Posted in Series, writing

Show and Tell

Art; By Any Other Name: Chapter 2

“Good Morning everyone.”  Arthur calls out, stepping into the classroom, allowing the voices die out.  “For those of you who haven’t had me before, I am Mr. Brown…” He explains, starting to scribble his name onto the whiteboard with a washed-out marker.  Distracted, he is still beaming from the successful opening the evening prior.  “Although, many of you are just going to call me Arthur anyways, so I don’t know why I bother with ever announcing my last name.”  He jokes.

A selection of the class starts to chuckle lightly.  “Don’t forget Art… Teacher.”  Another voice chimes in, and more laughs join the chorus.

“Yes, that nickname has seemed to stick through the years.”  Arthur rolls his eyes, picking up several stacks of papers in various colors.  “I’ll start passing out the syllabus… and with it, a flyer in goldenrod telling you about my Art Gallery.”

“You have a gallery now Arthur?”  Comes the call from several students.

“I have… control of a gallery.  I’m running it for the remainder of the fall season, until the pieces get to go elsewhere.” He explains.

“Where did they come from then?”  Comes a question.  “Why do you have to give them up?”

“Do I look like I can afford priceless pieces of art?”  Arthur teases.  “I teach high school punks like you five days a week, and not even all year round.  I could barely afford the art that kids scribble on placemats at the buffet.”

Arthur waves his hands downwards, waiting for the playful snickering to die out.  “That’s why I’m introducing this now… because it won’t be around for the whole semester.  I want to organize a field trip for everyone to head out there for our Renaissance unit, but as you know, the district doesn’t like to shell out money for stuff like that.  I wanted to have some of your parents to come by so that they can possibly put in a good word.”

“There’s no way my dad will want to see any art.”

“That’s right Mr. Brown, when we were kids, his dad kicked us out of the yard for drawing with chalk on the concrete.”

“We were in his parking spot, to be fair.”

“Okay, I get it.”  Arthur stops the boys.  “The flyer has everything you parents should want to know about the gallery if they so choose to stop by this Friday night.  After all, I don’t really get any parent-teacher conferences like the other teachers.   And if they decide not to come… be sure to let them know they’re classes plebeians.”

__

Bow tie nearly stifling his breathing, Arthur watches shifty-eyed as the trays full of plastic stem ware are filled sloppily, alternating cheap champagne and sparkling cider.

“Don’t tell me you’re nervous about this now, Arthur.”  Tara pokes him in the back.

“Talking up in front of art fans—that’s one thing.  They already into the art for crying out loud!  Their focus is on me… silently criticizing and confirming my ability to show these interesting pieces as much fanfare as they deserve.  Who knows with these… parents?”

“I… I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Arthur…  Are you saying people didn’t think you were the right choice to host the exhibit?”

“No, Tara, try to keep up.”  He gives a quick shake of his head.

“Okay—“

“I have to… convince these parents that… art has its merits and that… that I’m not wasting their time here… or that their kids aren’t wasting their time in my class.”

“I think you’re way overthinking this.  That parents who do come are going to be just as enthusiastic about art as the kids who enrolled in your class.”  Tara reassures him, hand slowly moving towards one of the full glasses.

“No!”  Arthur shouts, hand swatting hers away in an exceedingly gentle motion.  “Sorry… we need to have as much alcohol about so the parents can… relax, if just a bit.”

“Have it your way.”  Tara rolls her eyes before turning on her tall heels and trotting off.

Looking down at his watch, Arthur watches as the hands moves closer to the opening time.  Shoving the collection of empty glass bottles to the back of the building, he quickly returns to the front of the house and unlocks the doors, swinging them open towards the path up from the street.  The cool fall breeze rolls in, exhausting some of the heat from under his collar.

As the clock hits its mark, Arthur undoes the velvet rope barrier to the empty entranceway.  A few minutes pass, and a sole couple turns into the path, making their way up towards the door.  The woman, draped in a lazy looking sun dress, waves at him.

“Mr.  Brown, right?”

“Nancy!  Thank you for coming tonight.”  Arthur gives a quick nod of his head to the two.

“Sorry we’re a bit late.  Finding a parking spot here was tough at this time of day.”

“Oh!  No problem.”  Arthur relaxes upon hearing the words.  “Please head on inside for now.  My assistant here will be able to show you around while we wait for other parents to show up…”

As the two walk in through the doors, another few start to move towards the entrance, looking up at the tall David statue.  Giving them another nod as they pass, Arthur follows them in.  Passing the doors, he gives a brief look back at the statue, starting to glow under the orange accent lights dancing up at the statue’s legs.

As Parents start to mix with the regular visitors, Arthur passes by the various groups, talking with parents he recognizes, and following up on those who happened to bring the flyer he had given out.

“Hey, you in the suit!”  Someone calls out.  A tall man in Khaki shorts and a rough looking t-shirt walks up to him, sandals flapping under his feet.  “Mr… Brown, am I right?”

“You’ve found me.”  Arthur responds timidly, looking upwards at the tall man as he initiates a borderline violent handshake.

“I’m Charlie’s dad.  Eric.  Nice ta’ meet ch’a.”

“Charmed.”  Arthur responds, cradling his crushed phalanges.  “I’m glad you were able to make it.”

“Well… you know.  Not too much into art myself.  The wife wanted me to come though, check things out.”

“I’m glad you could make it at least.  Are there any pieces you would like to know more about?”  Arthur offers.

“There was one thing I suppose… I was worried about allowing my kid here because… well, you know.”  The man clears his throat.  “There are a lot of nudies in these paintings.  Boys these days… you know… horn dogs.”

“Nudies?  Horn dogs?”  Arthur gives him a sideways glance.  “Oh, you mean work with nudity.  Well, Romance artists did have a sort of fascination with the human figure.  You must have seen our David out front, no?  One of Michelangelo’s most famous works.”

“Hey.”  The man nods, looking up at a print of The Birth of Venus.  “Do you think these old guys… ever spanked their meat to one of these paintings?”

“Spanked their meat?”  Arthur squints at him sideways.

“You know.”  The man offers, shaking his hand back and forth near his groin suggestively.

“Oh!  Well… The ancient Roman people were very open sexually.  It’s very much reflected in the paintings too.  You know, prostitution is actually one of the oldest professions, and in those days, it was just a part of society for someone… you know… to want… certain things.”

“Ha ha ha!”  The man laughs.  “Could it be… Arthur, that you’re a prude?”

Feeling his face start to become warm, he stumbles.  “Well… I’m just another one of the guys… I guess…”

“You’re a riot man.”  The man chuckles.  “I can see why my kid likes you.  I’m gonna’ check around for a bit and head back.  Might catch you later, then?”

“Yes… yeah… catch you later.”  Arthur stutters as the dad walks off.

“Hehe.”  A small feminine chuckle from behind catches him off guard.  “Don’t pay him any attention.  I swear, that man has no tact whatsoever.”

“Excuse me?”  Arthur ponders aloud, turning his head to face the voice.  His head tilts down to face the woman, deep brown hair and tanned skin looking past him at the dad strutting through the exhibit.

“I once chaperoned with him on a field trip back when our kids were in middle school together.”  She explains, eyes rolling.  “I mentioned how I had a tri-tip sandwich packed for lunch, and he ended up talking my ear off about the positives and negatives of each type of fuel you could use on a barbecue.  No matter how disinterested I could make myself sound, he wouldn’t take the hint.”

“I… see.” Arthur replies, eyes blinking rapidly back at her.

“I’m so sorry, I’m doing the same thing.”  She giggles, shaking her head.

“No, no.  Not at all.”

“I’m Lisa- Caroline’s mom.”

“Oh, yes.  One of my freshmen students.”  Arthur perks up.  “They all seem so excited about this year.  Her… enthusiasm about art must come from somewhere, I suppose?”

“Oh, well.”  Lisa flaunts.  “I took a few art classes in college.  Not even enough for a minor in it.  I just happen to take the bus by this place on my way to work, actually.  I had seen it, never assuming it would belong to one of her students.”

“I don’t own this, no no.”

“Oh, then…?”

“I did… I did organize most of the pieces making their way here.”  Arthur adds assuredly.  “I know all about these pieces.  Would you like me to show you around?”

“Oh!”  Lisa claps her hands together enthusiastically.  “Well, don’t mind if I do.”

Pacing the gallery, Arthur stops by each of the paintings, enthusiastically talking about the styles and artists.  After picking up a couple glasses of the champagne, they two head outside to the garden, already mostly empty.

“…I can’t say that’s exactly how they did it, but the painting was obviously an extremely involved project.”

“I… see.”  Lisa responds, eyes drifting off towards the replica statue, empty glass dangling in her hand.

“I uh… I’m sorry if none of that made sense.”  Arthur apologizes, downing the rest of the bubbly liquid, stifling the cough it causes.  “Forgive me, too, if I didn’t leave any spaces to get a word in…”

“Oh, no.  I’m sorry if it seems like that.”  Lisa replies honestly.  “I did agree to have you show me around, after all.  This statue just caught my eye.”

“Ah, it’s another replica, just like our David out front.  The local university’s art class made it.  I should mention the work it’s based on is another Michelangelo; this one is called ‘Night.’” Arthur explains, gesturing at the figure of the woman lying on her side.

                “It’s quite nice.”

“Mhm, I’d say they did a good job.”

“Although there’s one thing about it that is distracting.”  Lisa adds.

“Oh?”  Arthur replies hesitantly.

“Forgive me if this sounds crude but… the chest seems a bit off.  You think the students were bashful when they worked on this part.”

“Ah, well, interesting you say that.”  Arthur points at the statues breasts.  “It’s actually quite true to the style.  You see, Michelangelo himself wasn’t very great at reproducing the feminine form in marble like this.”

“I can see that.”  Lisa nods her head quizzically.

“During his lifetime, it was never clear his sexual orientation.  However, when historians went through his writing, it became obvious that the man was clearly, very, flamingly, homosexual.”  Arthur explains, wavering back and forth with a grin on his face.

“Ha!”  Lisa snorts, holding her mouth.  Slipping from her hand, the plastic champagne glass falls to the ground.

“It’s most likely he never properly saw a naked woman in his life.”

“I hope this isn’t what my daughter and the rest of your students are learning in your class.”  Lisa giggles, wiping the corners of her eyes.

“Some people…”  Arthur continues, ignoring the previous comment. “…have compared the breasts he made to ‘crushed oranges,’ simply stuck on the chest of a man.” He goes on, wagging his finger at the statue.

Lisa releases another snort, covering her mouth, buckling over to stifle her laughter.  Moving to pick her discarded glass on the ground, the door opening behind them make the two jump.

“Arthur… uh, Mr. Brown, you need to come and see this.”  The dad from before bursts out from the exit.  “Hi, Lisa.  Long time no see.”

“What’s going on?  Is there something going on inside?” Arthur asks, worried.

“Not inside… but we’ve had maybe some vandalism with the big guy out front.”  The dad waves at them to push through the bushes by the side of the building.

“David?”  Arthur mumbles, jumping over the short row of hedges to the front walkway.  Stumbling after him, Lisa follows.

“It seems…”  Eric explains, pointing up at the statue.  “Someone stole his junk.”

“His junk?”  Arthur makes his way up, looking up at the front of the statue where a significant chunk of plaster has been ripped off between the statues legs.  “My god, they’ve castrated him.”

“Oh god, Arthur.”  Lisa attempts to stay straight-faced.  “To be honest, though, it wasn’t the most detailed package I’ve seen.”

“I… I don’t know what I’m going to do about this…”  Arthur slumps down, defeated.

Posted in Series, writing

The House on the Cliff

 Outland: Chapter 3

I never did find that hatch.  By the time I had dragged my toolbox back, I was too exhausted to go out looking for it.  It’s a shame.  Finding spare parts isn’t really easy.  Finding materials and tools to machine a replacement on this side of the mountains is even harder.  I stretched a tarp over the hole to hopefully block off any debris or such getting in.  Either way, it’s lighter and therefore more efficient.  That’s what I’ll tell myself.

Gulliver had charged up fully that next morning and we set off again. Sitting in the pilot seat, I sat watching the coastline move by me.  The searing sun glared down at me from the center of the sky.

“Gulliver, do you think we’re nearing the equator?  It’s awfully hot.”  I shifted sideways in the seat, pulling myself into the shadow of the windshield.

“Going off our coordinates, we could be there in about a week’s time, Andrew.”

“Excellent.”  I waved my hands through the rays of light being projected on the floor of the cockpit.  “I’m satisfied with this pace.”

After crossing over into the northern hemisphere, we would be one step closer towards island jumping through the Panama region, now a great deal under water.  I’ve heard accounts of the region.  The point where the oceans meet is supposedly beautiful, they said.  Come to think of it, I haven’t seen any other travelers in a while…

The calm sea by our sides, we continued up the coast until the sun had crept up to meet the watery horizon, drawing a bright orange line pointed towards us.  I put up the solar panels to be ready for the next morning, and climbed down to my cabin.  As I took my seat to start transposing the map for the night, I couldn’t help but notice a light out of the side window somewhere down the coast.

“Gulliver?”

“Yes, Andrew?”

“There’s something shining out there.  I’m not imagining it, am I?”  I pondered.

“I would assume not, Andrew.”

“I’ll have to see where it’s coming from tomorrow.  Remind me, could you?”

“I will do that.”

As I continued sketching out the coastline, I couldn’t help taking peeks at the strange light before I eventually nodded off.

The next day, we started moving early.  I kept my gaze focused ahead the whole time, looking for whatever the source might have been.  The wind-bitten cliffs overhanging the beach looked like they had taken a beating the other day from the waves.  Sitting precariously atop one of them, I spotted a grouping of small buildings.  Houses.  It could have been a neighborhood at one point.  A pile of debris at the bottom of the cliffs from various structures that hadn’t made it told me that it probably was no more. Continue reading “The House on the Cliff”

Posted in Series, writing

Tsunami

Outland: Chapter 2

Bright light shone in the window, eventually moving into my eyes, stirring me awake. Sitting up, I looked out the porthole into the glaring light.

“Gulliver? What time is it?” I asked, shielding my face.

The fish carcass sat on the plate beside me, giving off a faint odor of sourness and the faint smell of the sea. The untouched head stared at me, agape, eyes cloudy.

“Good morning Andrew. It is just past noon.”

Rubbing my eyes, I pushed now foul plate away. The map on the desk before me lay mostly finished, the pen thrown down haphazardly.

“Dang.” I sighed. “I guess I fell asleep working last night; that big meal got to me. I didn’t set up the solar panels, did I?”

“The solar panels are down, and the batteries are currently at 44%. I cut power to your desk lamp this morning to save energy.”

“Thank you, Gulliver.” I said, standing up to stretch his back and arms, my joints popping in quick succession. “Looks like today we’re staying here.”

Sliding along the cold metal floor, I moved to mount the ladder, heading up to the cockpit. The window shades were up, sun shining bright, with the water still in plain view. Moving to the control panel, I flipped some switches, and the motors running the actuators whirred to life, moving the solar panels upwards.

“I guess I’ll do some maintenance while we’re here. What are your recommendations, Gulliver?” I said, tweaking some of the controls above the windshields.

“Left leg’s efficiency is dropping slightly below that of right leg. I recommend you check the lines and tighten the connections in the foot to improve rigidity in the joints.”

“Sounds good, I’ll get on that.” I made a mental note, nodding my head before jumping on the ladder and sliding down, passing all the way through to the bottom compartment.

A puddle had formed on the floor from the wetsuit dripping on the rack. Tiptoeing around in it, I grabbed my work coveralls. They were worn, patched thoroughly by myself. I would probably have to buy more fabric when I found someone who had extra.

Eyeing the toolbelt, I double checked that it was still stocked with what I would need; heading up and down the ladder with it on multiple times was a pain.
“Gulliver, open the bottom hatch for me, would you?”

“Right away.”

The mechanical port in the middle of the room roared to life, opening the set of doors. I pulled the toolbelt off the wall and buckled it around my waste, adding a few good pounds. Carefully climbing down the slick rungs of the ladder on the side of the tube I found myself on the lower platform, staring down at the ground. I grabbed the rope ladder from the pile it sat in, throwing it down limply. It tumbled down, untangling itself under its own weight, thrashing back and forth. Waiting for the swaying to stop, I carefully turned myself around and inched myself down the first few rungs.

Finally, on the ground, I readjusted the belt and looked up at Gulliver, standing proudly like a silhouette in front of the water. Moving to the left leg, I reached the sealed hatch and quickly undid the big set of wingnuts holding it on. Inside was the big tool chest, still held neatly in place by the snap straps. It contained the heavy breaker bar and wrenches needed for whatever repairs one might need.

Feeling the heat of the midday sun, I unstrapped the box and dragged it through the stubby weeds and grass to the small shadow created by the solar panels raised up above me. They were propped up at the perfect angle to catch the sun’s rays, coincidentally casting a lot of shade.

Catching my breath, I sat down to look out at the water. Far off in the distance, the sun light reflected off the surface; probably close to the reef where I had caught the fish the other day.

Several years ago, this whole area was still probably inland quite a bit. That was before the shelf shifted, the Pacific plate buckling on itself in a catastrophic fashion. It’s hard to tell how much damage was done then; the body count and extent of destruction it caused was unfathomable.

The seas rose all around the world that day. Waves reaching in for miles inland all around the pacific rim. Whole communities now underwater permanently. Those who survived moved inland, as far as they could. Most people, I guess. Continue reading “Tsunami”

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The Longest Day of the Year

Outland: Chapter One

I’m searching for something.  I have no idea what it might be, but I’ll know when I find it.  Until I do so, I can’t let anything distract me.

Beep beep beep.

The alarm broke through his dream, interrupting his visions of fields of infinite pineapples, swaying back and forth in the wind; each growing neatly on their individual steams.

“Good morning, Gulliver.”  He mumbled.

“Good morning, Andrew.”

Pulling himself out of the seat, Andrew scooted up to the window and turned the crank, moving the shutters outside upwards.  The bright noon sunlight glared in his eyes, and he hunched back to avoid it.

Fiddling with the drawer besides him, he pulled out a foil packaged ration and tore it open before adjusting the seat to an upright position.

“How are the power cells looking, Gulliver?”  He asked before throwing the newly empty foil wrapper behind him.

“Eight-nine percent and rising, Andrew.  What do you think?”

“That’s sufficient I’d say.”  He played with the instrument panel, flipping the series of four switches downwards.  Behind the cockpit he could hear the linear actuators engage, humming busily before the panels could be heard clicking down into their locked position.

“We were headed south west, were we not?”  Andrew pondered out loud.

“Indeed.  Would you like me to set a course?”

“Please.” He slowly drummed his fingers on the armrest as the land rotated into view.  The sun sat just out of view to the west.

“Say, we’re about midway through summer now, aren’t we?”

“Indeed.”

“Have we reached the solstice yet?”

“By my records, we have still been slowly gaining a bit of daylight each day.”

“Hmm, good.”  He twiddled his thumbs.  “We must still have some time before it starts dropping off.  I’d like to reach the equator before then.”

“I’ll plot it out.” Continue reading “The Longest Day of the Year”

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A Trail of Iron

Hell to Pay: Chapter 12

Teivel awoke.  It was dark outside, save the moonlight drifting down from the waxing moon, almost full.  He felt the crusty dried blood on his arms.

The ground was cold underneath him, and the trickling water played a calming tune in the background.  Sitting up, he gazed into the trickling water.  The moon shimmered lightly in the stream.

Damp clothes still clung to his body, sending numbing chills up his arms and legs.  His stiff fingers slipped into the water, and he ran them up and down his arms, washing off the blood.  Teivel could feel the cuts in his arms, forming disgusting crevices in the form of the symbols he relied on.

He picked himself up, taking a minute to remember where he was. He had fallen into the stream, and crawled across.  The only thing he could do was continue.

His sack sat in the mud, soggy papers resting beside him.  They had become completely ruined, but everything he needed from them was now a part of him, either in his mind or carved into his arms.  Taking the papers in his hands, he ripped them ungracefully with a wet tear.  The two halves went into the stream, drifting lightly into a rock downstream.

The air was still, and beside the stream, the night was quiet.  Tranquil, Teivel picked up the bag and slung it across his back.  By the light of the moon, he could find a path through the trees.  The darkness was his ally, if nothing at all.  Continue reading “A Trail of Iron”

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Sodden Images

Hell to Pay: Chapter 11

The heat of the day was agonizing beneath his many layers and heavy pack.  The tall grass grated against his hands and set them ablaze with tiny cuts up his wrists.

He could see a large horse chestnut tree in the distance.  Many of the five-leaved fronds adorned the ground, faded into a delicate brown color.  He studied the plant’s structure, much like the five points of his pentagrams.  Many more were still attached to the tree, providing shade. Spiked pods were scattered about, stuck among the tufts of grass.

Those who had split open revealed the dark flesh inside, the tree’s offering of itself.  They immediately caught Teivel’s eye, who went to gather them up, carefully prying apart the sharp pods that encased them.

Hands full of the chestnuts, he placed himself down beside the trunk of the tree and removed some of his layers, along with the sack that held still not much more than his study material.  If nothing else, his papers would stay with him forever.

Biting into the tough maroon skin, his teeth sunk into the pale flesh.  It was still moist and rigid, and the skin was bitter.  He still had his knife, tucked into his belt.  When he originally picked it up, it felt heavy and rigid against his thigh, but now it felt like it belonged there.  He slipped the knife out of its leather sheath, and proceeded to slice at the tough nut.

His fingertips ached as he attempted to peel at the skin that still held tight to the flesh, but his stomach ached more.  Despite their texture and bitterness he managed to put a handful of them down.  Feeling satisfied and refreshed, he picked himself back up and slung the pack back over his shoulder.

The sun started to set in the opposite direction of the sky and Teivel began marching in file with his shadow.  His stomach rumbled, and twisted itself just a bit.  He chose to ignore it, but before long it became impossible to do so.  It felt as if someone had punched him in the gut, which was not a feeling he missed from his days in school.  His knees crumpled and he set himself down on the ground, shoving the pack off.

Curled over, he began to convulse, wishing he could simply get the affair over with.  Tears pooled in his eyes, and his thoughts went to his mother.  He though of her, comforting him in times like this.  He though of her, wrapping her hands around his neck, choking him.  He vomited.

Wiping his mouth on his sleeve, tears still in his eyes, he pushed himself up with his waning strength.  The sun was still bright, and Teivel wanted his journey to be over.  He had lost track of how many hours he had been travelling.  His feet laid heavily into the ground as he stomped on ahead. The trickle of water came to his ears.  He licked his dry lips and he realized how thirsty he was.

The earth sloped downwards to reveal the source of the sound, a small stream, clear and ice cold.  Teivel slid down the slope and up to the bank of the water.  The cold water flowed over his hands.  He brought it to his face, rubbing the dirt and tears away.  His cupped hands brought some to his mouth, it flowed smoothly down his throat.

As he tried to pick himself up and continue, the mud beneath his feet gave way.  He felt himself slip, in danger of going into the water.  The pack slipped off his shoulder, throwing him off balance.  He fell flat in the shallow water with a dull thud and a splash.  He felt like crying, screaming.

Crawling across the slippery stones, he made his way to the other side.  The pack had been dragged though the water.  Teivel was freezing, but he couldn’t care less.  The fished out the roll of papers from his pack.  The edges dripped water.  Many were soaked through.  A lump formed in his throat.

Unfurling them revealed the ink, starting to run into an illegible mess.  The sheet with the bloody pentagram had started to run as well, turning the browned blood into a sanguine mess.  He could not let these images disappear.  He had to double check, the knife was still firmly in the sheath.

Kneeling down in the mud, he rolled up his soaked sleeved.  His wrists were pale white, with dark blue lines running just underneath the skin.  He flipped his wrist over, revealing the Star of David, ever present, faded into a dark red.  He looked back at the knife, reflecting back at him a dull sliver of a reflection.  The point was sharp.

As the colors of the ink and blood sunk into the textures of the soggy paper, so he sunk the point of the knife against his flesh.  He winced at it pierced into his skin, causing blood to pool at the surface.  The blade was too big for his small hands, especially in this situation, clumsy.  He held it up by the tip of the blade and guided it like a shoddy quill pen.  With each symbol it became easier, as if he had given up feeling the pain.  Slowly, his arms became a canvas for the artistry he still knew very of.

With all of the symbols properly etched, he placed the knife down in the dirt.  He noticed his hands were shaking.  He turned back to the water.  Dunking his arms in, the water stung and burned.  The cold sent numbness up into them.  Tiny strands of blood floated from his fresh wounds, moving downstream.  When he could no longer feel anymore, he swung himself backwards onto the bank, collapsing in the mud.  Blood still pooled at the incisions.  He was exhausted and cold.

 

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The Gift of Nature

Hell to Pay: Chapter 10

The sun burned at the fog that hugged the ground around him.  Tievel’s cold feet sunk slightly into the matted grass and moist ground.  He could feel each hair on his body stand up, and his teeth threatened to chatter against one another.

The sun, still low in the sky, was enough to guide him through what seemed like a never ending maze of trees and underbrush.  Hard rough oak branches scratched him through his thin sleeves.  His toes were crumpled up in the tips of his shoes, losing feeling bit by bit.  His hands as well, gripping tightly to the straps of the sack he had slung across his back.

A cold wind cut through the tall grass that seemed to have never been trodden on by humans before.  As the whistling of the gust died down, Tievel heard rustling in the grass ahead of him.  Pushing his way through, he was met with the flapping of wings, some sort of hawk taking off, startled at his sudden appearance.  There was a large puddle f water formed into a depression in the earth, creating a clearing in the grass.  Grey feathers were strewn across the ground, and in the middle was a smaller bird, eviscerated and partially plucked clean.   Continue reading “The Gift of Nature”

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In The Direction of the Rising Sun

Hell to Pay: Chapter 9

The ground at the gate was slightly muddy and packed thoroughly, footprints filling every inch.  There were no lights, no guards patrolling, only the sound of crickets slowly humming in the background.  The faint light from the moon cast a pale glow over the camp.  Teivel’s eyes watered as they took in the dark scenery before him.

Biting his bottom lip hard, he felt his hands form into fists.  He swung his foot heavily, planting it on the pole holding up a tent by his side.  It collapsed with little resistance.  Teivel took in a sharp, deep breath.  Leaning down forwards and grasping his knees, still sore from before, he let loose a loud cry that disappeared into the night without a hint of an echo.  As he reeled back, he felt his eyes pool with tears.  He collapsed onto the now flat tarp that once was a tent.  His fists grasped at the thin cotton, pulling it in towards him.

Teivel sat in the twisted up sheet, rocking back and forth.  It was warm and comforting, in contrast to the night that enveloped the earth around him.  He took another deep breath, wavering.  He could not let rage overtake him this time.  There was no target for him to concentrate on, either.  He was simply alone with his thoughts. Continue reading “In The Direction of the Rising Sun”

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Exodus from Dust

Hell to Pay: Chapter 8

Shattered glass adorned the floor and reflected the dying light from outside.  Teivel carefully stepped around the shards and gathered his things.

Around one brick in the fireplace was a tiny crack where the mortar had been ground down ever so slightly.  It allowed the brick to be slid out to reveal a small hollow space.  Teivel reached his hand inside and grabbed at the papers inside.  He extracted everything he had written down during his studies, every mention of demons or dark forces.  He knelt down on the ground, searching among the papers that had been crinkled and folded countless times.

Thumbing through to a sheet with a blank side, he quickly pulled out a chunk of charcoal from the fireplace.  He squinted in the dim light, trying to copy down the markings that still remained on the floor.  Something sounded outside, a bird flapping away into the air, getting ready to roost for the night.  He exhaled out a heavy breath.  Nobody had come searching for him yet, but if they did, he couldn’t be found here, and they should never be aware of the power held in the inscription.  He ran his hand against the rough stone of the floor, smearing the markings into obscurity.

His teeth chattered together, ever so slightly.  He pursed his lips together and pushed hot air out of his nose.  The papers were stacked together haphazardly, and he proceeded to roll them up in a loose bundle and tie them up with twine.  The over-sized robe that hung off his shoulders would be too clumsy, and was still stained with the white soot. Pushing it off, the robe drifted to the floor in a pile.  He went back to the cupboard and slid open the stubborn drawer that held his clothes.  Layers, and something to hold food and his roll of papers.  He didn’t know how far he would need to go, but he knew that coming back was not going to be an option. Continue reading “Exodus from Dust”

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The Power of Blood

Hell to Pay: Chapter 7

The blood flowed into the back of his mouth.  The room was cold, but the blood was warm.  It tasted rancid.  The fur tickled his throat and he promptly spit the skull out on the ground in front of him.  More blood dripped from his lips, and the decapitated body was grasped tightly in his fist.

Blood trickled from the neck.  It was on his hands, and it streaked down his own neck and into his collar.  He played with the slick sensation between his fingertips.  It was quickly going cold, like the body of the mouse would once discarded.  The heart of such a small animal beats much faster than that of a human.  Its metabolism is much higher as a result.  If it doesn’t eat often, it would become catatonic from lack of energy.  This thing had been feeding off the scraps left behind when Teivel and his parents had left.  It’s stomach was fat with grains of rice, full of potential energy, life power.

The lines in coal dust on the ground remained inactive.  When Teivel closed his eyes, the same image was pulled from his memory.  Yet the one he had drawn before was crimson, not dull and grey.  It had produced, as it seems, pure darkness, pure evil.  Had it been a dream?

He pulled back his sleeve, revealing the scar, healed but still buried deep in his flesh.  It was real.  His bloody hands traced the charcoal lines, the porous dust sucking up the moisture.  A draft of wind was pulled in through the chimney  flue, blowing some of the dust gently across the floor.  Teivel continued to trace the shapes.  A sharp pain returned to the six-pointed star carved in his arm.  He felt weak, bending over the ground, he placed both hands down for support.  The dead mouse tumbled from his grasp.  Each breath he took drew air into his lungs, cold, they burned.

Dark wisps of smoke seemed to arise from the fresh lines of blood.  They curled gently in the air, dancing among the coal dust in the rays of light coming in the window.  The center of the pentagram  produced more smoke, heavy and black as the Rabbi’s robes.  It slowly spread across the floor, like a bucket of pitch that had been overturned. Continue reading “The Power of Blood”