Bleed in Vain, by Timothy West

Melissa looked from the gaping wound in her chest to the still beating heart in her hand and said “Fuck. Those bastards lied to me.”

“Shouldn’t you be dead?” asked Skidoon. At least that’s what he’d said his name was. Melissa had told him she was Valkyrie.

He dropped his shotgun off the bed into a pool of blood.

“So should you.” Melissa was glad that they’d paid for the motel room in cash as Mr. and Mrs. Jones. The sheets were ruined. The wall behind her was covered in blood, and the carpet was never going to be the same again.

Skidoon’s heart beat on, not seeming to notice that it wasn’t attached to a circulatory system.

“Well,” said Skiddon. He sheepishly got up, went into the bathroom, and emerged with a towel wrapped around his chest. Stealing towels would be the least of the motel’s problems. He pulled on his pants. “I suppose this is the problem with internet death pacts.”

Melissa slipped on a bra over her remaining breast. I thought Immortidate was supposed to guarantee weak points.”

Skiddon shrugged and found his shirt. He pulled it on over the towel. “If you want, I could shoot you a few more times. See if I can find a weak spot.” He looked at his heart, awkwardly, not sure what to do with it.

Melissa sighed. “No good. What if you found mine before I found yours? You’d have a murder rap. And the hotel bill.” Her blouse lay in front of the motel room door. She pulled it on, awkward over the heart still in her hand. At least she’d worn red. Her husband wouldn’t even notice the stains, if he even looked up from the TV.

“You don’t know what your weak point is?” asked Skidoon. He sat in a chair by the bed to put on his shoes. The blood hadn’t spattered that far.

“No idea. Not drowning, fires, or, apparently, shotgun blasts to the chest.” Melissa looked sadly at the hole. It was already closing. “You?”

“I’ve tried shaving my head, cutting off my balls, decapitation, stabbing my hells…”

“All the classics,” Melissa nodded. “I’m glad your balls grew back, anyway.”

“Me too,” said Skiddon. He leaned in awkwardly for a kiss. They tried not to stain each other. “I’ll tell you what.” Skidoon sat down on the bed and took Melissa’s hand, the one with his heart. He took her other hand and clasped his heart with it. “Why don’t you keep this. This week, we’ll each try a different psychic, see what we can find out, and we’ll try again next week.”

“I can’t afford it,” said Melissa. “And my husband—“

“I’ll pay,” said Skidoon. “Just one more week.”

Melissa looked at the clock. It was almost dinner time. Her husband would be waiting, just like he had for the last three hundred years. Sitting in his chair, watching his pot bellow grow, waiting for her to get back from work and make him a sandwich. “Deal,” Melissa said.

Skidoon leaned over and kissed her, deeply. His heart pumped what blood was left all over the sheets. Then he stoo up and left. Melissa couldn’t help but check out his ass.

Melissa sighed and checked her chest. She was healed.

She pulled on her coat, spared from the spatters, and went home.



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Submitted for the 11/09 challenge, “Heart.”

This story was written in response to the prompt, Melissa looked from the gaping wound in her chest to the still-beating heart in her hand, and said, “Fuck.”

To see more of Tim’s work, check out his website at