Mantis

[Author’s Note: Originally written August 2014]

He caught sight of her at the bar. She stood there, flame red hair and tall. Bright green eyes alight with excitement. She smiled at laughed with every man around her. Her teeth smiling bone white against the deep red of her lipstick. He looked at her, too beautiful for him but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try. She whipped her head around the bar and caught his eyes. He felt that as he looked into her eyes the two shared a moment. With just her eyes and a tilt of her head she made a movement that he knew meant ‘come hither’. He moved to the bar. She watched him as he moved, carefully and resolutely. She silenced the man next to her with a move of her hand. She smiled sweetly at him as he approached. He took his place at the bar next to her.

“What do you drink?” she asked, her green eyes glimmering.

“Beer.” He stated with false confidence.

She smiled slightly. Then she turned her head ever so slightly towards the bar.

“Bartender!” her voiced pierced through the dull murmur of the bar. “One Victorian Bitter for my friend”

Her voice was sweet, with not a touch of harshness. She spoke with an accent that he couldn’t place. The bartender quickly arrived with his VB. He’d lied about the beer; he hated beer but try walking up to a beautiful woman and tell her that you prefer wine. He sipped the beer, the bitter taste irritating him.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Uh, Richard” he managed to say.

She placed a hand on his chest.

“A fine name, a strong name.” she smiled sweetly.

Her hand on his chest calmed him, and he felt like he could trust her.

“And what’s your name?” he asked, more confident now.

“I am Scarlett” she told him.

The name felt like sea air, refreshing and lively. It reminded of him when he was a boy, living on the coast. She leaned in close to him and whispered in his ear. The boy from the coast was gone and suddenly she reminded him of his teenage years and his first girlfriend, Amy. When he was young and inexperienced. Scarlett’s voice was enamouring. It captured him and transported him through his mind. Then he was back in the bar with Scarlett. She was smiling, still with her hand on his chest. He felt the blood rush to his cheeks.

“I… You’re so beautiful” he stammered, no longer in control of his tongue.

“I know” she answered.

His mind was scrambled. Her green eyes firmly planted in his mind’s eye. The bar had faded away, and Scarlett and he seemed to be the only two people in the world. He felt his shoe become wet. He looked down and realised he’d dropped his beer, spilling it everywhere. At least he didn’t have to drink it now. He grasped the bar as he stumbled about. Had he been drugged? No, Scarlett wouldn’t do that.

“I… think… I feel… sick” he slurred.

Scarlett moved her hand to his wrist.

“I think we need to get you home” she told him, holding him up as he moved away from the bar.

Scarlett led him from the bar and out into the night air. He took in the scents of the night, the sharpness of it. Scarlett clutched him tightly.

“Where’s your car?” she asked him, seemingly concerned.

He pointed to approximately where he left his car.

“Over there. Red Holden” he managed to spit out.

They hobbled towards his car. He fetched his keys from his pocket and gave them to her willingly. They got into the car and drove the Melbourne streets in the early hours of the morning. Some of the streets looked familiar until he was twisting and turning down forgotten streets of a lost suburb. He was coming to now.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

She put her hand on his shoulder.

“Hush love, trust me” she reassured him.

He looked around at the encroaching industrial buildings. He felt a budding concern but it was calmed by the touch of his love. Scarlett, red lips, red hair and green eyes. The car came to a halt. The doors opened and Scarlett grabbed him from his seat. They were in the industrial district. Some abandoned warehouses in a quiet corner of the district.

“Why are we here?” Richard asked.

Scarlett bent over forwards and there was a ripping sound. When Scarlett came back up her red hair had come off in her hand. Where her hair had been was a short, curly crop of brown hair. Her other features took on a stronger tone now. Her jawline was more prominent, her eyebrows more full, her neck thicker. How had he noticed these features before? Without her hair she appeared more homely, less attractive. He felt betrayed, he had been duped by something as simple as a wig. Then she spoke.

“Sorry hun, but I got to eat” she said, in a voice decidedly deeper than before.

Then he realised the horror when he looked at her neck more closely. The Adam’s Apple confirmed it. He’d been trapped. Scarlett was a man. It was so obvious and yet impossible to see in the bar. He was sobering up now, although he didn’t even recall having much to drink at the bar. He now saw Scarlett for what she was. A duplicitous bitch. She leaned in close again with those mannish features of hers and spoke into his ear.

“Dinner time” she whispered in that deep voice.

Scarlett devoured Richard’s head whole. Leaving him on the gravel outside the warehouses she took his red Holden. To another bar, another city, to find more prey.

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