Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Short Story Week Day 2: Carpe Demon ("Sieze the Demon")
Welcome to day 2 of Short Story Week! I had a ton of fun writing my story for this week and stayed up till 3a.m. working on it! It was very freeing and just poured out of me. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! :D
The road in front of me was slick with rain and lightening forked across the sky, the moon the only light in the sky. The headlights of my car barley penetrated the darkness stretching before me, revealing only a thin slice of road. Then a noise that I had been praying I wouldn’t hear, drowned out the sound of the classic rock station crooning on the radio: it was an odd sputtering sound; like air being let out of a balloon. Suddenly, the car lurched to a stop, the impact jerking me forward in my seat. “Shit!” I muttered and picked up my cell phone lying on the passenger seat beside me-the battery was dead.
It was then that the cold fingers of fear coiled around my heart, leaving me short of breath, my head filling with a high-pitched buzzing sound as my breathing turned ragged and labored. This isn’t happening, this isn’t happening…Then, as if against my will, my mind chose that very moment to flash back to the day of the accident, the day I lost everything…in a situation similar to this one-
No, stop, I mentally scolded myself, shaking my head to rid myself of the memories. I can’t think about that now, I’ve got a job to do.
I tossed the cell phone back on the seat; it was useless to me now, and shivered, anticipating the less-than-ideal weather conditions awaiting me outside. I zipped up my rain jacket before opening the car door and pulled on my hood. Here goes nothing. I opened the door and plunged into the torrential downpour. I slammed the car door shut and jogged to the back of the car, kneeling down in front of the back left tire to get a better look. Yep, just as I suspected-a flat.
Great, just my luck.
And, as if I didn’t have enough problems to deal with already, Father McKenzie was going to be pissed that I was late. But now, with no method of transportation and no way to get in touch with him to tell him that I ran into circumstances beyond my control (or what he’d call laziness or “a lack of dedication to the task at hand”) I’d have to do the only thing that I could think of: I’d have to walk.
Not believing my luck and definitely not looking forward to showing up to work looking like a drenched rat, I heaved a sigh of annoyance and stood up, rainwater sliding down the back of my neck, making me shiver and wishing I had thought to bring a change of clothes or at least a warmer jacket. I went back to the car and cut the engine, pocketing my keys and cell phone before heading down the deserted stretch of road on foot.
As I walked, I glanced around at the surrounding scenery. On both sides of the road stood a long white fence where wide, open fields and massive trees with thick trunks and twisted limbs bowed over both sides of the fence, their leaves forming a dark, lush canopy overhead. Not a house or animal was in sight. It was just my luck that my car should choose to break down in the most deserted and uninhabited of areas.
After about twenty minutes (when I could no longer feel any of my extremities due to the bitter cold and sideways buckets of rain) I came around a bend in the road to see a much welcome sight: Off to the side of the road, nestled in the same thick canopy of trees that I had seen on my walk, sat a small church, shrouded in darkness and shadows. Grateful for a chance to finally escape the unrelenting storm, I hurried for the church, tugging open the double oak doors and slipping inside.
The door slammed closed behind me, instantly cutting off the natural light from outside, the darkness swallowing me whole. “H-hello?” I called out, my voice quivering slightly, and not from the cold. I walked forward and groped around in the dark like a blind man, trying to find a light switch, something to help guide me in the right direction. I took a few more steps and cried out in pain as my hip bone connected with something hard and sharp. I reached out a hand and felt something smooth and hard, like wood, probably a pew.
Feeling foolish, I called out once more. “Father Mackenzie, are you here? It’s me, Henley.” I stayed quiet, waiting for a response. When I heard none, I chanced another step forward. That’s when I noticed a soft, warm glow emanating from somewhere several feet in front of me. As I studied it, I noticed that the light seemed to be moving, flickering, like candle light. I began to walk toward it, figuring that wherever that light was coming from, Father McKenzie must be with it.
As I got closer to the light, taking care to keep my hands in front of me to ward off the blow of any more surprise pews, I was able to make out the dark, hunched form of someone at the front of the church.
As I approached, I realized that the figure was Father McKenzie. He was on stage, kneeling down beside the pulpit, his back to me. “F-Father McKenzie?” I asked hesitantly, readying myself for his usual tirade when it came to my tardiness.
His reaction tonight, however, was one I was definitely not prepared for.
When he heard his name, Father McKenzie looked up and turned toward me. “Ah, Henley! You’re here, excellent!”
It was hard for me to believe, but by his tone and the way he clapped his hands together, Father McKenzie, didn’t seem mad at all. In fact, he seemed almost…eager.
Completely mystified by his odd behavior, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t explained why I was late. “Yeah, sorry I’m late,” I said quickly, before I could lose my nerve. “My car broke down on the way here and-”
“Oh, no need to explain, Henley,” Father McKenzie interrupted, waving away my explanation. “These things happen. But no matter, what’s important is you’re just in time!”
My brow crinkled in confusion. “Just in time for what, Father?”
“Now, come now, you silly girl!” Father McKenzie chided lightly, chuckling. “I would think by now that you’ve been working for me long enough to know what your job entails!” He stepped to the side in one sweeping motion.
What he revealed made my blood turn to ice in my veins and caused my heart to constrict painfully in a mixture of fear and horror: lying on the floor behind the pulpit, Father Jonas kneeling over her by her head and looking green, was a girl about my age. Her skin was slick with sweat, glistening in the light that pooled around her from the candles; her dirty blond hair was damp with sweat, fanned around her head in a tangled, matted halo. Her body was rigid, her breathing shallow.
“What the Hell is going on here?” I demanded, turning on Father McKenzie, my voice hard, barley able to contain my shock. “Who is she?”
Father McKenzie’s eyes went wide. “Why, she’s your newest customer, of course!”
“Did she come to you asking for help?”
Father McKenzie looked down at his hands, suddenly unable to look me in the eye. “Well…not exactly.”
“What do you mean ‘not exactly’?” I said through gritted teeth, rage beginning to bubble up inside me, just beneath the surface.
“Well, you see, Henley, you’ve improved tremendously since you started working for me and I wanted to put your ability to work, to nurture it, so-”
“So you just brought me a completely innocent girl to…to experiment on?” I raged, my body beginning to tremble.
“No, no, not experiment on per say, just to practice-”
Behind him, the girl began to shudder violently, convulsing, her eyes rolling back into her skull, her back arching, her body writhing in agony-
“Stop, stop it, you’re killing her!” I screamed as I ran to toward her, pushing past Father McKenzie.
I leapt up on to the stage and rushed to the girl’s side behind the pulpit, saying frantically, “you’ll be alright, just try to fight it, you’ll be alright-”
“It’s too late, Henley, you can’t save her now.”
I looked over my shoulder to see Father McKenzie standing in front of the stage, looking shockingly calm, like what was happening to that poor, helpless girl wasn’t fazing him one bit.
“No, it’s not, there has to be a way to save her!" I pleaded, my voice rising with my growing sense of panic and desperation.
“There is, you know that, we both do. All you have to do is rise to the challenge.” Father McKenzie regarded me seriously, his eyes boring into me, penetrating my soul.
“No, you can’t make me do this, you can’t-” my voice was drowned out by a bloodcurdling scream. I turned to see the girl writhing and twisting on the floor, her limbs flailing. Then, as her head lifted off the ground and her back dipped into a deep arch, I caught sight of her eyes and my breath caught in my throat: they were pure black, the whites of her eyes nonexistent. Then, as if sensing my gaze, she turned her head in my direction and stared right at me, a slow, malevolent smile creeping across her face.
“This is your last chance, Henley,” Father McKenzie called to me, “can you stand to live with her death on your conscience?”
I turned to look at him and saw his arm outstretched, gripping a dagger in his fist. He regarded me silently, his eyes bright and piercing, betraying his eagerness. I chanced one last look back at the girl, still writhing and thrashing on the floor, moaning.
I couldn’t bear to see her suffer any longer.
I got to my feet and walked down the set of stairs off to the side of the stage and went to meet Father McKenzie, coming to a stop in front of him.
He smiled, clearly satisfied with my decision. “Good girl. You’ve made the right choice Henley, you’ll see, I’m only doing this for your benefit.”
I wanted to ask him who he thought he was really benefiting, himself or me. I wanted to strangle him. I wanted to make him suffer…
But instead I said, my voice hollow, “I’ll never forgive you for this.” Then, I took the dagger from his hand, the light from the candles reflecting off the blade, and walked back toward the girl, sealing my fate.