This short story is a result of the prompt from the Nov. 5, 2012, Indy WordLab. The assignment was to show the relationship of a parent and a child by having them doing something together. Here, a father passes on the skills of the family business to his son.
"Like this, Father?" Malachi asked.
|Photo credit: alex.lines|
"I understand, Father. I have watched you do this many times before."
"Good," Enoch said, guiding his son through the end of the cut. "That is the left side. Now try to make the same cut on your own on the right side."
Enoch stepped back and wiped his hands on the front of his smock, covering old, brown stains with fresh streaks of red blood. He grinned as his youngest son moved to the other side of the table and began to slice. The cut wasn't perfect, but it didn't need to be. "You are doing even better than your brother Joshua did during his first lesson," Enoch said.
Malachi smiled but did not look up. He continued to slice, his young eyes concentrating on the place where the tip of the knife disappeared beneath the flesh. The knife slipped out at the turn, but with little struggle, he was able to continue along, finishing with a final curve of the knife.
"Done," Malachi chimed. Enoch leaned in close and examined the cut. It was rough in spots — he would have to teach Malachi how to sharpen the knives later — but in all it was very well done, especially for a ten-year-old.
"Wonderful. Now the outer skin should come off easily. Grab the flap of skin just below the neck, here." Malachi pinched the flesh between his thumb and index finger, right next to where his father did the same. Their hands touched, and the two looked at each other, father and son, each more proud of the other than he had ever been.
Together they pulled, Enoch lightly slicing through the connective tissue, until the flesh came off cleanly in one gangly piece. They stepped back from the table and studied their handiwork. Enoch wrapped his beefy arm around his son's shoulders in a one-handed hug that left an enormous red handprint on Malachi's shirt. The butcher's son had nearly completed his first job.
"Do you remember what we do next?" Enoch asked.
The tip of Malachi's tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth and he scrunched his face in thought. He made a humming noise for a few moments, and then his face relaxed, like clouds parting before the sun. "The head!" he said. "We take the head off now!"
"Very good, my son! But there is something we must do first."
Malachi frowned and wrinkled his forehead. "What?"
"We have to say . . .," Enoch prompted
Malachi rolled his eyes. "We have to say the invocation! I knew that."
"That is correct! So grab that heavy knife there and come up to the head. And hurry, we haven't much time."
Father and son leaned in around contorted face of the young woman lying freshly skinned on the slab. Her throat gurgled in helpless pain, her lips sewn so tightly shut that no sound could escape. Her cheeks were wet with tears.
With two fingers, Enoch pried open the lid over one eye. The green eye beneath moved to focus on him. "If you look really closely," Enoch said, "You can see the life leaving her body even before the soul escapes."
"Oooh!" Malachi exclaimed. "Let me see!"
The eye quivered, and the pupil began to widen. "Here it comes. Are you ready?"
The quivering stopped.
Enoch let go of the eyelid and it stayed open. He and his son went to their knees, bowed their heads, and, in one voice began to speak: "To Moloch the Great, Moloch the Fearsome, we, your humble servants, offer this flesh and this soul. May it satisfy your hunger and hasten your return."
|A still from Hellbound: Hellraiser II|
I feel like I have really been finding my writing voice of late. As it turns out, that voice is one morbid motherfu----.