A Hell of a Bargain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tales to make your pulse race, stories from beyond the shadows.

Submitted: March 11, 2017

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Submitted: March 11, 2017





The traffic was bumper to bumper as far as he could see in front of him; he could feel the onset of a tension headache as his temples began to throb. Dan hated this fucking city, trying to get anywhere during the day was a painful ordeal; the roads were constantly congested with traffic. It took a super human effort on his behalf to stop himself from leaning on the horn, so he had to content himself with a continuous monologue of swearing at the other drivers. He was caught between a rock and a hard place now, the route back home would be a never ending traffic jam and he did not think he would make it to his destination on time. In frustration he searched his sat nav for an alternative route to the auction, the disembodied electronic voice told him to turn left at the next junction. After two solid hours of back streets and areas of the city he had not even know existed he arrived at the auction, just as he entered the room he heard the bang of the gavel and a single word “Sold". The last item of the day a Victorian writing desk had just been sold, he felt like screaming. Three and a half hours to travel a little over fifty miles and he had missed the auction. Dan leaned dejectedly on the bonnet of the car smoking a cigarette; there was no way he was driving back now the traffic would still be killer. He would have to find somewhere to book in for the night; he would drive back before first light.


This place was going to be costly he thought as he drove up to the entrance, still better to spend a few extra dollars and not have to listen to hookers plying their trade at the cheaper motel. He would have a nice meal and get a few hours’ sleep; he would be in better fettle then for the drive back. The hardest part of this business was locating and purchasing quality items, more and more dealers were entering the trade these days. If you wanted to survive you needed more and more unusual items of a high quality, collectors with money to spend nowadays wanted quality and rarity. So this meant more and more time driving around to auctions looking for these elusive items, missing today's auction had put him in somewhat of a pickle. He had sold all his high-end stock and what was left would gather dust until the off chance of a less discerning collector wandering in to his showrooms. Dan needed to source some desirable merchandise and soon, the rent on the premises was eating into his bank balance. Dan sat in the dining room his laptop opened on the table by his empty plate; the waiter was hovering about waiting to clear the table. He had looked at the contents of nearly all the upcoming auctions and nothing jumped out at him, in frustration he closed the laptop and decided to go to the bar for a nightcap.


Dan sipped his whisky and watched the well-dressed man with the turban; he was holding a glass of ice water and taking in his surroundings. It was as if he was expecting to meet someone who had not turned up yet, the bar was busy now and the only vacant seat was at Dan's table. Acting on some strange impulse he stood and beckoned to the stranger, when the man came over Dan offered him the seat. If you were to hold a gun to his head Dan would have been unable to tell you why he did this, however if the man in the turban was surprised by his actions he gave no hint of it. Within a short period of the man joining him at the table, Dan was surprised to find himself telling the man his life story. The stranger wore a well-trimmed goatee and had the darkest eyes he had ever seen; surprisingly he was not put off by Dan's forwardness and actually appeared interested in his business. When Dan mentioned the difficulty in finding the rare items that command the high prices, he thought he detected a glint in those dark eyes. It was only when Dan paused to sip his drink that he realised that he was yet to hear the man speak When he did his words were softly spoken with a slight Asian accent, something in his voice told Dan he was from a privileged background. The stranger thanked Dan for his company and finishing his water stood to leave; he paused and treated Dan to a strange look from those dark eyes. Then he took a business card from his wallet and left it beside the whisky glass, Dan picked up the card and turned it in his hand, the soft light catching the gold embossed writing. “Amit Khan Dealer in the unusual" Completely puzzled now he lifted his head to question the man, however the stranger in the turban must have left very quickly. Dan glanced around the bar but he was nowhere to be seen, he finished his drink and went to his room.


It was still dark when Dan woke, if anything he felt more exhausted than the night before. He had slept badly his mind tormented by strange and disturbing dreams, dreams populated by demons and dark figures who pointed accusingly at him. When he turned on the bedside lamp he spotted the business card on the locker, he could have sworn he left that on the table in the bar. He had dismissed it as some kind of joke from a man with a strange sense of humour. He picked it up and read it again on the back was a map to what he presumed was the man's business address. In the car another strange impulse made him type the address into his sat nav, the electronic voice directed him to an area of the docklands. The traffic had not begun to build yet and Dan felt relaxed to be driving through almost deserted streets, He was surprised at the vast area that constituted the docklands, he seemed to be driving for miles through a maze of narrow streets. The deeper he went into this maze the more run down and derelict the building became; now he was really beginning to feel the card had been a strange joke. Who in their right mind would locate a business in an area like this, nothing here but rat infested buildings inhabited by winos and dropouts? He was about to turn the car and go back when he spotted the building, it stood amidst the shells of other buildings. A large gold and crimson bust of an obese man wearing a turban hung above the sign, “Unusual Antiquities Dealership". A wave of anticipation overcame Dan; his luck just might be in.


The inside of the shop was illuminated by a large number of table lamps, the floors were covered by Persian rugs and the brick walls were almost completely covered in elaborate tapestries. Very classy indeed he thought to himself, but why in the hell situated it out here in the boondocks. The place was a virtual Aladdin's cave of collectables, but none he would get over excited about. This kind of stuff was at best mid-range; it was beginning to look like a wasted journey. Dan needed high-end rarities if he hoped to stay in this business, he was about to turn on his heels and leave when the man in the turban materialised from some place in the back of the store. “I see you decided to call “the words were softly spoken, as if reading Dan's mind he assured him that the real rarities were not on view. As soon as they entered the back room Dan's pulse started racing, he walked around open mouthed trying to take in what he was seeing. He was about to handle a very unusual looking bejewelled knife, the strangers hand shot out and grasped his wrist. The fingers like a vice and cold as death, “That item is not for sale today" the words were so softly spoken he had trouble understanding them. However the vice like grip on his wrist was enough to make him understand, he was led to the next display cabinet by the wrist.


Dan held the framed document in his hand and stared at it in disbelief, he looked at the aged parchment in Latin script and the signature at the bottom, surely this was a huge hoax he looked at the man again. “I can assure you it is authentic, the original document signed by Pontius Pilate authorising the crucifixion of a Nazarene called Jesus". The strange man with the turban spoke softly and in a matter of fact way, this could not be possible, such a document would be priceless. However something deep in his heart told Dan this man was telling the truth, something about the man told him that he had no reason to lie. He had never wanted anything in his life as badly as he wanted this document; it was worth a king's ransom he would be set for life. As if again reading his mind the stranger took the framed document from him. “This can be yours and much more with it; however there are conditions to my sales". Now here was the crux of the situation for Dan, he could not afford to pay anywhere even near the trade price for such an antiquity. The man in the turban replaced the item to the display case and led Dan to an office removed from the showrooms. Here in the stranger’s office surrounded by the most precious of items, things were going to get a lot stranger.


Dan tried to ignore the stinging sensation in his hand; he watched the blood drip into the inkwell before him. I must be losing my mind he thought, but he still dipped the quill in the inkwell and signed the contract with his own blood. Opposite him the stranger calmly waited as if it were an everyday business transaction, Dan had just signed a strange contract agreeing to never divulge anything about their business dealings. This was to apply even in the eventuality that he turned down the man's asking price for the document. The contract sounded gibberish to Dan, who in the hell used terms like at the peril of your immortal soul. Amit held the signed contract in front of him and examined Dan's signature, Dan found himself holding his breath in anticipation. Eventually Amit nodded silently before locking the contract in the desk drawer, from his inside coat pocket he removed a folded sheet of paper and slid it across the desk to Dan. Dan reached for the paper and for the second time that day the ice fingers locked on to his wrist. “The price for the item is written on this paper; do not open it until you leave here".


This is fucking crazy he thought to himself as he sat in the car, this whole thing has to be a sick hoax. A candid camera hoax or even something more sinister, he looked at the paper again and shook his head in disbelief and frustration. However greed had wormed its way deep into Dan, he had to have that document, and he would be rich beyond his wildest dreams. The wealth and prestige that would be his would be worth any price he had to pay. Going against all rational thinking he made his decision, an opportunity like this was a once in a very long lifetime opportunity. It was funny how his mind worked as he went about the gory task, all he could think of was just how hard it was to actually sever a human head. However in the end he managed it, he placed the head in the plastic lined hat box and drove to meet Amit. The dealer just gave a cursory glance in to the box before handing the framed document over to Dan. “I will look forward to dealing with you again" Amit smiled knowingly as Dan left. Funnily enough Dan knew deep down inside that he had become addicted, it was inevitable he would be back for more items from this strange man.


The story had rarely strayed far from the front pages in the past twelve months; the trophy killer was the catch phrase they liked to use. However Dan had stopped reading the articles about the grizzle murders a long time ago, they had begun to bore him. Anyway he was far too busy enjoying his new opulent lifestyle, he was in great demand these days and the money poured in. Yes his star was on the upward curve that was until the detectives arrived at his mansion door. Familiarity breeds contempt or so they say, Dan had gotten careless in his harvesting of human parts to barter with Amit. He had tried to shift the blame to the man with the turban, however the cops maintained no such premises existed on the docklands. So in the end Dan had to face the music all alone and there was only one inevitable outcome, a date was set for Dan with a hangman's noose. He continued to decry one Amit Khan Right up until the trap door below his feet was sprung, Dan died with the man's name on his lips. No pain just a strange feeling of travelling a long distance in inky blankness at enormous speed.


Dan woke with a gasp his throat was burning; he had never had such a vivid nightmare. It was horrifyingly realistic even down to the agony in his neck, he was lying on a stone floor and it was hot. Where in the hell was he, he was totally disorientated and all he could remember was that awful dream. Perhaps he had been in some kind of an accident and somehow wandered here in a daze, the place he found himself in was like a gigantic underground tunnel system. The temperature was almost unbearable and the stone walls and floor were hot to the touch, a volcanic cave perhaps, nothing made sense. He got to his feet and begun to walk, in the distance he began to hear human voices. Something about these voices was strangely disturbing it was a while before he figured it out. The voices were screams of agony; the nearer he got to the sounds, the higher the temperature became. He rounded a corner and it all became clear, the scene before him was the most horrific thing imaginable. Dante had gotten it very wrong, hell was much worse than he could ever have imagined. The words were softly spoken but they were crystal clear. “Do you remember our contract Dan?"? The man with the turban held aloft the paper, at the bottom was Dan's signature in red writing.




© Copyright 2019 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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