Contingency: A Chuck Wending Challege

Posted: June 10, 2014 in Fiction
Tags: , , ,

This week’s Chuck Wendig challenge as all about Phoenix themes. I decided to interpret that generously as allowing for ideas of rebirth. I’m not thrilled with it, but given that I wrote it in about an hour, not so bad. It is a little shy of the 1k word limit, but not enough for me to care. Enjoy!

The sound of gunshots threatened to break my concentration as I raised the knife high, the blade reflecting the flickering candlelight. Stretched over the altar was the sacrifice, his heavy lidded eyes staring upwards in drug-induced incomprehension.

I didn’t know how they found us, probably one of the cultists. Most of them didn’t have enough brainpower to light a bulb, but they were generally handy for petty crimes, procuring sacrifices, and lifting heavy things. They also had the unfortunate habit of not keeping their mouths shut when they should.

“Police! Drop your weapons and get on the ground!” The shouts echoed through the thin walls of the tenement we were holed up in.  I focused on the words of the ritual as I felt sweat drip down my face, getting into my eyes. Definitely a time when I wished I’d foregone the heavy woolen robes, especially since it was August.

My tongue twisted and writhed in my mouth as I worked my way through the language. I’d jotted down a phonetic translation guide, and I was pretty sure once I jammed the knife down through the breast of the eighteen year old I’d have successfully summoned my patron, the Demon Waazix. No that he was really my patron yet, but I was hoping he’d be so impressed by my mystical skill he’d want to take me under his batwing. Failing that, I had a mystic circle all set to go, ready to bind him and force him to my service. First though, I had to get through the ritual.

I looked up at the other acolytes, flicked my eyes toward the one door. They nodded at me as they drew pistols from their robes. I didn’t have much faith in their ability to stop the police, but they should be able to slow them down enough.  Dragging the knife across the bare chest of the boy on the altar, I traced fell designs in his blood. His breath was slow and steady as I worked, a testament to the amount of weed he’d smoked before we got to work.

The designs finished, I smiled as I brought the knife up while my other hand found the sweet spot just under his sternum.

As I brought the knife down, the door crashed open, a Maglite shining straight into my eyes. The police didn’t bother shouting as the bullets impacted my body, smashed my cheek, and destroyed my arm. The report of the guns came as I was already falling backwards, the knife tumbling from lifeless fingers.

I felt my spirit pulling free from my body, circling upwards. Had I still possessed a mouth, I would have smiled. Sure, my ritual was ruined, the little drug-and-sex-and-Satan cult I’d painstakingly set up destroyed, but there would be other chances, other times. I’d have been happier to complete the ritual of course, and I hadn’t counted on just how much getting shot would hurt. Still, my spirit was free and a contingency I had in place meant I should be able to find a body to inhabit.

A warm glow of satisfaction filled me as I slipped through the dense boards of the building like so much mist. It was refreshing to be so free, so light, so unconstrained by mortal bonds. I also wouldn’t be able to do anything like this, of course, and there were certain things I liked about having a mortal body oh so very much.

Spiraling down, I located the flashing lights of the police cruisers. Five of them, lined up, with a truck as well. A couple of ambulances too. I saw my surviving followers kneeling on the street, hands cuffed behind their backs, as well as a few long, tarp covered objects. Ahh well. More where that came from.

I found what I was looking for in an officer standing by his car. I swept down, filling him as he took a drag off of a cigarette. Looking around, I smiled. He liked cards, drink, and strip clubs. He was married, but had a girlfriend on the side. Hadn’t spoken to his parents in years, and had last been to Church four years ago. I could work with this. I settled in, letting him have control for now.

Three hours later found Jim Dagle, the officer, sitting in a bar, staring down at his whiskey. His head hurt, but that was from me digging through his memories, scratching out a nest for myself. I’d work a bit at a time until there was nothing left of Dagle, and there was just me.

“Hello Harkin.”

Dagle looked next to him to see a woman standing there. She was dressed in white, and wore some sort of symbol around her neck.

“Do I know you?” he asked. The symbol was familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place where.

“No, but I know you’ve got an unwanted passenger in there,” she said, smiling. “I’ve been looking for him for a while. When all I found was the body by the altar, I was suspicious. Seems I had a right to be.”

“Altar? You mean that cult thing tonight? Nobody got out. They’re either in lock-up or at the morgue.”

She shook her head. “Sadly, no.”

Before Dagle could react, she stabbed a jeweled pin into his hand. He screamed, and I screamed with him.

“You crazy bitch! What-”

She struck him in the throat with an open hand, making him splutter and cough. I tried to hold on, to force my will to hook into Dagle’s spirit, but the pull from the pin was inexorable, drawing me down into it.

By the time Dagle recovered, the woman was gone, and I, trapped in the jeweled pin, screamed my rage and frustration.

  1. Cameron says:

    Nice. Sucks to be Harkin, I suppose.

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