Chapel of the Pitch Black Forest (old unfinished story; abandoned)

I fell in love with Berella in a Parisian café, the nearby Eiffel Tower shrouded in gray and dripping with rain. She was attractive in the unconventional sense, with bulbous, milky blue eyes set wide apart and a hirsute, ebony face of the most hypnotic countenance. Exotic in every aspect of the word, her beauty surpassed that of any woman or wild thing I had ever seen. Her dialect, too, was as mysterious and hypnotic as the tone of her voice, unfamiliar despite my numerous travels outside England, to regions of the Carpathian Mountains even, where she claimed roots. In esoteric knowledge, beauty, and intelligence she was unparalleled, and these traits, among others, sealed the fate of my heart, which, despite having previously only desired adventure and material wealth, now longed for her attention, and her attention only.
That evening, after the storm had passed, in a park bordered and threaded with wet roses, I bent to one knee and asked Berella for her hand in marriage: me, clad in my finest English suit, holding up a gold ring sporting a sapphire, she radiant in the illumination of the low, ruddy moon, the silk of her long black dress capturing fallen leaves and the reflections of moonlit roses. The moment she raised her dark, elongated arms to wipe away tears with an emphatic “yes,” I knew that all the successes I’d attained over my forty years paled in comparison to our love. And what can be said of our subsequent kiss? Like no other! A rare lip-lock of wet stickiness and the mingling of dark whiskers—an experience ours, and ours alone!
No sooner did our lips part did she slink away and begin to dance, seductively bending and twisting her serpentine body and limbs, her breasts bouncing rhythmically to the quiet pulse of night whilst nocturnal beasts peered candle-eyed from moonless spaces. And when she spun back to me, peering down at my excitement, we embraced and made love on the spot, right there in that public garden of roses beside a splashing fountain of blushing cherubs. There wasn’t another soul around, and we awoke the next morning in each other’s arms.
The words necessary to convey how much I loved Berella in that moment evade me. And she had chosen me, and me alone, to be her husband! There was only one condition for this: that we marry in the chapel of her native land.
I agreed without hesitation.

*  *  *

By what tradition a man is blindfolded and led, by his fiancée’s hand, and on foot no less, through miles of myriad terrain, I was not familiar. But because my love for Berella knew no bounds, and by extension knew no resistance, I accepted the odd tradition without question—though I admit having been a bit disagreeable about the whole blindfold business.
Nevertheless, and perhaps because of my adventurous nature, I finally accepted all the terms of her request. Upon this acceptance Berella kissed me wildly, then tore a black strip from her silk dress and coquettishly wrapped it several times about my eyes, all the while dashing me with kisses from her prominent lips. I was henceforth blind in such darkness that not even the sun’s tenacity could breach it. This is how it remained for the next few days and nights on our journey to Berella’s homeland.
We set off first thing that morning, the quiet Parisian streets at our backs, each taking with us only a small pack of provisions.
Berella led me by the hand down a sidewalk, a sidewalk which, to my surprise, ended abruptly, as if unfinished, and from there our journey never met another city. Our route took us through a meadow for some time, and we stopped often to make love amongst the crickets and intoxicating scent of meadow flowers. My blindfold remained on even during those interludes, which, I must confess, made lovemaking all the more sensual. Without dependence on sight, my other senses became more acute, tuning in, as it were, to the fragrance of her hair as it tickled my chest, to the odd, subtle clicks and heavy exhalations she made at orgasm. I had never heard a woman make such interesting sounds.
We soon came upon a forest, made apparent by the echoes of falling raindrops and birdsong, the smell of wet bark and the drumming of woodpeckers. Time became a distorted thing, perhaps a mental effect of my adaptation to complete darkness. After awhile, time did not seem to exist at all, and day was only ever apparent if the sun warmed me. As for sustenance, my fiancée and I sustained ourselves with fruit and water from rivers, creeks, and springs. On occasion Berella would leave for a time and come back with an animal, cooking it over a campfire. How and what she hunted never became apparent to me, for she would hold her finger to my lips whenever I asked questions. In time, she would say to me. In time you will know all my secrets. And her voice would be so sensual that I would forget all my questions and reach for her body.
Days passed, and we traveled through just about every imaginable setting: field, forest, valley, but never cities. Not once did we encounter another soul. I admit to feeling both romance and dread: romance at the thrill of secret travel with my beloved, dread at not being able to see anything around me, the vulnerability of it, the danger of it, having not once but a few times almost falling. Once, toward the end of our journey, as we descended a mountain, my foot slipped off trail and I heard rocks falling down a cliffside. Still I endured. My love for Berella held steadfast.
Toward the very end of our journey we came to a river. It was humid and well into night, as indicated by the calling of owls. The river slowly glided by, and small waves lapped the shore near my feet. Here Berella kissed me, then walked away. Not long after I heard a bell being rung, its peals echoing across the river. Berella returned, and jokingly I asked her if she had rung the bell, and if it was to summon our dinner. “That’s funny,” she said. “But no. We’re to be taken across the river.”
Wolves howled in the distance, a whip-poor-will called nearby. Berella stood with one long arm about my waist and planted kisses up and down my neck. I wanted to take her right then, but a boat hitting shore meant our ferry had come. Gripping my arm, Berella carefully helped me aboard and take seat starboard. Next I heard what sounded to me like a coin being dropped into a bony hand, but that was probably only my imagination.
We reached the other shore and Berella helped me off the boat. Our hike thereafter took less than two days, and we traversed fields of sparse grass and boulders, an eerily quiet desert, and finally a rank, bubbling bog or marshland that became a cypress swamp filled with malicious hisses. I had a sense of snakes dangling amid waterfalls of moss, but can only speculate, as I remained in darkness. Still, nothing about this place seemed like Romania.
Finally the hissing subsided and an eerie, odorless silence pervaded my senses. The ground seemed muddy, and in places my feet sank a bit into the soil. Thankfully, Berella was always there to balance me again.
A short distance was traveled in this new environment before Berella stopped and announced, with delight in her voice: “We are here, my love. We have arrived at the wedding chapel.”
Here she unwrapped the blindfold from my eyes and kissed me with a mouth that tasted a bit like rotten blueberries. I pulled away, not because of the kiss so much as the sight—or lack of, I should say. I couldn’t see a thing. I was still in utter darkness!
“What’s going—?”
“Shhhhhhhhhh,” Berella said. “Do not speak. Your voice may excite . . . those not expecting you. You’ve had that blindfold on for many days; it may take a few minutes for your eyes to readjust. Come, let us go inside the chapel and be married straight away!” She brushed her hand along my face and I immediately felt safe, thinking I would ask more questions about this tradition of hers after the ceremony. And as I did not want to appear anxious in front of our wedding guests, I trusted Berella to lead me by the hand into the chapel. 
A low murmuring, and then the pattering of feet, were the first things I heard upon entering the chapel. By now I’d expected my eyes to adjust to the dark and at least be able to see the contours of objects, but this did not happen. It seemed as if we were inside a cave with no light source anywhere. A moment later someone began to play a lute, and the murmuring and pattering of feet faded away. A few times I thought I heard the growling of stomachs.
When we finally stopped after walking arm in arm for a few more feet, Berella stopped us and a male voice proceeded to speak in a language and tone completely alien to me, one full of strange clicks and exhalations. Things were being moved around and a liquid was poured into multiple containers of some sort. There were whispers circling all about me, and clinking, and the sounds of people drinking from cups. I was not included in whatever ceremony was taking place, and let it go on account of it all being part of their strange custom. Still, an ominous feeling began to come over me. I was in complete, utter darkness; I had not seen nor spoken to another soul other than Berella in that chapel; the ceremony was unfamiliar, and it did not seem to consider me in the least.
And then the unthinkable happened. At what I assume was the conclusion of the strange ceremony, the priest, or whoever he was, pressed up against me on my right, at the same moment that my Berella pressed up against my left. The shocking fact that both were hairy and clicking with their mouths was almost instantly replaced by the fact that each bit me on the shoulder. Their teeth must have been sharp and substantial, for I could feel them sinking deeply in. I lost consciousness and sensed a significant about of blood leaving my body.
I did not regain full consciousness. Only a dreamlike state of awareness gave any impression that I was not yet dead.
The next sensation to occur was that of rising. I felt myself leaving behind my body, drifting up into the cold rafters of the chapel. And that’s where it finally happened: the coming of light. It was me; it was my soul. I illuminated the immediate darkness about me, could still hear the eerie lute and the murmuring and the click-speak below. And the pattering of many feet in a rush toward a single object. And then I knew; somehow I knew that these creatures were feeding on me, on my body, down on the floor of the chapel. And among them was the woman I loved, only now I knew she wasn’t a woman, but a monster. A monster that had deceived me, had planned my fate the moment I met her. And yet, my love for her remained intact. It had not been drained out of my heart the way my blood had. In fact, it might have been stronger now. Such a horrific fate such as mine should have collapsed my love for her into a heap of black ooze. But no, love filled my soul. It swelled and I was seeing by the light of it!
My little glowing soul floated up and up as I began to come to terms with my fate. I had been a good Christian my whole life, and now I was overwhelmed with the notion of spending eternity with the lord, bringing with me the intense love I had acquired, gotten by the strangest of means the reasons of which I would leave to God to explain. All that mattered at the moment was release from this place. I was eager to move on to the next level!
Soon I was bouncing against the pinnacle of the wooden roof. Suddenly, and like a bubble of light, I floated up into the chapel spire and popped out of the tip into the night air. The stars shown bright above me and I began to feel a subtle tug on my soul; it was God, no doubt, guiding me to Heaven. I let myself go and closed my eyes – if eyes I yet had – and waited patiently to cross over to the other side.
Clicks and exhalations. And that strange language again.
I opened my “eyes” with a start and found myself stuck in a web. A humanoid spider hovered over me with long, quivering fangs. And although I could only see a short distance by the light of my soul, I could tell that there were many other lights out in the distance the same as my own. Other souls. Other victims.
I see them even now; some only recently captured and bright, while others are fading to blackness. All of us stuck in webs, high in the giant, grotesque trees of some pitch black forest unknown to the world of man. And the spider creature which feeds upon my soul on a daily basis takes its time at it. Perhaps it is all my imagination, or that I am yet blinded by love, but it seems as if my light has outlasted all the others, that this spider creature who takes its time feeding on me . . . No, I dare not think it, dare not imagine it despite the fact that its eight familiar eyes regard me in an almost loving way. No, I dare not ask this creature if it is my dear Berella. It is not that I am afraid it is her, it’s that I’m afraid it isn’t. Because if I am to be consumed to the last, I want my final days to be with her. And if the strength of my light is too pure a thing to be consumed completely, and I remain in this scenario forever, then yes, I want it to be her that eats me, digests me.
Sometimes I pray that she loves me, pray and hope because I cannot help but still love her but a little. And I pray she doesn’t consume me to the last. That if this creature truly is her, that if some part of her still cares for me—if ever she did—then maybe she’ll allow some remnant piece of me to go free. That our love, in some way, mattered. That it was real.