The only time Martin felt in control of his life was behind the wheel of his car. His parents had given
him a used Toyota Tercel for his sixteenth birthday and once he got his full license he spent hours exploring back roads. He could speed it up, stop it, change its direction, and even kill it if he
desired. When a really good song came over the radio, he floored the accelerator and for a moment at least, felt like the master of the universe.
After the humiliation with Preston, there was nothing he needed more than to escape. He arrived home, dodged his mother, and jumped into the car. He moved carefully out of the driveway and through the center of town.
He hated Wellow Falls. He'd miss his Mom and Dad but Martin couldn't wait to leave. He turned onto the highway, upshifted to fifth, and watched the speedometer climb and climb until he was whizzing by other cars. Boston was half an hour away and he drove until he reached the railroad yards on the outskirts of the city. The yard gave him a good view and he watched a beautiful sunset bath the skyscrapers in flaming red. It was getting late and Martin knew he needed to get back. He didn't want his parents to worry and he felt somewhat better.
Someday, he thought, looking at the big city, I'll be bigger than all of them, and then they'll all be sorry about how they treated me.
He sped back down the highway and took Exit 16, whizzing by the Wellow Falls Motor inn. The road narrowed but he kept the accelarator floored. He would pay the consequences if the police were out. Out of the middle of nowhere a red blur materialized. Martin slammed on his brakes and the car skidded, slid a bit to the right, and came to a lurching stop. He looked in his rearview mirror and could see the red blur approaching the car.
What the hell was he doing? His heart pounded. Martin looked back and saw a person in some sort of red robe. As the figure walked towards his car, he could see that it was a woman.
What kind of crazy woman walked alone at night in a red robe? Goosebumps rippled up his arms and legs and he felt a deep dread in the pit of his stomach. He shouldn't have stopped and wanted to leave. Martin shifted into first gear and began to let up the clutch. That was when she lifted the handle and opened the door. His trembling foot caused him to release the clutch too soon and the car violently jerked forward before stalling. The interior lights blinked on and off, on and off, casting eerie shadows across her face.
"Relax Martin." The words sounded sweet, nice.
"Just having a little clutch problem," he said in a cold sweat, wanting her to leave. She slid into the passenger seat. The woman was beautiful. Her hair was jet black, and her eyes were deep, like an ocean of infinity. Martin swallowed and tried to smile. She wore a red robe which flowed from her neck to her feet. He shifted uncomfortably.
"Who are you?" he finally managed to stammer through the terror and the fear.
"I am Monarch." Her voice was pleasant enough and he relaxed a bit. "Martin, don't be afraid. I'm here to help you."
"Help me, how?" How could this robed woman help him? What did she know about his problems?
She snapped her fingers and the front window of the car began to fog.
"Hey, what are..." She put her hand on his arm and smiled.
"Watch Martin." The fog flashed and he saw the hallway of Teddy Roosevelt High School. The view moved forward and he saw a cordon of classmates staring at some spectacle. The circle broke and Martin saw himself running down the hallway, tears in his eyes, his face blackened by the carbon paper. The images scattered into colors before coalescing again.
"I know all about you Martin. You're very special, very unique. Let me help you and you will attain your every desire." A figure staggered down a street and he realized it was Preston Dregor. The bully looked around, kicked a can, and took a left onto a side street somewhere near the train tracks.
"If it is revenge you want, it is a dish you shall have." More swirling and then he saw Kathy Leer, his teacher in her rented house. She took off her earrings in front of a mirror. When she had removed them, she began to unbutton her shirt. She undid the first, the second, pulled her sleeves out, neatly folded the shirt, and put it on her bed. Martin exhaled at the sight of her creamy belly and the black bra that cupped her breasts. She reached behind her back and after a second of fumbling, the bra slid down her shoulders, revealing her chest and the pink nipples. The image dissolved.
"I can give you women and happiness, beauty and freedom. I will give the words to say and the actions to do. And people will listen to you, they will worship you."
"How can you do this for me?" he asked. "How can you help me?"
She laughed and it sounded like a teacher being amused by one of her students. She reached inside her robe and drew out a long silver nail with a very sharp point. To pointy for his liking. The interior lights in his car flared on for a moment and then went dead. A sick, grey light emanated from the nail. Her face wasn't pleasant or beautiful anymore, it looked like a hunter eying its prey.
The vision cleared from the windshield and something smacked against the glass. He jumped. Something else smacked the window and then there was a storm of red, like snow burying the car. The windshield was completely covered by tiny, moving objects. Butterflies, were they red butterflies? He looked at the side windows and they were also covered.
Oh my god, please someone, help me.
"How can I help you? Good question. You're a very intelligent boy, I like that." She slowly rotated the nail in her hand. "Every present has its price Martin, you know that don't you?" He frantically searched for the handle as she continued to talk.
"What do you have to pay? Perhaps your left hand or your left nut? No, Martin, do you think me a witch, I wouldn't ask for something so valuable. I just want your soul. That's not a very large price is it?" she purred. Martin would have screamed then if she hadn't arced the nail towards his face. It pierced him under the chin and drove into his mouth, cutting off his howl. The nail sliced through his tongue, pinning it to the roof of his mouth. A trickle of warm blood dribbled down his neck. The remnant of his aborted howl shot out his nose as a gust of warm, bloody air.
The red robed figure stepped out of the car and walked around the corner and into an ally beside Demilo's Drugs and the Wellow Falls dry cleaners. Thousands of red butterflies fluttered madly, following her into the darkness of the night.
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