A Short Scary Story – Wonderland – By Richard Christian Matheson and William Relling Jr.
A Short Scary Story – Wonderland – By Richard Christian Matheson and William Relling Jr is an old fashion scary story… He knew himself pretty well; he was too genteel to be a murderer. Or at least he thought he was…Julian Cross looked at the woman and thought to himself: I wonder what it would be like to cut her throat?
He lay there, shrouded in grey light, staring at her, watching the sheet covering her rise and fall in a steady rhythm, What would it be like? he wondered. To feel the blade pressed against her flesh, slicing through? To cut off her cry and see the blood staining the sheets muddy purple . . .
Suddenly, he felt sick.
He turned from her and stared up at the ceiling, hating himself. My God, Cross thought. I’m fucking losing it.
He sat up on the bed, pressing his face into his hands, shaking. The image he’d conjured in his mind had horrified him.
He glanced over at the woman once more, then gently eased himself off the bed, padded silently across the floor of the bedroom, moving to the view window. Cross tilted up the shutters that opened like a score of waking eyes, and chilly air caressed his naked skin.
He stared out at the night, growing afraid of himself.
Below lay Los Angeles, twinkling and speedballing; weaving out of control. The massive city was smothering under a blanket of fog, its matrices of light nearly swallowed.
The Crawling Fog
Cross reached for a bottle of scotch that lay on a table beneath the window. He poured the liquor over ice into a glass and stared out at the blackness, sipping the drink quietly. The crawling fog reminded him of where he’d come from, and he felt homesickness flickering through him like the faint remembrance of a friend’s funeral.
This was his first trip to the States. He’d flown across the ocean apprehensively, but was pleased that the first major showing in American of his sculptures at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles was an unqualified success. Renowned sculptor Julian Cross, the Boy Wonder of the European Art Scene, acclaimed for sensitive work, honest sentimentality and humanism; a reviewer in the Los Angeles Times had accused Cross of “possessing an almost feminine sensibility in the best sense, his sculptures a refreshingly non-violent emotional resonance.”
Whatever the fuck that means, Cross thought, biting into an ice cube. Its frozen splinters made his teeth ache. Bloody Yanks probably thought he was a fag —they thought all Englishmen were fags. He looked over his shoulder at the woman lying on the bed and smiled.
They were wrong.
Five nights in LA, a different lady each night. Though except for this one tonight, each of them had come on to him, at parties or at the show. All of them groupies, the same as the ladies back home; quick studies, parroting speeches flattering his work they’d heard somewhere else. If one more gaudy blonde had approached him to say his art had touched her —as if he were in tune with her feelings, as if he’d read her very soul —he would’ve screamed.
The Touch Of A Stranger
Which was why he’d cancelled a restaurant engagement with the female owner of a small gallery called Anti-Bodies, on some place called Melrose Avenue; gotten into his rented Jensen and done a Grand Prix into Hollywood by himself. He spent the better part of an hour trolling Hollywood Boulevard, its sensual decay gradually sickening him. The street was nothing like he’d imagined it from films and television; it shimmered with dark energy, all glamour bled to death, yet shamelessly propped-up as if still seductive. As if still alive. But its percussive void was just what Cross was in the mood for tonight. An intimate superficiality.
The touch of a stranger.
He looked at the woman in the bed and sipped more scotch.
He’d found her on Sunset Boulevard, where she’d stood alone on a corner, watching passing cars with casual fascination. He’d rolled by her one time, then circled the block again, struck by her elegant good looks: tall, slender and long-legged, with red hair that hung loosely.
Fog Began To Claw
Her ice-blue eyes had watched and stared.
He’d pulled Jensen to the curb and asked her what her time was worth. She’d looked into his eyes in a way that excited him as she took a step closer. They’d driven west on Sunset, as fog began to claw its way inland from the ocean, and Cross turned the Jensen right onto Laurel Canyon; heading into the mountains.
As he guided the car deeper into the canyon, they’d talked to each other quietly. She’d noticed his accent and asked where he was from, whether he was living in LA or just visiting. He told her he was in town for only a few days; the Museum had subleased a house in the canyon for him.
Then he mentioned he’d been surprised she was the only . . . lady he’d seen on the street that evening, and she told him it was because of the murders.
“What murders?” he’d asked politely.
Several People Had Been Slashed To Death By A Killer
She told him several people had been slashed to death by a killer still at large, and the police had been cracking down on prostitution to protect potential victims. Cross had raised an interested brow and driven farther into Laurel Canyon, turning left into Lookout Mountain Avenue, a road that immediately narrowed as it rose steeply up the side of the canyon. He steered the car carefully, climbing higher, until the headlights glanced off a street sign that read:
‘Tour house is on Wonderland?” she’d asked him, an odd curiosity in her voice. ‘Tour name isn’t Alice, is it?”
He’d smiled and said, “No,” in a tone that almost made her insist he let her out. But she didn’t, and by then they’d come to the house, perched atop a cliff overlooking the city.
Its Pale Curve Unprotected
Cross sipped at his scotch, wondering how long ago that had been. Three hours? Four? He gazed out at the city below, drowned in a pewter fog . . . and once again found himself thinking of her throat … its pale curve unprotected.
As he drank from his nearly empty glass, he suddenly saw himself moving through mist, the glass turned into a blade gripped tightly in his hand. He watched himself approaching her in darkness, kneeling beside her, laying the blade against her flesh. Watched himself as he dragged its perfect sharpness from left to right and drenched her pillow red.
He shook his head, trying to clear away the thought, poured more liquor into his glass and gulped it down. What the Christ was the matter with him? Maybe it was time to get out of LA if the bloody fog was going to have him thinking like Jack the Ripper, slicing up a tart just for having shown him a good time . . .
He heard her whispering from the bed: “Honey?”
“I thought you were asleep,” he said, turning to face her.
Something … Strange Has Been Going Through My Mind
She stared at him with a strangely intimate expression, and pulled the top sheet covering herself higher. “I have to leave,” she said.
He struggled to control his emotions as he set down his empty glass and moved toward her. “I feel sorta bad taking off,” she was saying. “You’re really a nice guy.”
Cross sat down on the edge of the bed, feeling frightened of what he would do next. He forced himself to look at her. His blood was racing.
“Listen,” he whispered. “Something … strange has been going through my mind.” He shook his head heavily, then forced a slight smile. “I’m pretty drunk, and maybe I shouldn’t tell you this
She was still looking at him strangely. He could feel his mouth twitching, losing control.
“It’s about what you told me before,” he said. “About those . . . women being …” He could feel perspiration dampening his forehead as he tried to say cut up. But the words fell apart.
He was remembering the sculpture he’d worked on that afternoon; the knife he’d used, its polished edge slicing effortlessly through shapless clay.
“Anyway,” he said, “while you were lying in bed just now
He could see her throat split wide, the blood running down, forming a hideous red necklace.
She watched him, her expression cinching tight. She lit a cigarette and burned a finger with the match, waved out the flame nervously. Watching every move now; trying not to upset his mood.
Is There Something You Want To Tell Me?
“Maybe I’m not quite what you think I am,” he said, wanting to add that he wasn’t a violent man. But he was unable to stop staring at her throat.
For a moment their eyes locked.
Just do it, he told himself.
“Is there something you want to tell me?” she asked, turning away from him to glance toward the telephone that rested on the
nightstand beside the bed. Wondering how far he was from it, how long it would take him to react if she reached for it and “Yeah, there’s . .. something.” Cross laughed uneasily, staring toward the window. “For the last half hour or so, all I’ve been thinking about is how it would feel to slash your throat.”
He closed his eyes, ashamed of the confession. His head sank to his chest and he was only dimly aware of her voice through the drunken cloth of his brain.
“Naughty boy,” she said, suddenly standing over him to grab him by the hair, as she took the scalpel she’d hidden and sank the blade into his neck. “I didn’t say you could read my mind.”
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