by Umair Mirxa
Alexandra felt her stalker close the distance between them and smiled, glad he could not see her face. It wouldn’t do at all to spoil the surprise she had in store for him.
They had picked each other up three nights ago in a dark, sophisticated bar on St Charles Avenue, and for a brief moment, he nearly had her fooled. The easy charm under the crystal chandeliers, a shy smile playing unbidden upon his lips, and eyes which did not linger. It was subtle and brilliant, and Alexandra had found herself disarmed. Maybe he was different.
She turned down an alley which would lead her into the heart of the French Quarter. Her destination: a bar off Bourbon Street which had somehow, across a century, failed to keep up with the times. The quaint little former speakeasy was easily her favourite spot in the city. Not least because Helena, the owner as ancient as her establishment itself, doted on Alexandra as if she were her own daughter.
The Mardi Gras celebrations were all around her now, and growing with each passing moment. It was Alexandra’s favourite time of the year, and New Orleans, in her opinion, the best place to celebrate. The holiday represented a rare occasion where she knew, without a doubt, her diabolic proclivities would not raise a fracas as they did in other instances, in other cities. The parades helped her blend, and the city moved on quickly from all things depraved and scandalous. No matter where she happened to be in the wide world, she made certain she always spent Fat Tuesday in The Big Easy.
She weaved her way past a float, and hoped her stalker wouldn’t lose her in the crowds. It would ruin, in spectacular fashion, all her carefully laid plans.
Alexandra drew the knife from her boot. Slow and methodical, she set about her task, carving a smile onto his face, rendered in crimson. It came easy today, for the face was all too familiar to her. She had fallen, once before, to one who bore its twin. The memory of it came to her, even after all this time, far too easily.
The quiet affection, his devoted attention. She lost her heart. A whispered word to caress her ear, the gentle touch on her arm. She followed him into the woods.
They found her the next morning, bloodied and broken, ravaged at his monstrous whims. Her father, once beloved, took one look at her and turned away, never to fondly gaze at her or hold her in warmth ever again. Banished by her family, disowned for her shame, Alexandra spent months recovering in the soothsayer’s tiny hut at the edge of the woods.
Her work complete, she lifted her stalker, and strung him up against the wall. A grotesque marionette to serve as warning, one she had left around the world across the centuries.
The trees by the soothsayer’s hut had high branches, old and strong. It was easy enough to fashion a rope, once the tender solitude of her exile took a tedious turn. Saved and chastised by her caretaker, she jumped into the lake with a dozen stones tied around her waist.
The offer came with her third attempt. A simple bargain, quickly struck. Alexandra became the instrument of death. Revenge itself, born anew and baptized in blood. A dire omen to all who preyed upon her kind.
She stepped away, and stood admiring her craft a moment, even as the sounds of the Crescent City reached a crescendo. They had helped mute his screams, the wretched pleas for mercy even as she broke every bone in his body. The marks left by her fangs were well disguised by knife wounds. One last look to make certain all was as she desired, and she turned from him.
They found him the next morning in the alley behind Helena’s bar, bloodied and broken, ravaged at her monstrous whims.
Alexandra walked out of the bar, and into the night, her smile playing a gorgeous symphony upon her lips. New Orleans was always, without fail, exactly what she needed. She would return to it next Mardi Gras. Helena had asked no questions, made no mention of the blood. It was one of many reasons why Alexandra loved the frail, ancient soothsayer so much.
Umair Mirxa lives and writes in Karachi, Pakistan. He is the Creator/Editor-in-Chief of Paper Djinn Press, and has had his stories accepted for publication in several international anthologies.
He is a massive J.R.R. Tolkien fan, loves everything to do with mythology, fantasy, and history, and wishes with all his heart that dragons were real. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading novels and comic books, playing video games, listening to music, and watching movies, TV shows, and football as an Arsenal FC fan.