Friday, June 15, 2012

Flash Fiction Friday: Something Like Midnight (6)

This is (mostly) it for the tale.  Many thanks to all you that have read and given me feedback.  If you need a refresher, follow the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.  Tune in next week for the (relevant and possibly non-extraneous) Epilogue.

--Part Six--

     “M-m-mister Merc-mer-mercy? Ca-c-c-can you he-hear m-m-m-me? S-s-sir?”
     Corgan opened his eyes. Weseley’s face peered at him for a second before the brightness of the sun blinded him. “Gah!” Corgan coughed, flinching. His head throbbed. He felt like he’d been driven over by a steam engine. “Weseley? What happened? Where am I?”
     A cool hand rested upon Corgan’s forehead. “Y-y-you’re ou-outs-s-side, s-sir. A-a-at y-your b-b-br-brother’s-s h-house. Ar-are you a-a-alive, s-sir?”
     Normally Corgan would have laughed at such a question. “I think so. Maybe, I... I don’t know. I...” Corgan pushed himself up, his hands falling into something cold and sticky. Blood, he saw. It was everywhere, dark and syrup-like. “Is this all mine?” He asked, painting red smears on his trousers.
     “No.” Weseley pointed up to the house. Corgan followed the blood trail, from the puddle that was below him to the propped-open front door. Dillon was sitting inside, strapped to a chair and gagged by what looked like thread from the infinite spidersilk. His head was the only thing sticking out of the cocoon. A decapitated corpse kept the door ajar. Wenton. “Bo-both o-o-of th-their’s, t-t-t-too. I k-kept y-your b-br-brr-othher alive s-so y-you c-c-could fulfi-fi-fil y-your oath.”
     Corgan turned back to Weseley and raised an eyebrow. “Remind me of this oath, Weseley.”
     “S-sir?”
     “Entertain me. My head is muddled from my recent... excursion.”
     The Draughter held up a solemn hand, palm outward. “I s-swear by th-the s-still blood of m-m-my b-b-beloved that I will f-f-fii-find the m-mu-murderer-er and I w-will k... k... k-kill him and his whole fa-f-family, and no p-pa-powers in heaven ab-bove or the d-d-depths below will s-s-st-s-stop m-me.”
     Corgan’s own part in the contract had been redeemed. His death had been necessary, albeit temporary. Dillon’s, on the other hand, would be as permanent as the sun. Corgan’s brother had to die, that much was certain, if only to stop the Gyarmr from taking everything. Still, it saddened him to think of his brother’s wasted life and the part he had played in it all. Had he been nicer to him things might have gone differently.
     “Thank you, Weseley. You’ve done me an unbelievable kindness with this, and I find myself in your debt.” Weseley blushed, shaking his head.
     “N-no, s-sir. You, you d-don’t owe m-me n-nothing. I was ju-just d-d-d-doing my d-d-duty.” Weseley stared at the blood on the ground.
     “Perhaps, but even so I sincerely thank you, my friend.” Corgan offered a bloodied hand, which Weseley took in his own. “I suppose I must finish this dark business, huh? No sense in dawdling.”
     Each step sent bursts of flames through Corgan’s legs and sides.  He felt like the knife was still in his flesh.  As he walked over the body in the door, the heady smell of gore overwhelmed him and he unceremoniously vomited on the dead body. Serves you right, Corgan thought.
     “Dillon."  He let the words fall, enjoying the surprised look on his brother's face.  “I know you won’t believe me when I tell you this, but I never meant for this to happen. None of it. I didn’t mean to cause you grief when we were young, and I certainly didn’t mean to perpetuate that as we grew older.” Swollen black eyes stared back at him, unflinching. “I saw my... indiscretions just a few minutes ago after poor Wenton plunged his dagger in my back. I saw all of them, too many sins to name. I saw the damage I caused, how each choice shaped you into a monster. I had no idea that I was poisoning you. I didn’t think...” Dillon held an unblinking gaze.
     “And Veleste... What a wretch I was to her. She deserved better. Better than either of us. I poisoned her as surely as I poisoned you.” He was crying now. Crying for wasted lives and thoughtless words. Crying for the body at the door. Crying for what he had to do. “And the worst thing about it, Dill, is that I don’t have a choice in the matter. If it were up to me I would just leave you here and disappear, out of your life and out of mine. After all the hurt I’ve caused, I’d just leave and let you be. But I can’t. The Gyarmr...” He remembered its eyes, its teeth clamping shut, its hot breath on his face. “The Gyarmr’ll... I don’t have a choice! It’s either you or me, and I... I won’t face it again.”
     Corgan might as well have been practicing a monologue.  “I don’t blame you for the man that you’ve become, not really. Much of it is my fault. For that I truly am sorry. I wish that I could change things.” There were purple bruises on Valeste’s throat, he remembered. Her voice was mangled beyond the grave.  Broken.  Horrible.  Darkness came to him then, familiar and comforting. It poured into his vision, into his soul, filling him with bloodlust and thoughts of revenge.  His momentary pity for his brother vanished beneath the black.
     “I can’t take all the blame for your actions though. Each man is responsible for his own deeds, and yours are worthy of death. You murdered my wife, Dillon. In cold blood you tracked her down and killed her, and I swore that night that whoever did it would pay. I’ve paid my part, and now your’s is due.”
     Dillon narrowed his eyes. Corgan grabbed his brother by the throat, squeezing as he imagined Dillon had done to Valeste. Dillon stomped hard on the floor, but the spidersilk held strong. His brother’s tattooed face turned red then purple. Sweat beaded at his brow. A terrible wheezing sound escaped through gagged mouth and desperate nostrils. Something coughed in the corner of the room. Distracted, Corgan glanced up.
     The Gyarmr embodied the darkness beneath heavy purple curtains. It watched the brothers with idle curiosity and angry eyes. Dillon must have saw it too.  He began convulsing, trying to free himself.  His boots pounded against the floor like hammers on stones.  He screamed in muffled rage, a death wail, a curse, a confession, a plea.  Corgan held firm, wondering if Valeste would feel any sort of closure at her murderer’s death. Would her soul finally be allowed a measure of peace? Or am I just a character in her own vengeance plot, he wondered perversely. Dillon’s kicking ceased, but Corgan hardly noticed. He saw only the Gyarmr.
     It seemed to be made entirely of shadow, of a darkness born from midnight. It growled low and angry. Corgan growled back, feeling stupid and bold. “It’s finished. I’ve held up my end of the deal. Go on. We’re through, you and I. No more. I won’t be seeing you again for a long, long time.” He unconsciously clutched the necklace around his neck as if his soul had returned to it and not his own body. It might have, he thought briefly. “Leave me be, monster. You don’t belong here.” The Gyarmr bared its teeth, growled once again, and dissolved into shadow.
     The darkness lifted from his eyes and he saw clearly once again.  Corgan frowned.  He tried to think of something to say but could not focus. He closed Dillon's eyes and walked out into sunlight.


Word Count: 1210
---

I dunno.  I'm somewhat disappointed by the conclusion.  There are definitely questions that weren't answered (like who or what are the Draughters?), but the answers are hinted at.  It also feels like this final scene is somewhat rushed and incoherent and possibly even anticlimactic.  I easily can see it being fleshed out a little more.  Even so, it is what it is:  a tragedy.

Thanks for reading and hope you all enjoyed.  Don't forget about the epilogue next week!  

5 comments:

Kristopher A. Denby said...

I think you should be commended for being able to conjure a serial story like this one episode at a time and not paint yourself into a corner. The one time I tried this on my blog turned out to be pretty disastrous. This serial, while a bit rushed towards the end, was a terrific read. I never found myself bored or irritated by the characters (except for loathing Corgan towards the end, but that was kinda the point, huh?). Entertaining throughout; but I do think you've created a really interesting world that could easily be expanded and explored. I do think part 5 could stand a bit of revision. Corgan and Dillon's pasts, and Corgan's influence on Dillon feels a bit tacked on. I understand that you're showing us the gray between the black and white of right and wrong, but it feels like the revelations about their relationship comes a bit too late, or too close to the conclusion.

Thanks for the great read, Logan. You'e got a great imagination and flare for evoking period. Can't wait to read the next thing.

The Sound and Fury of Kristopher Denby

Donna L Martin said...

Greetings!

I'm trying to visit all the participants of the 2012 A to Z Challenge and I have arrived at your lovely blog. Good luck with the rest of the year!

Donna L Martin
www.donasdays.blogspot.com

logankstewart said...

@Kris: Aye, that was one of the main issues I was having with this story, too. I knew the relationship between Corgan & Dillon, but it definitely isn't obvious until in the latter parts of this story. I agree completely with your assessment: needs to be fixed earlier.

And thanks for the compliment and reading. Glad the tale was entertaining and thought provoking, and especially glad that the world/setting was well received.

@Donna: Thank you!

lanceschaubert.org said...

I like what you're creating here. I also like some of the ways you use language differently than I. I'm really looking forward to reading more and more of your stuff. Good work, bro.

A couple of things:

1. This felt rushed. I don't feel like I, as a reader, earned the payoff. This may be due to

2. Confusion. At the end of Mockingjay[spoiler alert], it took me rereading the climax passage several times in a row until I finally realized that Prim had died. There were a couple of times that happened in this story which ended up weakening the overall for you what you had to explain/remind.

If those two things were fixed, you'd have something really special here.

looking forward to next week!

logankstewart said...

@Lance: Thanks. Much appreciated. I'm with you on the rushed part of the story, which was something I definitely felt as I finished it up. And my wife tells me that my stuff is confusing, too, and that's something I'm trying to work on. Trying to find that balance between too much revealing though is tricky. Still, I agree that this has some confusion in the climax/resolution and definitely needs some revision.

Thanks for reading!