Lucifer’s Gift, Part III

This story begins here.  The last entry was here.

…and bumped against one of the fallen cherubs, who was now sitting on the floor.

With his fat, baby-like fingers, the reached out for the apple sitting in front of him.  The apple was gleaming, shining, looking perfect.  It definitely did not belong in the grasp of this chubby little imp!

I went diving out of the booth in which I had been sitting, lunging for the apple.  The angel clearly intended to do the same thing, but he was currently sprawled across the table, and so it took him some time to turn himself around and re-orient himself.

From the other side of the diner, there was the sound of very sharp, very pointy high heels clicking across the vinyl floor.  I glanced up as I hurried forward, and realized that the succubus waitress had just re-entered from the back room.  Her eyes went wide as she realized what was happening, and a moment later, she was also hurrying forward, reaching down for the apple with a clawed talon.

We were all lunging towards the cherub as fast as we could, and it was anyone’s guess as to who would get there first.

The baby sitting on the dirty floor looked up, and I saw him look from me, to the angel, to the succubus.  He lifted the apple up towards his chest, towards his face.

“Don’t do it!” I shouted.  I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew that it would be bad.

“For the sake of your soul, resist the temptation!” the angel called out.  “You’ll be damned!  Damned!”

“If you eat that thing, I’ll split you in half myself to get it back out!” hissed the succubus, snarling in a manner that was extremely un-ladylike.  “I’ll rip you limb from limb!  Give it up, and I’ll grant you the mercy of a quick death!”

All of our words must have blended together into an indistinguishable babble of noise for the cherub.  He looked up at us, paused-

-and then lifted the apple up to his mouth.

There was a slight pop.

And the cherub – and the apple – vanished together in a puff of smoke.

As the target of our lunges vanished, we all skidded to a stop.  There was a moment of mutual near-awkwardness as we tried to avoid running into each other; I especially wanted to avoid the clawed talons on the hands of our demonic waitress.

As we stopped, however, none of us wanted to make eye contact with the others.  “Erm, well, I guess my job is done here,” the angel sighed, keeping his eyes down.

And with a pop, the angel vanished.  Only his paper cook’s hat was left, drifting down lazily to the floor.

The succubus turned to me, and I could see an angry fire burning in her eyes.  She raised her claws and hissed at me, but she didn’t take a step towards me.  Clearly she was angry, but attacking me wouldn’t help, and I could see that she probably wasn’t supposed to kill me herself.

Finally, with one last huff, the succubus also vanished, leaving behind a cloud of foul-smelling yellow smoke.  And I was left alone in the diner.

I settled back down at my table, leaning back and enjoying the silence.  I assumed that I would wake up at any point now.

But for the moment, I just relaxed in the peace.

What a weird dream, I thought to myself.

I wondered what it meant.

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Lucifer’s Gift, Part II

Continued from Part I, found here.

Like I said, I knew that this was a dream.  And as I looked around, even if I hadn’t thought so before, it was now abundantly obvious.

I appeared to be standing in a diner, looking like it was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  That is, except for the cherubs.  And the devil.  And as the waitress sauntered over to me, I noticed that she was dressed in ripped tights, a strapped-up leather bustier that looked to be covered in nasty symbols, and sprouting a pair of batlike wings hanging off of her back.  As my eyes fell on her, she licked her lips at me with a curiously long tongue, in a manner that can’t possibly be considered anywhere below PG-13…

Quickly, I kept my eyes scrolling onward.  There was a cook behind the counter of the diner, his eyes cast down as he industriously mopped at the counter with a rag.  He seemed normal enough – until I squinted my eyes at him.  I could just make out the ever so faint aura of a glowing halo bobbing above his head.

What a strange dream.

In front of me, Lucifer made a grunt of triumph, and reluctantly wrenched his hand up.  “Aha!” he cheered as he held up the newest fruit.  “Now that’s what I’m looking for!”

And he lowered his hand down to hold out an apple to me.

A part of my mind was telling me to politely decline, to say no thank you and walk away.  But there was something captivating about that apple.  It seemed brighter, more colorful… somehow just more *real* than the rest of the room – or the entire dream.

I stretched out my hand and picked up the apple from his palm, feeling the weight.

As soon as the apple was out of his hand, Lucifer leapt up smartly to his feet, clapping his hands together.  “Well, great!” he said, reaching into one pocket.  “That’s all taken care of, then!”

From his pocket, the devil pulled out what looked like a very full billfold, and peeled off a couple of bills.  He dropped them down on the table, gave me a very obvious wink, and then spun around, snapping both of his figures.

Halfway through the spin, he vanished.

Just like any devilish waitress, the succubus was nowhere in sight.  Instead, as I sat there and gazed at the apple, I saw that the cook had come out from behind the counter and was sidling over to me.  His eyes were darting between me and the apple in my hand.  “You’re not going to eat that, are you?” he asked in an undertone.

I shrugged.  I honestly hadn’t thought that far ahead.  “Er, I dunno,” I replied.  “Does it matter?  This is just a dream, right?”

The angel (and despite the dirty cook’s jacket and the white paper hat, I was pretty sure it was an angel) winced.  “Dreams can have effects that resonate far beyond them,” he said with ominous portent.  The effect was spoiled a minute later, however, as he darted forward and grabbed for the fruit.

I yanked it back, out of his reach.  “Hey!  What do you think you’re doing!”

“Give it to me!” the angel grunted, trying to crawl over the table to grab it from me.  I couldn’t help but think that, for a Heavenly being, he wasn’t super adept in a physical sense.  “It’s evil!  I need to save you from it!”

“How do you know it’s evil!?”

“Because it came from the Devil!  Now fork it over!”

Finally, with one desperate grab, the angel managed to knock the fruit from my hands, and we both watched as it went tumbling down, off the table and down onto the floor.  With wide eyes, we watched as it rolled, rolled…

To be concluded!

Lucifer’s Gift, Part I

As the little cherubs flapped around my head, making rather annoying bleating noises, I stared back at the man in front of me and became absolutely, completely certain of two things:

First, this was definitely a dream.

And second, this man in front of me was the Devil.

That second fact wasn’t too hard to deduce.  The man was dressed in a rather smart black suit, double-breasted and well fitted to his figure.  He had a rather handsome face, and the two horns poking up from his forehead were little more than cosmetic nubs.  I didn’t see a tail curling out from behind him, but perhaps it was tucked into his well fitted pants.

Also, he was wearing a small plastic nametag that read “Lucifer.”

“What are you doing here?” I gasped to the man, absentmindedly raising up a hand to try and swat away one of the cherubs ducking in around my head.  They were making quite annoying cooing noises at me.  “Is this some sort of vision?”

Lucifer looked taken aback, as though I had said something offensive.  “Don’t flatter yourself!” he snapped at me.  “Look, I’m just here to give you this.”

And the devil’s hand came out from behind his back – holding a banana.

I stared at the fruit.  It was rather brown, and looked a bit like it had been sitting in the back of someone’s hot car.  “Really?” I asked, feeling a little skeptical.  “Are you sure?”

“Am I sure?  Of course I’m-” Lucifer paused for a moment, looking down at his hand, and stopped.  “Oh.  Wait, no, that’s not right.”

Almost lazily, he tossed the banana overhand at my head.  I ducked, and the fruit instead collided with one of the cherubs, sending it down into a crashing dive-bomb with a dismayed squeak.  The devil reached back behind his back once again, looking slightly uncomfortable as he reached around.

“Er, just give me a second,” he said to me after a moment as he rummaged around.  “I really thought I had it.”

Most of the other cherubs had dived down to see to their fallen companion, and I was glad for the peace.  “Take your time,” I shrugged, looking around. while I waited…

To be continued!

"Dream" – Part 3

If you’re just jumping in to this old short story that I wrote, you will probably want to start from the beginning.  Reading this part, and then the preceding parts, may give you a wonderfully unique experience, somewhat like the first viewing of the movie “Memento”.  However, many people do not enjoy reading books backwards.

Part 1 can be found here.  Part 2 can be found here.

            A week later we got a new manager at our firm.  Her name was something Agrona.  I don’t remember the first name.  It wasn’t important.  She was very well credited, supposed to be a great asset, I supposed.  It didn’t matter.  I recognized her.  I had seen her a week ago in the alley.  Her hair was dyed, but it was the same woman. 
            I hadn’t told anyone about what had happened.  I had gone back to the alley.  There hadn’t been any pile.  There had been a red splotch on the ground, just another stain among countless others.  There was nothing else.
            Her shirt was low enough to tell that there was no scar where there should have been one.  Her eyes were a light blue color.  They were dull.
            I guess I must have been going crazy, even then.  If I am crazy at all.  I don’t think that I’m crazy, but that’s just my perspective.  If I knew that I was crazy, we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all, would we?
            I tried not to talk to her.  Whenever I saw her, I felt like those dull eyes were reading me, as if they knew what I had seen.  I tried to stay away, keeping to my work.  I met a woman whose son had been raped.  I told her she might be able to get a six figure settlement.
           
            It went on for two months before I couldn’t take it anymore.  You know about what happened already from here on.  It’s all in the police reports.  Or at least most of it is.  It talks about how I cornered her in an office after hours, about how I had a gun and threatened her.
            She told me stuff, although none of it helped anything.  Most didn’t even make sense.  It was all this fancy talk about replacement, and sustenance, and replenishment, and energy funnels, and decay.  The one word that stuck with me from it all was entropy.  I don’t know what she was using it to talk about, but it’s the one that most stands out.
            The police came before I could do anything but listen.  I don’t know how they found out; we were alone, it was after hours, and there wasn’t any alarm that went off.  I think I know how, though.  They all had the same flat eyes.  They were all dull.
            As they were trying to pull me down, I shot her.  I remember shooting her.  I hit her twice, once in the chest and once on the side of the forehead.  There were only trickles of blood that came out, as if the rest was already gone.  No one seemed to notice that she had been shot.  She didn’t have any wounds when she testified.
            You don’t believe me, do you?  It makes sense, though.  I’m still not sure whether I believe myself.  It doesn’t even seem real, somehow.  There are these . . . others . . . walking among us?  It sounds like something out of a science fiction paperback.
            It would almost be easiest to think that I really was going crazy, and that I made it all up.  I’ve been let out on a few visits, these last few months.  Every time I go out, I see more and more people with dull eyes.  Maybe it’s not anything.
            Even you, Doctor.  Even you’ve got dull eyes.

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"Dream" – Part 2

Part 1 of this old story (written back when I was about to start college – man, that was a long time ago!) was published on Monday.  You can find it here.

            It was the third time that I spotted him that really did me in.  Bad things always come in threes, don’t they?  Isn’t that what they say?  Although nothing terrible happened the first two times I saw him.  I guess maybe I just couldn’t have my run of good luck keep up forever.  I’d been winning enough cases to stay afloat, so I perhaps wasn’t thinking as cynically as I should have been.
            I was stepping out past the pungent odor of tobacco for a stroll before lunch when I glanced over and noticed him, ducking into the alley where the sun never seems to penetrate.  Some vague recollection must have stirred in my memory, because I played the damn fool in deciding to follow him.  He had a backpack on; it was gray as well, although the bottom seemed to be stained darker.
            It wasn’t noticeable, but he was moving pretty fast, scuttling along a little.  He still seemed rather confident, though, as if he belonged where he was, not as if he was doing anything wrong.  I kept well back, which was probably the only sensible thing that I did do that day.
            I tailed him through a couple twists and turns of the alley, ’till we came to the far fence.  A woman was standing up against it, leaning nonchalantly.  She must have been waiting for him, since she straightened up when he came.  The man’s backpack was dropped loosely against one wall of the alley, out of the way.
            It was here that I got the first real look at both of them.  I thought “hooker” as soon as I laid eyes on the woman, but then realized heartbeats later that, although she was wearing somewhat skimpy clothes, she was fairly well off, likely in business.  I could tell that much from her posture, upright and crisp.  The skirt might have ended well above her thighs, but the gray suit seemed to almost be flickering in on the edges of my vision, as if my mind knew that it was what she belonged in.  A faint stream of light from above glinted off the diamond on her ring.  Restrained, but expensive nonetheless.  She didn’t look half bad, probably a good five or six years younger than myself, judging by the way she filled out her disguise.
            And the man?  Again, I didn’t even seem to notice.  He was, well, background.  He had on gray jeans.  They were splattered with something dark, maybe paint.  He had a gray shirt on that was a little long, coming down to his crotch.  Something bulged in the back of his pants.  He had dark gray hair.  I don’t remember anything about his face.  His eyes were shaded by his hair; I couldn’t even see their outlines.
            They were talking, but I couldn’t hear.  I probably could have crept closer at the start without being noticed, but it took a while before I had the nerve.  The woman was facing me, but she seemed not to be able to take her attention off of the man in front of her for a second.  She seemed to be ill at ease.  The man was just as confident as he had been walking into the alley.  His smooth bass overrode the woman’s rising and falling alto.
            As they talked, the woman became more and more agitated.  I thought that I could see a glint of worry in her eyes, and I slowly emerged from behind my corner and slunk closer.  I was worried that the man would hear and turn, but he didn’t seem to notice.
            Once I was closer, I was able to more adequately judge the look in the woman’s eyes.  It wasn’t worry, I realized; it was fear, pure and simple.  She was starting to edge back away from the man, heedless of the rough boards of the fence stopping her retreat.  “No, no,” she was protesting over and over.  “No, you promised!”  I heard her voice rise uncontrollably on the last word.
            The man said something in return.  ” . . . should have known what was coming,” were the last few words.  I couldn’t catch the rest.  He stepped forward smoothly towards the woman.  One of his hands snaked around to pull the bulge from the back of his pants.  It was a knife, I saw.  It was the same dull gray as the rest of him.
            The woman tried to shriek.  The man covered her mouth easily with one hand as he slid the knife upward in a smooth motion.  Amid the screams I was trying to stifle, an absurd thought noted how neatly he had done it.  Almost as if he did this sort of thing all the time.
            I must have been backing away at this time.  I don’t remember too clearly.  He had lowered the woman to the ground, and was, well, emptying her.  I can’t think of a better word for it.  He was removing everything inside her, depositing it all in a careless pile. 
            I was backing away, yes, but I couldn’t wrench my eyes away.  I watched as he held up what was left after he was finished.  It was limp and boneless, like a strangely shaped sheet of rubber.  The last thing that I saw was him unzipping the backpack with one hand, holding it in the other. 
            At this point, my gag reflex took over and I fled out of the alley.  I threw up at the entrance, not even receiving a glance from the passerby.  They didn’t care, of course.  They hadn’t seen.
            The man left the alley a minute later, carrying the backpack over his shoulder.  I could see his entire front covered in liquid darkness, the same as was dripping from his backpack.  Didn’t anyone notice? I was silently shrieking out.  Didn’t anyone realize what he had done?
            He glanced at me as he walked past.  I saw his eyes then.  They were blank.  I don’t mean that they looked any different than yours or mine, this part is always hard to explain.  Everyone’s eyes glint, it’s just the light reflecting off of them.  His didn’t reflect any light.  They weren’t any unusual shape, or color, or anything.  They were just dull.  They made him look lifeless.

Stay tuned for the conclusion, coming Friday!

"Dream" – Part 1

So I figure I’ll start this blog by putting up an old story that I wrote.  This one is about 5 years old.  Maybe this will show a wonderful growth in writing ability when compared to more recent stories!

Or maybe it will show that my writing skills have dropped precipitously.

            Hello, Doctor.  Should I just sit down and start, like the other times?  I don’t know why you have to hear this again, I know that you’ve got it all on file already.  Don’t worry, I don’t mind saying it again.  I keep hoping that this time I’ll catch something I missed before, something to reassure me that it’s not all just my delusions.  Anyway, it all started with a man.
            I didn’t notice the man until he was almost out of sight, turning around the corner into the dirty alley.  Past the group of daily smokers getting their nicotine fix, past the homeless bum, his grimy fingers outstretched pleadingly for change.  All I caught was a flash of gray, plain clothes that vanished against the graffiti and murky shadows marring the cement walls of the alley.
            I gave him no second thought, of course; that was the only time I laid eyes on him in that day.  As I think back now, I realize that I never even caught a glimpse of his face.  He was simply another back of a head, no different from the dozens of clients that I see each day.  Even with them, I have a name, a face to connect to, even if after a while all their tears seem to swim together.
            I didn’t see him again until the next week.  I was leaving the office, grateful to be outside even in the smog of the city after having to deal with sobbing parents and growling middle-aged men, an endless list of average joes lining up to present their pitiful problems to me in hopes of getting money or revenge.
            He was wearing the same gray clothes, had the same black-gray hair, and was ducking into the same alley.  Once again, I spared no conscious thought on him, but I did glance into the alley as I walked past.  There was no one in sight. 
            I think I might have wondered about it for a second or so to myself, now that I look back on it.  I mean, where could he have gone?  At the time, I just assumed that he had gone around a corner, or into a door, or maybe even hopped the tall fence in back.  I didn’t care; the only thing on my mind was getting home to my bed and the still only half-empty bottle perched on the top shelf of my refrigerator.

Part 2 to come soon!