Tag Archives: betrayel

Dead Night

Sleep sat upon his shoulders in the dim room. Yellow-red light spilled across the carpeted floor, corrupted and scarred by horizontal lines of shadow. He felt along the cold wall for the light switch. He winced and stumbled back as the sterile white light burst on. Sighing, he lay down in his bed. The frame creaked. His eyelids slid shut. His hand found the switch once again and the light snapped off.

Pulling the thick covers up to his chin, he felt sleep’s gentle fingers pushing down on his shoulder as he relaxed and sunk into the bed. Then he felt her ripped away. The roughness of worry replaced her gentle touch, forcing itself into his mind. His eyes snapped open. His hands snatched the covers. With a violent thrust, he cast them away. Sitting up, pain rushed to his head; it throbbed. He scanned the room, glanced out the window and saw one of the lamp-posts glowing. As he approached the window he felt her weight on his shoulders again; her fingers gently pushing his eyelids closed.His fingers played with the chord of the blinds, they tumbled shut as he dragged himself back to bed.

This time memory woke him. He regretted certain words. He worried about their retributions. Shaking his head, he scooted down in under the covers. Reaching into the crease between his bed and the frame, he pulled out his iPod. With his earphones in, he clicked play and the soothing movements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons caressed his mind. They chased away the worry and memories, but sleep had abandoned him, betrayed him, left him to hang helpless in night’s dark grip. The shadowed room sucked all motivation from his body. He remained laying down, making no attempt to turn on the light, no attempt to turn off Vivaldi; he didn’t even hear the seasons anymore.

Something clicked on. Cold air trickled into the room; helpless to stop it, he felt it falling down on him, reflecting off his covers, and entering the stone walls all around. Another click and the fan came on, accompanied with a quiet, but unignorable rattle as the cold air poured from the vent in the wall. It was not so much the direct current that bothered him, but the chill’s ever present emanation from the lifeless stone. Something in him laughed, but the silence strangled anything audible apart from the rattle; he thought himself a corpse, dead without release from his body, laying on a slab of ice awaiting his burial and true, eternal darkness.

Something clicked off. The rattle died with the breeze. Silence still reigned in its lonely court, holding bound he, its only subject. The cold still crept into his bones. He shivered and the chattering of his teeth broke the rule of silence. Taking some small comfort in that sound, he made to run his hand through his hair but moved it away when he felt frigid beads of sweat on his forehead. He placed his moist fingertips against the stones. Cold as they were, they were at least always consistent, unlike that harlot, sleep, who would return briefly to him and then abandon him right before he fell into the comfort of her bosom. Silence was not loyal either. The cold stones, however, were steadfast, consistent, loyal, but they entrapped him with himself.

He spoke, hoping to hear the stones echo his voice back to him, some semblance of conversation. He hoped in vain. They absorbed his voice as if they devoured his soul and he did not speak again.

He only stared at the stones. He knew where they were. Everywhere. He knew they were white as fresh snow, but in the darkness they were black as starless space. Nonetheless, he stared at them.

He wished his roommate was there, sleeping or not, he would have at least provided the knowledge of the presence of another human being. But he was rarely around anymore. The cold stones replaced the warm companionship of human presence. Glancing toward the closed door, he remembered the last time he had been around a large group of people. They were loud. They were annoying. And he felt no less alone with them. He had even wished for the quiet solace of his room. Now, in the midst of the darkness and quiet of that place, he wished those people would come bursting in.

It was not to be. No one came into the room. Not one sound found its way past the door from the hallway. Nobody would be out there anyway. Not at this time of the night anyway. He glanced toward where he had once placed an alarm clock. Dropping his head back into the pillow, he chuckled at his own lack of memory. He had forgotten that clock at home.

Home. Now there was a thought. He had not thought of it since he had come back to school. The memories of May’s faint whine carrying through the house warmed him from heart outward. That noise which had once frustrated him. Now it was a sweet symphony of tiny, faint notes that faded out, leaving silence. This silence was a comfortable silence, a loving silence, a silence filled with the knowledge of her. His thoughts shifted to his father’s snoring and the drone of the narrator of a WWII commentary describing some forgotten battle. They shifted to his mother and how, even in his adulthood, she would visit him at night to wish him sleep well and to tell him her love.

He opened his eyes to the sunrise peeking through the blinds, casting light upon the floor. He sprang from his bed. Grabbing the thin cord, he yanked the blinds open, letting the light flood in and wash over him. He felt the slight warmth of the sun combine with the warmth of his heart as he remembered his family and enjoyed the beauty of the sunrise. The darkness was gone. The dead night was banished for as long as the sun reigned over the sky. For now he was awake—for now he was warm.

Copyright 2014 Joshua A. Spotts

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The Lost Eyes

Lord William stood on his balcony. His wide, green estates stretched out to the horizon. Small hovels with dark smoke puffing from crumbling chimneys squatted near dying patches of trees. Lord William turned his back on his rich fields and poor tenants. His mind lingered on a subject far away. It lingered on things lost to mankind, things lost to him.

“He has hidden them away, Lord.”

“Witch!” Lord William shouted. He slammed his fist on rough table, which had suffered under all his ancestor’s blows before him. “Do you think I do not know this?”

The old woman stumbled backwards, falling from her stool. With a scream she landed on the rough wooden floor, something cracked.

Lord William grabbed the crystal ball from its stand on the table. He raised it far above his head as he towered over the old woman. “He stole them from me, from my family.”

Crouching down, Lord William held the crystal ball before the old woman’s face. He sneered, his thick brows drawing together, his bone white teeth shone in the torchlight which cast shadows across his dark brown eyes. “Do you even know his name, Witch.” He hissed, spittle flying into the old woman’s face. “Can you see that in your ball? Can you even tell me where he is?”

“Lord,” the old woman whispered through her pain. “He has shrouded himself.”

Lord William stood again, glowering down upon her. “Then I thank you for your services to my family, but it seems you have outstayed both your welcome and your usefulness.”

“Please, Lord, no!” The old woman’s eyes widened in fear as Lord William brought the crystal ball down upon her head. Lord William laughed as he brought the bloodied orb down again and again. His black hair lashed his face as he came down and then, as he rose again for another strike, it would fly back to reveal a face speckled with blood, framing eyes filled with savage madness.

Lord William stopped, frowned down upon the bloody, broken corpse on his floor, and turned toward the table. “What a mess.” He picked up a book from the table. A drawing of a pair of eyes stared at him from the word pages, coded, flowing scripts surrounded the eyes. Lord William placed two fingers on the eyes. “Where are you?”

Striding back to his balcony, Lord William cast the bloodied crystal ball down into the moat below. He looked up and stepped back in shock. There, only a few hundred yards from him, sat a rider clothed in dark blue and purple robes. Despite the shroud which covered the riders face, Lord William knew the rider’s eyes watched him in an unwavering gaze. He was of the Order of Aelra. He knew they were watching him; they had been since the eyes went missing, but this was a boldness he had not seen before.

“Guard!” Lord William shouted, never taking his eyes off the rider. He heard the commotion behind him, heard the slight gasp when the guard saw the old woman’s body, then waited for the guard to stand silent, before speaking. “See that rider?”

“Aye, sir.”

“Take a group of riders out and bring him to me.” Lord William leaned forward, clutching the balcony railing.

“Aye, sir.”

Lord William heard the door shut and waited, counting his breaths, until he heard the drawbridge fall and the sound of hooves pound across it. He then straightened and smiled as six of his best riders galloped across his estates toward his prey. Soon he would teach those arrogant warrior-priests what it meant to spy on him.

As Lord William watched, the Aelra rider dismounted. Lord William’s guards bore down on the man, but never did he show any intention to flee. A glimmer of steel shone as the man drew his sword and fell upon it. Lord William jumped back from the balcony railing, turned, and ran down the curving stairway that led from the tower to his central hall. His son ran toward him smiling and laughing, but he shoved the boy away. Out of the corner of his eye, Lord William saw the boy’s tutor, Henry, grab the boy by the shoulders and draw him away into another room.

“Jacob!” Lord William shouted, his voice echoing in the empty hall. “Where is that boy?”

“Here, lord.” Jacob said as he bowed toward Lord William, his shaggy blond mane falling in front of his handsome face.

“Ready my horse.”

“Aye, lord.” The boy bowed several times before scurrying off.

Lord William moved to the main door and was about to lay his hand on the handle when it was cast open. He raised his hand to strike down whoever came through, but when he saw the dark blue and purple robes he lowered it.

“What is this?” He demanded as his guards carried the bleeding man into the hall.

“He is still alive, sir.” One of the guards said as they set the body down.

“Not for long.” Lord William knelt down, drew his dagger, and slit the man’s throat.

“Sir!” One of the guards began.

Lord William turned on him and placed the dagger tip right between the man’s ribs, pushing it in, smiling as the life drained out. He turned back to the rest of his guards. “He is of the Order of Aelra, he would not have told us anything in the few short minutes he had to live.”

Stalking to his chair at the back of the hall, Lord William slunk down into it, running his thumb along the bloody blade of his dagger. His guards followed him. He watched in amusement as they glanced at each other, at the wall behind him, shifting on their feet, but never daring to look him in the eyes.

His thoughts wandered back to the eyes illustrated in the book. They were the same shape as his own, same color too, but they had seen things he had not seen, things he wanted to see. He had spent long years searching the family crypt, only to find, on the night of his son’s birth, a night that should have been glorious that they had been stolen. From that day he had been searching for them, scouring the land for miles around, his agents lurked in every city. The witch lying dead in his chamber was just one of many he had employed and killed, the only difference being that this one had served his father before him. He did not regret her death; he only feared her fate would become his if he could not find those eyes.

“Lord,” one of the guards asked, jerking Lord William from his thoughts.

“What?” Lord William growled.

“Your agent has arrived from London.”

“Bring him to me.”

The agent was led in. He was a small man clothed in a long coat and a worn top hat. “Lord,” he said, bowing. “I bring word of the things you seek.”

“Tell me.”

“There is a legend among the Order of Aelra, whom I see you are acquainted with, of a boy with eyes that contain the secrets of lost technologies.”

“Are you certain it is a boy?”

“That is what I am told, lord.”

“You have been helpful to me. If I find what I am looking for I will make sure you receive your reward.”

“Thank you, lord.”

“Take him to the dungeon,” Lord William said with a flick of his hand toward the guards who then grabbed the man and drug him down into the depths below the castle. “Kill him when you get down there.”

“No, lord!” The man yelled. He struggled against the guards. “Please, please, spare me!”

“I do not enjoy groveling.” Lord William stood. “Kill him now.”

A guard drew his sword as his comrades stretched out the unfortunate man’s neck, baring it for the severing blow to come.

“I know who the boy is with the eyes!”

“Do you now?” Lord William walked over to the man, picking up the man’s fallen top hat along the way. He stabbed it through with his bloody dagger and held it in front of the man’s face. “Who is it?”

The man managed to smile as the guards loosened their hold. “Not until I am on a horse and outside your gates.”

“Are you bargaining with me?”

“Aye.”

“Not a good idea,” Lord William placed the dagger blade to the man’s cheek and drew it slowly down. Blood welled and ran down the pale skin.

“You kill me and you will never find out who has the eyes.”

“Release him.”

The guards did as they were bid.

“Thank you,” the man said, taking his torn hat from Lord William and placing it upon his bald head.

“I am not giving you a horse, nor am I letting you out of my sight until you lead me to the boy with the eyes.” Lord William said. “I give you my word as a lord that you will be free and rich besides.”

“I do not need to lead you anywhere, lord. The boy lives here, under your vary roof.”

“How is this?”

“Did you ever wonder why the Order Aelra was watching your castle?”

Lord William frowned and nodded. “Guards, bring all the servant boys to me.”

“It is not a servant boy, lord.”

“No!” Lord William snarled. It made sense, the theft on the very night of his son’s birth. The rumors afterward that his son had been born blind, but miraculously received sight only a few hours later. The tutor, he was the one, it was rumored he was a wizard, only he would have had the power to veil himself and the boy from a witch’s spells. He threw open the main door and rushed out into the courtyard.

“Hold!” Lord William roared. His eyes widened in anger and panic as he saw the tutor and his son sitting on his prize steed, ready to ride.

“Now you know, Lord William.” The tutor said. “But I cannot allow you to know these secrets. You are unworthy.”

“Guards! Kill him!” Lord William shouted, pointing toward the tutor.

“Call them off.” The tutor said, his voice even, a crossbow pointed at Lord William’s chest.

“Stand down,” Lord William motioned to his guards who lowered their weapons.

“I shall give you one more chance to put aside your obsession. Answer me truthfully, I warn you, else I will end you here and now.”

“I will answer in truth, traitor, make sure that your own words are honest.”

“If you could obtain the secrets of the eyes only through the death of your son, would you kill him?” The tutor asked.

“I would.” Lord William said without hesitation, his body shaking in rage.

“Then you will never see your son again, Lord William.” The tutor raised his hand and smoke obscured him and the boy from Lord William’s vision. When the smoke cleared they were gone. Lord William turned, his heart filled only with anger, not regret.

By Joshua A. Spotts

Copyright 2013 Joshua A. Spotts

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Filed under 2000 word limit, General, Short Stories