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This is my winning entry for Bookbed Fictory, Bookbed.org’s very first fic fest. Black Love, with 6,634 words, won first place.
Prompt: Your (significant other) is rumored to be an engkanto.
The brilliant red, odd-looking shape was what my eyes caught first. With each movement, it stretched out gracefully, much like a yawning mouth. And then, just as slowly, I watched it deflate like a balloon, going back to its original form.
I frowned, searching my mind for what it reminded me of. But however hard I tried, it eluded me. I shook my head. My brain was not the same as before. Fog, debilitating, had crept in.
The legs came into view next. I cocked my head to one side, squinting my eyes. The grotesque, gangly, stick-like figure was hypnotizing as it was confounding. They were disjointed yet connected at the same time.
I counted. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Divided into seven segments. Joined together precariously like pieces of tacky clay. Each leg was covered in patches of uneven, thin hair; some long, some short. Curved, combed bristles adorned each leg’s bottom. Belatedly, I realized they were miniature feet.
Do you know how I came to that conclusion?
Because they were dragging themselves on the surface of my right hand. They treaded firmly, step by step, awakening my nerve endings, filling me with a mix of weird sensations. At first, it felt like a light caress, feather-like. I closed my eyes, letting the feeling overwhelm me. Gradually, it became somewhat ticklish, like tiptoeing to the beat of an unheard music. I stifled a smile. And then, all at once, it pricked my skin with the intensity of a long, sharp needle.
I snapped my eyes open. The hair on my arms raised alarmingly at the sight of hind legs kicking, flailing in the air. The rest of it was missing. It was embedding itself into my flesh. Paralyzed, I watched with a mixture of horror and awe as it burrowed deeper, deeper, until I could no longer see any part of it.
It was, fully, completely, inside me. I felt it crawling, biting, nibbling on my flesh, devouringme from inside.
Instinctively, I raised my left arm over my right hand, wanting to prevent the creature from further ingraining itself inside me.
To my horror, I saw my left hand.
Or rather, the lack of it.
In place of my left hand, an open, hideous wound met my sight. Freshly-dried blood and bright yellow green pus covered the cropped, swollen limb and tissues where my hand previously was. Gangrene was already evident, the horrid, stomach-turning stench almost making me puke.
Elsewhere, the noises of the insects scouring the night were getting louder, more terrifying than any night before. The rustle of the tree branches echoed endlessly, singing an eerie, haunting tune.
My nose captured a familiar, lingering scent. The citrusy vanilla scent of a yet unnamed, undiscovered wild orchid scattered around our village, perched in tree limbs a few feet above the ground. It pervaded my nostrils. For a moment, my muddled mind wondered why I was smelling it inside my bedroom.
Flashes of memory persisted, bringing sparks of light to an otherwise dark room that was my mind. A humongous fallen tree trunk carved, transformed into a bathtub. Pile upon pile of wild orchid flowers thrown into warm bathwater. My naked body descending on the aromatic, erotic purple pool. My hand groping underwater for another kind of flower, a thousand times more intoxicating and infinitely more satisfying.
Where I lost myself completely for two days and two nights. Where my raging libido was satisfied over and over and over again. Where I buried my body into and planted my precious seed.
Suddenly, I remembered what the odd-looking shape reminded me of.
It was the shape of a woman’s body. An hourglass. The identifying mark of a poisonous black widow spider.
Regrets, alas, did always come too late. I should have listened to my mentor. The old folks were right.
My wife is a black engkantada.
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