Friday, June 01, 2012

Flash Fiction Friday: Something Like Midnight (4)

Being the 4th Act of a 6 or 7 Act quasi-fantasy/horror short story.  Thanks so much for the Readers and the feedback.  You can catch up with Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 if you're behind.
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--Part Four--

     “I swear by the still blood of my beloved that I will find the murderer and I will kill him and his whole family, and no powers in heaven above or the depths below will stop me.” Corgan’s words haunted him as much as the Gyarmr did. He had not slept in weeks, not fully. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the creature’s own stare back at him, watching him, waiting for him.
     The weight of stolen necklace had grown heavier about his neck, and each night Corgan refused to remove it. He had uttered the proper words and paid the required offering, and now all that remained was to see if the charm would work. The necklace had to remain on him at all times. Without it, his plan would definitely fail, and even with it Corgan barely held hope for success. He stared out the window to the place his brother called home. The house was an ancient thing, held together by clay and blood and prayers, built in an era when Gothic arches were just coming into style. Blackened with soot and stained with sin there was no wonder that the townsfolk called the house “a bit haunted” and its proprietor “a bit odd.” Dillon had been a lifelong recluse, most comfortable with his paint brushes and oils, spurning even his brother’s company from childhood. Corgan had not seen him since the funeral.
     The coach stopped. It was time. Time to confront his brother, time to fulfill his inane vows, time to gamble with things he did not understand. The side door opened and Weseley’s lined face appeared.
     “Wha-what wou-would you ha-have m-m-m-me, what would y-you have me do, Mister Me-mercy?”
     Corgan studied the half-man. Ever since the appearance of the Draughters, Corgan had always taken to Weseley. The boy showed respect and genuine care, and coming from a half-demon, that was saying something. Wenton, on the other hand, had always been a wildling. “Just keep an eye on the car for me, Weseley. That should be enough.”
     “V-very good s-s-sir.”
     Corgan stepped from the vehicle and stopped, staring the chauffeur in the eyes. “Thank you for everything, Weseley. It’s been an honor.” Weseley’s face flushed rosy beneath the noonday sun, but before he could reply Corgan was gone, walking up the steps. Wenton was talking to a half-naked man at the door. Intricate tattoos decorated his flesh, swirls and lines accentuating a lean and muscular body.
     “Ah, the prodigal brother returns,” said the man, and only then did Corgan realize that it was his brother. “What brings you back?”
     “Dillon? I didn’t recognize you. You’ve changed.” Corgan stalled, unsure how to proceed. “The tattoos are... interesting.”
     Dillon smiled, white teeth pearlescent against tattooed lips. “I was tired of my abnormal life, Corg. I think I should fit in better with the locals, no?” The man laughed, an unnatural sound that belonged confined to a sanatorium. “But I figured you’d be impressed. You inspired them, after all. I went on a bit of a vision quest after you left, looking to transcend this life, find a bit of meaning. Found them both it so happens.”
     Wenton nodded to the brothers and disappeared down the steps. Corgan ignored the Draughter, his mind working through scenarios, changing his planned method of attack. He had expected to find Dillon sickly and aloof, not a healthy man ready for a fight. But as far as Corgan could tell, Dillon was unarmed, and that at least gave Corgan a slight advantage.
     “Seems we’ve both done a fair bit of traveling then. Been all the way to the Indian Ocean and down to Cape Town looking for my answers. Threw myself in with everything I had after Valeste died.” Corgan kept his voice casual, but he saw his brother’s eyes darken at Valeste’s name.
     “Must have been some mighty tall questions to travel so far.”
     “Yes, questions I never wanted to ask and answers I never wanted to hear.”
     The smile dropped from Dillon’s face. “Like what?”
     “The only question that anyone ever really asks. Do you know what happens to a person when they die, Dillon?” Corgan stepped gently forward, keeping his eyes on his brother’s.  He did not have time for idle talk and was eager to wield the blade.
     “Depends on the religion, I suppose. Christians say you go to meet God and be judged for your deeds. If you have a relationship with Jesus then you go to heaven. If you don’t, you burn in hell for eternity. Mahāyānans and Theravadans believe in karma and rebirth, that we keep trying until we get it right. Atheists say that this is all there is. There is nothing after but darkness. There are plenty more, but my guess is that it’s somewhere in between these three.”
     “What of the Gyarmr?” Corgan stepped closer; Dillon didn’t notice or didn’t care. “Most religions speak of it. It is a monster created solely to inflict torment upon the wicked and give a proper welcome to the netherworld. It brokers deals with men and then devours their souls when they can’t pay. They--”
     “They tell me you’ve seen it,” Dillon interrupted. “They tell me its been after you for nigh on five years now.”
     Corgan narrowed his eyes, suddenly suspicious. “Who tells you this?” The brothers were within striking distance now, separated by naught but an open doorway. Dillon had not yet moved from his post.
     “The Sons of the Draughters, of course. Who else?”
     And something as cold as a winter’s morning plunged into Corgan’s back--once, twice-- biting through flesh and muscle with ease. The storyteller staggered forward, landing at his brother’s feet. Darkness flooded his vision. Unimaginable pain clutched his body. Footsteps thundered up to him and Wenton appeared, staring down at him with a hungry look on his face. Red specks dotted the darkness, tiny pinpricks against the consuming black. Corgan tried to talk but could not form words. The specks grew larger, washing the black away with a crimson tide. Something snarled, menacing, powerful, ancient. Corgan knew an irrational and hopeless fear and then nothing.

Word Count: 1023

3 comments:

leslie said...

um, wow. that was an unexpected ending....

L (omphaloskepsis)

logankstewart said...

@L: Excellent. Most excellent. Thanks for reading!

lanceschaubert.org said...

I'm really digging this world you're creating, bro. Probably needs a polish before submission, but the finished product of whatever's brewing should be submitted somewhere.