Value

Value

A Story by Unwelcomeguest
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A hungry demon is playing on the fears of the dieing by offering them the choice between life and death.

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Value

 

Prologue

 

The hospital ward was cold, dark and empty. Nearly every other room in the hospital was buzzing with energy, even at two in the morning, but not here. The people who got put in that room were beyond help. There had been four of them that morning, wheeled in by kindly nurses with smiling faces and bedded down for their last day on earth. As the nurses had left they had placed bets on who would last the night.

The fatter of the two bet on the boy. His hair had been taken by chemotherapy and his energy had been taken by the cancer that sat like a glistening spider on his brain but, as she insisted to her friend, he looked like a fighter. He lay alone, still awake, in a room with three dead men who had stopped breathing hours ago. Death stood at the other end of the room, waiting. The boy took another haggard breath. Death took another step forward his bone feet clacking on the cold lino. Only the boy heard him and he sunk deeper into his sheets. The Demon entered on the other side of the room and glared angrily at death with eyes that had seen much, much worse. Death stopped, turned and left without a word. It seemed as though he would not be required tonight.

The boy looked up with pale skin and dark eyes wary with fear at the suited man marching primly towards his bed. He didn’t look like a doctor, but that didn’t mean anything. The boy had become friendly with people in the hospital before, and then they had given him pills and shots that made his head swim and his body revolt and he had never spoken to them again. The man sat at the edge of the bed and looked down at the little shape, pierced by what seemed like a hundred tubes, cowering beneath the bedclothes.

“How are you doing?” he asked

The boy didn’t move.

“You’re going to die,” said the Demon simply.

The boy nodded.

“Do you want to live?”

The boy nodded again. The Demon smiled and the boy shrank even further into his death bed. All of the teeth in his mouth were savagely pointed and stained the same blood red of his lips “All you have to do is promise me something and you can live.” The boy nodded again. He was getting weaker every second. There was a clacking from the door again.

“Hurry it up Demon” came the dulcet tones of Death “I have other things to do tonight”. Death has no emotion, but if he did those words would’ve been laced with contempt and disgust at the creature now leaning hungrily over the boy like a carrion bird.

The Demon made no physical acknowledgement to the great entity now stalking up and down in the doorway, instead he hastened his tongue and lowered his head so that the words came out in a single rush “Every ten years I will return and you must give me the thing you most value in return for your life. If you refuse you will die. Do you understand?” Nothing. He leaned even closer. “Do, you, un-der-stand?” He said louder, carefully forming each word with his black tongue and forcing them out hard at the semi-corpse on the bed.

The boy made a movement that could’ve been a nod, but could just have much been an involuntary twitch. It could even have been rigor mortis. Death raised his scythe above the bed and grinned his eternal, skeletal grin at the boy.

“Do you accept these terms?” Nothing moved in that ward. The three beings stood, sat or lay like statues. Death began his downward stroke. The Demon grabbed the boy by the shoulders and yelled at him, his face so close to the boy’s that the child could feel the hot breath on his face and smell the pungent aroma of hell that tainted the air. “Do you accept!”

Death and the Demon vanished leaving the ward as cold and dark and empty as it had been when they arrived.

The next morning the corpses where wheeled reverentially away to the morgue and the nurse won her bet much to the disgust of her slimmer friend. The boy himself dismissed the entire incident as a dream. It was another week before he left the hospital; the doctors seemed unwilling to let him go. He was like a lucky charm for the hospital, a mascot. He left in a parade of smiles and journalists who all wanted to get a picture of miraculous survivor.

 

Chapter 1

 

His teachers were all morons he decided as he slammed the door to his bedroom and hurled the screwed up exclusion letter at the wall. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone? People got away with fights all the time, why did it have to be him who had got caught? Why was it always him? He slumped down onto his bed and stared at ceiling the as though it had done him a personal wrong.

It had been good though, the feeling of Mathew Tompkins’s nose shattering beneath his fist. The cheers of the gathering crowd as he kicked away the bigger boy’s shins and dragged him the floor beneath a shower of savage punches to his bloody face. He did the motions slowly with his fists in mid-air and grinned wider than he ever had done before, which wasn’t very much. They wouldn’t bully him again, not ever.

“How are you doing?” said the Demon sitting casually on the boy’s swivel chair, a present from two birthdays ago, as though this was an entirely normal thing to be doing. The boy leapt to his feet and stared.

“Who the hell are you?” he said.

“Close” said the Demon, smiling inwardly at his little joke. The boy said nothing. The Demon continued “don’t you remember me?” He stood, spreading his arms for inspection and looked on expectantly. Recognition failed to dawn across the boy’s blank face. “Of course you don’t, couldn’t have been older than six when we first met. You were about this big” he held up his index finger and thumb separated by only a few millimetres to indicate just how truly tiny the boy had been.

“Are you a friend of my dad’s?” asked the boy, relaxing slightly. Although he still couldn’t work out how this man had been there without him noticing. Being a rather forward person he asked.

The Demon answered, “I was here. I’m always here, you just don’t see me” the boy started edging towards the door again. This was obviously some kind of pervert. He should call the police. “Still nothing? Oh fine, have a clue.” The man smiled. The boy looked at the dagger sharp, red tinted teeth and remembered. He remembered everything.

“What are you?”

“I am a Demon,” said the Demon as blandly as the boy’s dad might say I’m an accountant or, simply, I’m English. “And you owe me something”

“I don’t have anything for you” Said the boy guiltily. His heart had started to beat faster and faster. He had also remembered the final clause of his deal. The bit about what happened if you refused.

“Yes you do. Just tell me the thing you value most. Oh and don’t lie to me because I will know. You can’t trick me in the same way that you cannot steal from a thief or con a conman. So answer me truthfully”

The boy thought. He thought about his family, but none of them really meant anything to him. Neither of his parents were ever home and his sister was even more of a moron than his teachers. He had no friends at school and had never wanted any. So what did he value the most? He looked down at the only toy on his bed. A rabbit that had long since had all of the stuffing hugged into its furthest extremities, with bulging hands and an insubstantial body. He had been given it ten years ago as he left the hospital by a rather fat nurse for no reason he could fathom, though the lady had seemed pleased about something.

His mother had tried to take it away from him later, because it reminded her of those times when she had had to watch her baby wasting slowly away, he for his part had clung to it like only a six-year-old can, refusing all offers of increasingly larger and more expensive toys until his mother, weary and just relieved to have him back had finally given up and resigned herself to the inevitable, and so the rabbit had stayed. The boy looked back up at the Demon who was nodding happily and licking his pointed teeth with a pointed black tongue.

“No, I can’t give you…” the Demon glared him into silence.

“We had a deal. I save your life and I get something in return”

“Go away, get out of my life. I never want to see you again!” He hugged the pitiful thing to his chest with a ferocity that surprised even him. It was his. It was the only thing he had. The Demon sat back down in the chair and sighed like a disappointed parent.

“Fallen at the first hurdle,” the Demon shook his head “a shame,” he said, and clicked his fingers

The door slammed open so hard it made the walls shake. The boy jumped expecting his mother or his sister coming up to tell him to quiet down. But there was nothing, only blackness.

Most dark is created through the absence of colour. This dark was made by the presence of black. It sucked at the light in his room and made the single electric bulb in his ceiling flicker and flash before going out completely. There was a moment of exquisite silence in which the boys heart, which had been beating like a jackhammer, suddenly stopped. A skeletal hand curled around the doorframe. The boy screamed

“Take it! Take it!” the boy hurled the toy at the madly grinning Demon and the door thumped back into place. The light came back on and for a while the only sound in the room was the boys quiet sobbing.

The Demon sniffed the toy like a wine connoisseur admiring the bouquet. It smelled, no, it stank of love and care and everything the Demon wasn’t. The boy watched with horror as the Demon sank its teeth into the toy and began to savage it with its dagger teeth like a dog. Stuffing flew everywhere and the Demon gulped down every last morsel, picking bits out his teeth and licking hungrily at the floor like a wild animal. When he had finished he sat back in his chair, because now it would never be the boy’s again, and licked his fingers. With a parting wave it vanished from existence.

The boy curled into a foetal position on the bed and cried. That was how they found him three hours later when the police came calling with “questions”. He was sent to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depression and gave him bitter pills for it. The boy got better and returned to school, and waited.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Every couple in town knew the place. An old railway bridge made of the traditional old red bricks that stretched across a long dried out river that had left behind nothing but a thin line of silt and cracked earth through the countryside. It was at least a mile from any marked footpaths, and even if some innocent bystander where to stumble past there by accident, they wouldn’t notice the bridge for the forest had long ago accepted the old thing into its care and vines and trees encased it in a prison of emerald green foliage.

The boy and Justine fell tumbling through the curtain of nature and onto the cracked of earth of the riverbed in a shower of leaves and broken twigs. He had picked her up last night at the local bar and they had gone back to hers with one thing in mind. Unfortunately for them her roommate had come home early so the boy still felt he hadn’t got his moneys worth from her. His home was completely out of bounds to girls, not because of any particularly strict rules laid down by the others he shared it with but because the pure stinking masculinity of the place would make any creature of a female persuasion run a mile, and so they had ended up at the bridge.

They were both covered in mud and sweat already and thus didn’t even think twice before falling together into the dirt, each attempting to rip the other’s clothes away as fast as possible, fumbling with buttons and clasps with growing excitement.

“How are you doing?”

The Demon was leaning against the lichen-coated bricks. He looked even more out of place here than he had in the boy’s room in or in the hospital ward. He still wore his immaculate suit that was, despite the filth around him, somehow spotless. Justine screamed with surprise and attempted to re-hook on her bra without meeting the Demon’s eyes. The boy breathed in deeply and pulled himself to his full height. Ten years had passed since they last met, and now he was a full head taller than the Demon and at least twice as broad.

“Fine, I suppose” he answered. The Demon smiled and pulled himself away from the wall.

“What have you got for me this time?”

Justine stared at the two of them like they were mad. Luckily for her she didn’t know that she was seeing worse than that. “Who the hell are you?” she muttered at the Demon, edging closer to the boy.

“Close” said the Demon, again, repeating his old inward smile.

“It wasn’t funny the first time” said the boy.

The Demon ignored him and instead he leaned towards Justine. “Who is this lovely little thing? She looks tasty” Justine grabbed the boy’s arm and held on tightly. The boy didn’t notice

“Did you know he would be here?” Justine said, accusingly, “Make him stop looking at me like that, I don’t like it” the boy finally looked down at her. He could give her up, easily, but this was different to a toy. Not that he would miss her but if he left into the forest with a girl and then said girl was never seen again that would be an inconvenience. People so often jumped to the wrong conclusions. He glanced back up at the Demon that was now looking at him expectantly like a hungry dog.

The boy remembered the skeletal hand closing around his doorframe.

Inconveniences could be endured.

Justine was no brainiac and she definitely wasn’t a psychic but she had seen a look in her new friend’s eyes and it scared her, more even than the strange man in the suit. So far nothing today was going as she had planned and now she was standing half naked in a forest with two men she was now, suddenly and completely, terrified of.

“Take her,” said the boy.

Justine ran. The boy and the Demon watched her go like two lions watching a fleeing gazelle, both waiting for the other to give chase first. It was the boy who broke the silence. “Well go on then, go get her” he said slightly annoyed. He waved his arms encouragingly at the fleeing girl.

The Demon shook his head “The thing you value most, I said. That was the deal. Not some hunk of street meat you happened to find lying around”

“What? You don’t want her?”

“I’m sorry but no.” he suddenly looked thoughtful “Tasty though she looks” he shook himself and focused back on the boy. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to do a lot better than that”

“I don’t know. You’re the one asking” the Demon looked at the boy appraisingly, like he was a farmer checking for illnesses in a new bull. The feeling disgruntled the boy and he shuffled uncomfortably, then he remembered himself and stopped.

“Fine, it is only your second time. I’ll tell you what I want just this once”

“Ok then, what do you want?”

“Your face.”

There was a silence. The Demon repeated it more slowly “I, want, your, face.” the Demon smiled his toothy smile. The boy just stared.

“That is ridiculous”

“You were willing to let me kill an innocent girl just a moment ago.” Said the Demon reasonably “how is this much worse?”

“Hunk of street meat” the boy corrected

“Fine, an innocent hunk of street meat”

“You’re insane”

“I know”

A pause.

“Go screw yourself”

The Demon didn’t answer this time. It just clicked its fingers. There was no slamming of doors, just the return sucking black as the dappled sunlight coming through gaps in the leaves was suddenly and violently snuffed out.

The boy didn’t need to look behind him to know that the black door was there. A noise, so quiet he could’ve imagined it, the clicking of bare bones against stone. The sort of sound you might hear if a living skeleton was slowly pulling himself out of the netherworld by grasping onto the rough bricks of an old railway bridge. Admittedly it’s not a common sound but it just didn’t sound like anything else.

“Its only your face, you’ll still be alive.” The boy’s mouth was dry. Every fibre in his body was telling him to turn around and face the thing behind him but he didn’t. He just glared at the grinning Demon. Reflected in the creature’s black eyes he saw something move. He focused on it.

A smiling skeletal face emerging from the doorway with grim determination.

He nodded and closed his eyes.

The pain was so excruciating that his legs buckled. Four lines of white fire tore their way across his skin and hot blood gushed down his ruined face. The Demon looked down at the bleeding boy at his feet and started picking the chunks of meat from beneath his suddenly lengthened nails with his teeth.

“See you soon”

Despite the doctors best efforts the wounds scarred. The boy wasn’t surprised. The feelings of depression sat waiting at the edge of subconscious and could’ve taken him again if it wasn’t for the nurse that took pity on him. They started dating a few months later and the boy, now becoming a man, started to forget everything that had happened to him in the last twenty years.

The Demon, for its part, savoured its new tribute and waited with anticipation for its next. Death just waited.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

“I do”

“You may now kiss the bride” said the vicar, solemnly closing his bible and stepping back from the newly weds.

The crowd cheered. The boy looked down at Nadia and smiled his crooked half smile. Of course with the jagged lines twisting his lips in strange directions it looked more like a grimace but she knew him well enough by now to be able to tell. It had been ten years after all. They kissed.

Everyone wanted a piece of the couple. Barely two steps from the altar and they were swamped by well-wishers and relatives. Looking longingly towards the reception room peopled with the legions exquisitely dressed waiters they allowed themselves to be dragged away. Putting aside their urgent need for champagne they posed for the pictures and smiled.

The boy glanced over at his son in a moment of calm amidst the happy chaos. He was surrounded by other children about his age and telling one of the many tales he had made up to explain his daddy’s scars. The kid made claws with his little hands, roared impressively, and charged at the others who broke before him giggling and screaming. The boy grinned with them. The bear one was definitely his personal favourite.

“Please can we go and get a drink now?” Nadia said in her wheedling voice that made his insides melt. Not that she needed any of her considerable persuasive powers right now, his tongue felt like it was twice its normal size and wrapped in sand paper.

“Sure” he said. The crowd moved with them chatting and laughing and saying what a lovely ceremony it had been. The bridesmaids, seeing that their mother was distracted by one of Nadia’s uncles, broke from the group and started sprinting towards the doors batting at each other with the fake flowers clutched in their hands. The boy stopped to watch them vanish outside. “I don’t think we’re going to get much more use out of those dresses” he said. Perfectly on time there came the squelching noise instantly identifiable as the kind of mud that children love because of its ability to stay in one blob when you throw it.

Nadia laughed “Oh well, we didn’t pay for them”

“Ha, lucky you” moaned the mother breaking away to pursue her daughters “The rental place is never going to give me the deposit back now”

“Good luck, Jane” they shouted after her.

For the boy the reception was wonderful. The band weren’t amazing and at least one of their instruments were out of tune but the singer was adequate, or at least adequate enough to get nearly a hundred drunk adults up to dance but then again a cat in a bag being slammed repeatedly into a wall could do that. But that didn’t matter to him because he was doing it with Nadia.

The boy danced. He let peoples’ looks glide of him. They could look if they wanted; all that mattered was that Nadia didn’t care. He would’ve gone mad long ago without her. After a shared look, her leaning back from his chest as they spun slowly to the music, they kissed again, longer and deeper than before. There was another cheer. Jeff, the boy’s best man, came over and tapped his shoulder.

“Hey mate the camera guy wants you to check the photos before he prints them.”

“Fine” the boy said reluctantly, detaching himself from Nadia.

“Why hello my lady, may I have this dance?” said Jeff, bowing extravagantly. Nadia giggled and took his outstretched hand.

“Oh go on then” she said.

The boy left them waltzing slowly in the centre of the dance floor.

The photographer was a little man who seemed to be shaking constantly, the boy wondered absently how the man ever managed to take clear photos. He greeted him with a forced smile. He had done so much today that any grin he made, even through his mangled features, was starting to look more like a death.

“Oh, uhm, h-h-hello. Could you just look through th-th-the…” he stuttered himself to a halt, staring without shame at the deep valleys cut through the boy’s face.

“Yeah, yeah sure. Lets have a look” said the boy kindly, taking the proffered camera and squinting at the little screen on the back. This was a good one of him and Nadia. He wondered if they could have them blown up enough to go in a frame. He flicked through to the next one.

The boy’s blood ran cold and his fingers tightened around the camera.

He was there.

“Uh, uh, careful sir. Excuse me, s-s-sir?” the man simpered pathetically.

The boy didn’t answer. He continued to move through the photos. He was in every one. Staring dead at the camera and smiling his pointed tooth smile. Every single one. It wasn’t even a surprise when the boy heard his voice.

“How are you doing?”

The boy handed back the camera with forced calm and turned slowly. The Demon stood there in his unchanging suit with his smug, unchanging suit. He was propping open a door with one arm and gesturing with the other. The door lead to tiny room with a purpose the boy could not fathom. He went in. The Demon followed.

“Can’t you leave me alone?” he said

“No” said the Demon, simply, “we have a deal”

“Just for one day!” the boy thumped the wall with one big fist and spun on the Demon “just leave me alone for one goddamn day”

“I’ve left you alone for ten years. Not my fault you decided to plan your wedding on the day of my return”

“I’ve had to live with this,” he yelled, stepping forwards until they were nose-to-nose and gesturing at his ruined face. The Demon wiped spittle from his face calmly and gently pushed the boy back with one hand.

“You chose this over death. You did this all to yourself. If you want it to stop then just say” the Demon raised his hand with thumb and finger pressed together. He raised an eyebrow. There was a tense moment, and then the boy backed down and slouched into the single wooden chair that sat alone against one wall.

“Good.” Said the Demon like he was talking to a disobedient dog that had finally learned to fetch. He lowered his hand. “Down to business I think” now the tone was expectant. He rubbed his hands together.

The boy raised his head. “You can have Jeff. He was my best man.” The Demon shook his head.

“Nope, we’re at a wedding. There must be something better than him.”

“Jane, I like her”

“You would set me on the mother of three children? My, my you are compassionate. Still the evil does appeals to me,” He paused as though he was considering, the boys heart soared “but no. Keep trying.”

The boy thought desperately. His parents were here, and Nadia’s. All his friends from work but if the Demon didn’t want Jeff then it certainly didn’t want them. His wedding ring maybe? He would give anyone, anything. Except…

The Demon spoke, interrupting his train of thought. He said it almost absently like he wasn’t even speaking to anyone at all. “I must say you have a beautiful wife”

The boy rocketed from the chair like an avenging angel and slammed the Demon against a wall with one hand clamped around his throat. “Don’t you dare,” he said in a hoarse whisper “Don’t you even dare” the Demon cocked his head to one side and groaned with a world-weariness the boy hadn’t expected. Suddenly the old wounds on his face tore open and the pain was there again as fresh as if they were newly inflicted.

The boy screamed and fell backwards. Tripping over the chair and crashing into the wall, scrabbling desperately at his bloody face as though he could pull the flesh back together again. He looked pleadingly up at the Demon who was now carefully adjusting his collar and tie in a tiny hand held mirror.

“You can’t hurt me I’m afraid.” He said without looking away from the mirror “The passage of pain and suffering is a one way street in this relationship” he finished and the mirror vanished into thin air. “Well”, he said, finally looking down at the boy like he was something he had found on the bottom of his shoe “I think that answers the question of who you value most”

The door opened and Nadia rushed in. Instantly pain was gone and the boy found he was just running his hands over the familiar valleys and ridges of the scars. The blood to was gone without leaving a single stain. Nadia stared at the scene in utter bewilderment; the boy crouched on the floor where he had fallen, hands raised protectively over his face while the well-dressed man she had never seen before towered over him.

“I heard shouting, what’s wrong?” she looked imploringly at the boy and mouthed, “who’s he?” while indicating the Demon with her thumb.

“Oh nothing my dear” said the Demon “we were just talking about you actually”

“I’m sorry but, who the hell are you?” she asked looking away from the boy who was now frozen in fear and disbelief that this was actually happening.

“Close” said the Demon, he turned the boy. “So, do you agree with what we were talking about then?” he said cryptically. Nadia looked even more confused. The boy wanted to tell her to run. He wanted to throw himself in between the Demon and her. He wanted to do anything he could to protect her from a danger she didn’t even know existed.

But he couldn’t move. Instead all he did was shake his head feebly. The Demon saw the motion and just clicked his fingers. The doorway was like an old friend. It appeared behind Nadia and she didn’t notice as the familiar hand began to pull himself through. The single light set into the ceiling went out. “Are you sure? I really think you should agree” said the Demon.

Despite the darkness the boy could see everything. He could see Nadia and the Demon. He could see the skull appearing soon to be followed by shoulders and torso. It wasn’t long before it was completely out of the doorway, bent at the waist in order to fit through. Finally free of its confines Death unfolded himself, scythe clutched in one hand, and looked at the boy. Finally, realising that everyone else was looking at something behind her, Nadia turned.

“Oh God” was all she said, much too calmly, before spinning on one heel and trying to run. The Demon grabbed her arm before she could make it even a few steps and clamped his other hand over her mouth to stifle the rising scream. “Not yet my dear. Your husband has a decision to make”

Death took a step forward. The boy still couldn’t move. He really didn’t want to die. He had forgotten almost everything from his time in the hospital. Everything except the feeling of weight pressing down on his entire body. The way his life started to shut down one part at a time. He couldn’t face that again, much as he loved Nadia his fear raged through his body drowned any other emotion like a biblical flood. Death reached out a single bony hand.

His empty sockets met the boy’s human eyes and he shook his skull imploringly. The hand touched the boys skin and he couldn’t take it any longer. Tears ran down his face as he screamed for the Demon to take her. TAKE HER!

The light snapped on and Death vanished. For a second the boy thought the Demon had gone with it but a cursory glance crushed all hope beneath one iron boot.

Nadia had no idea what was going on anymore. The man in the suit released her but she didn’t try to run. She couldn’t, something was holding her there and it was much, much stronger than anything she could ever muster. She watched the man she loved as he stood shakily to his feet and looked at her like she wasn’t there. His eyes misted with tears. The salty drops ran crazily down the furrows of his face.

“I love you” he said and looked away, eyes firmly shut. It was the last sound she heard. Her entire attention was taken up by the boy so she didn’t see the Demon baring down behind her. She barely felt the first bite as it stabbed into the flesh at the base of her neck and didn’t even have time to scream as the Demon pulled her head clear of the spine. The boy listened to the Demon feasting. When he turned around again both Demon and Nadia where gone. Only one thing was left, spinning slowly on its edge like it had been dropped. A single unadorned band of gold, identical to the one on his own finger.

He picked it up slowly and held it in his palm as the sound of the party began to creep back into his reality.

Something in the boy had snapped now. People didn’t notice it because they couldn’t see anything recognisable in his mask of a face but if they had they would’ve backed away and run for their lives. No one remembered where Nadia had gone and people just assumed she had got cold feet and fled. The boy remained silent.

The first thing the boy did when he got home was to burn every single picture of the wedding. Shortly after he moved out of town with his son and bought a gun. He started reading old books about Demons and angels. He bought a crucifix as well and hammered it above his door. People assumed he had gone mad with grief, they were wrong. The boy had gone mad with rage.

No more cowardice, he would have his revenge…

 

Chapter 4

 

The boy loaded the gun with deliberate calm and cocked it with same unsettling serenity. Job done he placed it on the table and walked to the calendar to cross of another day. Today, the Demon would come today. The boy checked the clock next. Two hours to go, he had time. Sitting down in the large armchair placed strategically between fire and television he started to polish the gun.

On his bookshelf tome upon leather bound tome sat and stared accusingly back at him. Each one had been bought or, when the owner was asking too much or simply unwilling to sell, stolen from churches and collectors around the country. Together they detailed more that three centuries worth of collected knowledge about Demons.

The boy put down the gun and looked at the clock again. Still an hour to go. He leaned over and lifted an old picture from the mantle piece. It was the photo from the wedding. One side of the picture had been burned away the day after the wedding by the boy brandishing a box matches and a determined expression. He had removed every single picture of the Demon and burned him away. He looked at the newly doctored picture and smiled through the scars. Nadia smiled her frozen smile back at him. He placed it back on the mantle piece, twisting it slightly so he could still see her from where he sat.

Fifty minutes to go.

“This is for you” he said to the picture. “For you”

The boy picked up the gun again.

The boy waited…

© 2010 Unwelcomeguest


Author's Note

Unwelcomeguest
This is my first finished short story and I feel a really need to develop my style so suggestions on that note would be welcomed. Ignore grammar and spelling problems, I have to learn to find them myself.

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Featured Review

Your writing shows a lot of potential and your imagination seems untehtered by restriction or taboo. I found this story to be imaginative and engaging and for a first finished short it is quite an achievement.
The main aspect of the story that I think could be improved is the boy's age. Forgive me if I read this wrong, but, to my understanding, he was six when the demon first met him and therefore sixteen when he had to give up his rabbit; twenty six when he lost his face and 36 on his wedding day. For all the first chapter is excelent in terms of character building and giving the boy's unique perspective, I think you could pretty much do without it. The scene near the bridge seemed much more like a sixteen year old than a 26 year old- and the scene where he's sixteen seems more like someone who was around ten in places, (not that I'm saying 16 year olds can't have toy rabbits, just that the boys' perspective and general angst seemed closer to adolescence than teenage years).
Also- do you think the boy could do with having a name? I think it would add a certain amount of suspense to the story if we read the prologue and then were given an omniscient insight into the mind of a named character. It would have us guessing if this was indeed the boy from the hospital or if this is a subplot- then it would have a small element of surprise when the demon appears and makes his demand, (especially as the boy can't really remember the demon- this would give the reader a sense of empathy in the realisation- i.e, we realise when he does).
I don't know if this is machismo on my part, but I expected to be unconvinced that the boy would give up the love of his life so easily, but the fear you portrayed and the manner in which the demon forced the boy to make such a rash decision was very convincing. That was well cool.
Finally, to the ending. I really like endings that leave much to the imagination, but I felt your ending was more reminiscient of a good cliffhanger and begs to be concluded! I really did want to know the outcome to this. The main reason for this is that I see the boy with the gun awaiting the demon in fifty minutes time, but I'm aware that he can't physically hurt the demon, so i start to ask if he's gonna commit suicide in front of the demon and death as a big '**** you- I'm going my way', (which I'm assuming would be the only plausible outcome in this no win situation), and I found it frustrating not to know. That's only my personal opinion of this particular story though. The ending works as it is and I'm sure many would agree with me, but I suppose it felt that there were one too many loose ends. I expected to read that the boy would finally defy the demon for the love of his own child and I think it could be quite sinister if say the boy gives his life for his child only for the child to be mortally wounded, (by the gun perhaps?) and then the demon can begin the cycle all over again!
I hope you find some part of this review useful and aren't offended by my suggestions. I think your command of language and storytelling abilities are really good and i believe that one day soon you'll be writing novel length stories of a macabre nature. I'm got hints of clive barker, stephen king and james herbert type storytelling in this, but you have a unique style all of your own already. Well done, spence

Posted 9 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Wow. This is amazing. So engaging and imaginative. I love everything I read in this. Love the description of the demon and the story line. I also loved the open/cliff-hanger ending - it leaves a lot up to the reader's own imagination. This is really an incredible piece. Fantastic - loved it!

Posted 9 Years Ago


I like the story a lot. You set-up each scene in the story with strong leads and good stories. I would like it to more longer and more detail. This could be a very good story. Characters and events are interesting.
Coyote

Posted 9 Years Ago


Your writing shows a lot of potential and your imagination seems untehtered by restriction or taboo. I found this story to be imaginative and engaging and for a first finished short it is quite an achievement.
The main aspect of the story that I think could be improved is the boy's age. Forgive me if I read this wrong, but, to my understanding, he was six when the demon first met him and therefore sixteen when he had to give up his rabbit; twenty six when he lost his face and 36 on his wedding day. For all the first chapter is excelent in terms of character building and giving the boy's unique perspective, I think you could pretty much do without it. The scene near the bridge seemed much more like a sixteen year old than a 26 year old- and the scene where he's sixteen seems more like someone who was around ten in places, (not that I'm saying 16 year olds can't have toy rabbits, just that the boys' perspective and general angst seemed closer to adolescence than teenage years).
Also- do you think the boy could do with having a name? I think it would add a certain amount of suspense to the story if we read the prologue and then were given an omniscient insight into the mind of a named character. It would have us guessing if this was indeed the boy from the hospital or if this is a subplot- then it would have a small element of surprise when the demon appears and makes his demand, (especially as the boy can't really remember the demon- this would give the reader a sense of empathy in the realisation- i.e, we realise when he does).
I don't know if this is machismo on my part, but I expected to be unconvinced that the boy would give up the love of his life so easily, but the fear you portrayed and the manner in which the demon forced the boy to make such a rash decision was very convincing. That was well cool.
Finally, to the ending. I really like endings that leave much to the imagination, but I felt your ending was more reminiscient of a good cliffhanger and begs to be concluded! I really did want to know the outcome to this. The main reason for this is that I see the boy with the gun awaiting the demon in fifty minutes time, but I'm aware that he can't physically hurt the demon, so i start to ask if he's gonna commit suicide in front of the demon and death as a big '**** you- I'm going my way', (which I'm assuming would be the only plausible outcome in this no win situation), and I found it frustrating not to know. That's only my personal opinion of this particular story though. The ending works as it is and I'm sure many would agree with me, but I suppose it felt that there were one too many loose ends. I expected to read that the boy would finally defy the demon for the love of his own child and I think it could be quite sinister if say the boy gives his life for his child only for the child to be mortally wounded, (by the gun perhaps?) and then the demon can begin the cycle all over again!
I hope you find some part of this review useful and aren't offended by my suggestions. I think your command of language and storytelling abilities are really good and i believe that one day soon you'll be writing novel length stories of a macabre nature. I'm got hints of clive barker, stephen king and james herbert type storytelling in this, but you have a unique style all of your own already. Well done, spence

Posted 9 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on March 7, 2010
Last Updated on March 7, 2010

Author

Unwelcomeguest
Unwelcomeguest

Winchester, Hampshire , United Kingdom



About
Well, I'm sixteen and essentially sick and tired of the utter mundanity of the world I get to live in. When I was younger I would pretend to be an alien and escape from school or have imiginary sword .. more..

Writing
Trolls Trolls

A Chapter by Unwelcomeguest


Prologue Prologue

A Chapter by Unwelcomeguest



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