Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hideous Creature

For the Inkpen Authoress' March Chatterbox, the subject is mirrors.  In my new project (the one I am currently calling "BB"), I wrote this scene today.  It has been rolling around in my mind for a couple weeks now and just made it onto paper.  Without further ado:

          Hideous Creature
The master sat slumped in his chair, facing the darkest corner of his room.  Behind him, thanks to Chauncey, the evening light streamed into the room through the open curtains.  But the master turned his back to it, feeling that the darkness fit his mood better.

His mind slowly flickered over his small band of faithful servants.  Grimm, Chauncey, Mrs. Hinn, Annie...good servants – all of them -- deserving of gracious rewards.  They did their best for him.  Chauncey was pitifully hopeful on his behalf, opening curtains and talking cheerfully.  Mrs. Hinn cooked her most wholesome meals, as though food might help.  It behooved him to write a will, requesting that they not be forgotten upon his death.

He shifted his weight and felt the burning pain shoot through him.  As he did, his eyes landed on a small pot with a note attached.  Chauncey had brought that up the day before.  What was it he had said?  They “found” it?

His body wanted to die.

His mind wanted to die.

But there was some small spark deep inside him that still wanted to live.  It was a weak spark at best, but it flared up strong for a moment and the young man pushed himself to his feet.  He almost cried out at the pain, but he clenched his jaw instead.  Great beads of sweat formed on the skin of his forehead, but he would not let his father down.  Even here, in this remote place, he would carry himself with pride. 

He shuffled across the floor and picked up the pot with its note.

“Apply to affected areas three to four times daily.  Provides relief and promotes healing,” it said in an elegant, handwritten script.  He flipped it over and read, “Love will save.”

Those last three words jabbed mercilessly at him.  His mind echoed with the screams of a woman he couldn’t save.  He shook his head, willing the memories away, closing his mind to them.  He could not allow himself to think about it.

But she would have been intrigued with the paste.  He could see her sniffing it and inquiring as to its properties.

On the front of the note, his eye caught a word.  “Relief,” it said.  That was something the doctors had not been able to do for him.  With pot in hand, he shuffled to the great mirror by his chest of drawers.

A masked man in a cape stared back at him.  The master studied this reflection of himself.  It was strange how his thoughts went – perhaps they were merely the thoughts of a man expecting to inhabit a grave soon – but he studied the reflection as he studied himself.  His body seemed no more real and no more a part of him than the shape of the man in the mirror.  He looked at himself as an outsider would.

It is as though I am already dead, looking at an imposter, he thought.  The thought felt familiar to him, like a recently acquired friend.

The mask and cape covered everything.  You could see the form of a hunched man, you could see his right ear and a tiny bit of his right cheek, and you could see his eyes.  Everything else was concealed.  Even his hands were gloved.

The master removed the lid from the small pot and sniffed the contents.  It smelled tolerable.  Relief – it would be nice.  Recovery?  That much was doubtful.

“Doubtful?” he asked himself.  Did he allow himself even that much hope?

Slowly he removed the cape, the gloves, and, finally, the mask.  His skin raged against the disturbance, and he stared at the mirror through blurry vision.

Finally the pain subsided to a normal level, and his eyes cleared.  But the mirror only showed him a cruel portrait.  What sort of creature claimed to be his reflection?

His wounds were worse than he thought.  Huge patches of red, raw, angry-looking wounds covered his arms.  The moistness of the weeping wounds made his stomach turn.  Some of them had black portions.  The inner workings of his arms, meant to be protected by skin, were exposed to the casual observer.  And his face…

He had once been considered a handsome youth with strong, masculine features.  But now he could not even recognize his own face.  It looked as though some terrible disease had eaten away his flesh.

The master's gaze wandered back to his eyes, studying them.  They were hollow and clouded with fear...fear that had gripped his soul.

Recovery?  It was impossible.  He would never look as he had before.  He would never regain his position or power.  He would never be himself again.  He had lost everything.

Everything.

He put the lid back on the pot and dropped it to the floor, shoving it angrily with his foot, hating the impossible spark of life it inspired.  Then he reclaimed his mask and cape.  His vision blurred again with the pain of contact.  But there was nothing left to do but to hope death claimed him quickly.

There was no other way out.

1 comment:

  1. Spine tingly exciting! I can hardly wait to read more!

    ReplyDelete