Last year, my OKRWA writing chapter held a fun contest where participants were challenged to write a 500 word story with a ‘monster’ as the romance hero. I’ll be sharing a few of those on my blog between now and Halloween. Enjoy!
FROM ANNA KITTRELL
The Picture of Dorian Gray is my favorite book. I love Oscar Wilde’s unmatched wit and timeless storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, terrifying—the tale has it all. And I find the story’s premise so intriguing: Lord Henry, a twinkle in his eye, corrupting an innocent young man for his own amusement. Destroying a beautiful life filled with promise—just to see if he can. The creepy portrait, riddled and oozing with Dorian’s sins—while he stays young and gorgeous—is the icing on the cake. So it isn’t any wonder that when I imagine the perfect monster, I always “picture” Dorian Gray (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Please enjoy this twist on my very favorite monster tale of all time, The Picture of Dorian Gray. After all, the scariest devils are the ones painted on the inside.
Portrait of Love
Dorian stepped to the easel, pulled the drape from the canvas, and turned to face the mirror on the opposite wall. Comparing himself to the portrait was an activity to which he was well accustomed. He’d repeated the habit several times daily for the past hundred years. However, today the reason behind the ritual was quite different. Instead of seeking out changes with his usual morbid fascination, Dorian searched the grotesque features for consistency.
He scrutinized the portrait alongside his reflection. The murky eyes, glazed with the film of unatoned sin hadn’t resembled his own in years—but had they changed since yesterday?
He squinted, expecting to find a new cataract on one milky iris or a fresh boil on the surrounding wrinkled skin. He found nothing. The same brown blotches marred the gnarled fingers. The same arthritic bend stooped the back. For the first time since its creation, the painting hadn’t changed one iota.
Dorian checked the time. Seven p.m. Lydia would be there any moment. Exquisite Lydia. Down in whatever cancerous sliver of soul he had left, he knew she was the reason behind the painting’s sudden refusal to alter. After a century-long quest for pleasure, Dorian had found what his hardened heart searched for all along. Love. He adored Lydia, and tonight he would tell her so.
Footfalls echoed on the stairs. Dorian sucked in a breath, snatched the sheet from the floor, and flung it over the portrait.
“I let myself in,” Lydia said, dragging her eyes over him. “Mmm…don’t you look tasty.” She wrapped her red-tipped fingers around his tie. “Mr. Gray, this suit reminds me of another Mr. Grey whom I’ve read a great deal about.”
He pulled her close. “Perhaps we should stay in tonight. You can compare our…techniques.”
She nibbled his ear, stopping abruptly. “What are you hiding?”
Dorian’s heartbeat stalled. “Hiding? Nothing—”
“What is this?” She pulled away, touching the draped canvas.
Her movement shocked his heart like a defibrillator. “It’s—a surprise. You mustn’t see until it’s finished.”
“Surprise? Is it painting of me?”
“Patience, dear. Soon you’ll see.” He led her away from the portrait, making a mental list of artists he knew. He could surely commission one to paint his beautiful Lydia.
Halfway down the staircase, Lydia touched her throat. “I left my scarf in your room.” She kissed his cheek and dashed back upstairs.
A scream exploded above. Dorian bounded the stairs and burst into his bedroom.
“Is this a joke?” Lydia shrieked, staring at the portrait. “This is how you see me? An ugly old hag?”
“Let me explain.”
She threw the canvas to the floor and stomped it with her stiletto heel.
Grimacing, Dorian clutched his chest.
“What’s happened to your face?” she cried. “Dorian, you’re a monster!”
Dorian collapsed. He clawed the floor, searching for the portrait.
“I love you, Lydia,” he whispered as his hand stilled upon the torn canvas.
From between his gnarled fingers, peered the innocent blue eyes of youth.
Check out Anna’s spooky romantic suspense short story:
An ancient scrimshaw doll–does its gypsy magic protect? Or destroy?
As a child, Darcy Vaughan cowered beneath the malice of her twin sister, Scarlett. Now, Scarlett is back and Darcy hopes to establish the sisterly bond she’s always longed for. Instead, Scarlett tries to destroy Darcy’s life–and her new relationship with the town doctor.
Dr. Cabin Creighton returned to his hometown near Lake Chickasha, Oklahoma to take over his father’s practice. One look at Darcy and Cabin wants nothing more than to love her forever. But a guilty heart and memories of his deceased wife are holding him back.
When someone from Scarlett’s past reappears, bad things start to happen. Darcy and Cabin struggle to keep their love alive, but as danger draws closer, Darcy finds herself once more at her sister’s mercy, with nothing but the yellowed bones of an ancient doll to protect her.
In the center of the doll’s chest bloomed an intricate rose. Cabin explored the flower with his fingers, fascinated by the small carving which held more detail than all the doll’s other attributes combined.
“So, it just pulls out a magical Tommy-gun and blasts the person it sees harming you?” he asked, pointing the doll’s arm at a lamp on the end table.
Darcy smiled and shook her head. “Not quite.”
“What is it, then? Is the doll psychic?”
She frowned. “I think it’s more like karma, in a way. It discerns the aura of the betrayer…feeds on the negative thoughts. The betrayer has to knowingly betray the doll’s owner, or at least have intent of wrongdoing. Some trace of malice the doll can pick up on.”
Intent of wrongdoing. Cabin thought of Samantha, how he’d watched her waste away, nothing but skin stretched over bones at the end. How he hadn’t done anything to help her. He shook away the thoughts, but couldn’t shake the guilt.
“And what sort of…things happen to the betrayer?”
“Oh, it can be anything from a mild annoyance to…worse, depending on the level of betrayal.”
“I’d better watch my step around you,” he spoke to the doll as he straightened its dress. He turned and looked into Darcy’s eyes, haltingly bringing his hand to her face, tracing her features. She closed her eyes. He wanted her, wanted to feel alive again, even though he didn’t deserve to.
“Only true love breaks the spell…” she murmured.
Cabin jerked his hand from her cheek. The movement knocked the doll from his lap, tumbling it onto the hardwood.
Darcy’s eyes sprung open. “Oh, I’m so sorry. How stupid of me to say that—”
A rough bang on the front door caused Darcy to gasp and widen her eyes. She jumped up, scooping the doll from the floor as she crossed the room.
Cabin followed, standing close behind her. She cracked the door open.
“Really? This is how you treat your sister? Your twin?” Scarlett pushed past Darcy, into the living room.
“You promised to check on me. I had a coughing spasm and very well could have died in that house all by myself.” She shook a cigarette from her pack, looked around the room, then slid it back in.
“May I intervene?” Cabin asked, his piercing gaze aimed at Scarlett. “You’re perfectly fine. I would have sent you to the hospital if I’d thought otherwise. As for the coughing spasm…you can blame those cigarettes for that.”
“Thank you, Dr. Drew. I’ll check into Celebrity Rehab right away.” She cackled, her breath reeking of alcohol. She turned to Darcy, snatching the doll from her hand. “Where did you get this?” she demanded. “How many crap-filled Dumpsters did you have to dive into before you found the ridiculous thing? They should’ve buried these dried up bones right along with that crotchety old bat’s.” She pumped the doll’s legs in a suggestive manner and laughed, holding it from reach as Darcy grabbed for it.
Cabin circled Scarlett’s wrists with one hand, twisting the doll free with the other, and handed it to Darcy.
“My, you are a strong one.” Scarlett batted her lashes over bloodshot eyes. “I can certainly see why my sister…my twin sister…has such a bad case of Cabin fever.” She turned on her stilettoed heel and staggered through the doorway, onto the porch. “I hope you can remedy that, doctor.” She laughed as Cabin shut the door.
Darcy nestled the doll’s face into her neck, stroking its hair. “Scarlett makes it so hard. All I want to do is help her. I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to be around this again.” She motioned from herself to the wall separating her house from Scarlett’s.
“Well, that would screw up my next move.”
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Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.
Anna Kittrell Amazon Author Page/Books http://alturl.com/bchbw
Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/AKittrell