According to everyone, Mina Kingston was a saint.

She had the perfect life: a nice house, a good car, a loving husband, and many friends. She had every opportunity to become conceited. She was a child of privilege and had never been denied anything she wanted.

But Mina was not a selfish person by nature. A solid third of her paycheck was donated to charity every month, and she was never known to refuse to donate to a good cause. She was so often at goodwill donating hardly-used clothing and furniture that all the employees knew her by name. When many of her upper-class friends were out drinking or partying Mina was at the local Catholic Church, preparing meals for the homeless. Her generous reputation earned her plenty of adoration.

Mina was a popular figure at any evening gathering she attended. Part of it was because she was as beautiful as she was generous. Her full hair was the color of shining rubies. Her skin always tanned just so, making her the perfect picture of health. Every tooth in her mouth was exactly the right size, and not a single one was out of alignment. Her sparkling green eyes noticed everything with a caring and maternal air.

And there was something about her… something that no one could place. It drew you to Mina, just drew you.

Her husband was another matter entirely.

Jacob Kingston looked like a zombie in comparison to his wife. His skin had more gray then tan. His eyes were sunken and dull, two black orbs in his face. His lips had long since faded into the rest of his waxy skin, leaving only the dullest hint of color to indicate that he'd ever had any. He was morbidly thin, so much so that you could count the bones in any given part of his body. His ebony-black hair was always poorly cut and rather unkempt.

When the stood by one another, no one would even guess that Mina and Jacob Kingston were the same species, let alone a married couple. Why would a beautiful woman like Mina choose a hideous figure like Jacob? It was the subject of much hushed discussion among all of her friends. What could she possibly see in Jacob?

But Jacob loved Mina. Everyone knew that. He would handle her coat for her whenever it was necessary. He pulled out her chair before seating himself. He never took a bite of food before Mina. He had to love her. Why else would he serve her so?

Maybe even Jacob didn't know.

-------_------_-------_-------_-------_----------_----------_

The alarm rang into the stillness of the bedroom. Jacob's eyes flew open in panic. His arm immediately left the blanket he was buried under and flailed around, trying to locate the snooze button. Finally, his fingers accidentally pressed it, and the room was silent once again.

Jacob pulled the covers back over his face and let out a relieved breath. He'd got it before she'd come.

The half-empty bottle of sleeping pills by the mattress seemed to taunt Jacob. He hadn't slept much that night. The nightmares had come back again. One pill, two pills tops, and he could get rid of them. His fingers twitched. All he had to do was take the pills and he could get away from here. He didn't have to be here anymore.

But no, no, he couldn't. His Doctor told him not to take them too often. He'd become dependent on them, or something like that. Jacob gritted his teeth. He wanted his pills. He wanted to sleep.

Stupid Doctors, thinking they knew everything.

He pushed the blankets back and sat up. The familiar surroundings of his room comforted him. Admittedly it wasn't much, but he was comfortable with it exactly the way it was. It was the one place Jacob could be free of her. She couldn't reach him in here.

He let his legs brush the floor next to the mattress. Jacob knew he should get a bed frame, but he honestly preferred the floor. It was solid, familiar.

With a grunt, Jacob pushed himself to his feet. He swayed a bit, but stayed up. Goosebumps broke out all over his exposed skin. His room was the coldest one in the house. Hurriedly, Jacob grabbed some clothes from the pile at his feet. He pulled them on haphazardly, not bothering to check for stains.

Jacob headed for the open doorway to his room. He peered into the hallway and turned his head to both sides. She wasn't there. He relaxed visibly and walked out into the open.

Mistake.

"You're up early," came the silken voice. Jacob froze and cringed. His eyes darted to the left, and there she stood.

Mina was dressed to go out, in a nice gray pencil skirt and a white V-neck sweater. The pearls on her wrist caught the light of the windows surrounding the door behind her, shocking Jacob's eyes. He blinked quickly and prayed that when he looked over again Mina would be gone.

No such luck.

She stared back at him with the same smile she always gave him. The smile everyone else said was a kind, affectionate, thoughtful smile. That smile made Jacob want to scream.

When she smiled, something bad happened.

"Couldn't sleep again?" asked Mina, as though she were oblivious to Jacob's panic. "Did you try taking your medicine? You remember what the Doctor said, don't you? If you keep sitting up all night you'll get sick."

Her eyes glittered strangely when she said, 'you'll get sick.'

Jacob bit the inside of his mouth and tasted copper. Gross. He wanted to spit, but he didn't dare do it in front of Mina. Her eyes didn't leave his face, and her smile didn't waver. With a familiar jolt of fear Jacob realized that she wasn't blinking. A piece of ice seemed to appear in his stomach.

"You should try counting sheep," Mina continued on, voice taking on a childish edge. Jacob could almost hear her chuckling internally. His breath caught in his throat. He had to get away. But how could he? Mina was standing right there. She would see him no matter where he went.

"I'm going to a charity luncheon later," she said. "But first, me and the girls will be at the country club. If you need anything, don't hesitate to call."

Okay, now she was mocking him. Jacob bit the newly closed wound in his mouth to keep from shouting something back at her. Let her go, let her go. She wouldn't be home for several hours. He could be alone.

A shadow of something wicked seemed to flash across Mina's face, but it was gone in an instant, replaced by her usual sweet aura. She didn't wait for a response. Instead she turned and stepped down the single stair that put on level with the door. She didn't give him any further acknowledgement as she left.

Thank god. That could have gotten messy. Jacob breathed in and out, in and out like the Doctor told him. His hands absently clutched at his sides as though to keep himself from falling apart. Relax. Relax. She wasn't going to come back anytime soon. He tried to focus on something positive. Work! Yes, work was positive. Today he had to design a spreadsheet for his employer.

That thought cheered him up. Work always did. Jacob straightened up fully and let his arms fall to his side. He'd get breakfast and then he'd get to work. That was one of the many benefits of working from home – he could set his own hours.

Jacob entered the kitchen and only stayed long enough to grab a strawberry yogurt and a spoon before he ducked back out again. His office was just past the door to his room. It was a small but cozy space. He'd carpeted it in a nice, sandy color that reminded him of the beach and painted the walls a nice shade of beige. His desk was near the window so that sunlight could peer through the Venetian blinds without creating a glare on his computer screen. Jacob's desk was cluttered yet organized. It was a mess, but he always knew where everything was. He functioned best in disorganization. At least, according to his Therapist.

The computer was already on. The little green light seemed to greet Jacob and welcome him back to his world. He smiled cheerily and sat down in his comfortable office chair. It squeaked lightly, and the sound put Jacob even further at ease. This was his routine: his good, safe routine. He was alone and he could get some work done now.

And Mina was gone.

With that thought in mind Jacob set to work.

When the clacking of keys finally ceased, Jacob was shocked to see that it was 3:00. He hadn't paused to get up once. As though to remind him of that, he realized that his mouth was dry as the desert. With a sigh, Jacob pushed his chair back from his desk and stood. He jogged into the kitchen, still thinking about work. He had to design another Internet ad, and it had to be ready in two weeks. He wondered briefly if he could make that deadline. He knew he would, but it made him feel normal to ask himself that question. But soon enough, Jacob wouldn't be able to sleep again and he'd get up at midnight and have it done by three AM. That was how the majority of Jacob's projects got done.

The sound of the front door opening startled him out of his reverie. Jacob almost dropped the glass he was holding. He froze and listened carefully. He couldn't have imagined it… Sure enough, the sound of high heels clicking on tiles could be heard. They were coming towards the kitchen. Jacob stayed where he was, like an animal trapped in the headlights.

Mina stepped into view, hair and make-up still as perfect as they had been when she left. She stopped in the kitchen doorway, and her eyes slid over to Jacob. Her characteristic smile widened.

"Out of the office, I see," she said. Her voice made Jacob feel like a mouse about to be eaten by a cat. "How was work today?"

Jacob refused to answer. He realized with a start that he was clenching his jaw again. He knew he should let up, but if he relaxed at all then she would notice and take advantage of it. He kept his rigid stance, eyes never leaving Mina.

"Did you get a lot done?" Mina didn't seem to notice that Jacob wasn't speaking. She pulled her purse off of her shoulder and walked over to the kitchen table to set it down. Even though her eyes were focused on her task, Jacob could still feel her gaze burning a hole in him. He tried to swallow, but again his mouth was dry. "I thought I'd cook dinner tonight. What would you like?"

Jacob took a small breath and held it for a second. He allowed his eyes to close, blocking him from Mina. If he played deaf, maybe she'd go away. What interest could she possibly have in a broken play toy?

"So, meatloaf again?" said Mina. "You sure do love your meatloaf. It's not healthy for you, you know. You have to eat more than that to sustain yourself. Oh, that reminds me. Did you remember to eat today?"

Her voice was so soft and caring. How could someone so terrifying sound so angelic? For a second Jacob almost let himself answer her. But then he remembered who was speaking, and a shiver ran up his spine. He forced himself to open his eyes and look at Mina again, before he became confused and said something he didn't mean to. And nothing would please her more than to get inside his head.

"You need to eat more often," Mina said, eyes dancing with a bizarre light Jacob couldn't place. "You wouldn't want to starve to death out here, all by your lonesome, now would you?"

She was either amused or mocking him. Jacob couldn't tell. Her face kept its angelic quality while her eyes dug into him. He wondered if it was possible to start bleeding from the sheer force of someone's gaze.

But if anyone could kill someone with her eyes, it was Mina.

"Hmm?" asked Mina, as though Jacob had spoken. "Don't you want to go sit down? Or do you want to help me with the cooking?"

Now Jacob let himself move. He set his glass down and noticed to his surprise that he was shaking. His eyes darted over to Mina. Could she tell? Her eyes stared back at him, ever unblinking. Jacob looked down at the counter, suppressing the urge to shudder openly. He stepped forwards. Mina was standing by the only exit to the kitchen. With a prickle of fear Jacob knew that he would have to pass right by her to get out. He drew in another breath and stepped past her, not daring to look at her or even acknowledge her presence. His eyes remained glued to the door. His hands pulled it open easily, and the entrance hallway it lead to had never looked so good. Jacob stepped through and let the swinging door shut itself behind him. He'd done it. He'd survived Mina.

Jacob speed-walked towards his office, not daring to look back. If he did, Mina would probably be there, standing in the kitchen door and watching him walk away with her unblinking eyes.

The moment Jacob's feet hit the carpet of his office his shoulders sagged. He felt certain he'd just avoided something bad. He didn't know exactly what, but it was something, and it had been looming over him, preparing to strike for as long as he was under Mina's gaze.

Jacob's hands became fists at his side. For a second he stood like that, letting his nails dig deep into the familiar scars in his palm, but then he came back to his senses. He had to calm himself down. Deep breathing. Positive thinking. Happy place.

At least Mina couldn't get to him in his office. That thought calmed Jacob down slightly. Mina had never been in his office with him, ever. If she needed him, she'd always stood in the doorway and called to Jacob. She might have been in there when he wasn't, though. Sometimes Jacob would set something down and leave for a while and come back, only to find the thing missing. And his chair, which had remained permanently adjusted to exactly Jacob's height, had a strange habit of occasionally being pushed all the way down. It was like Mina's way of mocking him, of letting him know that he was never really safe.

But he was, right now. Mina wouldn't dare set foot in his office while Jacob was still there, he felt sure of that. It just wasn't something Mina did. She'd wait till he was gone before she crept in here, leaving small hints that she'd been there just to frighten Jacob. She couldn't crawl inside of him, so she had to make sure that he always remembered her using external mediums. After all, how could she sleep at night if she didn't believe that Jacob was lying awake, eyes scanning the darkness frantically and waiting for her to finally come and drag him down to hell with her.

But she won't, Jacob thought. Not now.

He could vaguely hear the sounds of Mina moving around in the kitchen. Jacob wondered if she was listening for him, too, trying to hear him scurrying around, imagining that he was afraid. He could picture her as she set up the kitchen, preparing the only meal she could adequately make. She would probably be thinking of him, planning her next move, waiting for Jacob to collapse in a panic so that she could attack.

Well, he wouldn't. Jacob wouldn't oblige her like that.

For lack of anything better to do, Jacob checked his E-mails. There was nothing new but some junk mail, which he deleted without opening. He sighed as he leaned back against his chair. He felt so isolated, alone with only himself and her.

Jacob couldn't help but wonder what would happen when he died, which surely wouldn't be too far in the future. How long would it take everybody to notice? Would there be a big funeral, or just a small service before they threw him in the ground forever?

Stop it! Jacob chided himself. I can't think about that. He remembered what his therapist told him about thinking morbid thoughts. Something about raising his stress levels and a heart attack. Jacob hadn't really been listening. He'd suddenly wondered if it was possible for Mina to hear them where she was waiting just outside the door. Jacob could almost feel her stifling malevolent presence. What was she thinking?

Jacob blinked furiously and tried to focus on the screen in front of him. That had been a long while ago. There was no use thinking about it.

He leaned forwards and studied the article in front of him. Apparently a man had gone missing and turned up recently, swearing by god that he'd been abducted by aliens. Jacob would have been amused if the man didn't remind him of himself. Nobody believed him, and everyone dismissed him as crazy like they dismissed that man. What would they say when he was gone?

No. Jacob couldn't allow himself to go there. He pressed the back button on his browser. He needed to get away from anything that reminded him of himself and Mina.

He stayed like that for what might have been hours. His eyes stared through his computer as his numb brain froze on a thought about flowers and funerals. Not quite asleep, yet not awake, Jacob remained suspended between something dark and something cold until his ears picked up the sound he'd been dreading.

It was Mina's heels.

He sat up and turned towards the doorway to his office. He didn't want her to see him when he was vulnerable. Jacob hoped to god that he looked like he'd been awake. If she thought he'd been sleeping god only knows what Mina would think.

Momentarily she appeared, filling out the gap between him and the hallway. Her eyes peered at him like she was trying to pry into his mind.

"Dinner's ready," Mina said cheerfully. She waited for a reaction. When she received none, she continued. "I thought we'd eat in the kitchen tonight."

Eating in the kitchen. Having her sitting right across from him, eying his every move, watching every bite he took. Oh, boy. Jacob was sure having a good day.

He hesitated. He could say no, couldn't he? After all, how could Mina exist? Surely she wasn't strong enough to physically drag him into the kitchen. Was she? Jacob honestly didn't know. Maybe if he just stared at her she'd let him off the hook.

"Come on," said Mina. Her tone made it obvious that it was not a request, but a demand.

Jacob stood up. Mina grinned at him as though to say, 'that wasn't so bad, was it'? But really, it was. And he'd have said it, too, if he weren't afraid of what her reaction would be. Jacob followed her back into the kitchen, hating himself for being spineless and hating her for being brutal.

As soon as he was through the door Jacob saw that the table had already been set. At Mina's place was her customary glass of dinner wine, already poured. Jacob's wineglass sat empty by his plate. The meatloaf sat in the center of the table like a bizarre decoration, surrounded by boiled carrots and potatoes. Jacob felt like he'd seen the same setting a thousand times before. They always ate like this.

He walked forwards and took his place in the seat closest to the door. Mina passed him and settled into the far chair. For a second she just sat there and stared across the table at him. Jacob stared back, wondering what on Earth she could possibly want more?

"Why don't you have some wine?" asked Mina suddenly, startling him. Jacob stared at her hand, which was now holding out the bottle like it was an offering. He studied it before turning his eyes to Mina's face. She watched him like she was waiting for a cue, but Jacob knew he'd wind up with a glassful of wine no matter what.

Sure enough, Mina stood so that she was closest to his glass. The cork came off the bottle with a tiny pop that sounded like a gunshot in the morbid silence of the kitchen. She poured out the dark wine to the rim of Jacob's glass, forgetting or ignoring the fact that Jacob never drank much. Satisfied, she put the cork back onto the wine bottle and set it back in the center of the table next to the meatloaf. Mina stepped back over to her chair and sat down. Her thin fingers reached out and gripped her own glass for a second, before she raised it in the air.

"Toast," she said simply. Jacob cursed her for knowing how to get him to take a sip even when he hadn't intended to drink. Grudgingly he raised his own glass. The table was too wide for the glasses to touch, so they bumped the air. Mina brought her glass to her lips and took a short sip. Jacob paused with his glass tilted ever so slightly towards his mouth. Something was wrong. The smell was… off somehow. His eyes probed into Mina desperately. Was she trying to pull something? She, in turn, looked back at him and moved her head sideways ever so slightly, as though to ask why he hadn't taken a drink. For a fraction of a second something positively malicious appeared in her eyes, but it was gone as soon as it appeared. Jacob took a deep breath before taking a large sip.

Something was wrong after all. Jacob's mouth was filled with a rusty, metallic taste. Blood. He swallowed quickly, almost gagging at the wretched taste as it went down. He knew he'd lurched forwards in his seat a bit, but for once he didn't care what Mina was thinking at the moment. Jacob peered into his glass, feeling the panic rise up inside of him.

Oh god, he thought. What did I just drink?

He shook his glass slightly and watched the ripples. If there was anything strange in there it wasn't immediately apparent. Jacob tried to calm himself down, but suddenly the floor seemed to lurch beneath him, surprising him. His glass hit the table, and some of his wine splashed onto the polished wood. Jacob leaned forwards in his chair as the room bucked around him. He barely even heard Mina's chair scraping the floor.

Cold hands gripped his wrists. Jacob looked up and saw Mina staring into his face, a look of almost sarcastic concern in her eyes. She was crouched beside him on the trembling ground. Jacob wondered why she wasn't falling all over.

"Are you okay?" She asked. Jacob's vision began to grow blurry around the edges. For a second Mina just continued to stare at him, the only thing in the world that wasn't moving. "What's the matter?"

Jacob closed his eyes, hoping to stop everything. He couldn't handle much more moving. He prayed desperately that to just fall asleep, right then and there. He didn't even care that Mina was present. Just so long as it would all stop.

"Do you need your pills?" Asked Mina. Jacob opened his eyes again and forced himself to stare at her before he could fall into her trap again. She was still crouched in front of him, but now she was leaned closer so that their faces were only inches apart. One of the straps of her tiny evening dress (when had she changed?) fell down, revealing one breast more than the other. The way he was looking at her he had a prime view of her assets. The look on Mina's face was predatory. Jacob's mind immediately conjured up the image of a black widow spider, a female spider that consumed her own mate when she was done reproducing with him. Mina pushed herself up a bit more, and her dress slid further down. Jacob leaned back, wanting to distance himself from her and that dangerous look on her face.

"Do you want me to get your pills?" Mina questioned. She pulled herself further. Whether intentionally or not she was now sitting on his knee. The dress hiked up around her thighs, revealing perfect smooth skin beneath it. "Which ones do you want?"

Mina leaned into him. Jacob could feel her body, firm, with curves in all the right places, and so frigid he could hardly stand it. He gritted his teeth so hard his jaw hurt. He stared fearfully at her. He was powerless and she knew it. He was at her mercy. Mina's dress slid down further, and she pressed herself harder against him. Her face was less than an inch from his. Her dark, soulless eyes pinned Jacob to the spot. The look on her face had gone from dangerous to downright terrifying. He could almost feel the homicidal tendencies rolling off of her.

"Do you want me to pick?" she asked. Her arms found their way around his waist. Jacob had to hold back a wince as Mina's perfectly manicured nails dug into his back through his flimsy shirt. Raw fear surged though his veins. He wanted so badly to raise his arms and push her away, but at the same time he didn't dare.

Mina's eyes bore into his skull. Jacob could feel the pressure building behind his eyes. If this game went on any longer he'd have a pounding headache he'd never be able to rid himself of. As it were, he was looking at a long, sleepless night filled with paranoia. He needed to get her away from him, now. But how could he dare defy her? Mina had him weakened in front of her and he knew it. The first of many sharp pains shot through his temple like someone had just pierced it with a nail. Jacob leaned forwards and winced, forgetting not to let Mina know she was winning.

"I'll get your medicine," said Mina. She let go of him and pushed herself off of his knee. The look on her face was the look of a woman rejoicing over a victory. She smirked as she turned and walked into the kitchen, an uncharacteristically dark look for her.

Jacob tried not to move. Even the slightest tremor made his head hurt worse. He squeezed his eyelids shut and held his breath, trying to block out the world entirely. He tried to stay quiet, but gods, it was so painful!

Mina's footsteps alerted him to her return. Jacob pulled his head up and looked at her. She was still wearing her tiny evening dress. Her smirk was gone, however, replaced with her usual angelic smile. She held out her hand, revealing a small pink pill between her thumb and pointer finger. Mina brought the pill to Jacob's lips and eyed him expectantly. Jacob, in turn, pulled away like he'd just seen a snake. If Mina had fetched it then something was wrong. He'd never seen that kind of pill before and god only knew what it would do to him.

"Come on, now," said Mina patiently. "You have got to get over your phobia of generic medicines. They're not going to hurt you. Just take this pill and I promise you, it'll all go away."

Jacob didn't doubt it.

They stayed frozen like that for what might very well have been hours. It was a war of the wills. Mina remained in place, like an inanimate statue, permanently pro-offering her chosen poison, and Jacob stayed glued to the back of his seat, refusing to succumb. Mina wouldn't kill him, not if he could stop her.

"What's the matter?" She crooned, like she was talking to a small child. "This will make you feel better. Would you rather have your sleeping pills?"

Jacob didn't respond.

"Just take this," Mina told him. "It'll be sort of like taking your sleeping pills, only you won't fall asleep. It'll help you relax and make your pain go away."

But for how long, Jacob wondered. How long would his pain be gone? Forever? He couldn't trust anything she offered to him. Nothing ever came from Mina with goodwill.

"Take the pill, " she told him. "It'll make your head stop hurting."

She reached over for a glass of water that seemed to have materialized in the center of the table. Putting the glass to his mouth, Mina eyed Jacob again like a predator eying her prey.

"Take the pill," she said, her voice laced with darkness.

What choice did he have? Jacob took a deep breath and opened his mouth. He could feel her cold fingers set the pill on his tongue. Even the water she poured down his throat was cold. He would have shuddered if it wouldn't please Mina to see him do so. Instead he remained stiff as a board, denying her the reaction she craved.

"There now," said Mina gently. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

Her voice held almost sarcastic tenderness. Jacob could feel the ill intentions radiating off of her like a fire emits heat. She flashed him a rewarding smile before she turned again and went to the sink with the cup he'd drank out of.

Strange warmth appeared in the pit of Jacob's stomach. The pain in his head disappeared, only to be replaced by a bizarre hollow feeling. He raised his hands to his forehead and touched it tentatively, trying to think of what could cause this sensation. His skin felt absolutely freezing to the touch. He withdrew his hand in shock. He was as cold as Mina! What had she done to him?

Jacob heard the water running. The sink was really only a few feet away, but the noise sounded like it was coming through a long tunnel to reach his ears. He blinked, and his movement felt delayed and sluggish to him.

The sink went quiet. Mina turned towards him and smiled over the separating counter. Terror seemed to grip Jacob's insides. What the hell was she trying to pull? Was she going to try and kill him? He watched in horror as she started towards him. He turned his head quickly, searching for anything he could use to fend her off. His eyes fell on the platter of meatloaf and more importantly, the knife that rested on top of it.

The knife was far too sharp to be used for such a soft dish. Why Mina had brought it to the table was a mystery to Jacob. Still, beggars can't be choosers. His hand shot out and wrapped around the hilt. Mina's footsteps were so close now that she was almost close enough to reach out and touch. Jacob whirled around to face her, blade still clutching the knife desperately.

"Feel better?" asked Mina in what was more of a hiss then a whisper. Her eyes had gone from glittering with to positively glowing. Jacob's breath caught in his throat. His shaking hand gripped the knife so tightly he didn't think he'd ever be able to let go. Mina stopped just a few inches from him and bent over, once again displaying her body. The primal look on her face seemed etched into her very being. The picture of a large black spider sprang unbidden into Jacob's mind. "You look better."

And then Jacob's hand wasn't at his side anymore. It was pushing the knife into Mina's chest.

She gasped in shock. Her eyes flashed with a dangerous look as she crumpled forwards. She reached out and clung to the table for support. Blood from around the blade splattered onto Jacob's lap. Mina's dress slid down, revealing her heaving chest. Blood poured down her torso and pooled onto the fabric of her dress.

Something rose up inside of Jacob. Something raw and wild and crazed and frantic and above all something LIBERATED. He'd never felt so free in his entire life. Mina's gasps seemed to egg him on, telling him to finish what he started. With hands trembling from desperation he pulled out the weapon. For a second he hesitated, hypnotized by how dark Mina's eyes had become. She wasn't dead, but her eyes seemed to have turned into large black marbles that rolled around in her skull like they belonged to a weighted doll.

The moment passed. Jacob stuck his fist into Mina's stomach with all his might. It sliced into her cleaning, and he could feel it nick something vital inside of her. Animalistic elation rose up inside of her. Yes! This was what he wanted!

He pulled out the knife again, and a spurt of blood sprayed over him. The gaping slit in Mina's stomach pulsated, oozing blood and vital little pieces of her being. He was killing her.

Jacob's hand rose up again and found itself embedded between her ribs. Mina let out a sound like all the air in her lungs was rushing out at once. She shook almost like she was having a seizure before she fell onto her knees, ripping the knife out crookedly. Her mouth opened wide in a silent scream of pain.

The knife struck the skin between her shoulder and her collarbone. Jacob pulled it back out and watched in fascination as it spit droplets of blood over everything. Mina fell over backwards, hands desperately clutching her stomach. Her eyes rolled wildly, slipping around like she couldn't control them. Jacob watched her with a grim satisfaction. In only a few seconds her movements had slowed drastically. It was like watching a flailing fish die in slow motion. More anger surged up in Jacob for a reason he couldn't place. He pushed himself off the chair and landed, straddling Mina's waist with the knife held high. Eyes clouded by fury, he drove the blade down into the beginning of her left ribcage. Mina's eyes seemed to shrink. Her entire body went limp, and her head fell to the left. A thin stream of blood dripped from her open jaw onto the floor.

Jacob stared down at her, breathing so hard he though his chest would burst. He'd done it. He'd killed Mina.

He let his hands fall down limply to his sides. The adrenaline rush wore off, replaced by numbness. Jacob looked up, his eyes not really seeing the kitchen door he was now staring at. A part of him knew what he'd done, but another part of Jacob wasn't sure it had really happened. Even as he glanced down and saw her corpse, he couldn't believe that it had been him that killed her. Where had he gotten the courage? When had he stopped being afraid?

He couldn't remember.

Suddenly Jacob realized that his pants were wet. He looked down and saw that the blood had seeped through them and was now touching his skin. He almost gagged in revulsion. Jacob jerked back as though that would keep the blood at bay and fell onto his backside next to Mina's legs.

It took him a minute to regain control of his shaking. When he did, Jacob pushed himself up and examined his work.

There was no doubt about it; Mina was dead.

A little voice seemed to pipe up in his head. He couldn't simply leave her corpse lying in the middle of the kitchen floor – that wouldn't do. Someone was bound to come looking for Mina eventually, and it would be hard to explain what she was doing dead on the kitchen floor with the knife that did it at her side. Jacob was going to have to move her.

The only question was, how? He wasn't strong enough to drag her out to the pond on the edge of their property. He needed something he could lay her on, something to help with resistance.

Suddenly Jacob remembered the sitting room. Particularly, he remembered the afghan on the couch in the sitting room. It was big enough to comfortably hold two people on it. Of course, there was only need to move one. Jacob grinned a little at his own cleverness.

He stood up dizzily. The floor still seemed to be moving beneath his feet, but it was not nearly so bad as before. He stumbled forwards and out of the kitchen.

The sitting room was across from his bedroom. As always, it was impeccably clean. No one would ever be able to guess that anyone even used it. The entire room looked like some sort of furniture display at an expensive retailer. That was probably because Jacob never used the room and Mina treated it solely as a classy storage room.

Jacob grabbed the afghan from where it was neatly folded on the back of the couch. He examined it for a moment, trying to figure out if the fabric was strong enough to handle the wear of being dragged across rough ground. Deciding that it would have to work, Jacob tossed it over his shoulder and made his way back into the kitchen.

Mina was laid out exactly as he'd left her, only there seemed to be a bit more blood now. It was a surprisingly dark color, somehow suited to her true personality, Jacob thought. He tossed the afghan down besides the puddle and crouched down. He grabbed Mina's upper arms and pulled her onto it none too gently. Next he put her feet on.

Once he was done with that he stood back and just stared down at Mina again. She looked like a creature from a horror movie. Jacob bit his tongue, trying to distract from his discomfort. There was no time to worry now. He could reminisce once he'd gotten rid of her.

Jacob grabbed the corners of the afghan and began to drag her towards him, all the while taking baby steps backwards. He was lucky; the door to the backyard was right behind Mina's chair. He stopped when he felt the exit behind him and without turning pulled down on the handle and opened the door.

Getting Mina outside was easy enough. She fell from the floor onto the grass with a dull thud, eyes still fixated on something beyond the world. Jacob wondered morbidly if she was seeing hell.

He let go of the blanket for a moment and stood up to examine the yard. There weren't really any good places to leave her. The property stretched on for a quarter of a mile in each direction. Jacob's best bet would be to toss Mina in the pond.

No, wait. Part of the pond belonged to the neighbor. Mina's corpse might was up on his side, and he might find her. No, Jacob had to find a better place.

He turned to his left and examined the thin line of trees that served as a pitiful forest. It would be hard to dig a hole there, but at least the trees provided shelter and would protect the fresh-dug Earth from view. Yes, Jacob could work with that. He turned back to his makeshift stretcher and started moving again, this time in a left-diagonal line. Occasionally he hit a pothole and winced as more thick almost-black blood dripped from Mina's wounds. The blood wasn't going to wash out of the afghan anytime soon, he could tell.

Jacob turned around occasionally to examine the wood. About twenty yards from the house was a large elm tree. The roots rose up unevenly, forming a weird natural staircase that took you up to nothing and then back down to even ground. If he put Mina behind that area, she'd been invisible from the house. Then Jacob would never have to lay eyes on Mina ever again.

Thank heavens for small favors.

Jacob pulled and pulled. The muscles in his arms were stretching awkwardly, and they protested angrily. A thin sheen of sweat appeared on his face. His fingers grew numb from their tight grip on the afghan.

But still he persevered. Jacob would never be able to sleep knowing Mina was within fifteen feet of the house. No, he had to move her.

At long last Jacob's cramped legs found the incline up. He reached down and grabbed onto Mina's upper arm again to keep her from sliding off the blanket. He pulled both her and the afghan up with the opposite arms, making his muscles ache even worse.

Getting Mina back down was east. Jacob just set her back onto the soft fabric and eased her onto the ground besides him. He was so totally engrossed in his task that he didn't even notice what he was standing next to until he looked up.

Jacob dropped the blanket in shock.

There weren't words to describe the surge of emotions he felt when he saw the grave. It was a shock beyond a shock, a terror beyond a terror. His heart jolted hard in his chest, and not from the mystery pill Mina had given him before she'd died.

How the hell had that gotten there? Jacob collapsed to his knees, unable to bear the shock.

In front of him, carved into the Earth, was a huge square hole. It was at least six feet deep, judging from the size of it, and nine feet long and wide.

She had been trying to kill him. Jacob had suspected it all along, but now his fears were confirmed. Sometime recently she must have gone out and dug this grave, intending to bury him there. He'd only killed her before she killed him.

Still, Jacob couldn't catch his breath. He felt like he'd just been punched in the stomach.

It could be me, he thought. He looked over at Mina's corpse with a new sense of loathing.

With renewed vigor he began to pull her. The afghan slid soundlessly towards to grave, as though assuring him that no one would ever know what Jacob had done. How could they? He was going to bury Mina in the grave intended for him.

Jacob dragged her closer and closer to the hole until they were both parallel to it. Finally he stopped. It was finally time for him to get rid of her.

Gingerly, almost as though he were trying not to wake her, Jacob lifted her body as much as he could. He put one arm beneath her knees and one under the small of her back. She was heavier then she had ever seemed to be in life, and Jacob wondered if it was some sort of strange death reaction. He'd heard the term 'dead weight' before, but he'd never really understood it.

His arms cradled Mina as he lifted her over the grave. Her legs dangled in the open air. She looked so fragile and innocent. Jacob almost felt protective of her.

Almost.

He pulled his arms out from under her and watched her fall.

Mina's body hit the bottom of the hole with a loud 'thud'. Jacob waited a second, almost as though waiting for her to start screaming, before he peered over the edge.

She lay splayed out awkwardly over the dirt. Her hair was spread around her like silken pillow. Those dark eyes were turned away from him in the complete opposite direction. From above the holes in her body didn't look so bad. She would look beautiful if she weren't so terrible.

Jacob watched, captivated, unaware of the passing of time. Mina almost looked like she would get up again, like she'd just sit up and call to him. And wouldn't that be grand? He'd stand above her and listen to her beg him desperately to let her out, she'd do anything, she leave him be, and he'd never have to see her again if he just spared her!

Jacob couldn't help but smile at the thought.

He pushed himself back onto his feet. He was covered in the fresh soil from the grave now, but he hardly noticed. Right now, Jacob had to find a shovel. He looked around himself as though checking for anyone watching him. Something caught his eye, and Jacob turned to investigate.

Leaning innocently against the small twisted elm behind him was a shovel.

Jacob grinned brightly. Of course, of course! Everything was going his way today. He reached out and grabbed onto it. Whatever deity existed in Heaven was clearly looking down at him mercifully. He stepped back a little and set to work scooping up dirt and replacing it in the hole.

It was pitch black out when Jacob stopped. He was panting, and he had to lean against the shovel for support. The grave was full now. Mina had gotten hers.

In a total state of exhaustion, Jacob laid down the shovel and stumbled out from behind the large elm. His feet felt like lead, and his entire body was sore. He wanted nothing more than to flop down on the ground and just sleep, right then and there. But he couldn't bring himself to sleep so close to Mina, even if she was dead and buried.

So Jacob dragged himself back to the house. His feet were like blocks of lead, and his entire body felt like he was walking underwater. Even breathing seemed to take too much effort. After what seemed like hours, Jacob dragged himself through the open door and back into the house. He walked around the puddle of blood in the middle of the floor (he'd have to remember to clean that tomorrow) and out of the kitchen.

Jacob's bed had never looked so inviting. He barely made it to the mattress before he fell forwards. The moment his head was resting on the sheets he was asleep.

----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_

The shrill alarm woke Jacob up. His arm shot out from his side on instinct. He flailed it around, trying to find the snooze button, but his fingers were having trouble finding the alarm. Frowning, Jacob pushed himself up and surveyed his surroundings. He was shocked to realize that he was lying diagonally on the mattress, limbs spread out crazily around himself. His skin felt gritty against the soft sheets, and there was something crusty stuck to the front of his pants. Jacob pulled himself over to the clock and hit the off button before he rolled himself onto his back and stared down at himself.

Blood. He had blood on him. Jacob almost screamed when he saw his pants. Where did it all come from? Oh god, was it his? Had something happened during the night?

All of a sudden Jacob remembered. He remembered Mina lying in the middle of the kitchen. He remembered the knife. He remembered the grave. He remembered her black-marble eyes.

And he'd never felt so relieved in his life.

Triumph surged through Jacob's veins. He was thrilled beyond anything he'd ever felt before. Mina was dead. He'd gotten rid of her and saved himself. Now there was nothing left to bind him; he could be free. Jacob wouldn't spend any more days in his office, hyperventilating over the keyboard as her footsteps came closer and closer to him. He wouldn't be afraid anymore; there was nothing to fear.

Jacob stood up and stretched. He felt better then he had in a long time. For once, he'd gotten a peaceful night's sleep. Logically, he should be sore from filling in the hole last night, but his muscles felt fine. The only thing that could possibly bother him was how filthy he was. Jacob looked down again and surveyed himself critically. He definitely looked like someone who'd just killed his wife, that was for sure. He needed a nice hot shower.

Grabbing some clothes from the floor by his pillow, he padded out of the room. The main bathroom in the house was through the living room, directly beneath the master bathroom upstairs. Of course, Jacob never used the upstairs bathroom. That was Mina's room. So instead he went into 'his' bathroom and turned on the shower.

It was hard to get undressed because the dried blood had seeped through his pants and stuck his skin and the fabric together. Finally, after two solid minutes of trying, Jacob managed to free himself. He tossed his clothes aside and made a mental note to wash them twice before he stepped under the stream of hot water.

It was the most refreshing shower he'd ever had, Jacob decided. He stepped out of the misted-glass doors and grabbed his familiar threadbare towel. While he dried himself off, Jacob let his thoughts wander back to the previous night. A small frown settled on his features.

Had he really killed Mina? Really, REALLY killed her? It seemed odd, that she hadn't seen it coming. Mina always looked at him like she could read his thoughts. In his nightmares, she'd always predicted every move Jacob made before he made them, and he found that somehow strangely accurate to the real Mina. The time he'd gotten sick for a week after eating her leftovers, a note had appeared on the counter just two minutes after she'd gotten home, warning him not to eat the food in the refrigerator. Jacob considered it to be her way of mocking him.

And what about the time he'd fallen down the stairs to the basement? Even though the door had been shut, Mina had still come him and gone straight to the top of that staircase to find him. How did she know that if she couldn't read his mind?

The more he thought about it, the less it made sense. Jacob bit his lip and stared into the mirror over the sink as though looking for answers. Why hadn't she known he was going to kill her?

Suddenly another thought struck him. Maybe Mina HAD known! That would explain why she gave him the sour wine and that strange pill! She'd intended to kill him before he killed her!

Now that made sense. It was the pure essence of Mina – to attack someone cruelly in a way that made her look like a saint. She wouldn't have wanted her name dirtied by Jacob's disappearance and a police investigation into the matter. If she made it look like an accident, a case of poisoning from a pill and some wine, then she could avoid personal repercussions.

A strange tingling sensation started at the nape of Jacob's neck. He felt almost as if he were the one mind reading, looking into Mina's thoughts and maybe even into her pitch-black soul. It was an unpleasant feeling, like someone had just dumped a barrel of ice water over his head in the middle of a freezing night. He'd known all along what she was capable of, but even so, it was terrifying to realize how close he'd come to dying. If he hadn't stabbed her then it would be him in the grave she'd dug, instead of (by a bizarre turn of events) Mina herself.

Jacob pulled on his clothes quickly, trying to warm himself up. He was surprised to discover, when he looked in the mirror again, how pale his face was. He looked sickly.

But it was to be expected. Thinking about Mina always made Jacob lose some color. But now Mina was dead. How long was it going to take for him to stop fearing her? She was buried under tons of dirt in the backyard,

Of course! Mina was buried in the backyard! Jacob knew what would make him feel better. He needed to go out and examine her grave. Once he saw how tightly she was sealed into the earth, it would help him get over his phobia. He grinned at his reflection, surprised and pleased by his own wisdom.

Jacob left the bathroom with a spring in his step. The entire house was quiet, just the way he liked it. He walked into the kitchen feeling like he owned the place, rather then feeling like he was chained to it. The huge pool of blood in the middle of the kitchen didn't even faze Jacob. It was like Mina's last petty attempts to preserve her memory and she had failed. She was still dead, and he, Jacob, was still very much alive. He laughed out loud for sheer wonderment. Wasn't he lucky!

He managed to step around the blood without getting any on him or any of his clothes. He stepped outside feeling like a million dollars.

From his spot in the grass just outside the door, Jacob couldn't see the spot where Mina's body lay. But he knew it was there. His mind wasn't vivid enough to make up something like the events of the previous night. Confidently he walked forwards, his eyes glued on the elm that shielded him from Mina. It seemed like a present from god today, something that made sure he'd never have to look at her again if he didn't want to. Jacob could barely believe how well everything fit together!

He stepped on the elm's roots with just as much giddiness. But stepping down, Jacob saw something that froze him right in his tracks.

The grave was there, all right. It lay almost completely undisturbed, with all the freshly replaced dirt standing out in the surrounding grass and foliage.

But now an expertly manicured hand was sticking out of the middle of the area.

Jacob stared in horror at the appendage. He'd know that pale, graceful hand anywhere. It was Mina's. But he'd buried her at the bottom of the grave! There was no way her arm could be sticking out, no way! Besides, he would have seen it last night.

As Jacob continued to stare in horror, the pale hand convulsed suddenly, like the person it belonged to had just received an electrical shock. For a second he was too petrified to even move. Then, all of a sudden, he was running across the lawn desperately, staring at the house like a madman. Once he'd arrived, Jacob threw himself through the open back door and slammed it shut behind him. He leaned his back against it as though to fend off some nightmarish follower. His chest heaved like he'd just run two miles without stopping. He could feel his eyes bulging in their sockets.

How could this have happened? Mina was dead when Jacob had buried her, he was sure of it! Even a devilish creature like her couldn't survive that much blood loss! He stared at the bloody floor in front of him, as though looking for confirmation. There had to be four liters of red liquid there, at least! Even the devil himself couldn't survive that!

Right?

But he'd seen it. Jacob knew he'd seen it. He'd stood only three feet away as her hand, which should be stiff with rigor mortis by now, had twitched. The dead didn't shake, and they didn't crawl to the top of their graves. But what other explanation was there? Mina was dead, and as Jacob stood there she was digging her way out.

That thought hit him like a blow to the stomach. At that very moment, Mina was awake and planning her revenge. Even the pounds of Earth he'd bound her with couldn't hold her! She was coming, and when she arrived, she was going to kill Jacob. He was as sure of it as he'd ever been sure of anything.

Jacob's eyes scanned the kitchen desperately. He had to find something to protect himself with! The knife was still on the floor, but it was covered in Mina's blood, and he knew he couldn't trust anything with even a hint of her on it. He needed something reliable, something that Mina had never touched. But where could he find something like that?

For the first time Jacob cursed himself for not owning a gun. In the past he'd considered it to be a necessity for survival that Mina not be exposed to such a deadly weapon. He'd never thought he might need something like that to use against her; he hadn't believed he had it in him!

And now that Jacob knew that he could kill Mina and save himself, she was coming to prove him wrong about the former part. He couldn't kill her and he certainly couldn't get rid of her.

A sudden wave of nausea hit Jacob. He'd barely leaned forwards before he was vomiting the sour wine and poison pill Mina had fed him the night before. His stomach heaved painfully inside of him, and he clutched it desperately. For a second he just stayed there, leaned over the mixture of blood and bile, before it occurred to him that if Mina found him like this it would be easy for her to kill him.

Jacob straightened up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. He couldn't let Mina get into his head like this. Right now he needed to focus on disposing of her again. He could try and piece together the mystery of her rebirth later. He made his way back into the kitchen, eyes keenly examining everything in search of a material he could use to defend himself.

Briefly Jacob's eyes fell on the knife rack. A knife had done her in last time.

But no, that wouldn't work. Mina might have handled them before. Maybe she was even expecting him to use a knife. She probably thought he'd try and replay the previous night. Well, Jacob wouldn't oblige her. He'd try something different. After all, stabbing her hadn't had such satisfactory results.

Jacob pulled open the cabinets one by one. All he found were kitchen towels, blunt utensils, random phone numbers, a planning book, and a thick glass cookie jar. The kitchen was pretty much empty since it was rarely used. Jacob cursed under his breath. Why hadn't he ever thought to furnish the place? It wasn't like he didn't have the time or the money. Actually, that was probably because furnishing was Mina's job. But why the hell couldn't Jacob have at least bought some pepper spray or something? What had he been thinking all these years he'd been locked up in this place? Was he so trapped by Mina's existence that he'd never anticipated that he might need to kill her?

He pulled open the upper cabinets next. The sight that greeted Jacob was floral-patterned dishes and extravagant wine glasses, all organized according to size. Before he could despair, however, a plan flashed across his mind. He grabbed one of the thicker dishes and lifted it over his head. Squeezing his eyes shut, Jacob slammed it down onto the counter. The result was what he'd expected: three shards of incredibly thick glass.

It could work. Mina had never eaten off of the fancier plates. Jacob was under the impression that she only kept them around in case people came over, and in the seven years they'd lived in that house, no one ever had.

Jacob grabbed one of the bigger pieces and clutched it tightly in his hands. If Mina wanted a fight, then she'd have a fight.

This would be the last time he gave in to her.

The back door handle shook suddenly, startling him. Jacob whirled around so that he was looking at the door. To his horror, the handle continued to shake. That could only mean one thing.

Mina was here, and she was ready to exact her vengeance.

The knob turned, and everything seemed to slow down for Jacob. His heart beat so hard in his chest that it hurt. He didn't notice as the shard of glass cut into his own hand, nor did he feel the blood slide down to his wrists.

The door swung open abruptly. A pale, dirt-covered arm pushed it out of the way. The same hand wrapped around the doorknob. Mina came into view a second later, pulling herself in clumsily.

She was a mess. Her hair was tangled and knotted. Every spot of her skin was crusted with dust and soil. Her small dress had jagged, bloody holes in it from where Jacob had stabbed her. The gaping wounds in her body were still there, but the bleeding had long since stopped. For a second Mina just stood in the doorframe. Then her head whipped around and her eyes settled on Jacob.

And what a horrific sight they were!

Her eyes were the deepest shade of black Jacob had ever seen. Any color they'd ever had was gone now, usurped by the darkness. There was hardly any white left in Mina's eyes.

And despite the fact that she could have been looking at anything, despite the fact that she could have even been BLIND for all he knew, Jacob realized that she was looking at him.

She lurched forwards abruptly. Her feet made a slapping sound as they stepped in the blood, but she hardly seemed to notice. She shot forwards, around the countertop that separated them. In less than a minute Mina was in front of Jacob. Her eyes betrayed a bloodlust that could only be described as carnal.

Jacob felt like he was hypnotized. For a second he just stood there. Then his arms seemed to move on their own, shoving the glass straight towards Mina's stomach. But all of a sudden, her cold hands were wrapped around his wrists, and she was holding him back. Despite the fact that Jacob had put all of his strength into that thrust, Mina held him back like it was nothing. Her lips twisted into a delighted smile, not concealing her ill intentions. Her nails pierced Jacob's skin, cutting through the muscle like it were nothing. Jacob winced and tried to pull away, but only succeeded in scraping away most of his remaining flesh on Mina's vice-like grip. He stared at her, petrified. This woman was not his wife – she was a creature far worse then that. Jacob could feel a scream rising in his throat, but he swallowed it. It wouldn't do him any good; there was no one around for miles.

And then she spoke.

"Did you think you could kill me?" Mina leered mockingly. "Did you HONESTLY think that you could kill me? You're weak and pathetic! I've always known that. You've always been under my thumb. You've always been about to die!"

Jacob began to tremble. He didn't care if Mina could see his fear or not. He wanted to cry out, to apologize, to beg her to spare him, but it was too late for that. One look into the wraith's eyes and Jacob knew that he would die.

"I will not forgive you for this," Mina hissed. She bared her teeth at him viciously, and the black part of her eyes expanded. "Look at what you've done to me! I was so beautiful and now look at me! I've got holes in my chest! What the hell were you thinking? You stupid son of a bitch! I never should have married you! I should have killed you right after I met you!"

Her nails pressed into the bones of Jacob's hands, and he could feel them being pressed unnaturally forwards. The pain loosened something in his throat, and all of a sudden he was able to speak.

"I'm sorry!" he screeched. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to kill you! I'll let you do whatever you want! Don't kill me! Please, you have to let me go! I never intended to kill you – I don't even know what came over me. Mina, you have to believe me!"

And Mina's reaction was the most positively wretched thing ever seen by man. She smiled her usual bright, cheery smile, only now her twisted intentions were apparent.

"Of course I believe you," she crooned. "What kind of wife would I be if I didn't believe my own husband? I knew all along that you didn't mean to kill me. That was just a little fluke, right?"

Jacob nodded desperately. Anything to get him away from this woman!

"Don't worry," she told him. "I'm going to fix everything for you. Aren't you lucky to have a wife like me? I'm always taking care of you."

Mina pulled Jacob forwards. At the same time, she stepped back. Jacob was literally knocked off his feet. He would have hit the floor face-first if Mina wasn't clutching his wrists and supporting him.

"Now come with me," she said sweetly. "Come with me, and everything will get better. You'll never have to be around me again. Isn't that what you wanted?"

She laughed, and Jacob was certain that there wasn't a more evil sound in the entire world.

Mina began to drag him forwards by the wrists, still smiling down at him. He was so stunned he didn't even react at first. Then full comprehension of the situation dawned on him and he began to kick and thrash desperately. Mina's grip never even faltered. Jacob's bones felt like they would crack from the pressure of it.

He screamed then, but just like he'd thought, it didn't do him any good. No one came to his rescue.

Mina dragged him through the puddle of blood and vomit, somehow avoiding slipping in it even with Jacob fighting like a wildcat. She pulled him through the open back door and into the yard as easily as though she were moving a harmless kitten. Jacob was writhing so hard he was pulling his own muscles out of socket. His eyes rolled around like Mina's had when she'd been stabbed. His screaming sounded like that of an animal being eaten alive, loud and shrill and above all, fearful, Fearful to such a degree that it was impossible to put into words. Every creature nearby that heard him must have been stricken from merely hearing it.

And through it all Mina smiled. She smiled as she pulled him over the elm roots. She smiled as he fell down the other side. She smiled as she dragged him over to the grave.

Jacob's mind was so overloaded with horror he could barely even process what he was seeing. There was a large hole in the ground that led straight to where Mina had been laying. The area immediately surrounding that had been dug out. The claw marks were still evident in the soil. Something absolutely desperate had prepared the spot for his burial.

Mina dragged him closer and closer to the hole, until Jacob was staring into the darkness. His throat failed him. There were no words for that kind of mortal terror.

She seemed to understand. Mina's smile turned into a grin of good humor. Then Jacob was being jerked forwards, shoved past Mina and into the hole.

He barely felt three of his ribs crack as he hit the ground, perhaps in the center of the Earth. The light above him seemed so small, and the darkness like a living predator, slowly consuming him. Jacob watched, mouth open in a now-silent scream as a shower of dirt rained down on him. More and more kept coming. The pressure was cracking his bones. The soil was choking him.

And yet more kept coming.

The light disappeared, and Jacob thought that maybe he hadn't been buried at all: maybe he'd just drowned in Mina's eyes.

----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_

"Back so soon, dear?" asked the wrinkled old woman behind the counter. Mina smiled brightly and wove her way through poorly constructed displays. As always, she had her donations in clutched in her arms. She'd never come to Goodwill without something to give to others.

"Yes," she said. She stopped in front of the bin for things that were being given away. "My husband doesn't need these clothes any more, so I thought I'd bring them down here. I'm sure some poor man out there can use them."

And she smiled like an angel.

----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_----_

Author's note: Wow. I predicted that this story would take twenty pages, and some how I hit the mark. Man, am I good or what? (At useless predictions, at least)

The idea for this hit me while I was listening to a song from Slipknot. It's one of their newer ones. The title of the song is 'Gehenna.' I like to imagine music videos for songs I really like, and this one was no exceptions. I played the whole thing out in my head, down to a 'T'. And when the song finished, the thought occurred to me that hey, this was a really good idea. I shouldn't let it go to waste.

The title was a bit of a factor of annoyance for me. I didn't want to call the story Gehenna, because that's just ripping of Slipknot, and that's not cool. Then I figure I'd go with something related. 'Gehenna' is a word for hell. It's used in one translation of the Bible, and I can't remember which. So I started to think that I should use a term for 'hell.' I went to an online translation generator and input the word 'hell.' I couldn't find anything I liked, though. So I used the online thesaurus used on this site. The word 'Sheol' stood out to me, because it is the Hebraic word for hell, or the world of the dead itself. Originally, the bible was in Hebrew. Therefore, that particular word seemed eerily relevant.

I'm not a hundred percent sure that this story should be rated M, but I thought I should put that as the rating to be safe. It does get a little racy at parts. But it's not in my nature to write a story about gory sex or anything like that. Actually, it's not in my nature to write sex scenes at all. So I guess I could have pulled off a lower rating.

I realize that I probably won't get reviews because this thing is just too damn long. But I'm not going to break it into chapters, because I wrote it as piece and it will stay one piece. If you've actually read to this part, please leave a review. I allow anonymous reviews, so you don't even have to have an account. Please, review!

Critique welcome, as always.

ALSO: I know I've said I'll upload my romantic horror stories, but they're not down in writing yet. Just to clarify, I don't call this 'romantic.'