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Life's Work

The struggle and rebirth of an artist's spirit. Chasing inspiration. Life imitates art, art imitates life. Simply sensational.

By Addison MPublished 2 years ago 30 min read
Life's Work - Addison M.

There was once an artist of no real renown who lived a simple yet fulfilling life. Mastery of the brush and ink lead to no wealth or fame, nor did the origami that brought him such joy, but his heart was full and that was enough. It was not for lack of skill that he found no renown, but for the obscurity of his existence.

All he earned from his craft was fed back into it, poor of coin but rich of medium. His home a simple dwelling on the outside, concealing a wonderland of masterfully crafted paper sculptures and tapestries depicting places and creatures which beggar the imagination. The pauper’s palace, as it was colloquially known by those in the nearby villages. For he lived alone, save for a few wild animals that frequented the palace; when the artist felt blessed enough to share his meager meals. The solitude fed his soul and away from the noise and bustle of others' imagination flourished in the fertile grounds. He loved people, but they were such noisome company.

Years passed and he mastered myriad arts; drawings, sketching, cooking, calligraphy, painting, and origami. All came to him with great ease, the muses favored the then young man, and he endeavored to spread the blessing back to the world. Often he would visit the village to entertain the children with fantastic displays and give toys or trinkets of sublime esoteric nature. Teaching those who had an interest in learning art, assisting the local temples with festivals, and taking commissions on occasion. Never accepting coins as payment, only necessities, trade of skills, and supplies. Art was all he needed, the garish trappings of wealth held no sway for him. He lived for the experience of life, coin-muddled and maddened men. His life was simple but beautiful.

Until one day as is the whimsy of the arts, the creative spark within dimmed. No more did the smears of ink and crisp edges of lines elate the spirit. The vivid dances of the brush couldn’t rouse passion. Try as he might, new mediums, radical style changes, and experimentation all failed to rekindle the dying embers. The days passed listlessly and he fell into the mire of depression, unable to harness the light within and cast it upon paper as before.

As time passed the darkness did not waver, it festered and the roots sunk ever deeper. He withdrew more and more into solitude hoping to once again find the spark of creation, in the absence of distraction. The days passed obtusely, grotesquely morphing into months and after a year he had reached the breaking point. The villagers came to visit and bring supplies to him, fearful he has passed away or some dreadful fate befell only to find him alive, at least on the outside.

The caring villagers whose lives he had brought such joy and wonder tried their best to bring solace to the artist but none could rouse him from his misery, and eventually, they stopped trying. He stayed alone in his paupers’ palace, the once vivid world of his imagination decaying into stagnation and ruin, an expression of the desolation left in the wake of inspirations desertion.

A once full life, felt hollow, he desired more. The meager existence he lived was made bearable by the love of his art, and the simple joys it brought to others but without the warmth of the spark within, the world seemed a dismal place and grew colder by the day. Colors less vivid, tastes bland and lifeless. If he could not enjoy his work, how could others? It was incomprehensible.

There was only one option left, if the spark would not come to him then he must seek the spark. He would sojourn away, and hunt down the missing spark in the mysteries and majesty of the world. A grand quest to find inspiration and harness its loving touch once again. Unable to stand even the idea of selling his previous works he buried them beneath his humble home and swore one day to return once he could appreciate them once more. When they could once again reflect the light within himself, and illuminate the truths of the world. He packed what materials and essentials he could manage and set off to lands unknown, leaving the muted existence of his once beautiful life behind one step at a time.

The world is a dangerous place for anyone on their own, and it was not long before it would prove this point to the naive artist firsthand. The simple life he had led did not prepare him for the cruel facts of life on the road, or those that prey upon weary travelers. The ignorance of the ways of the larger world does not shield one thrust into it. An encounter with a predatory group of bandits left him with nothing but his life, basic clothes, and a handful of drawings they didn’t deem worth stealing or destroying for entertainment. They allowed him, to live simply because it would not be worth the hassle to dispose of him. It was the turning of the seasons and the chill would finish what they started.

The artist wandered for days, disoriented, starving, cold, and dejected but oddly calm. This however did not bother him as much as anticipated. Physical form mirrored his soul and provided a strange comfort. The numbness of the body suited the blandness of the spirit. A peripheral glimmer of feeling whispered in acknowledgment of the unusual synchronicity and beauty within it, though not one that could be put to words or paper. His artistic spirit found a grim delight in the dilemma.

After some time he came upon a junction of roads high along a mountain pass. Delirious and exhausted he stopped at the crossroad to steady himself against a weathered signpost. He had not encountered another living being since the ruffians. The evening sun was setting, casting a beautiful burnt orange on the sweeping sea of trees below, light glistening off the thousand-thousand leaves below in a dazzling cadence of colors and motion, spurred by the mischievous wind. The valley itself seemed to wave to him, as a flock of birds swooped and craned around as living calligraphy on the backdrop of the ephemeral star.

He stood staring at the magnificent sight and felt his heart tighten. Inspiration, this is beautiful, serene, almost divine. Eyes drinking in the splendor, he understood it for its majesty and beauty and anticipated the burst of energy from within as memories of his spark flashed back, but it never came. The tightness in his heart gave way to a dull cold. Not the cold known by most, not the cold of a sunless day or the cruel bite of icy wind. Simply the complete absence of warmth.

He understood the beauty but it did nothing to move him. He was numb, in body and soul. The colors in his eyes muted, and he would have sighed or wept had he still the spirit to do so. He looked back at the intersecting paths unsure which to take or why to even bother if beauty of this scale cannot reach him, what could? Turning back to the valley, observing the scene again in vain hope, shuffling up to the path’s edge. There was another option, looking down into the valley below and stepping onto the edge of the precipice.

“What is life without beauty? I would give anything to be able to feel that spark again, to see the vivid colors of the world and revel in the ecstasy of it all. To smell the crisp ink, and feel the rough texture of paper between my fingers with more than mere touch.” he lamented.

Stepping onto the ledge, toes over the open air. The several hundred-foot drop beckoned hungrily. He pulled out the single-tattered drawing he had salvaged from the bandit's cruelty and stared into it, a self-portrait made in better days. This was who has was, or used to be.

Its lifeless ink-black eyes stared into his own. Crumpling the paper around the middle with one hand and clutching it to his heart. He closed his eyes, breathed deep, and began to sway forward.

“You would give anything you say?” A voice inquired suddenly from nowhere in particular arresting the man's attention, ceasing his swaying.

“I may be able to help you, for a small price of course.” continued the disembodied voice.

The artist turned searching for the purveyor of such promises. His eyes resting upon a statuesque figure, leaning casually against the signpost.

Still clutching the crumpled portrait against his chest the artist replied. “Anything.”

The figure lifted its head slightly revealing a wide smile of pearly white teeth beneath an aquiline nose and two shimmering eyes.

“You can have all the sensations and inspiration you can handle. All you need to do is find and take them. Simple as that. Do we have a deal?” the figure said, its smirk shimmering in the sunset glow.

The artist suddenly for the first time in over a year felt the texture of the paper clutched in his hand as more than pressure, the crisp air of the mountain assailing his nostrils as the colors of the light grew vivacious and splendid again. The artist turned away to face the sunset once more, a symphony of emotions and sensations washing through his battered body.

“Yes,” he replied without looking back at the figure.

The figure nodded and gestured to the valley below.

“Sign here.”

The artist stared out into the sun above the dancing trees and wept at the beauty.

The scene filled his body with vigor, the spark within igniting and expanding into a blaze. Passion and memories flooding his senses, the smell of ink, the crispness of edges, and the texture of rough paper enveloping him, becoming him. He continued to stare unblinking, at the glory before his eyes as he let go of the half-crumpled paper he had clutched. It fell into the valley below, sailing down in a spiral, fluttering as it plummeted.

Tears of joy ran down his face in black streams, as he finally blinked. The light of the setting sun reflected in his ink-black eyes. Wiping away the tears in a dark smear he glanced down for the paper portrait only, to see his aged fleshy body dropping into the land below in place of the paper. The artist stood on the edge of the pathway, a crinkled smile folded upon its face.

“An artist without art is nothing, but art without an artist is free.”

The emotions and sensations tickled its skin, and it licked its lips drinking in the moment but then it began. Subtle but unmistakable, the feelings started to ebb. Slow but definite. This would simply not do. The spark had returned, but all fire needs fuel. What better fuel than to see and appreciate its former works with new eyes and understanding? It was time to return home and reclaim what was left. But there was something that must be done first.

A forked tongue flashed from its mouth tasting the air, dancing back and forth until it caught what it was searching for on the tip of the dusk breeze. Light as a feather, each stride scarcely touching the ground it bound down the path it had henceforth come. The wind itself granted levity to its steps, and the swaying foliage seemed to giggle in delight as it went.

It was a calm night, the chill of the air present kept most inside the remains of the ramshackle lodge. A few huddled around a cookfire, most lay sleeping, others busy with games of chance, the less fortunate outside passing the idle hours on watch. Ten in all.

The lodge had seen better days, the last remaining testament to a once noble estate, long since deprived of its pedigree by the passage of time and the callous disregard of man. Neglect and nature draped the structure in equal measure. It stood amongst the tall grasses, hidden beneath great bows of old trees, as the grasping hands of plantlife enveloped the sagging wooden structure. A dim orange glow crept out into the night from cracks in the dilapidated boarded windows.

Two men in well-worn leather tunics paced listlessly outside keeping watch. Their breath coalesced into clouds as they exchanged idle chatter.

“Ugh how much longer until next shift? It’s cold as shit out here.” A short man with an unkempt beard complained as he leaned back against a wall, beside the one serviceable door. A crude ironwood bow resting against the door itself, within arm's reach.

“It’s not that bad out, harden up. Would you rather be out later when it really gets miserable? Smell the air, it’s going to snow.” The second man replied. Idly scratching his ear, peering around the area.

“Well no, you're a bit touchy tonight. Usually just join in with my moaning, what’s crawled up your ass? The short man said curtly.

“Ugh sorry, smoked the last of my tobacco the other day and have been craving it since. Got the itch for a good smoke.” The other replied, grinding his teeth and squinting.

“You see that? Think there’s somebody there.” He said in hushed tones to the bowman, gesturing towards a tree to his left, while quietly unslinging a hatchet from a belt.

The short man stood upright, bringing his bow to bear. Moving beside, the hatchet man, tracing his finger.

“Where?” He whispered.

“There. Beside that tree, there's a man. Can’t you see him? The hatchet man said, gesturing again. The short man notched an arrow and waited.

A low-hung moon cast stifled pale light upon the forested area. The breeze picked up slightly causing the long grass and bushes to sway suggestively around the tree's base. Shadows playing mischief over the foliage and scrub. They waited, but the shadow didn’t move. Only the flutter of the wind between leaves broke the stillness.

The hatchet man bent down, scooping a rock and hurling it in a single fluid motion towards the silhouette by the tree, striking it dead center. The short man, drew an arrow preparing to lose a volley as the rock cast into the grass. The shapes split momentarily disturbed by the missile but returned quickly to the rhythm of the wind. The two men paused, holding their breath waiting. Nothing.

Simultaneously they exhaled in relief. The short man slipped the arrow back into the quiver at his side, then swiftly punched the hatchetman in the arm.

“Shits sake man, you got me going now. You’re seeing things. Really are having a fit of it. I have a couple of pouches of tobacco, if you promise to be less of a twitchy prick I’ll give you one.”

“Must have been seeing things, lack of smokeables will do that to ya. Hand it over you wonderful stubby bastard.” The hatchet man said smiling as the short man started fishing through an assortment of pouches attached to his belt.

“That’s more like the miserable cur I know, not get a light ready and grab your pipe.”

The two men turned towards each other coming close together to shield the tiny flame from the pernicious breeze.

The tall grass and the silent silhouetted figure swayed beside the tree, in time with the chill wind and the submissive grass. Flat as a shadow it slunk across the ground between the blades of grass, serpentine and fluid crossing onto the landing, passing the huddled men, silent as the void. Pressing itself against the wall behind them. Its hands felt the rough texture of the door, drank upon the grain's direction, and fixated at the whorls in the weathered wood, stopping only for a second to revel in the textural feast. Its hands pressed into the cracks seeking a gap, and a look of disappointment plastered itself upon the figure's face.

The men having finished readying the pipe turned to face out again looking over the approach, the smell of pungent burning tobacco mixing with the crisp night air. The two men exhaled heavily, the taller man letting out an almost sexual moan.

“Awww gods yes, now that's what I am about.” espoused the hatchet man.

“You’re welcome, can thank that fat bastard of a merchant we rolled the other day for this particular treat haha .” The short man chuckled as he took a long draw from his own pipe.

Licking jet black lips with a forked tongue, the figure probed the air, allured by the sudden pungence. The figure slid behind the men, hands raising out; reaching toward the back of their exposed necks. Fingers extending in a grasping motion, the edges of the fingers blurring and bending. Coming to stop a couple of inches away from the brittle necks of the men. Wisps of translucent fibers extruded from the men into their fingertips. The figure began to shiver and tremble, its tongue circling its mouth, in a cyclone of silent motion until it pressed its lips closed. The taste of fresh tobacco danced throughout its form as the chill of the night raced across its skin, mixing with the feel of sweat born of over bundled garments. A smirk painted across its face.

The two men each took another puff of tobacco as a cold wind cut across the landing.

“You know it’s not actually that bad out tonight when you don’t think about it.” Said the short man.

“Nah, you were right it’s cold as shit out here. Can’t wait until our watch is done.” The taller man said, taking another puff. A look of disgust on his face. “What kind of half-assed job did you do packing these? Is it all filler, I can’t taste it anymore and my buzz is gone.” He spat.

“There ain’t no filler, there are as full of tobacco as you are of yourself.” Retorted the short man.

They chuckled as the figure behind them pantomimed the mirth, its face rotating around a full circle in the process. It stopped suddenly, ears perked in the direction of the door. In an instant, it was against the wooden slab, hands exploring the door’s surface again. Finding a slight gap between the door and the frame, no more than a quarter inch. Its form rapidly contorted, flattening as it bent into impossible angles sliding through the crack. The calm of the night was broken by the sound of dry leaves crunching. The two men, at once spun startled by the noise and looked to the door. There it stood, same as ever, stoic and mossy. They exchanged another glance.

“You sure this is tobacco?” scoffed the taller man, as they laughed together.

The interior was a collection of patchwork darkness. The lodge was partitioned into several sections by aged wooden walls,draped in cracked and chipping plaster. Separated by a few threadbare curtains acting as doors. Light struggled its way through the billowing curtain doors from the central area. The air hazy, with a tinge of something fatty abounding. Muffled voices could be heard emanating from the brightest room. The crackle of wood in a fire could be heard above the periodic murmurs and laughs. The figure stood motionless in the entrance, enveloped in darkness. Mouth agape until once again its forked tongue flickered. It could feel it was close, not taste it but feel it. The sensation of pressure increasing outward from its core, directing it. It stepped down the darkened hall, the creaky floorboards silent as it gently whisked down the corridor, leaving only the slightest pinpricks of pressure where its toes touched. Down the hall, at the end, the room with the light beckoned, but the figure’s attention was drawn elsewhere. A darkened room to the right drew its focus. Snoring exuded from behind a significantly heavier cloth curtain of a musty pedigree and the figure drew it back. Several sleeping people lay among piles of blankets and furs atop mattresses of straw, or other fibrous endowments. Various containers and barrels lined the far wall beyond the speckled assortment of placid dreamers.

The figure moved like a specter, perching over each sleeper in turn, staring down without breath, its tongue protruding and retracting as a lazy indecisive snail, unsure of leaving its shell. Slowly in and out several times before moving to the next sleeper in line, until it caught a taste of what it desired. Its face twitched and a smirk of joy creased the placid surface as it moved beyond the sleepers and approached one of the recently opened crates. Digging its hands inside it pulled out its prize and held it aloft, proclaiming silent victory to the lightless room and the cheering applause of its own imagination. An inkwell cradled in its handsl, its old inkwell. Clutching it with both hands, coddling it. It tittered as the pressure in its chest pulsed faster and faster, the spark of familiarity pulsing warmth into its core. Tilting its head back it swiftly emptied the contents of the inkwell into its mouth. Ecstasy surged through it as it once again felt the world around it, more than that it, could feel the others around it. Feel the coldness on their noses, the warmth of their blankets, the fullness of their bellies. It stood in reverie for a moment, at the curiosity of their sensations. Before withdrawing the rest of its trove from the crate. It felt the crisp, dry edges of the parchment they had taken, and ran its fingertips through the bristles of the brushes as they were drawn into its being. Its drawings were here as well but some were missing. It smiled a crooked smile, not exactly a smile but close enough for the undiscerning eye. Elated, it danced around light as a feather on its toes over the sleeping people without making a sound. Twirling and bending until coming over the form of a sleeping man, tucked among the furs, away from its initial pathway to the crates.

The figure crouched low, back arching in a manner unfit for the spine of any person. Its face hovering just above the man’s barely exposed scalp. It reached out and slowly withdrew the blankets revealing the man beneath, but that did not concern the figure. Its gaze was transfixed on the familiar scrolls, the slumbering lummox had coveted away. The figure's eyes-widening as the crooked grin on its placid face extended beyond the geometry its cheeks would suggest being permitted. Beside the man, lay familiar sketches and paintings, these of particularly sultry nature. It grinned, scooping up the scrolls absorbing them into its crinkling skin, and swinging its face directly in front of the man. Tendrils of blur extended from the man’s head to the crouched figure. Its eyes bulged and danced back and forth as it giggled, licking its lips as it began to breathe hard and sweat.

“Such naughty dreams…” it whispered into the man’s ear. The smirk on its face cracked, shifting into a mask of anger. “Take something of mine will you, it’s only fair to take something of yours…”

The man awoke with a start, staring in front of him. The pale outline of a face and ink-black eyes were visible despite the lack of light, an absence in the darkness, a shining reflection of a blackness that wasn’t there. The figure felt the man’s fear, revulsion, panic, and confusion vividly, it was intoxicating. Then the figure saw its own face through the man’s eyes for a moment. The man’s vision blurred and faded as he passed out. Eyes open, all that filled them was darkness. The figure extended its fingertips and a brush protruded out.

“An artist signs their work” the figure’s hand traced the word ‘Thief’ over the man's chest. Blood seeped to the surface of the skin where the brush made contact, then smoldered leaving a discolored pattern similar to a scar, yet the man did not wake. The figure rose and cavorted from one sleeping figure to the next, checking for its lost art and sampling their senses as it went. Each sample brought a new sense of ecstasy and joy, a feast for the senses. It took from each of them until It was bent near the musty curtain door. A distinct familiar sound pierced the murmur of voices and creaking of the wooden house. The figure's ear snapped to attention and it hissed aloud turning to the glow at the end of the hall, malicious intent and pain reflected in the jet black orbs of its eyes. The sound of crumpling paper pierced the din.

Three men and one woman sat beside a crude stovetop apparatus that unlike those it served had known a life of honest work, a crackling fire burning below it. Pot a top, a savory aroma rising from its depths. One man and the woman faced the curtain-clad entrance, with the other man facing the stove. Several empty bottles scattered around the trio, a testament to a night of hard drinking. Dice rattled across the floor before them, to the cheers and jeers of the assembled gamblers. A light haze of tobacco smoke and cookfire languished in the air slowly swimming out into the night through a small hole in the ceiling exiting through a metal chimney.

“Stoke the fire, I’m hungry and that stew smells great. Unlike your luck tonight boys, which stinks, assuredly.” The woman said laughing and jingling the bag of coins in her hand.

“Gah, I hate playing with you boss, you have the devil's luck!” complained the man to her left, as he rubbed his temples in dismay.

“You aren’t in the position to be complaining about getting robbed, after all, it’s kept us fed and warm hasn’t it.” She sniggered. “Now pretty sure I said stoke the fire, not my anger. Get to it, you bums.” She said with a playful smile and stern eyes.

“Make him do it, he lost the last round. I need to strategize,” he responded, taking a swig from the dregs of the bottle in his hand.

“I’m too drunk for this, and the woods all the way over there.” The other man said, as he lay flat on the floor, writhing impudently on top of a collection of papers, and gestured to the far corner.

A cold glare from the woman prevented any further comment.

The drunk man rose slightly and grabbed a handful of papers he had mangled from under him, crumpling them up and casting them under the stovetop into the fire.

“Problem solved. Fires up again,” he burped as he swung up back to a sitting position.

“Idiot! Why would you do that!?” The woman snarled, through clenched teeth.

“W-wh-what it’s just a bunch of stupid drawings, what else it is good for?” The man stuttered out.

“It could have been worth something to the right people, some folks pay good coin for art ya know.” She spat. “But more to the point, paint, and ink burns badly you dolt, could even be poisonous.” The paper cracked and scorched as acrid smoke flared from the fire and started to fill the room.

The woman stood and attempted to wave the smoke towards the opening in the roof.

“I swear to god if that ruins the stew, I’ll put you through that fuckin window,” she grumbled gesturing to the poorly boarded opening in the upper rear wall. “Now get off your drunk ass and help me clear this mess,” Turning away she started waving frantically at the smoke. Once she had turned her back the drunk man, silently mimicked and mocked her to the luckless gamblers' amusement, as the drunk man ‘accidentally’ kicked another couple of papers into the fire and then made a faux face of concern, before haphazardly assisting with wafting out the smoke. The luckless gambler chuckled and watched as the woman and the other man fought to waft out the acrid ashy smoke. He took another swig from his bottle, to help focus and strategize for the next round, it was as he put down his bottle and glanced away from the duo that he noticed the thing blotch by the doorway. The curtain billowed, slightly and two cracked pallid hands with fingers, keen as blades sliced to the vertical side of the door frame. A pale face emerged an instant later, breaking through the fabric drapery, face like a veiled bride. The man blinked to check what he saw, and In a single seamless motion, the figure of a man that was not a man bent its body around the corner of the frame at an unnatural angle, and began rapidly crawling horizontally across the wall and suddenly winding down flat against the floor, almost invisible from this angle, its dimensions were all wrong, it looked almost like an etching or charcoal drawing as it surged towards the drunken man, rising up behind him, poised like an expectant cobra.

The figure's arms outstretched, a look of contorted pain across the misshapen painted face it wore as it circled the oblivious drunkard. A low hiss emanated from its visage as its fingers became thin as razors. Slashing into the man’s back, shredding through the leather he wore as if not even there, reducing it to tanner scraps in seconds, and sending the drunk sprawling onto the stovetop. But there was no blood, only a darkening of the talonesque fingers that had rent the wounds. The drunk man hit the stove at an angle and managed to roll over with some trouble. The cookpot spilled over him and the surrounding area. The fire and embers scattered by the clattering pots escape cascading across the stunned occupants of the room.

The luckless man attempted to stand as the figure brushed swiftly brushed past him, heading directly towards the woman. He felt the slightest prick of a papercut run along his temple, as he tried to leap to his feet and yell but immediately lost balance, folding over himself and landing hard on the dirty floor, dizziness overwhelming him as the world spun, all sense of balance completely taken, he began vomiting unable to deal with the spiraling world. His head throbbed unable to focus.

The woman turned “Wha!!” was all she managed to get out before the figure’s hand had wrapped around her mouth. The hands tensed and the fingers cut shallowly into the meat of her cheeks, the cut was clean and fine, yet rough as papyrus, the tiny amount of blood absorbed into the fingers. It removed its hand and stepped back from her, bending down and scooping the remaining scrolls and papers from the floor. She opened her mouth and screamed but no sound would come. The figure turned to her, locking eyes. Its mouth popped open and her own voice greeted her.

“What’s wrong? Not used to sharing?”

“Everything okay in there?” Came a voice from the hallway.

The figure turned and responded. “Everything’s fine, just had a couple too many drinks and knocked over the cookpot. You can go back to bed.”

“Okay, just checking.” the voice responded with a yawn heavy with the slurred accent of the drowsy. The woman clutched her throat helplessly, as suddenly the drunk man came out of the smoke swinging a fine-edged steel sword towards the horrific figure that had made a butcher's gallery of his back a moment before. It bounded, back contorting at odd angles to avoid the wide swings and arcs. Rationality returned to the woman's mind and she went for the knife in her belt but held back to avoid being hit by the other man's drunk panicked swings. The room was filling with more and more smoke obscuring visibility as the drunken swordsman bravely advanced against the eldritch figure. It writhed and started to convulse in an excited manner, as it began to giggle, and pat its body down as if shaking flees or brushing away a deluge of dirt. A forked tongue waving in the air from its mouth, bounding around as a flame in a festival lantern. The woman threw her knife and it glanced off the shoulder of the creature, cutting it slightly as a black ichor sprayed out for a moment, before the wound caked shut, covered in a thick black paste. It ceased laughing and went flat against the wall, skirting up and over them towards the window on the far wall.

“Philistines…” It said in her voice.

Its body crumpled and folded onto itself until it could fit through the slight gaps between the boarded window and then it was gone into the night.

The drunk man turned to the woman, the sword now unbearably heavy in his grip.

“What in the fuck was that monstrosity, and what happened!?” he said staring at the woman as she gestured frantically down and up and all around him, her face and mouth moving without making a sound.

“Speak up! I can’t hear you? Cat got your bloody tongue!?” He spat struggling to get his tongue to move properly. He lunged towards her reaching out. She backed away quickly as a wave of heat rolled over her. At this point the man saw his arm, it was charred, splitting and the skin peeling away in chunks. He looked down and screamed unable to fully comprehend what was happening.

“Awww how! When? The Hell?!”

He sputtered. As he fell to his knees, his body collapsing helplessly as his tendons and musculature protested their last, reducing to overcooked meat, by the corona of fire that was the man's tattered clothing. The woman looked on in mute horror as the drunk slumped kneeling to the floor completely immolated, screaming until he could scream no more. The screams awoke the sleepers, and some joined the chorus of panic adding their own screams to the discordant symphony.

“I’m blind!” yelled one man, unable to find his way out of the room, thrashing madly about.

The others who awoke, with their faculties intact enough to manage a semblance of reason burst into the main room to a bizarre spectacle.

A man retches and crawls along the floor trying to escape the spreading blaze.

The burning carcass of a man kneeling in the middle of the room, sword still held in his hands, burning as living tallow. Their once fierce boss huddled in the corner, silently screaming and rocking back and forth, the expression of a broken mind leaking out from every pore. The oddly sweet smell of stew, tobacco, cooking meat, spilled ink, and burnt paper mixed all around. The perfume of a perplexing predicament.

A lone figure skipped merrily down a starlit path in the dead of the night. Snow gently caresses the land with its flirtatious touch. Whistling and content for the moment, the figure pauses as a flash of inspiration alights its lubricious mind. Its hands deftly produce a sheet of paper and weave intricate movements together transforming it into a paper crane. The figure bites its fingertip enough to draw a tiny bead of ink black blood, An ornate calligraphy brush grows from the fingertip, where the droplet sat until the brush is free of the hand. The hand works swiftly with grace and ease of motion the envy of rivers and wind. A delicate ruinous script is written on the paper crane, from drops of blood and ink borrowed without intent to return from some rather uncouth philistines recently visited. The origami crane sprung to life and took to the sky. The figure, glanced up at the little bird, as a simper formed on the canvas the figure calls a face.

“Find me something sensational,” the figure commanded with cold delight.

Short Story

About the Creator

Addison M

Artist & writer although, those may be potent terms for what I concoct. A spirited creator may be more apt. Spreading my particular brand of insanity through myriad stories and mediums. Learning the ways of the written word along the road.

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