I have no idea where this story came from. I sat down and started to write and this is what came out. And I love it.
It’s dark, vague, and feels like the beginning of something much longer. Hell, it might end up being the next series I tackle. I’m not sure yet. I just know I like where it’s headed. I can see it playing out beyond this episode, and I’m intrigued by what happens next.
I often talk about taking risks as a writer. Allowing a story to explore something dark or different without editing out those potentially embarrassing details. One of the things I like most about this story is that I didn’t even feel the inclination. There are themes in this story a younger me would have shied away from.
Fear kills fiction. That’s a fact. I don’t care to waste my time on half-assed stories when Vye’s in the mood to give me the good stuff. Mind you, I’m not saying this is an award winning tale. I’m only saying that writing it was richly rewarding for me, and isn’t that the point? Isn’t that why we write?
Okay. Enough platitudes. On to the story. Please let me know what you think in the comments.
I could say a lot about what lead me there. Here. You know what I mean. To that act and, consequently, to this place. I could talk about the job I had at the time. Not a bad job. Just boring. Or a lifetime of interest in the occult. Or even the simple allure of power. Any of those things would make sense, but they would all be lies.
It was him.
I met Henry on a perfectly average day. I wasn’t looking for a change or adventure. I was just punching the clock, getting shit done, grinding my way toward a night of Netflix, a TV dinner and a lack-luster masturbatory interlude before bed.
Tired of Starbucks, I stopped by an independent little coffee shop on the way home. I’d passed it many times before, but that day I decided to go in. I got my usual, a vanilla latte, and heard Henry snicker behind me. I gave him a look before finding a seat. A leather chair near the door. I had a book with me, some urban fantasy bullshit, and I started to read. Five minutes later he sat down in the chair next to mine.
“How is your book?” he asked nonchalantly.
“It’s fine,” I said.
I looked askance. He was grinning at me like I was the butt of a joke he’d just told.
“Do I know you?” I asked.
“Would you like to?”
I should pause here. I’m not gay. I mean, I don’t have any issue with gay people, but I’m not one of them. I’ve never been even moderately attracted to men. But there was something about this man that made me want to answer in the affirmative, even though I was still a bit flustered and offended by his mildly arrogant air.
He knew it, of course. People like him always do.
We started talking. I don’t even remember how we transitioned from his snickering ways to an actual conversation, but we did. Before long I was entranced, not quite literally but close. That was when he motioned to my book again.
“Why do you read that dribble?” he asked.
“What, this specific book or the genre?”
“The genre,” he said. “Wouldn’t you find real magic more interesting than that fodder?”
I laughed, but he didn’t. Instead, he handed me a business card. My hand tingled where his brushed against it.
“When you’re ready, call me.”
I thought it was a pick-up line. I guess in a way it was.
It took me days to work up the courage to call. I didn’t know if he was trying to land a straight guy just for the hell of it, or if he was crazy, or if I was just that damn bored. When I heard his voice on the other end of the line, I ceased to care.
He told me where and when to meet him, and that was the night my tutorials started.
He taught me a great many things. It was, well, magic. Not as flashy as anything you’ve read in a book or seen in a movie. There weren’t any spells, incantations or potions. Magic, real magic, isn’t a neatly tended garden. It’s a wild cluster of bramble bushes. One doesn’t prune it. One learns to dance among the thorns.
Henry taught me that.
He showed me how to have anything I wanted. Money. Power. Women. Whatever. But the more time I spent with him, the more I wanted something I couldn’t have. Please understand, it was a time of terrible confusion for me. I’d never felt like that before, not about anyone. What began as a weak spark caught, the kindling erupting into a blaze while I was still close enough to singe hair.
I could tell he knew. He used the information to motivate me, drawing me further in. It never occurred to me to ask why he was doing this. Why he’d sought me out, or why he was teaching me dark secrets. I was too enraptured–both with the lessons and with him.
We didn’t talk much about motivation. For me, learning to harness a hidden power was enough. His lectures never even touched on ethics. I felt like we were the only two people in the world who knew this enigma. We were doing it for the sake of doing it, pure and simple.
When he told me what he wanted, I was floored.
But then he put the screws to me. He plied his charm, caressing my ego. He spoke of yin and yang. When I said it was wrong, he laughed. Had we not explored the world of magic enough for me to understand we were practitioners of the dark variety? I knew not one means of creation, but I could call on the four winds to reign down destruction on whomever I wished. Was that not telling?
I was meant to be a conduit. Magic is like electricity. He could only channel so much. He needed another conductor. Someone else to assist with the burden. Together, we would be a nuclear warhead of witchcraft.
I hesitated, but for an embarrassingly short amount of time. Less than six hours passed before I agreed.
I know it’s little solace now, but I truly regret what we did. I tell myself that if I’d thought about it longer, avoided him for a few days, I might have come to my senses. The truth is, I don’t know. The connection I felt with him was strong. Like lovers, those who share magic share their souls. We were linked, and his desires became my desires. I was ready to do that which did not appeal to me simply because it did appeal to him.
I see the way you’re look at me. I know you hate me, and I understand why.
Your loss was personal. There’s nothing I can say to make it up to you, or give back what I’ve taken. All I can offer is retribution. A hangman’s justice. An executioner’s response.
Take off these shackles. Release your bindings. Unleash me. I know how to find him. There is no place on earth he can hide, not from me. I’ll track him. I’ll find him. And when I do, I’ll kill him. I swear it. And when I’m done, you can do as you wish with me. Just give me this last request.
Feeble though it will inarguably be, let me do what I can. What he taught me to do. Let me wreak destruction one last time.
Then I will surrender myself to your justice.