R. C. SmithShort Stories and Vignettes

Do not read my works if you are offended by descriptions of sexuality and violence.
(Do not read them just for those descriptions, either.)

The Pier

Audio read by RC (4:21)

How long have I been living here, in the dark woods, all by myself, on this deserted peninsula, isolated from civilization — years? decades? as a hermit? a refugee? — I do not even remember that. The climate is mild, I do not miss the clothes that have fallen to shreds long ago. I have what I need, there is water, there are fruits, berries, mushrooms, roots, and occasionally there is meat, which I eat raw, for I shy away from making fire, not knowing whether the smoke might draw attention.

Near the tip of the peninsula there is a bay in which, long ago, there had been a small harbor — now all that is left are a few half-decayed piers, wooden planks supported by rusted steel pillars. Even though the bay, like all the coast, is as deserted as the peninsula’s interior, it would make me feel far too exposed to venture there during the days; I only visit it in the nights of the new moon, with nothing but the faint light of the stars and my knowledge of the location to guide me.

I do not remember when it has begun — like everything else in my life, it must have been a long time ago — but on one dark night, when I went down to the beach with the old harbor, I saw a shape on one of the piers. I went there, slowly, carefully ... that shape was a human being ... a woman ... naked, lying on her back, arms and legs spread, wrists and ankles secured with ropes to bolts on the edge of the pier, her mouth gagged. I had my knife with me, the only tool of civilization that I still possessed ... I could have cut her ropes ... but I began to cut her instead. I hadn’t been with a woman for a long time ... she was dying when I left her, in time before dawn began to dispel the safety of darkness. When I returned the next night, she was gone — no trace of her had remained. Maybe blood stains on the wooden planks, but on the dark wood, in the darkness, I wouldn’t be able to discern them.

Since then, it has happened again. Not at every new moon, but often, on average at every third or fourth. Someone, something, is putting them up there for me, and taking them away again, after I have finished with them. Once I let one live, to return to her the next night, but she, too, was gone, so I always make full use of them in the one night they are given to me ...

Long ago, I have stopped asking myself what all of this means. I have never tried to ask them, fearing they might scream if I removed their gags, seeing the sparkle of their silent screams in their eyes. Strangely, I have never feared the presence of an intruder when I was with them — of the one or ones who brought them, and who took them away — in the presence of these girls, bleeding, moaning, suffering, slowly dying underneath or next to me, I’ve always felt safe ...

And now ... another dark new moon night ... I silently approach the old harbor — I am in luck again, there is a shape on the pier — I draw near, and I notice, something is different. It is the way she lies — on her back, naked, arms and legs spread like all the others, but still, differently. I reach her — again, I feel no fear — and I can see now that her arms and legs are not bound. She raises her head — her mouth is not gagged — and her eyes in the darkness do not sparkle with a silent scream, but with the hint of a smile. “I have waited for you a long time,” she says.

(For Hester P., who provided inspiration; 06/2013)

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