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Wormwood Prophets Society

Source: Wormwood Prophets Society




Martine sat uneasily in her chair as a moth fluttered around, trapped in her florescent clear body. Martine would listen to it’s humming as it drew closer to the glowing light bulb situated near her furiously pumping heart. One of Arthur’s inventions, keeping his wife alive.


The darkness fell quickly on the city outside Martine’s window. Decayed and depraved gray buildings that lined up beside each other for as far as the eye could see. Martine never went out of her apartment. She only sat at her window and watched the world go by. Watching blue-pink spheres rotate in the sky, leaving a gray film over the city. The poisonous gas in the air would shatter her clear plastic body, if Martine would step outside, others, without a gas mask, would turn into a lump blackened flesh as if they had been in an oven.


She would sketch the happenings out there, people walking along the sidewalk, to their jobs, back to their homes. Children playing in the streets, or going off to school. It was a way to try to forget all their troubles, especially the bills.


Arthur came home.










Martine was glad to see him. She ran to Arthur and hugged him. He took off his gas mask and threw it in the corner of the small one room house. He stood there, gently shut the door as he put his arms around her. She looked up smiling at him. Arthur kissed the top of her head.


“What have you been doing all day, then?” He went to the kitchen table with her hanging on to his arms. He sat down, tossed his duffel bag on the bed that was only a few inches from the table.


“Just drawing,” Martine said. She sat next to him. “How was your day?” She handed him her sketch book.


“It’s always the same at the factory, Martine,” Arthur thumbed through the pages quickly until he came across a picture he liked. He laughed. “Mrs. Quran and her awful kids. This is a real good one.”


The sketch was more of a caricature than a resemblance. It showed a large woman with three heads, one smiling at a man on street, one crying, another with large teeth biting at her children.









“What did you make today?” Martine asked. She went to the stove and stirred a brown liquid that bubbled to the top of the rusted pot. She returned to the table, placed the pot in front of Arthur. She sat down, her eyes transfixed on him.


“It’s the same everyday, darling. Creating the perfect flower and planting it to restore oxygen to the atmosphere here in our city.” No. That wasn’t what he was making. He was mass producing the Police cameras, a robotic EYE.


“Eat,” Martine touched his hand.


“Are you having any?” Arthur took the metal spoon and scooped some of the brown goo out. He put it to his lips and cringed. With eyes closed, holding his breath, Arthur swallowed the only nourishment the Uppers allowed his people to have.


“No,” She shook her head. “I ate yesterday. I’ll be fine for the rest of the week.”









It was true that brown muck was made from a wheat germ grown inside the testicle of a pig, which itself is grown in laboratory; has all the requirements a human body needs to survive.


Arthur ate the entire pot, immediately he felt his stomach ache. He ran to the bathroom. Just a room with a non-working commode, a cracked mirror, and a rusted sink. He sat on the commode just in time.



There was a knock at the door. Martine answered it, precariously. Standing in the doorway was a tall, thin man in a black trench coat and a gas mask, which was surgically attached to his face.


She screamed and slammed the door shut. Martine ran to the bed and crawled underneath the cot. There was the sound of continuous rapping. A voice calling out Arthur’s last name. Martine was shaking. She closed her eyes and wished the situation would disappear.


She felt hands on her. She was being pulled from under the cot. She opened her eyes and saw Arthur. She threw her arms around his neck, sobbing loudly.








“I’m sorry,” Martine said.


“It’s okay.” Arthur whispered. “You didn’t know who it was.”

“I just thought it was one of the neighbors…Mrs. Quaran. or her kids.”


“Mr. Hope…you owe the City Corporation four thousand crowns,” The voice was computerized with no human touch involved at all. “Pay or face the consequences.”


Bill collectors were Automated beings. Once activated, you either pay what you owed, or everything inside the building is destroyed. You can not argue your way out of the situation. But, they can not come inside the building unless invited in or acknowledged.




Martine acknowledged it.


Now the second faze has been activated. It will find entrance at all cost.










They heard it on the roof of the building. Footsteps echoed, the ceiling bowed. Tile and dust fell upon Martine and Arthur’s heads. Arthur was not going to be a sitting duck. He left Martine and went to the window to see if the lights from the Police vehicle the Bill collector had rode in was still shining.


Martine rolled back under the cot. She closed her eyes, still wishing it would all disappear.


Arthur slipped on his gas mask. He put on his bomber jacket and took a screwdriver with him. Outside, the sky was a velvet cover no stars could enter. The only light the city was allowed outside was the EYE, a Police vehicle that a huge silver ball-shape with long spider-like legs and a camera attached that could see up to a thousand miles from it’s resting place.


Arthur approached the EYE, it lowered a it’s gun, it’s target was set. An automated voice sounded off a warning. Arthur ignored it.










Arthur fell to the ground on his stomach, just as the EYE fired a green beam from it’s gun. The beam just barely missed Arthur. He rolled left, another beam shot past his face. It burned a larger hole in the city street than the first. Arthur was still holding his screwdriver in his right hand. He placed the point of the screwdriver into a crevice between the the ball and the legs.


As soon as Arthur could feel electricity move from the EYE to his fingertips, he dropped the screwdriver and rolled from underneath the machine. Blue and pink sparks covered the EYE, an electrical prism had been born.


The EYE crumbled from the lack of stability. It’s front leg fell to the asphalt, wires still attached to it’s now exposed hardware, a circuit board going haywire.


Arthur watched the machine fall apart completely, dust and rubble enveloping it. Soon the human Police will arrive. An entire army. He will be shot on sight. But who will take care of Martine?


Then he remembered Martine. He remembered the Bill collector. He remembered

the danger she was in.








He ran inside the house, or what was left of it inside. The table was obliterated as well as the bed, where he left Martine. Large holes in the walls , sharing the outside world, poisonous gas and the red glow from other Police EYES swarming the night skies.


There, in the middle of a mattress turned to pulp, was what was left of Martine’s body…pieces of her…her clear plastic chest cracked wide open….her internal organ lay disconnected from her circuit board…..the light bulb that was once beside her beating heart, now in shards next to her along with remnants of dust from the Atom ball. She had a peaceful smile on her partial face.


From behind him he heard the Bill collector’s voice. “Paid in full—or suffer the consequences….” The Bill collector held in both open hands the particles from the personal Atom ball he’d just cracked open.


Arthur was motionless. Stunned. Only his hands shook, his mouth was left gaping, a tiny gurgle meant as a scream rose from his dry throat.


A moth fluttered by Arthur, momentarily taking his eyes from the Bill collector.










The moth flew to the Bill collector and disappeared into a tiny crack on the left side of his gas mask. He flinched, began waving his arms desperately. The Atom particles fell to his trench coat and immediately blew him apart. A small mushroom cloud formed from detached body.


The moth flew from his gas mask and fluttered around Arthur’s face. He opened up a hand. It gently fell on the palm, crawled to the end of his index finger. He brought it up to his gas mask. It crawled around until it found a slight opening on the right side, eased itself inside.


Arthur heard it whisper his name and he knew it was Martine’s voice.



                              PAN IS THE MAN WHO COUNTS TO FOUR
                                                          By MARK SLADE copyright m.s. 2012
Century City is the place where Kate Mcbain and her rogues have their base for business.
They have converted an empty warehouse with three floors. Top floor is where they first host all the relics they find for the museum and Prof. Henders, before it is shipped to the museum. Second floor is living quarters for Kate and her men. Consisting of Graham Longly, her body guard. Ah, Mogulah. Her chief researcher, guide for lands foreign, and master of ten languages. There is Clint Harper. The kid brother of a friend in the police force Kate once was friendly with. Clint is an Arms specialist. He has another specialty, which is letting his mouth get him into trouble.
On the third floor, the basement, is where Kate keeps her God safely in his pine box of fresh dirt. The God Dailis. The God of Vengeance and Death. When he is in his human form, in the day, he is Capt. Rick Cooper. Cooper served in U.S. Army during world war one. He was caught by bullet in the face, which is why he wears a kerchief around his lower part of his face. In the trench one day Cooper was caught in a mustard gas attack. He wasn’t quite dead yet. Another soldier from his unit made sure he was.
This comrade in arms wore a gas mask, went looking for Cooper. He found him lying face down, coughing up his insides, and shot him in the face.
Kate went into the basement to speak with Dailis, or as the Newspapers know him, BLOODFLOWER.
His box was empty. Kate looked everywhere for him. Clint had followed her down to the basement. “What’s the big deal if Cooper is gone?” He stood in the doorway, folded his arms. “Maybe he had a hot date,” He laughed.
“Yes, a twit like you wouldn’t also notice that the Krunell Ring we found in Greece was missing along with Cooper. Who happens to be a God as well!” Kate pushed Clint out of the doorway.
“I love it when a woman is angry.” Clint chuckled.
Mogulah followed Kate up the stairs. “Where do you think he is going?” Mogulah nearly lost his fez, tipped it back on his head with one hand. “He’s a very frail man. He couldn’t have gone far.”
“Oh, he’s still in the city Mogulah. I’m sure Clint and Graham can ask our fellow city dwellers if they’ve seen a man with half a face.”
Clint sighed, rolled his eyes. “We always get stuck with leg work.”
Cooper had found his way to the Golden Lamb club on the east side. It had taken a lot of his energy just to walk two blocks from where the bus had dropped him off. All eyes were on the old man in a trench coat, homburg and red kerchief covering his face. Since it was the dead of winter, not too many people thought it strange. As anyone could feel what a collective thought of all who caught glances of Cooper, he must have been a criminal of some sort.
He was met at the door of the club by a young woman in a top hat and a sequined short skirt. She took Cooper’s homburg and trench coat. “The bar is to the left and the stage show is in the back with the tables,” The girl said. Cooper looked twice. He could have sworn he saw her talking without moving her lips. “My name is Ecko and if I can be of any service feel free to assert yourself.”
She took Cooper by the arm, and with his gimpy leg, Cooper slowly went through the door to the stage in the back of the room. He sat at a table far from the stage. He noticed it was all young girls working in this establishment.
He took his chair and immediately a waitress appeared. “My name is Syrnx. Is there anything I can get you,” Through the smoke that seemed waver past the blond girls face and short bobbed hair, Cooper saw she wore a necklace made from reeds from a river bank.
This made Cooper smile. “Of course,” He said, nodding his head. “Two things: A scotch on the rocks and tell Robertto Panzini I’m here. Capt. Cooper is the name.”
The waitress gave him a inquisitive look.
“Don’t worry, he knows the name.” Cooper ran a hand through his balding head. He looked around, watched the waitress skirt around tables holding host to a full house, mostly men in suits and thick new york accents.
Cooper put his hand in his trouser pocket. The Kruner ring was still there. That had been an easy job. Beat out the millionaire Jacob Stern in a race to dive in the deep waters of the Mediterranean.
From Mogulah’s research, a statue that was spotted by deep sea divers was the statue of Katrine, former lover of the God Zeus. Inside this statue held the Kruner ring. A ring made of Quartz. Clint and Graham had to not only dive for this statue and attach the ropes to pull it up by Kate on the boat, they had to take care of Stern’s men. Daybreak prevented Cooper changing into Dailis.
The curtains raised on the stage. The spotlights appeared, and out of the dark stepped a tall slender man with a goatee in a black tuxedo. A microphone was lowered by a string and the man took it with both hands.
“Here’s your host,” He said with a slight lisp. “Good evening all. My name is Robertto Panzinni. I own the joint. I present the house band, Billie and his Kids. 1-2-3-4!” Panzinni screamed.
Upbeat swing music began with a drum roll and the seven piece horn section raged with a vicarious frenzy. The singer danced in his newly shined shoes and his waxed down sprung into action, sticking out on both sides as he shook his head and his legs kicked in the air as he slid forwards and backwards. Then he heard his cue, another drum roll.
The singer had a golden voice, velvety. He sang: “Mares eat oats and Does eat oats and little Lambs eat ivy.”
The crowd went wild. Catcalls, whistles, clapping their hands, grown men pounding their fists on the tables. Cooper put his hands over his ears. All that ruckus hurt his ears, and he was referring to the music. He stood, asked a waitress as loud as he could for his bill and he would pay as he got his coat and hat.
Panzinni put his hand on the waitress’ shoulder. “No, Capt. Cooper does not pay single cent for his drink. You cant’ leave yet. The music get’s hotter, my friend.”
“That’s what’s driving me out of here,” Cooper quipped. “Really I just came to see you…but if you’re busy with you’re party..”
“Nonsense! Never too busy for a friend.” Panzinni whispered in the young woman’s ear, stole up her skirt with a hand. She giggled and whisked away to the bar.
“Come this way, Captain,” Panzinni took the frail man by the elbow, helping him out of the stage area and down a long hallway toward steps down to a bottom floor. “Do you have what I asked for?”
Cooper stopped short of entering a room with table and six chairs. At the door was two large goons with thick curly hair and thick beards. Cooper looked both of them up and down. “All of that depends if you have what I asked for.”
Panzinni sighed, shrugged his shoulders. “Would I let a friend down?” His lisp becoming more apparent as he spoke to his goons in Greek. They nodded to him in unison. “Of course,” Panzinni urged Cooper in the room. “Our guests will be arriving soon.”
Cooper took a chair at the end of the square table. He took a handkerchief to wipe sweat rolling down to his scarred side of his face under the kerchief. Panzinni met the waitress at the door. He took the tray of bourbon and glasses from her, blew a kiss. She swished away, a huge smile on her face.
“That lady didn’t have to throw her coffee in my face,” Clint wiped the liquid from his left cheek. They were standing in the crowded streets asking anyone questions who would listen.
“No,” Graham patted Clint on the back. “She didn’t have to, but she did. Looked like she enjoyed it as well.”
“Lately I have had that effect on people,” Clint snarled.
Graham laughed. “Lately, you say?”
“Psst….” They heard a voice from around the corner. Then a head would peer round once in awhile.
Graham started to walk to find the voice, Clint grabbed him by the arm. “Wait, it might be a trap,” He said with a serious tone. Graham gave him a look, then laughed.
“Not this time, Clint, old boy.” He walked to the corner, looked around to find a boy of twelve standing there, posing as the toughest man on the street. The boy was dressed in short pants and a cabby hat on his tilted to side, a green and brown scarf around his neck that was too long for his body. He was chewing on a tooth pick and averting his eyes from anyone else eyes.
“Did you say you were looking for somebody? The boy said.
“What’s it to you, rugrat?” Clint stepped in close to the boy.
Graham pulled Clint away by his elbow. “I’ll handle this Clint.”
“Names Paddy, boy- o!” The boy spat his tooth pick at Clint and Graham’s feet.
“I’m sorry, my friend has no tact,” Graham put his hand out for Paddy to shake, instead he just stared at it. “My name is Graham, this is Clint. Nice to meet you Paddy.”
“Yeah, yeah, likewise.” Paddy shook Graham’s hand.
“You have information for us, Paddy?”
“ Lookin’ for a strange lookin’ guy in a trench coat and a red handkerchief across his face. I’ll tell youse guys. For a price.”
“A con job is what this is,” Clint said.
“Tell your dog to heel,” Paddy spread his arms like an eagle ready to pounce.
“Clint, be quiet!” Graham shoved Clint. Clint gave him a hurtful glance. “What’s your price, Paddy?”
“A fiver.” Paddy put his hands up.
“Don’t give this kid five bucks, Graham.” Clint said in Graham’s ears.
“I said shut-up Clint. You better not con me, kid. Or I’ll wipe your snotty nose with my fists. Got it, punk?” Graham pushed Paddy against the brick wall.
Paddy was shocked by this gesture. “I ain’t conning nobody, mister. I swear.”
Graham stared at Paddy a few seconds. He took out a five dollar bill and slapped it in the boy’s hand. “Okay. You’re going to show us where you saw him. Got me?”
“Yeah, yeah. No problem, mister.”
A short stout man in a gray fedora and gray overcoat entered and sat next to Cooper. Panzini appeared, sending his men away, with orders to evacuate the nightclub, all of this spoken in Greek.
“ Ah, Micha. You’ve arrived,” Panzini placed a glass of beer in front of the man. “Cooper, may I present Adolfis Micha.”
Cooper nodded. Micha looked at this man with indifference. “What the hell is this, Panzini?” The man in his early fifties said. “I’ve already paid you this month. Where’d you get the freak?”
“Yes, yes. You have indeed, Micha.” Panzinni sat across from the other two. “And up until now, you were under my protection here in Century City.”
“What do you mean up until now? We don’t need a war do we, Panzini?”
Panzini shrugged. “I don’t think there will be, Micha. You see..there is a need for change in your…grocery business.”
Micha was leering at him. “You do, do you?” Micha had retrieved a snub nose pistol from his overcoat. “Who did you have in mind, Panzini?”
“Claski can handle things…you are not going to need that gun. I’m afraid it’s useless.” Panzini said.
“A gun is never useless,” His fat cheeks became flushed, sweat rolled down his forehead. He felt very unusually hot.
“Do you recognize me,” Cooper said. “We served together in the first great war…”
A moment of clarity crossed Micha’s face. He pulled the trigger, the gun aimed actually at no one. It was rather unintentional. Micha screamed.
Micha felt the yellow fiery smoke exit his overcoat. His eyes began to tear up, then sores formed over them. His skin became irritated, itchy. The vapor had filled his entire body. He convulsed for a few minutes before falling dead to the floor, the gun fell and rolled under the table.
“Well,” Panzini stood, when the yellow vapor cleared the room. “That was easier than I thought. I absolutely feel no grief loosing him as a business partner.”
“I never thought I would track him down,” Cooper said, feeling rather weak, he placed a hand on his head, closed his eyes. “I need to rest a moment.”
Panzini put his hand out. “Of course…but I must insist on the ring.”
Cooper took from his pocket and tossed the chunky square ring to Panzini.
“Now, I am no longer a victim of the curse..I am a God not part, but whole.” Panzini slipped the ring on.
When Cooper reopened his eyes, Panzini had changed. He had grown legs of a goat as well as horns.
Cooper saw the crowd of people in the street when he exited Panzini’s club. In that crowd Clint and Graham emerged, calling his name. Paddy ran after them. Cooper kept walking, they trailed him. Clint ran up in front of him.
“Please, Clint, I’m very tired.”
“You got some angry people after you, and Kate is one of them,” Clint said.
Paddy called out to Graham. “Where’s my fiver?”
Graham handed him the money. “Where’s your folks, kid?”
“That’s not important. What is, is that I can now get my supper,” Paddy disappeared into the dark night.
Clint was left standing there, wondering how a kid got in that situation. He heard Clint say, “Let’s get you home, old man. You know it’s after midnight?”
“Of course I do you fool! I planned it this way. Get your hands off me.”
“I guess a body has to accept it’s situation, no choice,” Graham said. He ran to catch up with Clint and Cooper.

Franz could not rise from his chair, nor leave the table, for the Face on his stomach would not allow him to leave a feast especially prepared for him.
Every time he would try to stand, the weight of the Face on his mid-section was so great, he would have to sit again or fall forward on the table. The Face would screw up it’s eyes and laugh heartily.
“You can not leave the table until you are full,” It told him.
“But I am not hungry,” Franz spoke in weak voice.
“Make yourself eat!” The Face growled.
The Face had always been with Franz. It’s horrible scowl on it’s large square pink canvas. It spread as far as Franz big round belly was wide, but not as tall as his chest. Even when he was a baby, that old man- face, wrinkled and dimpled forehead, had been born as a birthmark. Or as the wet nurse said a curse. Franz Father turned to the bottle, which caused quite a bit of problems being the village school headmaster. Franz Mother refused to believe the Face ever existed. She pushed for Franz to be treated as normal as everyone else. She never allowed him to acknowledge the problem.
“I never liked your Mother,” The Face said. Mira, his maid entered She put more dishes down containing more vegetables, corn, eggplant, asparagus. The Face made lewd sounds at her. Mira wrinkled her nose at him.
“Shut up about my Mother,” Franz picked at a turkey leg that had been placed on his plate by Mira. She leaned across him, letting her breast brush against him. “My Mother was a saint to put up with things.”
“You are speaking of your Father, aren’t you? Not me, of course. Now, your Father, that was a fellow only bums and cheap guys could have respect for.”
“Are you alright, Mr. Franz? Should I gag him?” Mira smiled big, those lovely ruby lips sparkling under the lights. She put a hand upon her dark hair, making sure it was still in the bun she’d fixed. Her green eyes danced back and forth between Franz and the Face.
“No, Mira, thank you. It wouldn’t help matters now. He still wouldn’t permit me to leave the table.”
“As you wish, sir,” Mira pranced to the door of the kitchen. She stopped, turned to Franz, blew him a kiss.
The Face felt stirrings in Franz nether parts. It laughed. “You know she only likes you for Uncle Havel’s money.”
“Leave it!” Screamed Franz. He placed his hands over his head and wished there was something he could do with The Face. Perhaps, it was right. Mira only found Franz attractive because of the vast family fortune Havel made from black market electronics he sold on the streets of Prague in the nineties.
“Eat!” The Face demanded. “I’m starving!”
“God have pity on me! You are always starving! Please let me up…give me back the use of my legs. Just for a few minutes. I wish to go to bed.”
“Eat! Damn you, you’re trying to starve me. I know it.”
“All right! I’m feeding you, you demon from hell!” Franz grabbed a bowl with potatoes and sucked them down. He ate like a wild man, just as much turkey fell on the floor and his clothes as it entered his mouth.
Then Franz stopped eating. He heard The Face enjoying the food from Franz plate. The sounds it was making was sickening and annoying. Franz threw his hands over his ears. Still, he could hear The Face gurgling and cooing. Smacking it’s lips.
“More!” The Face growled once more. “Feed my face! Or you will never leave your chair!”
Franz could take no more. He had snapped. He laughed uncontrollably, tears welled up in his eyes. Franz had made up his mind.
“Yes,” He said, ringing the bell and Mira swashed in. He motioned for her to bend down. Franz whispered his diabolical plan in her ear. “Let’s both never leave the table.”
Mira was horrified.
“What do you mean?” The Face said. “Have you lost your mind. Yes I can tell that by your pernicious laughter. You always want to leave the table.”
Mira left. Ten minutes later she returned with two mirrors. She set one on a smaller end table she’d moved to the right of the table. She placed another mirror on the other side of the first mirror to catch the image from it, pointed the second mirror toward Franz midsection.
She drew a chair next to Franz, pulled him and his chair away from her.
“What madness is this?” The Face said nervously.
“Madness indeed,” Franz retorted with a small giggle.
Mira carried on with her work, an infinite amount of sadness overtaking her emotions. She took from pockets a large spool of thread and a needle. She pushed through the eye of the needle the end of the thread, weeping softly.
Franz looked in one of the mirrors and saw The Face closing it’s eyes. “Oh, no, you demon. Don’t close your eyes, by all means. You wouldn’t want to miss this for the world.”
Mira forced the needle into the left side of Franz lips, pulled the thread through. He winced, blood dribbled down his chin. Mira carried on, with a shaky hand, tears falling from her cheeks, the needle and thread made a long zig- zag across Franz lips.
“Nooo…” The hungry Face cried out, petrified by the terrible mirror images.

                                            THE GOD OF VENGEANCE
                                                   by MARK SLADE
                                                       copyright MS. 2012
She heard the music of Tuskenian men and felt a shiver down her back. Timpani and flute were the instruments that brought death to the victims of the Furakah gang. They controlled the City of Kyulah, the heart Tuskenia in the mountains of India.
Kate Mcbain was on a mission. She was there to find the key to the box of shadows and light. That would bring an end to all of her worries. And no one, least of all a group cutthroats were not going to stop her.
Kate and her men, consisting of Graham, her body guard and partner in this quest, Moguhla, her guide, and Clint, the young, often impetuous big-mouth of the group, but was also handy with a six shooter; was headed north across the mountains on a bridge made of tasseled rope with the Furakah close behind them.
Kate’s troubles began five years ago when her Father, Dr. Douglas Mcbain, was murdered and the crime was never solved.
Mcbain left a nightclub called the Half Moon with a woman named Betty Blue, a performer for that club. In the morning, Dr. Mcbain was discovered hunched over his desk with a bullet hole in the back of his head the size of a silver dollar. Betty Blue had given a statement Dr. Mcbain left her apartment at midnight, when witnesses had seen them both at the club at closing hour, 2:00 A.M. With a mysterious man.
Her Father had no enemies to speak of, and Kate had no idea he’d been dating, especially a woman half his age and half his intelligence. No fingerprints, no other leads.
The Police were dumbfounded.
Kate swore she’d find the killer and seek vengeance.
In mere moments, the music drew closer to them as they tried to cross the rope bridge in their jeep. Gun shots were fired and several bullets zipped past their heads like buzzing flies. Kate looked behind her to see ten armed men in the back of a military truck.
“The Furakah…” Kate whispered.
Clint was driving, but not paying attention, drew his Colt and fired twice, the revolver resting just above Mogulah’s head. Mogulah curse him in Arabic.
“Look out!” Screamed Graham, trying to take control of the wheel.
It was too late, the front end of the jeep was hanging off a cliff. If anyone moved, the whole vehicle would take a nosedive into the heart of the Indian valley.
Kate closed her eyes and prayed for help. She could hear the other three fight among each other until another vehicle pulled in behind them. She continued her prayer, even as the voices of her men quieted down. Then she heard a familiar voice.
“Kate, darling. Why in the hell would you let your Father’s obsession drag half way across the world?”
Kate opened her eyes to find Ross Holland leaning in the teetering jeep. The tall, muscular blond man was grinning from ear to ear. He had one of the creepiest smiles Kate had ever seen, which was a reason she never found him interesting enough to go further than share her Father’s work with him.
“Fancy seeing you here, Ross,” Kate laughed nervously.
“Yes, strange that we should meet up again. Haven’t seen you since—”
“Since my Father fired you, Ross.” The jeep rocked back and forth slightly. Kate swallowed hard, dug her nails into the car seat.
“That’s not a very happy memory, Katie, darling.”
“You shouldn’t have sold the Gillespie Cross from underneath Father.” Kate shot back.
“Bloody hell, darling, it was for everyone’s best intentions.”
“Look,” Clint piped up. “Is there any way you two can bicker after someone saves us?’
“Yes,” Ross said. “I think the boy is right.” Ross yelled to the Furakahs in an Hindu dialect and they immediately went to work on pulling the jeep out of harm’s way.
Hours later, the Fuakahs led Kate and her men to camp. The others were led to a tent of their own. While Kate was led to Ross’ personal quarters. As she entered the tent, Kate saw tall dark haired woman lounging on pillows.
“Oh my God!” Betty Blue threw her head back and let out a healthy laugh. “Everything comes full circle, doesn’t it.”
Kate folded her arms, a gentle breeze blew a few of her red strands hair in her face.
“It’s not much of a surprise your here with Ross. Now I understand.”
“Do you, darling?” Ross entered the tent and took hold of a giggling Betty Blue and kissed her long and hard.
“You didn’t have to kill Father for this item.” Kate said.
“Oh sure I did! I have a private collector for this Bloodflower Mummy. You wouldn’t believe how much this man in Germany was willing to pay.”
“I get goose bumps just thinking how much money we’re getting!” Betty exclaimed.
“I’m sure you could have stolen the key from him.”
“I did,” Ross help up a skeleton key carved out of granite. On the sides of it were engraved markings in Hindu. “I also needed your Father out of the way. He would just muck things up.”
Kate’s face fell. She didn’t know her Father had the key to the Bloodflower tomb. “Then what was that business from a Dr. Denning sending me and my crew out here?”
Ross began laughing, Betty joined in.
“Oh,” Kate said. “You are Dr. Denning. Why the game.”
“That’s when this story gets really interesting, darling. Do you know the myth of the Bloodflower Tomb?”
“I didn’t have time–”
“Kate, I can’t believe you didn’t follow your Father’s advise. Always do the research. Anyways, it seems this tomb harbors more than just a silly corpse. It’s the corpse of an apparent God! A Hindu God…the God of Vengeance…wait….he’s also the God of Death. Isn’t that rich?”
“I still don’t understand why you need us, Ross.”
“There seems to be two types of people involved in this affair, darling. Those who believe in Blood flower—which is spectacular story—the name! He, the God, Dailis, when death is extracted from his all powerful fingertips, a marigold appears bleeding…hence the name. Oh, yes I saying. The types who are involved are non-believers, such as yourself. And those who are believers. I fall in that category as does the chap in Germany. Did I mention he is head of the government there?
“Oh, moving on…Your presence will make it easier for me to meet this God Dailis by giving your life to him. Isn’t that exciting!”
At this moment, the obvious leader of the Furakas entered the tent. He whispered in Ross’ ear. That awful smile appeared on his face. He sighed. He looked over at Betty, took her hand. “It’s nearing midnight I’m being informed.” He turns to Kate. “It’s time, darling. Your men have already been escorted to the tomb. You will join them.”
The tomb was a cave not more than hundred yards from camp. Kate was tied as well as the other three. It seemed Clint tried to talk his way out of the situation and was unsuccessful by the looks of the bruises on his face. Mogullah had already begun his prayer in Hindu.
Graham had been tight lipped and stone faced until he saw Kate join them. Tears rolled down his cheeks. “I want you to know, Kate. I have loved you since the first day I met you.”
“Graham, don’t do this.” Kate said. “Your making this difficult.”
“I needed you to know, I will take my love for to my grave, and it will not be in vain.”
“How touching.,” Ross stated. “But you are keeping the man of the hour.” He pushed Graham out of his way, dangled the granite key in Kate’s face. Ross yelled in Hindu at the leader of Furakahs to begin and the man bowed in front of the closed off entrance of the tomb. From the Hindu’s lips a prayer was whispered. A prayer to the God of Vengeance and Death.
Ross placed the granite key in the stone keyhole and turned to left. The stone door moved and a light appeared in the dark tomb. It grew brighter as each of Kate’s men were shoved inside the tomb. Finally Kate was pushed inside.
Still, the Furakah chanted faster, bobbing his head up and down, his words intertwining.
The light went dim.
Ross listened, there were no screams. He was puzzled. Maybe it was all a lie. This God of Vengeance and Death was just a myth. He was curious. He had to see. He motioned for the Furakah to enter the tomb. The leader stopped chanting, went with his men. After them, only after them, did Ross enter the tomb.
Kate and her men were still alive. No corpse had risen. No death from anyone’s fingertips.
“This is a travesty!” Ross stomped his feet. He turned to the leader of the Furakah. “How dare you con me!” Ross took a pistol from the man’s belt and shot him twice in chest. The Furakah men were stunned as everyone else when the body of the leader fell to the ground.
Under Ross’ boots small white things moved, slithered rather. It began as a few, which turned into ten. Then twenty, then a hundred, finally thousands of bone-white maggots had consumed Ross.
He screamed as his entire body was covered, only the outline of him remained. It was followed by the Furakahs screams. All of them suffering the same fate as Ross.
Kate closed her eyes and said her prayers.
Silence came. Kate would only reopen her eyes at the request of Clint. “Look,” He said. “Kate, look damn you!”
Kate opened her eyes to find a tall skeletal man in a robe standing before her. His face consisted of two large red eyes set deep inside two black holes. His ivory skin had several small maggots crawling in and out as if trying to find somewhere to rest. There was that grin, where part of his blackened lips had been caught by a fishing hook and pulled to the left, exposing a cheekbone.
She held her breath, anticipating death.
Instead, the ropes that bound her and her men, dissolved and fell to their feet. She looked up in awe of the God of Vengeance and death.
“Now what?” She said to the robed figure, who was now sitting in a corner of his tomb, facing away from everyone.
“I obey you, but first I must rest.” Dailis said.
“Why didn’t you kill us?” Kate approached him, stopped halfway.
“You did not speak the wrong prayer…nor was your heart black as the night.”
“Look,” Mogulah pointed to where the skeletal remains of Ross were laying.
A marigold had grown from his ribcage. Blood dripped from it’s petals into a pool of red forming on the floor of the tomb.

On a lonely street corner, off Main and 3rd, a bag lay on the opposite side of the trash cans scattered in a dark alleyway. Once in a while a street light would shine it’s florescent blue light on the pavement to reveal movement inside that bag. Just tiny inklings that something was definitely inside it. The sound of scratching, and a low growl. But the bag never moved from it’s spot.
On other street corners in the city, the hustle and bustle of people and cars making their way to their destinations. On one of those particular streets, Dave Lomax was fighting his way through a crowd outside an Adult theater to find a seat to spend his third night of restless sleep while men in trench coats explored themselves watching people have sex on the screen.
Just as he was sneaking through a side door, a hand grabbed him. The hand belonged to extremely large black man in a leather coat.
“You don’t think you were goin’ in there without payin’, were you, Chief?” He said pushing Lomax into a brick wall outside the theater.
Lomax felt the pain in his back surge. He shook his head no. “I actually got confused what door to go through.” Lomax smiled.
The black man’s nostrils curled up. He sniffed the air. “Shit, man. Go get cleaned up. Look, I don’t want to be a hard on, but you can’t keep sneakin’ in my house smellin’ up the place. You need a place to sleep, I know the Boys club has some beds open for the holidays. If I give you a twenty, you promise not to drink it all up?”
“You’d do that?” Lomax was stunned. The couple months he’d been kicked out of his house by Lisa, he’d witnessed the dregs of humanity. He’d gotten a place at hotel with a roommate, Charlie Day…a real scumbag-drunk—stole the last fifty from him, then kicked him out when Lomax couldn’t procure the rest of the rent.
The black man smiled. “Dude, I know what it’s like on the streets. I might run a movie house that shows tits and ass, but I still follow the laws of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Here you go. Don’t–” He placed the twenty in Lomax’s hand, pulled it away, Lomax still had a piece of it. “Don’t drink it up. Understand?”
Lomax nodded quickly. “Yeah, yeah. I don’t usually drink, just lately–“
The black man shoved Lomax into the gutters. He fell into the icy snow caked on the vents.
“Merry Christmas. Get cleaned up,” The black man wagged a finger.
Dave Lomax just sat there. “Merry Christmas,” he whispered, his spirit crushed.
Lomax picked himself up and headed down the street the opposite way. He stopped a minute to stare at the many HD Tv’s that were in a store window. On the screens was the Charlie Brown Christmas.
Christmas is not what it used to be, he thought.
He shuffled along, kicking snow with his boots, letting some of it ride on the top for a few feet. Before he realized it, Lomax was down an alley that had no outlet. He looked up and he was on Main and 3rd. He heard a noise behind the trash cans. He saw a stray dog sniffing at a yellow bag that resembled potato bags at grocery stores. The bag moved to the left and the dog jumped at it, wagged it’s tail.
“I’m not drunk,” Lomax said to himself. “I haven’t even started. But that bag….oh….it’s cat in it.” He rubbed his tangled, greasy hair. He laughed, walked toward it. “Hey, you dumb dog. That’s just a cat in that bag–“
A thin green arm reached out. It’s three fingered claw took hold of the stray dog by the back of it’s neck and pulled it inside the bag. The dog gave out a yelp and disappeared into the dark opening of the bag.
Lomax stopped dead in his tracks. Stunned, he staggered back a few steps. “What the hell?” He cried out, his voice bounced off the cold dark night.
Lomax looked behind him. No one there. No one saw it. He rubbed his three day old stubble, put a hand in his pocket. His eyes grew wild. He felt in a once empty pocket and found paper there. He pulled his hand out. Lomax was holding several hundred dollar bills. A few minutes before the event with the dog and the bag, he was thinking about having money–lots of money—so much, in fact, his pockets would never be empty. The twenty was still in the other pocket.
Lomax knew this to be strange. I’m not dreaming, he thought. Because he’d just pinched himself. He looked behind him, no one standing there. He trotted to the bag, which was still moving on the pavement. He heard rustling, a low growl. He hesitated at first. Then decided to scoop up the bag.
“Funny,” He said. “On Christmas eve I find Santa’s bag.” He slung over his shoulder and heard the thing growl louder. The stray dog yelped. “Hey,” Lomax yelled at the bag. “I don’t know what you are, but you be nice to that dog.”
He walked to the other side of Main and hailed a taxi.
The hotel room was dingy and smelled of garlic salt. That was because Lomax’s roommate , Cedric, cooked everything with garlic salt. Even toast. Lomax didn’t need a key to get in, the lock never worked. All he had to do was jiggle the door knob and the door was open.
Cedric was sprawled out in the middle of the floor, a bottle of Jack Daniel in his hand.
The room was a mess. Take-out boxes from various places littered floor along with dirty laundry. The TV was on, the weather man showing a map where Santa Clause was last spotted, Turkey it seemed.
Lomax sat on the torn sofa, bag beside him. He kicked Cedric a few times. Cedric looked like a gulley dwarf from the latest Peter Jackson movie. His brownish-red beard hung past neck, inching toward his chest. He must have grown it to make up for the lack of hair on his head. His round, plump body heaved and he coughed every time Lomax kicked him.
Cedric shot up, ready to run. He yelled out something inaudible, waved his hands around wildly.
“Cedric,” Lomax said. “It’s just me. Cedric, It’s Dave.”
Cedric looked confused, staggered where he stood. Clarity came to him. He looked at Lomax, snarled.
“I kicked you out, you bum,” Cedric tried to pick up the bottle twice without falling. The third go was success. But he soon tossed the bottle when he found out it was empty.
“Yes, you did, my so-called friend. I’m here to pay my share of the rent,” Lomax threw down a hundred dollar bill on the floor. Cedric’s eyes grew big, he leaped for the money, fell on his face.
“Oh, yeah, and tell you to fuck off.” Lomax stood grabbed his bag. Cedric held on to his legs. “Get off!” Lomax shook Cedric off.
“Don’t go, my friend! Please take care of your Cedric! He will do anything–well almost anything–for you! For you!” Cedric was on his knees, pleading, praying to Lomax. “I don’t care how you get financial aid, even if you sell yourself on the street–“
“I don’t do that, you idiot.”
Cedric’s eyes moved back and forth, he was thinking. “No?”
“No. I think it’s this bag.”
Cedric stood. He only came up to Lomax’s chest. he scratched his bald head. “A Santa bag?”
“I thought the same thing when I saw it,” Lomax said happily. “I found this bag—I was thinking of money—oh, you wouldn’t understand.”
“Stay. Explain it to me. I know I could relate–we’ll order a pizza. Yes?”
Lomax thought about it. He was hungry. Oh, Cedric was alright.
“Yeah. Okay.”
Lomax turned his back to call from Cedric’s cell phone when he heard a scuffle and Cedric screamed.
Lomax turned back around. On the phone a voice kept repeating “Hello, hello?” His Santa bag dropped to the floor.
Lomax sighed. “Shit,” He said, pressed a button on the cell phone and the voice disappeared. He threw the phone on the sofa and picked up the bag. He heard a low growl from the bag and more scuffling. Then he heard Cedric call out for help.
“Hi,” he heard a female voice.
Lomax nearly jumped out of his skin. A short brunette was standing in front of him. She was wearing a blue halter top and and short mini skirt. Lomax dropped the bag. His mouth was hanging open. He couldn’t believe it. Just as he was calling for pizza his mind roamed. he began thinking about sex, then his thoughts became a lot more specific.
“You called for a date,” the brunette kissed Lomax.
Later on, Lomax just sat in the hotel room, bored out of his skull. It was eleven pm now. The brunette had long disappeared. He was sick of hearing the dog whine, Cedric cry and beg for help, and whatever that thing was in the bag growl and terrorize the dog and Cedric.
“This is shit,” He said. He should be with Lisa and her kids, getting smashed, opening presents. He should be with Lisa. Yes. She should not had kicked him out, settled in with Jack. All because he lost his job at the plant and he couldn’t handle her taking his spot as the breadwinner.
Well, all that has changed now, Lomax thought. I’ve got money. Endless money. Now I can take Lisa back, buy her anything she wanted. Jack can be out on the street, like Lomax was.
“Yeah….I’m going over there and bring loads of presents…food…booze….”
Lomax stood in the driveway of his ex’s trailer, the only trailer in an upper-middle class neighborhood. Her father had left it to her, never thought of building a house because he thought it was too much work and a waste of money, he already had a home. The trailer was old, at least twenty years, and the aluminum siding was not silver anymore but a depressing rust color.
Good, Lomax thought. Lisa is home. He could see her Toyota in the driveway, but he also saw Jack’s Prius.
“Shit,” He said to the thin layer of Christmas lights on the telephone pole. The lights blinked on and off, telling Lomax not to worry about Jack. It told him he was in charge of the situation. Plus, he had two plastic bags of groceries and his Santa bag.
The trailer was lit up with way too many lights, at least ten strands crossing each other. And in the front yard was a snowman missing an eye and his plastic carrot meant for his nose, was now comfortably in his crotch.
Lomax knocked on the screen door.
Lisa opened the front door. She stepped outside on the step, shut the door. Her short brown, wavy hair was stirring slightly in the cold breeze. She was cold, the Christmas sweater exemplified her best assets, but those green eyes always melted Lomax’s heart.
“Hi, Lisa,” Lomax grinned at her.
“What do you want, Dave?” She said coldly, folded her arms.
“I wanted to see you and the kids,” Oops. I didn’t get the kids anything. He thought. Trish, 9, Cory, 6, what would I get them anyway? I never took time to get to know them—
“You know Jack is here. And after the last shenanigan you are not welcomed here.” She turned to open the door, Lomax touched her shoulder. She shot a cool look his way that was like a knife through his heart. Lomax withdrew his hand.
She was referring to a drunken incident when Lomax climbed through their bedroom window and passed out in their bed. Jack beat Lomax with a baseball bat, thinking he was burglar. After the ER room, Jack was apologetic.
“Who is it, Lisa–Oh, it’s Dave. Let him in, Lisa.” Jack was the best looking guy Lomax had ever seen and the nicest. That’s one of many reasons he hated him.
“He was just leaving–” Lisa’s nostrils flared up, and that cold stare–all Lomax could do was avert his eyes.
“Nonsense, Lisa. Come inside, Dave. God, the kids really miss you. They will be glad to see you.”
oh yes, they were glad to see me, Lomax thought. He’d been there thirty minutes and the kids said hi, rushed off to bed. Lisa went to her bedroom. Jack was the only one happy to see him. loads of endless fucking questions. It was a slow death. Being with a man who stole your life and he was happy to eat his cake too. The fucker.
“So, what’s with the bag? Are you playing Santa this year?” He was smirking. Thinks he can tell a joke. The fucker. “Is my present in there?”
Suddenly an evil grin overthrew a depressing scowl on Lomax’s face. “Actually…it is. Would you like it now?” Lomax stood from the couch and walked toward the corner where the Christmas tree was. Jack followed closely on his heels.
“You didn’t have to–yes. Yes. I’m honored….look I really want to be friends, Dave…could that…?”
The bag was gone.
They heard a noise in the hallway to the bedrooms. Something loud hitting the tin floors of the trailer. Lomax and Jack rushed to see, they found the bag there. It was inching across the floor. They heard Lisa’s voice, the kid’s, of course the dog and Cedric. All of them simultaneously making a horrible mash of noise. Then there was the growling, the sound of something scraping the inside of the bag, followed by them screaming.
Jack backed away from the bag. “What’s in there, Dave? You’ve got the devil there haven’t you?”
Lomax didn’t know what to say. He shook his head half-heatedly. “I don’t know what’s in there. I don’t…maybe it is…but I don’t think it hurts anyone…all I know is it takes things, then whatever you wish for…magically appears…”
There was a knock at the screen door, very loud pounding.
Someone has called the police on us, Lomax thought. Jack ran to answer it. Lomax pushed him out of the way. They found a short, over-sized man in a monk’s frock. The Monk bowed, removed his hood.
“I’m sorry to bother you so late. I think you have something that belongs my temple.” The Monk said.
Lomax was pushed aside as the monk made his way through the front door. The monk smiled. He nodded. “Yes, you surely do have it.”
“Is that the devil in that bag? Your here to do an exorcism, right?” Jack came to the monk, wild-eyed.
The Monk laughed. “No, far from it. Gumar is not a devil…but a poor unfortunate creature that seemingly tricked one of my brothers to take him into the city.”
“Will he–does he hurt anyone in the bag with him ?” Lomax interrupted the monk’s jolliness.
“No, by all means. Gumar loves to have fun—well his fun is scaring people, holding them in the darkness. He harms no one. He is a bit aggressive. It was terrible for Brother Sella. He apparently was robbed at gunpoint, beaten and left in an alley. He came back to Temple with that story.”
” How did you know where the bag was? ” Lomax said. “Can you get them out of the bag?”
The Monk shrugged smiled. “I followed the smell. Do you not smell the terrible stench?”
“I thought it was Dave, since he is homeless.” Jack said.
Lomax cut his eyes at Jack.
“As far as releasing everyone,” The Monk sighed. “That depends on you,” He turned to Lomax. “Would like to keep receiving presents from Gumar? Or…give the bag back to the Temple. It’s up to you.”
Lomax thought a minute. “Yeah…I’d like to give the bag back to the Temple.”
The Monk smiled. Lisa appeared, as did the children. They immediately clung to, she hugged them nervously.
Then Cedric appeared, the dog ran from one person to another, happy it was out of the bag.
The Monk threw the bag over his shoulder. Lomax saw him to the door.
“Look, ” Lomax placed a hand on the Monk’s arm. “I don’t get it. Where was my last present when Lisa and the kids were in the bag?”
“Remember,” The Monk walked outside. He turned to Lomax, laughed. “You wished this would be over. And it is.”

SIN-AWAYcopyright 2011 m.s.

Otis Brinkley walked confidently in the offices of Cromwell Industries, a five story building on Pinkerton ave., demanding to see the head of operations.
The secretary looked at this old tramp with a beat up suitcase and stifled a laugh.
“He’s not in Mr…?” Ms. Jeffers fiddled with her blouse lapel with a hand. She kept the other hand over her mouth as so Brinkley couldn’t see her smiling at his presence.
The little old man beamed. He pushed the mismatched frame of glasses back on the brim of his nose. “Otis Brinkley,” He said proudly.
Ms. Jeffers cleared her throat. “You can only see Mr. Cromwell by appointment,” She crossed her legs, still fighting back her giggles at this ridiculous little old man.
Brinkley opened his suitcase. He smiled at her, pushed his glasses up on his nose. “I’ve been exchanging letters with Mr. Cromwell.” He tossed a small stack of envelopes on Ms. Jeffers desk. “We’ve discussed my new product at length.”
Ms. Jeffers rummaged through the dusty papers, mystified. She opened the first one, unwrinkled the yellow paper.
Brinkley stood briefly. “That one has told me to come to the office….” Ms. Jeffers threw him a look, Brinkley sat back down. He put up his hand apologetically.
“Well, the office is closing in a few minutes as you can see it’s nearly five—”
“Mandy!” A man screamed from the adjoining office.
Brinkley looked toward the office, smiled. “He’s in after all.”
A second later a man with a receding hairline, dark circles under his eyes and a girth hanging over top of his belt waddled in the lounge. Immediately Ms. Jeffers sprung from her chair and ran in her stockinged feet to Cromwell, still holding one of the letters in her hand.
“Mr. Cromwell, a Mr. Brinkley is here to see you.” She flashed an uneasy smile.
“I don’t remember any Brinkley–” Cromwell looked at his digital watch that hung snugly to his wrist. “It’s nearly five–”
Brinkley stood, rushed to insert himself between Cromwell and Ms. Jeffers. “We exchanged letters a few weeks ago. To discuss a new soap product?”
Cromwell looked at Ms. Jeffers. “Oh,” She shrugged. “It says it all here, Mr. Cromwell. Your signature is at the bottom and I suppose I forgot to schedule the meeting.”
Cromwell’s upper lip curled up. “Oh, for cryin’ out loud. Okay, okay.” Cromwell stormed off to his office. Brinkley smiled sheepishly at Ms. Jeffers. She resigned, her face fell.
She walked toward the adjoining office. “If you’ll follow me.” She said.
After Brinkley went inside, Ms. Jeffers closed the door. She looked at the upper right hand corner of the letter. The date on the letter was March 15, 1985. She was taken aback.
Brinkley sat gingerly in a small plastic chair opposite Cromwell’s desk. Cromwell sat there in silence, a finger on his lips, sizing Brinkley up. Cromwell swiveled his heavy set body in his leather chair. The chair squeaked in pain.
“So what is it your selling, Brinkley? Make it good, make it fast. I’m almost out of time.” Cromwell snorted.
Brinkley nodded, “Yes, yes.” he opened his battered briefcase and retrieved a a small square cake wrapped in green paper. “This,” He tossed it on Cromwell’s desk. The hard shell of the square clanged on the desk, bounced a few times, slid toward Cromwell.
Cromwell picked up the square, turned it a couple of times in his hand. He then unwrapped the green paper to reveal a bar of soap. He looked at Brinkley, scouring. Cromwell laughed heartily. He balled up the paper and tossed it over his shoulder.
“Soap?” Cromwell lifted an eyebrow. “Your selling me soap, buddy? I already own Hand print who makes several scented soaps—”
“My soap is not scented, Mr. Cromwell.” Brinkley adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
“Then what can you possibly have to interest me, little man? The market in gutted with all kinds of soaps from body wash to your baby’s ass-wash. Soap is nothing new.”
Brinkley waggled a finger. “Oh, my soap only clenses one thing.” Brinkley nodded his head. Cromwell started to get seasick from watching the old man’s head bob up and down so much. “It cleans the soul. But only use it three times….or it will be too much.”
Cromwell glared at him for a few seconds, blinking rapidly. His disposition turned sour. He no longer thought the joke was funny.
“Get the fuck out of here!” He railed at Brinkley.
“Wait, hear me out,” the little man put his hands up.
“Don’t come in here and tell me some bullshit to con me!” Cromwell tossed the soap at the little man.
“Look, I’m telling the truth. I stumbled on it. This soap—i swear to you, Mr. Cromwell. You have committed a discrepancy of some kind—”
“I did what?” The large man stood from his desk in a threatening manner.
“Only saying it as an example— well…you bathe in my soap and all is not only forgiven, but forgotten. I call it SIN-AWAY.”
The color of Cromwell’s face was a bright red. His eyes were strained, cataracts
and veins were definitely showing. “Get out of here,” He whispered at first.
“Mr. Cromwell…”
“Get out of here!”
Brinkley hopped out of the chair and grabbed his briefcase. “I’ll just leave you a sample,” Brinkley said as Cromwell rushed him out of the office. Brinkley scooted past Ms. Jeffers in the hallway. She sniggered and leaned against the wall, watching the little old man disappear around the corner.
Cromwell stood outside his office, wiping sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief. “Can you believe the nerve, tryin’ to swindle me.”
“I take it the meeting didn’t go so well,” Ms. Jeffers said.
“If I ever see that candy-ass again, I’ll break both of his legs.”
Ms. Jeffers reached out, took hold of Cromwell’s tie, pulled him toward her. “Shh…” She said. She touched his face with her fingers, touching his cheek and slid down to his chapped red lips. Ms. Jeffers felt Cromwell’s hand steal up her skirt. She leaned in and kissed him soundly on the lips. She turned, still holding his tie, led him inside his office.
She was adjusting her skirt, re buttoning her blouse. Cromwell was trying to catch his breath and zipping up his fly. He’d backed away from her, when he realized the best way to have sex with a woman like Ms. Jeffers was to bend her over his desk just he’d done.
The theme to the GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY sounded off, Cromwell’s
cell phone lit up.
“Who the hell could that be?” Cromwell tucked his shirt in.
“Maybe it’s Don to tell you about Singapore,” Ms. Jeffers rescued the cell phone from under scattered papers and files. Her smile disappeared when she read the name to herself. She sighed, closed her eyes. She handed Cromwell his cell phone. “Delores,” She said solemnly. “A missed call from Delores…”
Immediately, Cromwell panicked. He ran to the window of his office, opened the blinds, looked out. Delores was standing at her BMW smoking a cigarette. She was a tall blonde, dressed to the nines, and although no one could see her eyes for the sunglasses, Cromwell could see she was furious from her body language.
“You have to get out of here,” He swallowed hard, closed the blinds again.
Ms. Jeffers was already playing back the message Delores left on his phone. “Oh, you snaky son of a bitch! I know you and that slut secretary are carrying on in there. You idiot. You didn’t think I’d find out—Ms. Jeffers shut it off.
“You better go take a shower. Say your getting ready to come home to take her out,” Ms. Jeffers ushered Cromwell to the Men’s room in his office.
Nervously, Cromwell did as he was told. Out of haste, she tossed him the open bar of soap.
Ms. Jeffers ran out of Cromwell’s office only to meet Delores in the hallway. Delores back into the office, right into a chair, where she promptly sat.
“I know exactly what’s going on, you slut.” Delores actually had forgotten, but ten years before, she was in Ms. Jeffers shoes. She’d been the other woman, working as Cromwell’s secretary. She was being screamed at by his third wife. But that didn’t mean she would cut the whore any slack, she knew for sure someone was gonna pay for her unhappiness.
“He’s not all that,” Delores snarled. “He’s a lousy father. All his kids hate him. He pays through the nose to three ex-wives, all of which he’s cheated on. You wont be the last if you win him.”
Ms. Jeffers was unemotional. “I don’t want to win him.”
“Don’t try to sell me on a crap campaign, Missy. I know how good that fat man is in the bed. For what it’s worth, he always said I was the best piece of ass—” Delores suddenly stopped speaking. She looked as if she was in a daze. Her thoughts were far off. Then she seemed to loose balance and Ms. Jeffers was quick to help, placing her in a chair.
Cromwell appeared, drying what was left of his hair. “Hello girls,” He said with a nervous giggle. “Talking about anything interesting.” He was ready to face the firing squad named Delores.
“I don’t think she feels well,” Ms. Jeffers said, taking a few steps back.
“You okay, Delores? What happened?” Cromwell pretended to be concerned.
“I felt faint is all. I don’t even remember why I came here.” Delores put hand to her forehead and massaged.
“You don’t?” Cromwell and Ms. Jeffers said together.
Delores blinked a few times. “No…I don’t. Someone called me and in no time I was in my car driving here…for what…I’m not sure of.”
Cromwell was confused for a minute. It dawned on him and a big ugly smile crawled on his face, the kind that frighten children. “Ms. Jeffers, tomorrow, get a hold of that nutcase I saw today. I think we can do business.”
“Are you sure?” She said.
Cromwell shrugged. “Yeah.. I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m taking my wife out to dinner.”
On the other side of town, through the heart of the city of iron and steel, high rises and subway system; was a broken down house with no windows and the top floor almost completely gone. Cromwell stood in the middle of the street staring at the weather beaten black house, avoiding a game of stick ball. He approached the house with much disparagement. His phone went off.
“Hey, sugarlips…what? Some men…police…oh. Yeah. They in the room with you…good….your in the toliet…oh, yeah, don’t let them hear this. I did move some funds from the company bank account to my account. Yes, I know that’s stealing from the company. It doesn’t matter. Look, baby, with this soap all my sin’s will be washed away. Yes. I do believe it. You saw what happened…Delores forgot about us…yesterday morning hit someones car and drove off. That afternoon I fired Benchley’s son—yeah I know the twirp is on the board of directors….everything will be fine. In the morning we can hop a plane and off to the Carribean, baby! I gotta go.”
He stood on the porch, briefcase in hand, stepping in a black oil slick of some kind. Cromwell cursed under his breath. The door swung open. The little old man peeked out. He was delighted to see Cromwell.
“You came!” Brinkley stepped out on the porch. He pointed at the oil slick. “Watch your step. Another interested party tried to steal my soap and was caught in the rain.
“Did I have a choice?” Cromwell snarled. Brinkley ushered him inside the house, slammed the front door shut. Cromwell looked around the drafty house. Cobwebs at every corner, very dim lighting. Cromwell felt uneasy.
Brinkley locked the door. He smirked at a surprised Cromwell. “Can’t take any chances.”
“Chances?” Cromwell looked around himself.
“Someone stealing my ingredients. No one can know the recipe…” Brinkley laughed. He took the stairs to the top floor, Cromwell following close behind.
“Where are we goin’, pop’s?”
“To my lab—where I make that wonderful soap.”
Cromwell stepped in the dank room. Half the floor was missing, one could see the downstairs. Ceiling was coming down, the beams were barely holding it up. Books littered the floor, several animal parts lay on a counter beside a knife stained with crimson. Jars on shelves lined the walls all around. He could only guess, but Cromwell wasn’t sure, more animal parts. In the middle
of the room was a large black cauldron, steam rising from the top. A black book was next to the cauldron on a stand, opened to right page.
“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” Cromwell said. “This is a joke.”
“No, Mr. Cromwell. This is serious business.” Brinkley looked into the cauldron,began stirring with a wooden plank as long as his arm. The water simmered, boiled to the top. It turned an orange- white when he popped in what looked like the foot of a dead dog.
“Oh, no,” Cromwell shook his head. “This is bullshit. You can’t mass produce this soap this way.”
“I’m afraid this is the only way to make my soap. No other way, Mr. Cromwell.”
Cromwell rubbed his face with a hand. “I guess we can start slow. Go for the Organic market. Specialize in small shops first.” Cromwell opened his briefcase. “Get these signed. How much you want for this?”
“Two million.”
“What?!” Cromwell screamed. “We’re not that big of a company..” It wasn’t true, he was just cheap.
“I guess I could take it somewhere else..” Brinkley was smirking at him. “For my troubles.”
“What troubles? Hey, you never said where you came up with this–”
“No, no, Mr. Cromwell. I didn’t come up with anything. You see, this recipe is an old family recipe…thousands of years old…I believe Jesus knew one of one of my family members.”
“Your crazy…but I think I can make something of your product. I need to know what does the trick…..tell me the recipe.’
Brinkley laughed again. This time the sound cut right through Cromwell. His face grew even more red with the look Brinkley was giving him.
“Your small mind wouldn’t even comprehend it’s concoction.”
“Your gonna tell me, you little fart.” Cromwell grabbed Brinkley by the throat with both hands. He squeezed as the little old man struggled to finish the last of his merriment. He squeezed until Brinkley’s lips had released his last sigh. Cromwell let go of the old man, his limp body hit the floor.
Cromwell stared at the cauldron. Then at the book. “Shit,” He rubbed his face with a hand. “He’s right. I don’t understand it. Should have let him finish more soap, then killed him. Oh, well. Just hire someone to finish it.”
Cromwell’s phone went off, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly echoed throughout the house. It was Ms. Jeffers. He answered it quickly.”I’m comin’,” He said.
Cromwell walked through the offices, through the lounge, past Ms. Jeffers and a plainclothes officer with two uniformed policemen. Ms. Jeffers tried to speak just as the all three policemen, all simultaneously. Cromwell put his hand up for quiet. He went into his office, smiling at them. They followed him in.
“Hey,” Cromwell said. “Can you give a guy a little time in the john?”
“Mr. Cromwell, I need to speak—”
Ms. Jeffers said, following him to the bathroom.
“Don’t even think of any funny stuff–” The plainclothes officer said.
Cromwell slammed the door shut in every ones face. There was the sound of water running from the shower.
The plainclothes officer sighed and folded his arms.
“Mr. Cromwell needs several showers a day,” Ms. Jeffers flashed a smile.
“I’ll bet he does,” One of the uniformed officers said sarcastically.
Cromwell screamed. They rushed to the door. Ms. Jeffers banged on the door, called out for him. The plainclothes officer nodded to the other two policemen. They brushed Ms. Jeffers aside. It took three tries, but the bathroom door was Jarred. The officers went inside, opened shower curtain, turned the shower off.
“What the hell?” One of them said.
Ms. Jeffers rushed in. Cromwell was no where in sight. Ms. Jeffers peered in the shower. All she could see was a large oil slick spread out on the shower mat.
Wide eyed, she threw both hands over her mouth to stifle a scream.

LITTLE TUSK copyright2011 m.s

Emma hated yard sales. Her Mother, younger brother Ben,were dragged to a yard sale the week before Thanksgiving by her AuntFlora.
They had to move in with Flora while Father was awaystationed half-way round the world. Flora was alright, just a littleodd, too odd for Emma’s nine year old sensibilities. She cookedbreakfast for supper almost every night, and played opera music whiletaking a shower. Even dressed her Pomeranian, Gus, as famouspresidents. Flora had a strange habit of videotaping Cooking showsshe never watched. She said she was saving them for when she had moretime to study the Chef’s expertise.
Evert item they came across Flora would sigh or becomeover excited. Emma’s Mother talked Flora out of buying these items. If she hadn’t, the car would’ve been full of Tupperware and Man’sclothing. Ben also showed enthusiasm for boardgames. Already he’dspent five dollars of his allowance, which he’d saved thirty-fivedollars since last spring. That really irked Emma. She couldn’t savea dime. Emma always seemed to buy too much Goobers or buy the newestvideo game for her DS.
Mother only bought a red scarf. Emma could tell shemissed Father. Mother had several red scarfs, and always when Fatherwas away. Emma heard Mother a few nights before telling the story ofhow she met Father. She was standing on a bridge watching the moonreflect off the water when the wind blew her scarf from her hair andshe chased it until a sailor caught it for her. That sailor, ofcourse, was Father.
They were almost out of the Yard sale when Aunt Flora sawthe item that made her heart skip a beat. Emma was first to the carwhen she heard Flora cry out. Emma put a hand on her head and made agrunting noise.
“I can’t believe I found it!” Flora exclaimed. “Ineed this for my collection.”
She held in her hands so delicately was a porcelainElephant with white tusks. Yes, Flora did have a very largecollection of porcelain figures, mostly of animals or circus relateditems. The worst of those were the clown figures. Emma hated thosethings. They unsettled her. Once in awhile when she was in the livingroom by herself watching Animal planet, she would climb on top of thecouch and turn the clowns around facing the wall. Flora always askswho did that, no one would answer. Flora also had a terrible habit ofnaming her porcelain figures.
Aunt Flora placed the porcelain Elephant on the mantlenext to her two porcelain circus tigers. She stood back and admiredit. She looked at Emma and said, “Little Tusk. That’s what I willcall him.” She cackled and Emma plugged her ears with her fingers.Then Flora saw that her collection of clowns were facing the wallagain. She was infuriated. “Who did this?” She exclaimed, hereyes shifting to all in the room. No one said a word. “One day,”She said. “I will find out who does this—this–terrible act!”
The next day, Emma awoke to a car hissing by herwindow. It sounded like a cat trying to sing. She wandered into theliving room, eyes half closed. She stepped over Ben, who was lying inthe middle of the floor eating brownie cakes and watch IRON MANcartoons on TV. The house was very quiet. Emma spun around, trying tofind the source of her confusion.
“Mama’s gone,” Ben said, entranced by thescreaming voices and exploding cars and buildings.
“Gone where?” Emma said in a drone voice. Shewas making her way slowly to the kitchen for a bowl of corn pops andraisin bran mixture. Emma was a genius of creating new cereals.
“Last night Daddy called. He said his boat–”
“You mean ship, doofus.”
“Ship—whatever!” Ben raised his hand atEmma, then continued. “His SHIP, was close by. So Aunt Flora isdriving Mama to the airport.”
Emma placed her hands on her hips. Hereyebrows lowered, her lips tightened up. “Why am I always the lastto know everything? I’m the oldest. She always forgets to tell mefirst! It always comes from you—and wait! If his ship is close by,then why is she catching a plane to meet him?”
Ben wiped crumbs from his mouth. He saidcalmly, “Why your always last to know is your always late home oralways asleep, and your a brain fart. I don’t know why she has tocatch a plane. They didn’t tell me.”
Emma walked up to Ben, placed her dirtyfoot, which she hadn’t washed in a day, in his face. She held it,began to push, while he screamed as if he had just been stabbed.There was the sound of keys rattling in the front door. The doorswung open and Gus ran inside, immediately peed on the floor. AuntFlora stepped inside and slammed the door shut.
“Ah hah!” She screamed. Emma quickly removedher foot from Ben’s face and jumped away from him. Ben wiggled aroundon the floor sputtering and moaning about germs in his mouth. “Theadults are away and we can play!” Aunt Flora bellowed, thencackled.
Ben had crawled all over the living roomfloor, coughing and spitting. He was pushing the cushion from thecouch and bumped the couch, which bumped the wall and shook thewall. The shelf attached to the wall above the couch rattled. AuntFlora’s statuettes moved slightly, several hung on to the edge ofthe shelf. Flora screamed as if something cataclysmic was happening.Emma smiled. Ben was about to get into trouble. Serves him right forcalling a brain fart.
Ben saw the porcelain elephant fall from theshelf. It tossed and tumble through the air. He placed both handsout, just as he’d seen a wide receiver in a football game on TV. Theelephant fell directly in his hands. He cupped the statue in bothhands and rolled across the couch.
Ben looked up andsaw Aunt flora was in pieces. Then she ran to him and knelt down tokiss him.
Ben had saved the day!
Emma snarled at him as Flora dotted on him. TellingBen he could have all the candy and soda he wanted. Ben smiled hugelyat Emma.
Ben turned the porcelain elephant on it’s back in hishand. He eyed a few words that were not recognizable.“Timbur…Ork…Roknal?”
Suddenly, the elephant jumped out of Ben’s hand. Itlanded on the couch, upside down. Ben looked down at it. He noticedthe elephant was moving. It’s trunk wiggled. It’s eyes blinked. It’smouth opened and closed as it’s tiny legs kicked in the air. Now itwas right side up, standing. Ben bent down, eyes wide withdisbelief. The elephant sounded off in his face. Ben fell overbackwards away from it.
Flora dropped to the living room floor. She passedout cold. Emma ran behind the TV set and peeked from behind it,watching the tiny porcelain elephant sprint back and forth on thecouch. It was stuck, thinking at first there was no outlet. Gus tookoff to Flora’s bedroom to hide under the bed.
“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen!”Emma exclaimed.
Aunt Flora regained consciousness just in time towitness the small elephant scale down the arm of the couch, walkacross Ben’s head, neck and arm, to the living room floor, where itpromptly pooped.
“Oh, stop that thing!” Flora cried out.
Ben threw both hands out for it as he leaped at thesmall elephant. The elephant sensed the position of Ben’s hands andthrust forward it’s tusks. One of the tusks pricked Ben on the palmof his right hand. Ben yelped and withdrew. The wound only bledslightly, but he felt a surge of pain that caused him to weep bucketsof crocodile tears. Ben ran to Flora, hoping for motherly attention,only to receive expressions of confusion.
“Look!” Emma said, pointing and laughing.
The elephant was using it’s trunk to swat the TVremote control like it was hitting a hockey puck with a hockey stick.It was running wildly up and down the living room, all four powerfulsmall legs pumping furiously. It was moving so fast it became a blur.Finally, as it approached Ben and Flora, it took one last swat,sending the remote high in the air. The remote caught Aunt Floraright between the eyes. She fell on her back on to the floor, onceagain loosing consciousness.
“You jerk-head!” Ben screamed at it. Hebegan chasing after the small elephant. Lamps, books, DVD’s,pictures from the wall….after the great chase, the level ofdestruction the two amounted was impressive. Even the TV, which washiding Emma somewhat, was overturned. The chase headed to thekitchen, where loud crashes of dishes falling to the floor along withpots and pans. Back into the living room, more destruction mounted.The two chairs were pushed over. Aunt Flora’s collection of statuteswere among the victims. The circus animals, even her beloved clowns.All fell to their porcelain grave.
Emma had found a new hiding spot behind thecouch, had a terrible vision of Ben and the pint-sized elephant inher room causing all kinds of chaos and destruction. She had an idea.She called over to Ben. He stopped in his tracks, turned to her,huffing and puffing. She reached over at the hat rack where hermothers new red scarf dangled from a wooden hook.
“Here,” she tossed one end to Ben.“Grab hold of that and drop to your knees when I say go.
The elephant avoided hitting the wallfor the thousandth time and turned right at broken vase. He washeading right to Ben and Emma. The elephant put it’s head down andgained more speed.
It was right there at the point and Emma screamed outgo. Ben and Emma dropped to their knees. The scarf formed goal ofsorts like in a soccer game. Ben smiled at Emma, Emma smiled at Ben.They knew they had the elephant.
The elephant rushed through the scarf, it’s tuskscutting the scarf in two pieces, like a ribbon being cut tointroduce a new building. Ben and Emma’s looked in bewilderment atthe piece of material they hand in their hands. The elephant passedby them several times, still running at full speed.
Emma stood and threw down the shredded scarf in anger.“That’s it, Elephant,” She said. “No more Mr. nice guy.” Emma had a backup plan. She wasn’t sure if it would work, but it wasworth a try. Her eyebrows lowered. “Timbur…Ork…Roknal!” Emmayelled.
The tiny porcelain elephant stopped dead, it’s legsfroze up. It blinked it’s eyes, then they froze up. It raised it’shead and froze up. It stretched it’s trunk out, sounded off,stiffened up
Emma sighed, flopped down on the couch. She feltsomething squishy under her bare feet. She knew what it was, but wereafraid to find out for sure.
Aunt Flora awoke, raised up, saw the damage. She was fineuntil she saw all of her porcelain statuettes were in pieces. Sheplaced her head in her hands and burst into tears. “All gone.”She said. “All gone.”
Ben slowly approached Aunt Flora. “Well…” He said ina consoling voice. “You still have Little Tusk.” Ben handed theporcelain elephant to her. Flora shrugged and accepted the gift. Shehugged Ben, turned to Emma.
“Now we have to clean this mess up,” She said.