Edition 9: Trophy by Jason Lairamore
Wilbur isn’t exactly a nice guy, and you could possibly excuse him because of the sexual politics mentality of the early 20th Century. Possibly. Sometimes, however, fate plays an off-beat game, and unexpected results ensue. GH
I arrived at the bank early, as usual. My driver opened the door to my new 1927 Packard as I checked my pocket watch. 6:00 a.m. I’ve got a good driver in, whatever his name is.
“A fine morning, Sir,” the doorman said.
I ignored him and rushed into the foyer, past the teller stations, up the stairs, and into the office where my desk waited loaded with ‘real’ work.
I worked for a while then lit one of my Cubans. I took one good puff and my young wife stepped into my office, unannounced and as bold as you please. Her presence made me cough on the fine smoke.
“Wilbur!” She shifted weight right then left then back again. With every movement her exquisite muscles played on her long legs. The dress she wore, though long enough to cover her proper was too tight by half. My heart skipped a beat and I almost dropped my cigar.
“Priscilla whatever are you doing here?”
For once my tone did not dim her smile nor lessen the light in her big, beautiful, green eyes. She shook a letter in one dainty hand like it was lottery day and she held the big winner.
“Oh Wilbur. Charles, my dearest brother, my only living kin, I’ve just received it. It’s what you’ve been looking for. He’s found it. A way to live forever!”
I gave her a hard look, my eyes widening with the possibility.
“Leave the letter and get yourself home,” I said.
Her eyes lit on mine with a hunger shared by my soul. I’d been looking for this for so long. She dropped the letter on my desk, smiled once more, and left. The curves of her back reminded me of an hourglass. Amazing.
The letter not only contained Charles’s weak, low-bred scrawl, but also a crude map drawn on a strange hide that smelt at once sweet but at length tangy. The letter said to go to Peru, to some native tribe of savages. Therein, amongst the stinging flies and unwashed bodies, lay the secret to eternal life.
I knew I’d take the chance, however remote. Success meant immortality.
I arranged a holiday, set up passage on a steamer, and left that very day, wife in tow.
The trip took the better part of a month.
We reached our destination on a morning covered by mist. A local man with eyes too bright in a face too dark poled us over the smooth green waters of a river without a word.
He dropped us off against a grassy bank. As soon as our feet were clear of his boat he gave his pole one good push and disappeared back into the gloom.
“Well met!” Charles called, and trotted toward us from the fog. His clothes were threadbare and his hair long and unruly. He had the same fierce green eyes of my dear Priscilla.
“How’d you know we’d be here just at this moment?” I asked right away.
“The village leaders felt it in the earth and heard it in the sky. They knew today was the day you’d live forever.”
The place lent itself to such talk, to such sentiment. It felt almost possible, enough so that my hope grew to new dimensions.
“How are you, Charles?” Priscilla asked.
“Quite well, sister.”
Without further ado Charles grabbed my arm and hurried us through the fog, through trees where no path existed, until coming to a clearing.
“It will be glorious to behold,” he said, and pointed.
A shiny piece of metal, a solid square about two feet on a side was imbedded in the ground. It extended up to be lost in the gloom. There was no reason why anything of the sort should be there.
Without warning Charles grabbed me in a hug, lifted me from the squelching earth, and waddled toward the dull sheen of the giant metal spike.
“Stop at once!” I commanded, but he did not. He ignored me as if I were common rubbish. I wriggled and kicked to no avail.
“Priscilla, help me!” I cried.
My back slammed into the surprisingly cold metal. Charles held me firm. Soft, dainty hands took my wrists and forced my arms back behind the metal pylon where they were tied together.
My wife’s voice quietly said, “Okay”.
“Wife, wha…” my voice died in my mouth and my jaw locked in place around the word. Something pulled at my bellybutton hard and hungry, eating away at my insides. My body froze. My clothes felt suddenly loose, then looser. I tried to move and couldn’t.
The mist split like a curtain parting to reveal a circular village of huts arrayed such that the spike was at its center. Dark villagers stood shoulder to shoulder mouthing some nonsensical tune. Around their necks hung necklaces of what appeared to be shrunken human heads.
Priscilla came before me, a smile on her lips. She looked me up and down with wonder in her eyes.
“My whole life I’ve been treated like a trophy, Wilbur, a trophy you finally won by ruining my family’s business and forcing me to marry you.”
Tears filled her eyes.
“The shame killed my parents.”
I tried to talk; nothing.
“Murdering you would not have been payback enough for what you’d done so Charles looked for another way and found one.”
She glanced to her brother then back to me.
“You will live forever, Wilbur, but not like you wanted.”
Fear pounded unseen within my chest.
“You will be my trophy, shrunken and still and put on display, my little banker doll.”
She wiped away a tear then turned and went to the villagers, stripping off clothes as she neared, revealing to the dark savages her exquisite beauty.
“A dance from an angel was the price for their services,” Charles said.
I watched her dance. I had to. My eyes hurt and would not close.
Jason Lairamore is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror who lives in Oklahoma with his beautiful wife and their three monstrous marvelous children. He is a published finalist of the 2012 SQ Mag annual contest. His work is both featured and forthcoming in Blue Shift Magazine, Nightfall Magazine, Postscripts to Darkness, Carnage: After the End Vol. 2, Mad Scientist Journal, and Pantheon magazine, to name but a few.
You can find out more about Jason at http://www.facebook.com/#!/jason.lairamore
Other issues Jason Lairamore has been published in: SQ Mag 7 ‘My Trip To The Circus’, SQ Mag 22 ‘Civility and the Shark’