Safe

The below is a response to a writing prompt that simply stated “A woman is in danger.”

As she slammed the door to the office she could hear the footsteps. Slow thuds along the crimson, nylon carpet of the snaking hall echoed like thunder throughout the baron house she once called home.

It was here somewhere, I know it. I can’t let him have it.

The enormous room seemed to consume her slender figure as she frantically searched for the object that had endangered her life and torn her world apart in less than thirty six hours. After what seemed like an eternity had passed she halted. The thuds had ceased. Silence echoed throughout the house.

An old Victorian wooden desk sat motionless behind her. It seemed to impose with honour and respect upon the room which was lined with towering book cases on both sides reaching up to ceiling. The ceiling was a stained yellow from the relentless nicotine abuse that had taken the same effect on its previous owner. Behind the desk was a large window that framed the whole world to anyone who took the time to gaze out across the rural carpet that lay beyond the iron gates.

She slumped on the ground against the desk. Exhausted, she waited, restraining her breath almost to the point of fainting. As she settled down and looked to the heavens for any kind of help from that one person who had abandoned her long ago, there came a crashing thud against the door. She pulled herself up using the desk and shook as she stared directly at the door. This was it.

Just as she waited in baited breath for the invasion she remembered the words her father would always say to her when they rarely spent time together. During those uncommon afternoons she would sit on his lap as he read to her in his deep and dour voice. “Remember Kate, always keep the things you love close. I keep all my dear possessions between you and your mother” he would say with a warm grin while looking out across the estate.

“Between you and your mother.”

She had walked by those portraits so many times and always hated the likeness the artist had used but it had to be there. Her father’s own portrait stood valiantly on the wall between those of the two dearest women in his life. He worked all his life to give his small family everything they needed but his most treasured accomplishment was his business. Kate had learned very quickly in her young life to recognise this and to accept it despite how it drove him away from home.

She raced over to her father’s portrait and ripped it off the wall. The walls of the room seemed to shake as the intruder relentlessly tried to force his way in.

A safe. It was there, staring at her. The answers she had been waiting for, the clues she needed. The safe didn’t seem to be fully closed so she yanked it open with both hands and looked inside.

Nothing? How could there be nothing? 

The door came crashing down, splinters of wood scattered like an autumn snowstorm as he stood there, stationary. The intruder trailed his muddy boots along the carpet with the rainwater streaming from his long black coat. The Stetson hat which once stood atop the long black hair had gone. Instead the black hair had become a mask that was hiding the hideous scar that scorned his rugged face. In his callous right hand, he grasped a book. It was an old book; leather bound arches with old archaic writing on the panels. In his left hand, he held his blade. The blade seemed heavy; the handle was decorated with jewels that looked out of place being held by such a vulgar creature.

He took two slow, powerful steps into the room and stopped. Then turned slowly around to his left and focused his sights on her. She crept to the corner, cowered against the portrait of her father which now lay torn in despair. He trudged heavily towards her.

She kicked and screamed at the monstrous frame of the intruder as he grabbed her by her long unkempt brown hair that she had always complained about being too dull. He threw her to the ground in the middle of the room and crept towards her as she scurried in retreat hitting her slim frame against her father’s powerful desk. He gradually made his way towards her. She felt around the carpet for anything and, exasperated, her hand fell upon a cold, metal object that lay cushioned in the carpet. Her father’s letter opener. After a quick glance, sizing up the beast that was ready to tear her apart, she leapt towards him with the weapon. She drove the knife into his thigh. The knife pierced his flesh and he let out a feral scream and collapsed onto one knee. She dashed past the wounded intruder, who was struggling back to his feet, and fled down the vacuous hallway which ran like an artery through the house.

It had to be in that safe, who could’ve taken it? Or who even knew about it?

Her mind swirled with unanswered questions and her stomach churned as she tried to focus on who had taken everything from the safe. The corridor seemed eternal as she threw her exhausted body into every step of the marathon she was running to be free.

“There’s no one around, I’ve tried. He suffers from mental illness too, can you believe that?”

The below was a chance encounter that happened to me early one morning last week.

I was leaving my apartment block around 7.30am to make the short journey to work. The darkness outside reflected my half-asleep state in the dirty glass door at the front of the building – one of the many tall buildings on the same road. I braced myself to face the bitter February winds of Belfast and pushed the door open.
After completing the morning ritual of complaining inwardly of the cold I looked down the empty one-way street and made my way across. Once on the pavement I noticed two figures ahead of me staggering into the passing puddles of light under the streetlights. One of the figures was a small man, stout in stature and wore what seemed to be an all black outfit including a dark beanie hat and the other figure was even more difficult to make out, he seemed to be carrying something on his shoulder and he had his hood pulled up so I could only tell he was tall, much taller than I, and he seemed to bounce erratically around the stout man.
There is an alleyway just before the end of the one-way road that cuts like a wire slicer through cheese between two high rise office buildings. It has served as a shortcut for me for two years on my daily route and I’ve never met anyone or seen anyone use this shortcut, especially at that time of the morning but here were two mysterious figures making their way into the same alleyway.

“Christ, what is this now?” I thought to myself as I deliberated on whether I should take the longer route.

I realised that I was probably just being dramatic and made my way into the alley. The alley was dimly lit by a flickering streetlight but it was clear enough to see up ahead that the stout man had stopped. He had stopped and was staring back at me as the tall man nervously bounced around him. The stout man stood still, with his hands in his torn jacket pocket, watching me. As I walked closer I could feel my breathing become tight and my spine turned to iron as I tried to think why these two strangers would be waiting for me.

“Are you following us, mister?” His voice seared through the tension in the darkness and, startled by the brash question, I could only reply meekly, “No no, I’m just on my way to work a couple streets over.” His friend became a bit less animated at this reply.

“Ah that’s OK mate, we sleep around there you see, in the wee doorway to the offices across from you. We noticed you looking at us through the door to your building and thought you were following us” he replied and as I got closer I could see that he was a middle-aged man not much older than my father and was sporting a rough beard with specks of silver shining in the faint glow of the streetlight. His face was worn and tired, his eyes were as dimly lit as our surroundings and his friend was much younger with an air of innocent curiosity.

I cursed my own stupidity for not realising there was another side to the glass door where I had seen my reflection just a few minutes before.

“Sorry, I never meant that, I’m just walking across to..”

“That’s ridiculous isn’t it?” he interrupted. I knew he was referring to his situation and instead of emotions of empathy or sympathy, guilt boiled upwards from my gut.

“It’s ridiculous aye, the weather’s been awful as well. Do you have somewhere you can go today?” I almost whispered, staring at the ground as we made our way through the alley together.

“Sure there’s no one around, I’ve tried mate. He suffers from mental illness too, can you believe that?” he was now pointing to his friend who had swung around to face us as he walked ahead. I could see that over his shoulder he was carrying two sleeping bags and I couldn’t help but stare at the water dripping from the ripped seams.

His friend hopped back towards us and muttered something unintelligible under his breath. I could make him out clearer now and noticed immediately how thin he was, narrow lines drew canyons on his cheeks while his feverish eyes were sunken deep under his long, unkempt copper hair.
The stout man pushed the young man away and asked him to walk on with a firm but aggressive tone. I could only watch in wretched silence as the young man sprung along to the end of the alley while the stout man and I caught up with him. I pointed to the left as we emerged but before turning I asked them if they wanted anything. I felt like I owed them everything I could give despite not knowing either of them until minutes before.

“No mate, we’re OK. Sure if we take your money we’re admitting defeat, aren’t we?”

The Accident

    He stared at her, with his tense brow pulling down the wrinkles on his forehead and his mouth pursed, struggling to restrain the outburst.
    “This should have happened to you.” The venomous whisper pierced the solemn silence in the room.  A trickle of blood ran from the bandaged head of his wife as she looked at him, she was lost but he was no longer her home.
    “Clean yourself up.” He demanded as he tore a tissue from the box and slung it at her. They were standing at the bottom of the bed. The slender lump that lay still on the bed seemed to be engulfed by the light blue blankets and large pillows. A machine beeped and hummed in the corner of the room.
    “It wasn’t my fault, you weren’t..” She began to weep, clutching the tissue close to her chest. Her face was torn, her forehead covered by a blood soaked bandage and her lip was cut, a deep cut that was held together by two very fine stitches.
    He was standing at the side of the bed now, leaning over the small body that lay under the sheets. He softly kissed the top of the child’s head. He then glared at her.
    “You have ruined absolutely everything. Do you get that? Everything. We will be lucky if he even wakes up.” He attacked. The tissue shook violently in her hands. She inhaled sharply, her body was forcing her to breathe.
    He stormed around from the side of the bed snorting like a bull as he approached her. He grabbed her by the arm and she winced quietly as his grip tightened around the bandage on her forearm. He towered over her and stared at her, waiting for her eyes to rise and meet his own. She continued to sob into her chest but took a step towards him. His grip tightened and she winced again, she took a step back. He lifted the bandaged arm up for a closer inspection. He grunted and threw her arm back at her. He turned and walked out of the room. She could see him through the glass as he ran his hand over his mouth, looked up to the heavens and walked away.
    She burst out in a frantic cry, collapsed onto the bottom of the bed and curled up holding the tissue. She lay a few inches from the feet of the small child, sobbing and struggling to breathe. The blood from her head slowly dripped on to the bed clothes. She lay on the bed and watched the drops of blood fall. She focused closer and closer on the drops of blood, her breathing became more controlled and she barely moved.
    She raised herself from the bed and slowly turned her gaze to the machine and the wires that were keeping her only child alive. She stared with eyes wide and lips trembling. The blood now began to slowly trickle down her nose and the traction caused it to roll onto her fine upper lip. She tasted the blood mixed with the cheap lipstick that she only wore on nights like this. She slowly and carefully raised her tongue to her upper lip, making sure she did not disturb the stitches. She grimaced at the taste and began to slowly crawl along the bed, avoiding any tubing and wiring that were hanging from her child’s body. She lay down beside him. If it had been any other room, any other night she would’ve thought he was sleeping. His wavy blonde hair hung over his face and his small mouth lay open. He was 5 years old and the centre of her life.
    Her hand was rested on the top of his head and she moved closer to kiss him. She wanted to let him know it was all going to be alright. At that moment her husband burst through the door and charged towards her.
    “What the hell are you doing?” He exclaimed in another seething whisper as he grabbed her and dragged her off the bed.
As she regained her balance from being pulled away she looked back at her child and seen her husband cautiously cleaning her blood from their child’s face.
She fell back onto the wall of the room, her eyes seemed to shake as she raised a trembling hand over her mouth. She slid down the wall to the floor and sat staring up at her husband who was now talking to his child while using a damp tissue to clean the blood from his lips.
    He had finally cleansed the last of the blood from the boys face. He was no longer telling his son about his day at work and was just staring at the young, lifeless face. He looked along the body of his child and his eyes began to swell and his vision blurred as he traced each of the wires that were keeping his son with him. His hollow stare turned gradually from the wires and tubing towards his wife who was now unconscious on the floor.
    He took two long strides towards the wall. He dropped to his knees and cradled her head in his hands. Her rich brown hair had become soaked in the blood that trickled from her wound, he brushed it from her eyes as she lay motionless. After laying her head softly back onto the floor he rose to his feet and swung the door open .
“Hey! Anyone, I need help. My wife has collapsed….she was hurt…her head, it’s bleeding.”
A stout, young hispanic nurse brushed past him into the room, lifting her stethoscope from around her neck as she looked for the injured woman. With a glance to her right her eyes widened and she took two quick steps and knelt down beside the unconscious woman.
“Is she OK?” The words seemed to tremble from his mouth as he continued to hold the door open. He was now standing behind the door he had pulled open and was peering around at the young nurse who was pressing two stubby fingers on the carotid artery of his wife.
“Hey, is she ok? She was in an accident…she was bleeding…” the knuckles on his hands were turning pale as he gripped the door but his eyes remained calm as he focused on the scene.
“I know who you are sir and I know what happened.” The nurse shot a glance at him and then rose to her feet. “Excuse me, I need to get her a bed.” She spoke with a detachedly calm and assertive tone that he seemed to be grateful for. He lowered his head and closed his eyes as the nurse swiftly left the room. Thoughts swirled in his mind and a cold sensation grew within him.

“It should never have happened like this, he shouldn’t have been there.” he stared intently at his wife who was lain on the floor. “I need to finish this.”

A Correspondence

The below is my own take on a writing prompt where the Devil is actually just carrying out what he perceives as ‘necessary’ actions.

God is an idiot. I have sat and watched the great ‘Almighty’ wistfully staring at his creation and muttering to himself “Well that shouldn’t be happening.” What does he do though? Nothing. Nothing is exactly what he does. I remember during one particularly bad day for the Big Chief I asked him why those children were being suited up with armour and being handed a rifle by their parents, all of which was my own doing of course. Do you know what he said?

“All creatures have been created with free will.”

Have you ever heard anything more preposterous? Giving an entire species the choice to do what they will? And yet the other Angels called me the mad one.

I’ve seen him wince at the violence, you know. He doesn’t think I notice but I do. The eras of grimacing every time one of his special creatures carries out another gruesome act have cut into his weary face. Don’t get me wrong, ageing in itself is no crime but the years wasted watching over a doomed creation should certainly be deemed as one, don’t you think? He even stopped shaving after they killed his son (don’t even get me started on that coward). A long beard now hangs from poor old God’s forlorn face. but let’s face it he rolled the dice with this creation and the sky is crumbling around him as a result.

If I had to put it in a nutshell I’d say I’m simply helping him to see the errors he made during his first build.

I can give you an example, do you remember that young man Che Guevara that fought other creatures for his so-called freedom? He said the following once:

“I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am all the contrary of a Christ. I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other place.”

God didn’t like it when I put those ideas into little Guevara’s head but I had to show him, everything he has created wants to own everything they lay their eyes on and they sure as hell won’t get it by asking nicely or helping others. Now look at the worship that has soaked Che Guevara in glory. Chief can be so naive at times, it’s baffling.

Before I go I would like to sign this correspondence off with one of my greatest feats, the Catholic Church. His own Son had a direct hand in setting up this institution of worship so naturally I seen it as my main objective. I had to show Him that everything corrupts and in the end we are simply alone. It was very easily done in truth, I didn’t give the Church any direct ‘evil’ power. I gave the common people fear.

This is what powers my actions you see. Fear.