This story is our latest entry into our Humor Meets Horror Month. We love when Maria Roth comes to visit HO. She is a talented writer in so many genres. Enjoy this chilling tale!
Anna stood up and stretched, and waited for the final chapter of her novel to start printing. She sent a quick text message to Ben: Finished my book! Wish you were here to celebrate w/me!
Once her novel was published and became a bestseller, as all the teenage girls in the nation fell in love with Edward Jacoberg—the brilliant, sexy, nonviolent vampire who sometimes turned into a tame, soulful, piano-playing werewolf—Anna would finally have enough money to move to Toronto with Ben. Smart, sensitive, sweet Ben, who had always encouraged her to follow her dreams. He wasn’t a vampire or werewolf, or both, like the hero of her book, but she didn’t hold that against him.
The printer spat out the first page. Anna picked it up. “What the hell?” she said, frowning at the unfamiliar words.
I miss you so much, baby.
Oh my God, you scared the crap outta me.
I did this for you.
You dressed up in a hideous Halloween costume for me? Gee, thanks.
Anna sighed and sat down in front of her computer, scrolling through the text of her Word document, gleefully rereading the scene in which Edward Jacoberg proposed to Annalisa with an engagement ring hidden in a chalice of blood. Everything looked fine on the screen.
Another page dropped into the printer’s tray. Anna bent over to read it, alarmed to discover that the font size had increased. The words practically screamed at her.
There’s always been something missing. You were too nice to say anything, but I sensed it. You shut me out and created your Mr. Right and pretended I was just like him.
Now I’m perfect for you. In every way.
Anna clicked all over her screen, trying to figure out how to cancel the print job. Thank God Ben wasn’t here to witness her ineptitude. Do you know how much those ink cartridges cost? he would have griped.
“Stop!” she cried, jabbing all the buttons on top of the printer.
Another page, splattered with dark ink blotches, glided out, and a new page started printing. Exasperated, Anna reached behind the printer and unplugged it. It stopped immediately.
“Ha! Anna, one; demonic printer, zero.” Her smile faded when she spotted her name on the incomplete last page.
Shh. Hush, my darling.
I love you, Anna. I love you so much. Will you marry me?
The words must have been pulled from an old screenplay, Anna reasoned, or some file that she’d accidentally opened when she was browsing online—probably another virus. It had nothing to do with her. Nothing to do with the fact that she was dying to marry Ben.
“I miss you so much, baby,” Anna said, hugging Ben’s pillow tightly, inhaling the faint smell of his shampoo and aftershave.
Anna jerked her head toward the voice—Ben’s voice—and nearly fell out of her chair. Ben was home. Standing in their bedroom, panting. His skin was pale, greenish, sweaty—even worse than the time he’d been poisoned by a bacon-double-cheeseburger. Why were his hands so hairy?
“Oh my God,” Anna said, clutching her chest, “you scared the crap outta me.”
Ben tried to smile. His new teeth—wolf’s teeth—made smiling difficult. “I did this for you,” he said.
“You dressed up in a hideous Halloween costume for me? Gee, thanks.”
The Ben she knew would have laughed and removed the false teeth at this point, ripped the fake patches of hair off his hands, tossed the ketchup-stained shirt into the overflowing hamper, and apologized for scaring her. Apologized and ordered a vegetarian pizza while she cleaned the makeup off his face. This Ben blinked its black eyes and scratched its filthy cheeks until they bled.
“There’s always been something missing,” he growled, dragging his bloody claws along the bedspread as he approached her, disturbing the pile of crumpled papers. “You were too nice to say anything, but I sensed it. You shut me out and created your Mr. Right and pretended I was just like him.”
Page two of Anna’s misprinted document drifted onto the carpet, brushing her toe. There were Ben’s exact words, scripted in large boldface. Every single one of them. Her shocked response tumbled out of her mouth, right on cue. “No,” she gasped, talking more to herself than to the creature wearing Ben’s Levi’s.
“Now I’m perfect for you,” he said, reaching for her. “In every way.”
“Don’t,” Anna begged. The creature cupped her face with its clammy paws. “Don’t!” she shrieked, flinging herself at the window. The glass cracked, but held fast. A small gash opened on her scalp, dripping blood onto the stack of blank printer paper. She felt herself slipping down the wall, fading.
When Anna opened her eyes, she was staring through the gray shoelace loops of Ben’s old Nikes, the ones he wore when he mowed the lawn.
“Shh.” Ben bent over her, sniffing her hair. “Hush, my darling.” His moist, rotten breath stung her nose and his cold drool dribbled onto her cheek, mingling with her hot tears. Anna stared defiantly into his black eyes, searching for some trace of the man she loved within the beast. Ben grinned, and plunged his icy fangs into her soft neck. What would Buffy the Vampire Slayer do? Anna wondered, too weak to struggle.
Ben released her neck with a whimper. “I love you, Anna. I love you so much,” he said, squeezing her limp hand.
Anna said nothing. The oozing holes in her neck made it impossible to speak. Maybe he’d punctured her voice box. Idiot. She closed her eyes and waited, in agony, for what she knew was coming next.
The Ben-creature gulped. “Will you marry me?”
Anna shook her head furiously.
“At least look at the ring first,” Ben said. “It’s hidden in this chalice of blood.”
Anna played dead. She felt gentle pressure on her neck.
“I became a vampire and a werewolf for you,” Ben murmured, unwrapping two Band-Aids and sticking them over her wounds. “I’m Edward Jacoberg.”
Anna blinked her eyes. She wiped the blood off his prickly chin, and managed to whisper, “The printer’s broken, baby.”