Eric Neher

The October Editor's Pick Writer is Eric Neher

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by Eric Neher

A warm breeze joined with the rising full moon, creating silver capped waves on the surface of Lake Eufaula, as they walked hand and hand across the shadowed beach. Far away, the hoot of an owl was answered by another.

“I love this time of night,” he said, giving her hand a squeeze. “It’s so…undisturbed.”

“It’s like another world,” said Marlene. And for her it really was another world, with many dark secrets, shared through whispered tales of fear. When you got down to it, that’s what fear really was: stories told in the dark.

The rays from Artemis did little to ease that fear. Its light put the world in a state of illusion, casting shadows within shadows, illuminating unrecognizable silhouettes that were there, and then gone. “Do you know what a Blue Moon is?” he said suddenly, as they paused to listen to the crashing waves.

“I don’t,” she lied, this would be her fifty-eighth.

“It’s when there’s a full moon twice in one month,” he said. “It’s very rare, only happens once every three years.”

Marlene smiled up at him. “I thought you said you were a doctor.”

“Astronomy is my hobby,” he said. “I took a few classes in my senior year at Yale.”

Marlene gave him the look that she knew he was hoping for, and said, “So you’re Ivy league.”

“That I am,” he said, and leaned over for a kiss. Marlene pretended to shy away.

“Hey,” she said. “We just met.”

He pulled her close, and she could feel his hardness pushing against her. It wouldn’t be long now.

“Don’t be like that,” he said. “I really like you.”

“I can tell,” she laughed.

“Listen, I’ve got a place on the other side of the lake, indoor pool and movie room. You should let me take you there.”

Again Marlene put up the coy fight that he was expecting, but after a few back and forths, finally agreed to go. Would it happen there? Is that where he was planning on killing her?

They walked back towards his Lincoln in silence. A sudden chill ran up her back. What if this was the last time? What if there was no coming back? A deal’s a deal. That’s what she had been told all those years ago, and so far it had been true. Still, a deal was only as good as who the deal was made with.

You get like this every time, she thought to herself, as they stopped at the back of his car. Marlene watched as he popped the trunk open and pulled out a tire iron. She didn’t try to run or scream; she just stood there as he brought it down, smashing the side of her face. Then came the darkness.


The second time her head hit the top of the trunk, Marlene Staple awoke. The muffled whine of the tires turning underneath gave her something to focus on, something other than her swollen cheek, or her friction-burned hips that were barely covered by her ripped panties. She lay there in the darkness, curled in a fetal position, unable to move. He was taking her somewhere to kill her.

The rope that held her hands bound together was loose, obviously done by an amateur. The man that she had met at The Luna was just that, an amateur. His methods for online seduction left a trail as bright as a falling star. Amazingly, through sheer luck, he had not yet been caught. He was handsome, she had to give him that, and a good talker. Together they had gone through not one, but two bottles of Sauvignon blanc. A hefty bill that he had demanded to pay. A true gentleman. And that was just the beginning.

Another bump bounced her off the roof of the trunk. With just a little effort, her hands became free, and she began crawling them around in the dark until she felt the leather strap of her purse. She reached in and felt the flat, smooth, surface of her cell phone. The idiot had actually put her phone in the trunk with her. Obviously, he thought that she was dead. He had probably done this a couple of times before, and was overly confident, considered himself a pro. But these guys fed their egos with every kill, becoming too focused on their success, and not paying enough attention to the crime...amateur.

Marlene slipped the phone out of her purse. It showed full bars. She switched on the light. To her right was the same crowbar that had put her in this situation to begin with, beside it was a shovel. A little further down was some kind of saw, its long blade sticking out at its cordless base. A  blue tarp lay folded over her feet. He certainly had plans. She switched her phone over to camera and took a picture of the tools, she then flipped it over and gave it a wide, black and blue smile. Just another one for the book.

The vibrating whine of the wheel began to slow down, her body shifted as the car turned right. A clunking sound echoed throughout the trunk, as bits of gravel bounced off of the bottom of the car, like an upside down hailstorm. Marlene checked the time, it was 12:45, she then checked her text messages, Mike had sent her three. There would be plenty of time tomorrow to apologize to him for breaking their date. It was her fault for making it in the first place, for losing sight of the cycle. A deal’s a deal, after all. Interesting, considering that everyone who had benefited from that deal were long dead. Marlene placed the phone back into her purse.

The car slowed to a stop and the motor shut off. She listened as the driver’s side door opened and then shut. A sudden tingle began to work its way up and down her body, like tiny, electrified, fingertips. The moon must be hovering high up in the sky by now, its silver rays blanketing the ground. A welcoming mat for the one who was waiting.

The trunk opened, and for a second his silhouette stopped, surprised, and unsure of what to do next. Marlene just lay there looking up at him through puffed up eyes.

“Get out,” he said finally, reaching down and grabbing her by the hair. Marlene struggled out of the trunk. “Why aren’t you dead?”

“Is that want you want?” she said. “I thought we were having such a good time.”

The man reached into the trunk and pulled out the tire iron. “Let’s go.”

“What about that other stuff?” she said. The tire iron slammed into her arm, dropping her to the ground. Marlene felt herself being drug to her feet by her other arm. She found herself suddenly leaning up against this man, her eyes just a couple of inches away from his. They reflected from the moon’s light with an emptiness that could never be filled. Two soulless windows with only a black, and vacant, space behind them. 

“Let’s go,” he said again, pointing the tire iron towards the tall, shadowed, wall of trees.

Marlene followed a narrow path that tunneled its way under the dark canopy of oaks and cottonwoods. A sudden rustling came from her right, from some frightened creature scampering off. A silver gleam appeared in front of her, seeming to blink, it was just an empty beer can, crushed and forgotten. From behind her the man was quiet, his steps barely heard over the rustling leaves, like a stalking cat. Soon the trees became thinner, more spread apart, and she suddenly found herself standing on the bank of a small pond.

“Stop,” he said. “Take off your clothes.” She turned around and looked at him, her face throbbing, her left eye now completely closed. If he was going to kill her then so be it. But rape was never part of the deal. “Take them off,” he said again, raising the crow bar.

“No,” she said.

“Bitch! I said take your fucking clothes off!”

“Fuck you!”

She brought her hand back to another time zone and let it fly, slapping the man, staggering him back three steps, watching as he dropped the tire iron at her feet. Marlene reached down and picked the tool up. The man stood there rubbing his face in shock, for a second it seemed as if he had forgotten what he was doing, then he looked at her, and his hand dropped.

Marlene lifted the tire iron and he jumped back. She began to laugh. “You really are a coward, aren’t you?”

She turned, throwing the iron into the pond. The man stood there for a moment, baffled. This woman had the advantage, and for him that’s what this was all about, the advantage. To be the killer or to be the killed. It was a game, a wonderful and erotic game. And she had thrown her winning piece away.

Suddenly a strong urge to flee washed over him, a warning had begun to flash dimly in his mind, growing brighter, as he motionlessly stared at this crazy lady.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “You’re not scared of me, are you?”

She walked towards him, and he began to back up. From somewhere, deep in the woods, a sudden chorus of yipping coyotes opened up. The man’s wide eyes darted from left to right, like a cornered animal looking for a way out. For a moment she thought that she had gone too far, that this man was going to run and leave her unable to complete The Cycle. Losing a murderer hadn’t happened in the over three hundred years since the bargain had been made.

“You’ll do good in jail,” she said. “They like pretty boy rapists.”

Something clicked, she could see it in his vacant eyes, as they suddenly narrowed. He took a step towards her and stopped.

“Come on,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”


The man rushed her like linebacker, plowing his shoulder into her belly, knocking her back into the water.

At first he paused, unable to believe the lack of fight that she put up. He reached with both hands, wrapping them around her throat, pushing her head under the water. Still, she didn’t fight, didn’t struggle in the least.

Maybe the bitch is suicidal, like those guys who get shot by cops on purpose. For five minutes he held her head down, until he was sure that she was dead. He then lifted her up by her matted hair, her lifeless eyes looking back at him. He gave her a quick backhand slap, she didn’t move, didn’t blink. She was dead.

The walk back seemed to take forever. He was exhausted and the thrill that he usually felt after completing such a wonderful task was absent. This woman had unnerved him, the way she had egged him on, practically daring him to kill her.

It wasn’t natural. Women were strange and confusing; he had known this all of his life. They had teased him from an early age, even his own mother, who liked to walk around naked in their house, just begging for him to touch her, constantly teasing him…daring him. Just like this woman had.

The trees came to an end. The man stopped at the edge, pausing to catch his breath. It had been a long night. The car sat just fifty feet away, its trunk still open, the moon giving it a ghostly quality that he didn’t much care for. He looked forward to getting back to his one-bedroom apartment and watching some television, and putting this whole night behind him.

He started towards the car and stopped. A sound came from behind him, something faint but undeniably there. It was probably just a deer, he told himself. He was in the country, after all. Again he began to make his way to the car, and again came the sound, louder this time, closer.

He turned back to the treeline. The only thing he could see was darkness, the trees looked like they had been painted together with long strokes of black and gray.

Suddenly a streak of silver flashed through the shadows. He felt a chill run up his spine. That was no deer. Slowly he began to back away, listening. From somewhere along the treeline, a low stuttered hissing began, the man froze, his heart pounding in his ears.

It wasn’t hissing…it was laughing. Bumps formed on his body from head to toe, his knees began to shake uncontrollably, as every nerve ending suddenly fired up at once, screaming for him to run. But he couldn’t, something already had him.

It came out of the darkness, like a shimmering silver light. It was floating above the ground, its face rippling, as if he were looking at something from under the water. The man felt his pants grow wet, his entire body now shaking, unable to move. As it drew near he could see that it was a woman, or something like a women. The body shifted from side to side, there, and then not there, until suddenly, it hovered right in front of him. A smile appeared within its flickering face.

It was her!

The dead woman had followed him back from the pond, her face had aged, but there could be no doubt. The moon was becoming brighter, its light burning into his skin. Suddenly the woman reached out with long, bony, fingers, and latched onto his throat.

The man felt the coldness of her grip shoot down his body, like jumping into a pool of icy cold water. Images began to flash in front of his eyes; a short, dark haired woman, it was his first, who lay buried in a shallow grave just three miles away. She was there now, standing next to him, her ripped paisley dress still hanging from her rotting corpse. Another women appeared, her throat decorated with the slice he had given her. Never again, he had told himself afterwards. Too messy. And yet another appeared, wandering out of the woods. Like some lost child looking for a way home. It was a child, almost, and he remembered her well.

A scream suddenly rang out into the night, as one by one their faces ripped apart, revealing scale-covered skin, fangs dripping. The woman squeezed tighter, silencing him, until all he could do was watch in terror.

“You have earned this,” the woman hissed. “And for that, we thank you.”

Suddenly she let him go. He stumbled back, afraid to turn around. Finally, he did turn and ran for the car. The three women fell upon him, pulling him to the ground and tearing through his flesh, like a starving pride of lions. He began to shriek out in terrified pain, but was cut short. Soon all that remained was the crimson colored grass, hidden in the bright moons light.


The phone rang just after sun up. At first the man tried to ignore it. Who the hell would be calling this early? Finally it stopped. He breathed a sigh of relief and rolled over. It started again, he sat up and grabbed the phone off of his night stand. He saw the caller ID and he couldn’t help but smile.

“Hey you,” he said.

“Mike, I’m so sorry about last night.”

“Hey, Marlene,” he said, palming a yawn. “It’s okay.”

“Baby,” said Marlene. “I need a ride.”

Eric Neher lives in Blanchard, Oklahoma with his wife Tammy (The Traveling Nurse) and son Garrett. His other two children, Wyatt and Kelsey, graduated from Newcastle High School and left the nest. 

He is a continuing contributor to Uniqelahoma Magazine, as well as having numerous short and flash fiction stories published. When not typing out words, Eric works in the construction field as a product consultant and installation specialist, traveling all over the great state of Oklahoma. A graduate of MNTC’s diverse and various creative writing programs, he is constantly on the lookout for better ways to hone his craft.

Notable works include: The Bane of Dave, Lump, A Haunted Cemetery, and Sacred Heart Mission.