This week’s Wendig challenge was a random image search using Flickr’s built-in randomizer according to an algorithm they call “interestingness.” I was not impressed at first, even though my friend Matt showed me a pretty cool image he got. I had to refresh mine 4 times before I got something that wasn’t a bird. That’s not an exaggeration. Each click popped up 9 photos in a grid. I got 27 straight birds. Birds aren’t that interesting, people. They really aren’t.
So eventually I ended up with this really cool image of a chicken satay street vendor in Jakarta, uploaded by photographer Alex Newman. At first I ran with that. Then, while browsing other pictures of Indonesia on Flickr, I ran across the image to the right. My character sketch of a lonely street vendor on a rainy day in Jakarta evolved into the story of a lecherous man who is coaxed into even greater evil by a demonic spirit. Story is after the break. Enjoy.
This was written for a challenge at Writer’s Carnival. The requirements were the starting sentence and a limit of 500 words. This bit of weirdness was the result.
“My life will never be the same.”
Sally has a flair for hyperbole, but in this case it isn’t unwarranted. Death has a funny way of changing your life plans, but now isn’t the time to get all pedantic. Besides, while she’d been happy to leave behind Hank for awhile, the way time melds and shifts out here means it hasn’t been as long for her as it has been for him.
“Sally! You look just like I remember you.” The long striated wounds on his face will heal as soon as he learns to control his self-image, but for now the grotesquery on display is enough to turn my stomach.
I step forward. “Hank, now might not be the best time.”
“And who the hell are you? I’m just trying to see my wife for the first time in twenty years.”
Sally’s face blanches. The shock hits her nearly as hard as Hank’s old beatings. “I haven’t been here twenty years. Gabriel and I just got to know each other.”
“Gabriel, huh? You fucking my wife?”
I know better than to try to explain, so instead of getting into a fight, I reach into the space between space, grab my pitchfork, and stick the pointy end into Hank’s abdomen. He doesn’t have time to scream before fainting. Of course it isn’t going to do any permanent damage, but Hank doesn’t understand the afterlife rules yet. Not that there are many.
Well, rules is a bit harsh. More like the physical laws, since there really aren’t any legal systems or other sorts of instructions to follow. In any case, since nothing happens here that can’t be fixed by force of will, the old adage of “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is in fact the truth.
I leave him lying on the ground with a giant fork sticking out of his belly.
I adjust my halo, take Sally by the hand, and look into her eyes. “Forever is a long time. Aren’t you glad the vows just said ‘until death’?”
Besides, once Hank figures it out, he’ll just conjure up an obedient sentient pseudo-Sally and be content. Hell, he could be a pseudo-Hank from Sally’s mind. She is still learning the rules herself.
Come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure when I lived and died or if I even did. I could be a pseudo-Gabriel. I mean, I know the rules backwards and forwards but I still don’t understand them. There isn’t anyone here to really explain. But that is sort of the point, isn’t it? There is no who-what-when-where-why-or-how-ness. There is just forever and emptiness for us to fill.