As a profound apology for missing my first Friday short story in weeks. This is a two short story week. This is a continuation of the sixth short story Choice. Enjoy!
Some violence and sexual themes. Fair warning.
Devil in a dress.
Has captivated my soul.
What have I become?
I look at my hands. They’re free of blood now, but doubt lingers in my mind. The woman’s kiss still lingers on my lips, sweet and gentle. She promises more than that, but I’m not so sure I want it. I wear a black cloak mirroring hers. I don’t think it’s particularly discreet, as I stand a head taller than most on this busy street.
Merchants are barking their cat calls to buyers, their voices bounce against stone and into my ears. The city of Bagal, there are as many stinking livestock as there are people. The sacred animals clutter the streets steal seeds and fruit to their whim.
I personally hate them. They’re just dirty monkeys, but someone decied they were sacred, so they are. They blatantly abuse their right and the merchant sheep accept it as so. I try and distract myself with my prize, but the taste of her sensual poison hangs on my lips.
I can see the curve of her body through her robes. It makes me pine for her despite my fear of her. She will be mine soon, but why does it feel like it’s the other way around? Am I the slave?
“Paitence Hoal,” she says.
Dammit. She noticed. Not surprising, I stare at everything I want. I’m simple like that.
“How long is the damn walk?” I say, “You’re not taking me out of the city are you?”
“No,” she says, “And we’re close. Don’t worry.”
I don’t know whether to scream or let out a sigh of relief. What did she want with me? She was going to lie with me as a condition, not because she found me handsome. I reach out and pick her up and the waist. She’s as light as a feather to me.
“Stop that,” she says without struggling, “You will have me soon enough.”
I ignore her. I need this. I need to know that tossing aside my soul for a woman is worth it. “I don’t know your name.”
“Marlea,” she says, “Now put me down.”
“Marlea…” I say. I ignore her though, feeling her warmth through her robes and drink deep of her scent. She is amazing. What does it matter if I anger her?
People start to stare. Shows of affection are unheard of in Bagal and mine could easily be interpreted as one. They’re wrong. This is a show of lust.
The two women we walk withstop and watch calmly, without complaint. Even they understand my ploy.
“I told you, we’re close. The better you behave now, denotes how cooperative I will be in your arms tonight. Or is it you prefer I do not cooperate?” Marlea says.
“Something like that,” I say.
“I see. You really are a simple beast. I am going to enjoy breaking you.”
My eyes widen. I forget so quickly who she is. What she is. I calmly set her down.
“Thank you,” she says. They start to walk again; I can do nothing but follow.
“It’s here,” one of the women says. She points to a bakery, and we enter. I have to stoop to make my way in, the smell of bread fills my nose and reminds me of a hunger left un-sated.
I pluck flatbread from a barrel and stuff it in my mouth. The women surrounding Marlea glare.
“Whaf?” I say. I have money. I don’t know what their problem is. I hold out the crumpled note I had stuffed in my pocket to stress my point.
Marlea ignores me though, she is placing her hands on the far wall and looking for something. A secret passage of some sort?
I finish the flatbread and walk over to her. I give her rear a pat. “So this is the place?”
“Yes,” she says. “But the door is jammed.”
“I got this,” I say as I shoo her to one side. “If it’s just a stuck door, I can handle it.”
“It’s not that easy. It might mean you have been rejected…” Marlea says.
“What does that mean?” I squint my eyes at the door.
“It would mean we have failed. We would be banished.” One of the women says.
“And that’s bad right?”
“Yes.” Marlea narrows her eyes.
“Wouldn’t be all that bad, you could be my wife or something,” I say.
“I could. But without their protection, you would be hung as a murderer…” She places a hand on my stomach. “Open it, your prize waits inside.”
“Fine.” I crack my knuckles and approach. There’s no seam and the owner of the bakery seems to be staring as though we aren’t here. When I place my hands on the wall I feel it give. It’s flimsy. I shove and a crack shows.
A doorway stands here
Is it to my salvation?
Or my damnation?
“Huh. I guess he’s not completely worthless,” The second woman speaks for the first time we left the fighting pit, “I suppose I shouldn’t doubt your judge of character High Priestess.
“Huh? Priestess?” I think. “Does this mean I’m not getting laid?”
Marlea laughs. “I’m not celibate Hoal. A deal is a deal.”
“Oh good…” I turn to the door and grunt. I manage to get my fingers in and pull. One good tug and I can feel it pop into place, like a dislocated joint set right. “…there. Don’t tell me this is all you needed me to do?”
“No,” Marlea says. She pushes me aside and eases the door open. “Your brute strength is nice and all, but it is your strength of spirit that has interested us.”
“Uh huh…” I devour another strip of flatbread and placed the note on the counter in front of the store’s attendant. They stare into space absently.
The two other women walk down a flight of stairs. The door is small and cramped, I have to take each step slow and steady. The women ahead of me lower their hoods and navigate the stairs carefully. Several of them are cracked and ruined and I feel my feet waver.
“When we get to the bottom, turn left. That leads to my chambers,” Marlea says.
I grin. Something good was going come of this crummy day. She certainly didn’t waste any time. The base of the stairs came and the other two women turned and vanished into a dark hallway. I peeked around to the right, straining to see past a soupy fog of black smoke.
“I said left.” Marlea jabs a finger on the small of my back.
“What’s that way?” I can’t see past the black smoke but it seems content to stay in place. If I hadn’t seen the other two women pass through it, I would have sworn it was held in place by glass.
“Nothing that concerns you,” she says.
I feel a tug on my hand, she’s leading me onward. Her eagerness is arousing.
The left passage way is nothing like the right. A gentle scent of rose petals fills my nostrils, the scent that clung to Marlea. The walls are draped with gold trimmed black silk banners. The cold stone walls were warmed by candles and fragrant incenses. It hardly struck me as a cult, but more of a bathing spa.
The door we came to had twin snakes coiled on either side. The statues were made of heavy stone and each scale had been carved with intricate detail. I run my hand across it, it was even textured the same as a real snake. I know, cause I broke one’s neck before.
“Go in,” she says.
I swallow hard. The lump in my throat won’t go down. Even if this door isn’t sealed, it is harder for me to open than the last one. A flood of light pours out and blinds me, I squint, blink and see the contents of the room.
A large comfortable bed framed by carnage sits in front of me. The scattered remains of humans lay on the ground. A still breathing man hangs by roped hands. Dried blood covers his prisoner’s garb. His lips are moving, he’s saying something over and over.
I step into the room. The human parts look like someone upended a barrel full of them. The sight unsettled me, but I have seen a man die at my hands. I have seen blood evoked from opponents from his punches. This was horrible, but…
“Explain,” I say.
“It’s what gives us power. Brutality. Force. You will fit in nicely,” Marlea reaches around my waist. “That’s why we were drawn to you. This is my office. I don’t sleep here often. But I do when I want to relax.”
I kicked one of the limbs on the ground. A trail of blood tells me it’s fresh. The smell of blood fills the air. That smell invigorates me, it tells me I’m winning a fight. I don’t smell my own blood. This massacre happened today.
“You want me to do this? Why?” I say, “It’s no fun if they can’t fight back.”
“Who says he didn’t try?” She laughs.
I turned to face her, I expected a blade at my back and armed me to have me killed. But I’m not afraid. I’ll kill them all if I have to. I ain’t bein’ a body on a pile.
Instead I see Marlea, naked standing before me. Nothing left to the imagination, laid bare and defenseless in the room filled with murder. My fists relax and I find myself flabbergasted. If it’s not a trap…
“I told you, we want you to be a part of us. This carnage brings us power. We want you to provide this power for us.” She reaches up and drapes her arms around my neck. Her black robes cast aside like a discarded shell.
This woman is nuts…
but why do I feel this way?
I must be nuts too.
I kiss her as my boots slosh in blood and gore, carrying her to the bed. She doesn’t struggle at all, in fact she’s as aroused as I am. This was going to be the best night of my life.
For some reason, this reminds me of Diablo. Must be all the body parts strewn about. Yeah, that’t it.
I can see the comparison. Hoal isn’t exactly heroic.
I was only comparing the setting. Heh, I meant to respond with more, but I was sneaking it in while at work.
It was a good read. I like how Hoal took it all in stride. And as with any good horror story, you built up the dread.
Now I’m imagining what comes next, and my thought is “and that’s how a monster is made.”
I’m looking forward to writing more with him. But he has to wait! There are other stories to write!
hmmmm, really interesting
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