Entertainingly Evil
22
Mar

Under a Wing and a Prayer by Alan Baxter

I remember my grandfather’s face, even though he died when I was three. Mum said he used to hold me for hours nearly every night and whisper in my ear, too quietly for her to hear what he said. But I recall word for word what he told me.

It’s why I’m standing here, a blood-stained knife in my hand.

Again.

I can only resist so much of his influence.

I’ll savour this a moment more before I leave. He warned me to keep moving, after all. Those words of his yearn to escape my lips, some vile language, old and evil. But I won’t give in to that part of his spell. He always finished with a whispered, Resist and keep moving, in his own voice, his own language. Like he slipped me that last against the will of the invocation he was forced to weave about me.

His malevolent words churn inside me, clawing through my guts and veins, looking for a way out. If I speak them, I know the result will be bad for me. I can’t resist the urge he gave me to murder, but I can fight the compulsion to say the words. I can do that much. I can’t let it get any worse, the killing is bad enough.

My heavy breath echoes in the empty house. I strain to keep his words from bursting out of me as I pocket the knife and slip out the back, teeth gripping my tongue. Heavy rain is a blessing, rinsing my hands before I jump into the stolen car and peel away.

#

As the rush of the kill fades, Granddad’s cajoling dwindles to a distant murmur again. Same every time. Fifteen now.

His power over me emerged about the same time hair grew around my cock, grew stronger through my teens and first forced me to kill at seventeen. There were all the animals before that, of course, but my first person, I mean. Four years and fifteen people. How long can I keep this up?

Next time, I’ll resist the words and the desire to kill. Next time. I can beat him.

I roll over on the motel bed to let a fitful sleep take me. I’ll dream of him like always, but I need the rest. I haven’t slept in days and killing fills me with fatigue.

#

“Hey.” I flick him the smile. I know it works. I’m not so good with girls, but I’m catnip for the boys. “You here alone?”

He shrugs, embarrassed. “Not supposed to be.”

“Stood up, eh? What an asshole.” It’s only been a month since the last one. But fuck you, Granddad, I can’t resist your coercion. “Wanna get some air?”

Reckon I might strangle this one. Haven’t done that for a while.

#

He put up a good fight, but his vacant eyes stare at me now, upside down as he hangs off the side of his bed. Granddad’s words are clawing through me, like razor blades slipping under my skin. My mouth opens involuntarily and I bite down on my tongue as the first word escapes.

“You make me kill but I will not say your words!”

And the next two slip out behind my weak determination.

It’s never been this hard to keep the words in. Sweat streaks my face and a few more force their way past my trembling lips. I can’t hold them in. Fuck me, I’m going to say them all. The killing isn’t enough any more, I have to use his words and they pour out, a litany of hate in a language broken and sharp.

A shape forms in the air, shimmering in the dim bedroom. My grandfather stands before me. His face is stricken, brows knitted. He glances at the guy on the bed. “You killed so many, always resisting me.”

“Your magic is weak old man.”

“You were supposed to resist that.” He jabs a finger at the bed. “Resist it and let me save you. I was dying. I knew what was coming for you and I made preparations.” Tears trickle from his eyes.

He starts to incant something and it’s not dissimilar to the words I resisted for so long. I tip my head like a dog as I listen, wondering what… and it burns! Oh, how it burns! I scream at him, beg him to stop, but his face is set and he finishes and starts over.

I know this Rite, though I have no idea why. Some part of me has heard it before and hates it. It sears, furnace hot in my blood, and the killing desire arcs through my bones like I haven’t just choked the young life out of that guy on the bed. Rage lives in me, swirling, burning, spitting rage. I need to kill, but there’s no one here. I grab and claw at my grandfather, but he’s insubstantial as smoke. Some part of me, suddenly dislocated, slams and thrashes inside my mind and body.

And like a branch torn from a tree in a storm, that part of me rips out. A feral howl tears through the room as I collapse.

I feel more alone than I ever have before.

A part of me is missing.

The killing part.

Violent shivers of guilt and self-hatred ripple through me. What have I done?

My grandfather nods, exhausted. “You’re free of it,” he whispers as he fades, tears on his cheeks. “For now. Don’t let it in again. Resist. Keep moving.”

A dark presence stirs in the shadowed corner of the room. It rushes towards me. Liquid ice floods my guts and my legs are weak as I stagger to my feet and run.


Alan Baxter writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook.





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