This week, our Flash Fiction Challenge at Terrible Minds was to write a story in which our protagonist was the subject of some kind of torture, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, etc. I believe that my novel, Exposing Dallas (and its sequel Dissecting Dallas), has a lot of that in it, but rather than take 1000 words out of context, I just wrote a new story 🙂 because I love to torture…. Erm…. Just in my writing… Huh. Yeah. Forget I said anything. Enjoy.
The Serpent’s Scales
“Don’t panic… Don’t panic… Don’t panic…”
But it was hard not to panic when the room began to spin around him.
Eyes, hundreds of eyes, were watching him, some bulbous, some inset, and some a fiery red that seemed to flicker as their gazes touched his own.
He grasped the side of the table. It melted inside his grip, and his hand fell off the surface onto the bench seat. His entire body tumbled with it.
“Need some help?” a deep, slow voice asked from somewhere behind him. He turned towards it but fell off the bench and onto the floor beneath the table.
He found the face that belonged to the voice, sitting miles above him with a smirk, peering down with soulless eyes that bulged in and out with his heartbeat.
“Jarrrrreedd?” The voice had grown slower, more distant, and even deeper.
“Stay—way from me,” Jared groaned, and scrambled across the floor towards the aisle. He glanced up, the world tilting this way at that as though the Earth had fallen off its axis, and watched a waitress approach, her short black skirt billowing behind her like tentacles. She smiled, her teeth razor sharp points, and crouched to the ground.
“Siiiirrr?” Her voice was as deep as that of the man who sat at his table.
It was him. Seth had done this to him.
“Are you okaaaay?” She leaned forwards and opened her mouth. Her teeth gleamed like the blade of a knife. “I’m going to rip you apart,” her voice echoed in his head.
Jared crawled backwards on his hands, propelling himself with his heels. He turned and saw the door of the restaurant only thirty feet away.
Seth stood up now and hovered over him, his twenty-foot stature no match for Jared’s meagre six feet. He would never be able to fight off this giant, this monster, this man he had thought a friend but was actually something else.
“S—ay away fr—me,” Jared mumbled. He tried to get to his feet but fell twice.
He must have been drugged. But when had it happened? Had Seth slipped something into his drink while they were waiting for the women to arrive? Had he… had he… Jared stumbled on his feet and crashed into a waiter carrying a tray of hot food. The food flew in all directions; he fell into a booth in which a family of four sat.
A little girl screamed. It was the sound of a screeching pterodactyl, so loud that he had to cover his ears. When she opened her mouth, her tongue slithered inside of it like that of a snake as it hisses. Jared pushed himself out of the booth, away from the girl, and only stumbled back into the aisle.
“I told you that getting involved would only make things worse for you!” He jumped forwards, as quick as a tiger pouncing on prey, and seized Jared by the arm. Seth hoisted him up from the floor and dragged him past the eyes, all the eyes, the ones that were popping out of heads and then retreating to their hollow crevasses as a gopher pops back into his hole.
Seth and Jared were out on the street in seconds. The blaring horns and city lights and people on the streets that were shouting and crying and laughing and screaming and the screaming was a nightmare echoing through his aching spinning mind—
“You wanted to get yourself involved,” Seth’s deep voice rumbled deep into his ear. The reverberations of his growl settled deep into Jared’s stomach and then rocketed to his heart. Adrenaline fired through his limbs and rested in his intestines.
He was going to die. He was going to die for what he knew.
“Wa—mean to—for… yours,” Jared spat out. Even to himself he made no sense.
Somehow they were in an alley, getting into a black Escalade. Jared lay on the seat and allowed the motion of the vehicle to sweep him away. Seth sat over him, grinning. His eyeballs still bulged rhythmically, and his breath, reeking of garlic, wafted towards him as a green vapour.
Jared tried to sit up but found that his limbs were all but capable of function. “You—I said—never say anything.”
Seth seemed to understand him. His irises, as black as night and yet as red as blood, iridescent like a serpent’s scales, seemed to grow to fill the whites of his eyes.
“You already said some…thing,” Seth’s deep voice bellowed so sluggishly in response. “You told Ally about me. That is a no… no… A big no… no…”
As his wife’s name was spoken, a flash of bright light overwhelmed Jared’s vision. His heart sputtered. When the white faded, Seth’s face was in his.
“A year is not long to be maaaaried,” Seth hissed. His eyes became snakes’ tongues, licking at Jared’s own eyes. He turned his gaze to the front seat; Jared’s followed. “Toooo bad.”
A limp body lay there, buckled in, the arm of the passenger lying lifelessly on the center console of the vehicle. The wrist bore the silver watch that Jared had bought his wife for their anniversary.
“She’s dead,” Seth said. He glanced at his own watch. “You should never enter a house without knocking, Jared, not even your neighbour’s. You never know what you might find.”
Jared’s mouth had gone severely dry now and his pulse had sped up so that he could no longer make out individual beats. He could feel his heart palpitating with fear.
“You have thirty seconds before you pass ouuuut and another fifteeeeen before your heart stops. I hoooope it was all worth it. Anything you want to say?”
Jared glanced out the window of the SUV for the last time and saw the flashing lights. “Police—watching—you for weeks.” He turned his dying gaze towards Seth and forced out, “I hope it was worth it, asshole.”
© Lindsay Mawson 2011