Sunday February 8th, 2015

The exercise:

Write something that has to do with: poison.

Currently reading Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. It's really pulling me along, sometimes by the throat. I just finished a particularly horrifying part, which inspired today's prompt, but mostly it has been interesting, tense storytelling that has given me so much trouble with putting the book down.

I'm feeling mostly recovered now, but Kat and Max are both still suffering. Really hoping they'll be able to join me at the other end of this misery soon.


"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me on such short notice," she says with a smile that she probably thinks is seductive. I've seen more alluring expressions in the morgue.

"I had an opening in my schedule," I reply. "You were just fortunate the timing worked out in your favour, that's all."

"Still," she says as she runs a finger around the rim of her martini glass, "I just want you to know how very, very appreciative I am."

"Uh huh." You know, I hear that some people take vacations when their calendar unexpectedly opens up for a few days in a row. I should look into that idea. "So what can I do for you?"

"Well, you see..." She gives the patrons at a nearby table a surreptitious glance. I take the opportunity to roll my eyes. "It's my husband."

It always is.

"The honeymoon is over, I take it?"

"Honey, there was never any honeymoon to begin with!" Her eyes go wide when she realizes that she's allowed her voice to get too loud. She blushes furiously before adding in a horrified whisper, "He was too cheap to pay for one."

"I'm sorry for your loss." There's enough sarcasm coating my words to pin them to the ocean floor but she takes them at face value anyway. Good lord. "Any preference on the way he leaves you a grieving widow?"

"Oh, no! I hadn't given that any thought!"

"Uh huh."

"Like, at all!"

"Uh huh."

A brief pause while she inspects her fake red nails. Then:

"Well, I suppose if I have a say in the matter... how expansive is your knowledge of poisons?"

I smile. Okay, maybe it's more of a smirk. Looks like Benny the Bartender owes me fifty bucks.


Greg said...

I haven't read any of King's newer stuff really; I think Rose Madder might have been the last one I read. He's definitely a good author, but he was one of those I read a lot of when I was a kid, and then seemed to grow away from. However, what I'm reading at the moment isn't even fiction, so I may not be the best person to comment (I'm reading about how English is actually strongly affected by Welsh and Celtic!)
Hmm, I'm not entirely from that first paragraph if I should refer to a narrator or a necrophile :) I like this guy though, he's pragmatic and cynical and world-weary and just the kind of person I like to read about and sympathise with. Less so his client though, she seems scheming and manipulative, and I have to work with that kind of person! The short, abrupt line style definitely brings the mood of the scene across very well, and her coyness is... hard to look away from, for all it's unappealing :) Nice work!

Caryatid columns hold aloft
A fornicated ceiling that is black
From vapours that arise at night.
Like shadowed souls in hell
They twist and writhe, cavorting in
Stygian gloom, dancing in this
Poisoned room, hands outstretched
With the promise of an invite.

Soot falls like snow, melting on unclad skin,
Seeping in,
And poison trickles inside virgin veins.
Violent pains
Wrack the supplicant and thrust them to the floor.

A sacrifice is made, an evil force is now appeased
But though it sits and feeds
On poisoned meat
It is never satisfied,
And so the caryatids twist and writhe
Beneath the fornicated ceiling of the poison room.

morganna said...

Going off yours, Marc. (And speaking of which, now that you're feeling better, can we expect a return to Mars soon?)
The hitman was smirking at her. She was sure of it. She glanced around the seedy bar one more time. Now the bartender was glaring at her. Geez, what was with everyone tonight? Just 'cause she wanted to get rid of her husband ...

Forget it. She'd do the job herself. She stood abruptly, throwing some money on the table. "Thanks for your time, mister, but I'm not going to need you after all." She turned away, pretending not to notice her companion's eyes narrow ominously.

He lunged forward and wrapped his forearm around her throat. He hissed in her ear, "It's not as simple as that, lady. You don't mess with Black Jack."

She struggled, but soon went limp. He checked her pulse. Good, she was just out, not dead. He tied her up and left her in the back room of the bar with a note.

When she woke up, the first thing she saw was the note propped in front of her. It said, "I bet you can get out of there. When you do, your husband will be dead. You know what you owe me. Don't mess with Black Jack."

ivybennet said...

I'm with Morganna. I'd love to go back to Mars and see what our passengers are up to!


It was such a beautiful flower, I thought, gazing upon the dried small white bell-shaped petals lying on the course work table. I remembered when I used to weave the small stems into bracelets for me and my nurse when I was younger.
But I had outgrown the age of flower weaving, outgrown the innocence of my girlhood living in the palace. After everything I had been through, everything I’ve seen around my kingdom, I knew that there was a certain degree of harshness in everyone that would always find a way to leak out of the cracks of even the most perfected fa├žade.
Chevalier was still outside the cottage door, keeping watch from a distance. It was still startling how much I trusted that tananarive after only knowing him—and his kind—for such a short period of time. As I began to tear off the petals and leaves from the stems, I wondered what he would think of my contingency plan. I knew he would do anything to save Syn, though he had repaid his blood dead tenfold. But I also know his history with Orane and why he escaped. Would this be an instance where the ends justified the means?
As I crushed dried petals and leaves to a fine powder, I again contemplated how far I had fallen.
Princess. Orphan. Fugitive. Thief.
And soon, if my plan didn’t unfold as I hoped, I would be adding “murderer” to the list.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I had no interest in him at all as a kid, since I saw a direct connection between him and horror stories. It's been interesting to discover his other works now.

Fantastic imagery and word choice in your poem. Delightfully creepy.

Morganna - tonight's the night :)

Ah, I'm so pleased you continued mine, and so deftly at that! I quite like the idea that, even though he didn't really want to deal with her, he wasn't about to let her walk away from the deal. Love the note he left :)

Ivybennet - tonight, I promise!

I really enjoyed the way this piece developed. The reference near the start to harshness leaking out of beautiful things was great foreshadowing.