Mar 13, 2018

What Does The Middleman Take?

Need. Need. Need. The hunger. The lust. The want. The desire. It explodes inside her mind like a billion supernovas. It makes her want to burn herself at the altars of the dark gods. Just to be clean.

To be cleansed of all that’s ailing her. The world around her crowds in like a gaggle of people crowd in on an accident. She doesn’t want that. She just wants to be free. Swimming in the pristine waters. And she wants to be clean. But how? Her teeth are dirty. Her tongue has crammed up with the detritus of ages of eating. Her throat feels raw and she can’t even sing anymore. She tries, but only bubbles exit from her throat.

She closes her eyes and thinks of the men who had promised their Lives to the worship of their dark gods. Ages ago. The promises made and favors asked for. Now it was time to call them in. Now was the time to reap the harvest she had sown so many years ago. And they all better listen to mother. They better. Or mother will be angry. And an angry mother is not a good thing.

The message came to all of them in a shared dream. 30316 people all around the world woke up from their sleep at the same time in their sleep cycle. Everyone bathed in their own sweat, right eye bleeding tears, and the words from the mother flashing in their heads like a death knell.

She needed a cleansing. Her children were going to make sure she got it. Come whatever may.

The children of leviathan activated within minutes. Phones were ringing, people were woken up from their sleep. Everyone knew where they stood in the grand scheme of things and they all made efforts in their own way to get mother What she had asked for. Because they all owed their Lives to her.

Jay posted an ad in a newspaper. His logic for doing that was simple. Very few people read the paper these days and any soul desperate enough to respond to the ad would be the kind of person who’d not be missed if he were to vanish from the face of earth. Of course, he was not interested in the mere physicality of the person, the real juice was in the soul and the energies that were tied to a person’s soul. Calls were made to the right people in the right departments, the text was written and proofed and once the payments were done, the advertisement was placed in the advertisement section of a single newspaper. Jay had no hope of getting any response for the ad.

But he got two. Before the two applicants could find anything about him, he found out everything about them. He was that kind of person. Contacts and relations in every department and every town. His first responder was a tired and dejected man who was living estranged from his wife and spent most of his time at his dead-end job. He was stuck in the job and the cost of getting out was something that he did not afford. And even though he hated the job he needed it, so it hurt him, even more, when his boss told him to check out for the day and forget about coming in the next morning. He picked up the newspapers on his way back from office so that he could look for jobs in the area. But he saw the ad and dialed the number that would take him to either his doom or his salvation.

Jay, as fate would have it, knew all these things. His assistant had already given him a file on the man. He studied the file and did some mental math on how to approach the man’s case so that he would be the best candidate to serve mother. He flipped a coin, decided on a heart attack and closed the file.

The second file was an interesting one. A chemistry teacher in a school who dabbled in poisons. Jay read the file and knew this was someone that he’d deal with later and enjoy it a lot too. There were few instances in his career when he got to interact with others who had the same interests as him. Death, disorder, and anarchy being the three tenets on which the house of his job was built. But the foundation of his house had always been the same. To serve mother. Now and always.

The meeting with the man in the rundown pub went fine. Smooth as a knife slid just right between the ribs to pierce the heart. Jay left the man’s body slumped on the table while his soul was committed to the service of mother. The people crowded around the man, trying to wake him up. No one would remember Jay because he was just another face in the crowd that you never really notice even when you are paying a lot of attention.

It was time for meeting the second candidate. Jay knew that he needed to work on that guy quickly. You could not take a risk with such dangerous and unstable people. Luckily, the man had invited Jay to his office and Jay had no qualms in meeting a man in his place of power. He needed only one touch and then all the powers in the world would not be able to save Professor. Black.

The office of the kind professor was an antithesis of minimalism. There were mountains of files on every table, threatening to topple with the slightest gust of wind. There was a small chemistry lab in one corner of the room and something orange and yellow bubbled in one of the beakers. The whole room had the smell of old chemicals. The professor was sitting behind his mountain of files as if trying to shield himself with all the paper was going to do him any good.

“Professor Black, it’s nice to finally put a face to the name.”

The professor looked at Jay over the rim of his thick glasses. His eyebrows were in the phase of growth that spoke of accidents that took place somewhere in the past.

“Please have a seat, sir. What an interesting advertisement you gave in the newspaper. I just knew I had to get in touch with you.”

Jay picked up a piece of paper from the desk. There were chemical equations and formulas hastily scribbled on the page. The ink was, strangely, still wet. His thumb came off black from the page. He tried to rub the blackness off on the page, but it did not get off. A sense of unease rose in his chest as he struggled to breathe. His eyes felt watery and his vision blurred. He wiped his eye and his hand came away bloody.

He saw Professor Black looming over him from the other end of the desk as he collapsed to the floor, he heard the professor say four words that filled him with a chill deeper than any depth of the sea ever could.

“Happy cleaning, little fish.”

This one took some time to connect. But I am glad how it turned out. Sometimes, you have to let a story lead you.

Mar 8, 2018


“So, how was school?” Gezex's father asked him as he piled his plate with some more chicken from the bowl.

“Poisoning, dad. Professor Black gave a pretty interesting lecture. There was a practical demonstration where he poisoned one student from the class.”

“Ah, Black. Same old tricks, that old coot. What did he use for the demonstration? Was it cobra venom or Snakeroot again? That one was his favorite.”

“He did not specify. Said it was our homework assignment to figure out the poison from the symptoms.”

The father smiled as he chomped down on a piece of chicken. “Not going to help you then. Your mother was always the better poisoner of us two. You can ask her for clues, but I don’t think she’d want you to cheat on an assignment.”

“I think I can figure it out on my own from my books and literature I have read. Strange symptoms. Really unique.”

“Oh, yeah? Tell me some of the symptoms, maybe I can figure it out too.”

“The tears are the first indication. It looks like your eyes are bleeding, but it fact, it’s simple tears tinged with blood. The mark does not feel anything wrong with him, but those seeing him are fazed at sight.” Gezex said and poured some water into his glass.

“Then comes the sweat,” he continued. “It starts pouring in from the mark’s skull first. Causes dehydration in some and makes the tears appear even redder. There is confusion, bewilderment, and hallucinations in most cases.”

“Reminds me of the college parties back in my day,” the father said. He looked around the table for something more to eat. There was an untouched bowl of sauteed broccoli with diced potatoes lying close to Gezex. He motioned the boy to pass the bowl.

“The professor also said that the cure for the poison was available in common household items and that if we looked in our kitchen, we’d be able to find a way to neutralize the poison.”
“Hah, classic old trick. Now, listen G, you can’t really find a cure for a poison unless you know what the poison is, am I right? Do you get what I am trying to say?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Gezex said as he toyed with the food on his plate with a fork. “I have just been wondering, dad. Why did Professor Black choose me for the demonstration? I have always been regular…”

“Wait, what the fuck? He chose you for the poison demonstration? Did he give you an antidote?” Panic rose in the father’s voice. He usually did not swear around the kid, but this sudden revelation brought out a torrent of insults out of his mouth, and if Professor Black had been there, the father would have strangulated the man with his own bare hands.

"Wife!” he yelled for the Gezex ’s mother. “Wife! Come here, quick!”

The boy’s mother came in the hall from the kitchen. She was still wearing her apron. She wiped her hands dry with a towel. “What happened, husband? Is everything ok? Was there something wrong with the food?”

“No!” he raged, “everything is not ok! Did you know that our son got poisoned at the school today and he was not even been given the antidote? Whatever was given to him is still in his system.”

“Was it Professor Black?” the mother asked with a frown on her face. “That one has always had a thing for our family.”

“I am going to call that son of a bitch and give him a piece of my mind. What was he thinking poisoning our son like this.”

“Just hold your horses, husband. We need to focus on the issue right here and right now. Calling the professor can wait for a while.”

She looked at her son. “What was the poison? He must have gloated about the symptoms.”
“Blood tinged tears, sweat, hallucinations, dehydration.” Gezex ticked off the symptoms like a parrot.

“Oh boy,” a scowl swam over the mother’s face like a shark swims towards her prey. “That does not sound nice at all. Did he talk about the cure? Any clues?”

Gezex felt the mild panic slowly uncurl in his stomach like a snake waking up from its slumber.

“He...he said household ingredients can be used for making the cure.”

"Just what I had feared.” The mother pulled out a chair from the table and sat down with a thump. She sighed, “Now look little G, the symptoms go much deeper than this. You will slowly start to lose all sensation in the extremities of your body. You won’t be able to use your smartphone or your gaming console. You will start to get irritated by darkness, and you will have to stay in the light just to feel at ease. There are other symptoms that I can’t even tell you right now because I don’t want to scare you too much.”

"But, mom, he said there was a cure.”

“Oh damnation,” the father spoke up, “I am calling the professor, and I am going to wring the cure out of him if I have to.”
“Husband,” the wife put her hand over his hand that held the phone. Her eyes told him to shut the fuck up, and such was the intensity of the gaze that he was calmed at once.

“Gez, look at me.” His mother looked around the table and saw the bowl of broccoli and potatoes. “First thing you need to do is eat this. This will stop the poison from reaching your heart. After that, I will cook something for you that will work to neutralize the poison in your body.”

The boy gave a disgusted look to the bowl of vegetables in front of him.

“I think I can see a red tear in the corner of your eye.”

He pounced on the vegetables like a hungry tiger.

“It’s going to take months to get the poison out of your body, and you better eat everything I give to you.”

“Mmmff,” he managed to nod between mouthfuls of broccoli.


I have always wanted to write something around a dinner table.

More stories coming up.

Mar 5, 2018

The Man Who Drinks

The shaking of his hands stopped only at the third glass of whiskey down his gullet. He poured a fourth glass and told himself to take it easy. Still, his foot tapped the sawdust encrusted wooden floor with a maniac rhythm that would put a flamenco dancer to shame. He looked at the door of the dinghy excuse for a pub for the umpteenth time.

The person he was waiting for was still not here and the man was getting impatient. One more glass, he promised himself. That’s only how long I will wait. He looked down into the golden brown liquid, wishing it was filled with some poison that would save him the misery of this encounter, but it remained the same old whiskey that swirled in the glass slowly as he picked it up.

Then something strange happened. The color of the liquid in the glass deepened by a shade. The looked at his fingers and his bitten off cuticles, the skin took a healthier shade of pink and the wood on the table looked more wood than any kind of wood had right to look like. The man took a deep breath and steeled himself for what was about to come through the door. He did not look at the door, but he heard the door’s hinges swing as if well oiled and felt his contact walk in like a summer breeze flowing through the flowers in a graveyard.

“Is this chair taken, friend?” his voice, a singsong melody, drifted through the noise in the pub to be heard perfectly clear. The man spread his hand in a please-take-a-seat gesture and the stranger pulled the chair back and sat down. To say he was an attractive man would be a lie. He was not. Not by any means. He had one of those faces that you might see every day on the street and never think about again. He was the John Doe of faces. The template on which others were based. His basic clean-shaved look framed by the delicately combed hair and brown eyes that seemed pedestrian by every standard. His clothes didn’t attract attention to him. They were functional and smooth and nothing that could not be bought from any market in any town.

And yet, the man commanded attention. You felt like respecting him. You wanted to listen to him when he was looking at you. There was this ancient urge to make the man happy. To please him in any and every way possible if only to have him look at you with an appreciating eye.

The stranger smiled and offered his hand across the table. “I am Jay.”

The man loosened his hand on the whiskey glass that he had not realized he had been holding too tightly. “Smith.” He shook the hand and then paused, “I saw the ad.”

Jay smiled at this the room shook with an explosion of color for a second. Like a glitch in the mainframe of universe’s existence.

“Of course, you did, Smith. I am sure that’s not your real name, but let’s roll with it for now.”

The man wanted to blurt out his real name there and then. It rose in his throat like vomit from a night of drinking too much, but he locked it down with a resolve he didn’t know he had.

“I need it. My life is a mess and you are my only hope.”

Jay pretended to look at his immaculately clean nails. “That’s understandable, Smith. We can make it work for you. Fix up your life. Get the wife back. Make the boss call you back on the job. The neighbors will respect you and we might even put your childhood dog in the package.”

Smith’s eyes shone with a greedy glow for the first time that evening.

“But are you willing to pay the price?”

Smith looked in his glass of whiskey. The memories came rushing at him like a stampede of wild horses. He choked down a rush of tears and nodded at Jay. “Yes. Yes. I am willing.”

“Give me your hand,” Jay said and put his hand on the table palm upwards.

Smith put his hand in Jay’s and felt the squeeze of Jay’s hand on his own. In that one moment, everything ceased to matter. There was a sensation of floating in warm ocean currents while the sun blazed somewhere above him and was just a shimmering ball of light seen through the lens of water. There were fish in the water. Leviathans, bigger in person than he had seen them on TV. One of the floating behemoths swam closer to him and opened up its mouth to swallow him. Smith was not afraid. That was alright. That was the way of the things. That was how it was supposed to be. Once in the whale’s mouth, he sat down on the whale’s tongue and started to clean the teeth with his fingers. A voice called his name from deeper into the whale but he ignored it. For now, his only task was clear to him. To clean, clean, clean and clean the best he could.

Someone was calling his name still, but it was far away, deeper than deep and he did not care for it anymore. It was not even his name and he did not remember what his real name was anymore. He was happy in this moment and he was happy in his task.

Jay held the man’s hand in his own. He looked into the man’s eyes and blinked as the man’s head smashed into the table, knocking over the fourth undrunk glass of whiskey. Then Jay calmly signaled to the barkeeper.

“Please call an ambulance, my friend here seems to have suffered from a heart attack.” As the panicked barkeeper dialed the emergency number, Jay put his hand on Smith’s head and patted it like one would pat an obedient dog’s head.

“Happy cleaning, little fish.”

Hang on to your hats. We are going old school weird here.