A drop of water hit her face and when she wiped it with the back of her hand, it was not rain water but red. Pure dark and dangerously familiar looking. It was blood. She wiped it off on her shirt but it was stained against the porcelain white of her skin. She watched in horror as the black blood spread, going up her arms, her chest, her neck. She tasted the copper mixture on her tongue and she gagged but she trudged forward. “His blood is good, Jade.” She dared not look back. She knew if she did, she would go insane. Ahead through the fog she could see red. The red hotel matches’ standing out inside the fog and instead of peddles from the road, they lay upon piles of bones. One, two, four more packets of Newton Hotel matches lined every few steps she took. They were so inexplicably bright within the dense fog and she knelt down beside the closest one, atop a pile of astonished skulls and rotting molars. She did not touch it, but remained beside it staring at the rows ahead of her. In the distance, she heard the thundering crash once more, the beast roaming through the forest. It cried again, loud, teeth chattering loud and the trees quaked around her as it stomped. Jade felt the earth move under her as a thick black shadow passed by closer this time than the last and the trees to her left swayed violently back and forth. It wasn’t until it was gone that she realized she was holding one of the crumpled packs of matches in her fist. She opened it with shaky fingers and stroked the head against the box. The flames sputtered, refused to ignite at first. And suddenly a bright flame burst to life and she stared at it wonderingly, mesmerizingly.
“A beautiful flower within a dark grove,” she said to no one in particular. She realized everything was quiet. No, not just quiet. She was deaf. Nothing made a sound, not even the hiss from the match or the sway of the trees.
“That’s mine,” said the loud voice cutting through her deafness but instead of grabbing the match from her hand, he stabbed her in the stomach. The shock came first, the blade feeling like fire as it sliced through her flesh and organs. He twisted it in her stomach and she grabbed his coat, trying to pry him off of her. She gasped loudly and suddenly, she was no longer in the forest. Jade Harper was back inside the hotel room. Jared was grinning at her from above, his eyes filled with an insanity that would not be filled until she was dead, the knife he was holding deep within her stomach. She tried to speak but only a bubble of blood boiled to her lips and she was drowned out by some hysterical laugh. Jade’s eyes shifted and she saw Marie standing over Jared’s shoulder in only her bra and panties, her eyes gleaming and she was laughing. Suddenly everything became clear to Jade as she lay on the carpeted floor of room 506 in the Newton Hotel dying. She was the fiancée and Marie was the mistress. The ring, Jade’s engagement ring blazed gold and fire on the hand of Marie the seductress, Marie the succubus. Jared laughed as he plunged the knife down into her stomach a second time but she barely felt it this time. Everything was dreamy, ghostlike as the room wisped, and danced away. The light from the ring shone like a beacon in the night, trapping Jade to her mind numbing purgatory, the fog filled world of their lover’s betrayal. In the window, a set of deepened yellow eyes gazed at her and the roar of a monster shattered the window. Jade screamed in her final moments of death.
Jade pushed the serrated black blade into Jared’s stomach, laughing manically the whole time as he squirmed under her lithe, fragile body, hands bound behind his back with a strip of barely sticky duct tape. His struggle was weak and the questionable tape held strong as the sedative she had slipped into his gin and tonic earlier that evening dulled his movements to that of a kitten. The panic in his teary eyed blues gave her pleasure and she licked her strawberry colored lips with a plump tongue. He tried to speak, to tell her to stop twisting the knife in his gut but instead what came out was a thick spray of blackened blood that splattered her face as he choked on what life he had left, the pain and suffering in his eyes as the last thoughts of ‘how could you’ flash past them. She relished in his last thoughts. Why was it that she was doing this again? Clearing his bank account didn’t seem satisfying enough for Jade and as an afterthought she realized neither was cheating on him with that animal print thong bartender from Basil Club. What was his name? Cherry? Berry? She couldn’t remember and it didn’t matter she supposed because he was dead too. Maybe it was Jared’s attitude of demeaning quality or maybe she was just a plain old psycho, the ones you read about in the newspapers who murder they’re cousins for five dollars or some shit, but she wanted to kill Jared Solms. Badly.
Now that she thought about it longer than twenty seconds, with her eyebrows furrowed against her forehead it could have been his slutty fiancé that triggered Jade’s outrageously extravagant revenge. She watched the light in his eyes disappear, the crashing waves of once gorgeous blue turning to a dull, grey disorder of death. She laid her thick blond curls on his chest, listening to the last panicked flutters of his heart beat against her ear. The overpowering smell of coppery blood mixed with the that of urine and defecated pants made her squirm with nervous delight, the stolen $9,450 set of diamond earrings dancing in the smeared blood along his chin as she gazed at his dead, sweet face.
“A shame. Such handsome beauty,” she said stroking his cleft chin with a bright red finger nail. His dead eyes regarded her with an odd smoldering passion she knew was simmering on her own green gems and she wondered if that was just her imagination or if some part of Jared had actually liked being murdered by his psychotic mistress. “Lovely,” she spoke softly before getting off his now softening erection and tugged her bright red heels off in a heap beside him. She stretched her toes and threw her blood soaked body onto the white linen bed of the somewhat empty but otherwise romantic hotel suite, laughing away as if an invisible intruder were tickling her. She kissed the stiff, chocolate covered pillows, her lipstick rubbing off as she touched herself between her thighs with a timid, quivering hand beneath the bloody and sticky pink mini dress. She pulled at the tight dress, ripped free one breast from its prison shackle and kneaded it roughly, the nipple stiff to the touch as she pushed her hips up against her withering hand. She moaned, biting her lip to stifle her pleasure. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as she felt the pressure mounting, her legs shivering with excitement as she painted blood pictures on the white sheets. She suddenly shivered violently, back arching against the post screaming her orgasm as it exploded across every fiber of her blistering hot skin and she moaned in time with the rhythm of her hand.
“Oh god, Jared you son of a bitch. Give it to me, give it to me, OH GOD!” she moaned with delight as a second orgasm rocked her just as violently as the first had.
The warmth spread through her body and she rode the waves of pleasure letting them drown her in a passionate embrace and when it ebbed away slowly, she stripped her dress off and slid naked under the soiled, down filled covers. She tossed her dank, sweaty hair from her eyes as she relaxed deeper into the expensive and well-earned memory foam mattress, a contented cat’s smile curled around her lips as she stroked her silky barren thigh doing figure eights in the soft flesh.
“Just as good as ever,” she spoke lazily to the room.
And when the waves of sleep took her gently in their arms, she had no worries as morning ticked past uneventfully for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until midnight did she reawaken to the world, the room smelling muddy and sickly and she remembered her carnal acts of deviously evil proportions.
“Good morning Jared. So nice to see you’re still lying around,” she smiled at his bloated grey face, dipping her foot down onto the sticky but alluring blood soaked fluffy carpet. She loved the feeling of the squish between her toes and she stretched her arms in tired approval. The precious glass door that led out to the balcony was black, twinkling yellow stars glittered above like unicorn vomit and the moon was only half full, misty magical fog swirling around it like a cloak. Night. I slept all day like a goddamn vampire, she thought gritting her teeth against the scene. The bathroom light was on as it had when they first arrived and she stepped over Jared and into the large bathroom to shower yesterday’s grim off her sultry body.
Pestorus blamed his crazy morning partly on waking up on the wrong side of the bed, but the chill in the air was abnormal even this time of season and he tucked his fur coat tightly around his collar as he followed Soun up past the castle gates and into the barracks. This is a bad day. He dreaded this moment since leaving Soun’s house. The reveal of the faceless body to Soun. She had experienced enough pain and this was just going to bring it all back. Which he had wished to avoid in all the thirty-five years since the last outbreak. He stood just outside the barracks, staring at the door like it was a coiled snake.
“Rus,” Soun said gently using his old nickname and he entered.
The first thing he noticed upon entering the barracks was the unholy smell of diseased flesh. The second thing he noticed was the absent soldiers. The empty hall plagued him in ways he wished Soun had never picked up on.
“Mighty busy force we have here in Shorkvera,” she mildly joked.
“Where the hell is everyone,” he demanded entering further.
“Pestorus, they’re all dead. You know that. Let’s go out in the air away from this horrible smell before it does permanent damage to our very souls,” she said, offering her hand out to him.
He took it and cursed that she could seem so calm in such a dire, rapidly out of control situation this was becoming. She was right though, the air was a lot better outside but the smell still lingered in his nostrils.
“We know where to go from here,” she said. He laughed humorlessly and removed his shoulder armor in anger.
“We don’t go anywhere together, Soun. You go home and stay there. I don’t want a repetition of last time,” he said, struggling to unbuckle his cuirass. She stayed his fingers and undid the laces for him, smoothly popping him out of his wild restraints. He felt hot and dizzy. This wasn’t supposed to happen again.
“Enough, Pestorus. Hold that wicked tongue of yours before you say something you truly regret. The girl, where is she now?”
“Romn Inn,” he said with closed eyes, taking deep breaths.
She started rhythmically rubbing his chest, and his airways cleared giving him more oxygen to breath, to think. He never knew how she could do the things she could and he never asked. He protected her. It was the one thing he could offer her for saving the town from that one fateful day. Though he knew she felt much more differently about the situation than he.
“She latches to the girl. Pestorus do you hear me? This will be tough the girl cannot be allowed to live. Nell is trapped within her vessel and it is the only chance we have at putting her out,” she said gently to him.
“I remember the rules from last time, Soun. I’m no fool.”
“This needs to be pushed into her heart, like last time. Only when the red gem on the hilt turns black can you pull the dagger free. Bury her at the Cha stone, and bring no one,” she said giving him the dreaded dagger.
“I am old, Soun. This will only happen again, so what is the point?” he said miserably.
“The point is that everyone in this town, this realm, this earth will die horrible deaths if Nell is not contained. That is why we sacrifice the things we do…for the ones we love. When Nell is reborn to spew her plague once more, a new defender will be chosen as it always is and they will make the same hard choices as you.”
“Is it impossible of me to ask you to leave now?” he said. She tucked the collars of his shirt down and looked at him, the ghost of a smile appearing at the corners of her mouth.
“Yes,” he said finally caressing her cheek like he longed to this whole time, “I suppose so.”
“Sir Pestorus! You must come, there is a disturbance at the front gate,” cried a young man breathing heavily, barely old enough to fill out his newly tempered armor. Pestorus nodded grimly and placed the apple back onto the stand. The young woman tending the stand looked disappointed but she plastered her smile on all the same.
“Another day than,” he smiled warmly to her.
He knew it was going to be a rough day when he couldn’t even buy an apple for his lunch in peace. He hitched his sword belt upward and walked down to the gate where a massive horde of people were occupying a space just beyond the gated front walls. There was a mass of whispers filling the air and random accusations as they let him through easily but Pestorus paid none of them attention until he came into view of the young solider. He vaguely knew the new recruits name was Kygard and he was kneeling down beside a black tarp with a few mild rips in the sides. When Kygard noticed Pestorus presence he stood immediately.
“Sir, this young lady needs to speak to you. It’s…urgent,” he said and walked away with a wary, unsettled look.
The young lady walked up to Pestorus timidly, just a young girl maybe the age of seventeen or less with a thick head of grungy blond curls. She was holding the cords to the tarp closely, clasped to her chest like she was afraid they would blow away in some unforgiving wind. Her face was completely muddy and her clothes were severely torn. At first Pestorus thought he was dealing with a victim of abuse, but when he saw her deeply disturbed blue eyes, he knew he was dealing with far more than just a minor altercation. He knelt down beside her, hand on his rickety old knee and gently smiled.
“My name is Sir Pestorus. May I have the pleasure or yours?”
“Sierra,” she said shyly. An older woman in the crowd placed a worn calloused hand on the girls shoulder. The older woman nodded for Pestorus to go on.
“Can you tell me what happened to you?”
Her eyes betrayed every emotion she owned and she backed up into the woman, fearfully shaking her head violently. Her refusal only deepened Pestorus confusion and curiosity.
“She’s just a child for god sakes, let her breath,” said a man from the crowd. Pestorus held an irritated hand up to the crowd, a warning that his patience was already worn thin.
“Okay, okay. May I have a look under the tarp?”
She looked terrified as she bit her lip but finally she handed him the strings to the tarp, her seemingly greatest treasure. He undid the secure knot at the base of the tarp and when it tugged free he lifted the tarp. The first thing that hit his nose was the rancid smell and he pulled away, choking back the need to vomit all over the scene. Kygard handed him a handkerchief to thwart the smell and he accepted graciously. When he peeled the tarp off fully everyone in the crowd gasped loudly. A few screamed in terror, another man fell to the ground in a fainted bliss and others turned away to empty their stomachs. Pestorus eyes grew wide and he barely knew what he was looking at. Immediately this had become a crime scene and it didn’t take long for the guards to rope it off from the public. Word reached the castle faster than Pestorus would have liked and as he watched the jittery man jump from his steed he thought, what a day for the last of my retirement days.
“Pestorus what the hell is going on?” demanded Jaried, the emissary to the king, as he waddled over with an air of importance closest to that of a piece of dung. Jaried was wearing heeled boots and a green and orange velvet suit with large puffy gray pants to top the overzealous number off.
“I don’t know,” he said looking at Sierra again. Jaried looked at the girl than back to Pestorus with slight confusion.
“Is she responsible for this? What is this? A dog?” he said with his nose stuck firmly upwards, pulling the tarp back. He gasped and released the tarp, eyes wild as he looked to Pestorus for answers. Pestorus only shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t know if she’s responsible. Can a little girl remove the face of child?” Pestorus said almost sarcastically.
“R-remove? It’s completely smooth! It’s just skin!” Jaried cried.
Pestorus shrugged his shoulders once more. There was more to the body than just the face though the face was the focal point to the mystery. The torso had deep wounds that had been dealt after the boy was dead, he could tell from his long term service to the royal guard. Of course this would all be explained by a medical doctor but until then, Pestorus held his tongue. He called Kygard over to him, ignoring the outrageous rant of Jaried.
“Take this girl to the Romn Inn. Tell Ferry I sent her and that she is to have everything to make her feel comfortable. New clothing, food, water. Anything she wants.”
“Yes sir,” he nodded and ushered her away. The paleness of her face still visible in Pestorus memory clearly, the pain of her loss only reflecting his own losses he had endured from life.
“What do we do?” Jaried said standing next to Pestorus, hushing his words as if no one else could hear him.
“We inform the King and pray for some kind of bloody miracle,” he said and Jaried walked away from the pretentious little man.
“Take the body to the barracks and no one is to touch it until I say. Understood?”
147 Peacoat Drive. That was the address of Mr. Holmes and his late wife. But Barry refused to exit his car, glaring at the nearly empty three story mansion-like house in the dim streetlights on the otherwise clear, cloudless night. Only one light was on, the front window, and Barry could only assume it was the kitchen. Demons, he thought, it all comes back to them. Barry had only recently been introduced to the horrors of the world thanks to an unmentionable friend, but he was already getting the hang of detecting and tracking them. See, Barry had the Gift. The Gift was what his ‘friend’ had mentioned, a sense of the unordinary, the ability to feel the otherworldly connection in the fabric of time and space. Barry himself could still barely understand what it all meant but when he came close to the dead, they spoke to him, spilling their secrets like a waterfall after a rainstorm. But it wasn’t like talking to a human being, no. For Barry it was using his senses, his third eye to reveal the unseen. That was how he found out Mr. Holmes true face. The demonic expression of the cruel world they lived in. Barry flicked his cigarette out the car window and rolled it up slowly. Reaching into the back seat, he revealed the silver dagger that reassembled more of a machete and a leather bag of five solid silver pegs. A true and only way to kill a demon is with silver. Remember that, and remember this. The demon is not human, nor will it ever be. You kill it, you sever its connection with the host and you pray that mother won’t come hunt you down in a couple of years. The words of his ‘friend’ rang in his ears and he slid the blade into his easily concealable leather jacket.
“But that’s the wheel of the game. You track, you spot, you kill,” he muttered opened the car door, finishing the ghostly whispers in his ear.
He strode up to the police car, completely ignoring the fact that it was so out in the open it might as well have had a neon sign on it. He bumped the top of the roof and the uniformed cop jumped visibly, dropping the smoke between his quivering lips.
“Rough night, Lax?” Barry said with the queer smile he managed. Lax was shaking his head, rubbing his fingers through a thick mat of messy brown hair.
“This shit is fucked up. I don’t wanna be out here all night. Crazy fuck’s got it out for the entire town and I’m probably next,” he said with glistening, red tinged eyes. Barry could see his eyes darting to every shadow behind him. He remembered a time when he too was as scared as poor Lax. Barry sighed and leaned into the window.
“Go home to your wife, buddy. I’ll take it from here. I’ve been meaning to go over a few facts with him anyways. And don’t tell Phil. He’s liable to have a shit fit if he knew you were breaking during duty,” he whispered. Lax didn’t even try to argue. The key was already in the ignition before Barry could even finish his sentence.
“Be careful, Barry. This guy’s real sick, real messed up in the head. I would hate to hear about you in the Boleyn Times.”
Barry smiled and tapped the top of the hood, watching Lax speed down the side street barely slowing for the stop sign. The eerie calmness of the night stretched over him suddenly and a gusty breeze blew by sending his pant legs flapping. He lit another cigarette, watching the house. The light stayed on, glowing through the darkness like a beacon for moths. Mr. Holmes, aka a class two sub-demon, was not the biggest issue Barry had to deal with in town. But it was his closest lead yet to solving the rising body count of supernatural murders. Philsby didn’t know this. No one did. Only Barry and his mentor. Maybe in other parts of the world, similar people with Gifts did this for a living but as of now, they were the only ones. There was a class system in place for the order and strength of demons, five being the highest and most dangerous, one being lowest. Though Mr. Holmes was only a sub-demon, a familiar for the real deals, he was still just as strong when pushed. Sub-demons were also sloppier, tending to let their hunger take over and leave a messy trail behind like a child in a highchair.
The cigarette in his mouth was nearly wasted, the ashes almost touching his chapped lips, so he threw it to the ground with dissatisfaction. Smoking worked less and less each time he started a hunt. He jogged up the nine steps to the tall, regal looking maroon colored door and knocked once, twice. Three times. Barry heard a panicked shuffle and then a chair smack to the ground. I guess it was too much to ask for a simple, easy hunt. Holmes was spooked. He pulled the silenced gun from a holster off his hip and fired at the lock. With one good kick, the door swung open wide and the kitchen light clicked off, bathing the hallway of the house in complete solid darkness. Barry readied the gun as he entered the house, anticipating an attack from any direction including the ceiling. He closed the door and shoved a loose shoe as a wedge to keep the busted frame from reopening. Last time he had left a door open while on a case, it ended badly. Barry first noticed the smell, the rancid sour meat smell mixed with the odor of rotting feet. He fished the gray bandana from his shirt collar and affixed it over his nose. As he made his way further into the house, it groaned loudly, moaning as Barry entered the kitchen. He flicked the light but nothing happened.
“Goddammit,” he muttered picking the flashlight from his coat pocket.
The demon hissed cursing in its native demonic tongues as Barry made his way around the fallen wooden chair. He saw a flash to his left and fired two shots into the darkness, the flashlight whirling around like a drunken fairy but nothing was in the corner.
“SSS….BBBAAARRYY….EAT THE FLESH OF THE GIFTED ONESSSS….”
Barry shivered but pressed on. It wasn’t the first threat he had ever heard, nor would it be the last. The house seemed to breathe inwards and out as he swept the entire first floor, moaning and groaning echoing around him like stereo volume being turned up and down. The second floor was just as much a waste of time as the first, knowing full well where the demon really liked to hide. The basement. It was the cliché from every slasher flick he had ever seen and Barry always cursed the fact that in the case of demons, that was a completely accurate myth. But to Barry’s surprise, the basement wasn’t dank and creepy but rather elegant and well kept. The carpet was a beautiful creamy tan with a set of black couches and chairs sitting atop it and a beautiful deep red bricked fireplace. There was a bar to Barry’s left and it was the first place he checked, quickly flashing his light over the marble counter top. Empty.
“Barryyyyy Marshhh. Barrrryyyyy Marrrrsshhhhhh,” said the eerie, demonic two toned voice behind him. The hair on the back of Barry’s neck stood up as he turned. Mr. Holmes, the sub-demon, stood behind him, elongated arms stretching to the carpet. His face was twisted, expressing evil and torture as he gazed at Barry with a sharp grin and yellow eyes.
“I know you aren’t the Boleyn Demon, but rather just the simple little lap dog for the real master,” Barry said. The demon’s smile faltered.
“Am I not great enough to dominate this town myself?” it hissed.
“It became so clear once Palmina’s corpse entered our morgue that she was not the victim of the Boleyn murderer. She had similar lacerations to her mid-section, similar but not exact. And her intestines were only partially chewed, ripped with the teeth of some being. A true demon, well they would have removed the organs and used a knife, a fork. True blooded demons are not barbarians. They are a sophisticated evil,” Barry said shrugging his shoulders. Mr. Holmes cracked its neck and watched Barry through simmering, hateful eyes.
“And though you tried, you actually almost had me fooled as a human being. I wonder, would you tell me the name of the true face of evil in this town or will you die miserably at the end of my blade?”
Its eyes flicked but it said nothing and Barry wondered not for the first time why he was even doing this job. Was it because she asked me too? Was this all Levinstein’s fault I got dragged into this mess? He hated to admit that she, a woman, was able to teach him the skills he needed for this job but she was brilliant until the day she died and he had never loved anything more than he had her. He wanted to quit, leave the life and be with her but that could never happen and he would never be able to stop until he found the one that killed her.
“I guesssss we should start thissss dance thennnnnn,” it said jumping at Barry.
This is the final part to my short story the Devil Merchant. I hope you all enjoyed it. I plan to post a new story in the coming days but for now enjoy parts one and two.
Staring at her reflection in the mirror she saw the bags under her eyes had grown deeper every day. Her nightmares were vivid and all too real, demons with masks of evil and laughter peeling the flesh off living humans, humans she once knew in her life, her father, her old boss, co-workers, her ex-Jack but one face was never there and always a lone figure stood in a shroud of light so bright she was unable to look at it for too long. Her mother. A vision of beauty and purity, an aura not covered in worms and decomposing flesh but an angel unblemished by the tainted evil that haunted her life and dreams. The beauty would burn her eyes and alas in most her dreams, she would became blinded to the nameless horrors that surrounded her, tortured and deprived of a life she could never have. She started getting the shakes again and despite three blankets and an oil heater, she was still cold. A cold that only came from her broken and torn soul. Every light was on in the busted down motel room that she rented for eighteen dollars a day and though the light illuminated every corner of the room, darkness managed to linger on still. She saw a scurry under the dirty spring cot near the far wall and she curled her legs up deeper into the cocoon she encased herself in, burying her head under the blankets.
Wanting to die and end the horrors that haunted her waking life but unable proved a frustrating fact she was realizing more and more. Her contract was ending in hours and the pain she felt now will be dwarfed by what was in store later. Her head pounded despite the amount of painkillers she had already previously pumped herself full of an hour ago. Opening the lid to the bottle, she choked back six more little pills. She began to drift, sleeping was rare but sleep was the last thing that was wanted. She could barely bring herself to pull away from drowsiness.
“Your soul.” She opened her eyes at the memory, a sobering reminder of what she’d done and what awaited her.
“Excuse me?” She blinked in surprise and had almost laughed out loud.
“The terms of this contract are for your soul. In return you will have riches beyond your wildest dreams. And in five years’ time, I come to you and collect what will soon be rightfully mine. Your eternal soul.” The pleasantness that dripped from his voice moments ago, turned deadly and cold, the smile replaced with a sullen set jaw of broken teeth and yellowed, diseased bone.
“Do we have a deal, Miss Dalton?”
Undaunted by the fact he knew her last name and despite the ridiculous claims to owning her soul or amateur parlour magician tricks he’d used to scare her, she grabbed the paper and signed her name. Once her name was sealed on the paper with blood red ink, the paper burned up in front of her eyes. Astonished, she looked up to find the man gone. Everything was as it were when she had first walked in and nothing appeared changed. The only thing different was that there was a cheque of a sizable amount on the table made out to her and a letter that simply read, “Pleasure doing business with you, love.” And she began to cry.
Tears streamed down her face as she looked up at the clock. She was going to die and she knew this well in advance, yet knowing seemed almost as torturing as the nightmares and hellish visions she had experienced for the last five years. A light rap on the door signaled the beginning of the end and when the man in the suit with the horrible smile came in, he looked exactly as he had on the day of their meeting. Except he was wearing a red tie today.
“Valerie. My love, my sweet and precious, young Valerie.” She hated him, hated his use of the word love to her, but most of all she hated herself, for she saw herself in him now.
“Was everything to your liking these past years? Have they been fulfilling and to your enjoyment? Was your soul an adequate exchange for the riches you received in return?”
He smiled once more, a skeleton face with burning red eyes. Valerie had known pain, but she did not know this pain and the pain she felt was worse than anything she could ever understand. Worse than the flesh eating, flesh torturing demons, or the burning blindness of her mother’s angelic presence. Her soul was his and she would never know life or happiness again, only to wade through unending darkness. An eternity of madness. And she began to scream.
Alright folks, this is my first story I’m posting. It’s about a young girl who goes through some strange periods of time in her new life and she is living to regret every choice she ever made. Enjoy!
The Merchant Devil
By Terrin Jarrell
Valerie Dalton knew she was going to die. It was an inevitable fact that she could not escape. But that did not stop her from lying to herself that it was going to be alright. She thought she had led a good life, but in her final days, it was becoming more apparent that wasn’t entirely true. At the underwhelming grand age of twenty-four she’d accomplished absolutely nothing in life and the only thing she understood was being a terrible daughter and a worse girlfriend. Thinking of Jack sent a wave of nausea and upset ripping through her stomach. Watching a stream of blood flow out of her nose, she picked up a filthy blue rag off the dirty motel room floor and dabbed dully. She was dying of course, and it was all due to that man. That dreadful man with the too-wide smile that seemed to know everything yet revealed nothing. Wearing a black suit and white tie, he managed a rather old time respectable and almost handsome look if not for that smile, that seemed to be plastered to his face like drywall.
“Excuse me ma’am, I believe you dropped this,” he had said to her with a smile.
So charming at the time but she had felt a stir of unease and an almost urge to flee the scene, flee his smile. Instead she returned a flashy array of white teeth with what she’d hoped was her most pleasant waitress smile and said,
Accepting her napkin back that day, Valerie knew she had sealed her doom. He almost seemed to be saying, “Excuse me ma’am, you’ve dropped your life and I’m here to pick up your pieces.” She remembered leaving work, the time was 8:14 pm and upon looking up from locking the door and leaving behind memories of a horrific day of ungrateful guests and screaming babies, she’d noticed the man from lunch hour standing under the street lamp outside the Whispering Eva Café. The night had fallen quickly, with only a sliver of the sun exposed. The shadows of the evening caressed the street with long greedy, dark fingers. A chilled breeze sprang up from nowhere momentarily feeling like an autumn afternoon and Valerie had found her arms covered in goose bumps. Early fall leaves swirled through a densely thick fog that started rolling in and got stuck a midst her loose auburn hair. Remarkably he was still smiling and had raised his hand in her direction. He looked like a black specter risen from the deathly fog. With a confused smile, she waved back and returned to locking the door unsuccessfully.
“Dammit,” she’d muttered and behind her in just the same smooth fashion he had presented himself with earlier, he said from behind her, “Are you having some trouble? Allow me.”
He’d reached his hand around her and she became rigid with fear and unknowing. He was very close to her, almost a hairs breath away from kissing the back of her neck and she’d felt his hand embrace hers. And then their hands turned slightly, feeling the click of the door lock. He’d removed his hand just as quickly as he had grabbed it. She faced the door still trying to catch her breath, still trying to understand and form some kind of thank you around her lips. Regaining composer with little ease, she’d turned around to find him nowhere in sight. Sweat had dotted her forehead and she’d become aware at how warm it had become. She’d laughed out loud at the absurdity of the situation and walked home through a remaining fogless night.
Looking back at that day, months ago, she realized that was the same day she’d broken up with Jack. Rushing to the bathroom toilet to vomit what she felt was surely her rotten insides trying to snake their way out of her mouth, she tried to recoil to a happier memory. The memory helped, a vision of her mother rubbing her back and expressing concern. She could almost feel the soft touch of her mother’s hand, always smelling of sweet scented creams, feeling the slow, rhythmic circles up and down her upper back as she continued to heave into the toilet.
When she turned seven her mother had fallen horribly ill and at the age of nine, her mother passed away leaving her alone in the world with nothing but a drunkard of a father with no job and no steady income.
“She went. Dead. W’rms prob’ eatin her body or sumthin’,” he’d said in a slurred drunken tone. He’d glared at the little girl before him that so constantly reminded him of his lost beloved. He’d raised the remaining bottle of Jack to his mouth again and a dribble spilled down his chin.
“Git to yur room, dammit! I dun wanna see any tears fer that slut. She left us, she left you! Left us to rot, the bitch!”
Valerie had flown to her room. Her pillow was her new solace now, her new warm hug at night. Now curled up, propped up against the bathtub squeezing that same dirty yellow stained pillow, she realized seeing her mother again was never going to happen. Especially with what she had agreed too. She was back on the walkway outside her work, laughing obnoxiously again, warmed by the night. She’d rubbed her neck, remembering the tickle of his breath like a lover might and she’d realized she had liked the sultry, sexy feel of his breath. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced, even with Jack. Jack. The fight was about nothing, as usual yet that time it felt like everything was different. She was different and it had showed.