Team The Dark Ride
Actor: Justin Dark
Sound Design: Justin Dark
Director: Justin Dark
Writer: Justin Dark
Producer: Justin Dark
SG: Hey Boss…
MD: What? As always I’m extremely busy.
SG: I was just wondering. You talk about your late wife sometimes. Did you, ya know, ever have someone else?
MD: Whatever possessed you to ask that? As it happens, yes. I have an ex-wife from before Jenn.
SG: Well? What happened there?
MD: Seriously? ::sigh:: Fine, if you have to know. This was decades ago. (shift in voice) This was when I was living in Los Angeles. City of Angels. What they expect you to forget is demons were angels once, and LA is full of ‘em. I had set up shop as a private investigator, little office in the seedy part of town.
SG: Eh, why are you talking like that?
MD: Quiet! I’m setting the mood. Anyway. I was doing small jobs. Chasing down debts, following cheating husbands, the basic PI stuff. One day, this dame walks in. Says she wants me to find someone. Let me tell ya, who I wanted to find was her. Knockout, the kinda girl who made you forget what you were saying.
Anyways, she says she’s looking for her father. Coot’s been missing for a month or so, and he’s worth money so that’s no object. “Why me?” I ask. She says she wants to keep it quiet, outta the papers and the gossip rags. He’s a recluse so nobody has missed him yet, and she’d like to keep it that way. Fair enough, I promise discretion and get on the case. Honestly, I’d walk through the gates of hell for a looker like that.
Didn’t take me long at all. Daddy BigBucks was spotted driving out by the dunes late one night. A little sniffing and I found him. The bad news is he was no longer sharing our air. Her father had assumed room temperature, and in a bad way. Found him in a cave by the coast, chest torn open. Heart was gone. Looked like some kind of animal had done it, but nothing like that roamed around that part of town.
She was heartbroken, but used the family connections to get the police investigation over and done with quick. Couple sweeps of a pen and she inherited it all.
None of that concerned me. What did was that during the process of consoling her, she wound up in my arms. In no time flat I was slapping a “Be back in never” sign on my office door and we were speeding across the desert toward Vegas for a quickie wedding. What can I say? I’m a true romantic.
The next month or so was good, but cracks started to show. We, um, hadn’t managed to seal the deal, so to say. My new bride was very shy about unbuttoning anything in my presence. At first, I wrote it off as shyness as a dutifully protective husband, but over time my old instincts kicked in. Once a gumshoe, always a gumshoe.
During month two of wedded not-so-bliss, I’d started to notice she liked taking late night drives in her convertible, alone. Those drives became a little too regular and, judge me however you want, I put my old skills to work and tailed her.
She was hitting cocktail lounges, mostly out on the Strip. The first couple of nights, she came back alone. I hit paydirt on the third.
She exited the seedy little joint with a middle-aged guy on her arm. Some sports-jacketed nimrod who probably reeked of Hai-Karate and gin. She was clearly more sober than he was, so they hopped in her convertible and sped off toward the coast.
Sure enough, they went for the dunes. Not exactly the place her dad was found, but close enough. I hung back, gave them plenty of time to get parked and wander to their final destination. Then, I went in.
Between a couple of dunes, in a rocky outcropping, I saw yet another tidal cave. This one had tons of shells in the entrance, so stealth on the way in was impossible. They crunched under my feet. (Sound effect)
I found her at the back of the cave. Her beau was on his back and she was standing over him, straddling him.
His chest was open. Blood was everywhere. She’d heard me enter, so she whirled around.
Her blouse was open to the midriff. Where her cleavage should be, something akin to a vertical mouth existed instead. It was open wide, and several snaking things were protruding from it. They were thin, red, somewhere between arteries and tentacles. They were clutching the heart, freshly torn from the chest of the man on the floor. They pulsated, as if making the heart pump, while slowing drawing it deeper into the seemingly empty cavity.
Her hands were claws, but slowly shifted back to the manicured fingertips I was used to. They were soaked in blood and it dripped from the tips and down to her wrists.
The heart finished it’s journey into her chest and the cavity closed, coming together almost like lips, leaving a lengthy gash-like rift down the center of her chest. That explains the modesty, I thought.
She asked me if I liked what I saw. I told her that I liked pretty dames, but hellbeasts weren’t my thing. She asked how I knew? I told her I found out people’s secrets, it was my job. It was only a matter of time.
I asked how long she’d been hitched to her, quote unquote, “old man”. “45 years,” she said. She told me this was how it worked. She’d marry a guy, but once he got old she’d have to “die” in an international accident without a body, and her “daughter” would mourn her with her “father” until the old fella was too old to be useful. Then he’d be lunch and she’d find another sucker.
“So what now?” she said. I reached into my jacket. This caused her to laugh. “You don’t think that’ll work, do you?”
“Oh, I think it’ll work pretty well,” I said, and pulled out an envelope. “Annulment papers. Had a lawyer write them up yesterday. Said I was drunk when we were married and we haven’t consummated, so it was never legal. I wasn’t entirely sure what you were up to, but I was certain you’d offed your old man, and I was certain I didn’t want to be next. I don’t want your money. I don’t want you. I just want out. Go find another stooge, I’m done.”
“Just one thing, though. Was any of it real? Did you ever feel anything for me at all?”
No, she said. All men are just meat I need to survive.
I looked her in the eye one last time and said “You could have at least lied to me.”
I turned around and walked out of the cave. I hit the road and hit the bottle. Wandered around the southwest for a couple of years, lost. Eventually stumbled upon a little carnival in some dusty little town with a fortune teller’s wagon, and that’s where I met Jenn.
SG: Wow. So your ex-wife is some kind of vampiric hell beast that lives off the hearts of men?
MD: (voice back to normal) NO, you ninnyhammer! My ex, She Who Shall Not Be Named, is an abusive piece of work that left me an emotional and psychological husk, but she’s not a literal vampire. I made all that up.
SG: Then why did you tell me all that???
MD: I…I actually don’t know. I felt…compelled? Huh. Odd. Anyway, back to work. So much to do.
SG: One thing I don’t understand. If your ex was that terrible of a person…why did you marry her?
MD: ::sigh:: Because…life is a dark ride…and sometimes people will do terrible things so they don’t have to go through it alone.