|A Word With The Devil
Author: The System Mother PM
FICTION. I will be periodically uploading chapters from my NaNoWriMo project here. I really liked it, and I hope you'll enjoy too. It's about a European gypsy who stumbles upon the gates to what seems like Hell in an old WWII Bunker. Cooler than it soundsRated: Fiction M - English - Fantasy/Supernatural - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,764 - Updated: 12-24-08 - Published: 12-10-08 - id: 2606822
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
At the Bottom of Everything
Everything was stark white for a brief moment, and then the color slowly began to drain into Vinnes' sight. An earthen shroud billowed down a flight of granite stairs; the stairway rippled with the apparitions of a sand-stream. This exit portal was suspended in an aurous fog from which a stalk of cloud sprouted, branching crookedly towards a fissure ripped open in the connecting skyline. Baleen stilts held some stitching to the sky-wound, and the rest draped over the chin of the clouds like whiskers. He could see nothing but a wavering fog beyond the yellow-stained horizon, as his vision was still blurred from the coming-together of two very different places. He concluded, finally, that his body was still adjusting, and this sure as hell was not the French countryside any longer; nothing had seemed real since the butterflies.
His bare foot touched the top plank, and slipped a little bit; his toes made tiny imprints in the stone, much like he was sinking his knuckles into a wet bar of soap. With what must have felt like water-walking, Vinnes had a certain pleasant bounce to his step as he descended the twenty stairs towards the wasteland floor. Each grain of sand framed the base of his foot, and then drained around him like a bed of satin. When the plain smoothened itself out again, the plot emerged as a glossy black tile. A physically absent light source would shift a speckled white gleam on the surface, and then it would quickly turn pitch-void again. Curious, yet seemingly harmless, the Rom stomped like a child in the surrounding sandbeds, feeling high as a god when the earth became a slick black and white checkerboard pattern.
Cracks would slither through the ceramic surface, before exploding in a loud 'pang!' of jagged glass shards; a black-root spiral tree tore through the floor five feet from Vinnes, bundles of silken white blooms unfolding from the tip of each corkscrew branch. Globules of boiling muck vomited from perfect circles hollowed in the trunk; it pricked Vinnes' skin like the burn of a lingering hot sauce. The violent roots sounded like they had jabbed something beneath the Rom's soles, as a deafening squeal suddenly exploded point-blank in the man's face.
A set of paper-thin fingers hooked onto the rim of one of the roots' holes, dragging an emaciated body to the surface. Rolling over flat on its' back, the creature heaved a few breaths, twiggy arms twitching uncontrollably from over-exertion. Misshapen coal-nugget eyes stared blankly up at Vinnes, who was now bent over the thing, intrigued (yet repulsed) by its' shriveled form. Thumb-sized ribs were beginning to poke out like bleached talons from its' chest, and flimsy green stem legs coiled at the ends, touching the tips of wax paper insect wings folded and soaked in sap against its' back. Not afraid of the puny creature, he reached down a finger to touch its' rough skin. It felt like moss-grown bark right after a thunderstorm; muddy residue caked beneath his fingernails. Every single wooden joint in the creature's figure creaked like rattled branches. Green ooze dribbled from the corners of its' lipless slit mouth, and it moaned like a midnight wind.
"Where am I?" He was crossing his fingers beneath the tiny form, praying that it could speak. The remainder of a tunneled wood mouth clacked down hard, and it turned its' head away quickly, squirming in his one-fist grip.
"At dah Bottom'a Eveey'ting, a'course." A rasp voice snuck up behind the Rom; it pounded in his brain like a poison draught he knew he should discard, but couldn't bear the loss of curiosity.
"Excuse me?" Vinnes didn't dare turn around to face the voice-bearer.
"Dah Bottom'a Eveey'ting." It had lowered to a reptillian whisper, and finally Vinnes had to swing around, fists raised, when a rawhide hand squeezed his shoulder. The man dropped the bark-skinned varmint with a solid thump at his feet; it whimpered pitifully, limping on all fours in a half circle, before collapsing onto the glistening check-tile floor.
An eight-foot tall giant was hunched over Vinnes, breathing heavy red steam in his eyes; it smelled of a forsaken slaughterhouse. A scummy head of faded mucus-tone hair framed every scarred crease in his grey-tinged, beastial face, somewhat covering archaic bladed weaponheads snapped off in his husky dark hide. Hefty bear-clawed feet dragged across the tile like nails on a chalkboard. He removed his hand from Vinnes', who was quivering with a new-found fear, and tipped a worn black grey-patched black bowler hat in recognition of the small man. Broad ivory ram-horns bounced out from under his thick, greasy hair when he fluffed it. Clicking uneven tusken teeth together, he pierced Vinnes' feeble heart with fluorscent golden eyes. Straightening his ragged dress jacket and ripped black silk pants, the monstrosity winked at the Rom.
Vinnes blinked. "Wha- who- why- What! is going on!?" He panicked, his hands jumping back to tugging frustratingly on his matted clumps of sweat-dampened hair. "What are you? Who are you? Why!?" The monster pushed two fingers over the man's lips; they made the equivalent of twice the pressure of four grown male's hands.
"Nu, dun' ye speak. Ye listen, 'ummie. Ye listen well." His voice boomed like impending thunder. "Yer gunna sid'own, an'rink sum tea wih'me." He managed to bend down over his own hulky muscle mass just enough to retrieve a tattered coat-tail, which he twirled around his finger in contemplation. "Yer gunna make small'alk wit me, an'yer gunna'joy evvee second'a it." His other claw scraped a small human bone from between bottom front teeth. Vinnes' heart beat so quickly, it seemed to stop and leave him.
"Pardon- but, tea? It's a kind offer, but... I'm honestly not interested, but thank you." Vinnes politely responded, one set of fingers crossed behind his back, hoping with every ounce of his gut that the giant's manners ran somewhat parallel; it had been two seconds in this nightmare, and enemies were the last thing Vinnes wanted to make. "If you would politely show me to the door-" he cut himself off and scratched the back of his neck, "wherever it is." The Rom coughed.
His towering opposition seemed bemused. "I'ill geh'dah table." He ignored Vinnes' wits. Suddenly realizing the man could do essentially nothing to persuade the beast otherwise, he reluctantly gave in and slouched a bit. The beast had the opposite reaction; obviously, he had expected the man to resist more in the physical sense, therefore allowing him to be subject to be 'mistakingly' becoming the said monster's lunch. With a snarl and yellow-slobber frustration, the creature secretly admired the man's steadfast fortitude; most men, when faced with this particular situation would have broken out of fear and reduced themselves to a literal puddle at the pleased beast's feet.
"Whu' yer num, 'ummie? I'Cobaahl." The beast reluctantly introduced himself with various layers of bowing, until his head was nearly tucked between his legs. Vinnes chuckled in sheer amusement.
"Vinnes Yoska, a pleasure Mister Cobaahl, sir." He held out his hand and Cobaahl grabbed it with a fierce grip, squeezing it to the point where Vinnes had to wiggle it free, before the giant choked it to shattered bones. "'ikewise." Cobaahl barked, licking a little mucus-colored dribble from his lips; Vinnes chuckled harder at the hulk's lack of repose and obvious inability to know what step to take next. "About that tea?" Vinnes was reveling in the upper-hand.
"'bout dat tea." Cobaahl plopped down, palms planted flat on the floor. Like rampant weeds, stalks of spiral table-legs sprouted from the ground, rippling and shattering the delicate patchwork tiles underneath. An oak tabletop blossomed like a fractured rose and, as it unwound, glossy ruby eyes sprung open on the nearest leg. They bore a dim glow, like a wire of scarlet holiday lights burning in a well-lit room.
"Beckfass o' ca'omill?" Cobaahl pulled up a bizarre chair, and motioned for Vinnes to take a seat on the other end of the table. The Rom examined the contraption with an inaudible mutter.
"Chamomile would be just fine." He spoke up in a hushed whisper. Agreeing with a silent, stiff nod, the beast's eyes followed Vinnes sternly as the man plopped down. Uncomfortable was an understatement; bone-wound studs were becoming undone, and a fragile eye popped under his pressure, murky black goo running down the backs of his legs with the sting of scalding coffee. The rigid material instantly sent chills up his nerves, turning into a sheer numbness.
Cobaahl sniggered, clapping his fat hands once. Upon parting them, liquid porcelain dripped from his fingertips like clods of melted doves' feathers. Scrambling to make sense of itself, globs of clay slithered upwards and then circled back downwards, building a perfect little flower-print teacup; another followed. The creature cupped the tiny contraption at the fold of both palms, having slid the other to Vinnes with a slight nudge. Vinnes caught it before it flew off of the table; there was already tea settling within.
Sipping quietly, Cobaahl suddenly inquired, "Ye 'no y'shuld nah be'ere." Vinnes set his cup down with a 'clink'.
"It would be nice if I knew exactly where here is, and what- excuse me, who are you, exactly?" The man played a haunting melody on the rim of his teacup, having not dared to take a taste yet.
"'eemahn. I's a 'eemahn, an'ye's a 'ummie." Cobaahl proceeded to take pride in furthering his thaw of the, otherwise, awkward stillness. Vinnes' breath left him.
"Demon? Demon!? Hell? I'm in Hell, aren't I? I died, and I'm in Hell... and I'm going to burn, and suffer, and just... I'm dead, aren't I? I'm-" Cobaahl clutched his gut in bawling laughter.
"Dat wuld'ah bin kind'ah dem, wuldn'it? Nah shir, ye summ'er loz worst den 'ell- ah lease fer ye... I's in'iffren'." The tea caught in his scruffy mane, and upon finishing crushed the cup back into goo with a squeeze.
"So... I'm stuck here," Vinnes slouched. "somewhere worse than eternal torture and fire-pits... and stuff...?" His fingers were nervously tapping the bottom of his chair.
"Nahsen' 'ummie. Ye cin geh'owt, is juss a'bih'a a wulk-" Cobaahl was cut off by the suddenly hopeful Rom. "how far?" He inquired, and Cobaahl tapped his chin with a claw, looked straight up, straight down, cracked his neck with the butt of one palm, and then shrugged carelessly.
"Dah saf'ay 'ud take mur den dubble yer measy 'ummie 'ife." The demon crossed his legs and arms, leaning back contented against the backboard of the twisted chair.
"There must be some quicker way; a get out of torture free card? Anything?" Vinnes leaned in; Cobaahl did as well. "Dah roads'ah Sarrat-Shin'ar. Buh, guh'luck wit'dah un... nah een 'eemahns be safe un dat 'lace. Ih be nu man's lann."
"You underestimate the power of human determination." Vinnes winked, and Cobaahl chortled pleasently. "I tinkin' dah unny ting I's undahmatein' 'ere i'yer 'ummie 'tupidy." Vinnes blinked.
"As much as I'm sure it's just to watch me die, I'm quite curious as to why you're helping me out...?" The Rom scratched the base of his chin in an inquisitive fashion. Cobaahl clapped his hands together with a thunderous resonation. "Dah'bout sum ih'up. Ah'a mattah'a fack, I'be 'enrous 'nuff ta see ye off."
Vinnes rolled his eyes. "Well aren't you just a splendid kind of guy... monster... thing... yeah..." That sarcastic tone was nearly impossible to mistake. "Follah." Cobaahl retorted. "An' I nee' cah'sation." The demon glared over his shoulder at the Rom, and Vinnes bitterly laughed.
"You must be kidding. I need to give you compensation for leading me to my death? This isn't exactly a favor-" Cobaahl grunted. "I doin' ye a'fav, 'ummie. Un 'ess 'ummie." His fat tongue hung out from between serrated dagger teeth as he spoke, constantly moistening his scabby chops.
"Lead the way." The man mumbled reluctantly. Under a harsh breath, he tilted his head down, and coughed "go to Hell."