Author’s Note: Since I’ve had an unusual amount of free time, I decided to get a jump on my next short blog-story, “The Deceiver”. I’ve had plenty of time contemplating what I’d write about, how I’d go about doing it, thanks to inspiration from certain classes (particularly Rhetoric, Humanities and Shakespeare classes…). Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy this second installment as much as the first! 🙂
“This is your fault.”
They were all seated at an elongated ebony table that practically melted into the black richness of the cave, only illuminated by torches adhered to the cave walls, reflecting ominously off the table’s surface. There was an unsettling chill in the already cool, damp air. They had come so close, and yet…
The Fourth sat across from the Fifth, hood lowered, speaking in a high-pitched, overly feminine voice that was as painful to listen to as nails across a chalkboard. Pink-painted index pointed accusingly.
“How is it my fault when you were the one who so conveniently botched Project D?” the Fifth retorted. “You were jealous. Everyone knows that. You think that you’re so pretty, so much better than the rest of us, that you–”
The Third, a large, hulking mass of black cloak seated next to the Fourth, grunted, slamming a large fist on the table impatiently. The whole thing vibrated. “Enough. Do I need to be the peacemaker between you two until he arrives?” This instantly silenced them both. They knew very well that the Third’s definition of “peacemaker,” included a trip to the critical care unit.
They were quiet for a while, the gravity of their apparent situation melting into their figures. An unexpected mewing came from a darkened corner; the Sixth’s pet kitten had apparently caught itself a mouse. It was quiet enough that they could audibly hear him licking his chops.
“Where is he?” the Sixth whispered. “We cannot begin without him. Maybe…”
“That’s what I’m saying,” the Fourth gave an arrogant-sounding sigh, intervening in the peace once again . “Do we really even need him? I think that we can–”
“You can what, Fourth?” The Fourth spun about in her seat. The First was at the cave room’s entrance, perched on the apex of a tall spiral staircase. His voice was smooth, cool– casual. The Sixth flinched, as if almost expecting him to fly off the top straight at the Fourth. Instead, he calmly began his way down… slowly, carefully. Taking his time with the progress and his words as he spoke, verbal wordplay molded in similar fashion to a parent mildly scolding a small child. “In our community, we take care to sow our seed into only the most fertile of soil. Soil that will bear the ripest, most delectable, most promising of fruit. We have not chosen the wrong kind of seed to sow; oh no, my friends. It is the kind of soil we have tossed the seed among that concerns me.” He rounded a corner. ” If such soil is useless, nothing will grow. If weed-ridden, you must pull out the weeds together with the harvest you’ve labored so tirelessly for. …I am well aware that there have been infertile soil, soil of discontent in among our ranks,” he said. “If such soil exists, and dares pollute the exceedingly precious fruit, do you know what will happen?” Silence. “It’s quite simple, really–the soil will no longer be used. That being said, if any one of you has doubts about your place here among us, it is entirely your decision to depart. You may choose as you will.” There was a subtle touch of slicing irony in his voice, an indication of a hidden smile beneath than hood of his. Because he knew.
They would not– no, could not– leave.
When he reached the base of the stairwell, he met with the kitten, who proceeded to drop the dead mouse at his feet, and quickly back away, fur raised on end and hissing softly. The First raised one pale, spindly hand out towards the creature, then seemed to think better of it, and said, “Sixth… be sure your pet knows its place here.” She managed a mute nod. The kitten skittered off into the shadows.
He glided soundlessly across the cave floor towards the Fourth. The Fourth seemed to blanch, although did not seem to want her wavering in confidence to be known, all at once. The First threw a lazy, unexpected glance at the Fifth. “Why is it the Fifth’s fault that you failed in your part?”
“It’s not so much that as that he failed in Project F. We all know Project D was years ago; it’s water under the bridge now, but he keeps acting like it’s MY fault we’re in this mess to begin with–but if that’s my fault, then who’s to blame for F? Project F should be our top priority, as of now.”
The First reached under the girl’s hood, taking firm hold of her chin, pulling her so close their hoods touched. “You ought to know better, Margarette,” he whispered, “to compare.” No one saw what was happening under the hoods, but the Sixth could have sworn she saw the Fourth attempting to tug her chin free. It was futile; she knew his grip was like a steel trap.
“You say that Project D was years ago. The fact of the matter is, it never actually ended.” He finally released her, after saying such; the Fourth, tumbled backward, gasping and rubbing her jaw. It was such a jerk that her hood nearly dismounted her head. “Prove it,” she half-wheezed. The First drew a long, sweeping arc with a gangly, cloaked arm around their table. “Tell me what you see.”
“I see a huge spacious room, built into a cave in the middle of nowhere, filled with imbeciles who haven’t the foggiest what they’re doing.” If the Fourth’s hood had been down, she may have been bold enough to try a saucy hair flip.
“Yourself among these imbeciles.” The First circled around the table, seating himself at its head. “In a sense, I agree.” The Fifth stared at him. “You agree with HER?”
“Absolutely. Our master’s magnificent plan to bear the most tender, most flawless of fruit will all go to waste if we are empty. Or, to use a better term… incomplete.”
The Sixth’s eyes widened beneath her hood. Surely he didn’t mean…
The Fifth, seeming to share her thought, groaned. “Please tell me we’re not gonna get a repeat of what happened…”
“Oh no,” said the First, quietly encompassing his thumb with his index and opposing thumb. “This time, I guarantee our harvest will be ripe for the picking. But you are right; we cannot afford to be careless…” He suddenly stood, back to them all. “Excuse me… I must leave once more. You know what you must do.” The next words he spoke were ones that only he and his master could hear:
“When the rest are bound, I will come. Oh yes, I will come. After that… nothing. Nothing will hinder the harvest.”
His soft chuckle reverberated around the dimly lit room as he left them.
Image Credit: https://septennial.wordpress.com/tag/torch/