if Linda ever discovered that Justin believed his ex-girlfriend was still, somehow, alive, she would probably reconsider their relationship.

And if she was, what would I do? What would I even say to her? “This has to be false.” His own voice, however, lacked the reassurance he was searching for. As he pulled over near where the last accident happened, he was fifty-fifty about it all.

A cold and piercing wind struck his skin as he exited his car. Justin glanced over the yellow police taste with discomfort, the sight of them bringing back unwanted memories. He knew to arrive around the middle of the night when cops and the authorities wouldn’t be around to interrupt whatever may happen.

Justin hopped over the steel railing running across the entire field of grass, and made his ingress towards the woods. The man brought nothing but his wallet and what little temerity Martha’s recent schemes left him with. Inside, he felt like a pile of hyperactive, uncontrollable nerves waiting to erupt and tremble at any moment. His eyes darted around at every little blow from the wind, and every animal that crawled by.

The darkness of the woods soon swallowed him. As the wind continued to howl, leaves began falling and smacking Justin’s frozen face. The black sweater he wore did little to stop his bones from feeling like popsicles. Only little bits of light from the moon poured inside the forest. At least here the wind wouldn’t bully Justin around as much.

Something called him, a voice deep in his mind, to step deeper inside the forest. He was already yards away from Martha’s tragic crash site, yet it seemed as if his own feet were leading the way he was supposed to go.

Justin’s legs raced faster. Soon he found himself stomping through dozens of bushes and trees. He tried dodging some of the incoming branches, but they kept on whacking his face and chest. Some desperation took over him. The sound of his loud footsteps echoed throughout the woods, causing any nocturnal animals to retrieve back to their habitats.

He spotted an open area where a bright ball of light aimed directly down at a particular tree. Justin ran towards the beautiful sight, finally finding some proper source of light.

As he rushed besides the large, ancient tree, Justin found her sitting against it.

He stopped on his tracks, nearly tripping over his clumsy footwork. “Ma- Martha?”

“Hello, Justin,” she whispered. The compelling sound of her voice caused his knees to shake. A rush of emotions filled his thundering heart. He was speechless. “It’s been such a long time, hasn’t it?” Martha giggled.

No words left his mouth. All he could do was stare with disbelief. “C’mon now, is that all you can do right now?” She stood up, and broaden her smile. Martha still looked exactly how she did when Justin last saw her before she was burned to death; beautiful and damn near close to perfect.

She gracefully walked closer to Justin, Martha’s salacious eyes studying his face and body. The young man kept on trying to speak, but no sounds left his stuttering lips. Justin backed away as she grew closer. “Wait just a secon’. Hol’ up just one minute, please. This…everything. It’s too much for me right now.”

Martha stood still, only three feet apart from her lover. Her instincts clashed with her sense of reason. As much as Martha wished to do everything her body and heart desired, she knew to take things slow. That was how they worked. “I…I understand, Justin. This must be something else, huh?”

You’re telling me,” he said, and laughed. He tried to find the light in the situation, but even at this level, Justin failed to find any hint of a happy ending. “I mean, like, Martha? You…you died. What the hell is going on?”

She looked away, and concentrated on the grass below, shame written on her face. Her terrorizing thoughts distracted her from thinking straight. Soon, Martha realized, it would take arduous effort in order to maintain her composure. The scar on her wrist glistened with sweat. Martha went to scratch at it, but reeled her hand back into place. “Okay, yeah, I died. But I haven’t really…died. Do you get what I mean? Do I make any sense to you?” Please. Please tell me I do. Please help me.

Justin’s throat felt dry. He didn’t know what to make of the situation himself. “I- I really can’t answer that right now, Martha. I mean- I mean I freaking saw your body, man! I- I saw you, and I saw how burnt you looked-“This was a bad idea. Fuck me. “I mean… Jesus, I went to your funeral!”

You bring two unstable souls together, and they kill themselves trying to make sense of their own existence. “Listen to me, please,” Martha said. “I really did in fact die. One-hundred percent, I’m finished off. There’s no denying that. This right here.” Martha opened up her arms. “This is my soul. I’m a ghost, or at least I think I am. I don’t know either. I don’t know.” She was losing her shit. Little bits of Martha’s pale pigment began peeling off. She noticed right away, and raised her arms over her face. She felt around her cheeks. It felt rough.

“Lettme ask you somethin’, if you’ll let me.” Justin seemed too caught up with his own thoughts to realize Martha’s sudden change in movement. “Those three guys that died aroun’ here recently. You killed them, right?”

The word kill made Martha rambunctious, and this time she struggled to restrain herself from a meltdown. Her eyes shot out of her head, and the laceration on her wrist began darkening. “Yes,” Martha said, as if her tongue tasted like copper. “I did it all to get you here where you are now. Do you even consider everything I’ve done for you, Justin, do you? Do you ever stop to wonder the sacrifices I’ve made in order for this moment to happen? Do you!?” Her booming voice sent a wave of worry to cross through Justin.

“What do you mean, sacrifices?” Justin argued back. He wouldn’t let himself get broken down again. No, Linda taught him to be more assertive. “You killed people, Martha. That’s- That’s some sick shit! Why would you do that? This isn’t you…”

The judgments, the insecurity, the need to please Justin… He planted a nail in her heart, and every vitriol word he spoke only deepened the wound. “This isn’t me? Do you even know me anymore? Or- Or do you want me to be more like Linda, hm? Is that what you want? Why can’t you just love and accept the things I do for you now?”

“Martha, Jesus, man… I’m still so confused right now! And how the- How the hell do you know Linda?”

“All those times I’ve visited you, every ounce of my power I wasted in order for me to see you. Do you ever think about how much effort and energy it took outta me just to see ya?” She gingerly stepped closer to Justin. “I get your confusion. Don’t worry, I’m confused too. But don’t think about anything, just feel, okay? You and I, we feel the same thing right now. That’s why we’re here.”

“I don’t know what I feel anymore,” Justin spoke. “Whatdaya mean you’ve visited me. This is the first time I’m seeing you since more than two years ago.”

“You think every dream you had about me was just your own mind reminiscing me?” Martha’s tender skin began bubbling. “I entered your mind, and filled your dreams with all of our precious memories. I did us a favor. You were able to live life the way you wished to in your dreams, and I was able to hold your hand through it all. That’s- That’s my thank you for everything you’ve done for me, honey-”

Please!” Justin remarked, startling Martha. Martha’s faced furrowed. “Don’t call me honey. You- You’ve hurt me so much. You know how hard it was for me to get over your death, and yet you come here, invading my mind, and making it harder to move on? Did you see me cut myself, hm? Did you see me almost swallow them pills, hang myself, isolated myself from my friends and family, hm? What did you do then, Martha? What kinda bullshit have you been hitting me with?!”

“Justin…I’m-“Martha gulped down tears. Her throat ached. “I’m sorry for that. I just didn’t want to leave you yet. Maybe that’s why I’m still here in this world. I don’t feel accomplish yet.” Her hair began peeling away, revealing her bald scalp and a plethora of scars and scabs.

“You know, I’m sorry too, Martha,” Justin said, his words as solemn as his expression. “I’m sorry our lives turned out this way. God’s know I ever wanted any of this crap to happen with us, but… We can’t help the way things go sometimes. I’m sorry. I just can’t do this.“ He went to turn away.

No!” Martha shrieked, and jumped on top of Justin. The young man maundered backwards, catching Martha by the hips, his breath cut short. “Don’t leave me again! Please don’t!”

Justin saw as the girl wrapped around his arms morph into a completely different person. The breeze flew away the last remains of her hair. Martha shed away from her glorious, beautiful skin, and into her ruined, unbearable sight that was her true form. Her eyes turned bone-white, with multiple red lines crossing over her pupils. Justin felt her weight lighten, but at the same time the heat radiating off of Martha nearly stung his palms and forearms.

He also felt something deeper than that. Justin noticed Martha’s limbs quivering, and how passionate her emotions leaked out of her body.

“I’m sorry I can’t be the same,” Martha cried, each tear leaving her eyes burning Justin’s skin. “I can’t completely fix who I am. I can’t seem to remember anything anymore. And the more I forget, the more I lose myself. And I don’t want to forget you, Justin, because- Because you were everything to me. Each time one of our memories fade away, I die inside more and more. Please…Don’t leave me to rot this way.”

They stared at one another for a long period of time. Justin always hated coming up with a decision last minute. The pressure bore down on his heart and mind, and looking at Martha didn’t help him come up with something. Deep down, however, he knew the choice that needed to be made. The young man always followed his gut, and tried to live life with as little regrets as possible.

Linda, however, had taught him the consequences of having that irrational mentality.

“I’m sorry, Martha,” he spoke, and pleasantly dropped her down. “I love you so much, but I need to move on. Maybe you should do the same.” Justin gave one last look at Martha, and almost took his words back.

Those last couple of seconds he spent staring at Martha, Justin tried to ponder about all the different possibilities that could’ve happen between them. What if he went to visit Martha the day after? What if he just waited for her to visit him? What if she spoke first instead? What if he said something differently? Justin then traced it back all the way to the day of her accident. What if I went with her to see her father? Justin retreated back even more. What if I didn’t say no to a hangout on that particular day? The young man did this all the way till the very first day they met.

What if I never stopped to notice how beautiful you are in the sixth grade?

Before Justin could collapse, he turned around, and made the journey back home. Meanwhile, Martha dropped to her knees, allowed her mind to go in whatever direction it pleased, and called for the darkness of the night to take her home.

Justin pulled over next to Linda’s apartment. He saw her black Sedan parked, and thanked god she was home. His mind still remained a jar of mixed up and unstable thoughts, but Justin knew the minute his eyes met with Linda’s dazzling hazel eyes, everything would be alright.

He raced up her apartment, each of his peddling steps causing an earthquake all throughout the building. Even when Justin began panting for air, he continued storming up the stairs. He felt at the edge of insanity.

Finally he arrived in front of apartment number 509. Without a second to waste, he pounded his fist against the door, the entire wall shaking with each punch. Justin gave about six hits before he stopped and waited for his girlfriend to open the door. The consequences of staying awake for over two days finally affected his eyes, his pupils stinging with each blink.

He heard the satisfying sound of the door unlocking. The entrance swung open, and without a moment of hesitation, Justin embraced whoever opened the door, not even questioning whether it was Linda or not.

“Jesus,” Justin heard the familiar sound of Linda’s charitable voice. “What happened to you? Don’t tell me cops are about to march up the stairs and tell me you’ve be slinging drugs.”

“No, no. None of that, baby,” Justin said, and laughed. “I just miss you so much right now.” They both pulled away from each other. Linda’s cheeks rose up to a benevolent smile, the corners of her mouths denting with two adorable dimples. Justin never minded the little bits of acne embellishing near Linda’s ears, just how Linda never doubted Justin’s powerful love. She knew what a lucky woman she was to have him.

“Come here, I miss you too.” Linda hooked Justin’s arms, and pulled him close. He felt Linda’s hug with extra affection, like something he never felt before. Maybe Linda understood some of the agony Justin went through. That was how close and connected they were. “You hungry? I made some steak and rice this late at night—typical Hispanic shit, I know. I just ate, but I have plenty to share.”

“No, I’m more than fine. Thank you, though.” They departed once again, but held each other’s hands. “Listen, there’s something we need to talk about now. Like, it’s really urgent. Do you have time?”

Linda’s face kept its cheery appearance, not the least bit unnerved by Justin’s anxious expression. “Of course I have time for you, baby. How about to go into my room, and get comfortable as I clean up some stuff in the kitchen. Sounds good?”

“Yeah, that sounds really nice actually.” He always felt safe and happy in her room, for reasons not too appropriate at the moment currently. Linda went towards the living room, and Justin followed.

“You sure you don’t want anything?” Linda asked one more time, grabbing a giant wooden spoon from the kitchen, and licking off some of the red sauce dripping from it. “I made my special spicy sauce, you know, the one you really like.”

“I’m more than fine, honey, thank you really. I’m just gonna head to your room and relax a bit.” He blew a kiss towards Linda, and entered the corridor that lead to Linda’s room.

Half-way through, Justin began dragging his feet, the weight of his exhaustion forcing him close to his knees. He bumped into the wall, and used it to balance himself. Finally, however, he staggered towards Linda’s front door.

He thought about helping her out with whatever chores she was occupied with. He didn’t wish to be alone where his thoughts and emotions can devour him entirely.

“Screw it,” he whispered to himself. “I’ll just wait here.” He turned the doorknob, and pushed open the door.

The lights were already on, and as he stepped inside the room, he saw a woman strapped to a chair with her mouth, arms, stomach, and legs tied with both duct tape and barb wire. It only took one second for Justin to realize that the woman was no one other than Linda herself.

“What the hell,” Justin spoke, as he pushed the door further open. An almost silent scream groaned out of Linda’s veiny and irritated throat. Her eyes glanced upwards with utter trepidation.

Justin followed his girlfriend’s eyes, and stood motionless as he witnessed the bucket of gasoline, hanging on top of the ceiling by a string, tip over. All of the black, thick, gooey, and acrid substance spilled on top of Linda. It only took another second for Justin to realize the lit candle taped on top of her head.

Linda!” The gasoline ignited. The entire room exploded, throwing Justin backwards. All parts of Linda’s body combusted, blowing up her limbs and organs. A gurgling howl left her concealed lips. Linda struggled to emancipate herself; the more she shook, the deeper the barb wire ripped her burning flesh. Her flaming body caused the bed sheets, the wood planks, and other objects near her to catch on fire. These items fell and mounted on top of Linda, crushing and burying her body.

Justin struggled to pick himself up from the blast, parts of his face and chest caught with tiny embers. The plastic on Linda’s lips finally melted, and so Justin was able to hear his girlfriend’s torturous cry of pain. Every second of it amplified his already catastrophic state of mind. Justin could only remember the plentiful of times he heard Linda talking laughing, snoring, and even the depressing sound of her crying. Never, however, had Justin imagine Linda shrilling for some sadistic torment to end.

Someone pulled him from behind. Justin turned around, and met eyes with Martha. The real Martha.

“Now she knows my pain,” Linda spoke in between Linda’s howling voice, and the sound of wood crackling. “Now she understands all that I suffer for you. And even then, she will never love you as much as I do. She will never appreciate you like I do. And what’s best, is that now we can both be together.”

Martha raised her hand, and touched the parts of Justin’s face which were caught in the fire. “And now, you also know a bit about my suffering. Maybe this will also help you appreciate me, and everything I do for you. Besides, our faces are starting to look alike, ya know that? We were meant to be.”

Little by little, Justin allowed Martha to do as she pleased. She kissed his necks, slid her tongue all over his face, the touch of her lips burning his skin. Through it all, Linda continued to yell till she inhaled fire. Little by little, the sound of Linda’s torment pleased Justin’s ears. Little by little, he forgot she ever existed in the first place.

“Yes,” Justin moaned. “This is what I want.”

Martha stabbed Justin in the chest with a knife from the kitchen. The young man died smiling, knowing he will be with his true love now.


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