Warning: Graphic violence and intense gore.
I am perfectly aware that Richard’s story may be a little distressing. I don’t apologize for sharing it, for you mortals are very motivated by what you find distressing, but I do express my sympathy for your anxiety. But, I hope that any anxiety or stress you felt will lead you to run away from any strange red frog men that try to tell you the capital of California is Los Angeles because the yara-ma-yha-who is kind enough to give you a warning.
Some monsters, however, aren’t. Not all monsters are born of contradictions and trickery. Some are born in the moments when humanity just snaps, and all that’s left is jagged edges and pain.
Such is the story of Lucille Ebony. She was young, a mere twenty years old when she married for the first time. His name was Jackson Ebony, and he was tall, handsome, and had a sweet smile. He thanked the waitress for the meal and called his mother every weekend. Lucille had every reason to believe that he was a prince charming, a perfect angel.
But she forgot that Lucifer was God’s favorite angel, as the story goes. She forgot that perfect is nearly always hiding something twisted and awful.
They had been married for three months the first time he hit her. His fist landed right on her cheek like a kiss is meant to. A bruised bloomed overnight like a blush. It was a corrupted copy of love, but Jackson promised never to do it again. And Lucille believed him.
And she believed him the second time.
And the third time.
The three hundred sixteenth.
Eventually, it became obvious that she just wanted to believe him. She just needed the words to be true, despite the fact that he made sure they never would be. It’s such a sad thing, really. You mortals depend on your hope to survive, but sometimes it’s the very thing that kills you.
Lucille found out she was pregnant when she was twenty-one, barely old enough to drink alcohol in her state of Louisiana. Jackson was excited to be a father, and Lucille daydreamed of holding an infant in her arms. Of having a child running through the hallways. Of having a teenager ignore her and call her names, only to hug her at the end of the day. She dreamed of hosting life in her home. Lucille dreamed of being a mother.
What a shame, really. That she’s here instead of in that dream, she’s in this book instead of in a child’s life.
Because while Jackson was excited to be a father, he never acted fit to be one. And one day, during an attack he promised a thousand times would never happen, he hit Lucille’s head just right that it smashed into the wall. Her blood splatted across the paint. Her body crumpled to the floor. Jackson tried to catch her, but his violent hands had already stained Lucille too much. Her heart pittered to a stop. Mother and child died in one final breath. And Jackson was left with the wreckage.
And that could’ve been the end. Jackson could have gone to prison for being human, but a wretched one and Lucille would be ushered by Death. Maybe she could raise a child in Death’s domain.
But this was a snap moment. And the only things that truly died that day were Lucille’s child and her humanity. When Death came to collect Lucille’s soul, there was nothing there.
Lucille had shed her death. She became a Pontianak.
Gone was the hope for something better, for Jackson to finally keep his promise of never again. Never again meant nothing when Lucille would never breathe again, when Lucille would never feel whole again, when Lucille would never dream again.
So, she wandered Earth aimlessly for some time. All she knew was that she felt torn to pieces. She didn’t have a place to go. The Earth wasn’t built for the dead. A Pontianak has no place in the world.
That was until she heard a story on the wind. A story of a man named Jackson Ebony who was convicted of manslaughter and took a plea bargain. A story about how he served three years in prison and was released on good behavior. And it’s stories like that that give a Pontianak their purpose.
It took exactly three days for Lucille to find Jackson’s new apartment. And that is where our story officially begins. With Jackson sitting on his thrift store couch and Lucille slipping through his wall in the dead of night.
You see, Jackson had picked up alcohol as a hobby since his in prison. So, his counters, his three-and-a-half-legged coffee table, and large chunks of his floors were covered in bottles and cans. Some would say it was the grief going to his head; he had lost his wife, after all. Some would say it was the guilt; he had killed her, after all. I say that it was because Jackson Ebony had always been an absolute bullet train wreck of a human, and he didn’t know he was if he wasn’t falling apart.
When Lucille drifted into his apartment, the first thing she stumbled into was a crooked line of beer bottles on the floor. They were all empty, and each one played its part in making the stench of the room unbearable that Lucille’s long-dead senses flared to life in offense. She looked around, spotting the signs of a morally decayed man, and set her jaw. Tonight, he couldn’t hurt her.
Jackson was stone cold on the couch, drooling all over the cushion. He was still in his wrinkled day clothes and they were plastered to his skin in a wretched combination of old beer and sweat. Lucille drifted to him, staring down at the man she used to love. Down at the man that was supposed to father her children.
Down at the evil creature who killed her and her child.
She leaned over Jackson’s face, her misty grey form flickering, and whispered a single phrase. “Wake up.”
Jackson startled awake as if he had just had the worst nightmare of his life. He snorted, sitting up in a flash. “Huh? Who’s there?”
Lucille floated away slightly, her feet hovering an inch above his soiled carpet. Jackson turned to her, suddenly turning ghostly pale. “Lucy! Lucy, baby. Oh my god.”
Lucille shook her head. “No.” Her voice echoed, flowing from her lips before repeating back to itself like a ripple.
Jackson blinked. “No?”
“You have lost the right to that pet name. You have lost the right to my name.” Lucille’s eyes started to glow. “For you have decided to kill what you should have protected, and I have lost my heart and soul.”
“Lucy, you’re scaring me.”
Lucille growled and raised her hand, lifting Jackson along with it. Jackson choked on nothing at all, suspended by nothing but Lucille’s anger.
“Forget that name, Mr. Ebony. That name belonged to a human that died a long time ago.”
Jackson’s breath was barely a wheeze by the time Lucille dropped him. “What…?” He coughed, his voice dry and raspy. “What do I call you then?”
“Call me what you left behind when you stole everything else.” Lucille only glowed brighter. “Pontianak.”
Jackson blinked. “Pontianak? I don’t understand. You’re just a ghost.”
Lucille shook her head. “Ghosts aren’t real, Mr. Ebony. But some furies cannot be tempered by Death’s grip. And some mistakes follow you, even after you bury them.”
Jackson’s unfocused eyes softened. “You were never a mistake, L-”
Lucille started to raise her hand again.
“Pontianak! Pontianak. You were never a mistake.”
Lucille lowered her hand again. “Lucy was not the mistake, no.” She pointed at Jackson. “You always were.”
Jackson spluttered. “What?”
Lucille swayed slightly in the air. “You heard me.”
Jackson looked around his apartment as if his walls would start spelling reassurances that she was wrong. If anything, I’d say his apartment only held evidence that Lucille was right, but he didn’t seem to notice. “I am not a mistake.”
Lucille hummed. “Humans are what they put into the world. You are human, aren’t you?”
“And what have you done other than making one mistake after the other?”
Jackson scoffed. “Marrying you!”
Lucille shook her head. “You can’t marry a Pontianak, only the person it was torn out of.”
Jackson groaned. “Marrying Lucille, then!”
Lucille shrugged. “Still a bad argument. Marrying a woman you despised so much that you killed her and every dream she ever had for her life was your biggest mistake.”
Jackson blanched. “I loved you. I mean, I loved Lucille. She was the greatest part of me.”
“Does a dying man terminate his healthy arm or his festering leg, Mr. Ebony?”
Jackson shook his head. “What does that even mean?”
“Do you remove the parts of you that sustain you or kill you?” Lucille hovered closer to Jackson, making him press himself into his filthy couch. “Why else would you kill Lucille except that her being so much better than you were slowly unraveling everything you made yourself to be? You lashed out because she demanded that you learn to be better, and you took that as a death sentence. You don’t know who you are if not selfish and unkind and the worst a man could possibly be.”
Jackson trembled beneath Lucille’s mighty gaze. “You… you are not the woman I married.”
Lucille nodded. “Correct. I am what is left of her after you stole the one thing she thought she’d always have.”
“What?” Jackson scoffed. “A life? We’re all doomed to die.”
Lucille shook her head. “A family. Someone to miss her when she did die.”
Jackson frowned. “I… I was her family.”
Lucille paused before she laughed. And laughed. And kept laughing. Soon, her laughter rang through the entire apartment, bouncing off every wall and echoing through every corner. It seemed to drown out every sound that ever was, ever will be.
Jackson covered his ears, but he could still hear it loud and clear. His heart beat in tandem with it, and it made him sick.
Finally, after what seemed like years, Lucille fell silent all at once. “No, Mr. Ebony. You were her prison. Her captor. Her killer. You wouldn’t know what a family was if it smashed your skull in just like you did with Lucille.”
Jackson whimpered pathetically. Then again, everything he did was pathetic, so it checked out. “No! No, that isn’t true.”
Lucille nodded. “I do not lie, Mr. Ebony. I only rage and hate, and those two feelings demand the truth.”
Jackson shook his head. “Stop. Get away from me. Lucille loved me. Lucille loved me!”
“She loved the idea of you, maybe. She loved the promises you made to her.” Lucille hummed. “But do not confuse it with loving you. For you kept no promises, so you kept none of the love for them.”
Jackson stood up, his drunken legs still shaky. “No. Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You already said you’re not my wife.”
“So, you finally listen to me when the truth is convenient for you?” Lucille shook her head. “Some people really never change.”
Jackson chuckled nervously. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that you hated facts until you could twist them in your favor when Lucille was alive, and you feel the same way long after she’s dead. Grief didn’t change you. Alleged guilt didn’t change you. Prison didn’t change you.” Lucille hovered closer to Jackson again, thrumming with dark energy, the kind that can only be described as steam rising from blood-boiling anger. “But I can.”
Jackson fell back onto the couch, cowering before Lucille the Pontianak. “I don’t need to be changed.” His voice didn’t sound very confident. In fact, he sounded rather terrified, if I do say so myself, like a toddler mistaking a pair of socks for the face of a monster. But Jackson was much more stupid than a toddler, and Lucille much more threatening than even the itchiest pair of mystery socks. Even Jackson comprehended the latter.
Lucille sighed. “They all say that. Lucille heard that lie a million times from you. ‘Oh, I will change, Lucy.’ to ‘Oh, I don’t need to change, Lucy.’ That’s the kind of thing that fractures humanity.”
Jackson whimpered like a sick child. “Why… why are you here, demon?”
Lucille sighed. “Oh, Mr. Ebony. You have proven yourself to be incapable of understanding any sort of why. Give me one good reason why I should waste my time.”
“I deserve an explanation!” Jackson’s voice was shrill now, seeming more like a tea kettle blowing into a whistle than an authoritative demand. “You burst into my house and accused me of awful things! And now you’re over here saying that you’re going to change me?”
Lucille scowled. “Do. Not. Talk to me. About what is deserved.” Lucille lifted her hands again, Jackson choking on her anger, on the Pontianak’s essence. He clawed at his throat uselessly as if any amount of flailing could break the grip of his sins. “If you got what you deserved, you would’ve died in prison. Not because of a life sentence, but because your fellow inmates would’ve stolen guns just to shoot you so many times, the only sign you died there would be a red haze!”
Jackson wheezed, his face blood red. His hands fell limp by his side.
Lucille growled. “I have run out of patience. Your end is now, Mr. Ebony. The wretched, foul stain of your existence will be washed away by your blood and tears. Your cries for mercy will be the sweetest music! Death will be your Hell, and Hell will be something no word or scream could ever describe.”
Lucille dropped Jackson onto the couch. He wheezed, holding on to his throat again. He stared up at her, too tired to tremble.
Lucille pushed him flat on his back on the couch. “In the name of retribution, I seal Jackson Benjamin Ebony’s life to his heart. Until the last valve is eaten, he shall not die. Even in fire and brimstone, blizzard and ice.” She laid her hand flat on his chest, pushing through his skin and gripping his heart. “He is unbound by mortal laws and now becomes the property of his crimes.”
Jackson whimpered around his bruising throat. “Wha…?”
Lucille, no. The Pontianak, now fully emerged, tugged at his heart until it gave, ripping out of his chest with a sharp rip. She held Jackson’s heart in her hands. It kept beating as if nothing had changed, and hearts were supposed to sit in the palm of someone’s hand.
Jackson looked at his heart and screamed.
The Pontianak didn’t move until Jackson fell silent again, his heart beating erratically in her palms. Once his voice gave out, she set his heart gently on the table. “Shall we begin?”
Jackson shook his head. Of course, he didn’t want to. Who would? He didn’t even know exactly what “Lucille” was being or what a “valve” was, but he could guess them getting eaten was bad. And making it impossible to die until a bad thing happened? Now that had to be worse.
For those of you reading this who are in danger of finding yourself in Jackson’s position, yes, it was bad. The Pontianak had cast a spell on Jackson, making him immortal until she ate his heart. Which might not seem like a terrible deal to some of you, but wait. It gets worse.
The Pontianak sat down on Jackson’s legs, pinning him to his couch. “Oh. Well, Lucille was never ready to get hit. She was never ready to cover up her bruises. She was never ready to die.” She stretched out her hand. The tips of fingers started growing, elongating into cones with deadly sharp tips. “So, I don’t care if you are. I’m starving.”
Jackson let out a sob. “L-Lucy, baby. I know you’re in there. Listen to me, please.”
The Pontianak paused, her fleshy claws freezing in place.
“I know I wasn’t right to you. You deserved so much better than that.”
The Pontianak nodded. “Yes.”
“I was selfish and evil, and nothing I did was ever your fault.”
Jackson swallowed. “I should’ve left you. I should’ve packed my bags and left a long time ago.”
“Yes, you should have.”
Jackson shrugged. “But I just loved you too much. For that-”
Jackson blinked. He was apologizing. Wasn’t that enough for the Lucy trapped in the demon’s skin?
“You didn’t love Lucille.”
Jackson shook his head. “Yes. Yes, I did. I know I wasn’t the best husband-”
“I said stop!” The Pontianak drove her claws into Jackson’s stomach.
This time, her hand did not phase through. The claws pierced the skin, stabbing into his flesh. He screamed in agony, each entry point burning like nothing ever had before. Lucille tore her hand away, dragging the flesh of Jackson’s stomach away with it. Jackson felt air brushing against his small intestine, blood pooling onto the couch like a waterfall.
Tears bubbled in the corner of his eyes. “Stop…” His voice was hoarse and fading. He already wanted to die. Who knew pain could burn like this? Consume a person whole until nothing but trembling agony remained?
Lucille had known that when she was alive, not that Jackson could fathom that. He had hurt Lucille in that way, breaking down everything that she was. Hadn’t the Pontianak told him a thousand times already? Why was Jackson so shallow and stupid to realize? Was his brain so watered-down and useless that it couldn’t be seen with a microscope? Mortals like him sicken me. The natural ups and downs of life already hurt humans so much, so often. Why do you have to join the fray of pain? Wasn’t death painful enough when it was natural? Wasn’t grief vitriol enough when it was unavoidable?
I will never understand you, humans.
The Pontianak growled in response, brushing her fingers along Jackson’s open wound. He whimpered, turning his head to the side. She stuck her hand in the wound, brushing the underside of his ribs. Jackson gagged at the feeling.
She grasped his liver and ripped it out from the wound, dripping blood all down her forearms. The muscle glistened in the poor apartment lighting as the Pontianak took a greedy bite out of it. Ascites from his liver disease dribbled down her face as she just kept eating.
Jackson reached up weakly to cover his ears. The sounds… those moist, squelching sounds of tearing flesh rattled to his core. He could smell the blood and the sour smell of stomach acid. He didn’t know smells could be so disgusting, so violating. What had he done to deserve this? No one deserved a fate like this.
The Pontianak seemed to disagree. As soon as she finished the last bite of the liver, she stuck her hand in again. This time, she grabbed his spleen. She folded it and stuck the entire thing in her mouth, closing her eyes in bliss as she chewed. Jackson let out a sob. “How am I not dead?”
The Pontianak swallowed. “Because you don’t deserve to be.” She reached in again. His stomach was her next victim, sloshing with the amount of beer he had consumed. This time, she punctured a small hole in the top. “Remember the time you put out your cigarette on Lucille?”
Jackson blinked up at her. Truthfully, he remembered doing that several times. But that didn’t seem to be the right response, so he stayed quiet.
The Pontianak shook her head. “This will help make up for that.” She turned his stomach upside down, splashing the acid across his face. He screamed again, writhing in pain as the acid burned. What had the Pontianak done to his stomach to make the contents hurt so much?
I rolled my eyes at that thought. I really hope I don’t have to explain here.
Smirking, the Pontianak flipped his stomach and widened the opening. She then brought it to her lips and threw her head back, chugging the contents. Jackson gagged uselessly. He wanted to throw up at the sight, but there was no stomach to throw up anything with. All he felt was open air rush up his esophagus.
After the Pontianak drained his stomach, she ate it, too, showing no signs of slowing down. How was she still hungry? Her own stomach shouldn’t be capable of holding that much flesh.
Well, humans, that’s now how a Pontianak’s hunger worked. There was no stomach to fill, only a deep void where their humanity had been stolen. A black hole of anger. A vacuum of grief. You can’t satisfy something like that. And each bite of flesh, each sip of blood, only disintegrated under the weight of the Pontianak’s desire. Only Jackson’s painful death would last.
So, the feast only continued. Each organ was the same. She would tug it out and devour it as if she had never eaten something so sweet before. Jackson’s cries and screams faded as his throat turned raw. His voice was lost to the Pontianak’s relentlessness, and soon, his abdomen was devoid of anything except his bones. The Pontianak’s mouth was covered in blood, her teeth dripping every time she opened her mouth, and it coated her arms up to her elbows. It dripped everywhere, covering Jackson’s pants and his couch, dribbling onto the already sticky floor. It smelled of death, but Death had yet to come to collect Jackson’s soul. He impossibly survived. He had no lungs with which to breathe, but he wasn’t even dizzy. His heart remained on his coffee table, still beating so rapidly it rocked back and forth.
The Pontianak gently picked it up, stroking its surface with clawed hands. A jolt of phantom pain shot up Jackson’s spine with each touch. He spasmed, letting out a sharp wheeze against his damaged throat. How that was possible without lungs, he could not say. I say that Pontianak magic spits in the face of rules.
The Pontianak sighed. “I’m afraid our time is coming to an end, Mr. Ebony. Just your heart remains.”
Jackson could’ve sobbed with relief. It was ending. This torturous Hell was ending. He would die, and Death would balk at how unfairly he was treated, so he could have a good afterlife. He would forget the bite of this pain. This demon would one day be punished.
The Pontianak tore apart Jackson’s heart, tearing along the lines between openings until she had four parts. Each rip was like being shot point-blank in the thigh. Jackson still didn’t die.
The Pontianak set the smallest piece aside on her leg and put the other three on the table. “I hope you’re ready for the grand finale.” She put the smallest piece in her mouth and bit down.
If Jackson thought the pain of each organ was bad, this was worse. It hurt in a way that made thoughts stop. Even if he could scream, the words would die in his throat.
The Pontianak swallowed, and Jackson could breathe again, gasping against all odds. The Pontianak just smiled. “That is the pain Lucille felt when you hit her for the first time.”
Jackson shook his head. The pain of a slap was nothing compared to this. Even when Jackson accidentally broke Lucille’s arm, she didn’t feel like this. That pain could be put into words, and this couldn’t be.
Don’t tell him that the sting of flesh against flesh was nothing compared to the wrath of a lover. I think he’d explode.
The Pontianak just rolled her eyes and grabbed the next smallest piece. “This is how Lucille felt when you lied to her again and again.” She placed the chunk of heart on her tongue and bit down.
The next wave of pain was even worse as it shot through like scorching lava, setting everything in its wake aflame. Jackson burned as the Pontianak chewed slowly, thoughtfully even. She loved hearing his breaths come out in blood-splattered wheezes. She loved watching his limbs go entirely rigid, shaking under the weight of paint that made his consciousness melt. She loved knowing that he wanted to die, but wouldn’t, couldn’t until she let him.
The Pontianak felt fulfilled. This was her purpose. This is what Lucille would want if she weren’t bound by humanity. No matter. The Pontianak would just have to make it so.
She swallowed. Jackson lay on his couch, going completely limp. He had finally stopped bleeding, though only because there was no more blood inside of him to bleed. Everything around him was drenched in metallic red, Jackson’s own tongue covered with a thin film that tasted of pennies and papercuts.
The Pontianak grinned, the blood on her teeth dribbling down her chin. She was starting to feel satisfied. “Halfway done.”
Jackson felt immense relief at that. He’s almost dead. Almost free of the demon and her claws.
“This is what Lucille felt when you killed her.” The Pontianak licked the third piece, making Jackson cry out in agony before finally placing it in her mouth and biting down. This next wave felt like every single one of Jackson’s bones was shattering, the serrated chunks exploding into his skin like metal shrapnel. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe through his phantom lungs.
By the time The Pontianak swallowed, Jackson should’ve died from asphyxiation. But, instead, he gasped for breath again, his face an impressive shade of blue. I kind of liked it on him. It was suiting, at least.
The Pontianak grabbed the last piece, the biggest one. It kept pounding in her hand, even without the rest of the heart to sustain it. It was almost pathetic, really, how it struggled against the laws of nature only to be soon devoured by the very thing preserving it.
Or maybe it was just pathetic that it belonged to Jackson Ebony.
Either way, the Pontianak stroked in gently again, watching Jackson’s back arch. “And this last piece will kill you.”
Jackson swallowed. Good. That was good. Jackson wanted to die. He needed to die! Because Death would stroke his hair and tell him that he didn’t deserve it. Death would hear of the horrors of the Pontianak and set up a special place of torture. He would be just fine once he died!
The Pontianak squeezed the chunk in her hands. Jackson spasmed. “And this piece doesn’t do Lucille justice.”
Jackson doubted that. He never did anything this terrible to Lucy. He was good to Lucy. She loved him, and he loved her. If Lucille died because she couldn’t take a punch, then that was her problem! What was he supposed to do about it? The nerve of this Pontianak to burst into his house and act like he was some rotten killer just like the jury did was sickening. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t-!
The Pontianak slammed the piece into the table so hard the faux wood shattered. “This how it felt when you killed her ability to dream!”
Jackson choked on the pain, spasming again in a pool of his blood.
“This is the pain she felt when you, Jackson Ebony, killed her child!” She tore the piece in half with her teeth, chewing viciously on the piece in her mouth.
And there were no words to describe Jackson’s pain. Just as there were no words to describe the agony of the person you love the most killing the most precious thing in your life. When the Pontianak shoved the second piece in her mouth, the pain only grew.
Lucille Ebony had died in her living room, right beside the stairwell. She had been carrying a dinner tray to Jackson when she tripped. She caught herself but spilled the food. She had already been flustered enough, but once Jackson marched up at her, she was doomed.
She was used to the way he would slap her, palm biting into cheek. She was used to the way his hand would move down to her neck as he lifted her just slightly into the air.
She was not used to how he slammed her backward into the wall. Once for a cry of pain. Twice for a wave of dizziness. Thrice for a sickening crunch and a body gone limp.
Jackson was dying on his blood-soaked couch. One swallow to teach him. Two for punishment. Three for vegenace. And four for death.
As the Pontianak swallowed, Jackson’s vision started to blacken. His phantom wheezes slowed until they came to a painful stop. His hands fell limp by his side. He died in the middle of the most ruinous bout of pain. Right before he completely faded, he spotted Death in the corner. Death looked like Death always did when picking up the soul of a wretched beast: nothing but smoke in the shape of a vague creature, one glowing red eye on each palm. Jackson felt no ease in slipping away, but that is Death’s story. The Pontianak did not follow him into death.
She sat above Jackson’s mangled corpse, a bone-deep satisfaction filling her. Jackson couldn’t hurt anyone anymore. Her job was done.
Her form flickered. Pontianaks only exist as long as the rage that fuels them, and there was nothing left to be angry about. She took a deep breath, feeling herself slowly come undone.
A tear made its way down her translucent face. It was a peek of Lucille, of the woman that created this Pontianak. She could rest in peace, no longer kept captive by the man who stole everything from her.
The Pontianak lifted her arms into the air, the blood dripping down to her slightly bent elbows and simply dissolved. One moment, she was there. The next, Jackson’s body was there alone, ready for the neighbors to report the stench of his rotting flesh in a couple of days.
And that is the story of a cruel, pain-seeking monster’s reign, reveling in pain, torture, and bloodshed, justifying its actions with a cruel sneer and thousands of twisted reasons. And, of course, the Pontianak who finally brought him to justice.