Payback Bites


“Oh, tell me this isn’t happening…” Leonard said wearily, as his car came to a sputtering stop.

Rolling her eyes, his wife Eva let out an exasperated sigh, “Well, well, well…what can I say, Leonard? Maybe if you’d stopped for gas in that last town—like I suggested—then this wouldn’t be happening, would it?”

Leonard shot Eva a sideways glance that spoke volumes. “Yes dear, as usual, if only I had listened to you…”

“Don’t you get that tone with me, if you just would’ve….” An enormous crash of thunder cut her off as a large tree branch came careening down, barely missing their car.

“Leonard DO something!” She wailed.

“Do what exactly, Eva? You seem to be on top of things, so you tell me!” He glared at her and she glared back. The electrical charge of hatred in the car momentarily superseded the raging storm outside of it.

Eva gave him her infamous condescending sneer, “If you were any kind of a real man, you’d go for help. You can’t just expect me to sit here all night like this, the next branch that comes down could fall right on top of me and kill me!”

Leonard considered this for a brief moment. He knew exactly how he wanted to respond to this but bit his lip instead.

“Well? Aren’t you going to go get help, or gas, or something? What’s wrong with you anyway? Honestly Leonard!”

Leonard took a long, deep look into the cold, dead eyes of the vulture-like female he’d had the distinct displeasure of being married to for nearly thirty years, and wondered how much a man is supposed to put up with before he snapped.

“You know there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, Eva dear,” he retorted.

“Don’t be sarcastic! And don’t take too long, and for heaven’s sake don’t be stupid and get hit by lightning because I don’t want to sit here all night! Are you listening to me Leonard? And if you find a place that sells gas, make sure you bring me back a nice cup of coffee. And don’t waste time, there’s nothing I hate more than cold coffee. Don’t just sit there staring at me with that dumb expression on your face, GET GOING!”

“Yes dear, of course dear…” Leonard muttered, knowing full well any other response wouldn’t do—especially the response he really wanted to give. He climbed out of the car and set off on his journey into the unknown depths of the stormy night, finding it far more pleasant to be out in the elements than sitting in the car next to Hurricane Eva.

Leonard was certain they’d passed a gas station a mile or so back. He remembered it from the sign he’d seen in the window advertising Eva’s favorite coffee. He recalled thinking that he’d rather stall out somewhere than cater to her demands for “Carribean Cappachino.” Already drenched by the heavy downpour, Leonard cursed under his breath as he quickly scurried up the road. He decided then and there that if he ended up at that gas station, under no circumstances was he getting his unbeloved a cup of her beloved coffee. This decision pleased him greatly and made the raging storm engulfing him far less bothersome.

Relieved, he arrived at the gas station much quicker than he’d anticipated. Must’ve miscalculated how far back it was, he thought to himself. Eva always took great delight in pointing out his miscalculations—he made a mental note not to mention this one to her.

The lights were out in the building, which seemed odd since it was only a little after 8 p.m. Maybe the storm knocked out the electricity, he thought. As he approached the door, he noticed it was ajar and saw movement inside. As lightning flashed through the night sky, for an instant Leonard could make out a figure.

He called out, “Hey, I need some gas!” There was no reply.

When the lightning flashed again the figure was visible once more. The man had deathly grey skin, incredibly wrong teeth—which looked like implants from a saber-toothed tiger, and what appeared to be a long, dark cloak. The man had the appearance of someone who’d just crawled out of a crypt. Leonard’s heart skipped a beat. Then he took a deep sigh of relief and laughed at himself for letting his imagination–and the atmosphere of the storm–get the better of him.

Of course, he thought, it’s Halloween night…he’s in costume! He smiled, opened the door the rest of the way, and walked in. Through yet another flash of lightning Leonard saw the man approaching him.

“Hey, great costume! Man, you really had me goin’ there,” Leonard chuckled, “I thought for a moment you were…”

Meanwhile back at the car, Eva cursed out loud. He was taking far too much time. “Stupid, insidious man,” she snarled, “I told him not to leave me sitting here so long. That idiot. He’s most certainly gonna hear about it from me when he gets back!”

Nearly an hour later the storm had cleared, but a heavy fog now enshrouded the car. Visibility was nearly impossible through the windshield, however, Eva thought she could just faintly make out Leonard’s form making his way up the roadside.

“Finally,” she sighed.

He seemed to be taking forever to get to the car, which angered her as she was looking forward to telling him off about being gone so long. She sighed once more, then took the opportunity to pull down the overhead mirror and apply lipstick and powder her nose. She  heard the driver’s side door open, but kept primping.

“Honestly Leonard, what took you so long?” she said. “What did you do–stop for a drink somewhere along the way? I bet you did, didn’t you? Probably flirted with some stupid, tacky woman while you were at it. I swear, you are pathetic, Leonard. No woman alive would even want the gift of you. What I ever saw in you, I have no idea. I could’ve married anyone–but no–I had to go and waste my life on some incompetent…”

She looked toward the open door and stopped mid-sentence, eyes wide with fear. Staring back at her with steel cold eyes and ashen skin was her husband—only something seemed very, very wrong with him.

“L-L-Leonard?” she stammered. “Are y-y-you alright?” He remained silent as he slowly eased his way into the car, not taking his piercing gaze off of Eva for even an instance. He did not stop at the driver’s seat, however. He slowly and stealthily slid over to where his dear, sweet ball-and-chain of nearly thirty years was sitting. He kept coming, his menacing eyes never moving from hers.

Eva’s fear turned to utter terror. This was Leonard, but it wasn’t. “Leonard! W-w-what are you doing?” she shrieked as he put his hand on her shoulder, it was like ice. Immediately she grabbed the door handle, pulling at it, but his deathly cold hand grabbed her other arm tightly.

Horrified, Eva screamed and writhed but it was useless. She looked up one final time to see her husband’s mouth opening wide into a sardonic smile, elongated fangs protruding outward. Sheer panic engulfed her, she couldn’t get away. She then heard the last words she would ever hear:

“Payback bites, Eva.”