Here is another Writing Party entry. The criteria this time was the following:
A character whose the best at what they do
A new drug
Important picture or painting
An Old Injury
This is the first entry of mine that I'm not satisfied with. I had to rush to meet the two hour time limit, and I think my ending suffered. I'm considering doing a second pass on this for when the Parties are collected, but for now, I present it as it was originally written in two hours.
And, if you would like to read more of the Writing Party short stories, then get on over to www.fionnegan.com and read, read read! There are some really great pieces over there!
The trunk was cramped, as most trunks feel when a person is stuffed inside of them against their will. Really though, a person isn’t meant to be inside the trunk of a car, so willing or not to get into one and shut it, it will tend to feel cramped. I suppose you could lower the seat back and stretch out, but even then, there isn’t sufficient enough cushioning, and the plastic pieces and metal will dig and prod and be generally uncomfortable. Being thrown into a trunk, though, particularly when it’s a sudden and unplanned event, will maximize discomfort, as there is very little time to arrange the items within and plan an optimal position. So, yes, it was cramped.
Emmett tried to move his shoulder so that it was not pushing so severely into the spare tire and he wondered why the spare wasn’t underneath the flooring. He would have to ask about that when the car stopped.
As though reading his mind, a highly unlikely event as it is a known fact that cars cannot read minds, the car came to a stop. There was the opening and closing of the two front doors and a scrapping of feet rounding the vehicle. Metal on metal grunted as the key entered the lock and a POP! followed and light splashed into his deep blue eyes blinding him momentarily.
Two men looked down into the trunk and sneered. The first one was a tall dark man with a well-trimmed beard that lined his jaw. The second was a bit shorter and had a face like a rat; his mustache even appeared to be sticking out from his face like whiskers.
The first growled, “Grab him.”
“Why do I have to grab him? He bit me before,” the second held up his arm and pointed and the reddened patch of skin just past his elbow.
“There’s a sock in his mouth, he won’t bite you again. Now, quite being a little bitch and grab him!”
Emmett waited until the fat hands were clasped around the ropes binding him, and then he pushed the sock out of his mouth and bit the man’s arm again, this time jerking his head to the side to try and rip flesh.
“BAAAA! SON OF A BITCH HE DID IT AGAIN!”
Emmett was halfway out of the trunk when he was let go. He fell out, hit the bumped with his shoulder and went face first into the hard ground. He forced himself over immediately and said, “Why don’t people ever do that? Push the gag out? It’s easy if you just move your tongue like this.” He swished his tongue back and forth showing the two men. “It’s the easiest thing, really. People are always struggling or whatever, when really it’s just,” he did it again.
Put your tongue away or I’ll cut it out!” The first man barked, bent down, and yanked Emmett to his feet. He threw him back against the car and pointed at him. “You’re going to…”
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!” The second man was still hopping mad and made to swing his meaty fist at Emmett, but the first snapped at him.
“ENOUGH!” He pointed back at Emmett, “You are going to stop talking, you got me? I’ve had just about enough of your constant yammering, and I’m seriously considering cutting your throat. So, shut up. You got me?”
Emmett considered the finger waving just an inch from his nose, but decided he had had enough sweaty thug today and looked up at the man. “Sure, no more biting.”
“Who said anything about biting? I said no talking!”
“How are we going to get anywhere if we don’t talk?” Emmett asked. It was of course a logical question. Emmett certainly didn’t know sign language, and he was certain neither of these men knew it either, though if they did, it would make no difference, as he, as mentioned, did not know it.
“WE will be talking! YOU will be shutting the hell up!”
“So, you do want more biting, because I wouldn’t want to, but if you’re saying biting is okay and talking is not, I’ll bite, bite, bite away, to make you happy of course. I aim to please.”
“Don’t let him bite me again, Lincoln,” the fat one whimpered and nursed his arm, blood flowing from the gash.
“NO! No more fucking biting!”
“Biting out. Got it,” Emmett agreed that the matter was closed. “Now, what do you guys want to talk about?”
“For the love of – Come’ere!” The first man, Lincoln now, grabbed the front of Emmett’s shirt and pulled him hard. They began walking away from the car.
Emmett took a look around him. He had not taken in the scene up until now, possibly because he was suffering the effects of cannibalism, which some say causes issues with focus, but come to think of it, Emmett hadn’t swallowed any of the fat man’s skin, so there was no chance he was suffering disillusionment due to cannibalism. So, really, it was just a lack of observation that was only now allowing him to take in the location of this ongoing kidnapping.
They were in some sort of forest. There were tall trees all around them so thick that he could not see any signs of civilization. There was most likely nonhuman civilization out there in the trees, bear colonies and obviously a great number of insects, but no human civilization in sight. There was only the dirt path they had driven up on, the small clearing where the car was parked, and, just ahead, their destination: a cabin.
“Nice cabin. What is that? Maple? I’ve never actually seen a log cabin before. I mean, I had Lincoln’s Logs when I was little, but that can hardly be called a log cabin once constructed.”
“Did you just say ‘Lincoln’s Logs? Isn’t it Lincoln Logs?” The fat one asked.
“Bagman, shut your fat face,” Lincoln jerked Emmett roughly and continued them on toward the cabin.
“I’ve just never heard anyone call it that before. I could swear it’s Lincoln,” Bagman waddled quickly to keep pace.
“I’m pretty sure it’s Lincoln’s Logs,” Emmett said with certainty. “Possessive. They’re his logs.”
“Weren’t you just saying they were your logs? You had them right? I mean, you’d say they were your logs, not Lincoln’s, unless he owned them. So, Lincoln here, he could say his Lincoln Logs were Lincoln’s Logs, but only ‘cause they were in fact his.”
Lincoln growled miserably.
“But that would be talking in the third person. He’d just say ‘My Logs’, right?”
Bagman considered this and then nodded. “Good point.
“That’s assuming he owned any in the first place. Did you ever own any, Lincoln’s Logs, Lincoln?” Emmett asked.
“Yes,” Lincoln said through his teeth and pushed Emmett onto the porch of the cabin.
“Ah!” Emmett exclaimed, “So, when you think about it, Lincoln here had, in fact, Lincoln’s Lincoln’s Logs!”
Bagman smiled with his eyes closed nodding, but then stopped, his mouth hanging open. “This is hurting my brain.”
“No doubt,” Emmett said smartly.
“YOU BOTH ARE GIVING ME A HEADACHE! NOW SHUT UP!” Lincoln banged on the door.
From inside came a sweet woman’s voice, “Come in.”
Lincoln shoved the door open and yanked Emmett inside forcefully. Bagman followed.
The cabin instantly reminded Emmett of his grandmother’s house. She too had been fond of flower-patterned things. Like his Nana, the couch here was covered in roses, stitched meticulously over every inch. There were velvet paintings on the walls, long stemmed plastic flowers in flower painted vases on top of flower shaped doilies on wooden tables and shelves craved decoratively with flowers. He considered the repercussions of this many actual flowers on someone who had allergies. Certainly, there would be many boxes of tissues necessary to contain all of the fluids. It would be quite a snotty mess.
“Ah, our appraiser is here. How wonderful,” the old woman sitting in a high-backed red chair patterned with daisies smiled sweetly up at the three of them. In her hands were two long needles which she was using to stitch with yarn. She had perfect white perfectly straight teeth that could only be dentures; no one has teeth so perfect at the age she so obviously was; easily in her eighties. She set aside the embroidering she holding and flattened out her dress. “Come, come,” she said and waved to them. “Come closer, so I can have a look at you.”
Lincoln shoved Emmett and held tight to the back of his shirt. He presented him to the woman.
“Now, now, Linn,” the woman said in a sugary voice, “Don’t be so rough with our guest.”
“Yeah, Linn,” Emmett said out of the corner of his mouth, and Lincoln clenched his jaw at the nickname.
“Why don’t you untie our friend?” the woman said and looked to Lincoln waiting.
“But,” he began but was cut short by her wide pale eyes, which looked at him unblinking.
Emmett felt the ropes loosen. It was an incredible relief to feel his wrists again, like coming out of a sweltering hot day and sliding into a cool bath. He touched each wrist and flexed his fingers. He looked back at the two men and then at the awful decor on the walls that he decided now wouldn’t have been up to his Nana’s standards. Too tacky, she would say. Then, he looked at the embroidery that the woman had been working on, a flower, surprise, surprise. Then, he looked down at the woman before him. Her face appeared to have been carved from wood; it was covered in deeply etched cracks from her advanced years. If he had to guess a wood type though, he would not. Aside from the fact that the only wood he could identify was maple, and that was from growing up in the city where the only tree for miles that wasn’t made a plastic or metal was the maple tree in the courtyard of his apartment complex, people aren’t generally made from wood, except Pinocchio, and he was a real boy, or rather, would be a real boy, if that was a tale based on fact, which surely it wasn’t. Or was it?
Someone cleared their throat, and Emmett snapped back to the moment. He smiled. “This is some place you got here,” he said. “I’ve never actually seen a log cabin before, except the ones I made with my Lincoln’s Logs when I was--”
“Sit down, dear,” the woman instructed with a smile, but there was something very powerful within the words, and Emmett sat immediately on the couch next to her, his lips tight.
Bagman moved closer and began serving tea to the woman. His hands were shaking and caused the glass to chatter as he poured. The liquid was scalding hot, and Bagman winced occasionally. He had pulled the sleeve of his shirt down over his wound, but a drop of blood had appeared on the fabric. He went to move away, but the woman clicked her tongue. “Now, now, Lenny. Don’t be rude. Our guest too, please.”
“Oh thanks,” Emmett said. “I need to get the taste of fat man out of my mouth. Two helpings today.” He winked at Bagman who sneered in return, but said nothing.
“Linn,” the woman looked to Lincoln,” Were is the item?”
Lincoln moved out of the room momentarily and reappeared with a large painting in an ornate frame. It was interestingly not a painting of flowers. There was a man in the painting looking out at Emmett with deep blue eyes and a thick brow that hung low. He had a disapproving frown that made Emmett look away in an odd shame. Lincoln held it up for the woman so that she could look it over.
“Very nice. Very nice,” she said in a singsong manner and beckoned Lincoln to hand it to her. “Now, let’s get down to business, shall we? The matter for which you have been brought her today, young man.” She looked at Emmett with her smile, which more and more, Emmett was beginning to feel resembled a sneer rather than anything remotely warm. She held up the painting. It was roughly three feet by three feet, and she disappeared behind it, though her voice continued through it. “This is the final piece by famed artist Ludovico Rienheart. After a career of wildly popular pieces – pieces that to this day the well to-do’s all over the world spend millions of dollars to own – Ludovico Reinheart ceased to paint for nearly two decades. And then, on his deathbed, he decided to paint one final piece as a tribute to all who would come after him,” she giggled girlishly to herself and went on, “as though this piece would be an inspiration to his descendents, none of which have ever become known for anything important whatsoever. It has no value. It is literally priceless.”
Lifting the piece over her head so that she could look into Emmett’s eyes for an instant. She then smashed the painting to the floor. The frame splintered in half and the backing tore revealing a pair of plastic baggies duct taped to the back of the piece. The woman folded her hands in her lap and continued to look at Emmett with her grey eyes.
Lincoln kicked aside the pieces of the painting and picked up the two baggies that they could all now see were filled with round pale pink beads. Lincoln handed them to the woman.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked Emmett.
“Oh sure,” Emmett said with a wide grin.
She waited. He did not go on. “And?” she asked.
“And what? I thought it was a rhetorical question, like when someone asks you how you’re doing. They don’t really want to hear a long explanation about the ins and outs of your week and why you’ve been sleeping poorly and what your boss has been putting you through. They just want a quick, I’m fine, and move along. I didn’t think you actually didn’t know what that stuff is. I thought you were just trying to move this conversation along. I mean, you smashed open that priceless work of art like you knew you’d find two bags in the back of it, so I just assumed that you knew that inside those bags was nearly two million dollars worth of Cas-M, and you weren’t actually asking me to tell you.”
He finished and she continued to smile her cold dead smile. “A simple yes, ma’am will do fine next time.”
“He’s been babbling like an idiot like that since we grabbed him,” Lincoln growled.
“Thought for sure someone would hear him and knick us,” Bagman said.
“When I want to hear from you two, I will speak to you two,” she said to them without looking, and they both snapped their mouths shut after mumbling, Yes, ma’am.
Emmett touched the tea cup that had been poured for him, but the woman’s icy hand reached up and pressed the top of his. It felt like the wax from a candle that had been blown out that hand not quite gone solid yet. It was unsettling and gross and Emmett pulled his hand back trying not to show on his face that touching the old lady had been “icky”.
The woman spoke dreamily and sipped her own tea. “I would like you to tell me how much this will make my lovely boys on the market. I would like you to assure me that this is the finest product available, and I would like you to assure me that you will make more.” She set her cup down on her plate and then looked at him, “Then you may have your tea.”
“What makes you think that I know anything about this stuff?”
“Other than the fact that you identified it without hesitation?”
“Lucky guess?” Emmett smiled.
She said while looking at Emmett, “Break or friend’s arm, please.”
Lincoln stepped once, and Emmett jerked back into the couch. He was not in the mood to have his arm broken, though how often is anyone really in the mood to have a limb broken? Emmett began quickly to stop the advancing man, “I’ll tell you! I can tell you. No need to break arms! I broke my leg once – right across the femur. It was awful. Had to wear a cast all summer. I still have a limp. Makes me nuts in the winter. There are pins in there and the get cold from the inside. It’s terrible. I don’t want another broken anything, so yes, yes I’ll tell you all about that shit.”
The woman waved Lincoln back. He did not hide his disappointment.
She handed Emmett one of the bags. “Tell me what you know about this wonderful substance,” she smiled, and Emmett decided once and for all that it was the most mirthless smile he’d ever seen, and that was say a lot. He had gone to Catholic school where nuns were forbidden to show joy, so that when they did, it was not pleasant. Plus he had an instant of happiness to have an appropriate use for the word mirthless.
“Cas-M is the most powerful drug ever created. It is a hallucinogen that allows the user to lucid dream without any brain damage. It is a painkiller that could put an elephant down. It is so many things.” Emmett described in detail the many qualities of the substance – qualities so complex and interesting that any user of heavy drugs would be foaming at the mouth reading the details – details so elicit they cannot be put to written word, thus making those hoping to read the details sorely let down and wishing they were in the room with Emmet, the woman, Lincoln and Bagman.
“How do you know all that?” Bagman asked suddenly after Emmett had ended his long explanation.
I created it,” Emmett replied as the woman shot a look at the fat man. “I heard there was money to be made in the drug business, and I wasn’t exactly rich by any stretch of the imagination. You should see the student loans I’m paying back. The degrees I have in medicine and chemistry, I’ll tell you what. So I made it my life goal to come up with an item so good, so unbelievable, that there wouldn’t be a drug lord out there who wouldn’t want my stuff. And ultimately, I could get to the biggest and nastiest kingpins – I could get to the top of any cartel I wanted. Including the one that smuggles their supplies into this country using artwork and artifacts museums would murder for.”
The woman’s eyes narrowed on him. “An awful lot of work, for such a little loudmouth. Your talents – your efforts could surely have been put to better use in this world.”
Emmett shrugged, “But then I never would have gotten the last of my collection.”
It happened in an instant, and everything that followed happened even faster. Emmett gave a casual glance past the old woman’s legs and to the painting on the floor. She saw him do this, and her mouth cracked open in realization. Emmett grabbed the two large knitting needles and in one move, thrust them into the woman’s chest. He grabbed the tea pot and whipped it wide sending the contents into both Lincoln’s and Bagman’s faces. Bagman, receiving the majority of the hot tea screamed and collapsed. Lincoln reached into his coat and before he could remove his knife, Emmett was on him. Emmett’s hands clasped tightly and quickly around Lincoln’s thick neck killing him with a swinging snap.
Emmett was hardly winded. He took a long breath and looked down at Lincoln, then to the old woman, both dead. He looked over at Bagman, who was crying and moaning on the floor. Emmett took one of the bags from the lifeless waxy hands of the woman and tossed it to the floor near Bagman. “That’s mostly aspirin,” Emmett said. “Extra strength, so it’ll help a bit while you gat it together enough to get help.”
Emmett then looked at the painting on the floor. He carefully picked it up and tenderly rolled it. He touched it to his lips in a thankful way and sighed.
Emmett pushed open Lincoln’s jacket with the tip of his show and bent down to remove the car keys. He walked over to the door and looked back one last time. “By the way, it is Lincoln Logs. I was just messing with you.” Bagman moaned loudly not hearing him. “Just thought you’d like to know.”
The engine came to life, and Emmett rolled down the forest path and toward the highway many miles away. It was going to be a long ride home, but it would be worth it. He knew exactly where his grandfather’s painting was going to go.