Chuck Wendig has regular flash fiction challenges on Fridays. I decided to participate in this one. This is an original work written this week for the challenge.
A hidden compartment
A pool of blood
Now I think I flopped on the grimdark, but using the character I did, I expected that. Words were coming though. A few people may recognize the characters from another WIP. I only hit 785 words out of the possible 1000. This is being posted unedited as the deadline is while I’m at work.
The day was not fit for man nor beast, yet we were both out in it. Doren, my St. Bernard of a bloodhound, and I were deep into trouble, but that was nothing new.
Around us lay a heavy fog that smelled of fire and ash, and old blood. Old blood that was somehow fresher than the pool that had been seeping from the secret compartment in my study. A compartment that turned out to hold the now desiccated body of the mayor’s wife. Needless to say, there’s a price on my head and as she was my last client and the mayor was in the room when the blood started seeping out… I’m on the run with no chance to examine the evidence to clear my name.
I’ve seen what’s in the papers: beautiful jewel of the town found murdered by local detective, her life drained by his forbidden magic. Forbidden. Ha! The chief of police just paid me to use my “forbidden magic” last week. Of course, there’s not really anyone left in town who is willing to defend me in public. Not when the mayor is involved. They value their heads, and their souls, and I can’t say I blame them one bit.
I think that’s enough of a trip down memory lane. Doren smells something up ahead and his raised hackles tell me he doesn’t like it. Which means I probably won’t either.
“Detective Merrick, so glad to see you made it.”
The voice felt familiar but I didn’t recognize it. It was coming from the ashen fog ahead. I could feel Doren’s chest rumble as he growled quietly. Another voice came, “Jakob?”
“Susan?” I replied. /Wait, who the hell is Susan?/
“Detective Merrick, if you please, continue up the road just a bit and meet us. It has taken a lot of work to get you out of that little town of yours. It’s amazing the protective power such a safe haven creates.” The voice still felt familiar. /Who the hell?/ I shook my head and started walking. Doren leaned against my legs. I scratched between his floppy ears. “It’s alright boy.”
“Ah, there we are.”
I could see them now. Susan was in a nightdress, stained with blood. Her head lolled to the side, barely held on to her neck by a visible and partially severed spine. Her eyes were still beautiful pools of ocean blue though, filled with a mix of fear and regret.
Beside her stood … Something. It made my head hurt to look at it. A mess of shifting colours and a strong smell of decay in a vaguely human shape.
“I’ve been waiting for you Detective Merrick. A very long time. You see, you took something that was meant for me when we first met, and I want it back.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
A sound not unlike a sigh came from the thing. “You didn’t remember the last time we did this either. That’s why I brought Susan along. I thought she might refresh the memories, so to speak.” It gestured to the girl and she started to slide forward. Doren stepped in front of me and snarled. Her movement stopped.
The thing looked (felt?) frustrated. “And how is it you always have that beast? That wasn’t part of the spell. Immortality was just supposed to be for me, and there you go, living over and over, with that beast at your side while I rot!”
“Look,” I began, slowly walking forward with my hands in front, ” I really don’t know what this is about.” Doren slunk along beside me, keeping pace. The old boy knew when I was up to something. The weight of my gun in the small of my back felt heavier, as it always did when I thought of using it. The weight of centuries. /Centuries? What the hell am I thinking?/
I saw Susan move out of the corner of my eye. Doren kept himself positioned between us. I kept my eyes on the thing. We were close enough now that I could make out more of its shape.
“Damn you Merrick, stop playing dumb. This will be less satisfying if you don’t remember. Should I kill Susan again? Would that help? The school teacher, Anna? Little Alice? Or maybe your good friend Matthew? I still have all their souls.”
Susan ran. Doren started to lunge but he realized her trajectory. The thing collapsed as she landed on it, thrashing. I pulled out my gun, but hesitated. I didn’t want to hit Susan.
“I’m already dead, Jakob,” she screamed, ” just shoot it!”
I did as she said. Right in the head. And it was over. Again.