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Scraley's Angel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
DARK FANTASY

A frightening tale of death foretold!

HJ Furl

Image: Jonny Lindner on Pixabay

Submitted: June 11, 2019

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Submitted: June 11, 2019

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Scraley’s Angel

 

It was a sultry Saturday afternoon in late July when the angel descended upon Scraley Marsh. The sky turned soot black illuminated by the intermittent displays of celestial pyrotechnics. Rumbles of thunder drowned out the tormented deluge. Swathes of rain hissed insistently at the battered cream clapboard cottage, gusting through the open windows, saturating the torn net curtains.

Inside the clammy heat of the kitchen, the fat man sat, forking mouthfuls of sea-farmed sardines, genetically-modified salad. There was a ping as the bread-baker informed him, his garlic-butter hoagie was ready. His tongue tingled as he chewed the greasy treat. The hoagie scalded him, dripping hot fat down his folded chin. Right on cue, the dishwasher extended its arms to take his dirty plate and the coffee-maker whipped him up a refreshing Frappuccino.

The scream was as shrill as a stationmaster’s whistle. A fearful, pained scream hollering to be heard. The din came from the conjugal bedroom, a past-it potpourri of faded forget-me-not curtains, threadbare rosy rugs, cheerless cherry-bud wallpaper. Its screamer sounded hell-bent on screaming herself hoarse. Claire?

He wiped the foamy milk-froth off his face. ‘Claire, s’that you?’

‘Come upstairs, quickly!’ she shouted at the top of her lungs. ‘Lou’s having a fit!’

He hauled himself up and trundled to the hall. Replaced by auto-pilot, retired from service, by English Airways, and unaccustomed to haste, he’d gotten lazy, a rotund meat hog who’d rather squat and watch tv than work his blubber off in the downtown auto-gym. After the robotic revolution there was little else for the middle-aged misfit to do. Other than make portable jet packs from scrap metal for individual high flyers in the garage. Jet packs were his salvation, his obsession, since he grew big to fly. 

‘What kind of fit?’

He waited patiently at the foot of the staircase for the bulk ascender to arrive. A deathly pale apparition appeared behind a stanchion on the landing and waved, all of a flummoxed frenzy. He appraised Claire Dexter’s sweat-soaked, navy-velvet shirt, khaki culottes, and beige thighs, as she sank to her moly, freckled, reddened knees.

‘I don’t know!’ she confessed.

‘What do you mean, don’t know? Meant to be her sister, aren’t you?’

Her face twisted with angst, ‘Lou’s acting really weird? Think you should come comfort her, while I call Dr Mushtaq?’

He sagged in the ascender’s bouncy cradle as it rode up the balustrade. ‘Why Mushtaq?’

Claire glanced edgily over her shoulder. ‘She’s catatonic, regressed into her shell!’

The stairlift coasted into the landing platform, a domestic funicular railcar, its weighted safety-gate opening automatically, allowing the bulky human cargo to disembark the cradle hold in some comfort. The heat upstairs was unbearable.

Claire un-clung her saggy breasts from her wet shirt as he, sweating profusely, itched his copious folds of flab and scratched his sore man boobs.

‘Did you speak to her?’ he asked, mopping brine slush off his bristling brow.

‘Of course, I did, idiot!’

He felt his scalp prickle, his skin, nettle rash in the heat. ‘And?’

His muse shook a drape of sodden chestnut hair from her eyes. ‘She didn’t say anything.’

‘She wouldn’t, would she, mutton head?’ she added, stamping her dainty foot, ‘She’s mute.’

‘You know what I mean,’ he said, irked by her petulance. They both knew damn well that Lou was trained to communicate using facial gesticulations, hand signs, and general body language.

‘She didn’t let on! She was too petrified!’

Claire shivered, shaking like sick lime green jelly, pulled out her phone, and frantically jabbed in Mushtaq’s contact number. He felt sorry for her. Years of caring for Lou had inured him, left him devoid of emotion, desensitized him. Claire really struggled.

‘Well? Did you get through?’ he asked, gently this time.

She sighed, ‘The call went to voicemail.’

‘What did the voicemail say?’

‘It said: please call back outside clinic hours.’ 

He stared up at the thundery heavens, incensed.

‘I’ll call him tonight, okay?’ Claire added, expediently.

Being pedantic the fat man asked, ‘When does his clinic finish?’

‘Eleven-thirty.’

‘Eleven-thirty on Saturday night? No way!’

She stroked his cheek. ‘I’ll call him when I get back from work, okay? I must shower, get changed, fly. I’ll have to jet-pack in. I’ll be late for my team briefing otherwise.’

Why do you always have to work, Claire, it’s the weekend? He grilled himself. He knew why. She earned the money that paid for Lou’s care. Still, he tried to make her see sense.

‘I’m not letting you jet-pack in this weather. You’ll be struck by lightning,’ he said.

‘Can if I want to!’ Claire retorted.

‘Don’t be so bloody unreasonable! You’ll get yourself killed. Then what’ll I do?’

‘Oh, I see! This is about you, is it? Now you listen good.’ Claire sucked her cheeks and stabbed his paunch with her index finger, ‘If I say I’m jet-packing into work then I am, okay?’

‘Okay,’ he conceded, ‘But only if you sleep with me tonight.’

Claire softened in his burly arms. He studied her pale cream face, lined with worry. Her fly-in-your-eyes mousy hair, streaked with grey. Her smudged red lipstick. Savoured the subtle aroma of her deliciously decadent scent. He sought comfort in Claire’s soft caress, felt for her, was fond of her, found solace in her embrace.

His sister-in-law was eager and willing to give him a try. She fed his suppressed desire, wetting his voracious appetite like a re-instated chocolate fetish, or juicy steak served raw. Lou was his partner nineteen years. He adored her, worshipped the ground she walked on, but fell for Claire when she moved into the granny flat.

His polyandry had a quirky appeal. Claire controlled him, dominated him. Whereas he loved Lou in a tender way, caring for her, devoting himself to her. He couldn’t imagine love without both Dexters.

‘Now, go in and see her,’ Claire insisted, squeezing his pudgy hand to give him strength. 

The screaming stopped. The storm crossed the estuary to the Broads, terrorising several tiny Suffolk hamlets. And an eerie, chilly silence descended upon the marshes of Scraley.

‘Do you really think I need to?’ he asked feebly, ‘She’s probably asleep.’

Claire nagged him. ‘Go on! For crying out loud!’ 

She was right, of course. Claire was always right. He had to go in. Had no choice. Hell, Lou was his little lady, the love of his life, wasn’t she? They were due to marry in September, assuming she lived that long.

If, as they expected, Lou died before their wedding day then he’d readily accept Claire’s firm hand in marriage. He made up his mind: I can do this!

‘Alright, I’m going in!’

Claire muttered under her breath, something like: ‘Really? Oh, well done you!’

Ignoring her mild sarcasm, he made himself big, which wasn’t difficult, edged as far as the door, paused, and looked inside the bedroom which was filled with steamy white vapour.

Her bed was empty.

Something sinister huddled in the corner.

Something wicked floated past.

Claire shrieked. ‘Look out! It’s behind you!’

He jumped out of his skin as the hideous beast brushed against his cheek, feeling its cold aura hover next to his face, pummelling his skull like a sledgehammer. The angel flitted briefly around his head like a lamp moth, then disappeared. He slumped to the floor aghast.

‘Don’t just stand there watching,’ he grouched, ‘Fetch me a fresh flat white.’

His sister-in-law seemed affronted. ‘Don’t tell me what to do. I’m not your robot. Get your own fucking coffee, pig-face.’

Undaunted by Claire’s scything rebuttal, he bundled the protesting suffragette into the bulk-descender and sent her hurtling towards the virtual reality playroom, out of harm’s way. She could go play with her curly-haired Companion 500 for all he cared.

The bulk-descender glided downstairs. Satisfied that Claire Dexter no longer presented an immediate threat to his chauvinist ego, he took a deep breath, faced the door, then without further ado stepped inside.

Entering the bedroom, the first thing he noticed was the blistering heat which was even hotter than the swelter on the landing. He went to turn the heating down. The dial on the wall was set to cold.

Strange?

What’s that disgusting smell?

He couldn’t make out the stench at first. Then he realised: Oh, my God! Something died inside him. He buckled at the knees. Fell like a split sack of spuds. Retched. Wet himself. Rolled around. Lacked his composure. This can’t be happening, he deduced.

She was crouching in the corner of the bedroom on the bare wooden floorboards, changed beyond all recognition. Her beautiful auburn-blonde hair was a greasy, tangled mess. Her skin, a sickly olive-green. Heavyweight bags pulled out her bloodshot eyes.

Her inner steel, the incredible fighting spirit that she had once shown, was washed out with exhaustion, rinsed in stagnation, and crudely hung out to dry. She hadn’t bothered to make an effort at all today. Her face wasn’t made-up. She hadn’t showered. She still wore the same dirty shirt.

Might as well be waiting for the undertaker to open her coffin lid. Perhaps she was. Perhaps death was the only escape from her pathetic short life.

He didn’t help, controlling her like a stuffed marionette, addressing her rudimentary needs, leaving her to cry her eyes out in bed. What she needed most was his companionship. Not the precision time-management and physical manipulation he subjected her to every minute of the day. He had become her control freak: a once house-proud-husband who had lost the will for her to live. Still, he loved her loads.

‘What is it, Lou?’ he said.

She pointed, slowly, at the moth-being hovering above her head. He crumpled as the angel descended, enfolding her paralysed prey under her wings, eager to escort Lou to her grave. The dark angel, the classic image of deathly beauty: with her gorgeous jade dress, long, fine fingers.

Ever-young, imbuing a cool, green tinge to the mist which surrounded her. Her cloak of thick, black, beating, velvety wings epitomized morbid elegance and refinement. She rose, enticing her subject to follow her upward, upward, upward, receding into the darkest voids.

Lou was dead by the time he folded her back into bed.



© Copyright 2019 HJFURL. All rights reserved.

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