The Debt

The old man lived alone in the woods. His face was creased and it sagged like melted candle wax. He made his own shirts and pants from material that he would trade animal pelts for. What little money he made was spent on store bought shoes and rolling papers.

One day a beautiful woman came to his meager home built from hewn logs and mud. She had deep, brown eyes and radiant, amber hair. She wore a long, sheer dress. It  was tight across her chest and her nipples showed through the fabric. The old man tried not to stare.

A single tear tracked down her cheek and neck. “I am lost. Please, sir, can you help me find my way home?”

The old man looked deep into her eyes and his soul puckered. “You and I both know you ain’t lost, witch.”

The woman smiled. Her hair began to shift around her head, but there was no breeze. “I am lost, but perhaps not in a geographical sense.”

The old man spit on the ground. “State your business or be gone.”

“You know my business, dear Winston. I have come for you. All you need to do is take my hand and all of your earthly worries will be gone.”

“You ain’t touchin’ me, devil. Be on your way.”

The woman widened her eyes and frowned. “If you insist on playing hard to get, I will go.” She turned to walk away. Her dress faded to a musty grey and her form shrivelled and withered. She paused and looked back over her shoulder at the old man. “I will be back, and next time you will not be able to resist.”

The old man leaned against the frame of the open door. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see about that.”

 

***

 

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash

 

 

99 Words #31 – No Escape

I’m staring out the window watching the plane taxi to the terminal and my mind starts to wander. Soon my days will be filled with palm trees, bikinis, and warm sun on my skin. I’m so close.

I don’t notice she’s slipped up behind me until she loops her arm through mine. She sets her lips close to my ear. “Come with me please.”

I feel a sharp pain in my side. I turned to look but she warns against it.

“It won’t hurt much, but you’ll bleed like the dickens.” The sweetness in her tone disappears. “Let’s go.”

 

***

 

Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash

 

The Doom Project

DSC_5851b

 

I am yours now, together we are whole.

I will caress your cheek, to wipe away the tears and blood.

I will kiss your eyes, and then pick them from your skull.

I will feel your heartbeat, before I silence it for good.

You are mine now, until the end of time.

 

DSC_5839b

 

***

 

What would come to be known as The Doom Project first tickled at my brain cells three years ago. The words came but so did an image, one that I knew I was not capable of making a reality on my own. With that understanding, the few lines of text on a sheet of notebook paper were put in a folder and set aside. Last year I brought the idea up to my friend Kaleigh. To make a very long story short, this is the result of our efforts. Kaleigh created the image, I created the words and the frame.

It’s dark, and perhaps a little unsettling, but I love it. I only wish my photography skills were at a level that I could do it justice here. I want to say I hope you enjoy it, but I know it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time. That’s okay though, this one was for me, and I’m grateful that it has finally become a reality.

 

 

Rumours

They say I punched a nun. And so what if I did? You think I would have done it if she didn’t deserve it? Bein’ all snotty and tellin’ everyone what to do all the time. I’m not even Catholic for Christ’s sake!

Sure, even on a good day I got problems with authority, but this one, well, she rubbed me the wrong way. Scoldin’ me like a child because I swear once in a while. Not my fault that Harv and his friends are a bunch of assholes, always makin’ fun of my limp and such. She never said a thing to those guys, did she? Naw, of course not. Everyone loves to pick on old Charlie. Cursed for the ages I am.

So last week this nun comes right up to me and says, Charlie, she called me by my first name right? No idea how she knows my name, that’s the thing that really got me goin’. She says, Charlie, now I warned ya about takin’ the Lord’s name in vain. I’d just spent the previous two hours listenin’ to Harv and Eugene and Pete, right bunch of sphincters those three, listenin’ to them call me ‘Limpy’ and tell me I smell funny and I’m ugly and that I’ll never get no girlfriend. I’d had quite enough for one day, and then the bloody nun come on all holier’n thou. So I gets right up in ‘er face and says, jumpin Jesus on a bicycle, woman! I never met the guy and likely never will so what’s the God damned problem? Well, she turns all red and starts waggin’ her finger at me and the trio of dirty bum holes behind me’r laughin’ and carryin’ on. I couldn’t take no more so I went into a rage as blind as my old Uncle Lester. I spun to give the chief poop shooter, good old Harvey-boy, a little love tap, right? Problem was he was laughin’ so hard he was bent over and I spun right around. My closed fist connected with the screechin’ nun and then down she goes! Yeah, yeah, I know I didn’t mean to do it, but who’s goin’ to believe old bow-legged, crooked tooth Charlie? Nobody, that’s who, rumour or not.

***

Photo by Jonathan Sharp on Unsplash

The Demon

I turned the light on and pointed it toward the painting on the wall. The brush strokes grew and flowed and shrank. The demon opened its eyes.

“My task is complete. Set me free.”

“No,” I said. “I’m quite enjoying our arrangement.”

“We had a deal,” the demon said.

“A deal that is no more a thing than the words spoken to seal it. If our positions were reversed I doubt you would think twice about doing the same.”

The demon bared his needle-like teeth. “When I escape this prison know that the tasks I have been performing for you will be a kindness compared to your fate.”

I shrugged. “We’ll deal with that when the time comes. Until then, I have something I need you to take care of.”

 

***

 

Art by Kaleigh Kanary

99 Words #30 – Dedication

Langdon sat staring at his hands. He scratched at the dry skin on his knuckles. “I did what needed to be done. It wasn’t easy, but I found a way.”

“That’s something to be proud of, isn’t it?” Emma said.

Langdon shrugged. “I gave my word. Not much more to it.”

“I think it says a lot about your character, the fact that you dedicated years of your life to the cause.”

Langdon’s lips went thin and he looked up to Emma. “Maybe it does say a lot. What it doesn’t say is whether it was worth the cost.”

 

***

 

This was written in response to the May 2, 2019 flash fiction prompt from Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sisu. It’s a Finnish concept of enduring strength, the ability to consistently overcome. You can learn more here – May 2, 20119 Flash Fiction Prompt

Sight – The Problem With the World Today: Part 2

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“I wouldn’t have suggested it if I thought it was a bad one.”

Kade crossed his arms and turned to look around the small room. The walls were dingy and bare. He was sitting in a large chair in the middle. It had adjustable arms and lots of chrome. Kade thought it used to be a barber’s chair, but it had been a long time since he’d seen one.

Saffi patted his shoulder and went to sit on the worn vinyl chair in the corner behind him. She leaned back and tucked a stray wisp of auburn hair behind her ear.

Someone knocked on the door. Kade looked up but didn’t have time to respond. The door opened, and a man entered the room. He had slicked back hair and a short, trimmed beard. His complexion was pale but he had a glow in his cheeks. One hand was in the pocket of his grey smock. He smiled at Kade. “Good morning. Are we ready?”

Kade couldn’t place the accent. He thought it might have been South African. “I guess so.”

“You have the…” The man tapped at the back of his neck, just below the base of his skull.”

Kade nodded.

“Wonderful.” The man walked past Kade and nodded to Saffi. He opened the doors of a beat up metal cabinet to her right. He pulled out a jumble of nylon straps and shiny metal. The device attached to the straps looked like the dregs of a computer repair bin that someone had assembled into art. The man took a plastic capsule from his pocket. It was about the size of a large vitamin. He pried a cap off near one corner of the device and screwed the capsule into it.

The man stood in front of Kade, smiled even wider, and held the apparatus up. Kade’s eyebrows pinched together. The man’s smile faltered.

Saffi leaned forward. “Take your hat off, genius.”

“Oh.” Kade reached up and lifted the wide brim hat from his head. He ran the other hand over the stubble of his receding hairline.

The man’s eyes darted to Saffi, and then back to Kade. “Hold still, now.” The man stretched out the nylon straps and arranged the contraption over Kade’s head. He straightened, and then tightened two of the buckles. An open metal frame with a soft plastic ring on the inside sat over Kade’s left eye. The man adjusted the position and cinched it down so it was tight against his face.

“Good. Okay, this part may be a little uncomfortable.”

When the man said uncomfortable, it was drawn out in an unusual way. Maybe not South African, Kade thought.

The man pressed a button on the frame and a soft glow lit up the inside. “You can see the blue dot?” he said.

“Yes,” Kade said.

“Good.” The man stood to one side. “Focus on the dot please. Eyes wide. And… three, two…”

A pulse of air hit Kade’s eye and he blinked hard. The man flipped open the buckles and pulled the apparatus from his head. He unscrewed the capsule and put it back in his pocket. He replaced the cap, and then set the apparatus back in the cabinet.

The man picked up a square handheld mirror with a tarnished metal frame and small box with a number of lights and dials and a small tube screen on the front from a table beside the cabinet. He handed Kade the mirror and then held the box close to his face and started pressing buttons.

Kade looked to Saffi. She motioned toward the mirror. The glass was pitted and had a crack along the top. Kade held it up to his face, then brought it closer. On the bottom of his iris was a dot. It looked like little more than a deviation of pigment. He closed his eyes, and then opened them. The dot was still there. Kade looked up to the man in the smock.

The man was smiling again. He was holding the control box up at shoulder height with the opposite hand poised to press a button. “Ready?”

Kade drew in a breath and exhaled slow. “Yeah.”

The man nodded and then pressed down.

For Kade, the room lit up. Words scrolled across the bottom of his field of vision, but he didn’t understand a single one. He could see heat signatures. He could see through the wall into the next room. Kade blinked. “Turn it off.”

The man pressed down again. “Good? Yes?”

Kade scowled.

“You will need to… make adjustments to the settings, to your liking. The instructions have been sent to you.”

Kade looked to Saffi. She had her hands interlaced over the back of her head and her legs were stretched out and crossed in front of her. She was smiling like someone who had just won the lottery.

Kade looked back to the man in the smock. “Am I done?”

The man shook his head yes.

Kade tilted his head toward Saffi. “Can we go home now?”

“We need to make a stop first.” Saffi said.

Kade lowered his head. “Damn it.”

Saffi stood and walked to the door. “Come on champ, we need to go see a man that owes me money.”