HOUSE OF ELECTRAL
by TEMPLE SALTER
unday. All of her clothes in a plastic basket. Still wet. The stairs are wet. Her hair is wet. She tries not to slip on the puddled pools collected in the imperfections of old wood. A door above her opens and he peers out. His face is a grimace.
You want help with that?
No, I’ve got it. The dryer is broken again. Do you mind?
It’s no problem.
It is a problem. His hand is gripping the black metal door and she sees the muscles between his knuckles sliding over each other like grinding teeth. If he can’t say it, then she will not acknowledge it. She smiles briefly at her brother as she passes him. She throws her slick, heavy hair from her forehead as the screen door clatters closed. She sets the basket to the floor.
There’s the detergent. Do you need a dry towel?
He leaves the kitchen to search for something. She isn’t sure what. When he returns with a dry towel, she is pleasantly surprised. His eyes squint at hers. She pushes the towel around. It does not work very well. She still feels as if she’s only just gotten out of the bath, having fallen asleep until the cooling water wakened her. Is that why she’s wet?
Oh yes, that’s right. The dryer.
She turns to her basket and begins to remove the clothes and shovel them into the machine. The door was already ajar. Had he known she was coming? She knows that his eyes are staring down at her while she bends over. Does he want to fuck her again? He had said no more, once. When? Still bent over, she looks back at him. He is looking at her as she bends, but he his scowling. He is always scowling.
Do you want to....
I don’t know.
Best not to then.
Best not. That’s right.
He steps forward and places his hands on her anyway. She freezes, little drops of water coming down from her hair and hitting his linoleum floor with a -plat- sound. She lets her eyes move from the floor to the open mouth of the machine. Had she wanted this a moment ago? Wanted what?
A little touch never hurt.
She doesn’t respond. Instead, she reaches forward, into the machine, and grasps around the insides with her bony hands. He thinks she is bracing herself.
But then again, a little more.
She jumps forward and pulls herself into the machine.
You can’t get me in here.
Sure I can.
The door slams closed and it’s all a pit of darkness, dirty wet clothes, and small woman. She hears the noise of a knob being turned. The click of the cycle being started. She weighs nothing, but the motor won’t turn her. She feels hot air from all around. The chill in her bones is swiftly diminished. The only cold remaining is that of the wet clothes pressed into her back. She hears footsteps, retreating.
You can’t get me in here.
Sure I can.
The temperature of the air, now swirling around her, increases and increases and increases. The dampness becomes steam and then the moisture is gone and she can feel the clothes beneath her begin to crack as they become paper, then ash, falling away from her body. Her naked flesh glows orange and begins to ripple before it melts away. Her bones are not diminished, but hardened by the harsh environment. The hardness smooths over like glass, and all of the cracks that never truly healed, all of the destruction he had done to her frame, the small fracture in her skull, all of it is smoothed away as the sparkle of a diamond brilliance emerges.
He is watching from the archway that separates his kitchen from his living room. He embraces the growing hardness at his center while waiting for her to scream. She does not scream. He hears the machine’s motor begin to move the drum that encases her and marvels at this. She was such a small, little thing. But she had no use anymore, shell that she was. What good is pain when one cannot recall it?
A light begins to emanate from the door of the machine, around its edges, first orange, then white. He worries that he may have caused a fire. He takes a step into the kitchen, but does not smell smoke. He stops. She is not screaming. Surely she is still alive? She could not have died already. He must look. He must know. He falls to his knees before the white glow and hooks three fingers into the plastic handle. The handle is not even warm. The machine is still turning its insides, over and over. He pulls the handle. The machine is empty. There is no white light. There are no clothes. There is no little, small thing. Surely....
He feels himself pulled into the mouth of the machine, pulled deeper and deeper, beyond the mouth, into a further blackness. She surrounds him. Now a white, skeletal creature. Her flesh has become scales. Her face has become that of a monster. She wraps her slithering body around his legs and he feels them break instantly. He does not cry out. She did not cry. He will not cry. She coils upward, her hideous head wriggling up to meet his face. Thick white fangs protrude from the bony skull, jabbing playfully, but with a clear hatred. He raises his hand to strike her.
Her voice, coming from nowhere as the fangs slide deep into his neck.
You cannot get me in here.
Temple Salter is an author. He is 33 years old. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Temple's novel, UMBRA, is projected for completion in December of 2014. Visit TempleSalter.com for updates on his latest published works.
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