In the Shadows of Paris

The shapely young woman was a would-be social climber, no doubt, and she had set her sights on a pair of well-dressed young men sat together at a seedy bar: with no wedding bands and slick attire they seemed the perfect mark.

The smaller, brunette man took to her immediately, returning all her advances in all the right ways. He was fine to look at, she thought, but he talked too much and too fast, making him seem altogether too excited over every little thing. The redhead was mute from a war injury, his chattering friend explained, and his looming demeanour and palid appearance only served to make his talkative companion all the more attractive. To make matters worse, the mute one stank of lilies and something foul. There was no question of which one was the better catch.

After more than a few free drinks, the woman was only too eager to take up the offer of a quieter location, and the three stepped out onto the cobblestone streets of Paris. It was midnight, dark and quiet as they walked. They turned down street after street, coming to a narrow alley that was a shortcut, her new beau assured her. She giggled, letting him lead the way as his friend began to trail politely behind. Good riddance.

Moving into a dark corner, he pressed her up against a wall with warm, wandering hands and hot, welcome lips upon her neck. She felt him reach up, but she didn’t see him grasp a knife cleverly hidden between some bricks. The last thing she saw was the wild grin that he couldn’t keep from his lips.

His work was brutally efficient, butchering the woman’s body even before her last breaths shuddered from her bleeding form. He was breathing heavily by the time he was satisfied with his work, and gave a single whistle to call his looming friend.

At the sound, the red-haired man joined him once more, his polite manner now replaced with something feral. His eyes glazed over as he sized up the gaping corpse before leaping upon it, his lips parting to reveal jagged fangs. He made short work of the offering, tearing through flesh and bone with ravenous delight, his inhumanly long tongue darting out to coil around the choicest morsels and drag them ever faster into his ghastly mouth. The butcher gleefully watched the ghoulish creature gorge himself, ignoring the blood already beginning to dry on his own hands.

The monster devoured his way clear through the victim’s torso, and soon there was little left but fragments of bone and bits of skin and cloth strewn about the stained cobblestones. Dripping blood and saliva, the ghoul pushed himself up on his hands and knees, locking eyes with the butcher before lunging towards him. The man made no sound of surprise or fear, instead opening his arms to accept the macabre embrace of the one he truly loved.


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea


The sailor struggled as he sank down, down, down towards the silty bottom of the lagoon. Just seconds ago he had been hauling in a fishing net when something had reached up and grasped his wrist, pulling him over with a strength he couldn’t hope to match. Whatever it was didn’t stop when he hit the water, but instead wrapped around him and dragged him ever deeper: something with cold hands and sharp nails that bit deep into the flesh of his shoulders. He could feel slick, slimy skin pressed up against his back as his captor churned the water behind them with powerful strokes. Its arms were slender and soft, but against their iron grip he was helpless.

Suddenly, with the same deft speed with which it had snatched him, the creature stopped. Only the barest hints of moonlight shone through the murky water, poorly illuminating the scene that surrounded him. The sailor could feel something wrap tightly about his leg and waist, nearly crushing his bones. The arms that held him wrapped under his own and around his throat in an embrace that left him spread-eagled and powerless. Craning his neck, he could only now just make out the face of a woman over his shoulder: a crone with harsh features and the green, mottled skin of an eel. She barely afforded him a glance, instead staring into the darkness before them, her thin mouth twisting into a triumphant grin and revealing needle-sharp fangs.

He turned as he followed her gaze, spotting something else swimming up from the murk of the lagoon: something stocky and immense that nonetheless moved with all of the intent and grace of a predator. The sailor’s stomach fell in instinctive fear at the shark-like silhouette, and it twisted further when the shape resolved into yet another creature with the face and torso of a powerfully-built woman. She wasted no time pressing her body up against his as well, her rough skin biting into his like sandpaper, the muscles in her arms even stronger than the eel-hag who already held him captive. The newcomer inspected him closely, her nostrils and gills flaring as she took in his scent, and when she opened her mouth to return the eel-hag’s grin he shivered at the unkempt rows of her jagged, razor teeth. He struggled uselessly against the coils and claws of the creatures, and the pair of them shook as though laughing at his plight. As the last of his breath escaped, his vision dimming, the final thing he saw was their huge eyes glowing eerily in the moonlight.