This story was written for my creative writing class at the University of North Dakota
Murder was easier than he had expected. Blood and puss oozed from the two small wounds near Raul’s ankle, forming a puddle on the hard wood floor. The smell mixed with the fresh fabric softener from the bed spread to create a sickening contrast.
After the bite, Raul had stumbled and fallen. He ended up sitting in the corner made where his bed met the wall behind it. The snake had slithered out of sight underneath the dresser in the corner. The sun was setting outside, and the yellow light streamed in, creating a beam through the dusty air.
The room was fancily decorated. The bed was against the wall farthest from the door, and there was a large dresser with a mirror on top to the right of the bed. Next to that was a large leather easy chair. Everything in the room was antique, except for the chair which looked almost new.
Raul began to look around the room. His breathing became heavy. He looked up at Jack, “I knew you were coming you know. I didn’t know when exactly, but I knew you were coming.”
Jack stared emotionlessly down at Raul. Jack’s eyes squinted slightly as Raul stammered on. “I don’t blame you. I don’t. I’ve been in this business long enough to know. You’re just doing your job.” It was becoming harder for Raul to breath. He had to force each breath in and out . “I don’t blame you. I don’t bla… Who hired you?”
Jack turned toward the bed. He closed his briefcase, picked it up and let it rest at his side. “I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
“I’m dying! I’m…” He swallowed, “I’m dying… There’s no harm in telling a dying man who killed him.”
Jack knew the rules, but Raul was right, there was no harm in telling him. He let out a long sigh, “Francis Templeton.”
Raul let out a soft chuckle, “Templeton eh? He never did like me much. How much did he pay you?”
“I didn’t know I was worth that much to him,” He coughed into his fist. “I don’t have much time. I can feel my mind going.” He looked off into the distance, letting his eyes relax out of focus.
Jack cleared his throat. He tried to think of something appropriate to say, but nothing came to mind. He walked to the large leather chair near the dresser. He sat down and waited. The chair was less comfortable than it appeared, but he had to stay and make sure Raul died. Jack crossed his legs at the ankles and moved his foot to an imaginary rhythm.
Raul began to sweat profusely. His breathing became manic and came in short bursts. He jerked his head upward to face the ceiling, “Tell Templeton… Tell Templeton I’m not sorry.” He let out his dying breath and his entire body relaxed. His head still looked upward with his mouth completely open.
Jack looked at the body for some time, thinking. “That was disturbing.” He put his hands on the arms of the chair to stand up when he felt a sharp pain in his foot. He looked down to see the snake’s mouth wrapped around his shoe. The fangs had punctured the leather and gone deep into the top of his foot. He let out a grunt and relaxed back into the chair. He looked at Raul’s body. His head had relaxed into a forward facing position, eyes looking directly at Jack. Raul’s body slowly tilted to the side and slumped onto the ground. His head made a thud as it hit the ground.
“Captain. Enemies off the starboard bow. We can’t out run them at our current power levels.” First officer Poole tried to clear the smoke from the cockpit with his hand, waving it side to side in front of his face. “What are we going to do?”
Captain Frank Bowman’s eyes were fixated on the situation outside. Only small portions of open space were visible between the asteroids that filled the viewer. “Don’t you worry Poole, I’ve got a little trick up my sleeve. Something the Klornon’s don’t even know about. Remember that—“ Frank’s speech was cut off as he jerked the controls to the right to dodge a particularly large asteroid. “That was close… Remember that Lorvian artifact we picked up back on Setil-6?”
“Yes captain, but we still don’t know what it does.”
“You’re wrong there. Activate it.”
“But captain… we don’t know what will happen…”
“Poole, punch it.”
Poole paused and looked at Frank. Frank’s gaze never left the asteroids in front of him. Poole cringed as he pressed the yellow button, and…
The conclusion to Blast! vol. 9 will appear in next months episode. Will Captain Bowman and First Officer Poole make it out of their adventure alive? Or will the evil Klornon’s triumph? You’ll have to wait and see…
Bobby got up from the park bench and slipped last months issue of Blast! into the plastic sleeve. He unzipped his back pack, and slipped the comic carefully inside.
Bobby looked down the sidewalk to see Shane riding toward him on his new bicycle. The sun had just risen minutes ago, and there was still a slight mist in the air. In the park where Bobby waited, the fresh smell of dew was heavy, and the crickets were just finishing the night’s symphony.
Bobby took a deep breath through his nose and exhaled. “This is going to be sweet.”
Shane rode up to Bobby and skidded to a stop less than a foot from his feet. “This bike is so awesome.”
The bike was entirely black, no chrome to be seen. The parts all seemed to blend together to create one uniform object. It had a hard racing style seat, and pegs on all four wheels.
Bobby looked at his watch, “Right on time Shane, great job,” He looked down the sidewalk, the opposite way Shane had come from, “Let’s go.”
Bobby climbed onto the back pegs of the bicycle, and put his hands on Shane’s shoulders. “Hold on a sec.” Bobby said. He slid his back pack around his side, and zipped it back up.
“That could’ve been bad. You ready now?”
They rode in silence for most of the journey. Past River Rock high school, past old man Kritel’s house, past the alley where Jimmy got beat up last month. Once they got within three blocks, Shane spoke up. “Almost there. I’m so pumped.”
“Me too. I’ve been waiting a whole month for this.” Bobby tilted his body to the right, hoping to see if there was a line.
Shane swerved to the right, correcting for Bobby’s weight shifting, “Hey, stop that. You gotta balance with me or we’ll tip over.”
“Do you think Poole and Bowman make it out of that asteroid field?” Bobby said.
“Well yeah, it wouldn’t be a very good comic strip if the main characters died. What I’m wondering is what that alien artifact thing is going to do.”
“I’ll bet it’s like a reverse tractor beam. It’ll shove all the asteroids and the Klormon ships away from their ship. And then they’ll just speed off at light speed!”
“That’d be sweet.”
They rounded the last corner. Bobby looked up. His eyes widened as his mouth dropped in shock. “Shane, stop.”
“Why? We’re almost there.”
“Look.” Bobby pointed ahead. There was a dark pillar of smoke rising from the store on the corner. Shane stopped the bicycle, and Bobby stepped off. A red circle of fire trucks surrounded the building, spewing water in a vain attempt to stem the flames.
The building was nearly gone already, and the firemen were attempting to stop the fire from spreading to the neighboring structures.
“Wha… we… is that…” Shane stammered.
“C’mon, let’s get closer.” They ran up and joined the crowd that was slowly forming around the blaze. The acrid smell of burning paper and ink filled the air. Bobby looked at the dark green sign, ‘Parker’s Comics and Collectables’ it read. Just then, it fell off the supporting beams holding it high above the store, and crashed onto the sidewalk making a loud thud. The metal on cement made a high pitched squeal as it slid away from the building.
Bobby stood emotionless as Shane stammered on. “Come on Shane. Let’s go home.”