#263 A Picture

#263 A Picture 

No one had seen it for over a hundred years until that idiot, my 76th wife, found my baby picture. That meant I’ll be looking for number 77 in the near future. Seventy-Six, I called them by numbers because I couldn’t remember which name went with which wife. I haven’t found a woman that I could stomach for more than a year in the 100 years I’ve been alive.

At 100, my appearance is that of a handsome 20-year-old. That helps when I want to acquire another wife. That and the fortune I’ve acquired. Not through business acumen, but from what I’ve inherited from dead wives. One of the requirements of marrying me is that the women have financial assets.

Because she viewed my baby picture, she had to know I wasn’t like other men. The shape of my head gives my secret away. Although, at first she may think I’m an alien as other past wives had, I believed she’d figure out the truth sooner than later. I couldn’t allow that. It could mean the end of my meal ticket if she did. So tonight I’d eat to my heart’s content.

Dinner time rolled around, and when 76 entered the dining room dressed in a white see through gown, I almost regretted this would be her last meal. She sat at her place. Lifted her head, looked into my eyes and said, “You think I don’t know you’ve been feasting on my blood since the day we got married a year ago? I knew what you were before I married you. Your problem is, you didn’t know what I am.”

Her revelation shocked me. How did she know I was a bloodsucker? “Exactly what are you?”

“Your worst nightmare.” She floated from her chair and hovered over the table.

What was my worst nightmare? I couldn’t imagine what she was. I had to think fast. The only thing I feared was the sun. “Ha, ha,” I laughed. “You floating above the table doesn’t intimidate me one bit.” I too willed myself into the air, and floated beside her.

“I guess you don’t know where your kind emigrated from.”

“Sure I do. Transylvanian. Everyone knows that.”

“No fool. Your ancestors fled our home planet to get away from my kind.”

“They feared no one.”

“Wrong. After being victims for so long, we evolved a defense.”

“I’ve been sucking your blood for a year. What kind of defense could you have?”

“Parasites, like you. In the time you’ve been alive, have you learned about

endoparasites?” She floated over her chair and dropped into it.

I returned to my chair and faced her across the table. The conversation was more interesting than any I ever had with any of my previous wives. I never spent much time educating myself, so I had to ask, “What’s an endoparasite?”

“It’s a defense we developed against your kind. It lives in our blood, and when you drink it, the parasite lives in your body. After hatching, the parasitoid larvae feed on non-vital tissues within your body.   As they grow, their nutritional demands increase until they eventually consume you from the inside.”

So that’s why I’d been having horrible stomach aches. Thought maybe I’d swallowed some bad blood. “If you knew, why’d you bother to search for my picture?”

“I wanted a memento to put with the 77 I have saved from the husbands I’ve killed.”

I didn’t know if I should believe her until I screamed in pain as a giant worm crawled from a hole it had eaten through my stomach. Many more followed it as I lay squirming on the floor while the cursed sun rose and shone onto me.