"Standing across the table is a beautiful woman in a red dress."

stories

Catalina Benavides

benavidesAbout herself, this young writer tells us: "I have loved writing stories since the third grade, but it wasn't until middle school that I decided to become a writer. One goal in life is to get my stories published. But first I'll grow some more, learn some more, live some more, and then I will see where my imagination will create.

Other Works:


Femme Fatale

She takes a drag of the cigarette, the tip glowing a brighter orange, smoke swirling into the air. This breath is to suck in the burden, hold it in the chamber of her mouth, and then slowly let it out as a beautiful, swirling cloud, rising past her blank eyes, disappearing into the dimly lit room. The tobacco lightly taints her lungs, but she’s reached a point where she doesn’t care about a lot of things in life. Thanks to a certain someone.

Ember looks at the alarm clock beside her bed. The time is 1:52 a.m. Sleep isn’t getting to her fast enough, so she takes a sleeping pill. She finishes the cigarette, turns off the lamp, and lies on her back, waiting for the pill to kick in.

At 3:02 her body is immobilized, and a part of her consciousness is aware of it. She’s still sleeping, but is fully aware that she is in her bed, lying on her back, but cannot move. She cannot speak, cannot open her eyes, and she cannot even move her pinky. A noise comes from somewhere in her head. She can’t compare the sound to anything, just that she’s heard it when she gets paralyzed in her sleep like this. In her mind, Ember calls out to the dark force that is causing this.

I know you’re doing this to me. I know you’re the reason why I can’t move. But I have a proposal for you…care to listen?

The inexplicable noise gets louder and louder until she can form words from it that echo in her head.

Only if I get something in exchange.

What do you want?

What’s the proposal?

Are you a succubus?

The proposal!

If you’re a succubus, I know a pathetic man you can prey on. I want him dead.

The noise shifts to a female voice; a seductive female voice. It chuckles.

Sounds like fun. I want your body in exchange. For three weeks, every year.

Okay.

What did he do to you?

Similar to what a typical scumbag would do…only different.

Want me to kill him quickly?

Yes…but make it painful.

Ha-ha-ha…with pleasure…literally.

Ember snaps awake, gasping, and in cold sweat. She can’t go back to sleep…she’s too anxious.

...

“Hello, Ember Marquez.”

Ember looks up from her textbook. Standing across the table is a beautiful woman in a red dress. Her long, dark, wavy hair runs the length of her back. Her physique compares to that of a Victoria’s Secret model. Her mesmerizing eyes are a golden yellow; too bright to be human. But it’s her voice that Ember is stuck on. It sounds so familiar…

“Um, hello,” Ember mumbles. “Do I know you?”

“No, you don’t. But I know you.”

Ember looks around the college library. No one is around. “How is that?”

The woman just smiles. “I’m Fayleen. I’m the demon that has been ‘sitting on your back’ for the past decade. But I guess now I’m your hit-man. So, who’s this pathetic man you want me to eat?”

Ember is quiet for a moment. Finally, she says, “Jeremy Lennox.”

Fayleen smirks. “What did he do? Screw your best friend?”

“Does it matter?”

“Not really. It would just be nice to know why I have to kill an innocent soul,” Fayleen chuckles.

“Believe me, he’s anything but innocent,” Ember says in a monotone, her usual tone.

“Ohh? Well then, where can I find this Jeremy Lennox?”

“Most likely at the bar on Pine Street.”

“Not Elm Street?” Fayleen smirks.

...

Jeremy Lennox is worn out from a tedious day at work, but doesn't want to go home to his wife and drink a beer there. There’s more life at the bar than at that hell hole; although no one is at the bar tonight except for the bartender, Hank.

He is sitting at his usual bar stool, sipping on dark ale when he gets this sudden urge to look behind him. A woman in a red mini dress is sitting alone at a table, staring at him. Jeremy does a double take, but the second look has him locked in. He can't look anywhere else but her. His body shuts down. His mind goes blank. All sounds around him are mute. He then looks at her smoldering, golden eyes, and loses all traces of reality.

In the empty space of his mind, he hears a voice that is like silk: Come over here. Immediately, his body stands up. His feet take him to the table on their own accord. He sits down at the chair next to her, his body facing her.

“Hi,” she says. It is the same silky voice he heard in his head.

Jeremy forgets how to speak. He can't even think of what words he would say. It is like she is speaking a foreign language.

"I’m Fayleen. Want a drink?” She slides a shot of whiskey to him. He takes it, and chugs it, not taking his eyes off of her. “You look exhausted. Did you have a rough day at work?”

He moves his head upward, and then down.

“Aw, poor thing,” she touches his hand. Fire shoots up his arm. It slowly wakes up a piece of his slumbering mind. She’s beautiful. The warmth from her hand spreads throughout his body. Is this…love?

“Do you come here often?” Fayleen asks.

He thinks, she asked me a question. I have to answer...

“Um…y-yes,” Jeremy murmurs. He feels a bit proud of himself, and it builds up some confidence. “Uh…do you?” Wait, no! He comes here almost every day, and has never seen her. What a stupid question.

She chuckles. “No, this is my first time. Want another drink?”

“Oh, uh, sure.”

She slides over another shot of whiskey. He drinks it like water.

“What’s your name?” she asks.

“Oh, oh, uh, sorry. Um, m-my name is, uh, Jeremy.”

Fayleen smiles. “Well, Jeremy, it was delightful meeting you. But, unfortunately, I need to go.”

“Oh, well, yeah. Um, okay. Nice meeting you, too…um…?” His mind is going blank.

“Fayleen,” she says in a seductive way.

“Uh…right. Fayleen.” He whispers to himself, “It’s hot in here.”

No, it’s just me, he thinks. Fayleen winks and says aloud, “See you soon, Jeremy.”

Jeremy sits there, watching Fayleen strut out of the bar.

She lets him stay in a trance for a moment before letting his brain function again. He’ll sit there wondering if it was some wet dream, which means she just accomplished Phase One of her mission.

Outside of the bar, she lets go of the visible human form and goes back to her invisible demonic self. She’ll wait for Jeremy to come out so she can follow him home. But she’s unsure if she should initiate Phase Two tonight. She’s just so damn hungry. To hell with it, I’m eating.

An hour later Jeremy is driving up to his two-storey house. The house gives the impression that he has a happy family, a lovely wife, and on Sunday afternoons they all barbecue in the backyard. But stepping inside the house, it’s dead. His wife, Elvira, is passed out on the couch with the TV on.

She hears him walk past her and wakes up. “Jeremy?” she croaks, rubbing her groggy eyes.

He pays no attention to her, and continues his way to the stairs, and goes straight to bed. A few moments later Elvira gets in bed next to him. Within ten silent minutes they both fall asleep. Bingo.

Swiftly, silently, hungrily, Fayleen swooshes down upon the house, letting her entity into the bedroom. His wife sleeps with her back toward him, and he’s turned away from her as well. Fayleen takes a peek into his subconscious. Just as she suspected, the poor man is deprived. She can help him; she can put him out of his misery.

She enters his dream and plants her seed of Manipulation. His dream changes, and he sees her, the most attractive, seductive woman he’s ever seen. She’s a moving temptation; he can’t help but give into his lust for her. He moves closer to her, embraces her. She caresses him, speaks into his ear in an enticing tone.

She tells him, “I need you, Jeremy.”

He says, “Anything.”

She grins in triumph.

In the dream, all Jeremy sees are piercing flashes of red and white. His body is burning, every muscle tightening. Outside of his subconscious, he’s convulsing and groaning in pain. Elvira wakes up and is startled by what she sees. She calls his name, begs him to wake up, but it’s too late. When Fayleen gets a tight grip on her victims, she never backs down. She wants to get this over with so she can finally be fed. Vengeance tastes so yummy.

Elvira is starting to get hysterical as her husband continues to convulse and not respond. Fayleen is almost done absorbing the last of his energy.

But then, Elvira begins to pray, a strong prayer. No. A light begins to shield Jeremy, and it burns Fayleen. NO! She lets go of Jeremy, hastily getting out of the house, and is banished. Damn, I was almost done, too.

At least she completed Phase Two.

...

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and Jeremy feels like a rare deadly disease has taken hold of his body. Every three hours he vomits or has to sit on the toilet for an hour. Elvira gives him Sprite and Gatorade to help settle the stomach, but it doesn’t help. Besides, he just wants her to leave him alone. He suspects the meat in the tacos she made last night was bad. Stupid woman.

On Sunday morning he feels better, but doesn’t go to church with Elvira. Instead he watches television, but nothing good is on, so he dozes off…

“Hi, Jeremy.” Fayleen stands inches away from him. He reaches for her and kisses her passionately. He doesn’t waste any time and goes straight to intercourse. Just when things begin to get to a climax, Elvira wakes him.

“Jeremy, honey,” she says softly. “You’ve been sleeping for almost five hours. Are you okay?”

Dammit! No, Fayleen! “What the hell, Elvira?! Don’t you see I’m trying to sleep? Leave me the hell alone!!”

Elvira is shocked. “Jeremy…I just wanted to see if you were okay….”

Jeremy sighs. “Yes, I’m fine. Now, leave me alone. Go make dinner or something.”

Later that night he didn’t see Fayleen in his dreams.

...

As expected, Monday at work was tedious and stressful. Jeremy walks to his car. Everyone else has already left the office, so the parking lot is deserted and only lit by the lampposts. Jeremy is about to unlock his door when he smelled cigarette smoke and hears a familiar voice, only it is a monotone.

“How’s mom?”

Jeremy spins around and sees Ember standing there, with a cigarette held close to her mouth. Her fingers bring the cig to her lips, the smoke rising past her colorful eyes. Her eyes that hold a darkness that makes Jeremy take a step back.

“Ember…!”  He can’t believe she’s really here.

“Are you still treating her like trash?”

“You’ve changed,” he says, noticing the black, punk attire. Then his eyes spot the papers in her other hand. “What’s that?”

“You know, at first I figured karma will eventually come and bite you in the ass…but karma was taking too long. So I took matters into my own hands….”

Jeremy feels a whoosh of wind go past him. Then Fayleen is standing there next to Ember. Fayleen winks at him. “Hey. Miss me?”

“What’s…what’s going on here?” He stumbles back into his car door. His keys fall.

“I think it’s about time you pay,” Ember says in a dark voice. “Fayleen.”

Fayleen’s yellow eyes glow, her nails turn into claws, her teeth shape into fangs, and she lets out a growl. Her beauty turns demonic. She lunges at Jeremy and enters his body. Jeremy screams in fear and in pain. He falls to the concrete, convulsing, and he begins to gurgle up blood. His face elongates, as his screams grow louder and as Fayleen feeds on his insides. He grasps his chest, and he can’t breathe. Blood spills out of his nose, his ears, and his eyes.

Ember crouches down next to him. “Before you die, look at this.” She holds up the papers to his eyes. “My STD test results. I have AIDS. You know why, right?”

His tortured eyes just stare at her. He can’t speak, only groan in pain.

“RIGHT?!” Ember exclaims. “You damn sicko! Burn in hell!!”

Jeremy lets out one last scream of pain as his body dies. Fayleen appears next to Ember, back in her human disguise.

“Soo…you guys had an affair?” Fayleen asks nonchalantly.

“No.”

“Oh, okay…”

“He raped me…and my sister. She died last year because she caught the disease, too. He doesn’t even love my mom. He married her because he wanted us. We ran away four years ago.”

“How much time do you have left?” Fayleen says in a serious tone.

“…A year.”

“You mean to tell me I literally have three weeks with your body? Damn.” Fayleen chuckles.

Ember drops the papers beside Jeremy’s bloody body, and walks away. Only the scent of cigarette smoke lingers.

Editor: LinckeN@WLAC.edu | West Los Angeles College | 9000 Overland Ave, Culver City CA 90230 | www.wlac.edu
Production Mngr: Michelle Long-Coffee | Web Design: Clarissa Castellanos