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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WEP post: HOW YOU DIE


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accompanied to music below post

HOW YOU DIE
(999 words)
 

Nola bizi, hala hil. 

(How you live is how you will die.)
– Basque proverb





Scofield studied me with eyes holding all the warmth of a hawk’s  

 “ I’m unsettled by the mushrooms.”


We were playing chess not eating her cooking. Not that I would be so foolish as to eat her cooking.   

Her last name wasn't Scofield any more than mine was Templar.


  Her beauty when young was legendary, leading to the death of many of her assignments.   

Even in her sixties, Scofield was striking.


“There’s much that’s unsettling at Dunwich Estates.”


Her voice cracked with fear.   

“Those black mushrooms just appeared at the farthest mansion … 

their ring sprouting at twilight, circling a dead cat, though by dawn the cat was gone.”


 A black cat strolled lazily out from under the table to rub against my leg.

Scofield paled.  

 “When did you get a cat?”



I turned up the corners of my lips.  “There are worse things awaiting the living than death.”


Her thin lips tightened.  “I was enjoying the south of France until the Service forced me to move next to you.”


“You could have said ‘No’.”


“Ending up on the same list as you?”


“I’ve been on that list a long time.  I’m still here.”


“How have you managed that?”


“I … find a way to arrange a win/win situation for myself and … uneasy allies.”


The cat moved as if to rub against Scofield’s leg, and she rose quickly.  

 “I have to go.”


I watched her almost run to the front door, flinging it open, 

revealing a full moon against a stark night sky as if it had hungrily devoured all the stars.




The cat laughed in a man’s voice, “Tókša akhé.”   

‘Later’ in Dakota.


It looked up at me with hungry eyes. 


“Soon,” I promised.   

Its eyes said it had better be damn soon.  Emphasis on the damned.


 In the following days, I went about keeping my word.  

 I built one Dakota Burial Platform after another on the front lawn of my estate 

until the grounds bristled like some grotesque beard.


I was putting the finishing touches on the last platform 

when the black cat flowed out of the deepening twilight shadows. 

“Osiceca.”


I know. The storm is almost here.  We’ve run out of time.”


Scofield appeared as if out of nowhere, holding a bowl of liquid.  I sniffed.  

 Mushroom soup.


Her voice was still her own. 

 “The lights have gone out all over Dunwich Estates.  Only your estate and mine have lights on at night.   

One manor after another has been swallowed up by those damn mushrooms.”


“Doesn't explain that soup.”


“Arthur’s grounds were taken over last night. I took these mushrooms from his front yard.”


“The President of the Community Board?”


“He wouldn’t answer any of my phone calls.  I went over to his front door just now 

and saw him and his wife standing motionless in the front room just staring at one another, 

their lips wiggling but no sounds coming out.”


I shrugged.  “At least none that human ears could hear.”


“Damn you!  You know something, don’t you?”



“The developers of these estates really knew how to pick their sites.   

Not just any Dakota burial site, mind you, but one whose spiritual energies blocked the way to ….”


I trailed off, not having the words that an assassin bred in the “real world” would understand.


“Dakota?  I thought you were Basque.”



I nodded.  “My grandmother was full Basque.  

 My grandfather didn’t stay around long enough to tell my father just what he was.”


“He was Dakota?”


“Apache.  But Elu's ability to inhabit dead animals helped him get around.”


Scofield asked as if to a madman, “Was that his name?”


I nodded to the black cat studying her like a red-tailed hawk would a lame mouse. 

Is his name.  Meet my uneasy ally.  Everyone from the Service who've tried to kill me already have.”


Scofield dumped out the soup with a hurried flick of a wrist. 

The cat laughed in a very unfeline way.  She paled.




I nodded to the tiny mushrooms sprouting up from the spilled soup.  
  
“As you have lived so you will die.  You failed them.  I’m sure they don’t forgive.”


“H-Help me.”


“You sowed the seeds. Now, comes the harvest.”


“Please!”


“If you run fast enough, you might make it to your front door before our possessed neighbors drag you down.”



Scofield watched the growing black mushrooms with ever-widening eyes for a heartbeat, then raced away into the night.


“Spry for her age.”




The cat grunted: “Hiya Onsi La?”


“No mercy in war, Elu.”


In the darkness beyond my gate, Scofield cried out.  

 Once.




I looked down at the impassive gaze of the cat. 

 Its eyes said there was a justice not written in books nor found in any court.



In the 19th century, the railroads exterminated the buffalo to force the Dakota onto reservations. 

After a harsh winter, the Minnesota government withheld food and payment for their lands. 

“Let them eat grass,” said one trader.



Bloodshed ensued, ending with the largest mass execution in U.S. history, 38 Santee warriors, 

after a trial of five minutes with neither attorneys nor witnesses allowed.



I looked up at the diamond dust of the Milky Way, the Hanging Road, which led to the Camp of the Dead.   


Trudging through my gate, the possessed of Dunwich Estates silently swayed and suddenly stopped.  

 Glazed eyes studied my 38 burial platforms for long moments.




Flying whips of fire hissed down from the sky to consume those platforms.   

What emerged were grim-faced figures of living flame. 

 The Wana’gi Elu called them.



In Karmic retribution, the Wana’gi sprang at the mushroom-controlled humans 

dispossessing the bodies and claiming them for their own.




More darts of strange fire sizzled down from the stars toward the houses beyond.


“Come, Grandson,” gruffed Elu’s voice from the cat.   

“As a White, you will not be welcomed.”


I nodded, walking into that darkness which never forgets … nor forgives.


36 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Teresa. I worked hard at this. I am happy you enjoyed it! :-)

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  2. Vivid and creepy - unsettled by the mushrooms indeed! Justice beyond books and courts is somehow more satisfactory and inevitable.

    Grand in its arc, and very enjoyable.
    Your writing is always luminous. Thank you for posting for this WEP Challenge.

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    1. Thank you so much for your words, Nilanjana. They made my morning. :-)

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  3. Very well written indeed. Wonderfully spooky atmosphere.

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  4. Hi Roland,
    Amazing. I like the way you brought in the history of what took place in the past and the retribution for what was done.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. Travesties in history are never fully buried but fester for a future harvest that usually punishes those who do not understand. Thanks for the words, Pat

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  5. The title itself screamed 'spooky'. Don't think I'll look at mushrooms the same way now.

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    1. This tale sprang from a nightmare of mine some months back. Brrr! :-)

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  6. And now I'm unsettled by the mushrooms!
    Vivid and powerful!

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  7. A horrible harvest indeed. Sow and reap, sow and reap...

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    Replies
    1. One day, we will be the invaded, and can we expect any better than what we gave?

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  8. I wish injustice and cruelty always got what it deserved in our lives, not just in fantasy fiction. A powerful story.

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    1. In my historical fantasy, I try to right some injustices. Did you notice that the Apache shaman was Elu? Templar is Lucas and Ingrid Durtz's son while Elu is Lucas' father. :-)

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  9. This is dark and creepy indeed, perfect for Halloween! I may never look at a mushroom the same way again. Well done!

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    1. If we ever invaded, would it be from a lifeform to which we would at first attribute intelligence, right? Brrr. Thanks for liking my post, L.G.

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  10. Ooh Roland you do have scary nightmares but mushrooms are weird things when you think about it. So many strange shapes and sizes. You managed to produce a creepy story out of it. Love the images too. Yay for fighting injustice and cruelty and not just at Halloween.

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    1. I thought the images added to the story, plus breaking up the clots of paragraphs as well. :-) Cruelty knows no season nor should justice, right? I am so happy you enjoyed my tales of invasion and vengeance.

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  11. Wow, it's hard to find the right words.
    Thank you.
    Wonderful writing.
    Scary, in a good way.
    Justice.
    So much more...

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    1. I like horror with heart. Makes it hard to find a modern horror movie that I will enjoy! READY OR NOT filled the bill for me last month ... and THE FINAL GIRLS last year. :-)

      I am so glad you found my flash fiction entertaining. :-)

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  12. Quite a world you've created there Ronald. I didn't dare listen to the music along with it. Impending doom all the way.

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    Replies
    1. Doom awaits us all. It's what we do until it gets here that counts, right? Thank you so much for caring to comment. :-)

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  13. Sorry Roland - it was auto corrected to Ronald.

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    1. Same letters. :-) It happens to me all the time. It's all good. Mark Twain wrote it wasn't what you were called; it was what you answered to that mattered!

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  14. Atmospheric, the power of a mushroom, loved the cat and the pictures.

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    1. Those mushrooms were poisonous in more ways than one, right? :-) I thought the pictures added to the story. And Midnight especially like the images of the black cat

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  15. The pictures really added another depth to it. Mushrooms sure can be a weird one, some save you, some kill you.

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    1. Thanks, Pat. My motto with mushrooms is FUNGI BYE-BYE! :-)

      I tried to make the photos add to the chill of my tale. Midnight still hasn't forgiven me!

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  16. Hi Roland - loved the take with the mushrooms - I thought of honey fungus... and then the circles they create creeping out ever concentrically, but erratically ... so could visualise them taking over the Dunwich estates ...

    I suspect the mycellium will get us first -they have a head start in the darkness under our feet.

    The way you've brought in the monstrous treatment of Indians really hits home ... reminding of things I have read and need to know more ... thanks - the photos really do add to the tale. Cheers Hilary

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    1. Yes, the fairy ring fungi was in my mind as I wrote. The mass hanging was a major point of contention between McCord and Abraham Lincoln in my THE NOT SO INNOCENTS ABROAD, too.

      https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EUFRKKI

      I am so happy that the images added to the pleasure of your reading, Hilary. :-)

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  17. Deliciously creepy and vividly created. The stuff of karmic nightmares. Excellent, namesake.

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    1. Your own entry was suspenseful and riveting throughout, too, fellow Roland!

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  18. (I swear I commented on this the other day, too.)
    Great post. I especially enjoyed the part with the cat.

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    1. The mushrooms snatched your comment away! :-) Midnight, my cat, loved the cat parts, too.

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