A Quest in the Dark

Author’s note: This is my flash fiction for February’s entry of the 2020 Flash Fiction Challenge. Each month of 2020, on the first Monday, I’ll draw cards to determine the genre, setting, and an object that has to appear in the short story. Participants will have until the following Monday to link their stories to the blog post I put out each month. Then I’ll do a follow-up post and share the stories that have come in (before the deadline). It’s only for fun and non-competitive.

February’s draw results: (Genre) gothic romance, (setting) a mausoleum, and (object) goggles. Here’s my entry: A Quest in the Dark

Mock book cover: An old grey stone mausoleum with green leaf growth. Text reads: Cait Gordon, A Quest in the Dark, a gothic romance flash fiction.

The moon in the midnight sky shone proudly as wisps of grey clouds lazily drifted over its face. Because of the lack of electrical illumination, the moonlight offered two wandering figures a better chance at meandering about the sculptures and gravestones of the country cemetery.

The living souls resembled fraternal twins; jet black locks rested against high cheekbones on skin that rivalled the pale moon above. Her hair had been half-piled on her head with the rest hanging in glossy waves down her back. His had been cut into chunky layers, almost reaching the same midpoint on his spine. While her lips glistened ruby red, his had been painted a necrotic grey. Their clothes were tailored accordingly, the material darker than the sky. She wore a floor-length gown, fitted at the waist but belled out at the skirts. The cuffs of her long sleeves draped two feet from her wrists. He’d chosen something slightly more modern, from the later Victorian age, and every piece—from his trousers to his longcoat to his ascot—was the same shade of black. He’d been quite particular about his shades of black, and didn’t want them to clash.

This duo were not siblings but were connected by their relationship and their quest this night. She led enthusiastically in front; he followed nervously behind, glancing about and turning back every so often. After all, this had been her idea in the first place. He didn’t want to admit it, but he would have much preferred a bed with black silk sheets.

She spotted their destination and gasped with delight.

“Sebastian! There it is!”

He cleared his throat before replying. “Are you sure that’s the one?”

“I am!” She cupped her hands, admiring the sight of the centuries-old mausoleum. It had been part of her family’s history, and they’d travelled so far to find it.

She spun around and grabbed Sebastian’s arms, causing him to yelp.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Yup,” he said in a voice an octave or two higher than usual.

“Uh, right. Did you bring the condoms?”

“Eleanor—“

“Are you blushing? That’s not very goth you know.” Her eyes twinkled.

Sebastian inhaled to steady himself. “I brought them. I just don’t know if this is where, we should…you know…our first time and all.”

“We said we’d make our 21st birthdays special. What could be more wicked than this?”

Her boyfriend gulped. “Maybe a gothic castle? Renovated? With room service?”

Eleanor made a face. Then she burst out laughing. 

“Okay, that was a good one! You had me going for a second.” She grabbed his hand and yanked him toward the mausoleum.

Sebastian swallowed. “Yeah. Ha-ha.”

#

It had been a marvel how she’d gotten them inside, and so nonchalantly, too, wearing her magnifying goggles to focus on the lock. He half-wondered if breaking into ancient crypts was her major at uni. But here they were, standing on the marble floor, alone save for the two stone coffins and sculpted figures resting on the lids.

Eleanor pulled out two red candles from her black leather satchel. She placed them at the foot of each coffin and struck a match to ignite the wicks. The moonlight might have added some illumination through the high windows, but the glow of the candles provided the ambience.

When she turned to him, face bathed in a red glow, Sebastian couldn’t help but feel inspired to offer her a kiss. He reached out his arms.

Eleanor flew right into them and pressed her lips to his passionately. When they broke apart, he’d forgotten where they were and sighed happily.

She placed her hand on his pale cheek. He held it there, his dark lips forming a dreamy smile.

“Sebastian?”

“Yes?”

“I would totally keep your heart in my writing desk after you die.”

The shocked, rounded eyes seemed even whiter, underscored with all that black eyeliner.

“Wh-what?”

“Like Mary and Percy Shelley. I read she did it with him on her mother’s grave, then kept his heart in her desk after he died.”

He froze.

“That’s how much I love you!” She beamed, then kissed him fervently.

He pushed her away. “Um, Eleanor?”

“Yeah?”

“Like, you mean when I die from being ridiculously old, right? Not like you’ll murder me in my sleep after we have sex, right?”

There was that face again. “Okay, you’re creepy.”

I’m creepy? We’re about to do it in a mausoleum and you’re talking about keeping my dead heart in your desk!”

“Well, I don’t have to keep your heart if you don’t want me to. Consent is important to me. Even when you’re dead.”

“Can we please stop talking about my death???”

“Okay.”

He huffed.

She tilted her head. “If I die first, you can keep my heart in your desk.”

“OMI-FREAKING…I don’t want any deaths or any hearts, okay??? This is totally killing the mood!”

Eleanor looked around. “It’s really pretty here, though, isn’t it?”

Sebastian’s mouth hung open. He shook his head and followed her gaze. He’d assumed mausoleums would be stark, but along with the intricate likenesses of the deceased couple were also scenes in relief hung all about the place. They depicted their life together as young lovers, new marrieds, parents, and older lovers. He walked closer to the graves and stared at the faces.

“They look content,” he said, just above a whisper.

Eleanor stood by his side and took his hand again, running her fingertips along the gloss of his black nail polish.

“Well, yeah. They’re in love.”

He turned to her and leaned to brush her lips softly.

“Just like us.”

“Mmm, yeah.”

“But um…”

“What?”

“I really don’t wanna, you know, here. Feels like we’re intruding on their romantic space.”

She took one more look around the room, then back at the couple.

“Yeah, you’re right.”

“Thanks.”

They kissed one last time and soon found themselves back in the night air.

“So,” Eleanor said, “Black silk sheets?”

He smirked. “That would be awesome.”


A Quest in the Dark © 2020 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon. (Mock book cover image provided by Pexels.com)


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

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