by Lee Pletzers
read by Jason Warden
The book slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor. The covers splayed open, exposing blank pages. But Jimmy had seen the words, and now a slow tidal wave of energy built from within. His stomach tightened, nerves jangled. Pain ripped his gut forcing him to double over. His breathing became harsh; deep breaths caught between clenched teeth filled his lungs.
Jimmy waited for the pain to subside, but the surging energy felt good. It felt powerful.
He felt powerful.
It grew stronger, larger. Energy filled every pore of his body, and strained against his skin, wanting out.
This is what he wished for.
This is what the book had shown him.
It. Was. His. Time.
Unable to hold the energy within and without conscious thought, he threw his arms wide and his head back.
“Yes,” his voice hissed forth like air from a tyre.
The energy pushed at his fingertips.
Jimmy breathed hard, fast.
White light exploded from his eyes and fingers. It filled the basement, bleaching colour from the walls; bleeding the room white. Thick black smoke clouded the ceiling, rolling like waves in the ocean, tumbling to each wall. Within seconds the ceiling was gobbled up and completely hidden. There were no flames or heat, only the promise of power that was his for the taking.
The smoke turned twisted and formed shapes. Explosions of colour filled the new smoke-forms. Every style and range of shading found its place.
An A4 sized photograph fell through the smoke, turning in the air and landed face down on the blank pages of the book.
He looked down at it.
Jimmy, his name whispered through the room.
He bent down for the photograph. His fingers were inches away.
He looked up at the smoke. It no longer resembled rolling clouds or waves, it was spikes. His breath caught.
As the book promises, the voice said.
The time was now.
His arms dropped to his sides and he opened his eyes wide.
Two fat spikes of smoke slammed into his blue eyes. The force took him off his feet and he hit the floor hard. Pain screamed across his back. He quickly rolled onto his side and looked up…
The ceiling had returned. The light bulb burned bright, but the room was bathed in a dull grey light.
Panic seized him. He struggled to his feet and vigorously rubbed his eyes.
Fuck, I’m going blind!
He closed his eyes and counted to ten taking slow deep breaths.
Opening his eyes, he blinked in the harsh light of the basement bulb. Turning to the wall, his vision adjusted and sight returned to normal.
Jimmy picked up the book and photo.
He was eager to see it. Many thoughts had tumbled through his mind of what to expect: daggers, blood, goats, fear.
He hadn’t expected a photo. He turned it over. The photo was white, overexposed.
Nothing worked for him. He was born to be a loser forever.
Placing the photo on the old poker table, he closed the book and looked at the cover. The title was gone; the jacket was blank same as the pages.
He pulled one of the folding chairs from under the table and slumped onto it.
Please don’t let this be a dream.
Thoughts swirled as he turned the book over several times. A tear fell from his left eye. He expected so much. The book was powerful, magical, and he found it. It was his. The scribbles were understandable only to him.
Jimmy closed his eyes. Took several deep breaths. He was getting angry. He didn’t want to get angry. He needed to be calm and try to work out what went wrong.
He rubbed his eyes remembering the spikes of smoke whacking into his eyes.
What the fuck went wrong?
Looking at the floor, his mind ran through a hundred scenarios, excuses, reasons; logic played no part. Screaming, he chucked the book across the room. It smacked loud and sharp against the wall. It landed with blank pages showing, as if the book was taunting him. The cover was skewed, the binding ripped.
Something thumped the floor above. His mother’s shrill voice cut through the ceiling. “Jimmy, what the hell you doing down there, boy?”
He didn’t want to reply but found himself looking up at the closed door. “Nothing,” he called. And he hated himself for it.
His thoughts turned to Dad’s Glock. That was powerful. He could easily take it to school. There weren’t any metal detectors at the front gate. He could easily smuggle it in. Talk about a fucking cliché.
Pissed off teenager guns down classmates.
Like that hasn’t been done before.
“Jimmy, your dinner’s getting cold.”
Shaking his head, he walked up the stairs. Half way up, he stopped, remembering the photograph. The over exposed image. If the devil had taken his soul, then he was keeping that photo close.
He grabbed the photograph and carried it upstairs.
Opening the door, he heard the television blaring.
In the connecting kitchen he saw his TV dinner sitting on the stove. Mashed potatoes, mixed veggies and something that looked vaguely like meat. He scooped up the tray and carried it to his room.
Taking his favourite seat in the corner and placing the TV dinner on his lap, Jimmy looked around his room while taking a bite of food. The heavy metal posters on the wall, the mess of clothes on the floor and the bookcase bowing under the weight of hundreds of horror novels, didn’t feel right any longer. Things had changed.
His desk covered with art paper and notebooks filled with ideas for a book he planned to write one day, looked out of place. The room needed a change, redesign.
Finishing his TV dinner, he had no idea what that design would be. Jimmy had no idea what he wanted to be.
He was seventeen and without a dream.
Outside the winter night was bitter and blowing a gale. Tree branches didn’t sway, they were jerked this way and that. The window was open a fraction. Jimmy reached up for the curtain ends and drew them shut.
Something caught his eye. He quickly yanked the curtains apart and stared down onto the front lawn. Streetlights threw a dull yellow glow across the road, enough to see the street was empty. But he swore he had seen something; a dark shape against the shadows.
Both sides of the street were empty. It was only his imagination playing games, yet the figure seemed so real, so very much…there.
A shiver ran down his spine.
His nerves stopped dancing. Without thought, he opened the window and leaned out. His eyes scanned the area, found nothing. In a quiet voice lacking any hint of fear, he said, “I thought we made a deal?”
He waited for an answer.
None seemed forthcoming.
Jimmy grabbed the curtain but a sudden, forceful gust of wind snatched it. It blew his hair wild and pushed hard against his face. Behind him, he heard the paper on his desk fly off and the TV dinner tray hit the floor. He turned from the window just in time to see the photo rise off the mattress and head his way, driven by the wind and looking to escape.
The word came from nowhere, the voice barely sounded like his.
And it was filled with authority.
But not his heart and the sound of its beating filled the room. Each thump shook the stillness of the air. It vibrated through the floor and across the walls.
Jimmy turned and looked outside. On the road a car was frozen in time. A cat was stuck in mid-air; an uncompleted leap from the fence. The stillness was complete. Thick and heavy like an object he could reach out and mould to his imagination.
In a mad frenzy of activity, time rushed back.
He heard the car roar past; the cat’s yellow eyes glared at him as if it knew what had happened.
Turning from the window, he caught the photo as it hurtled forward. The gust of wind circled the room, tossing the covers of his bed, twisting the aluminium TV dinner tray. Posters tore off his wall and fluttered to the floor.
Suddenly, all was still.
Jimmy stared at the mess.
In his hand was the photo. Only it wasn’t over-exposed now. It showed a bedroom. A nicely made double bed, a couple of scenic prints were on the wall, a rug mat with a tiger head sat in the middle, and to the side of the window was a computer desk with a laptop on it. The screen was up and an open Instant Messenger window held a flashing cursor. Next to the laptop was a black folder with ‘TAG’ style art on the cover.
He didn’t know this bedroom, but he knew the folder. It belonged to Sally Ramsay.
Why was she in his photo?
Jimmy didn’t get on with her. He didn’t get on with most kids at school–never had. He was the kid who was ‘different’ or ‘weird’.
Before his eyes, the photo changed, like a live update webcam. He felt a little voyeuristic watching. Sally was standing in front of the computer, her arms leaning forward as she tapped a message. A towel was wrapped around her upper body and another one was wrapped around her head.
A whisper in the wind spoke his name. It whistled into the open window, pulling him from the photo. Sally was now sitting in the chair facing her computer. The towel rose high on her thigh, almost up to the hip. Jimmy felt a familiar tingle in his groin as he went to the window.
A sheet of paper, unmoving in the wind, waited near the tree just past the letterbox.
He was ecstatic.
The reading had worked.
Lucifer was real.
In some weird way this was probably a ritual he had to go through to get his desire. His power.
Checking the coast was clear, he slinked down the hallway and entered the laundry room, where the back door awaited.
With his hand gripping the door handle, he realised this was the turning point in his life. The moment he stepped outside, the life he knew would change. How…he did not know, and that kept him from rushing forth. Fear of the unknown.
“What are you doing?”
Jimmy’s heart skipped a beat.
Laura, his ten year old sister stood in the hall looking at him. She wore her school uniform, and had a cell phone around her neck. Her hair was thick and dark, like his, only longer. It fell past her shoulders, soft and bouncy. Her complexion was crystal clear on tanned skin and her dark eyes sparkled. This was why she was popular, and why her phone beeped with a new text message every other minute.
The complete opposite of him.
Jimmy had been told he had bedroom blue eyes, but comments from horny drunken friends of his parents didn’t count. He was skinny as a rake and his black hair was clumpy and hard to manage. He wore old blue jeans and a red t-shirt that had seen better days. He felt comfortable in these clothes, and besides, his wardrobe was limited.
Yep, the complete opposite.
“Where are you going?” She leaned against the door jamb. “Do mum and dad know?”
He smiled at her. “Not going anywhere.”
She smiled back, but it was a sly smile. “Then why are you sneaking out.”
“Then why the back door?” Her eyebrows rose with the question mark.
Laura chewed her bottom lip. “Can I come with?”
“I’m just going to the letter box.”
“Coming with.” Laura dropped the towel and pushed past to the door. She grabbed the door knob. Jimmy’s heart stopped. He had to go out, not her. Seeing his expression, she asked, “What’s wrong?”
From the living room, Dad yelled, “Laura. Phone.”
She looked at her cell phone.
Relief swept through his body.
“The landline, dork.” Jimmy said, raising his eyebrows. He loved his sister, but there was no way in hell he was going to let her claim the prize. He leaned against the door in case she tried to open it anyway.
“Hardy Har Har.” Releasing the door knob, she said: “Wait for me, okay?” Without waiting for an answer she ran out of the laundry room. Her footfalls were loud in the hallway.
He didn’t wait.
Jimmy swung the door open.
The world was silent. A high pitched tone whined in his ears. He took a deep breath and stepped through the doorway.
The second his foot hit the ground, sounds returned. The television roared inside. Life was present. He heard the neighbours thrash metal bash the air. A couple of kids he couldn’t see, yelled and laughed, and a dog barked in the distance.
Yet something felt different.
He walked around the side of the house, stopped at the letterbox and looked to the tree. The paper was held down by something he couldn’t see clearly in the dull light. Checking behind to make sure Laura wasn’t following and ensuring no one was eyeing him, Jimmy opened the wooden gate and wandered to the tree.
A black Fedora with an elastic band that could wind through a button hole for use on a windy day, held the paper to the ground.
The hat felt fantastic in his hands. Holding it made him feel different, powerful. He arranged the hat, and wasn’t surprised to find it a perfect fit. A burst of energy shot through his head and screamed down to his toes, powerful enough to take his knees out. He gripped the sides of the hat and hit the driveway side on. His head crashed down on the cold cement.
He stared at exploding stars in front of his eyes.
A car stopped. “Are you all right?”
Jimmy struggled to a sitting position. Warm blood had soaked the side of the hat. It felt sticky. How long had he been on the ground?
“Do you need some help?”
The driver of the pick-up had a soft kind face, and her voice was filled with concern. She looked in her early forties and had a cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth. She climbed out of the huge vehicle and rushed to his side.
“I just tripped,” he said. “I’ll be fine.”
“You on drugs?”
Jimmy laughed. “No ma’am, I don’t touch the stuff.”
“You live around here?”
“No ma’am,” Jimmy lied. What the hell was he saying? The words sounded a million miles away, like watching television and hearing voices outside. “I’m over on…Pasadene St.”
“Hell, son. That’s quite a way.”
Jimmy got to his feet. A wave of dizziness washed over him; everything turned black and for the second time, he hit the hard, unforgiving solidness of the concrete driveway.
He woke up on a sofa. The remnants of a dream hung with him; disjointed fragments clutching to the edges of reality. A clown’s face floated at the edge of his vision; often glimpsed but never in focus. There was soft laughter, the kind an evil man would spew on a b-grade TV show. It wasn’t coming from the clown. The clown did not smile, and his eyes were blood shot, wired.
The dream faded as they always did. Fragments clutched reality but the actual plot of the dream vanished quickly into oblivion.
Pressure pounded the inside of his skull.
The room was unfamiliar. A blanket covered him.
Sounds, he heard sounds coming from the kitchen. Jimmy pulled off the blanket, glad he was still dressed. His hat was on a small stylish coffee table. A 48 inch flat screen TV was attached to the wall. It was off. A stereo sat under it. Soft music oozed forth, softly coating the air with 1960’s pop. Scattered through the room wireless speakers were mounted high on walls. Perfect surround sound.
The place was nicely decorated, not loaded with materialistic items or cluttered. There was a place for everything and everything in its place. A Feng Shui feel filled the space.
He reached for his hat.
“Hi, you’re awake.”
The voice startled him. He left the hat where it was.
“Umm, yeah. Where am I?”
“My place.” The woman shrugged. “I couldn’t leave you lying on the street, could I?”
It was Jimmy’s turn to shrug. If roles were reversed, he would have walked away and not given it another thought. Then again, she was kind of hot. He probably might have helped her. And she wasn’t a silly high school kid either; she was a mature woman, almost as old as his mother. Her green eyes were locked on his, as if she were reading his thoughts.
“Everything okay? You’re not feeling faint are you?”
Nope, she wasn’t reading his thoughts. “Nah, I’m fine.”
She smiled. “Good.”
Feeling awkward, Jimmy said: “Hey, thanks for helping me out.” He got off the sofa making his way to the front door. “Umm, I better be going.”
“What’s your name?”
“Jimmy. What’s yours?”
“Stay a while. Have something to eat, Jimmy.”
“That’s okay, I had something earlier.”
She pouted. God she looked good. Unexpectedly, and with speed, she moved in front of the door, blocking his exit. Her movements were graceful like a swan. Her feet glided across the floor. “Stay,” she said. “I cooked.”
Jimmy wasn’t sure what to do. Was she giving him signals or was she a raving nutcase?
The woman stretched her arms across the door, pulling her shirt taut against her breasts.
Jimmy took a chance. He leaned towards her. Soft as silk their lips brushed together. Her arms came around his neck and fingers interlocked.
In a playful tone, she said: “Oh my, Jimmy, I’m old enough to be your mother.” Her tongue flicked across his lips, and her hands slowly drew down his chest. They stopped at his belt buckle. Her fingers slid between the fabric and his skin, sending bolts of tingling nerves across his groin.
He was about to lose it, explode all over her fingers and feel like a right…loser.
The truth hurt but he felt he had to say it. “I’ve never, umm. You know…”
She stopped. “You’re shitting me?”
Jimmy shook his head. He expected her to laugh, but she didn’t; he was grateful for that. She did, however, pull away from him.
It was time to go. Jimmy went to the sofa and picked up his hat. The thick fabric felt good on his head. It fit perfectly. The blooded section was still sticky.
“You have a nasty cut,” she said.
He turned to the door. The sight took his breath away and he felt some leakage seep into his underwear. Her shirt was off; nipples erect. He didn’t want to stare but couldn’t help it. She leaned against the door and put her hands in her pockets. Jimmy froze.
She stared at him. The silence was tense. Jimmy took off his hat. She smiled and licked her lips. “Come here,” she whispered.
And he did.
At the door, she yanked his shirt off, and when he squeezed her left breast, she pushed him to the sofa. Jimmy braced his hands against it, as this woman licked his tight stomach and made circles around his nipples, then –oh so slowly– she made her way to his belt.
He wanted desperately to push her away, but he was close to shooting his load, and lust controlled him. His cock pulsed hard and fast, straining against the fabric of his jeans.
“You’re in control,” she whispered. “Anything you want.” She undid his belt, pulled the leather through the loops and tossed it to the floor. She undid the button above the zipper. “Anything you desire,” she said pulling down the zip. His penis poked through the top of his underwear, the head glistening. “Oh,” she cooed and licked the head.
Jimmy was about to explode. It was barely controllable.
Her head bobbed on him a few times. She looked up, a large smile on her face. She stood up and pulled down her jeans. She wore white thin panties. Her dark bush was clearly visible through the fabric. She gripped the panties and ripped them free. Playfully, she twirled them in the air. Wearing a seductive smile, she brought them to her nose and inhaled deeply. With a smile she tossed the ripped material to Jimmy. He caught them in his hand. “Smell me,” she said in a husky whisper.
Swaying her hips in a slow arch side to side, she wriggled down to the floor. Each erotic move forced his dick to pulse harder. She was wanton, hot and offering her body to him. He’d felt on the brink for the past several minutes.
She gently rubbed his legs, her tongue doing its thing on his inside leg. It tickled and a couple of times his legs gave an involuntary jerk.
“Fuck me,” she breathed, and rose high on her knees as her tongue went to the back of his balls. A moment later, she cupped them in her mouth.
As the book promised.
This wasn’t the power he wanted.
Desire had many meanings. He didn’t mean this.
Trickery dances on the tongue of the devil.
With this expression finally clear, a change overcame him. The power of Lust vanished as if he had spewed his juice and was all done. He didn’t understand it, and shoved her back. A look of shock pierced her face. Her eyes narrow and a smile returned. “Oh, you want it rough?”
Jimmy’s manhood shrunk. He pulled up his jeans and packed his gear away.
“What are you doing?”
She sat back on her rump. The smile vanished.
Jimmy picked up the hat. He turned for the door.
“You are not going to leave,” she hissed.
Jimmy ignored her. He had the power and his desire lay elsewhere.
“Jimmy,” she hissed, only the voice was different. It was deeper, angrier. All feminine seduction was gone. Her breathing was ragged and heavy and Jimmy feared turning to face her. But he had little choice. His heart raced and the fear jingled his fingers. He felt it deep in his bones. His body screamed terror. He knew what waited for him when he turned around. It was obvious. This was it. He had been tricked. His soul gone for nothing.
He turned. No matter what happened, he intended to show her as much of his desire as he could.
No one was there.
Jimmy jerked. He was lying on the sofa. Fully clothed. The front door was open and the night was thick and dark. He pulled the blanket off and saw he was covered in blood. “What the fuck,” he mumbled, quickly getting to his feet.
The woman was in front of the television, lying in a pool of red. Her body was sliced open from her breasts to her hairy mound. The liquid of life washed over both sides of the cut. Jimmy had never seen so much blood before. It was everywhere.
He moved closer for a better look. His hands dripped with the sticky substance of life.
Shit, the door’s open!
He spun around. A man stood there. A cigarette burned between his old, chapped lips. His eyes were hooded and he wore a Fedora hat and a long leather coat.
Blood flashed in front of his eyes. Quick rapid snapshots … the woman … her face twisted in a scream … his hand sweeping down … she hit the floor … hands reaching to him … shaking, begging … a hunting knife… her mouth open…a silent scream.
The man at the door tipped his hat. His face was hidden by shadows. He took off his long leather coat, and placed it across the entrance, turned and walked away. A few steps later, he vanished and became just another shadow in the night.
Jimmy went to the door and picked up the coat. It felt heavy. He shrugged into the heavy material, and put his hands into the deep pockets. A jab of pain shot through his index finger. Something was in the pocket. He grabbed the heavy object and pulled it out.
It was the hunting knife he used on the woman. A sheet of paper was wrapped scrunched in his palm as well. It had come out with the knife. A smear of blood scarred the black ink words. It was the paper he had earlier, before the woman stopped and offered assistance.
It was his contract. Signed. He threw it in the air. A ball of fire exploded, enveloped it. Flames leapt in several directions, striking the curtains, carpet, sofa and walls.
Jimmy put the dagger between his belt and jeans, in the small of his back.
He turned a full 360 degrees and took in every fiery detail before turning and walking out of the house.
Reaching into the back pocket of his jeans, he pulled out the photo. Sally was lying on her bed, the blanket twisted around her. One smooth leg was exposed. He smiled. This was his next stop.