Hello! “Not Your Final Girls” is the first story I’ve ever written where the queer girls end up together AND happy. Well, my kind of horror, blood, murder, happy. I suppose it’s the first happy ending I’ve written because I couldn’t imagine a happily ever after ending before. That was not in the realm of possibility for me. It was more far fetched than ghosts and devil women.
Last fall, this changed. I can imagine happiness now. To celebrate that I challenged myself to write a story that didn’t end with a heart broken girl. This silly riff on the final girl trope was the result. This is not like my other work. Normally, I’d keep submitting a story until someone accepted it. I don’t want to do that with this one. It may not be as “serious” as my other stories and it is certainly a hard sell as it is a slasher, comedy, rom-com with fan fic sensibilites, but I didn’t want to go through the process of presenting it for “Acceptance” to every market. I accept it, like I’ve finally accepted myself. I want my story to be read and, hopefully, at least one other person will enjoy it.
Happy Pride from your queer neighbourhood Goth!
CONTENT and TRIGGER WARNINGS: This is a flash piece based on the paranormal slasher horror trope. It contains older teenaged characters like a lot of slasher movies do. It also contains: Mentions and depictions of blood, gore, graphic violence, dismemberment, knives, stabbing, ghosts, murder, body horror in general. It’s horror, so do choose not to read it if horror isn’t for you. ❤
Not Your Final Girls
By Suzan Palumbo
Reshma and Audette are standing with their backs pressed against a concrete wall in the urine soaked loading dock alley behind the local strip mall. They’ve never held hands despite Reshma secretly wanting to for the past year. Now, their fingers are interlaced so tightly Reshma can feel Audette’s heartbeat.
Reshma is breathing hard. Audette, who has watched every slasher film released since 1995 with her older brother Marcus, is panic-whispering movie trivia to self-soothe. There’s no point in telling each other to be quiet. The Ouija man will find them no matter how silently they hide.
Tonight is the anniversary of the murder of John Doe, a man twenty five to thirty years old, discovered dismembered on the RichVale high school football field. A group of jocks gathered a year after Doe’s death, forty years ago, with a machete and a Ouija board to summon his spirit. All the boys involved in the summoning were found sliced, chopped or slashed to death the next day.
“That story isn’t true, Aud. My mom works at Save the Most! with Ed. He says he was there that night. He’s alive and stocks aisle six to eight. Come with me to Jade’s party. I don’t wanna to go alone,” Resh pleaded when Aud suggested they stay in and stream Halloween just to be safe.
Resh would have watched Jamie Lee Curtis any other time, but she’d finally found the courage to profess her crush to Aud. Exposing her heart at either of their own homes made her stomach twist. What if Aud only liked Resh as a friend? She could not face her own family or Aud’s mother after a gutting rejection.
At Jade’s house, she’d pulled Aud into a quiet corner of the living room as the lights dimmed and a group of cheerleaders huddled around a Ouija board. “Ouija man, are you hereee?” Jade wailed as if she were a phantom herself. Resh swallowed and touched Aud’s shoulder.
“I wanted to tel-”
The glass back door shattered.
Screams filled the room.
“Shit!” Aud grabbed Resh’s hand and dragged her towards the front door. They bolted out of the house, through the two-car-garage-with-pool-home neighbourhood, past RichVale and through their own government housing complex, Resh boosting Aud over fences and knocking down trash cans in their wake as obstacles. Neither dared look back. The scrape of the Ouija man’s machete on the asphalt and the weight of Resh’s unfinished confession propelled them forward.
“One of us will die tonight,” Aud says, when she’s calmed herself enough to speak Her voice is cleaver sharp. “The other will be on the run, hunted and alone. A final girl.” Anguish shimmers in her eyes. “He’ll never stop, Resh.”
The thought of being alone cuts Resh deeper than a knife to the chest. They’d been inseparable since second grade. Aud helped Resh study and Resh made Aud laugh. Resh would throat punch anyone who disrespected Aud. She wanted to throat punch herself for not agreeing to watch Halloween tonight.
Resh grabbed Aud by the forearms and looked her in the eye. “How do I kill this undead sicko?”
“We can’t, Resh.” Aud’s dependable faith in them being unstoppable together feels stubbed out like the cigarette butts littering the pavement. Resh’s heart cracks and the crevice burns with fury.
“There must be something we can do? Let’s look for a weapon.” She cups Aud’s cheek in her palm. The flicker of hope in Aud’s eyes is all the fuel she needs. She peels off to search the corners of the alley. Aud yanks at the loading dock doors. They meet back in the middle minutes later.
“Gotta a brick and a broken bottle,” Resh says. Aud raises an eyebrow and holds up a screwdriver. “Yes! That’s great-”
The stench of rotting meat fills Resh’s sinuses. Aud gags so deeply she almost throws up. The Ouija man looms before them, solid as death blocking their escape. His mask is smeared with the clots and entrails. Transfixed by the ruby colored gore, Resh can’t take her eyes off the splatter.
The holes in the Ouija man’s mask where his eyes should be have a sharp, black depth that chills her core. She sees Aud tighten her grip on the screwdriver; she drops the broken bottle and adjusts her own stance to balance the weight of the brick in her right hand. The Ouija man’s mask shifts upward as if he’s smiling underneath it. He raises his machete in a wide arc above them. He pauses at the apex of his swing and-
Aud plunges the screwdriver into his torso. The Ouija man slams his elbow into her face, knocking her to the ground. Resh bashes the brick into his jaw. Crack. He laughs a rusty swing chain laugh, stepping closer, begging to be hit again. She leans back, shifts her weight forward and smashes the brick square in his face. More laughter, sharp and mocking, pierces Resh’s ears. She chokes on the taste of blood flooding her mouth when she inhales. She swings again.
“Die,” she shrieks. The brick connects. Part of his mask shatters. Underneath, his face is purple and slick. He’s still decomposing after decades. She launches into a flurry of blows pummeling him until her arm gives out. Her lungs are on fire. His laugh is unending.
The Ouija man pulls the screwdriver out of his torso and raises it high above –
A high pitched beeping floods the alley.
“Move,” Aud screams. Resh jump rolls out of the way. Aud plows a forklift into the Ouija man, impaling him against the concrete wall. She hops out of the cab with the motor running.
“Sorry I left you alone.” Her lip is starting to swell. Resh hugs her as tight as her trembling arms will let her. The Ouija man is flailing, struggling to push the forklift away from him. Resh lets go of Aud, picks up the brick and bashes him in the head.
“Don’t. You. Ever. Touch. My. Girlfriend. Again.” Her words staccato each blow.
“When did you learn to drive a forklift?” Resh is examining the forklift’s controls, ignoring the weight of the word girlfriend in the air.
“It has a steering wheel. I figured those levers move the arms up and down.” Aud doesn’t look at her. “The bigger question is who left the keys on the seat so someone could steal them?” She smirks. “That person needs to be written up by a manager.” Resh’s laughter is cut short by a gurgle deep in the Ouija Man’s throat.
“How is he not dead?” She kicks his leg. Heat warms her face when Aud glances at her. “Maybe we should leave?”
“They’re never dead, Resh.” Aud jumps into action. “Grab the machete. I’ll get some boxes.” She pauses. “What are you smiling at?”
“You’re brilliant,” Resh says as she picks up the machete.
It’s dawn by the time they’ve finished burying the Ouija man’s dismembered body throughout the park on the money side of town. They’re slicked in dirt, sweat and entrails but the golden sunrise Aud is gorgeous to Resh.
“Do we bury the machete, too?” She wipes her forehead.
“It’s cursed. It’ll find a way to reconstitute him. We’ll take it to my brother Marcus. His friend’s a welder. We’ll see if they know how to melt it down.” Aud flops on the grass and exhales. “Let’s rest.”
“You think of everything,” Resh says, sitting next to her. Aud angles her head to look at Resh.
“I didn’t think I was your girlfriend.” Aud wipes blood off Resh’s cheek and lets her finger linger on Resh’s chin.
“I’m not.” Resh sets her face in a frown. Aud pulls her hand away widening the distance between them. Confusion and a sliver of hurt form in her eyes. Resh laughs, pulling Aud back toward her.
“You’re my final girl,” she says before she kisses Aud gently on her swollen lips, like she has wanted to for months.
I hope you enjoyed the story! If you’d like, you can drop me a Ko-fi tip here! Fuel a queer with coffee and hopefully there will be more adventures of Reshma and Audette or other final girls soon!