PB

Almost there.

Frank spluttered a breath and wiped another bead of sweat from his brow. Wearied muscles tightened below him; where he had once been running he now moved along at little more than a shambling half-jog.

Not much farther.

He glanced up. That’s when he heard the Tyrannosaurus approaching fast behind him. It huffed and ever so loudly puffed, but did not roar. Frank kept his eyes forward, on the bathtub and Mexican wrestler.

Just a few more yards…

Exhausted, Frank bundled over the finish line, bottom desperately finding tarmac. He checked his watch.

“04:03:22”

A smile stretched across his face.

The Edge

“If we die, we die.” Sarah spoke softly. “But first we truly live.”

There was a conviction in her voice, reminiscent of a priest. She had no proof, but didn’t need it. Did he?

James steadied himself and glanced again over the edge. Sarah squeezed his hand tighter.

She whispered in his ear, “If we die, we die. Together.”

James slipped through his wife’s embrace and took several steps back. Her red lips had already dropped into a frown. She now seemed to stare right through him.

But first we truly live.

James offered out his hand. “Please come with me.”

Them and Us

John died the moment the aliens arrived. Not physically – that was to happen in five-to-six seconds – but mentally at least. He’d been watching and scheming for a way out since that day.

The bitter air battered him as he fell. He hoped Jane would find the letter detailing his cowardice’s victory, how he wanted to end things on his terms, not theirs.

Them.

Infiltrating the human race like a symptomless disease. Silent, hidden. But not from John.

His last thoughts were of Jane, and the world he was leaving her in. Then the earth screamed up and everything went bl–

* * * *

“The aliens have arrived,” Jane said softly.

Clint Hooper, a stocky detective of twenty long years, narrowed his eyes.

Jane noted his confusion. It matched hers. “The aliens have arrived, that’s what it says.”

She handed him the letter and waited as he read it. There was plenty more after that, mainly of a personal nature. But the moment her fiancée’s body hit the earth, things had spiralled out of control and out of her hands.

Hooper looked up. “History of mental illness?”

Her cold cheeks flushed under the gentle warmth of a solitary tear. “I… I… I don’t know.”

Am I Dead Yet?

I’m in a wheat field. A bloody wheat field? What the hell. How on earth did I get here? Not sure. It’s kinda nice though. The sun’s pretty strong, but not too strong, and there’s a gentle wind tickling my skin. This I actually rather pleasant. Still, isn’t it a bit strange I don’t remember how I ended up here? I think I know the answer, but, to be honest, I don’t feel like answering it right now.

There seems to be the softest hint of a woodland to the East and the outline of a house, or it may be a barn, to the South. Otherwise, I’m entirely surrounded by crops, with dusty soil under foot. I reach inside my chino pockets and find a pair of sunglasses. That was handy. I slip them on and the beautifully blue sky turns a shade of brown. Less attractive, sure, but gentler on the eyes. Hey, I’m wearing chinos.

The sun slowly warms by neck as I wander South; goosebumps creep across my skin. Damn, I haven’t felt anything near this good in years. Sun. Neck. I check and I’m wearing a vest. Now, while I don’t remember how I got here, I have a strong feeling I’m not usually much of a vest wearer. My pale arms are evidence of that. I suppose it’s possible I was drugged, dressed in a vest, and left in the middle of a wheat field for some nefarious purpose, but as I meander toward the house, or perhaps it’s a barn, not only do I find it highly unlikely, I’m not even sure I care.

As I near the house, or barn, I still can’t rightly tell, the smell of smoke fills my nostrils. It reminds me of the fires my father would in an old oil drum outside our house when I was a kid. I can recall my childhood, it seems. We owned a little property out in the country with a generous area of land surrounding it. My old man would raise this rusty old drum up onto a couple of pieces of rotted wood and burn anything and everything he could find. When the wind turned, it would blow the smoke back toward the house, enraging my mother and stinking up the clothes on the washing line. There are no washing lines here, however, or mothers or fathers, not any more. I follow my nose.

The area surrounding the barn, not a house apparently, becomes heavy with smoke as I draw closer. Now, perhaps it’s because I’m a little discombobulated, or perhaps it’s because I’m drugged, or perhaps it’s because I feeling pretty confident in my new vest, but rather than turning around and out of the thick smoke, I head in to it, towards the barn. I want to see what’s inside. I reach inside the back pocket of my chinos and find a handkerchief. That really is handy.

I cover my mouth and stride forward. Big, confident strides. After a few more powerful steps, I feel my chest begin to tighten. After another, I cough. I take one more, cough. Again, cough. I begin to feel light-headed. I cough again. And again. I need to get out of here. I turn around but see nothing but smoke. I look up to the sky, to the sun, but it’s not there. Nothing but an ugly grey, shrouded in brown. I pull off the sunglasses and drop them to the floor. My hand’s shaking. I feel a tightness rise in my chest again and I splutter another cough. Where’s the barn gone? Or was it a house? Damn my head hurts. Everything around me begins to turn from greyish brown to black, and I feel myself losing balance. If I’m not careful, I’ll–

THUD

What was that?

THUD

There it is again.

THUD THUD

Where am I? I smell smoke, but see nothing but black. I try to focus. Oh, my eyes are closed. I force them open and see a speedometer. The plastic casing surrounding it is covered in dust. I drag my head up and fall back into the driver’s seat. I’m in a car. I rub my forehead and feel the rounded indentation the car’s steering wheel has left. How long was I out? I rub my eyes but let myself keep them shut for a second. Think, James, think. There was a field, it was sunny, you had a vest on. A vest? None of that was real.

I flash open my eyes and sideways-glance out of the window to my right.

THUD THUD SCRATCH

There’s a man there. Only, he doesn’t quite look like a man. Most of his hair has fallen out, and his skin appears… melty. To say he looks malnourished would be to do him a kindness. And his eyes. Dead, soulless, fixed. Fixed on the food currently on display on the other side of the glass. On me. He’s got some friends with him. They’re groping the car too.

THUD SCRATCH THUD

I hadn’t realised it, but I had just been experiencing those precious few moments when you first wake up and the world hasn’t quite had the chance to beat you down yet. They’re precious because they don’t last. After, you wish they could have gone on and on, but you don’t realise just how precious they are until they’re over. And they’re over now.

I remember. I’ve been in this car for six days and nights. Or so I guess. I judge days and nights by how many times I sleep, but I have no idea how long I sleep for any more. I feel weak. My food ran out three days ago, water yesterday. I’m going to have to move soon, or I’ll die sat in this fucking car with those things groping the metal around me. The sick fucks. I’ll have to move soon, I will move soon. I’m so hungry. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the gropers won’t chase me and I’ll find some food and a safe place to rest in peace for a while. Maybe I’ll get that lucky, like winning the old lotto. I’ll have to move soon. Will I be that lucky? I think I know the answer, but, to be honest, I don’t feel like answering it right now.

Shadow

See if you can guess the film I watched this past week…

Shadow

The expectant audience watched on as Malcolm the Miraculous wriggled and flailed. Water spilled from the glass box, covering the stage and the baying men in the front row. They lapped it up, hungry for the climax. Malcolm shook and kicked the glass. Bubbles frantically fluttered to the surface. The rusty lock around his neck remained untouched.

The room fell silent.

* * * *

A tall man lowered his hand and the camera flashes stopped. The gaggle of reporters flitted away to their seats. Quiet muttering slowly receded as Barry the Brave cleared his throat.

“I still mourn his passing.” He paused, dabbing one eye with the corner of his sleeve. “But the show must go on.”

He answered their ensuing questions gracefully and sympathetically. The room even shared a chuckle at one point.

The tall man rose from his seat and opened his arms wide. “So make sure you come along to see his opening show tomorrow night!”

* * * *

Two men raced onto the stage from either side. One climbed to the top of the box and reached down. The other smashed into the glass with a small fire axe. The glass was strong, durable, and offered full resistance. The other man soon found his arm’s were too short to reach the scruff of the escape artist’s neck. His hands flailed wildly in the water, like an angry fish caught in a net.

The bubbles stopped.

The men in the front row leapt to the stage. One pushed past the man on the top of the box and jumped inside. He raised Malcolm to the surface where his buddies helped pull him from the glass tomb. They all fell to the floor.

The room gasped.

Then, silence.

* * * *

“Yes, that’s him.”

The attendant pulled the cover back other the dead man’s face.

Barry the Brave watched on as the body was slid back into darkness. A tall man placed a cold hand on his shoulder and squeezed. Barry shrugged.

“I know it’s tough,” the tall man said. “But I have a proposition for you.”

His back turned, Barry smiled.

* * * *

A child’s screams grated on his pounding head. He wanted to step out from the shadows, to shout at the mother to make it stop. But not today; he couldn’t draw attention to himself.

He watched on as his brother lay motionless on the old stage. Several men tried in vain to resuscitate him. A doctor in the audience made himself known and scurried to the front. A shake of the head told everybody what they already knew.

The audience was quickly ushered from the theatre; Barry the Brave made his exit hidden amongst them. Nervous whispers and shocked mutterings filled his ears. It had been quite a show.

He wandered home alone, quickening his pace to make sure he’d be there when the phone call came. At the first sewer grate he passed, he took a rusty old key from his pocket and dropped it deep into the depths below

Him and Her

You know when you have a story idea, play around with it in your head (maybe while in the car) and then sit to write it and it comes out pretty much fully formed? Yeah, that.

Edit: I’ve written a companion piece to this one, making it a 2-for-1 #FridayFlash. Enjoy!

Him

He tapped the vial on the rim of the glass. The remainder of its contents fell into the sparkling liquid below. He shook the glass gently, careful not to spill any, and placed it down on the extravagantly decorated dining table. Roses and candles and expensive china covered the table’s heavy oak. She was in for quite a surprise.

* * * *

She smiled as the taxi pulled away. She could already see the house was dimly lit; nothing but the faint glow of candle light seeped out from behind drawn curtains. She pushed aside thoughts of dresses and rings and centrepiece decorations as she bounced as carefully as her heels would allow her up the stone path. At the door, she took a deliberately deep breath.

* * * *

The sound echoed around the court room as stern gavel met unflinching wood. It had been an extravagant slam to end the most irregular of proceedings.

“We find the defendant… not guilty.”

The room gasped.

* * * *

He watched as the judge struggled to retake control of his court room. Family members screamed, some cried. The jury struggled to keep calm, impartial. He sat and watched, waiting to be set free. His lawyer tapped him on the shoulder and gripped his hand.

He smiled.

* * * *

She brushed down the front of her crimson dress and straightened her back. She leaned forward and knocked the door handle twice. She then crossed her left leg in front of her right and packed brightly-painted finger nails tightly into sweaty palms. She waited for the man she was to spend to the rest of her life with to answer the door.

Her

“This way.” He pointed down the alley. “I know a short cut.”

He took a step forward, alone. “It’s safe, I promise.”

He placed a long arm around her shoulder; the act of ushering disguised as kindness.

He felt her shiver underneath his borrowed overcoat.

“It’s not far.”

* * * *

She liked him, she really did. He was kind and generous, made her laugh. And yes, he was beautiful. She felt herself swell as he placed his arm around her. It was a cold night, but she felt warm in his company.

“You’re really hot,” she whispered softly. “It’s nice.”

She noticed his smile. It really was a lovely smile. She gripped him a little tighter as they walked deeper into darkness.

* * * *

The street lights were gone, building lights faded. The alley long devoid of people. Nothing but trash cans and old bottles. He was happy.

He pushed her up against the wall. “We’re here.”

He noted her flinch; it would be the first of many. He liked it. She had a puzzled look on her face, he liked that too.

“Relax, baby.” He pulled off the overcoat and dropped it to the floor. “Just enjoy what you’ve had coming to you for a while.”

She smiled.

* * * *

She slid the strap of her dress to one side, offering her neck. The smug glee on his face made her feel sick. His disgustingly wet lips began exploring her exposed skin.

It was too easy.

“You’ve had this coming to you for quite a while,” she whispered in his ear.

She sank sharpened teeth deep into soft, warm flesh

He flinched. It would be the first of many.

Demon

Wakey wakey, Johnny. Time to play.

I know it sounds, well you know, but these words were ringing in my head before and after I woke up in the middle of last night. It was like I was dreaming them and then hearing them. I know how it sounds, but you asked for the truth, so here it is.

I sat upright in bed and listened; the house was silent but for the gentle hum of the central heating. Despite the hum, my room felt cold. I reached up to the window above my bed and checked it: closed. I leant across and checked the radiator: on. Again, I know it sounds strange or whatever, but it was freezing in there. I took this as my cue to jump out of bed and hit the head.

I slipped out of my room – trying to be as careful as I could as to not wake up the ‘rents – and snuck down the hallway into the bathroom. I did my business, splashed a little water on my face, then made my way back down the hall. As I passed my parents room, I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye which compelled me to stop dead in my tracks. On either side of the bed lay my ‘rents, stood over each of them were, well… those things. They lurched over them, watching them sleep. As I peered through the gap between door and frame, the first thing that hit me was the smell.

Damn, those fucking things stank.

I covered my mouth and nose with my hand and fought the urge to throw up. It was horrible. Facing a losing battle, I pulled my t-shirt up over my face and took a few deep breaths. But it was no good: I gagged and then coughed, too loudly.

Now, you have to bear in mind it was the middle of the night and I was very close to passing out at this point, so to say I was myself would be a lie. Just thinking about it now, I’m not sure what I was doing. But when I saw one of those things go to grab my ma, I just acted on instinct, I guess. Like a crazy cruise control.

I stormed into the room, to the right hand side of the bed – my ma’s side. I threw a lazy punch at the thing’s head, but missed, barely grazing it’s scaly brown skin. Scaly brown skin, yes I know. Crazy. But I’m sure you’ve seen it for yourself by now, so I don’t need to tell you how implausible it would normally seem. My punch may have missed but it got the thing’s attention. It turned away from my mother and toward me, approaching slowly as I backed away.

Now that the thing was facing me, I could see it had three, small yellow eyes. Two were where a regular person’s eyes would be, the other where you would usually find the bridge of the nose. This was all happening so fast I didn’t have a chance to stop and think, “What the fuck!” As the yellow eyes ambled toward me, I looked for something I could use as a weapon.

The first thing I laid my eyes on was my ma’s hair dryer. It’s not exactly a baseball bat, I know, but at that moment I’d have probably grabbed a banana if that’s what was laying around. As I snatched it up into the air, the bloody plug flew round and smacked me in the knee. It was the jolt I most probably needed. Stung to life, I swung my makeshift weapon toward the thing, smashing it into its head. The thing fell to the floor much easier than I expected. I dove on top of it and slammed the hair dryer down into its skull one, two, three times. On the fourth smash, I heard a most definite crack. It was dark, but my hands and arms were now wet with what I knew to be blood. I’m not going to lie, I felt sick. But a groan to my left shocked me back into action.

The other thing was now sitting atop my pa, with its top half twisted so its head faced me. Without thinking, I dropped the hair dryer and dove across the bed, grabbing its throat as we rolled to the floor. I landed on top of it and forced all my weight down as I gripped the thing’s scaly neck between two bloody hands. I squeezed like I’ve never squeezed before. You’ll laugh, but I felt like Homer Simpson. OK, you won’t laugh. The thing flayed and wrestled at first, but I’m a big guy, and it soon stopped. I squeezed a little bit longer anyway, just to make sure. That’s when you guys showed up.

“That’s quite a tale, John.”

I could tell the detective didn’t believe a word of what I had just said. But they must have seen the bodies by now, spoke to my parents to get their side of things. Surely he could put two and two together?

I nod.

“But you see, here’s the thing, John. We did find two bodies in your house, but not of any creatures from the lagoon. We’re pretty sure they’re the bodies of Maureen Moxley, 57, and John Moxley Sr, 60 – your mother and father.”

Well done, Johnny.

I can’t focus, can’t take in what he’s said. Either of them. Too many voices. Did he say my parents? Well done for what? “No…but, no. They were there. I saved them!” I can’t be sure, but I think I’m shouting.

“You saved nobody,” he snarls. He’s upset. “You murdered both of them, you sick fuck.”

But I didn’t. They were there. I saw those things with my own eyes, could touch them, smell them. They were there. Weren’t they? The detective slams his hands down on the desk and shouts something else, but I don’t hear him. Too many voices, all talking at once. One much louder than the others.

Come on now, Johnny, it’s time to play.

Claire

Claire

Sheila Perkins swings open her front door and is greeted by bright morning sun and a warmly familiar face. She’s tired, but the visit is most welcome.

“Morning, Vera,” she mutters.

Vera Par, her neighbour of forty years and a friend for longer still, reaches out a hand and places it on the door frame. Her laboured breathing is not in any way caused by her trip across two front lawns, of course. Or her recent hip replacement. No siree. “How’s she doing today?”

The two ladies turn around; at the other end of the antique-cluttered hallway sits a little girl, wearing a flowery dress and a head of messy blonde hair. The girl, no older than five, has her legs crossed, with a book in her lap, and Sheila’s only telephone in front of her.

“She’s still doing it then?” Vera asks, still panting slightly.

“Been up since six this morning, Ver,” Sheila replies. “Lord help me, I don’t know what to do.”

If Sheila’s daughter was here, she’d give her little girl a quick kiss on the head and promise her everything would be A-OK. And, what do you know, it would be. But she wasn’t here, not any more, and Sheila wasn’t sure it would be.

Vera pulls out a small handkerchief from her blouse pocket and hands it to her friend. “Poor child.”

* * * *

Claire plops the phone handset back in its mount. It’s much heavier than the one she usually uses when calling the Tooth Fairy and alike. She scribbles a line through another set of names and numbers in the book in her lap. She lifts back up the handset and dials the next number, tongue sticking out the side of her mouth as though reaching for one of her cheek’s many freckles.

The phone’s gentle ringing feels nice, like a soft, adoptive lullaby.

She waits, enjoying the sound, shifting her numb bottom on the hardwood floor. She reaches for a small glass of water which has been left next to her and takes a timid sip.

A click down the line.

“Hello?” Claire offers, her voice soft and weak.

A man’s voice replies, gruff and apparently very angry about something. “Yeah?”

Claire slams the handset back down before the nasty man can utter a second word.

She grabs her blue crayon and scribbles another horizontal line across the page. This time, however, a little sigh escapes from her throat. It’s been an awfully long morning.

She mumbles the next number to herself and dials the numbers, black digits on white plastic.

One ring and it’s answered.

“Hello?” Claire jumps in first.

“Hello there.” A female voice responds this time, much more welcoming than the last.

“Hello, my name is Claire. I live it Austin, Texas.” Her voice is all business now, still soft, but more matter-of-fact.

“Well hello there, Claire. I’m Jenny. How old are you my love?”

“I am four years old. I was wondering if you could please help me?”

“Do your parents know you’re using their phone, Claire?”

Claire glances around, where her Grammy is now talking to somebody in the doorway. “My Grammy does.”

“Well, OK then… How can I help you, lovely?”

“Have you seen my Mommy?”

“Have I,” Jenny pauses, “seen your mother?”

“Yes. Have you seen her?”

“No, I’m sorry, lovely. I’m not really sure I can help you.”

“Thank you.”

“Wait, if-”

Claire hangs up.

Blue crayon meets white paper once more.

She places down the handset, waits a moment, lifts it back up and dials the next number.

It rings. She waits.

* * * *

“How long can you let her do this?” Vera stares over her old friend’s shoulder at the little blonde bundle on the floor.

Sheila sighs. An all too-familiar-nowadays sigh. “As long as she needs, Ver. As long as she wants to do it.”

“But the funeral, She. She’ll have to be told sooner or later.”

“I know, I know,” she turns and faces little Claire who is now speaking down the phone, “but look at the poor thing. I don’t have the heart to tell her yet.”

Vera steps forward and places a reassuring hand around her friend’s shoulder. “Oh, Sheila.”

* * * *

Claire pops the phone down once more and sniffles. She lifts the hem of her summer dress and wipes her nose on it. There was a time when she’d be told off for doing so. What she’d give to hear her mother’s gasps just one more time. “That’s not very lady-like!” or “Princes won’t marry Princesses who do that!” – anything but the silence which now surrounded her.

She pulls the handset to her ear and takes in the next number on the page. She hasn’t even pressed the first number when-

“Claire, baby, is that you?” a familiar voice breaks the silence and lifts a heart.

“Mommy?”

* * * *

Sheila and Vera watch on as Claire chatters away down the phone. Whoever she is currently speaking to seems to be raising her spirits. Sheila smiles – the first in quite a while – as her only granddaughter giggles, eyes suddenly wide and bright. Lord bless you, she thinks, kinds words for the stranger down the line.

Claire hangs up the phone and spins to her feet, her dress flowing in the air like a tiny, cotton carousel. She bounces down the hallway, carefully dodging her glass of water, and bounds into her grandmother’s welcoming embrace.

“Don’t worry, Grammy,” Claire whispers, “everything’s going to be A-OK.”

Crazy in Love

They all told me she was mad, that I should stay away.

But I was helpless. Call it an invisible presence, call it a seductive aura; something about her drew me in.

“Come closer,” she whispered, her words floated through my entire body, resting alluringly in my head.

I approached, my eyes locked on her glistening blue spheres of enchantment. In her white gown, she looked like an angel.

She wanted me, I wanted her, this much was clear. Nothing else mattered.

I leaned in, wetted my lips in preparation.

Her strawberry lips parted; warm breath tickled my cheek.

“WILLY-WOLLY-WALLY-BOO-BOO!”

Damn.

The First Date

Something a little bit darker this week…

The First Date

It may have been January, and it may have been furiously snowing on the other side of the drawn curtains, but Barney Johnson was hot. God damn he was hot. He shifted down his collar in a desperate attempt to relieve himself from the living room’s unbearable warmth. It didn’t work. Even now, Jenny was finding ways to royally piss him off.

Barney glanced at Jenny from across the darkened room; she slouched into the living room couch under the window, he just through the French doors at the dining table. He stared at her long, blonde hair, which glistened every so slightly under the glow of her father’s reading lamp. He appreciated the curves of her maturing body and the glorious length of her track team pins. Damn, those things went on forever. Barney imagined them sliding open, and him slipping down to claim the forbidden prize in between.

“Tell me ya love me, baby,” he groaned across the room, his breath laboured.

Silence.

The lamp which created the soft glow on Jenny’s hair also cast a gloomy shadow across her face; Barney could not tell if she was asleep or just ignoring him.

“Baby, ya hear me? You love me, right?” He tried again. Still, nothing.

He forced himself up from the dining room table. The act took much more effort than it should have, especially for a professional athlete. Well, a boxer anyway. But, as far as Barney was concerned, this made him an athlete, even if he had more than let himself go lately. He still blamed Johnny Knox and that dirty cheap-shot in the fifth. The dirty, cheating, lucky bastard. Still, he’d tried to keep himself in shape the best way he knew how. Just ask Sammy Tippet, after Barney and a few pals had shared a workout with him last Friday. A couple of brewskies and a couple of uppercuts: the perfect Friday night. Barney recalled how cold it had been rolling around in the snow outside the Jurassic Joe’s in the wee small hours. Fuck, what he’d give for some of the Lord’s sweet dandruff at this precise moment. Now, Barney Johnson was so bloody hot he could barely breath, let alone get up from the dining room table. But he managed it, somehow, then ambled across the room to Jenny.

“Baby, I’m talking to ya.” He slumped down on the couch beside her, her svelte figure wobbling slightly as his considerable weight made an impression. Still, nothing replied but the tick-tock of Mrs Rollison’s clock.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock.

“It’s OK, baby, ya don’t have to say nuffin’.”

Barney ran his hand across the nape of Jenny’s neck, stretching out his fingers so they mingled in her hair. He leaned in closer and whispered in her ear, “It’s OK, baby, I don’t blame ya. I still love ya.” He leaned in and left a sloppy peck on her ear. Her skin’s icy feel felt so fucking good against his. Barney Johnson liked it.

“Damn, that feels so good, baby. Ya’re so good to me.” He spoke softly, as though not wanting to wake up his girlfriend, if he could call her that, he still wasn’t quite sure. “Even now, ya know how to push all me buttons.” The hem of her dress now riding up near her forbidden zone, Barney placed a warm, clammy hand on each of her snow-white thighs, groaning as hot skin met cold. He groped pleasurably, enjoying the chilly, fleshy relief, like gripping the can of an ice-cold beer on a hot summer’s day. “So goooood,” he groaned.

He pulled Jenny’s limp body across his lap, her pale complexion standing out so starkly from the couch’s red leather. She could easily be mistaken for a ghost. A fucking super-hot, cock-teasing ghost. Barney rested her head on his shoulder, allowing his long, chunky fingers to investigate every last inviting strand on her head. He allowed himself a long, lingering sniff, something he had wanted to do from the first day he saw her. Roses and cocoa, just like he had imagined. “I knew we’d be perfect for each other,” he whispered, before locking lips with the toned athlete’s shell. Her plump red lips, now slightly blue, offered no resistance. So cold, it was like taking the first sip of an ice-filled glass of soda. He resisted the hormonal urge – and the taunts of his friends in his head – to slip his tongue right down her frigid throat; it was their first date after all. One step at a time, he told himself.

First kiss complete, he rested her floppy head in his lap and began to stroke her pillow-soft hair, his eyes squeezed tight. “I knew we’d be perfect, and I think ya know it now, too. I know ya understand why I did what I done. Too many creeps out there, ya know. It’s best ya stay with me. I love ya so much, baby.”

“I know you do, Barney. I know you do.” Jenny said, her words filling his skull as though he wore headphones. “And I love you too.”

Barney smiled and placed a fervent kiss on her frosty forehead. “Ya’re the best.”

“But my parents will be back soon,” Jenny began, “I love you, but you’ll have to sort this mess out. If they find us…” Her words echoed in his head and Barney felt the heat inside him rise once more.

He wiped several beads of sweat off his own forehead with the sleeve of his sweaty shirt. Fuck, it was hot in here. Hotter than all god damn hell. “Oh shit, baby.”

Jenny Rollison was right. Annoyingly, she usually was. After all he’d done to make her his, her fucking parents would come home and ruin everything. Barney wasn’t having that. He wasn’t gonna let them take his Jenny-Bear away.

The first thing he’d have to do was figure out what to do with the body.