Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fortune

“Come back, Tommy!”

from the seer’s house...

“Don’t go, Tommy!”

to the haunted mansion...

“Tooooommy, cooome baaack!”

she’ll suck your life...

“Tooooom-myyyy...”

come back...

That new voice, a crystal’s song, he carried in his dreams. When had she arrived? He longed to return as much as he longed to prove himself, now even more.

A bet was a bet. Onward he trudged, his robe suddenly too long, every step a cliff overcome.

He stopped to draw air in, to peek back over his shoulder. They seemed far behind already and awfully tiny as seen at the bottom of that narrow flight of stone steps, and Tom wasn’t even halfway through the stairway. He looked up in the foaming darkness at which bony branches slashed to the rhythm of the unseen wind. The house stood darker than the night, its stones like tar, only its high windows inflamed with dancing shadows, as if huge fires licked the glass. He looked down again at his friends, twelve-year olds Ghost, Elf, and Death, standing with their jack-o’-lanterns and their bags for candy on the orange-lit pavement as if they were on a far-off stage and he was watching them from the gallery, right under the theatre’s roof. A Witch had joined them and Tom could’ve told who she was even from that distance, even if he hadn’t heard her voice calling him – she had a witch’s hair, no need for wigs, copper curls flowing to her waist.

He pulled at his costume, a silver skeleton painted on black velvet. The wind flapped the robe against his legs, furiously. His white mask felt too tight. There was no going back, especially now.

He turned and climbed again. Soon their shouts were eaten by the wind’s, their silhouettes erased by swaying branches.

He almost bumped into a black oak door, his nose one inch away from an iron gargoyle, perched on an iron ring. For a second, the gargoyle seemed to twitch its tiny nose, winked at him with evil glaring eyes. Just a reflection of the Moon’s, finding its way through the battered trees. Nothing else. Tom swallowed hard, then grabbed the gargoyle and knocked.

The door opened.

As if someone had been waiting for him right behind the door. That someone stood in front of him, but he couldn’t tell if it was a real person or just a trick of the shadows. He blinked at the cold sweat coating now his mask.

Behind him, the winds barked, mewed, moaned.

“Trick or treat?” he managed in a shaky voice, not his own at all.

A pale face, featureless, floated in the doorway, in a hypnotic pattern of afterimages.

“This is something for you to decide...”

He strained to see if it was the woman who sat in the fortune-teller’s booth when the carnival came to town; the boys said it was her, that she only left her house for that, that she didn’t follow the carnival, but the carnival returned to her, but how could she be, how could she be. The soothsayer was an ancient midget, a dried Incan mummy, so tiny that it could fit inside the small glass booth bathed in an orange light, and never spoke, only somehow made a note to appear with the answer to your question.

“I’ll show you...”

He was compelled to follow the invitation in the cold voice. He took a step.

Behind him, the trees weaved an ever unravelling canvas.

In front of him, a corridor receded towards a pale radiance. He followed a rustling, a darkness, a crackling, to a stone room, to a table.

In the heights of the towering vault, giant flames danced an angry saraband. He found himself seated, staring at a globe in which milky forms undulated. On the other side of it, a white skull mask, much like his own, as if he was looking at himself in a mirror.

“Do you have a wish?” the mask spoke.

The forms in the globe stirred, darkened, took the shape of the Witch, with her red hair, with her floating cape.

Tom gasped.

“Nora...”

“Do you have a wish?” the skull spoke.

In the glass globe, the Witch swirled, waltzed, her eyes closed, her lips in a timid smile.

To see those cherub lips form the words, to hear her voice.

“Is it really going to happen?”

I love you, Tommy, I love you, Tommy

“Every wish fulfilled comes with a price. How much do you want it?”

He was sure now. He had never been so sure.

“I’d give anything to hear her say that,” he said boldly.
He closed his eyes, dreaming. When he opened them, he saw the street lights, he saw the Elf, the Ghost, Death, he roared with laughter as he felt them throwing mock punches at him, as he heard them laughing, shouting.

“You did it, man!”

“What did you see?”

“What happened there?”

He felt drunk with a tingling happiness. Nora watched him, smiled to him.

They went to all the doorsteps, the four of them, till their bags of candy and their feet grew too heavy. It was time to go home.

What happened to my wish, seer?

He didn’t see the telltale headlights of the car taking the tight corner, didn’t hear the virulent spitting of the mad engine. Only the Witch, the Ghost, the Elf, and Death waving frantically, shouting, screaming. Only the wind howling its howl of rabid wolf.

“Tommy, watch out!”

“Tommy! Tommy!”

“Watch out, Tommy!”

“Tooom-myyyyy!”

How beautiful the Witch was. How much he was in love with her. At what were they playing?

The hit threw him high in the air, made him tumble like an acrobat, like a bag of old clothes.

Harsh concrete came to meet him, offering a hard bed. He was tired. He had to rest. Somebody took off his mask. The wind kissed his face.

The sky had cleared, revealing a tapestry of stars.

In the general confusion, Nora held him, spoke to him. He longed to hear her, strained to hear her. At last he understood.

“I love you,” she was saying, rivulets of tears from her green eyes eroding her green make-up. “I love you, Tommy.”

Darling Witch... Yes, he would’ve given anything for that…

I love you Tommy I love you Tommy I love you Tommy I love you Tommy I love you Tommy I love you Tommy

Until he heard no more.

21 comments:

ChrisEldin said...

I LOVE your new look!!!

I'll come back to read your story because I'm getting kids off to school. But really do love this new look!!
:-)

Charles Gramlich said...

Good story. Let me know if you'd like me to link it to the halloween horror tales on my blog.

Vesper said...

Thanks, Chris. It's temporary, in honour of the season... :-)

Charles, thank you! Certainly, I'd be honoured if you linked it to your Halloween horror tales. Thank you! :-)

Aine said...

Nice Halloween layout!! What a treat!

Ah, Tommy... Anything to hear "I love you". Bet he didn't expect to sacrifice his life.

strugglingwriter said...

I love the template here! So cool. I'll read your story later, at home. Just wanted to tell you I love the look here.

laughingwolf said...

oooooeeeeeeeeee good'n spooky! :D

the walking man said...

Quite the tale. I like how Tommy lost his fear when he saw his love in the globe. The twist at the end was also very good, one would expect Nora to be the one taken, that it was Tommy...well it is fitting.

Vesper said...

Thank you, Aine. Now I'm starting to feel remorse for poor Tommy... :-)

Paul, a background for the season... I'm glad you like it.:-)

Laughingwolf, a little spooky... :-) Thank you for reading! I'm glad you liked this.

Thank you so much, Mark! This story came to me stronger than others. I wrote it in a trance... Your comments are much appreciated. Thank you for reading.

BernardL said...

Where's my HEA ending... very well done. :)

L.A. Mitchell said...

I love the echoes in this story and the bookends-beginning and ending really make it whole. Thanks for sharing it:)

Avery DeBow said...

That's why wish-making should be left only to genius lawyer types who are used to finding the loopholes in every contract.

Oh, and I've followed Charles Gramlich's trail of breadcrumbs here--and very happy he left them. Great story.

laughingwolf said...

did you just join the celtic forest group on ning?

someone using 'vesper' as a name did

Vesper said...

Thank you, L.A. Mitchell, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Avery, I'm glad you followed that trail... Thank you for your comment!

Nope, Laughingwolf, not me... :-)

Vesper said...

Bernard, thank you!!! I've seen your comment (in fact I've read it several times with a big smile on my face); I really don't know how I missed answering it. I apologise. :-)
An HEA ending... hmmm... No, not for my stories...

Thank you again!

laughingwolf said...

ok, was curious

bunch of folk using 'laughingwolf', too... though it's been my online name for some 10-12 years, i can't always use it on all sites or boards

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

That gave me goosebumps! Your imagery is superb, Vesper, as is the dramatic tension in this piece of writing!
xxx

Miladysa said...

Lovely :D

The new template is awesome :D

Sarah Hina said...

Wow, this was so perfect, Vesper! I loved how you twisted that innocent hope into a death wish. So deliciously poignant. And right up my alley. :)

Really great descriptions. Him tumbling like a bag of old clothes was superb, and so were many other lines. A visual treat!!

Vesper said...

Laughingwolf, no other Laughingwolf could be the same as you! :-)

Vanilla, I'm sorry and glad for the goosebumps! :-) Thank you for your words of appreciation!
xoxoxo

Miladysa, thank you!
The template is temporary, just for the season...

Sarah, I'm so happy you liked this! Thank you!
I noticed a weird thing lately, at least with this and the previous story, something I couldn't really believe when others were saying it. This thing is the story somehow writing itself, driven by the characters, mysteriously growing by itself rather than by my plotting... Bizarre!

Sarah Hina said...

I think that's a sign of personal evolution--so exciting, Vesper!! I love it when that happens. Usually, I feel like I'm grinding it out. But sometimes...

:)

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