Dear Martha
By: Gabriella Balcom

"I stand before you with a heavy heart," Pastor Nebbens began. "With tomorrow being Valentine's Day, this is usually a happy time, but today the death of a loved one has brought us together. Our dear sister Martha Price has departed this mortal coil… She will be greatly missed." He continued. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to her husband, Thompson. May God watch over him and his family and see them through this dark time."

When the memorial service ended, people flocked to Thompson, shaking his hand, hugging him, and offering their sympathy and best wishes.

"I'm dying inside," he sobbed to an elderly lady.

"Call me anytime you want to talk," she offered.

He nodded, wiping his eyes.

But Thompson sang along with the radio on his way home. Once he arrived, he crumpled his copy of the service program, tossing it in the trash. He headed straight for his wife's jewelry box and ransacked it, tossing inexpensive pieces away and making a pile of valuable ones to sell.

Then he drove to the funeral home, where he'd made special arrangements to "spend more time with my sweetheart" in a private room before she was transported to the cemetery.

Locking the door behind himself, he opened Martha's casket and removed her large, diamond-studded earrings, replacing them with fakes.

He frowned at her suit, wishing he'd managed to get to it before her sister, because he bet he could've returned the thing to the store. It had cost a little over $2,500, and he wanted to accumulate every penny he could. Needed was more accurate, since she'd cut him out of her will after catching him with another woman.

"Miserable creature," he muttered, glaring at her body. "If I'd known you'd do that, I would've poisoned you much sooner." He was tempted to slug her. She wouldn't feel it, but it would make him happy.

A glint from her hands caught his attention, though, and his eyes widened. He'd forgotten about her ring.

Thompson took Martha's left hand in his, smirking at the brilliant emerald she wore. He began sliding it off but flinched when her finger twitched. Knowing he must've imagined that, he snorted. But, he froze when it moved again.

Her hand shot toward him, grabbing and squeezing his throat.

He tried to pry the appendage loose, but it tightened, pinching off his airway.

Raspy sounds filled his ears, and when he realized their source, his chest tightened, horror sending his heart galloping. But his fear and adrenaline made him stronger, enough to pry the hand off.

Gasping air into his starving lungs, he couldn't move, let alone run, and just tried to breathe.

Martha sat upright, head finally swiveling in his direction and her eyes popping open. They were no longer gold, but a disturbing green. She parted her lips slightly but didn't speak, then suddenly grabbed Thompson, yanking him toward her.

Her mouth rapidly expanded past what was humanly possibly, becoming a gaping hole and enveloping his entire body.

All Thompson could manage was a faint burbling sound before her teeth pierced his body. She chewed rapidly, then gulped him down.



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