Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ellen and Helen

Happy Halloween! A trick? No. A treat? Up to you. Here's a little short story I wrote in the vein of one of my favorite shows, "Tales from the Crypt." Just something I thought up while watching the party scene in "The Addams Family" movie. Also my first "stab" - heh - at a horror story. Turned out a bit more gruesome than planned and outlined, so reader be warned...

Ellen and Helen 
by Jeremy Morong
(Free PDF available here for easier reading)

Ellen kissed her boyfriend good-bye for the umpteenth time, sending shivers down her sister Helen’s spine. Worse, when their lips smacked together, they created little kissy noises that further repulsed Helen.

Helen was forced to listen, having no choice in the matter. But she didn’t have to watch them kiss, too. So she turned her head and closed her eyes.

The lovebirds finally finished their bit of unpleasantness. Helen resisted the urge to upchuck along with the stronger, more primal urge to strangle her sister. Helen shuddered: how much more of this could she take?

“Good night, dear,” the boyfriend said. A stupid grin spread across his face, which masked his evil intentions as far as Helen was concerned. “And Helen, please think about what we have asked—it would mean so much to us.” He grasped Ellen’s hand as he said this, very much playing his ridiculous part of one-half of a happy young couple in love. Disgusting.

Helen merely nodded in reply, indicating she would think it over. Which was a lie. The only thing Helen would be thinking over would be the finishing touches on how to murder her sister.

It had been a long time coming.

Helen simply couldn’t take anymore. No reasonable person could. It was pure hell being attached to her sister, always, forever. There was no escape; there was no refuge.

Things did not improve following the disgusting display of “love.” They never did. As usual, the sisters sat down to watch television. But did Ellen ask what program her sister might like to watch? Of course not. No, she did what she always did. She turned it to one of the stations—and there were a lot of them—that aired that “America’s Funniest Videos” show. Helen was convinced that when the world suffered an extinction level event, wiping out all life except the cockroaches, those cockroaches would gather around the warm glow of America’s Funniest Videos

Still, it was keeping Ellen occupied, exactly what Helen wanted. Helen turned her attention to her phone, her savior in moments like these, and searched for ways to refine her plan.

The program came to an end and Helen cringed. The distraction was over; she knew what was coming next.

“Have you thought it over, sister?”

Helen grit her teeth. “I have, sister. But I don’t feel that I am quite ready yet.” Helen knew what was coming next. Tears, tears, and more tears. It would be difficult to soothe her, or would be, if Helen was not stringing her along. She wanted Ellen to cry, wanted her to feel despair. Such thoughts meant that she would agree to the next stage of her plan all the more readily.

“I will be ready someday soon Ellen, for I know how long you have waited for this, and your boyfriend seems to care for you so! But, you see, it would be rather uncomfortable for me, and I’m not sure you have considered that fully. Nonetheless, I am working on a plan.”

“For goodness sake, sister! I have waited my entire life for this! I am a human being, and here I finally have a boyfriend in this impossible situation. But like always, you are getting in the way!”
Helen sighed, finding it difficult to remain calm. Once again, she was being blamed for getting in the way of her sister’s independence when the truth was nothing of the sort.

“Ellen dear, I didn’t say no. I said not yet. Did you not hear me say I was planning something? But surely you can understand why I would be uncomfortable?”

Ellen sniffled back tears. “Of course I understand, Helen. It’s just . . . I want it so badly.”

“And I want it for you, Ellen. It would be a wonderful feeling to act as others do! So much has been denied us due to our situation. And that is why I have come up with a plan.”

Ellen’s eyes grew big, though they were difficult for Helen to see from her vantage point. “So you do have a plan! I thought you were only humoring me. Oh, sister, what is it? Do tell!”

Helen had her right where she wanted her now. The line had been cast, and the bait had been taken. Now was the time to go forward.

“It’s really quite simple. I will take a sedative, sister. Then I will sleep right through it, and you will be, for all intents and purposes, completely alone with your boyfriend. Just like other couples! It would be like I wasn’t even there when the . . . act takes place. How does that sound, sister?”

Helen could feel Ellen’s body tense with excitement. Of course she would be OK with this plan. The burden would be bore solely by Helen, as always.

“What a marvelous idea, sister!” 

“I thought you might like it.”

Ellen stretched out her left arm, the only arm she had, reaching to grasp Helen’s hand, the way she always did when she showed affection.

“Sister!” Ellen exclaimed. “This is quite the idea! And I would do anything for to make it happen! Anything! What can I do?”

“Ellen dear, there is one thing. We need to test the sedative first. Truth be told, I’m a little scared, afraid that it won’t put me under long enough.”

Helen could feel Ellen grow excited again. “Oh Helen, why don’t you try it on me first? I’m sure it’s perfectly safe!”

A slight grin appeared on Helen’s face, try as she might to bury it. It was of no consequence as Ellen was unable to see her face without the aid of a mirror. “Are you certain, sister?”

“Of course! I’d be happy to. Then we would know that it works!”

Helen wasted no time, ensuring that Ellen would stay caught up in the excitement of the moment. She rocked on the couch and lifted their shared body into a standing position, carrying her sister with her the way she always did. There was no choice in the matter. Helen moved directly to a cabinet in the kitchen and retrieved a small bottle. It was the same bottle she had slipped into her purse at the drug store when Ellen wasn’t looking, and the same one she had discretely placed in the cabinet later on.

“I didn’t want to tell you about this until I was absolutely certain it was the right thing to do, Ellen. But you have convinced me.” 

Helen nervously held the bottle, desperately trying to stifle the involuntary shaking of her hand. Would Ellen suspect her of the crime she had planned on committing? Would she question why Helen had agreed after fighting it for some time? Or would her desperation to make love to her boyfriend override all?

“Oh, Helen,” she said. “I’m so happy that you would do this for me!”

All was going as planned.  
Helen and Ellen had sought many opinions over the years, desperate to solve their dilemma. In each case, the doctors had said that the operation would be safe—for Helen. They were very clear on that. 

But they offered no guarantees for Ellen. The sisters did not share any organs—they were bonded at the hip by flesh and bone, and slightly conjoined at the head. Nonetheless, separation could be fatal for Ellen. The doctors thought it would work, they liked their chances. 

There was more. Even if it did work, Helen would be able to lead a relatively normal life while Ellen would be wheelchair bound—if she survived the separation.

It was a risk Ellen was unwilling to take. Selfish to the core. And now she wanted her sister to go through the indignity of being there while she made love to her boyfriend. Disgusting. The nerve!
The years of bitterness bubbled over. Helen could take no more. The thought drove her. It quickly grew to an obsession. It woke her in the morning and put her to bed at night. Still, as right as it felt, Helen was thorough. She weighed the pros and cons, recognized the risks, and knew there would be punishment. 

But the matter was finally resolved when she had a startling revelation. For the longest time the thoughts had made her feel horrible. Ashamed. No longer. Now, the very idea filled her with a giddy, intoxicating sort of happiness. If Ellen was unable to take a teeny tiny risk so that the two of them could be separated, then she would be made to separate. No matter the consequences. 

Still, she racked her brain for a clean solution. So many ways the thing could be done, but they were usually bloody and gruesome. Helen couldn’t do that. No, there were better ways. Weren’t there?
She felt a wave of relief come over her as she hit upon just the one she was looking for.
With the bottle in hand they waddled over to the couch the only way they could. As usual, Helen’s back stung from the effort. Together, they sat down. 

Ellen took a deep breath, then promptly took the dose of sedative. The effect was immediate and she slowly began to drift to sleep. Using a mirror on the wall to view the scene, Helen watched as her sister’s eyelids grew heavy. Soon, they were nearly sealed shut. A strand of drool appeared from the corner of her mouth.

That was her sign.

She poured another dose of the drug, a double dose. She stretched her right arm out as far as it could go, reaching over their torso. She held the small medicine cup to her sister’s lips.

“Drink this, sister dear. I measured the dose incorrectly. More is required.”

In response, Ellen only slurred a bit of incomprehensible gibberish. But she did as she was told, her last conscious action before falling into to a deep, unnatural sleep. The poison apple from Snow White couldn’t have done a better job. 

A self-satisfied smile appeared on Helen’s face. Helen breathed deeply, as if lording over her ability to still do so as she watched her sister’s chest rise and fall with the last breaths of her pathetic life. 

The scene was peaceful to watch. A burden was being removed from her; already, she could feel it lift.

Helen observed for some time before becoming concerned. She tried to brush off her fears, but the effort was futile. Her sister was breathing, just as regular as ever. The sedative should be poisoning her by now. Killing her.

Her plan wasn’t working. Her sister should be dead!

Panic came over her. How could her sister survive? A triple dose of a powerful sedative in her little body! It made no sense. Why didn’t she do more research? Who was she to think she could kill someone so easy?

Helen forced their shared body to rise from the couch. It was hard with Ellen unconscious, harder than Helen had expected. She moved awkwardly, whipping her sister’s body around as she did. But Ellen didn’t budge. The sedative was at least strong enough for that. Thank goodness

Helen walked to the garage, struggling to make it to their father’s old toolbox. He had died some years ago, leaving behind many tools, and she was reasonably certain that she would find what was needed.

A hacksaw. It was going to have to be bloody after all. What little rational thoughts had remained had now taken leave of Helen’s body.
Helen had long ago committed the surgery charts to memory. She had requested and received them when discussions were underway. It was part of her plan to bring her sister on board. Together they could discuss the surgery until Ellen grew comfortable with it. But it didn’t work, and Ellen would not discuss it. Case closed. 

But that didn’t stop Helen from studying them. She knew exactly where the cuts would have to be made. 

It was only recently that it had occurred to Helen that she herself could make the cuts.

She would begin with the connection at their heads. The connection was very narrow, right above their respective ears. She gingerly put the blade to flesh and began to saw, gradually growing more comfortable with the process. 

She was stunned to find there was no pain. She began to wonder if she was even making a cut. Her answer arrived when warm blood spilled on to her hand. 

She finished the cut—the last bit of flesh took some doing as it stubbornly hung on. Helen felt her breaths become short as she pulled her head to the right, slowly severing the bond from her sister. It was an amazing sensation, one that left her mouth opened wide. Ecstasy as she moved away from her sister. It was a wonderful, amazing, thrilling feeling. 

Helen then saw a side of her sister she had never seen before. Even now, the view was obstructed, difficult to see through the blood that drenched her face and stung her eyes. Helen stifled a joyous laugh; her stupid sister slept away, unaware of the change taking place.

However, Helen’s work was far from done. Their hips remained. This would be much tougher, and would hurt for certain. But there was no sense in waiting.

She grit her teeth and began to cut. The pain was agonizing, but there was also the satisfaction of seeing their shared flesh pulling away. 

But when the saw found bone, the pain moved a level beyond agonizing. Excruciating didn’t quite cover it. Helen resisted the urge to scream, biting down hard on her bottom lip until it too began to bleed. 

She took a deep breath, choking back the vomit that wanted to spew forth from the pain. Her eyes drifted to the bottle of sedative. She greedily took it, twisting the top off to drink directly from the bottle. Perhaps it would dull the pain.

She gave the drug a moment to kick in, then began to cut again.

The saw cleared halfway through the bone when it snapped. The pain ran so deep that Helen could no longer stifle the screams. They echoed off the walls. Their lifelong bond was snapped as her sister involuntarily pulled free from her. Together, one last time together, they fell to the floor. 

Helen hit hard, seeing stars as her head bounced off the laminate floor. Ellen remained unconscious, unmoving and silent. Dead? Perhaps. It mattered not.

Through groggy eyes, Helen shed tears of joy. For the first time in their lives the sisters existed as separate entities. Helen joined her sister as she went unconscious, her last thoughts on the joy of her success, which outweighed the throbbing pain in her skull.
In certain observers, the sight of the bride coming down the aisle always seems to generate tears. These are people who come prepared, who stuff their purse with Kleenex or jam toilet paper into their pockets.

On this day, however, many of the guests were unprepared. For month upon agonizing month the bride had been practicing with her new prosthetic leg, unbeknownst to all present. So when she came down the aisle, walking, and wearing a broad smile for the husband that awaited, the assembly was left in tears. An amazing moment for one who had overcome so much.

Tucked away in the corner of the chapel sat another woman. She bore a strong resemblance to the bride. The sister of the bride. A bride who was doing her best to move on from tragedy. But the guest did not wear a broad smile like her sister. No, her face was blank. Emotionless. Cold. Dead. The same as always, since the “accident.” Accident. There was no better way to describe the events ruled by a judge to have been caused by an act of insanity. 

Despite being let off by the law of the land, for Helen the consequences had been severe. She was now a ward of the state, and little more than a vegetable, surmised by most as being from a combination of head trauma, severe loss of blood, and modern psychiatry. A tragic face of misery.

That face, frozen, seemingly forever, finally cracked in the corner of the church. When husband and wife kissed, joining the two of them together, that unmoving face in the corner was marked with a solitary tear.

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