Black Widow This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 23, 2012
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Vina Renaldo is not crazy, thank you very much. She considers herself interesting, but goodness, no, not crazy. Crazy's what you call the muggers on the street or people that bet against your favourite team in the Super Bowl. Vina is not crazy.

She chuckles internally, keeping her face blank. Poker face, baby, I've got four aces in my mitts, she thinks to herself. The tough redhead, proudly born and raised in the Bronx, sits deceivingly casually on the park bench, beside her next victim. There's nothing arbitrary to Vina, nothing casual. Everything, down to the last gesture, is designed to manipulate her prey.

She tries to think, for a fleeting moment, of when this began. She has a fascination with hearing people's life stories. She knows she's feeding off their pain, but it's so much easier to shrug it off as a craving for a good bedtime story. Spidery in approach, but snakelike in the execution. Vina's never encountered anyone so slick as she is when the promise of a tragedy is in the air.

The current victim is a poor sap she found teaching at the high school. Experienced in her hobby, Vina knows schools are one of the richest sources for pain – er, for stories. The guy's almost as young as those he teaches. Vina tries to remember how old she is. She hasn't been around too long, either, but it's so hard to keep track of age when bloated with these intriguing tales of heartbreak. She could be nineteen or thirty-five, or somewhere in between. She has no idea. Her identity is irrelevant so long as she maintains the blade of clarity she so loves to hold to her vision.

He adjusts his glasses before fiddling with his shoelace. Nervous, aren't we? She almost laughs again, but Vina knows better. It's best to let them believe you're simply there to help.

“How was your day?” she asks in a tone of nonchalance she's unceasingly amazed by. Every time her acting skills surprise her.

“Not the best...” he trails off, nervously brushing at his short hair.

She clicks her tongue, faking sympathy. Vina never feels empathy, but it's not like that makes her crazy. She sees it as a survival mechanism. Much easier to strike when one doesn't pity the little mouse. “Penny for your thoughts?”

She listens to his tale, fighting the urge to let her eyes bulge, her hands tighten into an animal's paws, her back hunch and knees draw up to her chin. The natural high sends a shiver down her spine. The more this young man's life falls apart, the healthier Vina becomes.

Vina is stable, though. Oh, so stable. No one understands how powerful stories are. Just Vina. That doesn't make her the strange one, or mentally wrong, it just means Vina's found the fountain of youth. Immortal.

Just as she tastes the idea of immortality on her shockingly not forked tongue, she feels her skin becoming cross-hatched with wounds. Scarlet isn't drawn, but the lovely colour of calligraphy ink. Black pours from her, the letters forming like whips across her snowy skin, then the cobblestone path beneath her feet. Vina feels no pain. Just a film enveloping her as her stories escape. The man gawks as two thousand years of heartbreak, betrayal, depression, and anger bursts forth.

All that's left behind is a shrivelled body, bones protruding beneath the papery, sagging skin, covered in a black web. The black widow has met her downfall.

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cactusman4 said...
May 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm
Wow, this is a really great piece! im glad you wrote it i felt like i was there
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