Rose Whyte: (Interlude) & Part 4 - The Apothecary's Brew

Rose Whyte: (Interlude) & Part 4 - The Apothecary's Brew

A Story by HoWiE

Interlude & Part 4 - aDiva's influence reaches further into the heart of Vertigo City and a final attempt on Rose's life is made..



The Bokor’s nimble fingers worked over the jar his milky eyes sightless, his head cocked slightly to the side, his mouth partially open and his breathing shallow.

“You need not keep that weapon about you Mister...” He said.  His voice was rasping and calm, almost a sigh.  “You cannot kill what has not lived a human life for a long time.”

The dark-suited man felt cold sweat prickling on his neck in spite of the evenings cloying humidity.  He licked his lips and slipped his Beretta back inside his jacket.  “You will be well compensated for this undertaking, my client is very wealthy.”

The Bokor whistled gently between his chapped lips.  “Money? What makes you think that money means anything in a place like this Mister?”  He gave a distant smile.  “But I will take what your Bosses consider worthy...”

The dark-suited man watched as the blind Bokor moved around the shack, his hands reaching out and locating items as effortlessly and assuredly as if he were fully sighted. 

“That’s the stuff?”  The man asked, shifting his feet.

The Bokor carefully decanted a small amount of grey powder into a vial.

“The Coup Poudre: harvested in late June.  A child’s skull and other bones burned with Thunderstone in a fire until black, ground to powder.  The Bufo Marinus Toad, buried with a snake in a jar so that it dies of rage - its poison intensified.  The Polychate worm, two blue Agama lizards, two female Puffer fish, the tarantula, the white tree frog, millipedes, a sprig of Albizzia and Pods of Itching Pea.... roasted and shaved and ground to this fine mixture...”

He gave a dry crackling laugh as he turned the vial round in his fingers.  “The words of the scared Juju are spoken and the jar is buried in the ground with the remains of the child’s skeleton for three days... it is then what you seek.”  He turned slowly and held it out in front of him, his toothy grin almost mocking.  “Be careful not to get any on your fingers... the effect is delayed but inevitable.”

The dark-suited man took a handkerchief and clasped the vial delicately between two covered fingers before depositing it into a plastic container and then into his briefcase.  His hands continued to tremble as he set a case of money onto the table and moved towards the door.

“You might want to relay to your Bosses a message,” the Bokor rasped.  “It is good to consider that those who handle snakes... are often bitten.”


The apothecary’s brew


             My name is Benjamin Kendall, a week ago I was holding down two jobs and working the back shift Room Service at the Vertigo City Grand Hotel; now I am a murderer and my life is over...


            The terrible things that I have done though, pale in comparison to what I have had to endure getting here.  The horror in my daughter’s eyes is something that I fear will haunt me for the rest of my days; that, and the awful gleaming sharpness of the blade at her throat.


            I had come home, drained and ill tempered following another long shift.  The door to our cramped apartment was already ajar...


The big man held Esme to his chest, her legs dangling uselessly to his knees, her face red and puffy.  Across the room, a second man sat in my easy chair his pistol trained casually on my wife and son who cowered on the sofa.  A third appeared at my shoulder, kicking shut the door.

I tried immediately to plead with the three men, telling them that I was a Hotel worker and nothing more... I had no drugs, little money to speak of and no interest in anything they had done.

To my surprise a vaguely familiar, tall, black woman stepped out of the adjoining kitchen, elegantly dressed and holding a cigarette between two long fingers.  The blue twisting smoke curled upwards to the ceiling.

“On the contrary Mr Kendall, there is something you have that we need...”

I stared at her bleakly, shaking.

“Access.”  She smiled thinly. “To a very special guest.”

It was then that I realised what they were after: the missing heiress to a fortune worth billions.  There wasn’t much that went unnoticed in the Grand, however well it was covered up: the girl had been a poisoning case closer to death than not when the paramedics reached her.  How she survived was anybody’s guess by all accounts.  It wasn’t the first attempted murdered we’d had at the Grand and wouldn’t be that last I knew that much.  I also knew that at that moment my family were in more danger than we had ever before encountered.

The woman continued her tone dispassionate.  “Tomorrow evening you will go on shift as usual.  You will deliver fresh fruit to the Penthouse.” She drew heavily on the cigarette.  “The fruit will be poisoned:  a powerful Tetrodotoxin used in the world of Voodoo.”

“I... I can’t... kill a guest.” I whispered, the enormity of the situation beginning to dawn on me.  “I... I’m not a murderer.” 

The woman held the vial between her fingers.  You will not be killing her.  She will gain the appearance of death.  Death will come to her in the suffocating darkness of the grave.”  She curled a lip.  “This one life for the lives of your family... It’s not like you have a choice. Think hard and choose your next words very, very carefully. ”

I shook my head.  “I’m sorry... I just can’t -”

“Consequences Mr Kendall, every action has them.”  She moved her fingers, flicking ash onto the carpet, at the big man holding Esme.

At that moment, that one f*****g dreadful moment, everything in my world crumbled.

Staring into my eyes, the big man drew the knife swiftly across Esme’s throat, opening it.  Blood ran freely through his fingers as Esme kicked and bucked in his grasp, her eyes widening.  She made a horrific gurgling sound as blood bubbled up into her airway. 

“Do not think to test me again Mr Kendall.”

Everything else was screams and flashing lights.  Then everything went black.


When I woke some time later I was laying on the sofa, the back of my head sticky with blood from where the man behind had struck me.  For a few seconds I thought I was in bed, everything felt warm and safe and for those brief last moments I didn’t have a care in the world.  And then it all came pouring back.  I saw the backs of two of the men, my wife cradling my infant son in her arms, rocking him back and forth.  I saw the blood on the floor, on the wall and everything came crashing down.

Then the woman was standing over me.  “You still have a wife and a son.  I suggest you do them the liberty of not throwing their lives away as well.  The powder is on the table.  My men will remain here until the deed is done.  Once it is done, you will be left to mourn your loss.”


I was numb when I entered work the following evening, my brain hotwired by fevered grief and cold terror.  I had nothing against this girl but I was going to kill her, of that I was certain.  I had no doubt and no choice.  I have told myself the same thing over and again.


I pushed the silver trolley up the long corridor feeling the resistance of the small wheels on the carpet.  The big man stood at the door as always.

“Benjamin.”  He nodded his head, his hands clasped in front of him.

I smiled weakly, my mouth almost too dry to be able to form words. I cleared my throat.  “You- you’re guest has ordered some food.”

I lifted the lid and the man known as Angry Bob peered in.  “What the f**k is that?”

“Vegetarian Chilli, Corn Jalapeno Lava bread, Organic Acai juice and fresh fruit.”

“Vegetarian Chilli?”  Bob turned up his nose.  “And what the f**k is Organic Acai juice?”

“It’s a berry from Brazil and Peru...”  I was starting to sweat and a nervous tick was tugging at the corner of my eye.

“Has anyone else touched this food?” Bob said, staring at me hard.

My heart heaved in my chest and my guts twisted.  “No, no... other than me and the Chef...”

Bob continued to stare at me.

“I was there when he was making it...” I said, acutely aware that I was jabbering.

“Why you sweating?”

He wasn’t missing a trick; I felt like he was staring into my very soul.  He seemed three, no four times my size.

“Not been well... wife and kids...” the word almost lodged in my throat. “Wife and kids have got it.”

“Are you sure you should be handling food?  We don’t want to get food poisoning.”

“No, no... it’s nothing like that.”

Bob stared at the food, ran a tongue over his lower lip and picked up a fork.  “Do us a favour...”

“Of course...”  I nodded and pushed a forkful of Chilli into my mouth, it burned my already parched throat.  I broke off a piece of Lava bread and sipped some of the Acai juice.

“And, the apple?”

I took one of the apples from the bowl and raised it to my mouth.  I pressed my teeth into the green side and heard it crunch. The flesh was crisp and sweet and delicious; the juice ran over my lips and down my chin.  My heart was pounding hard.  The Tetrodotoxin had been painted solely onto the red side so I took great care to keep my teeth and lips as far away from it as possible.  I chewed quickly and swallowed it.

Bob looked me over and padded me down before letting me wheel the trolley in. 

I saw the girl immediately.  She was sitting cross-legged on the bed, a cushion pulled up to her belly, her arms wrapped around it.  She seemed smaller than I had anticipated, more vulnerable...

I pushed the image from my mind and wheeled the trolley further into the room.  I forced a smile.

“Ahh thank God, I’m starving!”  She exclaimed, tossing the cushion aside and scooting herself forward on the bed.  She stuffed a chunk of lava bread into her mouth and made appreciative noises as she worked her jaw. “Iss-Goob!” She said, her mouth full.

I swallowed.  “You want to try those apples, too...” I said gesturing towards the bowl.  “They’re good.”

“Cool!”  She reached forward, her fingers curling around one of the apples.

“Well... Miss... Enjoy your meal...” I retreated, passing Bob at the door without another word, trying my hardest not to run down the corridor.  It was harder still to remain at work, every fibre of my being was telling me to run, run and hide.  I knew, though, that any attempt to flee would be an instant admission of guilt and what use would I be to my family then.  I tried to rationalise it, what use was I to my family as it was?

The pressure must have been getting to me as I was starting to suffer chest pains, swimming vision and a pounding headache.  I told the Chief Steward that I was going to take my break early, that I was feeling... off colour.  I vomited in the alleyway behind the hotel, gripping the rendered wall and gasping for breath.  My temples were throbbing and it felt as if my chest was caught in a vice.  I crumpled to my knees and heaved until I passed blood.

Through the haze of tears I saw a pair of feet in front of me.  Black leather Italian loafers, polished.  Strange are the things that tend to stand out clearly in moments of pain and panic.  I tried to lift my head... but couldn’t.  I pressed a hand to the wet concrete feeling its coolness beneath my burning palm.

I heard, in the distance, a siren wailing.

“I told you not to get any on your fingers...” The man said.

The siren grew in pitch as I doubled over and pressed my face to the ground, I tasted rain water and grit.

“My family... please...” I gagged; the words were clumsy and ill-defined in my swollen mouth.

“Not my problem,” he said turning on his heel.  It was then that I realised that the paramedics weren’t coming for me...












Blackness.  Consuming. Empty. Suffocating and complete.

It was the pain in my chest that woke me, a gripping, cramping pain.  My breathing was hollow in my ears, rushing, echoing.  I peeled my tongue from the roof of my mouth.  Every sinew and muscle screamed as I tried to move, I managed to raise my hands into the darkness.  The heat was stifling and my head swam.  I could feel a prickling sensation at the back of my head, on my shoulder blades, my a*s and my calves.  There was a roaring in my ears, a crackling.

Sweat rolled into my sightless eyes.

The heat... my God... the unbearable heat.

Am I in Hell?

Am I in Hell for what I’ve done?

I started to scream as everything began to dissolve, to burn.

The agony caused my limbs to activate.  I lurched upwards my hands crashing against splintering wood.  I screamed again, a sound I never knew, never believed that I could be capable of making.

The searing pain.

The flames.

My God, I’m burning!



© 2010 HoWiE

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I saw "bokor" and had to read it. lol

Lovely, really. When it got to the part where he slit Esme's throat, that is where the fun began. Or at least to me. The only thing that I didn't get was the ending. Did they set him on fire? Is he hallucinating? Is it a voodoo curse because he got it on his fingers? Is it to be continued?

Your writing reminds me of Edward Lee.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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Added on May 21, 2010
Last Updated on May 21, 2010
Tags: Rose Whyte, thriller, murder, death, poison, Vertigo City



Plymouth,, Devon, United Kingdom

Well, I'm back - it only took 8 years to get over my writer's block! Now 47, older, wiser and, for some reason, now a teacher having left the Armed Forces in 2012. The writing is slow going but .. more..

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