The Get-Out Claws by Jason Darrell

Why had Shirley agreed to dinner with her estranged husband, Jeffrey? Her new Merc crunched to a halt outside their seaside shack, into which he'd receded during their trial separation. Should she turn around? No; this needed sorting.

Her newfound freedom committed suicide over the cliff edge within seconds of him ushering her inside.

What had he done? Aquariums now lined the shack's walls entirely. A humongous, skulking lobster tank had replaced the TV.

Seeing her eyeing the alien crustaceans, Jeffrey asked, "Which one would you like?"

Shirley almost turned tail. But, well: it was lobster. His sacred lobster!

She sat at the dining table while he cooked. The candelabra reflected flickering flame off sheer glass walls.

Everything seemed fluid, disconcerting, like being submerged into that fated lake of fire. Creeping claustrophobia threatened to drown her.

"We were good together, weren't we?" he asked as they ate.

"Once, maybe," she agreed, trying to avoid antagonism. His eyes: something was terribly off.

"What's changed? Why throw everything away?" he asked.

"Look around you, Jeff. This aquatic obsession: it's not normal!" she said, abandoning diplomacy; "It's not me, it's you."

He nodded, slowly rose, then sidled towards the door. She hadn't noticed before, but he'd fortified it with a dozen mismatched bolts.

"You'll stay until you change your mind," he said, sighing, slapping each bolt home.

She had to act. The candelabra was too heavy, unwieldy, but its flame licked a lobster claw. Good enough!

She crept up behind him as he crouched to fasten the last bolts.

Whack! She found his jugular, first attempt.

As he gurgled his last against the door, the compression eased around her rib cage. So what if she did time for him? Even prison would feel like freedom…

…but they'd have to catch her first.

Published in Issue #26

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