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The Chase, Persephone's Dream in Meadow

There is beauty in all things. There is a distinct beauty in loss, regret, and sadness. There was a wake of this beauty left behind by Persephone everywhere she went. And yes, she was exceptionally stunning.

It took little more than a coy glance, usually. When she saw something she wanted, she always found a way to get it. The fact that she was a little cold, detached even, worked in her favour. It made the hunter feel that much hungrier. Not that they were ever truly fed. After all, "hunter" was more of an ironic term.

Persephone always thought that there was some kind of purpose to her work, a grand design. Not something functional, but artistic. Something to satiate the soul; it was food for the afterlife.

Normally, she was smart. Calculated. But for whatever reason, this time was different. Something about this one tripped her up. This boy… no, truly a man. This man had something, some characteristic she had never fallen prey to. This man was aloof.

Constantly on the move, Persephone never really had a place to call home. Her home was wherever she ended up, and once she had served her purpose there, she would move on. She neither feared repercussions nor faced the potential difficulties proposed by setting down roots. She simply had to spread her art; and share her work with the world.

This place was different. This "city," was truly more of a brutish landfill of waste, both physical and emotional. It was a contemptible town, one that she would be happy to say goodbye to. As soon as she had completed her latest masterpiece, that is.

Landing the job would have been easy for any pretty girl, but for Persephone, it was a joke. She saw him, the man on the subway, and had to give chase. He did not even notice. Perhaps he had poor eyesight? Her pure and natural beauty was hard to miss. She followed him to a dusty alley, in which he entered the backdoor of a large restaurant.

Naturally, as a predator to her prey, she patiently waited. Now and again, he came out to smoke, clad in the distinctive white clothing of a line cook. She had wasted almost a full day, but it would be worth it in the end. The longer the hunt, the sweeter the meat, after all.

As Persephone arrived at her apartment, she found a curious paper waiting on the other side of the door, no doubt slid under the crack.

"The Golden Fox

So swift is her movement, cunning is her gaze
Leaving every heart frazzled and dazed
The sheen of her coat, so beautiful and smart
It betrays the darkness that brews in her heart
The evil within, will no one else see?
This Golden Fox, she belongs with me."

A creeping feeling crawled up her spine, and it was not just from the shitty poetry. It would have been harmless, warranted even, if her latest conquest, young Danny, had left it. She was coming to the end of her time with him, his obsession and futility coming to fruition…

But it was not Danny. He would never leave something anonymous, let alone poetic. Either she had captured a new amorous victim in her web (which felt dubious), or one of her stepping stones had been unearthed. More likely the latter, as something about the phrase "Golden Fox" felt very familiar. It hardly mattered, whoever it was would be easily dealt with. She could make her new, strapping target deal with him. Hell hath no fury like a jealous man. She crumpled the letter into a ball and lit the gas range in the kitchen. Without any hesitation, she tossed the paper ball to the flames with a smirk.

That night, Persephone had a dream. Something that had eluded her nights of sleep for quite some time. It was a peculiar sort of dream, the recent object of her desire playing a pivotal role. She and him spent time together, doing strange and mundane things. It proved very enjoyable until it did not. He began to drift further from her, she felt as though she was constantly following his lead, dancing his steps. The dream-turned-nightmare culminated in a feast the two shared. He ate feverishly, like a starved animal in captivity. With every bite he took, she felt her control slipping; his autonomy grew. Ultimately, he ate his fill, stood from the table, and wiped the mixture of succulent meat's juices and red wine from his bearded, chiseled jaw, and took his leave. She was left unfulfilled and alone.

Persephone awoke feeling a tempest of emotions. She had never felt as though control was lost to her; never felt her desire fester and mutate into a need. She would have him, and he would be hers. A pet, a subservient dog. She would hold the leash until she had her fill.

After recovering from her abstract night terror, she looked into the establishment where he worked. An independent pub by the name of "The Huntsman's Bounty." She chuckled, it seemed a little on-the-nose, as fate would have it. She knew places like this were always hiring, especially young and beautiful women like herself.

She dolled herself up. Nothing overboard, just ensuring her glossy blonde curls carried their bounce, her rosy cheeks blushed and her eyes alone would control the interview.

One call and a short commute later, she was speaking to a manager. A pretty, middle-aged lady, a few years past her prime. The worst possible character for her charms, but Persephone was anything if not used to getting her way.

As the mundane questions washed over her, every answer was in the chamber, ready to be fired. Much to her vanity she could spy an alternating host of staff, ogling her from the kitchen window. They were hardly discrete. To her dismay, her broody bearded man was not among them. She began to breathe heavily at the thought of him.

"...Persephone? Are you okay?" The interviewer's words shook her from her mild daydream.

"Yes, sorry. I couldn't help but notice we have a bit of an audience…" she said with a giggle.

"Of course. I do my best to ensure a professional environment, but…" the interviewer took a deep breath as she continued loudly, her voice echoing through the empty dining room, "some young men have a hard time focusing on their jobs!"

With that, a minor scuffle could be heard in the kitchen, as all the faces scrambled and vanished. Persephone ceased her laughter and put on a serious face.

All things considered, the interview went pretty well. While she knew there was no way she would be rejected, she was certainly given cause to prove herself. It was no matter, though. Persephone was more than capable of waiting tables and serving drinks. As she gathered herself to leave, she looked back through the kitchen window. She saw him, finally. He was looking down, probably washing his hands. She steadied herself for the inevitable eye contact and prepared her most sultry smirk. Only, the inevitable never came. He promptly turned away from the window and disappeared into the depths of the restaurant's heart.

It was not the first time she had gone this far out of her way for one of her marks. She knew it would not be the last time, either. But still, it irked her that she had already devoted a full day to this one, yet she had not even learned his name. Suppressing her frustration, she gave a cordial goodbye to the woman who had interviewed her. Charlotte? Cheryl? Something with a shhh sound… no matter, she had time to get the details down.

As Persephone walked down the dusty street, bustling with construction, she felt a vibration. A phone call. As she checked who it was, a devilish grin crept across her face.


She silenced the call and slipped the phone back into her pocket. Feeling more confident and powerful already, she could almost taste his sorrow and anguish. He was probably losing himself, losing his grip. As much as Persephone never liked to stay in one place, or keep an identity for this long, something about the boys in this city were just so ripe for the picking.

Sleep that night was sound and restful for Persephone. She had neither a thought to cloud her mind, nor a dream to distract her. As she emerged from bed, that slowly changed. Preparing herself for her first day of work, something profoundly disturbing washed over her, something foreign and unnatural. A miasma of indecision plagued her, as thoughts of her rugged quarry wormed their way into her previously tranquil mind.

Persephone was nervous.

Within minutes, her tidy and neatly organized room looked like a proverbial massacre. The vast majority of her closet's denizens lay strewn about on the floor, like innocent casualties of war. A tube of sumptuous red lipstick was crushed underfoot, permanently one with the once-manicured carpet.

An alarm went off, entirely disrupting her manic state. It was time to leave.

Knowing she could not risk being late on her first day, she admitted defeat and prepared to finish her makeup on the commute. The thought alone was squick. She couldn't remember the last time she had let someone see her virginal face. Although a natural beauty, there was a strength in her makeup; the facade served as armour. Nonetheless, she now lacked any other option.

Arriving ten minutes early, she prepared herself for the typical introductions of a new job. There were vague outlines for how to deal with people, her engrained how-to guide on controlling her environment. Taking a deep breath, she reflected on them:

Be aloof with young men. Make them work for your attention. To older men, be the daughter they secretly lust for. To young women, exploit their insecurities while making them look to you for guidance. To older women, nothing but professional.

Working within that framework has always proven reliable. She did not care whether it was better to be loved or feared, for she always strived for both.

It was a slow Sunday brunch. As the air began to hold its chill outside, customers sought out cozier options, closer to home. This worked well for Persephone, she was not there for the money, after all. Taking advantage of the slower period, between the "advice" and "training" she was given by… Charlotte, Persephone introduced herself to the other staff. Sinking her fangs, deploying the venom, and allowing nature to take its course.

The kitchen proved difficult, however. There were a few occasions she had to be there to begin with. One such case was her offering the hostess a calculated break, in which she would take care of polishing the cutlery. As Persephone slaved away at the small service station just inside the kitchen, with a ratty rag that wreaked of vinegar, she tried to make herself as unobtrusive as possible. If she could simply spectate, she could understand the habits and customs of this kitchen. Awkwardly enough, she was met only with silence.

She knew the silence well enough. That deafening vacuum of all chatter that overwhelms the senses when you walk into a room in which you are the sole topic of conversation. It causes a sort of social stagnation. Everyone there is still thinking about you, still wanting to talk about you, but knows they can not. Not yet, at least. What was a girl to do?

Give them what they want, of course. Persephone was all too happy to talk about herself, even if hardly a lick of it carried any truth.

She attempted to peek around, but she could not see behind the pass. She knew there were at least three people in the kitchen, aside from her. The dishwasher, and two cooks, but she could only see the dishwasher, an older, stout, dark-skinned man. The only one from the kitchen who she had the pleasure of “speaking” with, so far. His name was… long, but he seemed nice enough, if not a little obvious about his wandering eyes.

“I miss the kitchen environment. It’s so nostalgic, for me," she said loudly, fighting the ambient drone of the fume hoods.

“You worked in a kitchen before?” A loud voice returned, as a chubby, pale face that carried beady eyes and unkempt stubble popped into the service window.

“Yep, I was the sous chef at a small place up north. The pay was pretty bad, so I moved on.”

“Why didn’t you apply for a kitchen job here then?” The man’s tone grew obtrusive and mildly antagonistic.

“Harder work, for worse pay? Jeez, I wonder why…" Persephone said sarcastically.

The surly man behind the pass began to chuckle, as the other cook walked out from behind the pass and looked at her. It was him. He leered with a mildly agitated expression, before swiftly walking out the back door, to the alley.

“Don’t mind him, he’s a bit of a bitch.”

“Who was that?” Persephone asked, eager to get any bit of information she could on her target.

“You’re here, talking to me, and yet you ask about the jackass who doesn’t say a word to you, and fucks off out back to smoke? Wow.” the surly man said, feigning offense.

Persephone faked a laugh, and asked “So, what’s your name?”

“Joshua. The sulking baby who just stormed out back is Farkas.”

Farkas… an unusual name. One that she had never heard before. It did not matter. It would be common to her tongue, soon enough…

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Joshua. I oughta get back out front.” Persephone said as she walked out with the cutlery roll-ups. Joshua grunted in acknowledgment.

The day continued to crawl by, with the brunch service coming to a lackluster close. But thoughts of this “Farkas” kept Persephone occupied. That brief encounter in the kitchen was the first time she had seen him head-on. He was much more handsome than she first thought. The way his white chef coat flowed with every movement, gave subtle hints of his toned and muscular back.

“Perhaps he has an inflated ego…” she thought to herself, as she viciously chewed the rear end of the innocent pen in her hand, like a hyena picking clean the last remnants of putrid meat from a scavenged kill. “...perhaps I can use that.”

As if on some destinal cue, from the depths of the kitchen he emerged He was changed into his street clothes. Without a word, he headed toward the door.

“Hey!” Persephone called out to him. He paused, sighed, and turned to face her.

“What?” he said curtly, setting a hostile tone.

“Nice beard. It’s not really a look for everyone, but it works for you.” Persephone said, hoping the mild neg would work in her favour. She shifted her weight and gave a slight nodding gesture as she cracked a superior smirk.

Much to her surprise, he simply stared at her in silence. She began to feel uncomfortable, as though she was losing her footing in this precarious dance.

“What I meant, Farkas, is that-”

“What the fuck did you call me?” he barked, interrupting her. His hostile tone made it clear that a cord had been struck.

“Y...Your name. It’s Farkas, right?”

“Don’t ever call me that. You know nothing about me,” he said as his face twisted with anger, before storming out the front door. Persephone could hear a boisterous guffaw from the kitchen, as Joshua's fat face peered from the window.

“What happened, what was that about?” the hostess, Laia, piped up with concern.

“I have no idea, he just snapped at me,” Persephone said, face doubly red with embarrassment and anger.

“That’s so weird, Frank’s normally so calm and collected. I’ve never seen him like that.”

“Frank…” Persephone thought to herself, fuming with rage. She turned her gaze to the kitchen to see Joshua, looking on with a shit-eating grin. “What an asshole.”

Persephone’s commute home was riddled with stress. Delays and detours on the public transit line certainly did nothing to assuage the fiery anger and shame that she felt. She was not used to falling prey to the jokes and games of others. She was not used to being targeted by these kinds of cruel pranks to begin with. Typically, she was the one behind such shenanigans. If it was not for her anger, she might have felt humbled.

Finally, she had arrived at her apartment. As she ran for the closing elevator door, a gloved hand emerged, causing the doors to slide back open.

“Thank you,” she said, breathing heavily. At least there were some small graces on this completely bamboozled day.

“Floor?” the well-dressed man asked.

“Four please,” she answered with a smile.

The stranger nodded his head and gestured toward the already illuminated button, numbered “4.”

As the pair exited the elevator after enduring a mildly awkward stretch of silence, they both turned left. Persephone kept walking, but she knew the stranger was close in tow, she began to grow concerned, but she always had something up her sleeve. She was more than prepared if one of her previous conquests were to do something erratic or track her down. She did, after all, make a point of never letting them know where she lived.

Stopping in front of her door, she gripped the small can of bear mace in her pocket tightly and turned dramatically.

"Can I help you?" She blurted out loudly, in hopes of stirring the attention of her neighbours.

“That depends, is this your home?” the man asked, as he nodded toward the door.

“Well, that depends on who’s asking,” Persephone responded, as she slowly slid the small tube out of her pocket, keeping her hand turned away from the stranger to hide it.

“That’s understandable. I’m Detective Stirling, of the Toronto Police Service. I need a moment of your time," the man said, as he slowly pulled a badge from his inner coat pocket. “You can put whatever that is away now, and I’m going to pretend I didn’t see it.” he gestured to her hand, firmly clasping the mace.

Persephone took a deep breath, briefly punishing herself for not reading the situation more accurately. She stuffed the spray back into her pocket and unlocked the door. “Please, come in," she said, hoping that she had not roused the attention of her neighbours after all.

She did her best to keep a calm, yet bubbly composure, but she could not prevent her mind from running wild.

“Where did I screw up?”

“How did it trace back to me?”

“Who was it?”

“Please, have a seat, Detective Stirling,” Persephone said, ripping herself away from her racing concerns.

“Thank you," the detective said, as he sat in the small chair across from her. The table between them served both as a sort of barrier, and a tentative battlefield. “You are Persephone Selinofoto, correct?”

"Yes sir, what's this about?" She feigned ignorance, knowing full well this had something to do with one of her victims.

"It seems there's been an unfortunate incident. Do you know a Daniel Tanner?"

"No sir, the name doesn't ring a bell…" she nervously put a hand over her brow, knowing immediately the mistake she was making in denying it. It was as if she was watching herself lose a game of chess, but was helpless to correct the wrong moves.

"See, that's very peculiar, miss. Your number was on Mister Tanner's phone, and there are multiple pictures of you around his apartment."

Persephone took a deep breath, calming her nerves before responding. She had been in similar situations and was already raking herself over coals about how poorly she had handled the conversation, so far. She was not in control.

"Oh! Tanner! I thought you said… Flanner. Yes, I know him. What's going on? Is Danny okay?" Persephone said faking concern that bordered on panic.

"No, he’s not. I'm sorry to tell you, but Mister Tanner has taken his own life." The detective’s gaze narrowed. There was something suspicious afoot, but he could not quite say for sure. “His girlfriend said she’d never seen you before and had no idea who you were when shown the photographs that covered his apartment walls.”

Persephone could feel a rush filling her, she had never been so succinct, so poignantly expedient and effective in her end-game. She had only known Daniel for a few weeks. The agony he must have been in… the hopelessness and despair… thinking about it renewed her, filled her with vigor. She could feel control returning, all the while hiding her true feelings. Crocodile tears began to stream down her face.

“Danny’s dead? Why, how? I can’t believe it, there must be some mistake!” she spat out hastily, her false panic and grief betraying the truth of her inner serenity.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” the detective said, with a frown and a nod.

Persephone’s tears ceased momentarily, and she took a dramatically deep breath. “Did you say his girlfriend? I had no idea…” her lies dripped like venom from a cobra’s fangs.

“Were you and Mister Tanner romantically involved?”

“Yes… no… Well, I mean, I hoped we would be…”

“Do you have any idea what reason he would have to place dozens of pictures of you throughout his apartment?”

Persephone’s hollow eyes betrayed the memories they held beneath. Memories of telling him that he did not appreciate her enough, that he was not “in love enough” for her; that he needed to worship her. Never were these demands said in such obvious ways, nor were they exclusive to any one victim. Her predatory and parasitic way of forcing herself into someone’s life, burrowing into their heart, and leaving nothing but a husk in her wake was fairly formulaic by now.

Danny proved an easy target. He was not unloved by friends and family, he just had a certain melancholy that plagued him. He could not see the forest for the trees, so to speak. The only time Persephone saw him smile was when she allowed him to smile.

She found him working at a sandwich shop. Immediately she marked him as prey. Her flirtatious nature goaded his self-deprecating and defeatist jokes. Not that they were ever actually funny, just pathetic. Something that she knew she could hint at to destabilize him, as time went by.

The cheery and encouraging remarks of "Oh, you're so funny," and "I'm so happy to be with you," rapidly turned into "You think that's funny, what's wrong with you?" and "Why do I bother…"

Sometimes, it takes time and effort to ruin the foundation that separates a man from the base, quiet, and pitiful child beneath. With Danny, it took no time at all.

“No, he seemed like such a normal guy,” Persephone said, emerging from her memories.

“Did he ever mention anything… cult-related? Did you ever witness him perform any sort of rituals?”

“No, no! Never anything like that. What is all this about? What did he do?”

“Thank you for your time, miss Selinofoto. I may reach out to you in the future with more questions. Please let me know if you intend to leave town,” Detective Stirling said, as he handed her his card.

The reality sunk in on Persephone. Deep down, she knew things were liable to catch up to her, now and again. So many victims. Too many to remember the names, but she could see all their faces every time she closed her eyes. Like a warm quilt of ecstasy-laden patches; like a lover’s intimate embrace.

Only now had she ever been this close to an investigation, a suspect. She not only knew that he would kill himself eventually, but she picked out the weapon and made him buy it. Would they link it to her? Would they find the shop he bought it from? Would the shopkeeper mention the pretty but upset young lady, convincing her stressed-out boyfriend to buy the ornate pocket knife? The knife he repeatedly said he could not afford?

“Detective Stirling!” She called out, voice trembling.

He turned to meet her gaze from the doorway.

“Would you like a cup of coffee? I don’t really want to be alone right now…” she said, putting on her best puppy dog eyes.

“I appreciate the offer, truly, but I need to get back to work. I’m sure a beautiful young lady like yourself has many people close to her that she can rely on...” he said suspiciously, as he began to close the door behind him, “have a good evening. I’m sorry for your loss.”

As the door closed, she exhaled a deep sigh. This whole debacle with Farkas… Frank… whatever his name was, had put Persephone off of her game. She had never been in such a twisted and frustrated mental state over a mere boy. Yes, a boy. If he was truly a man, he would have been more receptive to her advances, and more kind to her. He should have made the first move already!

It is no matter, truly. She will have her scruffy aloof prize, and when she does, she will feast on him until her heart is content.

The next day, she overhauled her approach. Feeling reinvigorated and refreshed, she knew that her current methods were not working, or at least not working fast enough. Classy was not catching his eye, so maybe getting a bit more flirty would do the trick. She dug through her meager wardrobe for a casual, yet revealing outfit.

She was scheduled for 10 AM, an hour before the restaurant opened for lunch. She entered through the restaurant’s rear door, to the kitchen. No music was playing, and the only one there was Joshua. His wide frame and sagging belly hung over the fryer, filled with blanching french fries.

“For a new girl, you spend a lot of time hanging around the kitchen,” he said, as she walked past the line, “maybe there’s something you see here that you like?”

At that moment, her quarry entered through the doors to the dining room behind her, two cups of coffee in hand.

“Maybe I do,” she said, as she leaned with her forearms on the pass, sticking her hips out and exposing her midriff, as her loose crop top Misfits shirt draped down just low enough to cover her bra. Her rear stuck out in a primal position, tight jeans accentuating her well-toned posterior. Her graceless position was reminiscent of a dog in heat.

“Feast your eyes, pigs…” she thought to herself. And they did. She felt Frank’s gaze on her from behind as Joshua leered at her breasts. Slowly, she turned her head to meet Frank’s stare. He was transfixed. If she did not know any better, she could swear he was salivating. She took this opportunity of attention and objectification and ran with it, shifting her weight from one leg to the other, moving her ass in a fluid and carnal motion not unknown to those who have worked the pole.

Finally, Farkas peeled his eyes from her exposed flesh and saw her looking back at him, with a coy smile.

“Day-um,” Joshua said with enthusiasm, “you gotta hang out in the kitchen more often.”

Farkas snapped out of the momentary fixation and made his way to the other side of the pass, beside Joshua. He set down the two mugs without a word and retreated to the walk-in fridge in the back.

Persephone decided to make herself scarce. She had laid some groundwork and caught his attention. The seed of carnal desire had been planted, now she just needed to get it wet. She glanced at the kitchen schedule, before taking her leave.

The day dragged on, as was expected in the slow season. As winter’s chill gave way to spring’s thaw, warmth began to carry on the breeze. Persephone found herself behind the restaurant, taking out some garbage. Frank sat on a milk crate, cigarette in one hand and a plastic one-liter container of soda water in the other. She threw the black bag into the dumpster and approached Frank.

“Can I bum a smoke?” she asked, leaning forward and squeezing her breasts together in a way that would make Howard Stern blush.

Wordlessly, he tapped a cigarette out of his pack and handed it and a lighter to her. She put the cigarette in her mouth and leaned against the dusty alley’s wall.

“Shouldn’t you wash your hands first?” Frank said plainly.

“Sometimes it’s okay to get a bit dirty, you know?” She said with a giggle. “Plus, it was all just bar chits and coasters.”

“Why do you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Why do you act like a slut?” Frank asked, with a deadpan glare. Persephone was caught off guard, she wasn’t sure how to respond.

“What the fu-”

“You’re a pretty enough girl, but you don’t strike me as someone who’s on the prowl for sex constantly. Why are you pretending you are?”

“Excuse me? You don’t know shit about me!”

“I’ve seen dozens of girls come and go from this place. I’ve been here for years. I’ve seen professionals and I’ve seen flirts. Eventually, you get a good sense of who’s who.”

Persephone gritted her teeth and crossed her arms. “So which am I?”

“Neither,” Frank said, as he flicked his cigarette butt toward a nearby storm drain, stood, and opened the door.

“How are you so sure?” she asked, genuinely curious now.

“You don’t have that smell about you,” he said, as he entered the restaurant, leaving the door to swing shut behind him.

Persephone was taken aback. She could not understand what to make of all this. All of a sudden, things did not seem quite so simple. One thing was made abundantly clear to her, though. Her conviction grew, and her resolve hardened. She had to have him.

The rest of the day was particularly uneventful. Persephone wondered to herself whether or not this restaurant could keep her on, with how slow business was. She knew she would have to ensure that she was the most valuable server they had, seniority be damned. Taking any spare time she had, to get ahead by cleaning and organizing, she found herself receiving praise almost immediately.

Later that night, Persephone was bereft of sleep, tossing and turning. More dreams plagued her unwaking mind.

She found herself lightly jogging along some rural streets. Before she knew it, the streets gave way to a sun-bathed field of lavender-like plants. They had rows of elegant purple bells cascading down over one another. As she appreciated the scenery, a feeling of dread began to grow. The sun darkened to gloom, and the plants began to wilt. Something was watching her.

Persephone tried to run back to the rural area she started in, but to her dismay, she was met with dirt paths and a rolling weald. Without options, she ran further and deeper into the darkened woods, away from the once beautiful meadow.

The crunching of leaves and twigs underfoot was echoed by whatever pursued her. She could tell the beast was toying with her, keeping pace, and gaining ever so slightly. The harder and faster she tried to run, the slower it felt that she moved, until…

Finally, she broke from the woodlands, into another smaller meadow. Red and yellow chrysanthemums formed a rim within the copse. Her heart was racing, as she panted heavily. She felt a terror she had not known before. She cried out in desperation, as her feeble-feeling body began to exhaust, to fail her. Rustling noises in the bushes behind her were overshadowed by a piercing howl. Her exhausted sprint turned to a pitiful shamble by the time it was upon her.

She was knocked to her chest, she felt the hot moisture of breath against her skin as beads of the beast’s saliva trickled down onto the nape of her neck. She rolled over and thrashed, kicking, punching, scratching, whatever she could do. The harder she fought, the tighter the beast had her pinned. Squeezing her eyes tight, she resigned herself to her fate.

The coarse hairs of the beast began to soften, and the thrashing between them began to slow and grow rhythmic. Her punches and kicks ceased, as her arms found themselves over the beast’s shoulders, her legs held aloft, pressed against the creature’s thighs. She could feel it… feel him, inside of her. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open, meeting the monster’s loving gaze. With every gyration of hips, every grinding of the thighs, she felt him in a way she had never felt anything before. Frank’s eyes stared back at her with a passionately tamed wildness behind them. A pressure began to build, and Persephone’s heart raced. The panting, the exhaustion from the chase, morphed into euphoria and ecstasy. At the moment that the pleasure grew too much as if she was going to slip away from reality, she pulled Frank’s face towards her own and kissed him passionately.

Only it was not Frank she was kissing. A large, warm, and wet tongue protruded from the beast’s snout, where her lover’s face had once been. She was overwhelmed once more with fear. The monster opened its jaw and brought it down to her neck.

Persephone woke, heart pounding out of her chest. She had never been so overwhelmed by emotion. Those same feelings from her previous dream, losing control, feeling powerless, they closed in on her… but this time, she somehow enjoyed it.

Her heart continued to pound as she lay in bed, taking deep breaths. She glided her hands down her neck, where the nightmarish jaws closed down, and continued feeling her body. Every spot it touched, every spot he touched. As she slowly reached the spot between her legs, she could almost feel his breath on her neck, taste him on her tongue.

Persephone peeled down her soaking wet panties and guided herself into a passionate bliss.

She rose early in the morning, feeling strangely energized. Memories of last night’s oneiric dalliance felt all too fleeting. Her morning routine was largely unchanged. She went for a jog, showered, did her make-up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and prepared to leave. The detective’s card on the coffee table caught her eye. She paused for a moment, in hesitation. But no. No. She was not going to get caught, she had not even truly done anything wrong! She refused to let that boy, that “Danny”, be the one that caught up to her. He was hardly worth her time anyhow. Not like Frank…

Her heart fluttered as thoughts of him filled her head. His lean but muscular build, obfuscated by his work clothes, his strong jaw laden in dark hair, his piercing green eyes with their subtle wildness… She took a seat on the couch nearby, as her legs could barely keep her aloft.

Taking a deep breath, Persephone picked up the card, walked into the kitchen, and set it ablaze on the gas range. As she held the corner of the card tightly, the flame slowly ebbed and flowed its way toward her fingers. The warmth grew as the fire consumed the card, leaving a thick and inky smoke in its wake. She closed her eyes and felt the heat grow immense, almost unbearable, before losing control of her grip and dropping the small flame. It burnt itself through before it reached the floor. Her fingers echoed the pain of the flames, reddened from the burn, yet it felt… tolerable.

Her phone pinged enthusiastically. Once, twice, and finally thrice. She pulled her phone from her pocket. Three texts from a number she didn't recognize.

"Hey, it's Brenda, from the Huntsman"

"Come meet up for drinks tonight"

"I'm off at 10, meet me then"

"Which one was Brenda…?" Persephone muttered to herself. Probably the friendly one, who kept saying "We should hang out!" with every other breath. She wasn't usually keen on befriending her coworkers, but something about the thought of rejecting the offer made her feel oddly lonely. Plus, this could be an opportunity to glean some insight into her knowledge of Frank.

"K. B there at 1030." She responded.

The day dragged on. She found herself surprisingly excited to go out. Thoughts of doing anything that would bring her closer to Frank occupied her mind. She had even considered "stopping by" the restaurant but found her thoughts too scattered to brainstorm a reason. Now and again she would interrupt her amorous daydreaming with self-flagellating thoughts, berating herself for her childlike fixation.

"Get a grip…" she told herself. A mantra that had always helped her focus on the bigger picture, feeding her needs. The thought of Frank left in despair in her wake, felt intoxicating yet bittersweet.

She bolstered herself with thoughts of "poor Danny Tanner", the miserable grub. He seemed hardly grounded when she first sunk her claws into his life. Sure, he had a girlfriend, but he was depressed. Depression was something she found easy to use. He was oddly interested in the occult, which is what made her twisted intention to make him worship her all the more poignant, if not a little ironic. His girlfriend probably blames herself, and in a way, it is her fault. If she was better in every way, perhaps "poor Danny Tanner" would not have been so devastated by Persephone's influence. She could have picked up the pieces of Danny’s crumbled emotional state and put him back together.

But why the hell should Persephone care, anyway? Ruminating over her conquests was never something that led to lamentation. Quite the opposite. She relished in her domination of the weak and naive “men” who thought themselves dominant.

Eventually, the hours passed and she found herself at the Huntsman's door. She went to the patio to find Brenda, still waiting tables.

“Hey, Pers! You’re early…” Brenda exclaimed when Persephone sat at the bar.

She had lost track of time, and perhaps in her eagerness, made her way to the bar by default. She looked at her phone.


She was early. Perhaps she would head elsewhere, find a way to kill time for an hour.

“Ah, yeah. I just stopped by, as I’m doing some stuff in the neighbourhood. I’ll be back in an hour or so…” she said, as she stood from her barstool.

“Nonsense!” A voice called, “Stay a while, your first drink’s on me. I don’t think we’ve met.” the older man behind the bar stuck out his hand for a shake, as his too-wide smile framed everything on his face above his broad, chiseled jaw.

Persephone took the man’s hand. His grip was just a little too tight to be appropriate. She winced at the discomfort.

“Persephone,” she said, as she forced a smile, doing little to hide her disinterest.

“Eric,” he said in response. “Now, what can I getcha?”

“Just a water, please.”

“I tell you that your first drink’s on me, and you tell me you want water? You are legal drinking age, right?” he jabbed, never once losing his cheeky grin.

“Alright, well, may I see the wine list?” she said with a sigh.

“Wine list? Well, ain’t you classy…” he slapped the wine list onto the bar in front of her, creating a small gust that sent her soft, glossy curls bouncing back.

“This guy’s rather obnoxious…” she thought to herself, as she perused the massively overpriced selection of wines.

"I'll take a glass of Bordeaux."

"Usually the staff just drink the house red, the discount doesn't apply to premium wines."

"Good thing I'm not paying for it then," she said with a grin.

Eric's face twisted in a mixture of frustration and admiration, as he walked over to the wine cabinet, pulled out a bottle, and poured a glass. He placed it on the bar in front of Persephone, leaving the open bottle on the counter behind him.

"Cheers," he said as he walked away. Persephone could see that he was watching her, but trying to keep it subtle. It was not.

She raised the glass to her crimson lips and breathed a sigh.

"Eric," she beckoned, "may I see the bottle, please?"

He walked over with a grimace. "Why?"

"This isn't Bordeaux."

Eric picked up the bottle and examined it, pretending that he had no idea.

"Oh, my mistake." He said, as he pulled out a new bottle, held it out to her with an overt sense of ceremony, and then began to uncork it and pour the glass. She greeted him with a smug smirk as he placed the new glass in front of her.

"You know your wine, eh? You can keep the other glass, no charge."

"I don't tend to drink shitty wine, but I'd rather not let it go to waste," she replied.

Persephone sipped her wine in solitude for about half an hour. She had already polished off the first two glasses and was onto her third. In her excitement and anticipation, she had forgotten to pace herself. She nearly finished her third glass, when as she calculated, Frank emerged from the kitchen. It certainly helped her plans, that the kitchen schedule was posted in the back.

Frank took a seat at the opposite end of the bar. Persephone tried to catch his eye, to gain an entrance, but once Eric placed the amber pint in front of him, it was as if nothing else existed. As she caught herself leering, she decided to go for a smoke and regain her composure. The last thing she needed was to come across as infatuated, which she made very clear to herself that she was not.

After asking Eric to keep an eye on her drink, she went to her locker, cutting through the kitchen. She knew there were backup cigarettes in her locker.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't my biggest fan!" She heard Joshua say, as she walked through. Hardly in the mood for small talk, she pretended not to have heard and continued to the lockers.

"...bitch." she heard him mutter.

Up the single flight of stairs, to the second level, she was met with a familiar note halfway stuffed into the narrow slit of her locker's door. As she opened the folded page, her concern turned to dread.

"My Golden Fox

She blends with the chickens, through stealth and guile
My Golden Fox, stay with me a while
An old flame perhaps, a jilted lover?
No, so much more, we're meant for each other.
How many times in how many ways,
Must I try to put an end to this chase?
Soon we'll unite, you will be mine
Our bodies as one, on each other we'll dine."

The last line gave her a chill. Not just from the creepiness of the poem, nor the invasiveness at which this admirer had intruded on her life, but from a feeling of helplessness. Was she in over her head here? Should she simply abandon this cause, this Frank, and leave town like so many times before? She had never given up a chase and never failed in her pursuit of transcendental happiness. But between the investigation into Danny's death, the cryptic poems, and her tempestuous new feelings… was it worth it?

She grabbed the small and ornate cigarette case, a gift from a bygone conquest, and headed back down the stairs and into the alley.

The cigarette ignited enthusiastically, its sizzling ember the only sound in the dark and quiet alleyway. She paced while racking her mind. This kind of predicament was entirely unprecedented.

"Maybe I should move apartments?" She thought to herself, but realized that only solved a single problem, and not even thoroughly. To leave her stalker behind, she would need to overhaul most of her life. But the thought of losing her big score, this brooding, bearded animal caused a pit to form in her stomach, a poignant feeling of loss.

"Hey there, stranger." A voice called out from behind her.

She turned to see a man between her and the back door to the Huntsman. He did not look familiar, but the voice stirred some memories.

"Sorry if I startled you. I guess you probably don't recognize me. It's Elliott!" He said, with a big proud grin.

The name did not ring a bell. Whoever this man was, it was obvious that he had undergone substantial plastic surgery, and it did not turn out well. His voice had a faint hint of a British accent which reminded her of her time in London…

Memories of one of her earliest pursuits, coincidentally one of her most messy, came flooding back. The young scholar who was “handsome, almost handsome enough…” As much as men try to be secure in their masculinity and vanity, there is an easily exploitable and fragile ego deep down underneath it all.

“My parents still haven’t talked to me since I left Oxford. I tried going home to them after you left. My mother wouldn’t even look at me, my father said I wasn’t his son.”

“What are you doing here?” Persephone asked.

“I’ve come to claim my prize, of course. Life is a journey, a quest. For every hardship and difficult moment, there lies some sweet reward. You used to always say something like that. I’m here to collect on the one thing I want, the only thing I need in life. School wasn’t for me, I never wanted to study medicine anyway. You helped me realize my calling, you’re the one who steered me away from school, and you’re the reason I finally found to make myself look the way I should...” Elliott trailed off as he stepped slowly towards her.

The glowing cherry on the tip of Persephone’s cigarette had reached down to the filter. A cool wind blew, taking the pillar of ash that was once a cigarette, barely holding itself together, along with it.

“It took a lot of money. All of it. Despite disowning me, I suppose my father didn’t close my access to the family accounts… not until after the surgeries, at least. Did you know South Korea has some of the greatest plastic surgeons on the planet?” his grin grew even wider.

“Listen, Elliott. I don’t know why you came all the way to Can-”

“No, you listen! No protesting. I’ve come for my prize. My notes to you were not an attempt to woo you, you’re already mine, you just don’t know it yet. Can’t you see that everything I’ve done is for you?” Elliott barked, his voice increasing in volume and intensity, as he stepped closer to Persephone. “Do you think I’m handsome now…? Handsome enough?” He languidly traced the taut skin on his face with his fingertip. He was now close enough to Persephone for her to see the wild and manic look in his eyes. The man was unhinged.

Her victorious feeling of reinvigoration, the thrill and intoxication of seeing her artistry at work before her, gave her the old passions of success. But in contrast, she felt a disturbed sickness inside of her. Disgusted by the man before her, his obsession and his appearance were all byproducts of her masterful manipulation, and he was utterly helpless before her. She created this Shelleyan monster, and she did not feel pride. A strange new feeling washed over her: pity.

Elliot charged toward Persephone, grabbing her by the shoulders, and pinning her against the dusty concrete wall. She fumbled through her pocket, in search of the mace, but had left it in her coat.

“Don’t hold back your love, Lisa, you’ll be mine once more…” he said, as he forcefully planted his lips over hers. She struggled, but he pinned her tightly against the wall. Using his rubbery lips and thick slug-like tongue, he pried her mouth open and forced his tongue inside.

“What’s going on here?” A familiar voice called, from the back door of The Huntsman.

Elliott was unphased entirely and crept his hands further down Persephone's frame while pushing his weight against her.

Upon hearing someone call out, she mustered the strength to push Elliott back and knee him in the groin. He recoiled, and bent over, as Persephone gained some distance between her and the amorous assailant.

“My… little fox, you play coy with me!” Elliott yelled, suppressing his frustration. “Do you know this man? Another thrall under your spell?” still hunched over, he raised a hand to point at Frank.

“Yes, he’s my boyfriend!” Persephone yelled, “Now leave me alone, you freak!”

Frank, ceased lighting his cigarette, made eye contact with Persephone, and gave a small shake of his head as he rolled his eyes. Persephone responded with a deep shrug.

“Boyfriend? No! No one else. There is only me and you! Nothing in this world will take you away from me, Lisa, my golden fox!” Elliot stood, half-recovered from the blow to his groin. He turned to face Frank. “Nothing will stand between us!” he continued, as pulled a switchblade out of his pocket.

It all happened in a flash, but to Persephone, it all appeared to be in slow motion. The twang of the spring-loaded blade protruding from its haft sounded the beginning of the proverbial masculine duel. No sooner had the blade crested its apex, fixing in place than Frank was already moving through the air at a seemingly inhuman speed. Elliott began to brazenly swing the knife in Frank’s direction, but within mere seconds, Frank was on top of him, repeatedly punching Elliott. No… not punching, he was thrashing wildly, like some primordial missing link between animal and man. The groans and grunts were savage and untamed, like a chained beast, too long bereft of freedom. Frank’s mouth opened wide, whether to howl in bloodthirst or to take a bite out of Elliott, Persephone could not tell, nor did she want to find out.

“Stop! Stop!” Persephone yelled as the profoundly unnerving sight caused her to overcome the paralysis of shock.

Frank’s gaze turned to her. He looked absolutely wild, as though if she were to get close enough she would become a victim to his brutal wrath as well. Slowly, as he stared at her, his face softened, and the wildness retreated. Elliott lay limp and unresponsive underneath Frank’s hulking frame, his hands were covered in blood.

“It’s over, please, stop…” Persephone whispered softly, carrying on the near-silence of the alley’s dusty breeze.

Frank stood, and paced back and forth, clearly racking his mind. Persephone could not tell whether he was scolding himself, or wondering what to do now.

“You… saved me,” she said.

Frank paused and turned to face her. With power and purpose, he marched towards her and grabbed her slender frame. Despite their relatively similar height, Persephone felt as though he was massive at that moment. He stared into her face, or rather, the beast behind his eyes did.

Persephone’s heart was beating out of her chest, and Frank could feel every thump of it. She was worried, terrified even. But above all else, she was entirely exhilarated. In a moment of savage passion, she threw herself further into his hold and locked her lips over his. He was immediately responsive, squeezing her tightly in his arms. She could feel the carnage of the combat smearing onto her from his brutal arms, but in that moment, she did not care. There was only one thing for either of them: one another.

Frank’s grip softened, as his hands glided down Persephone’s backside, firmly grasping her buttocks, and ripping a tear in the fabric with his seemingly obscene strength, revealing her panties. Her right hand cupped the bulge of his crotch as her left began to lower the zipper of his jeans. She reached inside and firmly grasped his manhood.

Suddenly, Frank stopped. He released her and backed up while taking a deep breath. He lifted his face upward, and closed his eyes, attempting to calm himself.

“What’s wrong?” Persephone asked, desperately.

“This. This is wrong, it’s all wrong. Who the fuck was that?” Frank said, nodding his head to the unconscious man on the ground behind him.

“He is… He was an ex-boyfriend of mine, from a long long time ago. I think he’s been stalking me, he left me these creepy notes!” Persephone said, as she hastily pulled the poem from her pocket and thrust it toward Frank.

Frank snatched the paper out of her hand and perused its contents. If he was not so fired up, he would probably have laughed.

“Why did he call you Lisa?” Frank said, turning his leer from the page to Persephone.

“It was a nickname he gave me. He said I looked Russian, and that Lisa was Russian for fox, or something like that.” Persephone hastily explained, in half-truths.

Frank turned to look at Elliott’s limp frame. Suddenly he tensed up and put his face into his blood-crusted hands.

“What, what’s wrong?” Persephone asked, as she approached him, and placed a hand on his back.

He brushed it off and stepped away from her, as he stared at the slowly growing pool of blood underneath Elliot. “He’s dead.”

“No… no he can’t be. You only knocked him around a little.” Persephone said as she raced over to her former “lover”. She placed a finger on his neck, hoping for a pulse, and she waited.

And waited. And waited. Nothing.

“What the fuck am I going to do? I’m going to jail, or worse, they’ll deport me!” Frank said angrily, as he dug his fingertips into his scalp.

“No, no. I’ll say he attacked me, that you defended me, it’s the truth anyhow!”

“It doesn’t matter, he’s fucking dead. I’m fucked, simple as that.” Frank said.

“Leave. Leave now, I’ll call the cops, and I’ll say some random person helped but ran off.”

Frank turned to her with a dubious look in his eyes, before walking down the alley, picking up speed into a run.

“So this guy, you don’t know him?” the constable asked Persephone.

“No, he was deranged! He kept calling me Lisa,” she said, in the most trauma-stricken voice she could muster.

“After he pinned you against the wall, what did he do?”

“He…” she paused, and allowed a bit of time for the waterworks to start, “he used his knife to cut my jeans open, he was trying to rape me.”

“I’m sorry miss, I know these questions can be very unsettling, but we need to keep going. Can I get you some water? A hot cup of coffee?” the constable asked, kindly.

“A coffee would be nice, thank you.” she smiled thinly.

The moment the constable left the uncomfortably barren and sterile room, a familiar suit entered, as the man inside of it sat across from her.

“Miss Selinofoto…” Detective Stirling began, “This has been a terrible week for you. I’m sorry.” he said, as he stared at her with an entirely neutral expression.

“It really has,” she responded, drifting into a sob and dabbing at her tears with a tissue.

“As soon as I saw your name pop up, my curiosity peaked, you understand.”

Silence filled the room. They both stared at each other, as two masters of their respective “craft”, who had potentially met their match.

“I looked into this fellow, this Elliott Ambrose. He hadn’t been here for more than a week. Came from London last Thursday. Do you have any idea why he came here?”

Persephone shook her head no, so slightly as to hardly have been noticed at all. But the detective noticed.

“I need you to be absolutely honest with me, Miss Selinofoto. Any information you keep from me can only serve to harm you…” Detective Stirling said as he shifted forward, forearms on the table. “Did you know Elliott Ambrose?”

“No, I’ve never seen that man’s face in my life,” Persephone said sombrely. She knew that lying to those who were good at catching lies was best done via half-truths.

“That’s unfortunate.” Detective Stirling said, as he stood from his chair and exited the room in frustration.

After another minute or two of lonely silence, the previous officer came back with two cups of coffee and resumed asking Persephone for more details of the attack, most of which were stretched facts, all obscuring one big lie. The man who saved her.

As Persephone lay in her bed that night, she knew she was not going to have a restful sleep. It was already three in the morning, and she could not clear her head. So much excitement all crammed into one night. Everything that happened with Elliott, Detective Stirling… and Frank. At least she could be certain about the way Frank felt if what she felt in his pants was any indication. Just the thought of it made her heart race once more.

"No, I definitely won't be getting much sleep tonight," she thought to herself, "but that's fine with me…" she smiled as one hand cupped her breast, and the other slid down below her waist.

The following day, Persephone felt as though she was walking on air. The sun was brighter, the world had more colour... even her coffee tasted better. The negatives from last night had all but washed away by the time she finished her shower. All that remained was her brief moment with Frank. It was intense, more so than ever before. Last night, in her bed, she enjoyed a more passionate release than ever before in her life, and that was something to be said. Strangely, she felt nervous, scared almost. But at the same time, it all fueled her excitement.

She could not wait to see Frank again.

Almost immediately after arriving at work, Charlotte pulled her aside.

"I heard about what happened last night. You don't have to be here. Take all the time you need," Charlotte said, "and if you want someone to talk to, I'm here to listen."

"I appreciate that, I really do. I think being here is exactly what I need right now, to keep myself distracted. You know?"

Charlotte nodded empathetically, with a forced smile.

Persephone was not lying. Truly, she wanted to be nowhere else. That is unless Frank was not around. She entered the kitchen in search of him.

The moment she walked through the door, she saw him glare at her, and storm off to the back. She followed.

"Hey…" she said softly.

Frank stormed up the stairs once he heard her speak. It was as if he was avoiding her. Frustration began to build inside of Persephone. She raced after him.

"So now you won't even talk to me?" She yelled as he sifted through his locker, in the hallway.

He pulled something out, squeezed it tightly in his fist, and turned to her. "What do you want from me?"

"I want you to face what happened between us last night!" Persephone hissed, keeping her voice as quiet as she could, despite her intensity. "You can't deny that you enjoyed it-"

"I did not enjoy losing control. I work tirelessly to keep myself in check. Everything I do is all to build up my restraint…" he trailed off.

"I meant us, what happened with you and me."

"With you," Frank paused and took a deep breath, "it's like all my efforts are in vain. I can't keep myself under control with you around."

"You don't have to hide who you truly are… not with me," Persephone said, as she wrapped a hand around his fist.

"You don't know who I truly am…" he said, as he pulled his fisted hand away.

"Because you won't let me! Let me know you, the real you!"

Frank closed his eyes, and turned his face upwards, taking deep breaths as though meditating.

"Fine. But you must promise me, you'll keep this on you at all times." Frank's fist extended toward Persephone, turned over, and uncurled to reveal a small trinket. It looked to be a splinter of ivory. Maybe some creature's tooth, cast in a silver inlay.

"What's this for?" She asked.

"Just… hold on to it." He said as he closed her fingers around the small talisman.

They stood, staring at one another with a quiet intensity. Persephone leaned in, hoping for a kiss when something interrupted them.

"Where's the fuckin' focaccia?!" Joshua yelled from down the stairs.

Frank sighed, nodded to Persephone, and walked off to the freezer room.

Persephone was left hungry, her lust for Frank's attention felt insatiable. All she wanted was to be together with him. She opened her hand and examined the small trinket before stuffing it, and her purse, and into her locker.

Mustering her courage, she followed Frank to the freezer room.

"When can we see each other?" She blurted out.

Frank simply stared at her with a passive disinterest, like a dog to the toy he'd just finished playing with.

"Outside of work, I mean…" she pressed, trying to stave off the awkward silence.

"Tomorrow afternoon. You can come by my place. I'll text you the address." He said, pulling out his phone to text her the details. “And remember what I gave you. Keep it on you at all times.”

Within the hour, Frank was gone. He had finished his shift and left without saying goodbye. Persephone tried to reassure herself, "it's all part of the chase," she thought. It was perfectly natural for one party to play aloof, although she had never been on the receiving end of it.

The next day, Frank was not at work. Persephone did her best to fight the urge to text or call him. How she longed to hear his voice or read his words… there was something so intoxicating about him. Some kind of "animal magnetism", as it were. The words of her manager, Charlotte, snapped her out of her thoughts.

"That detective came by again, looking for you. He said it wasn't urgent, but that he needed to speak to you. Maybe they found the vigilante from… what happened the other day."

Persephone nodded absently. How dearly she hoped he'd never be found. A sudden vibration pulled her attention to her phone. A text from Frank.

"Cops sniffing around my place. Don't come over."

Her heart sank as she read his words. Hastily, she responded.

"Come to my place tonight, you can stay with me as long as you need."

The shift dragged on. Ritualistically, Persephone checked her phone every few minutes. No response. She struggled with the notion of sending him a follow-up message but decided she needed to stay strong. She was already more than a little ashamed of how low she had allowed herself to fall. She had been practically groveling, a slave at his feet. Persephone assured herself that she needed to maintain some dignity.

That evening, she sat on her couch in silence. Absent-mindedly, she had forgotten her purse at work. Thankfully, she had her phone and wallet in her coat pocket. She needed nothing from her purse urgently, anyhow.

Her anxiety regarding Frank's possible rejection grew and festered into a consuming fear, which in turn gave way to worries about whether or not the cops had picked him up. Maybe they had pieced it all together?

As if on cue, her phone began to ring. Her heart skipped a beat.

"Detective Stirling TPS…"

Just as quickly as hope had filled her, it was dashed away, replaced by a malicious sense of self-preservation. Perhaps she did need to leave? Run away, start afresh in a different city, a new country… but she struggled with the thought of losing Frank, never seeing him again… they'd never even had-

A heavy knock at the door startled Persephone into dropping her phone. She raced to the door, pressing her eye to the peephole. Time seemed to stand still, as she laid eyes on the grizzled and haggard man in a puffy coat and a PPE mask, fidgeting agitatedly.


Hastily, she opened the door. He barged in, closing it behind them, and dragging her heavy couch in front of it with ease.

"What's going on? What's wrong?" Persephone asked, keeping herself from panic.

"They know it was me. They were at my house. One of them saw me in the neighborhood, and he chased me. I tried to run, but he caught me in an alley. I couldn't… I don't know why… I couldn't help myself."

"What, what happened?"

"He pulled his gun, then everything went black. When I came to, he was dead. And… and I…" he said as he unzipped his puffy jacket and removed his mask, revealing a mass of carnage beneath. Amongst the gore that decorated his face and naked torso, Persephone spotted a weeping crimson hole in his chest, about the size of a quarter.

"You're hurt…" she said, placing her palm over the wound.

Quickly, he slapped her hand away and backed up.

"Since you've been in my life, everything's changed. Everything I thought I'd finally put behind me has come rushing back!" Frank said, his voice took an accusatory tone.

"It's been the same for me! You've made everything I work towards melt away, all the anger and contempt. I don't want to hurt people anymore. I just want to be happy… with you."

"Hurt people? So that guy from the alley…"

"Don't you see, we're the same, kindred spirits!" She pleaded, stepping towards Frank.

"You're… like me?" He paused, turning his gaze to the mess he'd caused on the floor.

"Let's get you cleaned up, come on."

They walked off to the bedroom together, as muffled sounds from Persephone’s phone fell on deaf ears.

Persephone leaned anxiously against the bathroom door, as the sounds of the running shower dared her to enter. She couldn't get the image of his muscular and bloody chest out of her head. Her thoughts began to turn to his naked body, in the hot, wet shower. She could bear it no longer.

Edging the door slowly open, she saw his silhouetted frame behind the curtain. He stood entirely still, as she slowly crept in, closing the door behind her. The steam of the small bathroom made her shallow, bated breaths more laboured. Her heart raced. Picking up the tattered remnants of his shirt, she could smell his natural musk. Strong, bitter, but intoxicating.

Taking a deep breath, she dropped the scrap of clothing and began to undress. She stood for what felt like an eternity, filled with tension and desire. The steam began to cling to her smooth naked flesh.

Suddenly, the water ceased. Reality sunk in. Persephone was scared but excited. She felt as though her entire life had led up to this moment.

The curtain violently thrust open, revealing Frank's dripping, naked frame. He leered at her, as though about to salivate.

"I…" she began, but she could say no more.

Frank burst out of the shower and pinned her against the wall. Within moments, he was inside of her. Barbarically he thrusted, as her legs flailed wildly before wrapping around him. His hot, wet skin pressed against her. She could feel how naturally hairy he was.

He continued penetrating her forcefully, and both of them were lost in the carnal embrace of euphoria. They began to passionately kiss.

Knocking, again and again at the door could not be heard over their own rhythmic pounding. Nor could either party hear the ringing from her cell phone.

Never letting himself slip out of her, he carried her to the bedroom where they collapsed to the bed, her legs locked around his waist.

"Police, open the door!" Came muffled from the hallway. Frank ceased the passionate affair, pulling out of Persephone and looking her in the face. She stared back at him, helplessly.

His face was wild, no more the Frank she knew. He had the look of a wild animal, savage and raw. She began to feel afraid.

The pounding at the door continued, as Frank pushed himself inside of her once more, his thrusts growing in ferocity. Persephone began to push against his chest, to protest and cry out.

Frank was entirely lost to his bestial nature. His hands grasped Persephone's face and pressed tightly. One hand over her face and mouth not only prevented her from screaming but from breathing altogether. Tears slowly slid down her face as a crash was heard.

"Police! Come out with your hands up!"

Frank thrashed and flailed, ripping his hands from Persephone’s soft face and recoiling from the coitus. She was launched against the wall, like a ragdoll, bruised and broken. He turned to face the hallway in which the officers approached.

"Stop, or I will shoot!" One officer yelled.

"Jesus fuck, is that a man?!" Another officer exclaimed.

In a blur of speed, Frank rushed at the officer. In seconds, he was tearing him to shreds. The deafening pangs of gunshots rang out… then silence.

Detective Stirling stood over the corpse of the young officer, mauled to death and crushed under Frank's naked body. Both were dead.

"Miss Selinofoto?" The detective called out, stepping over the gruesome scene on the floor. In the bedroom, he found her. Curled up in the corner, naked, bloody, and weeping.

"Miss Selin-" he stopped, as he grabbed a blanket off of the bed, and wrapped it around the young naked woman. "Persephone, you're safe, he cannot hurt you anymore."

She paid no heed to the detective's words, as though he was not even there.

"Answering my call, leaving it off the hook, and trying to stall him was brilliant. We may not have made it in time, otherwise…" the detective tried to reassure her.

"Is… is Frank dead?" She croaked.

"Frank? He's gone... he won't bother you anymore."

She stifled her cries and wiped her bloody, tear-streaked face into her blanket. She took a deep breath and looked at the detective, revealing her hideously disfigured face. Half of which had deep, claw-like streaks through it, the other had no skin at all. An eyelid was missing entirely, and her nose barely clung to her ruined visage.

"Detective…" she began sombrely, "am I still beautiful?"



Written by Tewahway
Content is available under CC BY-SA