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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Flash Fiction Challenge Entry

I chose one posted by S.W. Sondheimer and ran with it. 
At 946 words, I give you:

Jade Wore Black

Jade wore black. From the dye she rinsed through her red hair two hours ago, to the soles of her boots laced loose enough to slip twin daggers down each calf. Even in the flickering gaslights of Marcus’—no, she would not think of him as a man—the Feareater’s clutter-filled hovel, their silver handles glinted above the reach of the worn leather. A warning, she thought, to those things that might mistake her for just another waifey victim strutting her goods through the underbelly of a rotting city.

No. Jade would never be that.

From across the split-wood table, the Feareater watched her through keen, empty eye sockets. His skin a light shade of grey, his nostrils flared with each shallow breath. Her fear resonated in him at a pitch he’d never experience before, and from one so young. She couldn’t be more than fourteen, yet her fear felt ancient. “And you know what it means to live without fear, little one?” He repeated the question he’d asked upon their first meeting.

I know, she thought, but the words tangled in her throat. So she nodded. She’d heard the stories of the Fearless. It didn’t matter their lives were always short-lived and plagued by madness, she didn’t need the useless emotion. She’d get rid of them all if it were possible.

“My payment?”

She fingered the key tucked in her jean’s pocket, unsure if she could trust him to uphold his end of the deal. Many of her friends had sought the Feareater, but only to mellow a fear so it was not a true fear but instead a faint anxiety, a worry. She gritted her teeth. From every one of them, the bastard had siphoned too much. They’d returned home sick and withered. Not one of the Fearless, but not anyone Jade would call a friend again. Between him and the city disintegrating from the inside out, Jade was alone.

He drummed his boney fingers on the tabletop. Boom. Boom. Boom. Like the sound of coffin lids slamming.

With a shaky breath, she drew out the key to the Sumner Asylum and set it in front of her.

He closed his eyes. The quick flush of blood gushing to his scars a traitor to the hope that she’d failed to acquire the key.

It had been all too easy getting the key. He couldn’t have known she’d practically been raised in the asylum, visiting her sister daily, befriending the janitors for extra hours with her. Or maybe he had, maybe he remembered her sister, and that’s why he asked for it, she thought, but said, “We had a deal. I’ve held up my end.”

He sprang from his seat and landed atop the table. Jade lurched backward, a scream tearing from her throat. She shook herself as if to cast off the prickles of adrenaline dancing beneath her skin, and straightened her spine. Never again would her heart hammer in her chest that way. She would fear nothing, especially him.

Crouching, he waited languishing in her terror as it spooled around him in a comforting cocoon. She is the one, he knew, that would finally sate his hunger. When he reached to clasp the girl’s face, the sleeves of his cloak slid to his elbows. She flinched at the sight of the pale, gnarled scars that littered his greying skin. The reaction echoed through him, a phantom instinct to run, because he’d flinched too. The worthy always did.

Even as Jade stared at them, the scars began to writhe like so many maggots living in a bloated carcass. She shoved her face forward, urging him to proceed. She would not back out now, not when she was so close.

He splayed his hands flat on both sides of her face, forcing her head backward. He curled his fingers until his nails pierced her scalp. She screamed. His fingernails ratcheted down harder, boring into her skull. She kicked and bucked and clawed at his hands. He clutched her tighter. Leaned closer.  

“I tried to save you, child,” he snarled, indigo liquid pooling in his eyes. It wept from his scars as they surged down his arms toward his hands. His mouth hovering over hers, he spread it wide.

Something uncoiled deep inside Jade, and she clamped her lips shut trying to hold on to the very thing she’d sold him. A vortex churned from her toes, up her legs, and into her guts, making her want to vomit. It seared past her throat and hit the back of her teeth. She went limp, her mouth falling slack. Her arms dangling by her sides, her fingers brushed the hilts of her daggers. But she couldn’t reach them. No, no, no, she wanted to scream, it wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The terrors that haunted her every second, spewed from her lips in a fountain of indigo liquid. The Feareater reared back as if he’d been smacked in the face with a bucket of hardened cement. The rickety chair groaned and smashed. Jade hit the floor with a dead thud, the Feareater sprawled on top of her.

Her body her own once again, she threw a knee into his side, and shoved him off her. Her hands shook as she drew the daggers from her boots, but not from fear. From something else.

His eyelids fluttered open, and in the once vacant sockets, Jade saw he now had hazel eyes. “Was it worth it? Your vengeance?” he asked on a thin breath.

In answer, Jade jammed the daggers into his heart and, as he died, she drank his fear to fill the void now residing within her.

THE END

Hope you enjoyed,

Happy Reading. Happier Writing.

J

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