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Money for Beauty (A Short Story by Martie Coetser)

Updated on June 19, 2013

The bedroom in the tower of the entrancing Victorian house was all of a sudden open, thanks to a nail file Monia always kept in her purse. Bedding all over the floor, a scattered cell phone and a pool of cold blood revealed a violent kidnap.

Only the pictures on the walls, of Caroline winning beauty contest, were intact. She was a stunner, with sparkling violet-blue eyes and an innocent smile. According to Votes, Caroline had the most beautiful nose in the world.

Monia was halfway down the stairs when her brother-in-law appeared at the bottom, obviously suspicious, as she was supposed to be in the guest room on the ground floor.

“Are you lost?” His glare could kill. He never made a secret of his unwillingness to share his beauty-queen-wife with her relatives and friends.

“Sorry, Juan, but how could I not be curious? Here I came to visit my sister just to hear that she has left you for another man. I would rather believe that she was lying dead behind that locked door.”

“My dear sister-in-law, don’t let your writer’s mind runs away with you. Remember, curiosity killed the cat.” An unspoken warning darkened his ebony-brown eyes.

Monia gestured surrender. “Oh, I feel awful because Caroline did not tell me anything.” The sound of the doorbell reminded her of the saying ‘saved by the bell’. She followed Juan to the foyer where the walls were mirrors reflecting all objects into eternity.

An unattractive young woman was standing in the doorway. Her nose was awry, as if it was not hers.

“Good to see you, Adelia. Meet my nosy sister-in-law, Monia.”

“Oh, if I knew you had a visitor…” Even Adelia’s voice sounded weird, as if it was not hers.

“No, you came just in time.” The next moment Juan turned around and hit Monia with his forearm with such force that she spun like a top until she lost her consciousness against a mirror.

Credit to
Credit to

On her way to learn the reason why Caroline was ‘not available’ for more than a week without any explanation, Monia stopped at a flea-market to buy some homemade ginger beer. The sun was glaring down on the gazebos, blinding her, consequently she did not recognize Juan at first sight. Dressed in jeans, he looked like an ordinary businessman selling goods and not like a surgeon spending most of his days in air-conditioned theatres and hospitals. He was smiling at a woman with an awry nose.

Victor Habbick @
Victor Habbick @

The smell of ether pulled Monia out of her dream. She was in a cold room, surrounded by incubators filled with mutilated corpses connected to equipment of all sorts. She closed her eyes, praying that she was dreaming about faces without noses and lips, empty eye-pockets and heads without ears. Another human groan made her realize that she was awake in horrible circumstances.

She pulled herself up, relieved because she was free to move. The moans came from a body strapped to an operating table, unrecognizable behind a multitude of tubes and monitors. Even before she saw the mutilated face, Monia knew it belonged to her sister.

Oncoming voices prompted Monia in the opposite direction where she could see a door. But the door was locked. A container, loaded with surgical clothing stained with blood, was the only hiding place. She jumped in and wriggled herself to the bottom. The smell of old blood started to enter her nostrils; she was going to vomit.

“She’s gone!” Monia recognized Adelia’s funny voice.

An also Juan’s. “She can’t get out of here.”

“Of course she can… With your help, Juan. Do you think I did not notice the empathy in your eyes…”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Why would I… jeopardize our future?”

“What future? You will always be ashamed of me, in spite of my money. You are driven by your feelings of guilt, Juan. That accident you've caused when we were kids will haunt you forever. Let’s face it, you will never be able to restore my beauty. You will go on with these experiments…. keeping corpses alive, human spare parts…. accepting money from criminals, giving them the make-overs they need to escape the Law…. I have had enough of this, Juan. Enough!”

“Shut up! Dammit! Help me find her!” Juan shouted.

According to the noise Monia knew that Juan was running around, moving incubators and pulling tubes out of corpses in search for her. Her tension was intensified by Adelia’s sudden silence.

Then, out of the blue, complete silence started to accumulate in Monia's ears. Only the ticking of a clock assured her that she was not dead. When she was sure the silence was not a trap, she dared a peep.

Juan and Adelia were lying on the floor. Two empty syringes, one still in Adelia’s hand, revealed the end of a riddle to be unraveled by the police.

renjith krishnan @
renjith krishnan @
Source: photo by billybuc
Source: photo by billybuc

Four weeks later Monia and Caroline returned to the entrancing Victorian house with its bay windows, old wooden floors and view on the Boa River and Blue Baluti Mountains. After too many weeks in the hospital Caroline was rattling pale and a bit too slim. With her silicone nose she would never again win a beauty contest, but being alive was a good enough reason for her to be happy. Or maybe being wealthy, as she was the only heir of Dr. Juan Raminez.

“I think I must change the house into a guesthouse,” she said while she led the way. “I can buy a couple of canoes and kayaks…. I can change the lab into a restaurant…”

Monia looked at the garage. Who would have guessed that behind those old wooden doors and casement windows was an ultra modern surgery, stocked with living body parts? “No! I will never be able to eat in there. But maybe I will be able to write best-selling horrors,” she said.

Caroline laughed. In her unconscious state, she never saw the inside of Juan’s laboratory.

© Martie Coetser

Source: photo by billybuc
Source: photo by billybuc

Writer's Note

This story was inspired by billybuc of hubpages and submitted to the The-BillyBuc-Fiction-Writing-Contest on 31 January 2013.

Thank you, Bill Holland!

Stuart Miles @
Stuart Miles @


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    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      Hi, Peg, wow, such a lovely compliment from an esteemed writer of fiction like you honestly means a lot to me. I look forward to write short stories again, regretting the fact that I can't do it at present, as pain simply keeps my imagination in a box. Thanks a lot, Peg.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Martie, You are an incredible writer and this fascinating tale had me biting my nails and speed reading right to the ending. I loved the creepy and scary scenario and the feel of "Coma" combined with Victorian images. Great story.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Sannel :) Always good to see you in my corner. Thank you for pimping this story of mine and also for your continuous support. Take care, my dear friend :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I shall start to call you Martie Hitchcock from now on, lol! Horror at its best! This story gave me goosebumps, my friend. Well done!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ anart ~ maybe our interpretation reveal something about our perceptions. I am quite afraid of strange houses. Always expecting the worse to be going on behind those closed doors. As a matter of fact, I don't trust anything or anybody I don't know yet. So I will expect the worse until I've learned that I've been afraid of things that don't exist.

      @ Alastar ~ Your opinion always counts. Thank you! Bravewarrior won the contest with a well-written story revealing the most touching message :)

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      What a macabre piece of writing and how you set the mental images is something. Reminds me of a combination of several stories and movies done in your inimitable style, Martie. Hope this wins in Billybuc's contest, it certainly should!

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Very interesting interpretation of the photos and a great read. It seems to me that the house has been regarded as both spooky and friendly, having read just a few of the entries so far... I find the interpretations fascinating. Well done!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks, Kathryn. A script writer can easily change this into a nerve-wrecking horror. I wish I had the time to do it myself. Take care :)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      6 years ago from Windsor, Connecticut

      That would make a good horror movie! Great story, Martie!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Teaches - thank you! When I saw billybuc's house, my first thought was that one never knows what goes on behind closed doors. Take care :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      This was exciting to read. You gave me a jump when I came to the skeleton photo! I am recovered now. Very well done.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ Eiddwen

      @ fpherj

      Thanks for clicking in for the read. Your comments are so welcome and appreciated :) I haven't written a short story in a long time, so this was like walking on thin ice :)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Martie...Wonderful. Talent and creativity abound here! I do not envy Bill. He has his work cut out for him, making a selection! I'm looking so forward to the final judging. Congratulations on your great've stepped up to the plate with great fiction....UP+++

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Oh yes wonderful Martie and so deserved of a vote up and shared.

      Have a great weekend.


    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ tillsontitan

      @ KoffeeKlatch Gals

      @ kallini2010

      @ Nell Rose

      @ always exploring

      @ tiptopelectronics

      @ ImKarn23

      I appreciate your comments with all my heart, especially because I can sense that you are honest and not merely boosting my (sensitive writer’s) ego. In the past I considered 1500-1800 words to be the maximum for short stories. But nowadays, in this specific era of the Rat-Race, where Time is never enough to do what we can, may and like to do, and where people have the most wonderful opportunity to read hundreds of articles/poems/stories per day, I think 800-1000 words should be the norm. But then there is not much room for character development, but only a ‘picture’ of a scene.... I am still trying to connect the short story genre with flash fiction.

      Thank you, Svetlana, for telling me that you could feel suspense in every line. This is an essential characteristic of the short story and it is good to know that I’ve ‘past the test’.

      Thanks again to all. I really treasure your comments :)

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      6 years ago

      You already DID write an amazing horror story!

      I'm not much for scary, and - i swear i found myself...flinching..(i'm a pussy, i

      THIS is awesome! Billy's got a tough road ahead of him...

      Good luck, sweet friend - even if it doesn't win - it's worthy of it!

      up and sharing forward..

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      You had me all the way. Intriguing and loaded with suspense. My kind of story. Loved it..Voted up and away!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Hi Martie, Ooh I love a good horror story! this was really chilling, and totally captivating! fantastic story! votes all the way!

    • kallini2010 profile image


      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      The beauty always attracts the Beast or is it the other way around?

      How did you manage put suspense in every line?

      Excellent story! Bravo!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This was a wonderful short story. I liked it so much the first time I had to read it again. Pushing those buttons.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      What a great read! I'm a big fan of Poe, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. THIS rivals them all. In a short space you filled up every word with interest and just a tinge of terror! Great job Martie.

      Voted up, awesome, interesting and just plain great.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ Vinaya - Thanks for coming by. You comments are always appreciated :)

      @ drbj - yes, Vincent Price was before my time, but he still met my idea of attractive. (I had an eye for older men, but I guess that was a kind of an Electra complex.) I actually had a crush on David Birney ~


      Thanks for your lovely comment, drbj :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Eminently enjoyable reading to the very last word, Martie. You are now a mystery-writing pro. Steven King and James Patterson had best look to their laurels. When you sell your screenplay, you might want to consider an actor that looks like a young Vincent Price - remember him in 'The House of Wax.' On second thought, probably not - you are much too young.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      Martie, I have not published stories on HP for many months, but I do enjoy reading good stories. This is quite an interesting read.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ DDE - Believe me, I appreciate your opinion with all my heart. I mean, what writer would not like to have 'awesome' as a comment on his work?

      @ bravewarrior - lol! There you, too, call this and 'old-time' horror. Maybe I should try a modern one? Oh boy, my poor soul! I think I'll rather go for erotica. Thanks, Shauna! I'm going to catch up with readings this weekend. Looking forward to read your latest(s).... :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi my dear, Gypsy! Definitely 'old-boring' horror, the youth of today will say. Sometimes I see a horror per chance while I am hubbing and facebooking. (My TV is normally on in the background.) 'Saw', 'Nightmare in Whatever Street', Friday the 13th', and I can't remember the title of the last one of which I've accidentally saw some terrifying scenes - because the screams caught my attention - are absolutely mind-wrecking horrible. The writers of those stuff surely knows how to provoke absolute disgust. Hugs to you, my sweet Rasma :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Irc, short stories and actually all fiction have a specific structure, and it must have a plot/intrigue that takes a reader out of reality into a could-be world. It should also 'show' and not 'tell', like a movie or play. For some reason horror grabs the mind - at the end the reader is grateful for living a normal life without the kind of trauma the poor characters had to deal with. Must add, in my capacity as a coach for short story writing I always remind my students that knowing the theory does not mean one can practice it. Even experience doesn't guarantee success. Every story is a new challenge with a chance to be a success or failure. Thanks for coming over and inspire me with your opinion.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Martie, this sounds like something out of the good old days of horror movies (Vincent Price). Great job! Good luck in the contest.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      btrbell, thank you for your much appreciated comment :) Oh, I never hope to win a contest. Believe me, there is always others who are better than I. The few times I managed to win, was because the better ones did not submit any entries. Nevertheless, I love the challenge - an opportunity to work instead of play. One does challenge their own limits for contests. Take care and thanks again :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Faith, I was lucky to have found such an appropriate image. I saw Dr. Juan as a modern Dr. Frankenstein. But the poor man had a profound reason for his actions. As a young boy he accidentally mutilated Adelia's face, so he was trying to make amends, but in the process.... You know, it takes only one step to fall in a pit, the rest follows automatically. Glad you enjoyed the read, Faith. I look forward to read yours asap - definitely before the end of the weekend.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You know how to hold a reader's eye with great imagination. Awesome.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ mckbirdbks, I cannot help but wonder what would be above the appetite of the imagination of current and future generations....... Just so you know, that specific advice you've given me, was like a door to freedom you've unlocked for me. I will forever be grateful. You know this kind of thing - when only a few words make a radical change in a person's pattern of thoughts. If only I can get enough time, or a good enough reason, to write more fiction.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up and interesting. This was great Martie. It reminded me of those old Hollywood horror movies. Could imagine Boris Karloff lurking there in the garage. Good luck in the contest. Hugs.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      6 years ago from Central Virginia

      Martie, like Becky, I don't normally read about horror but you had me from the very beginning of this great story. I didn't have time to write for Bill's contest and now I'm actually glad I didn't. I could never compete with this one. As I looked at the photos he provided, I couldn't even imagine tying them all together. But you, you did an amzing job. I really enjoyed your story.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Marie, this was really good . It was engaging from th start, similar to a Robin Cook novel! Up+ Good luck in the contest!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Well, dear, I tried to pin it, but it didn't take, so I will come back to pin. Bill is going to kill me, as I just submitted one too. Yikes!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA

      Oh my goodness, Martie!!! You scared the you know what out of me with this thriller. I love thrillers, and this is excellent. When I scrolled down to (I thought to keep further reading) and the image popped up, Yikes . . . to say the least. Very clever and interesting write.

      Voted up +++ and sharing.

      Hugs and love, Faith Reaper

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      I do indeed remember. And your fiction grows and grows. I to have stopped watching horror shows since they have soared far above the appetite of my imagination.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ Rosemary, it was such a relief to read your words, "You nailed it." Really, it is impossible for me to know this myself. Only after weeks, months, I can evaluate my own fiction. And then I normally blush, seeing those nails I have missed. Thanks!

      @ mckbirdbks, this was honestly only fiction. Of course, inspired, or rather instigated, by memories of too many horror movies I have watched when I was young and somewhat of a masochist, torturing myself with fear. Horror movies are getting worse by the day; I've stopped watching them many years ago.

      Remember, you were the one who gave me the excellent advice: "Don't slam on the brakes; let those characters go all the way." And I did not even have the opportunity to let them. Flash fiction is all one can manage with a 1000 words.

      Well, the story does have a message, actually more than one. I hope readers got it? Money cannot buy beauty....

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Martie, this is cause to worry. Or is this your version of beauty and beauty and the beast and the beast.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Randy, the photo's certainly gave wings to my imagination. But then, a short story should not be written, but plotted. And that was the challenge. I am also a firm believer in cutting the first draft to a specific amount of words, forcing us to comply to the rule: "Not what the author writes, but what he doesn't write, makes a story." Thanks for your supportive comment :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Oh, Mar, your comments always mean a lot to be. I enjoyed the write, but then I had to cut half of it to comply to the 1000-word limit. Now that was hard, killing my babies :) Writing this, once again made me realized how much I love writing stories. Yes, we have learned a lot in our former live. Hugs to you, Monia.... (I knew you would save me!) Signed: Caroline :)

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Now this is a nosy piece of writing, you obviously had your nose to the grindstone with this one :)) Seriously this story was an attention grabber from start to finish. Writing to a specific word count isn't an easy thing to do but you nailed it here.

      Well done and good luck Martie, Bill has certainly set himself a task.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I completely understand what you mean about trimming the tale down to size, Martie. I'm not accustomed to limiting my words to a certain amount in my fictional efforts. Nor writing a story to photo prompts either, as far as this is concerned. A very good practice in brevity for some of us though.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      And very much enjoy reading your excellent short stories...Sista.

      Our recent e-mail reminded me that we had first met over one of your excellent works, but thankfully in a former life.

      This story took my breath from start to finish. I want to come back for a second closer read...but this one swept me away. I love your dark side and you can very much hold my attention...Outstanding style!

      Voted UP and UABI. Love, Monia (I mean, Maria!)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Dear vocalcoach, I absolutely love to write short stories, but just don't have enough time to do it. I am forever grateful for Billy, challenging me like this and forcing me to test myself in this genre again. I love challenges, but I also hate it because I can't resist them. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Believe it or not, but I always-always need to know whether a story of mine was able to hold a reader's attention to the very end. Thank you, you darling friend :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Oh, Martie - I enjoyed this short story so much! Every word held me right on the edge and waiting for more. This is so good. It takes a certain Plot to keep me interested enough to read every single word from beginning to end. This story did just that.

      You have a very special gift Martie - I will be eager to read more stories written by my beautiful friend.

      And thank you Bill, for offering this writing contest. Just look at what you've gone and done:)

      Very nice photos. You gave billy the credit he deserves. Says something about the author don't you think?

      Thanks my long time hub friend. An honor to know you. Hugs


    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi Sunnie, cutting is, of course, essential, but absolutely mind-wrecking. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this story of mine. I bet you are just as busy as I, so reading fiction is actually a luxury we tend to postpone. Take care, Sunnie!

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Great job Martie, it is nerving having to cut down on words..hehe but you did an awesome job. The pictures sure brought out the dark side of us all didn't Best of luck to you and all the other contestants..Poor Billy has his work cut out for sure!



    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      @ Billybuc

      @ Becky

      @ Randy

      Thanks for surprising me with your quick response. I almost did not make it in time. Lol! Took me hours to cut the story to minus 1000 words. And now I need a double coffee.

      OMGosh, Bill, you are going to read your eyes out! I wish you luck. It is NOT easy to make choices like this.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 

      6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Interesting tale, Martie. Welcome to the contest and good luck to you! :)


    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 

      6 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      Wow, great story. I am not a big fan of horror stories but you did a great job.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I will start reading them all tomorrow. Thank you so much for entering.


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