Advancing, retreating. Pushing, pulling. The low, haunting melody hummed around him. It caressed. It teased. It insinuated itself into his very flesh.
David shook his head, trying to clear it, as he leaned, mug in hand, against the sink near the open kitchen window. He had come downstairs in hopes that some warm milk would help him sleep. He'd spent the last hour in bed, twisting from one side to another, while the racy, R-rated images of the "wee hours" movie he'd just viewed replayed themselves in a continuous loop through his brain. He knew he shouldn't have watched it, but Lynda had retired earlier, and he'd been bored.
"Where's this music coming from?" he muttered aloud. "The TV is off, and the radio isn't even plugged in."
Opening the back door, he listened intently. It seemed to be emanating from the brushy, brambly, back fence corner. He'd intended to clean out that area after they'd moved in last month, but he'd not gotten to it yet.
"I guess I'd better check it out." He grabbed the kitchen flashlight and headed out into the sultry summer night. Crossing the shadowy lawn, he picked up a stout stick and then whacked at the overgrowth until he exposed a flat, circular piece of wood, looking like an old cistern cover. The sound was definitely louder here. He leaned down, flipping the lid over.
His flashlight showed what appeared to be some kind of hole. An indistinct glow hovered at the surface, as if from a weak-wattage bulb reaching into dense fog. Before David could ponder that, he was staggered by a head rising at his feet through the haze. He stumbled backwards, breathless and voiceless, as shoulders and a torso followed. He dropped the flashlight in shock, but the moonshine revealed a youthful, feminine form, standing on some sort of platform, attired in a "barely-there" black dress . A misty shimmer clung to the bewitching figure, as she bowed slightly and held out a large tray, inviting in a low, Lauren Bacall-type voice, "May I offer you some dessert, Sir? You'll find my treats are quite tasty." David stared at cut-glass bottles containing various dark liqueurs and at gilt-edged plates of rich, decadent pastries and confections.
This is some bizarre dream I'm having, David assured himself with a nervous chuckle. And since it's not real, what would it hurt to indulge a bit? His mouth tingled as he swallowed bite after bite of the delicacies presented to him, and his blood seemed afire as he sampled all the drinks.
When he finished, the woman smiled, throwing him a flirtatious wink as she sank back down into the hole. He scooped up his flashlight and trained it on the spot, but saw only a black void.
A stomachache and a headache vied to awaken him the next morning. As he trudged into the bathroom , Lynda looked up from bed and asked, "How'd you get all those dried leaves and twiggy pieces on your robe?"
David glanced down at himself, the events of his dream flooding back. He cast about in his mind for a plausible reason. "Ummmm... the cat must've brushed against me on her way in last night."
Lynda seemed to accept that and settled back onto her pillow.
David was now desperate to inspect that corner of the yard, but he was already late for work, and the busy day and evening flew by with no opportunity. Bedtime came again, and soon after turning out his bedside lamp, the siren song began anew, drawing him like a magnet back to the pit. He glanced at Lynda, who snored softly in oblivion. With a sense of both curiosity and unease, he slipped from their room and out to the backyard.
Many covert encounters followed. Months passed. His marriage ruined, addictions gripping him, and his job in jeopardy, David met the now-familiar enchantress one frigid winter's eve. No tray of delectable delights welcomed him this time. Instead she beckoned David to draw closer. "Come with me tonight." she whispered in seductive, silken tones. "I'll show you things you've never even imagined before."
David hesitated, glancing back at his dark, empty house and reflecting on his dark, empty life. From the pit came muted sounds of belonging-- clinking glasses, women giggling, that old compelling music.
"Well, are you coming?" she purred.
As he began to step forward, an almost-forgotten childhood memory verse flashed through his mind, "The wages of sin is death..."
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