“I love you,” she said. She lay on her side, toward him, watching his profile in the dimness of her bedroom. He was laying on his back, face toward the ceiling. His eyes did not open when he spoke.
“That’s just the sex endorphins talking,” he said. “Orgasms always make you women emotionally attached. It’ll go away in the morning.” He rolled over on his side, away from her. “Ebb and flow.”
“No, it won’t,” she said, neither pleading nor playful. She said it as if recounting a scientific fact. “I love you.”
He sighed, impatiently, then rolled again onto his back, glancing at her sidelong. Her face was a black pall in the dark, like a widow’s veil; like most of the room. Only a few golden hairs glinted in the shadows, a fraying nimbus or halo around her head. In the corner of the bedroom an aquarium sat, large as a coffin, bubbles sputtering upwards, glass and water glowing with blue subaqueous light. Its subdued blue tinge touched the wall against which it abutted, leaving all else as plunging, deep-sea blackness.
There were no fish in the water; only strangely shaped castle props, long and lean and cylindrical like minarets. Bizarre hieroglyphs lined those long columns.
“I’m sure you’ve probably had several guys,” he said, “and you thought you were in love with them, too.”
“I did,” she said, her words neither angry or heartbroken in that bubbling, murmuring darkness. “And I was in love with them, too, as I am in love with you.”
“And what happened to the others, huh?” he said, gruffly.
She remained silent, veiled.
“Jesus,” he said, “don’t go psycho on me now. We had a good time. Both of us. But it’s a one-time thing. Okay? What did you think Tinder was for?”
He shook his head and fidgeted, settling himself into her waterbed the best he could. It was difficult to do; he had never slept in a waterbed before. It had made sex interesting and novel, though.
“My people mate for life,” she said.
“Your people?” he scoffed. “Great. What are you? Mormon? Jehovah’s Witness?”
She remained silent.
Growing irritable with this conversation, he threw aside the sheets and, slowly, cautiously, walked across the bedroom and out into the hall, feeling his way to a light switch. He turned it on and went to the bathroom. Relieving into the toilet, he held a quick debate with himself on whether to leave right now or wait until morning. He was tired, and broke, and didn’t feel like calling for an Uber. The hot ones, he told himself, were always the craziest ones. He just didn’t expect “religious” crazy. He grumbled, realizing that he might have to change his phone number to get away from this one.
He finished relieving himself, and debating himself, and squinted at his reflection in the mirror, merciless in the fluorescent lights. Black bags under his eyes. Disheveled hair. Too much wine. Too many girls, too. Too many weird girls, too, and this one, by far, was the weirdest. Deceptively quiet. Tone even and not prone to outbursts, but still unsettling in a more subtle way. She seemed normal at first, almost professionally aloof, as if she, like himself, had been on so many Tinder dates that it was routine. After dinner, however, and especially after sex, she was becoming quieter. What she said had an odd air about it, too, and he did not know what to make of it. The sex had been great, but his red flags were springing up like pop-up windows from a virus-heavy porn site. He was glad he had been mindful enough to put on a condom.
Returning to the bedroom, he saw the hall light spill halfway across the bedroom, splitting the bed in two with light and darkness. Her pale white legs were slick and glistening in the light, but her upper body was still curtained in shadow. He took a deep breath, felt himself become drowsy, and so flicked the hall light off, climbing unsteadily into the waterbed, and flopping down as if to die. He shifted uneasily onto his back, unable to settle comfortably in the swaying rise and fall of the bed.
“How can you sleep on this thing?” he complained.
“It reminds me of the ocean,” she said. “My home.”
“Listen,” he said suddenly, rolling over onto his side, away from her. “No more crazy talk. Okay? Let’s just go to sleep.”
“I love you,” she said again.
“That’s it,” he growled.
He tried to sit up to leave, but she grasped him by the shoulders, leaning over him. Her pale breasts gleamed in the blue light, swaying with the waves of the waterbed and glowing like twin moons as they hung over him, and like twin moons pulling doubly at the tides those full orbs pulled at his blood, flooding his loins afresh with desire. He pulled her to him, then, and she straddled him, rocking atop him with her hips in seesawing deliberateness, like a beached creature awash in the surf of the linen sheets.
He glimpsed movement in the aquarium. Were those cuttlefish? Seahorses? They looked very odd in the dark, dim bioluminescent glow of the tank.
But he did not care. He did not care about what was in the tank, and he did not care when he suddenly realized that he had not put on a condom. All that mattered was the ensuing explosion of climax. She cried out, and he groaned and quivered with the greatest orgasm of his jaded twenty-something life.
She remained atop him, immovable with her suddenly stony weight and strength. When he tried to push her off, she clamped down harder upon him with her pincer-sharp legs.
“I love you,” she said. “We mate for life.”
He felt his seed oozing between the two of them, where pillar and shaft fit, pressed together like a hot, frothy broth of brine. He saw the creatures in the aquarium more clearly now: vaguely humanoid, not unlike finned, tentacled fetuses floating in an amniotic sea. In the peace of post-coital ebb there flowed confusion, disbelief, and, ultimately, terror. Up above him, opening her fanged mouth, the mother of those creatures spread her maw for Love.