Black Cherry



Scene Title Black Cherry
Synopsis "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now is hung with bloom along the bough."
Date February 13, 2020

It’s half past nine when Caderina Garbo finally finishes up at work. She makes her rounds to ensure the records room is secure, the computers are locked, her credentials are on her lanyard, and then pops her head in to the open door to cheerfully chime, “Goodnight, Commissioner!”

Always good to make sure the big hats know you’ve gone home for the night. Otherwise they think you’re still around, and then they call for you, and you don’t show up, and they get annoyed at you, even though it’s not your fault, because you were actually off the clock an hour ago. It’s just a big mess.

With one strap of her backpack purse slung over her shoulder, and a motorcycle helmet hanging from her fingertips, she pushes open the door to the building with her free hand and heads out into the parking lot. Under the floodlights above the doorway, a paisley pattern and delicate lace design comes into view against the black helmet. A rich purple to green shift. If one looks close enough at the side of it, they’ll see paisley irises in skeletal sockets, and teeth, lending a harder edge to contrast the femininity.

It isn’t hard to spot her lavender pearl Raytech Mantis in the lot. Her fingers trail over the seat fondly as she sets her helmet down before threading her arm through the other strap of her purse, making sure it’s secured to her back before she pulls on her helmet. This was a purchase made when she came into her inheritance last September. A vehicle of her very own. And a cool one at that. The novelty of it still hasn’t worn off five months later.

As late as it is, there are still errands to be run. She has lecture notes to drop off for a classmate, and she promised she’d be there over an hour ago.

Leaving now.
Message Sent: February 13 9:42 PM

The Mantis purrs down the city streets with ease. One of the more practical reasons why she decided to buy it, rather than a traditional car. By the time she gets to campus in Sheepshead Bay, she’s wishing she would have just agreed to come out early in the morning instead. But, a friend in need, as they say…

Here. @ lib in 5.
Message Sent: February 13 10:03 PM

Backpack and helmet in tow, Caderina’s parked at one of the meters — no one enforces those after 7 — so she can cut across the backlot of the arts building. It’s a faster route to the library than coming from the main lot.

Brooklyn College

A faster route, yes.

But a darker route. The sun still sets early in these early months, dropping below the horizon and running long shadows over the ground. It has some lighting, but not nearly as much as one might expect. Maybe a bulb had recently gone out, and no one had replaced it. As she walks down the pathway, she hears a rustle that could be wind running through the branches of the small trees lining the walkway—

Only there’s no wind. The scraping sound comes from the right, and as soon as she looks that way she feels a hand come around her from behind, going over her mouth, a rag soaked with a sharp smell. A smell that makes it hard to breathe, hard to stay awake, hard to struggle.

A young woman traveling alone after dark has run through these sorts of scenarios in her head countless times. Caderina is no exception. In those nights when she lies wide awake, unable to sleep, she’s thought about what she would do if someone ever tried to attack her. She’s sure she’s even played this very scenario in her mind’s eye.

Her foot comes down on the foot of her attacker as many times as it takes for them to recoil. With contact broken, she stumbles forward a step and whirls to swing her heavy motorcycle helmet by its straps at them.

But in her mind’s eye, she’d been able to hold her breath. In reality, she’d had to take a big lungful of air before she could convince her brain that it was time to hold it.

Caderina staggers from the weight and momentum of the helmet, pitching forward and barely able to keep her balance, doubled over and stomping forward three steps, trying to get a wide enough stance for stability.

She draws in a deep breath made ragged by fear and opens her mouth to scream.

The scream gets met with a something slamming into her face. Something made of wood. After a moment her vision clears and she sees that it’s some kind of mask, made of bound sticks that cracks under the voice, sending a splinter down from one of the dark eyes carved into the triangle.

I didn’t intend to do this here—” A voice says, a little distorted as if echoed through something. She can’t even tell if it was male or female. It sounded monstrous. Whoever it was was taller than her, wearing dark clothes that drape over their features, a hood covering their face. Through the shadows of the hood, she sees a flash of red. A glowing light. And then the hand that held the rag reaches up once again, grabbing at her neck.

Immediately she can feel something wrong. It becomes difficult to move. The scream chokes in her throat. A throat that suddenly is filled with, something. Roots rip out from her clothes, her legs, her feet, reaching for the earth below her, holding her in place.

But it will have to do,” the monster says once again, almost a whisper of an echo, as something heard through a wall.

Caderina’s scream is cut off when her face is bludgeoned. She topples backward, dropping her helmet as she loses her footing finally and finds herself on her backside. Then there’s the hand around her throat. Again, she tries to shout for help.

Then, she tries to scream in horror of what she’s seeing.

What she’s feeling.

The blonde’s legs thrash uselessly, trying to kick out at something, anything. She tries to reach out for the helmet, to catch hold of the strap so she can use it as a flail once more. It’s just beyond the reach of her fingertips. Her nails break on the pavement in her effort to scrabble for it.

Then, she can’t move at all anymore. Can’t struggle, can’t kick or punch, can’t cry out.

Blue eyes widen with terror.

At first, it’s painful, like something tugging on her skin from all sides, but then it’s— not? It’s like her nerves are not nerves. It’s like growing. Is it tearing out of her? No, it is her. It tears through her clothes, devours them, pushes off a broken cracked shoe. She can feel it, but can’t all at once. It’s like everything that she’s ever known, in a short moment, has pulled away. The moment seems to last forever, stretched out through eternity. A branch comes into view before her wide eyes.

She can’t scream. Then she can’t breathe. But at the same time, she doesn’t need to breathe.

Then her vision goes black. Then the sounds of scratching wood disappear. The feeling of feet, of arms, of her entire body, becomes something else. Something bigger.

The hand-pulled away from her neck at some point. The figure steps back, looking up. The hood slides down away from her face. Not that the tree can see. Part of the helmet sticks out from the trunk of the tree, marring it’s appearance. The limbs hang out, small cherries hanging from the branches, even if it’s not the right time of year. The hand reaches up, plucking one off the stem.

Blood runs down fingers in a sticky crunch of cherry flesh. A soft laugh goes unheard as the figure walks away.

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