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The Upstairs Room

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#picturefiction #flashfiction

 Sergeant Wilson stood hunched against the blowing snow outside the Victorian home. Two dozen other cops huddled in the shadows near doors and windows preparing for the go signal. According to the Fed running the show there was some kind of Satanic cult in the house. They had a kidnapped girl and were probably going to kill her or worse.

The house certainly fit the bill. It was the type of Victorian that housed the vampire or monster in a bad movie. It was tall and thin with several faux towers topped with pointed roofs. Narrow windows peeked from nooks and crannies of the ornate architecture creating glass eyes staring down at anyone foolish enough to approach.

The porch where Sergeant Wilson lurked seemed about to collapse under the weight of his squad. Peeling paint fell on him with every arctic gust of wind and cracked boards groaned as they moved. Why couldn’t these cultists kidnap someone during the spring?

“All units ready,” said a voice in his earpiece. “Go in 3, 2, 1; Go!”

A trooper stepped to the front door and swung a heavy steel ram into the door at the bolt. The wooden jamb splintered and the door flew open.

“Police!”

“Search warrant!”

Every policeman shouted the words again and again as they charged into the house.

Thirteen men and women stood in the center of the candle lit room, they were all stark naked. Twelve stood in a circle around the thirteenth, who held a knife overhead in her right hand. She was covered in what appeared to be blood. Wilson expected a dead child to be in her hands and almost shot her before he spotted the chicken she clutched.

“Freeze! Drop the knife,” he shouted and leveled his service revolver at the woman.

Shock and confusion coated the faces of the thirteen cultists. They made no move to reach for weapons or even run. The freezing wind blasting through the breached front and back doors seemed to have frozen them into statues.

“Drop it I said,” Wilson shouted.

The woman seemed to realize that he was shouting at her and then looked up at the knife as if she was just noticing it for the first time. Her hand spasmed and the knife fell to the floor. She lifted both hands over her head. The gutted chicken was still clutched in her left hand creating a ludicrous image.

Wilson and his men closed on the cultists and began hand cuffing them. There seemed to be little need to search them for concealed weapons.

“Drop the chicken,” Wilson said as he snapped a cuff onto the woman’s right wrist.

The abused bird fell to the floor and the woman’s left hand joined her right in shackles.

“Where’s the girl?” Wilson said.

“What?” The woman appeared genuinely confused.

All the cultists were either crying or asking why they were being arrested. No one was struggling. They were the least criminal looking bunch of perps Wilson had ever busted.

“The little girl, Nadine Sharp; the one you kidnapped.”

“What?” She said again. “We didn’t kidnap anyone.”

“Marlene Conrad,” said a man wearing a jacket with FBI in huge yellow letters.

The blood coated woman nodded.

“I’m Special Agent Perkins. This is your house, correct?”

The woman nodded again.

“We have a search warrant to examine your residence for evidence related to the kidnapping of Nadine Sharp.”

“Sir,” a voice called from the stairs. “I’ve got a locked room up here.”

The FBI man looked toward the stairs and then at Wilson.

“Bring her.”

The trio walked up the groaning staircase. The cult leader occasionally stumbled and Wilson was forced to hold her upright.

At the top a trooper directed them to the end of a hallway where a door stood closed.

There was a pair of thick metal brackets and a large wooden bar across the doorway. The hinges were facing the hallway. This setup was not to keep someone out but to keep someone in.

“Open it,” Perkins ordered.

“You don’t want to open that door,” Marlene said. Her voice shook and rose as she spoke.

“Oh you’d like that wouldn’t you,” Perkins said. “Nadine, we’re coming honey. Trooper, open that door.”

The burly cop grabbed the wooden bar and wiggled it free from its fixture. After setting it aside he drew his side arm and grabbed the handle with his free hand. He looked at Perkins and Wilson to see if they were ready and then yanked the door open.

A blast of arctic air roared from the door. The room was pitch black and snow and leaves blew past the cops and cultist. Wilson could see that the windows were all wide open. A chair sat in the center of the room with a small shape huddled in it.

“Nadine?” Perkins said.

A high pitched giggle reached their ears.

“No,” the cultist said. She began to struggle for the first time.

Wilson clamped her arm in a viselike grip but he barely could hold her.

“We have to get out,” she pleaded and yanked out of his grip.

Wilson grabbed the woman in a bear hug and lifted her from the floor to restrain her. It was like trying to hold onto a greased eel. The blood on her skin made it nearly impossible to hold her still. She squirmed and fought Wilson’s grip. The pair fell to the floor, wrestling. Wilson used his entire body to pin the woman. His hands dug into soft flesh and a blood coated breast was pressed against his face; it was the least sexy moment with a naked woman in his adult life.

“You don’t understand,” she gasped. “We were trying to send it back.”

Perkins pulled a flashlight from his belt and focused it on the giggling shape in the chair.

Perched in the center of the metal lawn chair, surrounded by snow was someone. It was not Nadine. It was the size of a child but appeared emaciated, almost mummified. Its skin was taught across its bones and looked like the skin of a corpse, yet the form moved.

Wilson relaxed his grip on the cultist as the creature turned its head to look at them. Green ooze flowed from the corner of its mouth. The mouth was like nothing human. Huge pointed teeth filled the opening from edge to edge. The creature’s enormous eyes turned to stare at its visitors. It giggled once more.

“Run,” the cultist said in a choked whisper.

The creature leaped from the chair; the screaming began.

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The Summoning - jar of moles

The Summoning

The Summoning - jar of moles

#picturefiction #flashfiction

 Lord Armitage glided down the stone steps to the cellar of Armitage castle. The hem of his black velvet robe swept the ancient dust from the steps as he descended. The robe was embroidered in eldritch symbols with threads of precious and rare metals. If one were to stare at the designs they would seem to shift and move as the viewer struggled to bring sense to the design. His seamstress had committed suicide soon after finishing the garment, screaming about the ‘great writhing ones’ as she flung herself from the cliff.

Clutched in his hands like a precious heirloom was a large jar. The jar appeared black in the dim light but was a deep red. It was filled with blood collected from a hundred virgins. Lord Armitage had spent a great deal of money purchasing the silence of the donors but even if it had taken all of his wealth he counted the cost as reasonable.

Lord Armitage reached the basement and crossed to the center where an enormous circle filled with writhing designs and words of languages long dead before man evolved awaited him. He placed the jar in the center of the circle and withdrew to light the thirteen green-black tapers spaced around the circle’s perimeter.

A lectern, carved from black granite stood beside the circle. Lord Armitage opened the moldy, scarred leather tome that rested there and read the words he had spent his entire life learning to decipher.

The alien language twisted his throat and pained his tongue but he persevered. As each guttural, hissing phrase passed his lips he could feel the room become heavier with power and immanence, not of the divine but of something from outside the sane reality of his world.

He completed the incantation with an ear splitting shriek that tore the lining of his throat. The smell of brimstone and ozone filled the air. A flash of dark light momentarily blinded him. When his vision cleared, the blood had disappeared. The jar was not empty. Within the jar something small and black had replaced the vital fluid.

Lord Armitage stared around the cellar in confusion. Where was the demon he had summoned? The blood was gone and there should have been a powerful creature of the outer dark trapped in the circle to serve him.

“Bloody hell,” he said.  His voice was hoarse..

The jar rattled against the stone floor.

Lord Armitage walked to the edge of the circle and knelt. He peered at the jar across the lines of the protective circle.

A small form unfolded itself within the jar and stood up. It was no more than an two inches tall with two stubby arms and legs. Each finger and toe was punctuated by a short pointed claw.  Its body was covered with coarse black fur. Lord Armitage squeezed his eyes shut and looked again. The creature’s head and face looked like nothing more than a common garden mole.

“What in the hell are you doing in the jar?”

“You summoned me mortal.” The mole’s voice was high pitched and, although muffled by the sealed glass jar, was perfectly understandable.

Lord Armitage jerked backward and landed on his butt.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. You speak?”

“Of course I speak, fool. Name the service you demand of me.”

“No,” Lord Armitage said. “I summoned a great force, a creature of chaos and absolute power to do my bidding. You are a tiny mole.”

“Judge me not by this form, I am mighty.”

Lord Armitage brayed laughter. “You’re two inches high and stuck in a gallon mason jar. Even your voice is the antithesis of powerful. No. You are going to stay in that jar until I recover and figure out how to send you back to whatever celestial pet shop I pulled you from.”

“Mortal you shall rue the day you summoned me. I will be avenged upon you.”

Lord Armitage cackled again and stood.

“I will be avenged upon you,” he said in a squeaky imitation of the mole.

With a wheezing chuckle he turned and left the basement.

Lord Armitage retired to his quarters and after tossing his ceremonial robe over a chair collapsed onto his bed. He was asleep almost instantly.

When Lord Armitage awoke the sun was low in his window. He pulled the satin rope beside the bed and in a matter of minutes his manservant, Hugo, entered the room.

“How long?” His voice was still rough but the pain he had felt was absent.

“Two days my lord. I have looked in on you constantly but your sleep was like that of the dead.”

Lord Armitage groaned. “Draw me a bath, Hugo.”

“Of course my lord. How did your summoning go if I may be so bold?”

Lord Armitage sat bolt upright. The summoning, how could he have forgotten.

“Draw the bath. I have to check on the cellar.”

He leapt from the bed and ran down the many staircases to the cellar.

The tapers had long burned down but the cellar boasted the latest in electric lighting and with a flick of a switch, Lord Armitage brought the light of day to the dark pit.

He skidded to a halt beside the circle and knelt down to peer at the jar which still stood in the circle.

A ball of fur was curled in the center of the jar. As Lord Armitage stared, it uncurled and two identical mole creatures stood up.

“Behold mortal, I am mighty,” both moles spoke in tandem in identical squeaky voices.

Lord Armitage snorted laughter, unable to contain himself in his reactions to the absurd creature.

“Oh you are truly awesome, little mole. You’re twice the demon you used to be.”

“Suffer! You shall suffer like no other,” they squeaked.

“Stay strong little moles. I will find the incantation to return you.”

“Crush! Rend! You shall suffer.”

The lordly mage chuckled and left the cellar once more. He had a bath to take and much study to perform.

Seven long days later, Lord Armitage had found the proper spell in the grimoire and had laboriously translated it; he was ready.

Clad in his robe and armed with a fresh supply of candles, Lord Armitage strode down the cellar steps.

“Prepare to return from whence you came mole,” he said.

Lord Armitage stopped dead in his tracks as he reached the magic circle. The jar was totally black. He leaned down to see better and could make out dozens, scores, possibly hundreds of black furred shapes writhing within the jar.

A deafening peal of laughter rang out in the cellar. It was the same high pitched voice of the mole but amplified a hundredfold.

“Behold my might mortal.”

The shapes in the jar began to writhe faster and more vigorously. Lord Armitage heard a sound like a lot chittering scratch; it was the sound of glass straining beyond its breaking point.

As he watched the glass jar exploded. Shards of glass flew across the intervening distance and drove into his flesh like rocket propelled knives. Lord Armitage screamed in pain.

“Vengeance is mine,” bellowed the moles.

The tiny bodies in their every increasing multitude flowed across the circle and over the prostate body of Lord Armitage. Thousands of tiny claws dug into his flesh while maniacal laughter filled his ears.

The last thing Lord Armitage heard was, “I am mighty.”

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Wishing for Snow

Wishing for Snow - snow in vegas

#picturefiction #flashfiction

Phillip had lived in Las Vegas for every one of the fourteen years of his life.
Half the kids in his school were transplants and each of them had a story of snow days and white Christmases. Tales of sledding and snowball fights had always made him jealous. Why was he consigned to this dry arid place?
Sure he could see snow on Mount Charleston each winter but that was not the same. Asking mom to drive him to the mountains to see snow wasn’t the same as having the sky open up and smother the world in flufffy white stuff where he lived.
He wanted to walk out his door and make snow forts. He wanted to have school closed for days on end. He wanted snowmageddon.
It was two weeks before Christmas and the news station reported that Pennsylvania had received its first four inches of snow. Las Vegas was predicting 60 degrees and sunny – AGAIN.
“I would give anything for snow.” Phillip said. “I want this place buried.”
The doorbell rang.
Mom was still sleeping after her night shift at the diner so Phillip rushed to the door before the doorbell could ring again and wake her up.
The man outside was like nobody Phillip had ever seen. He was tall, well over six feet. His skin was the color of milk. The man’s face was long and came to a sharp point at the end of his jutting chin. His nose was equally impressive and formed a crescent moon with his chin when viewed from the side. He was strangely dressed in a suit unlike anything Phillip had seen men wearing although it did remind him of the clothing in that old black and white movie Scrooge with its ruffles and wide lapels.
The man wore a tall top hat on his bald head and his ice blue eyes twinkled as he smiled at Phillip. Were his teeth pointed?
“May I help you, sir?”
“Quite the opposite young man.” His voice was a high pitched nasal tenor. “I am here to fulfil your needs.”
“I’m sorry, sir. We don’t want to buy anything.”
The man smiled again, his teeth were definitely pointed.
“Permit me to introduce myself Phillip, I am Chernobog. I am here because you made an offer and I have something I can provide.”
Phillip felt a chill rush through him.
“How do you know my name?”
“Tut, tut my boy. I know all sorts of things, like how you want snow more than anything. I believe you asked for it not five minutes ago.”
“I-” Phillip was speechless. This weirdo must have been spying on him, but why would he do that and how, there was no way he could have heard him up in his room.
“What would you give if I could make it snow right now? Hmmm? Would you be willing to make a deal with me?”
“I don’t really have anything of value.”
“Oh it won’t cost you a penny. It won’t even cost you anything right now. I wouldn’t collect until after you had lived a long life.”
He wouldn’t have to pay? That sounded like a great deal to the eternally cash strapped Phillip.
“Wait, what do you want me to pay?”
“Oh nothing much, call it a trifle. It’s something you don’t even use after all. You’ve heard of school spirit? Well what I want is something like that, your soul.”
“And I don’t have to pay ’til I’m like old and stuff?”
“That’s right Phillip, when you’re old and finally die, I’ll come collect. You won’t even notice.”
It sounded like a great deal to Phillip. He could pay with something like stupid school spirit and he wouldn’t even have to pay until he was old. That was like, forever away.
“And I’ll get all the snow I want?”
“Oh yes,” Chernobog said with another toothy grin.
“Deal.”
Chernobog reached up and removed his hat to reveal foot long black horns. The horns glowed and he raised his hands.
“Snow, snow, all you could want for your entire life.”
There was a flash of light leaving Phillip momentarily blinded. When Phillip’s sight cleared, the white man with the horns was gone.
Something cold hit his cheek. He reached up and touched the spot. His hand came away wet. More cold wet things hit his face. Phillip looked up; snow was falling.
Individual flakes turned to swirls of flurries which turned rapidly into a white-out blizzard.
School was cancelled the next day after a foot of snow had fallen. Phillip cheered and frolicked in the snow.
Businesses shut down three days later after six feet of snow covered the desert and blockaded the casinos.
Outdoor activities ceased as movement through the ever deepening snow became impossible.
Phillip and his mother huddled in the house praying for relief as the snow covered the doors and windows and began to pile onto the roof.
Still the blizzard roared.
On the fourth day after the house was buried the power died and Phillip and his mother held each other in fear as the roof groaned under tons of snow.
Phillip swore that he could hear maniacal laughter on the howling wind just before the roof collapsed.

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