A Freaking Cult and Hey! Here's a Short Story
A Freaking Cult
I spent four days researching and writing about Larry Ray and the cult he started at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. I don’t know if you heard about this story, but OH MY GOD, it’s bizarre and tragic and Larry Ray is one of the most horrible people currently breathing oxygen on this planet.
If you’d like to read the article I wrote for The Crime Wire, then check out Larry Ray and the Cult of Cruelty at Sarah Lawrence.
One of the former members, Daniel Levin, wrote a memoir about his experiences in the cult, Slonim Woods 9 (this is an affiliate link that will take you to Amazon). Both Peacock and Hulu have documentaries about the cult. If you have to pick one, then go with Hulu’s Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence.
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Broken Heart: What’s Next?
Valentine’s Day Sucks is next. I wrote it as a holiday short story, but now I’m rewriting it and intertwining it with the revisions of Some Lycan Hot. So, Valentine’s Day Sucks will be bigger, better, and boss-some. Paid subscribers will start receiving episodes in the next few days.
This Werewolf Walks Into a Dentist's Office...
A Broken Heart Short Story by Michele Bardsley
DING. DING. DING.
"Aw, crap. Really?" Agatha Winters wondered whatever possessed her to install an old-fashioned brass bell above the entrance door to her dental practice. She guiltily shoved the champagne truffle into her mouth and chewed as fast as she could.
She was sprawled in the dental chair, the one she'd occupied for the last fifteen minutes as she tossed caution—and tooth decay—to the wind, and opened up the gold box of Godiva chocolates. She'd had it for a week. The sparkly container had sat on her desk, taunting her with caloric sin and the memory of the stupid man who'd given it to her.
It was supposed to be an anniversary gift, except it turned out to be a break-up gift. Though Jack, who was—as she'd just pointed out—stupid, had wanted to take it back. Typical. The irony of buying candy for a dentist had completely escaped him. And now she, who advocated healthy snacking and avoiding sweets to patients every single day, had in her possession a box of dental sin. Because Jack wasn't the sort of guy who paid attention. To details. To her. To gift-giving etiquette.
The melodic female voice jolted her out of her morose thoughts. She owned a very small dental practice in a less-than-ideal area of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She'd never felt unsafe, or anything. Obviously. Because she kept forgetting to the lock the door and switch the sign over to "Closed."
She used to have a receptionist who did that ... but Simone had left with Jack. Apparently, the receptionist had been dating Jack nearly as long as Aggie had. Thus, the break-up and the refusal to give up the chocolates. And also, the reason she'd caved into the gnawing, aching, horrible depression that had plagued her for the last seven days.
She swung her legs off the dental chair, noted the chocolate smear on the collar of her once pristine white lab coat, and trudged into the hallway, and into the tiny lobby. She pushed through the door. "Look, I'm sorry, but it's late and I'm—"
Aggie stared at the woman, a trim brunette dressed in jeans and T-shirt, and the ... the ... huge, black-furred, green-eyed creature. He looked like he could eat a Volvo. She took a step back, fear starting to beat a tattoo at the base of her skull. "What is it? A mutant dog?"
The mutant dog bared its teeth at her and growled. Then he immediately stopped. She got the impression he was trying not to do the human equivalent of "Ooooooow!"
"He doesn't like being called a dog," said the woman. Her gaze was drawn to the swipe of chocolate on Aggie's collar. She sniffed the air and then her eyes went all dark and weird. "Oh, my God. You have Godiva back there?"
Aggie gulped. The woman canines looked longer than normal. Were her eyes glowing just the tiniest bit red? "How did you know that?"
The dog barked. The fierce noise started Aggie so badly, she yelped.
"You're scaring her. Sheesh." The brunette held out her hand, her gaze and her teeth normal as usual. Aggie wondered if all those Godiva truffles might’ve induced hallucinations. "I'm Jessica. This is Damian. He has a dental issue."
She took the woman's hand, which felt like gripping ice, and shook. "I'm not a veterinarian."
The dog growled.
"He doesn't like veterinarians, either," said Jessica. "Could you just take a look? We'll pay extra for the inconvenience."
Aggie sighed. Well, since she was still paying off college loans, extra cash was always welcome. What did she have to go home to anyway? She didn't even have a cat, just a poor, struggling houseplant she'd named Harold. And he wasn't much of a talker. He was pretty good at dying, though.
"Okay," she said, gesturing toward the door that led to the treatment rooms. "I can't make any promises."
She went first, Jessica followed and so did the nightmare called Damian. Aggie only had one treatment room, the one she'd been lolling in while she dentally abused herself. She swept the Godiva box off the tray and tucked it into the cabinet above the small sink. Then she washed her hands, snapped on some gloves, and turned to the dog. He hopped onto the chair. His strange green eyes held a mixture of a pain and suspicion.
"He's not going to bite me, is he?" Aggie eyed him, not relishing the idea of sticking her hands anywhere near those massive, sharp teeth.
"Er ... no," said Jessica.
Aggie was not reassured by the woman's uncertain tone. "Um, maybe ... you know, we could Google an all-night vet."
"I could make you do it," said Jessica in a bored voice. Her gaze was pinned to the cabinet where Aggie had stored the Godiva truffles. "But I’d really like to wait until after you finish the procedure. If it makes you feel any better, you won't remember any of this experience. But we'll leave the money. That's only fair."
Hello, Ozzie Osborne? You left your crazy train here. Okay. The best way to deal with the situation was just do what the escaped mental patient and her science-experiment mongrel wanted so they would leave. And then Aggie could go home with her Godiva and watch Harold turn brown as she ruined her teeth and lamented her life.
"Don't bite," she admonished the dog. He tilted his head, looking offended. Then he pulled his mouth back in a rather scary smile and opened his maw. Huh. He was rather well behaved for a science experiment.
Aggie took a mouth mirror and a penlight. Then she sucked in steadying breath, and put them inside the dog's huge mouth. There was nothing she could see as she rotated the mirror to examine at the upper and lower mandibles. He had remarkable teeth, not just in the category of "terrifying," either. Healthy, white, maybe needed some flossing...
Whoa. She saw it. The problem.
"Aw, crap." She removed the instruments and moved backward until her back smacked against the cabinet. Her heart tripped over itself, pounding like she'd been running a marathon, and her hands started to shake. "What ... or should I say who ... has your dog been chewing on?"
Jessica rolled her eyes. Then she poked a finger at Damian. "I told you to let go of his hand."
The dog barked in a staccato burst, as though he were tossing annoyed words at the woman.
"Okay," she said, holding up a hand. "You're right. He was trying to snap my neck, so it's probably good you tore off his arm. At least it distracted him enough for me to finish the job."
Serial killers, thought Aggie. I've let serial killers into my office. She’d watched enough Investigation Discovery Channel to know how this night would end. She held up the mirror and penlight, as though they were sword and shield. "I won't tell anyone," she said. "If you just leave ... I won't say anything, I swear."
"Yeah," said Jessica. "I know. Trust me. Look, it's not what you think. The guy was already dead. But the thing about zombies is that they're stubborn."
"Wait." Aggie stared at Jessica, who really looked like a normal human being, if a little on the pale side. "You're saying Dogzilla has a zombie finger stuck in his molars?"
"Ew," said Jessica. "Gross."
"Sorry, dude. But that's disgusting." Jessica peered at Aggie. "Can you remove the finger? Because I'm not doing it."
"Yeah," said Aggie, as hysteria bubbled. "I'll pull out the zombie finger. From your mutant dog's monster teeth. Why not?" She grabbed the forceps from the tray and parked herself in front of Damian. He stared at her and refused to open his mouth. She looked at the forceps. He might be a dog, but she knew that look. "It's sterilized," she said. "Though since you're the one with a dead guy's finger lodged in his teeth ... maybe you shouldn't be so picky."
Jessica snorted with laughter.
Damian offered up a very human look of disdain then opened his maw. Aggie aimed the penlight at the ravaged finger that had become wedged between two molars. She grabbed the grimy tip and yanked as hard as she could. The finger popped out--a finger sliver, really. She wondered if he'd swallowed the other part.
She deposited the finger in the metal bowl on the dental tray. She looked at the dog and asked, "You need some pain medication?"
Damian shook his furry head then jumped off the chair. He stared at her a moment then executed some kind of doggy bow while dipping his head. Then he padded out the opened door.
Jessica said, "That's his way of saying thank you."
"Well, thanks for not freaking out."
"Oh, I am," said Aggie. "Totally."
"Way to hide to it." Jessica put her hand on Aggie's shoulder.
Aggie looked into the woman's eyes, which seemed dark and liquid, and she felt suddenly, inexplicably relaxed. Then she was kinda floating in a pink haze.
It was really nice.
"Nobody devours Godiva like that without a good reason. Who's the guy who broke your heart?"
"Well, here's the thing, Agatha, you're gonna forget about him, okay? He'll never enter your mind again because he doesn't exist. And the mutant dog? He doesn't exist, either. And neither do I. You're free of Jack Drifton. And everything that happened tonight? Never happened."
"Never happened," agreed Aggie dreamily.
"And you're gonna forget about that Godiva, too. You're a dentist. You shouldn't be eating truffles anyway."
"No truffles," Aggie agreed. Then she yawned.
"Why don't you lay down?" asked Jessica. "I'll take that Godiva off your hands, and you'll take a nice nap. When you wake up, you're gonna feel great."
"Great. Uh-huh." She settled onto the dental chair, feeling like she was floating on soft, pink clouds.
As Agatha Winters drifted into a deep sleep, the vampire she'd helped totally stole her box of Godiva chocolates.
Then Jessica grabbed the bowl holding its icky evidence, and left the dentist to dream about a life without Jacks, vampires, werewolves, or zombie fingers.