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  #1  
Old 11-07-2007, 05:24 AM
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Q Wands (Offline)
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Default VIP Membership Contest


Having been the recipient of so much already from Writer’s Beat, I wondered how I might say ‘Thank You’ in a courteous way. And then it occurred to me that I might show my gratitude by providing a VIP Membership for another member. Ah, but how to choose? That was a difficult question, until...I thought of holding a contest!

So, with the very kind permission of the Writer’s Beat staff, I present the first (and possibly only) VIP Membership Contest for Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

The details:

Prize:
A VIP Membership worth $36; runners-up will receive critiques

Restrictions:
Open (for obvious reasons) only to members who are not VIP Members already

Theme:
Something Sinister
This could be something real or imagined, physical or psychological. As sole judge, you must please me. What do I like? Creative, unique writing. Blood and gore, while fun, tends to be boring. Make me think!

Format:
Prose (up to 2,000 words) or poetry (up to 40 lines);
No sestinas, rondeaux or villanelles, please

Entries:
To be submitted to the thread. I will not disallow comments, but will not be moved by them either.

Judging:
Will be based on SPAG (spelling, punctuation and grammar); premise and execution of your entry; and those little intangibles that make the hair stand up on end…

Close Date:
28th November 2007, 12noon GMT

Winner Announced:
5th December 2007 (membership to be activated asap)

I hope you’re tempted and Good Luck!

QW

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  #2  
Old 11-07-2007, 06:50 AM
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The Windfall by ablelaz.





Hank waited impatiently in the drizzling rain for the taxi to arrive; he carefully gripped the battered suitcase, protective of its secrets. He looked around nervously, suspicious of everyone he saw, particularly the man in the trench coat a block away. He looked like a character out of a Sam Spade novel. He had his trench coat collar turned up against the weather, hands rammed into pockets, shoulders hunched, hat pulled down at the front as if to conceal his identity.

A blue Ford pulled around the corner to Hank’s left, cruised up the street then pulled to the curb and stopped.

Hank felt the panic start to build; it’s something he couldn’t afford right now. Seeing a break in the traffic, he ran across the street. Mr. Trench Coat was also trying to cross the street.

The Ford had pulled out into traffic and turned left at the first street. Hank was watching the man in the trench coat closely as his cab pulled up to the curb. He opened the back door and slid the suitcase between the seats before sitting down
“You the one called for a cab?” the driver asked.

“Yeah, just drive.”

“It’s your dime pal.” He pulled the cab out into the traffic. Hank watched out the rear window as Trench Coat finally made it across the last two lanes of traffic.

“How long have you been driving cabs?”

“Oh about twenty years give or take a few.”

“I guess you would know if you were being followed.”

“If I thought I was being tailed, I could soon prove it.”

“Okay, humor me and check it out”

“As I always say it’s your dime.”

Hank leaned back in the seat and let his mind run over the events that led up to this. It hadn’t been as if he had planned anything, it just happened. Some would say a stroke of luck, or perhaps an act of God. He had used the deserted broom factory as a shortcut home; it was always deserted during daytime. At night there were homeless people using it as a place to sleep. The evidence was plain to see, old suitcases, and the other assorted junk, that represented the total possessions of some poor wretch.

Then the shooting started, becoming sustained gunfire and it echoed through the old building like a never-ending cascade of noise. Hank peered around the corner, even as the gun fire stopped. In the middle of the floor there was a table and four chairs. Of the men who were present, three were lying on the floor dead or unconscious. The fourth was leaning on the table one hand clamped to the wound in his stomach, the other gripping his gun. As Hank moved into the room the wounded man tried to turn toward the new threat. The effort cost him his balance and the impact of hitting the floor sent the gun spinning away. Hank looked at the table it contained two large briefcases.

One was filled with plastic bags full of a white powder; the other was full of money. Hank’s first impulse was to take the briefcase with the money and leave. But he had heard of these fancy briefcases having built in homing devices. He looked around and saw a battered old suitcase belonging to a homeless person. Hank emptied the contents on the floor. After transferring the money to the suitcase, he stuffed in enough old clothes to fill it up. He slipped fifty bucks under the pillow of the man whose suit case he expropriated. He picked up an old suit coat dirty and wrinkled, put it on, it was too large but that was okay with Hank.

“Ford Fairlane, blue, he’s pretty good hanging well back.” the cabby said.

Hank was jarred back to the present by the cabby’s words.

“Can you lose him?”

“Can a duck swim?” he muttered.

”Okay let’s do it.”

Hank remembered going over to the window and rubbing his hands in the dust and dirt that had accumulated there. He rubbed some of it on his face then wiped his hands on his pants. Walking to the table he picked up the suitcase and left. On the street he assumed the shuffling gait of the homeless, babbling about bodies, gunfire and hells eruption. When he passed his apartment building he veered into the parking lot. At the first opportunity he entered and went straight to his apartment. He stripped, showered and dressed in clean clothes. Opening the suitcase, he removed everything except the money. The rest went into a garbage bag, along with what he had been wearing. The suitcase contained packs of money, each one with a paper band around it. There were twenties and fifties. Hank counted one of each then multiplied by the number of packs. It came to just a little less than three hundred thousand dollars. He opened one of the packs and extracted fifteen twenties which he slipped into his wallet. Packing some socks, underwear and a couple of shirts to fill up the small case, he closed and secured it. Pulling a bigger case out of the closet, he thoughtfully packed everything that was left into it. He called a cab to take him to the bus depot and left the apartment. At the super’s apartment, he slipped one months rent into an envelope along with the key and dropped it in the mail box. He dropped the garbage bag into the dumpster and made his way around to the front of the building just as the cab arrived. At the bus depot he rented a locker to put the big suit case in. He took a bus to Toronto, had a bite to eat, and called another cab. When he went out to wait for it, they were already there. How did they know? What had he done wrong? He couldn’t think of anything.

“Okay pal we’re clean now!”

Again the driver’s voice jolted, Hank back to the present. “You know where there is a used clothing store?”

“I sure do, the biggest in Canada, so they say.”

After making a few purchases, Hank climbed back into the cab.

“I would like a modestly priced, respectable hotel.”

“Now that’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one! -- Naw I am just kidding, say thirty a night?”

“That sounds about right.”

The hotel was in a residential area, taking up the whole block when parking was included.

The meter read just short of seventy dollars. Hank counted out one hundred and dropped it on the seat beside the driver.

“Give me your name and a number, I’m going to need a cab tonight and I like the way you drive.”

The driver wrote his name and a number on a piece of paper, handed it to Hank

Ask the receptionist for me, give her a number, I’ll call you, I like the way you pay.”

Hank got a room overlooking the parking lot.

He laid out the purchases; a coat, hat and suitcase. He opened the old suit case. The only thing he took from the drug deal was money. He went over it one pack at a time, and soon found the dummy. It contained a homing device. He wrapped the homing device in a bath towel and put it back in the suit case. The money along with everything else he put in the new suit case. Hank called the number on the card. The dispatcher took Hank’s message and five minutes later Hank received a call.

I will need a cab-- not your company, to deliver a package to Hamilton. I need you to be standing by; as soon as he leaves, you pull up and I’ll tell you where we’re going once we’re underway.

The first cab arrived; Hank gave him the instructions and prepaid the fare. He followed the driver down to the main floor. Hank stood at the door as the first cab drew away. Trench Coat got out of the blue Ford and it followed the cab out of the parking lot. He headed for the doors to wait inside; he only gave Hank a glance. Wearing a different coat and hat; he looked like a different man. Trench Coat headed for the desk as Hank made his way out of the hotel. The cab pulled up and Hank slid the case in and followed it.

As the cab pulled away Hank said,” Why don’t you check again and see if we are being followed?”

After several minutes and numerous turns, the Cabby said, “nope we’re clean as a whistle.”

Hank smiled and leaned back in the seat, closed his eyes, and said, “Be a nice night for a drive to London.”

The driver said,” It’s your dime pal.”

  #3  
Old 11-07-2007, 08:47 AM
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Dust Devils


In the afternoon a hot wind swept across the farm, stirring up dust devils here and there in the barren fields. From his chair on the porch the farmer watched the miniature swirling cyclones dance like ghosts rising out of the ground. He was a large man with muscled arms and a tuft of chest hair protruding from the top of his overalls. His steel blue eyes had dark circles beneath them and his cheeks sagged wearily from lack of sleep.

He turned when his wife opened the screen door and joined him on the porch. She was a small, frail-looking woman who wore no makeup and was fond of reading the Bible. She rested her hand on her husband's shoulder.

"You best do it before Nathan gets home," she told him.

Nathan was their teenaged son, expected to arrive soon on the school bus.

The farmer sighed. "Keep Irma in her room," he said. "I don't want her to see this."

His wife nodded solemnly. Irma was ten years old and had stayed home from school that day pretending to be sick.

The farmer stood up and stretched his long legs. "I wish there was some other way, but I know there ain't."

"You just make sure you do it quick," his wife insisted. "I don't want him to suffer."

Leaving the porch, he walked slowly to the barn and swung the door open. He went first to the wide-mouthed shovel, then changed his mind and took the pitchfork from its hitch on the wall. It would be much easier with a gun, he thought, but his wife hated guns and wouldn't allow one on the farm. He would have to make do with the pitchfork.

His daughter confronted him as he left the barn. Irma was frail like her mother and stood barefoot in her pajamas with terror in her eyes.

"Please don't kill him, "she pleaded.

"Go back to the house!" he shouted.

"Please, Daddy, he don't each much."

"Do as I tell you!"

The farmer's wife came running and grabbed the girl, who squirmed to break free. "I'll take care of her," the wife said. "Hurry up and get it over with."

Taking long strides, he walked toward the ravine with the wails of his daughter ringing in his ears. As tears welled up in his eyes, he tried to harden his heart against the awful sounds. Four mouths were easier to feed than five, he told himself. Irma was too young to understand that sacrifices had to be made if any of them were to survive. It was the oldest ritual in the world, the one that whole civilizations had depended upon from the earliest days of farming.

On the forested slope of the ravine the farmer slipped and quickly regained his balance. A creek had spared this useless part of the farm from the effects of the terrible year-long drought and the farmer surveyed it with a certain bitterness. Those dust devils he had seen were mocking him, but he would have the last laugh soon when the rains returned.

Following the muddy creek bed, he could feel a watchful presence and smell the stench of shit and urine long before he saw the wild eyes bulging with fear. As he approached, it bolted and hit the end of its chain with a loud thump. The sight of it had always made the farmer feel nauseous. He was sure that such a thing was not meant to survive. It was a mistake of nature, a reproach against everything that was good and beautiful in life.

When he stepped forward with the pitchfork, it bared its yellow teeth and sprang at him.

The farmer jumped out of the way. "You settle down now," he ordered.

It stared at him with unblinking eyes. The farmer had always wondered if there was any intelligence behind those eyes -- or was it simply blind instinct? He would never know now. He took a slice of bread from his overall pocket and held it out. "I'll bet you're hungry," he leered.

It licked saliva from the corners of its mouth.

"That's more like it."

He tossed the bread on the ground. When it bent over, the farmer thrust the pitchfork into its deformed back with all his strength. Blood spurted and it fell over, groaning and kicking wildly into the air. The farmer leaned on the pitchfork to drive it deeper. When the thing kept thrashing around, the farmer retrieved the pitchfork and in a frenzy stabbed it again and again until he was too tired to lift his arms anymore.

After a moment it stopped moving and its eyes turned glassy. The farmer sat on a log to catch his breath, wiping his sweaty face with a handkerchief. He noticed that he was spattered with blood and felt a strange exhilaration. The long wait was over at last and now things would return to normal. A smile flickered on the farmer's face.

Emerging from the ravine, he spotted a few clouds on the horizon. Maybe you will rain tonight, he whispered to the sky. Nathan and his mother were waiting on the porch when he strolled up the stairs.

"Did you bury him?" the wife asked.

"Nathan can do that," the farmer said, taking his seat.

His son's face was contorted into a look of horror. "Oh my God. What have you done?"

"Don't be such a baby," his mother scolded. "You've buried dead things before."

"I'm calling the sheriff's department," Nathan said.

He tried to open the screen door, but his mother slammed it shut. "You will do no such thing. You will honor your father like I taught you."

Nathan leaped off the porch and landed awkwardly on the dusty ground, twisting his ankle. The farmer rushed to help his son.

"Stay away from me!" Nathan shouted, hobbling backward.

"You stop this foolishness and go to your room," his mother demanded.

"I won't stay in this house," Nathan sobbed, limping down the driveway.

"He was an abomination not fit to live," his mother called after him.

The boy was already on the road. The farmer watched him until he had nearly disappeared from view. "Should I get the truck and bring him back?" he asked his wife.

"Let him go," she said wearily.

"But he's hurt."

"Maybe the pain will bring him to his senses."

"What if he tells someone?"

"They won't believe him."

"You sure?"

"Lots of kids tell wild stories," he wife assured him. "It don't mean nothing."

The farmer returned to the porch and slumped into his chair. "I haven't felt so tired in years," he grumbled.

"You'll have to bury him some place where nobody can ever find him."

"I'll do it after supper."

His wife went inside and began peeling potatoes in the kitchen sink. The farmer saw the last dust devil of the day swirl past the barn and disappear into thin air. He smiled when he felt a hint of moisture in the cooling breeze. As the sun dipped below the hills to the west, he brushed a fly away and got to his feet. He lowered his head as if in prayer and kissed a bloody spot on his overalls. He would take a long shower, change into clean clothes, and watch some television until supper was ready to eat.
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  #4  
Old 11-15-2007, 02:34 PM
Saphrym (Offline)
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Default Early November in Friarville

The rain beating on the hood of the car and the cold November air were calling me closer to sleep. I needed to get off the highway and to a hotel pretty fast. I frantically searched for an exit sign. About twenty minutes later, I spotted that familiar green glow. There was a city called Friarville only 2 miles away. I was a few days early getting to my next job, so one night wouldn’t hurt me.
Driving through Friarville took about two minutes. It was one of those places you see in scary movies, with one street filled with houses and a larger building at the end of the street, on a hill. Not a single light was on in any of the houses, and I was certain that if I drove up to the big house, a man carrying an axe would chop me in two. In my line of work, you always had to expect the worst, but this place actually scared me. I had to get some sleep though, so I drove up the hill, to the only building with lights shining through the rain.
The larger building was the house and business of the local undertaker. According to the shining placard hanging next to his house, his name was Joseph Friar.
This is just my luck. The undertaker of this backwoods town is the richest and the one it’s named after. I bet his family even had that exit sign put out on the highway.
I took the keys out of the ignition, turned off the lights, and prayed for God to help me live through the night as I climbed out of the car and raced to the front porch of Mr. Friar’s domain. The door knocker was a miniature coffin.
I decided to knock with my fist, not wanting much to do with death on a night like this.
<hr> Standing in front of me was one of the whitest and skinniest men I have ever seen in my life. White hair, toothpick arms — even one of his eyes was white.
The skinny man asked, “Are you friend or family of Mr. Burton?”
He may not have looked like a whole man, but his voice rang true. He had a deep bass to his voice that seemed impossible considering the package it was wrapped in.
“Neither, sir. My name is Stephen Daniels. I’ve just been driving all night and was wondering if I could find out from you where the nearest hotel is?”
“I’m sorry, friend, but the next hotel is nearly an hour’s drive in either direction from here. We don’t have many amenities in our little town,” he said with a slight, but terrifying, grin. “However, I have spare rooms in my home here, as long as you’re not squeamish. I only say that because most people don’t care to sleep here, especially when a customer is in the gathering room.”
I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to sleep near a dead man in a walking corpse’s house, but I also didn’t think I could stay awake for another thirty minutes, much less drive for an hour.
“That’s a very kind offer, and I think I’ll take you up on it. Thank you very much,” I replied.
“Oh, it’s my pleasure. Most of my visitors are dead people, so this is a nice change.” His closed smile sent a shiver through my bones. “It’s a shame for Mr. Burton though. Not a single person has come to visit him.”
I didn’t understand why they didn’t visit but looking at the inside of the house had me completely convinced I knew the reason no one would ever come back. Joseph Friar had animal heads hanging from the walls, cobwebs hanging on candle chandeliers, and the stench of death hanging in the air. My eyes even scanned for axe wielders in the shadows.
“Does he have family?” I asked, trying to hide my surprise at the shadow of a stuffed squirrel.
“Yes. He does. They just haven’t shown up yet.” He was leading me towards the staircase as we spoke. I was able to get a closer look at the stuffed squirrel. I received quite a shock. I’m glad Joe wasn’t looking in my direction. That wasn’t a squirrel. It looked like a small statue of an overweight man whose stomach had been ripped open. I’d seen a similar sight before, but never in statue form.
“Well, it’s not extremely late. When were they supposed to be here?” I asked while trying to get the taste of bile out of my mouth.
“Three days ago.” My attention left the grotesque image in my head and turned more towards Mr. Friar. He had already stopped walking and I was about to bump into him when he turned around and looked at me with that one good eye.
“Really?” Fear shot through my veins. Had Mr. Burton’s family actually shown up? Maybe they’re in the basement standing just as still as that thing I saw near the staircase.
“Yessir. It seems they just couldn’t tear away from their busy lives over in the city.” I was able to see a slight wetness on his cheek. “It just doesn’t seem right that a man not have a proper burial with family. That’s why he’s still in the gathering room. I prayed his family would wise up.” He pulled out a dingy handkerchief from his left breast pocket and dabbed the wetness away.
I began to feel terribly silly. While thoughts of mass murder had been going through my head, Mr. Friar was only thinking of the feelings of a departed human being. I still didn’t like the “thing” near the staircase, but I was starting to feel just a little more comfortable here.
Upstairs looked much different from downstairs. Cobwebs were nowhere to be seen. As I looked down the hall, even the doorknobs shined. The contrast was breathtaking. I felt like I was in a museum. Joseph continued leading me to a door further down on the right.
The differences between the levels were staggering. Joe must have had some reason for decorating the first floor in the way he had.
“This is where you can stay the night. This is where Prince Stephen stayed when his father was in our care.” The room smelled of fresh flowers. I couldn’t believe this was the same house I started in.
“It’s beautiful. Thank you very much for your kindness.” I was no longer just being nice. I was in awe that I was allowed to even touch the door, much less enter this room and sleep on the four-poster bed.
“It’s my pleasure. I will leave you to get your rest.” Joseph bowed out of the room and disappeared behind the door.
Before falling asleep I noticed a calendar hanging on the wall. The month hadn’t been changed yet, so it still showed October, which was only a week ago.
<hr> The next morning, I awoke to the smell of fried bacon, sausage, and a gentle note of maple syrup.
“Good morning, Mr. Daniels.” Joseph had on a different suit today, but this time he also had on an apron.
“Good morning to you, Mr. Friar, but you may call me Stephen.”
“Stephen it is. And to you, I am Joe.” His smile didn’t seem so alarming in the bright light of the sun pouring from the kitchen window.
“Did the family ever show?” I was truly curious. I had thought about poor Mr. Burton until I fell asleep. I also remember smiling when I woke up, because I had a little dream that involved that “thing” from last night and Mr. Burton’s family. It had been a satisfying image.
“No.” It was easy to see that Joe was heartbroken over this entire mess. “I’m going to have to do the service today, and he’s going to be alone.”
“I’ll stay for the service. Someone needs to be there.”
Joe brightened up a little. “Really? That would be so kind of you. Mr. Burton would be delighted for you to do so.” His smile was more heartwarming with each passing moment.
<hr> After the service, I went back to my room and gathered my belongings. When I came down the stairs, Mr. Friar was waiting at the end of the staircase.
“Thank you for the kindness you showed Mr. Burton by attending his service.”
“It was an honor for me to do so,” I said and truly felt.
“If you’re ever this way again, please stop by and we’ll have a drink and some conversation,” he smiled at me.
“I’ll do that,” I said.
Joseph Friar then watched and waved as I got back into my car and headed out of town, passing laughing children playing in their yards.
<hr> I continued driving down the highway thinking about Friarville when a noise from the back of the car caught my attention. I glanced back just as the steering wheel forced itself to the right. I had lost control. I could see the trees on my right turn and face me.
The car suddenly stopped and I began choking on dust from the air bag that had just slammed in my face.
Mother… Son of a…
I punched the airbag to get it out of my face. It didn’t work. That white dust just traveled all over the inside of the car, turned, and aimed straight up my nostrils. It took a few seconds to start breathing correctly again. Finally, I decided to get out of the car. The seatbelt and the car door still seemed to work, but my legs didn’t. I fell out of the car and stared at my legs.
I started pulling myself towards the road when I got the feeling back in my legs. I tried to stand up and found my legs worked perfectly again. I didn’t feel any pain, so I started walking back in the direction of Friarville. I figured Joseph wouldn’t mind taking me in again. I could also borrow his phone to get a tow truck to come get my car. I planned out all the details trying to make sure I still made it to the location of my next job. The envelope containing the profile of my next target was still folded up in my back pocket.
<hr> The moon had already shown itself almost full. It had provided me light for the last hour.
I knocked on the door.
Hmmm. No sound. Let me try that again.
I tried to knock on the door again, and I still couldn’t believe it. My hand went straight through.
“What’s going on?”
“You’re dead,” said Joseph Friar as he opened the door. “But I need to get back to work. Feel free to come in and make yourself at home. I’d offer you that drink I promised, but in your current condition…” He laughed a little.
The shock of the situation slowly dissipated. My mind finally cleared and I realized why my legs started working. That was when I died. I started walking into the house when I noticed Joseph had closed the door. But it was too late. My forward momentum took me tumbling through the door.
I stood up and looked around. The house still looked the same as it had before. I saw Joseph as he rounded a corner towards the gathering room near the stairs. I started to follow him when I realized the statue was missing. The fat man with his stomach ripped out was not there. I hurriedly followed after Joseph.
“Welcome again, Stephen,” he said, not even turning towards me as I walked in. However, I could see a slight glow coming from his one white eye.
“Uhhh, yeah, about that… You said I’m dead.”
“Yes sir. You died right after that car crash. Thomas was watching you and he came back and reported it to me.”
I jumped when I saw the statue standing on a stool next to Joseph. It was smiling at me.
“I’m not even going to get into the subject of that thing being able to move around. That’s scary enough. But you had to know I was going to die or you had to be the cause of it to send it after me,” I said. My face was turning red from anger as the concept of my death sunk in more.
“I didn’t cause it. Thomas didn’t cause it. You died because it was your time. I just arranged for a detour of how you died,” he said while applying makeup to the body in the casket.
“So you had some part in it. Deto–” I saw the body. It was me. “Hey! That’s my body!”
“Calm down, Stephen. Thomas brought your body here so it could be taken care of.”
“Taken care of? You mean disposed of, right? You probably killed Mr. Burton too,” I said.
“Everyone who visits me is going to die. Considering my real name is Azrael and I’m the angel of death, it should all make sense,” he said. He then turned from his work and looked straight at me with his one white eye and a grin.
“Angel of… What? You’re just cra…” I was going to say “crazy” but then I realized I was a ghost and he was talking to me. There had to be some explanation. I tried to pinch myself thinking this was just a dream, but my fingers went straight through.
“You were going to die anyway, but you’ve been given a second chance. You see, I need someone to help me. You fit the bill quite nicely. That’s why I haven’t sent you back to heaven as I did for Mr. Burton. You have made a living killing people.” He paused for a second as he turned back to my corpse and chose a shade of lipstick. “Now don’t get me wrong. It’s a sin to kill someone. But it’s also a sin to lie. There are people in this world who have lied a thousand times more than you have killed, and you’re an honest and caring man. So you’re still bound for heaven.”
I decided to play along as I didn’t seem to have a choice in the matter, being dead and all.
“So how would I be able to help you?”
“It’s very simple really. There are men on this earth who have not died when they were supposed to. They’ve cheated me by way of Satan, black magic, or some other means. I need you to kill them. In return, you get to live as long as you care to on earth as a mortal. When you’re ready to leave, all you have to do is ask. Until then, you can’t die. Again that is.” He smirked.
<hr> “To make a long story short, I took the job, Mr. Blair. That’s why you’re tied up and it’s also why I’m pointing a gun at your head.”
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  #5  
Old 11-15-2007, 10:17 PM
Asferthecat (Offline)
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The Black Dog of Essex<ST1</ST1<O</O
700 words<O</O
A short story<O</O
By Asferthecat<O</O
<O</O<O</O
Sam was a Man of Essex, steeped in the folklore of the county, which is why he should never have been alone, in a country lane, at midnight.<O</O
<O</O
In the warmth and brightness of the pub, he had forgotten about the ancient warnings. He had drunk too much, and talked too long, and missed the last bus home. He had hoped that one of his drinking companions might have given him a lift but, what with one thing and another, they had all drifted away, and he had faced the journey on foot and alone.
<O</O<O</O
He hurried along - at first more fearful of what his wife would say when he returned so late. Then, as the night grew darker and the village lay far behind him, he began feel a supernatural fear.
<O</O<O</O
Far away, the church clock struck midnight and, in the hedge, the Black Dog of Essex started to form. Shadows merged together into a long lean shape. Sam heard a rustling in the hedge behind him and he quickened his pace, stumbling over the uneven surface of the lane.
<O</O<O</O
The shadowy dog lifted its head and inhaled - a long, slow breath, as if it was savouring the scent of death. The sigh, as it breathed out, was like the gentle soughing of the wind.
<O</O<O</O
The moon, seen through gaps between the leaves, formed shining slits of light. Two of the slits seemed to blink and then move like eyes, focussing their luminous gaze on the man hurrying along the lane ahead.
<O</O<O</O
Sam heard the sniffing of the dog and felt its gaze upon him and the blood ran like ice through his veins. On no account, he told himself, must he look back for whoever sees the Black Dog of Essex will die.
<O</O<O</O
Moonlight shone on tall grasses that grew by the hedge. They looked creamy-white in the pale light, their sharply-pointed blades bright against the shadows beyond. Above them the leaves in the bushes hung down and shone in the moonlight like teeth on a snarling mouth. The black dog rolled its head so foaming spittle flew from its gaping, blade-toothed mouth, then it closed its jaws over its gleaming teeth, and all was darkness.
<O</O<O</O
Sam’s heart beat in his chest like a thundering hammer, he tried to run but knew that if he stumbled and fell the dog would be on him and he would be lost. He walked on through the night, his knees aching and his breath coming in gasps, determined not to look behind him.
<O</O<O</O
Rounded pebbles lay at the side of the road, their edges like gleaming curves. The gleaming edges moved, for the curves were claws on softly-padded feet. As the black dog followed the man its paws hit the ground as softly as a beating heart.
<O</O<O</O
Every fibre of Sam’s being was focussed on the sounds behind him, as he hurried along the lane. His shoulders were hunched, his head was aching with tension, and he felt sick with fear. If only he heart would stop its hammering he could hear more clearly. The rustling seemed to have stopped but he could hear footsteps padding on the lane behind him. Were they footsteps or just the beating of his heart?
<O</O<O</O
The moon went behind a cloud and the foolish man risked taking a look over his shoulder. As he peered into the blackness the moon re-emerged and there, standing in the middle of the lane with glowing eyes, teeth and claws was the Black Dog of Essex.
<O</O<O</O
Sam stood slack-jawed staring at his nemesis. Without a sound the hellish creature took two swift steps forwards and launched itself at Sam. The stinking breath of the beast made his senses reel. Sharp claws and teeth ripped at his chest and crushed his heart. He tried to raise and arm to protect himself but it felt like lead. His scream choked in his throat to become a gurgle and the darkness of the Black Dog enveloped him.
<O</O<O</O
High above, the impassive moon shone down upon the body of Sam lying in the deserted country lane.
<O</O<O</O
“A heart attack,” the coroner would say. But why the look of terror on his face? A Man of Essex could tell you why.<O</O<O</O<O</O<O</O<O</O<O</O<O</O

Last edited by Asferthecat; 11-15-2007 at 10:20 PM..
  #6  
Old 11-16-2007, 06:59 AM
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Default Hunting Buddies

It was still dark when the man awoke. In the front of his van, he could see the dark silhouette of the great hunting hawk, head tucked back in sleep. He stirred to light the stove, and the bird woke. Firelight illuminated her amber eyes and slid along the smooth black curves of powerful beak and talons.

Through the window he could see scattered clouds and a few stars. He was glad. It had rained hard the day he came to the mountains, and two days after that. He had come to hunt grouse with his goshawk; instead, he was forced to sit in his van, passing time as best he could. Today, despite the bitter cold, they would hunt. He watched the hawk carefully as he prepared his gear. She was impatient, gripping the perch with her strong yellow feet. The cold made her hungry and ready to fly. He drew on the heavy, scarred leather glove. The hawk jumped to it eagerly, gulping the tidbit of meat he offered.

It was nearly dawn when the pair of hunters set out across the icy field. They left a trail of darker green in the wet grass. Spiders hung in crystal-spangled webs like bejeweled nightmares.

Carefully, with numb fingers, he removed the goshawk's leash and swivel. Holding the bird high on his glove, he slowly walked through the field, kicking at clumps of weeds with his heavy boots. The hawk shook her feathers vigorously. jangling the bells tied to her legs. The man paused when she bobbed her head.

"Ho!" He shouted as she launched from the glove. A rabbit shot from a weedy tangle and hurtled down a slope toward a pile of dead timber at the edge of the wood. The hawk banked, folded her wings, and dove. Hawk and rabbit came together by the woodpile; with a last, desperate effort the rabbit evaded the hawk's talons. The hawk pitched up into a tree. A puff of rabbit fur drifted down in the calm air.

A quarter mile away, the man watched his hawk leave her perch and circle out over the field. He held up a piece of meat on the glove and whistled to her. She wasn't interested in his cold chicken; she was hunting. Ignoring the man, she circled the field again and disappeared over the trees. The man was alone.

He spent the rest of the day futilely searching for his hawk, swinging the lure and calling for her. Often he would stop, listening in vain for the jingling of hawk bells. Finally, cold and hungry, he returned to the van.
The next morning was the same. He was walking along the border of the woods when he found a wet clump of fur clinging to a twig. Worried, he searched the area for signs of a kill. If the hawk had fed, she would not return to him.

Finding no signs of a kill, he moved on, stopping to whistle and listen for bells. Deep in the woods, he rested on a fallen tree. Far away, he could hear blue jays scolding something and then, the unmistakable ringing of hawk bells. Seconds later, he was plunging through the trees toward the sound. Panting, he stopped and angrily threw down his glove as the bells faded deeper into the woods and disappeared. He stood alone in the silence.

He heard the bells again later, on the other side of a deep gorge. They rang out clearly over the sound of water rushing far below. Once, he thought he saw her shadow flickering through the trees. With new hope, he half ran, half slid down the muddy bank, catching at small trees to slow his descent.

It was cold and wet in the gorge. He slithered deeper, down into the gloom. Suddenly, his falconry bag caught on a snag, making him lose his balance. He pitched forward head-first and tumbled helplessly down the steep bank. Finally he crashed into a pine tree and lay at its base, stunned. He wiped a trickle of blood from his forehead. Slowly he reached out one hand and gripped a branch to pull himself up. When he put more weight on the branch, the tree shifted. Days of heavy rains had cut deep gullies around the pine's roots. In many places the soil had washed away, leaving them exposed. He tugged harder, heaving himself to his feet. As he stood there trying to clear his head, the pine slowly toppled over, knocking him to the ground and pinning him in the mud.

When his mind cleared, he began to consider his situation. He couldn't move. People knew where he was; he'd been planning this trip for weeks. His van was parked on the road, he figured he was about two miles away. Someone would be looking for him soon. He was a day late in returning already, but he couldn't leave his bird in the mountains. Perhaps they would find him tomorrow. He wished he could move his arms, but the fallen tree held him down.

He struggled wildly for a moment in panic, his shouts and screams muffled by the thick trees and the sound of falling water in the gorge.

He lay there in the afternoon with closed eyes, praying the sun would reach him soon. There was a sudden ringing over his head. He opened his eyes. On a branch high above him, the goshawk watched. She looked ragged and hungry. A couple of tail feathers hung askew, broken in a futile pursuit of game. Her wings hung down a bit. She was weary, starving after two days without food. Their eyes met. For an hour, the man stared into those merciless golden orbs.

With growing horror, the man watched his hawk shift her weight from foot to foot, half spreading her wings and closing them again. As a falconer, he knew well the signs. Frantically he tried to free his arms; in his struggles he re-opened the gash on his forehead and blood flowed. The hawk made up her mind. Opening her wings, the bird descended in a steep glide. Presently the screams stopped, and the hawk began to feed.
  #7  
Old 11-16-2007, 08:08 PM
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Something Sinister


The people of the mountains were divided. Their aged old tradition of having a clairvoyant psychic was debated. The old toothless, shaggy haired and thin as a bone clairvoyant not only practice mystic ways but he was the teacher of their boys and a doctor to all their illness.

But not anymore, the clairvoyant’s role in the mountain was usurped by the arrival of Father James. He was a white priest, a tall brown haired man from the invisible God. He had money and got the men to build a building with a sharp spire for his church. The younger people had embraced this faith. When it was finished, it doubled as the school house for the young boys.

However, before the boys could enrol into this school, the parents themselves have to be converted and embrace this new faith. The boys now went by the names of the white man’s religion, John, Tom, George etc.

“They even have to give up their own names.” George’s grand father complained.

One day out of seven, the children didn’t have school but were asked to invite their parents, uncles and aunts and grandparents to come. They listened and watched this white man, in a flowing white robe with a purple cross in front of it, perform his rituals and mumble in a tongue which he didn’t normally speak.

The clairvoyant argued, “It’s all mumble jumble, how can you worship an invisible god?”

The people put it down to his jealousy, The priest was also a shaman to the people.
He had magic pills and liquid in little bottles which could help cure headaches and stomach. They no longer have to be subjected to the whims and fancy of the clairvoyant when they went to him to seek treatment. The new Shaman’s potions and pills were all free of charge and didn’t have a bitter after taste after his patients had taken them.

The mountain people were won over very quickly, “That’s the power of white man’s invisible God.”

The clairvoyant remained in his little hut, “You short sighted people, you abandon our thousands of years customs of worshipping our deceased ancestors, they will be angry, mark my words.

When the boys had finished their primary education, the white priest, Father James arranged them to go down to MioMio town to have their secondary education. The boys came back twice a year during their holidays.

Suddenly half white and half brown babies were born to the women. They sought Father James’ medical advice. They thought these babies had some sort of skin disease. But it wasn’t just their skin tones, it was their facial features as well. These babies were ostracised that the babies were from the evil one.

Father James had another explanation, “Not to worry, the Holy Ghost had appeared to the mothers, they are the chosen ones.”

The clairvoyant exclaimed, “Holy Ghost! My Foot! Something sinister is happening, I am going to find out. I warned you all, your ancestors are rocking in their grave.”

The village chief asked, “What are we to do?”

“First everyone must come to my hut, and we will have a cleansing ceremony, every family must bring a rooster.”

A bon fire was made in the centre of the clairvoyant’s compound. He had a sharp machete. He called the head of each family and his wife to come with their rooster. In one split second, he cut the head of the rooster, and dripped its blood over the couple. Then he collected some blood, spat into it and made the couple drink up the blood. Then he threw the still live rooster into the bon fire.

The procedure went on until every family was exorcised from the curse of their angry ancestors. The mountain stank of burnt feature, blood and chicken meat while they turned into charcoal. The clairvoyant led them in a possession to jump into the river to cleanse of their bodies caked with chicken blood. The river turned red.

The White Shaman took at a corner, sniggering to himself, “How stupid of these people to believe in such primitive beliefs.”

Much to everyone’s dismay, another mixed child was born.

The clairvoyant explained, “That the woman was already pregnant when the great cleansing was carried out.”

True to his words, babies born were brown babies, the people rejoiced and the clairvoyant became popular again. But they rejoiced too soon. The mixed babies were born again.

During the holidays, Tom, one of the boys came home from the town school and having learned quite a bit of biology decided to investigate this weird phenomena. He had two sisters, the older, Ma’ata was married and had a mixed child.

Together with the clairvoyant, Tom sat in the dejected healer’s hut.

Tom told the clairvoyant, “According to my sister, Ma’ata and my cousins who have mixed children, the White Sharman had told them and my parents and uncles and aunties that the girls were the chosen bride of the Holy Ghost.”

“Did he?”

“He said, if the Holy Ghost chose them and came to them, they must keep this a secret otherwise the Holy Ghost would be angry with them. On the night before their wedding, they were invited to a special room behind the church. In the middle of the night, there was a funny smelling smoke, then ‘we don’t know anything after.’”

The clairvoyant shook with anger, “I knew it! I knew it! The scoundrel did it.”

“What are you talking about?” Tom asked.

“That White Shaman, is not man of God. He is the devil. He’s been raping our young brides on the pretext of the Holy Spirit visiting them in his church the night before they were married.”

“How can you be sure?” Tom asked.

“Have you noticed, all these mixed children are born within one year of their marriage?”

“We got no proof, what are we going to do about it?”

“Let me go to a retreat, and pray to our ancestors for help. In the mean time, you are to be my assistant and bring food cooked by your mother when I am in the cave. You mustn’t tell anyone our plans?”

Tom went home hatching a plan to ask his mother for extra portion of food without causing suspicion why he needed them.

“Mum, my teacher in town said that I need a lot more food than I have been eating. I intend to go to the bush everyday to hunt. Do not look for me.” Tom said.

“My! My! My big boy goes to town and thinks he knows more about food and growing up than his mother.” Tom’s mother chuckled to herself.

Every morning, Tom pestered his mother to cook his breakfast. When the food is cooked, he made a dash to the clairvoyant.

“Did anyone see you? My cave would be useless if it has been contaminated by other people trampling on it.” The clairvoyant said.

“I was very careful.”

“Good, I always knew you were a smart boy.”

On a full moon, the owl was hooting. The Clairvoyant kneeled facing the sky. He wore only a loin cloth. He had smeared his face and his whole body with ashes. He used the charred end of a stick and made markings all over his body. He prayed to the spirits of his ancestors to help him save the mortality of their descendants. Then he got up to wait for Tom.

“Tom, our wise ancestors have told me to beat the White Shaman in his game.”

“How???”

“First, We will pretend that your sister Sisa is getting married.”

“She is just a baby.”

“This is just a pretend wedding.”

“Will my father and mother agree?”

“They will have to, sooner or later, she will be raped by this pedophile.”

“We will get one of the boys to marry her. So we need your parents and the boys and his parents to know our plan.”

“How are we to catch this bastard?”

“We will get your sister to dip her hand in tar before she goes into that damned room. When the “Holy Ghost” comes to her, ask her to touch him all over his face.”

“How does that work?”

“If it is genuinely a Holy Ghost, we resign our fate that we have mixed children for ever and ever. But if the “Holy Ghost” is actually the rat bag, we will beat him to a pulp and he won’t dare set his foot here again.”

The clairvoyant invited Tom’s parents and his friend’s parents to a meal in his hut. There he told them what they suspected and their plans.

“The bastard, I want to take a machete and lop off his head.” Tom’s father Orm said as he stormed out to find the White Shaman.

“Don’t be hasty, listen to our wise old clairvoyant first.” Tom’s mother caught hold of her husband’s hands, “You are always such a hot headed and hot tempered man.”

Tom’s friend Anak said, “I am very happy to be the bridegroom to catch this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The plan was made carefully, the wedding date was set five days from the day.

“We must plan it so that the wedding preparations would look genuine.”

Invitation was by word of mouth, and the whole mountain was busy with food preparation. Nobody apart from the planning group knew what was going on.

The white shaman laughed to himself. He went to talk to Tom’s parents that the Holy Spirit could come to Sisa that night.

“Please get Sisa ready and dressed in white and wait in the little room.” Father James told them. He smiled to himself and thought, “Another little lamb brought to the slaughter house.”

On the eve of her “wedding day”, Sisa parents and Tom told her to remember touch the Holy Ghost’s face. The clairvoyant had given a potion which he had concocted to counter act what ever smoke which he thought Father James would use to make Sisa fall asleep.

When the Holy Ghost came in the little room, Sisa was waiting. Sisa was all over him with affectionate touching to his face. He thought he had struck gold with this little girl actually reciprocating his sexual advances and he was highly aroused.

In his aroused state, he had not noticed the door open ajar, and in slipped Tom and his father Orm.

Orm and Tom had a big stick each, and they clubbed Father James on his head.

“Call on to your Holy Ghost to help you.” Tom and Orm said in unison.

“This is for my sister Ma’ata.”

“This is for all the girls of the mountains that you have raped.”

“This is for all the cheated husbands who thought their wives had betrayed them.”

“This is for all the mixed children whose lives have been ruined and ostracised through no fault of their own.”

“Tom, Orm, you got to stop. Otherwise you will kill him.” Ma’ata said.

“Yes, she is right, the White Government will jail you for killing one of their white man.” The clairvoyant urged them to stop.

Father James crouched at the corner. His face was covered by tar, an evident of his crime when the white man’s police came for them.

“We have the perfect medicine for him.” The clairvoyant moved his loin cloth and exposed his penis, and sprayed a stream of hot pee on him. Tom and Orm followed suit. Tom never felt relieving himself so good, he used his penis like a hose and shot pee all over Father James. The hot pee stunk the bruises and made it hurt like hell.

The pretend wedding became a real wedding. Anak had secretly been in love with Sisa, asked his Mother to ask Ma’ata if he could have Sisa’s hand in marriage.

There was more celebration. The girls who had mixed children were welcomed back to the fold.


1994 words


Last edited by Cordatus; 11-16-2007 at 11:48 PM.. Reason: Deleting excess space.
  #8  
Old 11-17-2007, 02:05 AM
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Default

Nemesis<o></o>
<o></o>
I found it sitting on my desk, staring at me with eyes as black as the night between stars. Silent. Motionless. Evil. Large pink ears protruded from its head like malicious radars, siphoning every sound into its gargantuan brain. Soft fur -- grey with white speckles -- coated its body. Fur that begged to be touched. Stroked. Cuddled.
<o></o>
I sat in my chair staring back at it while I struggled with my socks. I swear it laughed at me, though I heard no sounds.
<o></o>
Evil. Pure evil. And it had landed on my desk.
<o></o>
I dragged my pants onto my shuddering body, picked the monstrosity up by a tuft of its fur and flung it out the open window onto the newly mown lawn.
<o></o>
A soft step caused me to stiffen and turn. Behind me, an innocent child took her thumb from her mouth and said, “Dad? Where’s my Furby?”
  #9  
Old 11-20-2007, 01:08 AM
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Default Desperation

The cold steel pressed against the soft flesh,
And soon a bead of blood trickled along like sweat.<O</O
<O</O

The sensation was exhilarating and made him feel alive,<O</O
He soaked in the pleasure of pain, felling the power of pain inside.<O</O
<O</O

He slowly licked the crimson liquid away from the pale skin, <O</O
Letting the taste settle on his tongue, a flavor of tin and kind of sweet, interesting.<O</O
<O</O

He knew that next time it would take more, that he would have to go deeper, <O</O
But for now, this moment was the only moment. <O</O
Nothing else mattered, not one cared.
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Dream big, live long, fulfill destiny's, mine was to sing

Last edited by _zeb_; 11-20-2007 at 01:11 AM.. Reason: stiff hands, forgots to spell check:P
  #10  
Old 11-21-2007, 03:24 AM
jonahj (Offline)
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Default Compettion

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o>
The narrow street was unfamiliar, yet imbued with some resonance she couldn’t identify. She was about to turn and retrace her steps when she saw him. He was standing, legs apart, one arm flung high, the other holding a microphone. As she approached the gorgeous creature set in a shop window she saw that it was a life-sized replica of Elvis Presley, manufactured entirely from chocolate. The detail was extraordinary. But for the colour of his flesh it could have been Elvis, in his later years admittedly, but the undisputed King nevertheless.
Was this some part of paradise; the two great loves of her life conjoined and placed right in front of her? Had God finally admitted that He’d been giving her a mean deal and was presenting her with the balance of justice, or had she simply died and gone to Heaven? Elvis; the only man she’d ever loved who hadn’t broken her heart and chocolate; the only true consolation in all those broken-hearted times.
As she stared at the wonderful statue she became aware of a pair of eyes watching her intently from the relative darkness of the shop behind the exhibit. She smiled nervously and began to turn away from that penetrating stare.
‘Magnificent, isn’t he?’ the man said from the shop doorway.
‘Yes, he is. It’s a pity that it’s the old Elvis though,’ she replied.
‘Sadly that wasn’t an option,’ he said with a smile, ‘but you get more chocolate this way.’
She laughed and he pressed home his advantage. ‘I see you are a connoisseur. Would you like to see some of the other pieces we have?’
As the street seemed to be part of some distant memory, so did this man. He was short and dark-skinned with a thin moustache and beautifully white teeth, seeming all the more so against the darkness of his face.
‘I am Xavier, possibly your guide to a perfect place.’
He had an accent she couldn’t identify, Spanish perhaps. His face was rounded, the nose hooked, the brown eyes slightly oriental. He stepped to one side and held out his arm in a welcoming gesture towards the shop door.
‘Come, see, you do not have to buy.’
Wondering whether she was being foolish but too intrigued to walk away, she stepped into the shop.
‘My name’s Catherine,’ she told him.
He smiled and bowed as she walked into the main room to find herself surrounded by statues, all made from chocolate. The wonderful smell was almost enough to drive her out of her mind.
‘They’re beautiful,’ she whispered as she approached each in turn to study the similarly extraordinary detail in each face, moulded so perfectly that the personality seemed to have been captured in the process.
‘Each of these people loved chocolate,’ he told her.
‘Including Elvis?’
‘More than most. Some will tell you that chocolate killed him but I say that it afforded him a release. It has many extraordinary powers.’
Catherine nodded and continued to study the various faces around her.
‘I am a chocolatier,’ said Xavier grandly, ‘and if I may be permitted to dispense with inappropriate modesty, possibly the finest chocolatier in the whole World.’
She laughed out loud at that.
Xavier smiled back and his dark eyes widened. ‘I see you require proof, Miss Catherine.’ He turned towards a dark blue velvet curtain hanging on the back wall. ‘This is not so unreasonable, for you hardly know me.’
He pulled aside the curtain to reveal a large work-room, filled with the tools and appliances of the chocolate maker’s craft. Worn but gleaming pans were arranged on large tables, some with electric warming plates under them, their contents bubbling like slow lava flows. Now the delicious scents were enough to draw her to the very edge of reason. This was <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1lace w:st="on">Paradise</st1lace> indeed. She felt breathless and unable to speak.
Her guide didn’t seem mind her silence. He took some powder from a jar and poured it into a mortar, he added another powder, some drops of liquid and four leaves, ground them all together and smiled at Catherine as he poured the mixture into a dark metal goblet before adding water until the goblet was half full. ‘This,’ he told her with near-comical gravitas ‘is the drink of the gods.’
So saying, he picked up another similar goblet and poured the liquid from one to the other several times, lifting the pouring goblet as high as he could each time. Once the foam had built up on the surface of the liquid, he handed the goblet to Catherine. ‘Drink,’ he told her. ‘This is your <st1lace w:st="on">Paradise</st1lace>.’
Catherine hesitated as she regarded the dark liquid, so he enfolded her hand in his and slowly lifted the goblet towards her lips.
‘I charge you nothing for your first experience because I know you will want to be part of this place.’ Again he gestured towards the work-shop and its many statues. ‘You will wish to become one of my children.’
‘Perhaps.’ She took a sip of the chocolate drink and was surprised. It was bitter and peppery.
Xavier noticed her expression and sat down on the table in front of her. One by one he switched on the bank of heaters under a huge pan of solid chocolate.
‘That which you have in your hand is the original chocolate. This is what the royal Aztecs would drink. Montezuma himself drank this chocolate. The god-kings and the priests prized this as highly as gold. Sometimes they even dissolved gold into it. This is called “precious thing” in their language. You are privileged to drink such a marvel.’
She smiled and sipped a little more. Now that she had got used to the idea of the strange bitterness, she was beginning to acquire a taste for it.
Xavier smiled even more broadly. ‘You see? This is not the common chocolate of the common people.’
Languidly he dipped one long index finger into the bowl of melting chocolate to test its temperature. He sucked slowly at his finger as he watched Catherine and she found herself becoming breathless once more.
‘This is wonderful,’ she whispered as she took another sip and looked around the work-shop. ‘Will you make a statue of me, one day?’
‘Perhaps I will.’
Catherine found herself singing Love me Tender. It seemed appropriate to her, not a strange thing to do in front of a stranger in a strange shop. ‘Are you an Elvis fan?’ she asked.
‘Naturally. He once made a film near my home and I went to watch.’
‘Which film was that?’
‘Here they called it Fun in <st1lace w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Acapulco</st1:City></st1lace>.’
She laughed out loud and swayed as she tried to balance the goblet. ‘Hah! I’ve got you! You’re Mexican!’
He smiled broadly at her, his lips stretching back to reveal his beautiful teeth. ‘You are correct. I am from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Mexico</st1lace></st1:country-region>. I am a direct descendant of those royal houses that once drank that very chocolate.’
‘And there’s chillies in it too,’ she added, once she had drained the goblet.
‘Chillies, coca leaves and just a little mescaline,’ he said.
Catherine didn’t know what mescaline was or even the significance of coca leaves, she simply enjoyed all the delightfully unusual sensations surrounding her. This was more than the simple pleasure of taste, it was a celebration of all pleasures. The dark room was now flooded with golden light as she looked at Xavier’s smiling face. He was an arresting looking man and in this new unreasonable light he seemed almost to glow. She smiled and felt herself glowing back at him. She put down the goblet and sighed again as he took her hand and led her over to the vat of melted chocolate. She noticed for the first time that it was the shape and size of a bath.
‘May I go and stand next to Elvis?’ she asked him as she sat heavily down on the edge of the bath. ‘I was his biggest fan you know.’
‘I have a place reserved specially for you, right next to him.’
Catherine tried to stand but found that her legs wouldn’t obey her. ‘Oops!’ she giggled. ‘I think I must be drunk or something.’ She tried hard to focus on the glowing face in front of her. ‘Did you spike that drink?’
‘Dear Catherine, I would not dream of doing so. You are now experiencing the rapture of conjunction with the gods.’
Catherine steadied herself and looked around the room. The smell of chocolate was making her head swim. There was gold everywhere, the walls were golden, there was golden light reflected from the floor. She stood and smiled at Xavier. ‘Am I going to meet Elvis now?’
‘Of course.’
She looked at the bath of chocolate before her and took her clothes off. The gold-bedecked priests standing around the bath were smiling at her as they chanted the ancient words of power. Even though she was naked, the room felt soporifically warm. The chocolate caressed her as she stepped into the bath. It clung to her, possessed her, drew her into its inner self. She was joining the gods and they were going to take her to Elvis. She began to drift away. You can’t say no in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1lace w:st="on">Acapulco</st1lace></st1:City>.
There was a slight awakening as the dark warm liquid filled her nostrils but then she fell back into the taste and the comforting warmth of his presence.
One last sigh and then the sweet darkness poured in.
  #11  
Old 11-24-2007, 03:09 PM
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<center>"Walk"</center>

We are joined by the gentleman as always, found in the same state as usual. Nothing changes, but what could? He has lived thus for ages of ages. His limp has become more defined over time as his injuries intensify. Leaning on his stick as if it were holding up his soul alongside his body he progresses, but he knows that cannot not be. Feet continue trudging through the dirt and the grass. The pain screams up his legs with each step. He can never cease.

He thinks as he often does back on the days when the deal was struck. He had been fooled but never having been a gifted thinker he was not completely surprised. It was wrong to do his own negotiating during the thing. Not that he was certain an intermediary would have been allowed, but certainly what could it have hurt to ask?

He dances around the crux of the issue thus. Never admitting even after so many years that he was wrong to seek the deal in the first place. A man accepts his circumstance. A man plays the cards he is dealt.

But then, had he been a man? What kind of man cannot stand? Cannot walk? Cannot go to work and provide for a family? Lay with a woman to produce such a family? He convinced himself that his heart had been right. That he had made the right choice. He pushes the issue away. Ever weakening steps carry him on.

Eyes blur a bit as the anguished protests of his feet, his legs and back throw him off center. He remembers the conversation. The research it had taken. The blood which had been spilt and paid for in hard cash. The struggle to learn a name to speak. He remembered the ritual, the summoning. The broad black back of the beast as it appeared to him in his cottage. The sad smile on the startlingly human face.

“Oh of course. Absolutely. I understand why you would mourn your circumstances. Come then, lets make a deal. I am certain there is some agreement we could come to. A mutual understanding.”

Things like that should not exist. The way it placated. All reassurances and the warm feeling of home. How could something like this be anything but good? Surely it had his best interests at heart.

But then, why the blood? Why the deaths? Why would something like this only come in response to such darkness? Why only in the absence of the sun? Part of his mind had cried out for him to acknowledge this before it was too late, but was shouted down by years spent feeling insufficient, broken, less than whole.

Doubts set aside he had begun his conversation with the thing. Terms were set. He had read about being exact. He had been advised that you had to be very clear in matters such as these. So when the thing asked “How long?” he of course replied with a mind to precision:

“Forever.”

The smile was not mocking. It did not laugh. It nodded soberly and agreed to the terms.

Hands were shaken. Contracts signed. Souls surrendered. And then the gentleman rose from his chair. Delight written all over him he took faltering steps forward. The muscles took time to develop in his legs. It was painful but welcome. Incredibly welcome.

The thing nodded. It was pleased with its end of the deal and it was rare to see a client so pleased with his. The gentleman strode around the room, soaking up the sensation. Every step a new fulfillment. How much he had to do. He would head to town directly. He would be dancing in the taverns by nightfall and when asked he would shout “Miracle! A Miracle!”.

Encouraged, he grabbed his hat, cloak and stick and strode out the door. Of course he said goodbye. He shook hands with the beast on his way out the door. A bounce in his step all the way down the road. The shock would not come until he reached town and tried to sit to have a drink. It was then when his legs refused to do anything but go forward that he would realize it had been too easy. That he had gotten the raw end of the deal. Because when the thing had asked him what it was exactly that he wanted he could only state, lips trembling with anticipation:

“I want to walk.”

He reflects on this anew as he trudges forward. Forward as always. Nothing changes.
  #12  
Old 11-28-2007, 03:27 AM
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Q Wands (Offline)
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It has gone midday so no more enties, please. Thank you to all those who entered.

Fyi, I have been reading your submissions as they have come in, and would like to say that I am impressed by the general standard. So well done, all of you!

I will now spend the next week reading, and re-reading, all the entires again in order to make my decision.

Thank you again for taking part.

Cheers,
QW
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