Venus Takes Many Forms

His hands grasp the sill of the window that has been left open. It is a chilly night—although temperature means little to him, he is keenly aware of the environment’s effect on his prey. Yet the young woman lying on the bed inside the chamber sleeps soundly, only the slow, rhythmic rising and falling of her chest indicating she does not sleep the sleep of the dead. Curtains flutter as he glides silently over the sill and across the room to the sleeping beauty awaiting his kiss.

In the full bloom of womanhood, she seems a vision conceived by an artist. Her long, blonde hair frames a rosy-cheeked face. He gazes on her a moment, taking in her full lips...her flawless complexion...the creamy skin of her neck, its veins flowing with beckoning warmth. Despite the cool night air, her quilt is pulled up just below her chest, and her nightgown has come slightly open to reveal one small, perfect if intentionally to wile. The faint web of blue veins just beneath her pale skin are as alluring to him as if he were a babe and the breast were ripe with milk. Though he has not felt such emotions stir in his cold chest in decades, he thinks to himself, “I could fall in love with this one. She is almost...unearthly.”

Gently he sits on the bed beside her and, like a lover about to whisper in her ear, leans over and nuzzles her neck. As his razor-sharp incisors sink into soft flesh, he immediately knows something is wrong. The milky fluid which fills his mouth doesn’t taste right—tastes like sap.

Before he can react, the female’s body is splitting open, straight down the middle. Flaps unfold and stretch to embrace him. Even the bat-quick reflexes of the hunter cannot wrest him free of its grasp, because the soft, pink folds are interlined with bony hooks like hundreds of small, sharp teeth. They anchor onto him as the flaps squeeze like an anaconda.

His jaws open and shut in a rictus of frustration and pain—somehow his nerve-dead flesh can feel the lubricating digestive enzymes course over him. Try as he might, he cannot free himself from the passionate, hungry embrace. Slowly he is consumed, until the thing lying on the bed looks uncannily like a cocoon wracked with inner convulsions, as if a man-sized moth were about to emerge.

But the only thing that will emerge from this cocoon is the indigestible clothing—last testament to the vampire’s taste in fashion—and yellowed, age-crumbling bones. The hunter has become the prey, a not uncommon reversal in Nature, which fills any gap in the food chain with opportunistic life—even life that can draw sustenance from the tough, dry meat of the living dead.

Another stalker of the night, arrogant to the point of carelessness, has learned too late that sometimes a bat trap.


Editor’s Corner

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