Below is an excerpt from a short story I am currently writing that I hope to finish in the not too distant future to submit to publishers and perhaps a contest or two. Take it for what it is because it’s a work in progess which will probably need two or more rewrites before its finished anyways…so far I think it’s a good start…let me know what you think good or bad…enjoy what I have so far…:)
From a Dark Place
by Philip Wardlow
Joseph carefully placed the six white candles he had just purchased into the big brown suitcase amidst the other items he had already collected. He hands went to close the suitcase but instead they caressed a black leather bound book which lay inside. His eyes went wide and his pupils dilated ever so slightly as he stared at it. He traced the raised symbol on its cover emblazoned in red with his index finger. His finger ran along the entire perimeter of the symbol at all its points where the lines met. The symbol was two equilateral triangles overlaying one another, the point of one triangle facing up, the point of the other facing down, a hexagram, what a lovely symbol. Could there be anything more perfect he wondered. A sly smile came to his lips because for all his studies he new the true power of that symbol while others only thought they knew. He had become an adept at the mysteries of it.
“Joseph!” a woman’s voice called to him in a wail from somewhere downstairs in the house.
“Joseph, what the hell are you doing? Spaghettis all done! Christ on a crutch, move your ass!” she yelled again. Joseph could almost picture the spit flying from her mouth as she yelled at him. Fucking fat cow. He would be glad when he was done with her. Joseph couldn’t remember choosing such a bitch of a woman for a wife but he must have for she lived in his home and occasionally wanted to have sex because of that damn ring on her finger and his own. The weight of the ring seemed to increase more everyday. He wanted to stuff it down her damn throat. It was maddening. No more, no fucking more. Tomorrow, Joseph’s life was about to change.
“Joseph!” she wailed again.
Joseph slammed the suitcase shut, secured the latches and locked them by rotating the combination on each with his thumbs all at once.
“Coming Elizabeth!…..you bitch.” Joseph said the last to himself in a whisper as he tucked the suitcase deep up under his side of the bed and quickly got up to go downstairs for dinner. He would suffer through it with the heifer just for one more night. Spaghetti was his favorite he thought idly to himself.
Sam pulled his head from the sink filled with iced cold water. He wore no shirt only jeans. His skin was naturally tan in color. His forearms became pebbled with goose bumps from the cold water that dripped down his body and trailed to his muscular chest and broad shoulders to soak the top of his pants. Sam looked into to the mirror that hung on the wall. He let the water continue to drip down his body as he leaned forward and gripped the edge of the porcelain sink with both hands. He stared deep into the mirror at his own reflection. Small droplets fell from his short-cropped curly black hair into his eyes obscuring his vision causing his reflection to blur.
He wiped at his face with a hand towel nearby on the vanity in the small bathroom and looked into his big brown eyes. He saw a strong face staring back him. A handsome face as well, he knew the girls thought so anyways. A young man’s face they would say. Some said he had a mean look to his face at times. Some would ask why he never smiled. He never liked to lie so he told them. His mother and father were dead he would tell them. This was a misleading truth somewhat he knew but it always quieted the questions. He would have told them the full truth if they had pressed perhaps but they never did. Death always seemed to make people quiet or scared to talk and that suited him just fine.
What was a smile anyways? You had to care to smile and he had stopped caring long ago just like his parents. They had been too fucked up to care. They had cared about one thing, their friend Meth, or the Meth Man as he remembered his Dad liked to call it. Sorry Sam, the Meth Man’s a knocking, and me and mom got to go. They never thought a kid as young as him knew what they were talking about. But he knew. They didn’t even have the decency to hide what they had been doing. So they ignored him mostly, but occasionally they would act out and beat him when the mood struck one of them. It didn’t take much to set them off either. Television to loud, smack, dirty dish not picked up, smack, didn’t take the dog out , smack and so on and on and on.
When the police had discovered both of his parents in their van parked in the driveway of their house overdosed and long dead for over two days, Sam had felt a chapter had turned in his life for the better. Better being a relative term that was to the situation at the time. Ten years had past since their death and in that time he had been a deck of cards shuffled from one foster family to another more times than he could count, some good, some not so good and some really really bad.
Sam had endured and now he was with the Vandermullens. His last family as he had thought of them. The Vandermullens were not so bad, the “mother”, Judith, was manic depressive and took prescriptions for it. The “father”, Norman, was a saint at his church but he was secretly hooking up at least once every other Saturday of the month, with a woman who was the treasurer there who was married as well. Probably carried the hook-up well into Sunday with his coming in late on those Saturdays way after midnight…shame shame the devil knows your name Mr. Vandermullen. They didn’t have any real children of their own. She was barren as a the desert was how Norman had put it two years ago at the age of fifteen to him when they had first agreed to foster him and he had asked if they had any kids of their own
So he thought of himself as the pseudo son they could never have naturally. She loved him in her own way as did her husband. He always felt this detachment from them, a disconnection that never grew into any thing more than an uncomfortable comfort around a stranger you only half know. Sam wasn’t surprised that they never took the plunge and signed the papers to legally adopt him. He knew his own detachment didn’t help the situation. He knew he was fucked up. He knew he was too serious all the time. He knew he should find joy in something in life, smile or something. He knew there was something off about himself but he couldn’t place it. So many went through life thinking they were sane and well adjusted when in fact they were just a half hair from crazy. You would think Sam knowing he was fucked up would help but it didn’t. It just reminded him on a daily basis on how different he saw things in life from other people.
So he stared at himself in the mirror while the cold water dripped down his face. He slapped himself hard across his face once, then twice, then finally a third. It stung, it felt good, for it was a feeling and this was the closest he ever came to feeling something.
Tomorrow he thought, one more day, just one more day and things would be different.
“Master..Master…the Master will come and then you will…you will….you will be done!” the small three black creatures cavorted and danced with arms flailing in the air around a bedraggled looking half naked man who was bound hand and foot with rough hewn ropes which stretched his arms painfully high over his head tied tight to metal stakes set deep into the hard rocky ground.
“Phah!” Rohaan spit at them as they chanted and danced around him not wanting to give them the satisfaction while at the same time cursing himself for being such a fool to be caught unawares of these things in the first place.
The lovely Mistress Kaspar as she sat his knee had said the love of the drink would do him in one day. He feared her prediction might be coming to fruition. He secretly prayed to any god that would bother to listen, that if he got out of this he would never drink again. Well at least within reason he quickly amended. If he could just reach the dagger hidden his boot he could cut his bindings and give these foul black eyed imps a sound beating before they knew to react, but they had him trussed like a pig over the coals being readied for Feastday during High Festival. What a mess he had fallen into. Then again messes seemed to be what he was usually in at most times.
Rohann looked to the sky as he lay in his uncomfortable position on his back with nothing to do but look up. He must have been in a canyon or valley of some sort for steep walls of crumbling rock rose some thirty to forty feet up all around and framed the sky that was rapidly darkening to a strange purplish color he had never remembered seeing before in his life. He couldn’t see it but he was sure the sun had already fallen well below the horizon. Stars were beginning to show themselves here and there across the darkening sky. Then for the first time Rohaan really began to worry about his predicament.
Rohann had roamed and traveled far afield even for a man as young as him of only twenty-five passings of the seasons and had always prided himself in knowing his whereabouts at all times. The sky he now stared up at had him stumped for these stars were nothing he could put a place to. Not even remotely. His surprise and puzzlement must have shown on his face for one of the creatures broke off from its dance with its companions and capered over to him while the others continued in their mindless chanting and seemingly untiring dance around him.
“You see…you see little man? You cannot escape even if you broke free….truly trapped you are truly…We have brought you over at much expense for the Master. Soon…he will come and then you will scream…scream. I will like to hear you scream. Perhaps Master will let us have a taste after he is done.” The thing licked its thin slit of a mouth with a long blood red tongue and smiled at him with teeth that gleamed bright with each one looking razor sharp to the touch. Teeth meant for rending and tearing flesh and consuming whole portions, not for chewing nicely into tiny morsels for easy swallowing he imagined.
Rohann just stared at the thing intently. Rohann had learned long ago to put fear aside and assess the situation and not be cowed into mindlessness lest he fall victim to the very thing he was trying not to be afraid of by bringing about his own demise by shear inaction. Grant you easier said than done at moments like these, but he thought of the facts of the situation so far. One they hadn’t killed him outright once they had captured him so that was a very good thing already. Two, they had captured him for a purpose. For their master the creature had said. So to that end he would be remain alive until their master arrived. Third, these things besides binding him till his arms were going to pop out of their sockets seemed very reluctant to hurt him more than that. It seemed the master would be the only to have the first crack at him. Lovely.
The one talking to him perhaps was the leader of the group Rohann surmised. He did notice that this one stood a little a taller than the other two by maybe by a hands width in height but Rohann was sure the top of its head wouldn’t reach any higher than to barely his own chest. He almost laughed out loud. This thing had the gall to call him little man?
“What is you name little imp? Rohann couldn’t help but goad the creature. He was told by many close to him, that besides his drinking, spurring others to anger was one of his other faults as well that got him into trouble. Often he mixed the two.
The creature scowled at him and crouched low and crawled over to him on all fours to bring its face right next to him in an instant breathing heavily in his face wearing a wide maniacal grin. The creature’s breath stunk of rotting meat and other smells best not thought to hard on. Rohann fought down the urge to empty his belly of its meager contents as the creature continued to expel its foul breath directly him at a such close quarters. Gods, even his tongue could taste its foulness. The smell threatened to overwhelm all his senses. Rohaan’s nostrils were filled with nothing but decay and death.
“Your mouth annoys me. I will be happy to see the Master remove it from your face soon. My name is Chulni. These others are my nest brothers Sherlisk and Fillij.” Spittle dripped from the creature’s leathery black skin onto the ground fairly close to Rohaan’s face. The thing gestured at each of them as he named his companions. Rohann drew back slightly. He did fear its spittle may have the power to burn his own skin to the bone if but one drop fell on him, or so the tales told he remembered. Have
Rohaan craned his neck painfully to get a closer at each as they danced around him. The other two looked to be the mirror image of Chulni. They could have been triplets for all Rohaan new. The one called Sherlish looked a little stouter in form with a little more bulk to his body than the other two whereas Fillij seemed thin but with a whipped wire frame of corded muscle running throughout his body. That was where the differences ended. All had the same ugly dark leathery faces much like a bats, with a squashed nose with flaring nostrils, the cheek bones were set high on the face on an almost triangular shaped skull which seem to pull their thin slit of a mouth up in a perpetual evil seeming grin upon their face. They all walked hunched over like they had bad backs or were carrying a heavy burden. Their arms were long and dangled close to the ground at their sides ending in three clawed talons for hands for shearing and ripping their victims easily apart Rohaan supposed.
They all wore next to nothing for clothing, bare-chested but for a band of studded leather strapped across one shoulder and down the front of their naked chest to be secured at the waist to another studded piece of leather which made for a belt he supposed to hold up nothing more than a soiled looking stained loin cloth to cover their genital area.
Rohaan looked Chulni in the eye again and grinned. “Your kind disgust me. I will be wearing a grin on my face just like this as I stick you full in the belly with my sword and watch the surprise on your face as the dead light in your eyes burn out and you return back to the hell which spawned you.” Rohann didn’t blink once as he said this to the little demon scant inches from his face. His late mother would have been proud he was sure had he had known her he thought.
“You funny human man. Master will like you.” Was all Chulni said to him as he stood up from his crouch seemingly bored with talking to him if he couldn’t eat him.
“When is this Master you speak of to arrive then?” Rohaan asked almost conversationally to the creature giving it no indication of how much he wanted to know the answer to that question. Time he needed time he thought almost desperately.
The little demon turned back to him and smiled a wicked smile. “One more day. One more day and things will be very different for you. Different for you indeed.” Chulni turned away from him and joined his brothers in the dance and the endless chant once again around him and the night continued to grow darker in a world Rohann did not recognize.
Joseph stared out at the darkness in his room while his wife slept next to him. He hadn’t slept much the previous night. It wasn’t due to his wife’s incessant snoring next to him or her constant contortions in bed with her hands flailing and legs kicking him nonstop. He was used to that. He found he was hard to suppress the giddiness he felt every time he thought of what the coming day was to bring. All of his study, his experimenting, his success, his commitment, his sacrifices were about pay off tenfold.
The sun was coming up. The room was beginning to lighten even with the heavy dark shades drawn across the windows. Objects that had only before been vague shadows, now slowly coalesced into recognizable shapes, a shirt hung a doorknob, shoes haphazardly thrown into the corner, last night’s laundry all nicely folded in a pile on a chair in the middle of the room. Joseph loved this time in the morning as he laid in a bed two times to small already for two people alongside a woman two times too large for a bed this size even for just herself.
He ignored her presence so close to his own and delighted in the dark places revealing themselves to him slowly with the light. He would often pretend he was the light commanding the room to brighten, slowly revealing the shadows for what they were. Joseph shut such thoughts from his mind. His fancies would be reality soon enough. Time to put this day in motion he thought as he swung his feet to the floor out from under the covers. He quietly pulled the briefcase out from under his side of the bed and carried it around to his wife side of the bed carefully place it onto the floor some four feet adjacent from her head. He thumbed the combination to the latches on either side and pushed the lever to open them both while at the same guiding them both so they would not open with the loud audible snap on their spring hinges. It would do to wake her at this point. No sir.
He flipped open the suitcase and pulled out an empty mason jar. He unscrewed the ring and removed the sealing cap to the jar setting both on the floor next to the suitcase. With mason jar still in hand he reached back into the suitcase and pulled out a long bladed wicked looking knife. Joseph moved over to his wife who lay on her side facing him with her fat face crushed into the pillow still snoring loudly.
This was it. No turning back after this. He brought the knife up level to her face and found his hand was surprisingly calm and steady. In fact nothing before he could remember felt more right to him than this moment.
He moved the knife to the fat folds of her neck as she continued to snore. He imagined the right common carotid artery running up the side of the neck laboriously pumping blood from her heart to her brain and the rest of her body. He laid the knife against the skin of her neck and left it there. The knife dipped and rose with each beat of his wife’s heart. Then he whispered the words.
“You were loved, and then your were not. Steel against skin to break skin and let the blood flow from within to break a bond to bind another…to a dark obligation that must be kept.”
Joseph pressed the knife and jabbed violently into his wife’s neck severing the artery. Blood spurted and splashed her hair and ran down her neck to soak the pillow and sheets. Her body convulsed intensely as he heard strong gurgling noises come from her. He dropped the knife and held her down while at the same time putting the mason jar to her neck to catch as much of the blood as he could that flowed profusely from the wound. It took less than a minute to fill the jar. Joseph had always been amazed how much blood resided in the human body as he capped and screwed the ring back onto the jar.
He retrieved the knife from off the bed but not before cleaning both sides of the blade with a clean portion of the sheets that had missed being bloodied. Not feeling rushed at all Joseph slowly and carefully made his way over to the suitcase and returned the knife and now full mason jar back into it. Joseph closed and latched the suitcase and left it on the floor as he stood erect to survey what he had done. What a bloody mess he thought as he smiled to himself. He flipped the light switch on near the door to the bedroom and looked into the full length mirror on the dresser. His saw that his face and t-shirt along with much of the length of his forearms were heavily splattered with her blood.
Can’t be leaving the house with a blood splattered face now can I he thought. That would be in bad form indeed. He would definitely draw attention and that was the last thing he wanted on this day. Just another day in the life of Joseph T. Malmus. Yep, nothing special about me.
That reminded him it was time to make the call to the hospital to call in sick. They would definitely miss him. The other nurses would be pissed that he had called in sick because it would mean more work for them. No love lost there. But it couldn’t be helped. They would be missing him for many more days to come. The days of being a nurse were behind him now. Onward and upward. No finer words, he thought.
He stripped off all his clothes and threw them to the bedroom floor. The call could wait, fuck em. Joseph walked naked out into the hall and into the bathroom. Joseph got into the shower and ran the water has hot as he could take. The skin of his belly turned a bright pink as the water bit into him. Elizabeth never let him run it as hot as he wanted. Now she had nothing to say about it. Joseph felt free for the first time in his life. Joseph hummed a little tune he couldn’t place and thought about what he might have for breakfast. Pancakes sounded good this morning, blueberry pancakes with lots of lots of syrup.
To be Continued of course…( I’d say this is 1/4 of the story so far)