Hell of a Day. Short Story.

I’ve been a bit sick this week, so nothing interesting to report. Spent most of Monday feeling nauseous (a word I can’t spell without spell check, apparently.) and slightly dizzy. I’m doing better now than I was, which is always a plus!

Hope everyone is having a good week!

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He rolled out of bed and sighed. He was not looking forward to the day at all. But then there was nothing to look forward too. It was all the same, every single last fucking day. Nothing broke the monotony. At least they scrapped the uniforms, he shuddered slightly. They were awful things, not even slightly intimidating. They had been pushing them for the last month or so, at least until the accidents started happening. The uniforms seemed to snag constantly, not that there was any surprise in that either. A few people had fallen into some of the pits, a few others had been overpowered while they were distracted. He went to the cupboards and looked for something to eat. They were getting a little bare, he’d have to do some shopping soon. He missed the days when they didn’t have to eat, go to shops. The days when they could just take a chunk out of whomever they pleased. Then the higher ups had to go and change it. They didn’t know what it was like on the ground, how could they? They were never there. The positions changed very rarely and only if something extreme happened. He  could only recall ten promotions in his entire time working here. He pulled down a box, then shoved a frying pan onto the stove, once it was hot enough he emptied the box into it. They weren’t even fresh. It was ridiculous. He moved the small lumps around the pan, wishing he had some more oil. He’d have to check his account, see where he was at. His pay checks were always erratic, but this was getting ridiculous, he wasn’t supposed to be punished, none of them were, but it didn’t matter. All that bureaucratic bullshit was causing everyone problems. He ate his breakfast slowly, trying to draw it out as long as possible. It’s not like they’d really care if he was late. He could always come up with some excuse, say he was trying to prolong their agony or something. That might fly. He put his empty plate in the sink, he could deal with it later.

He stepped outside, not bothering to lock his door, after all it wasn’t like anyone would break in or anything. He took a deep breath, enjoying the heat of the air, the gentle lull of screams. At least he could enjoy those things still. He started walking, joining the few others who lived nearby in their march towards their jobs. Jobs. How ridiculous. All this new management mumbo jumbo. They said they came up with it themselves, but that was bullshit. It came from the humans. He knew it, they knew it. Everyone did. Where the fuck else would such a thing come from? They were just pissed they didn’t come up with it first. Humans had that vital spark of creativity that helped them achieve master levels of bastardom. Something few devils could compete with. Of course here they didn’t notice that, they were surrounded at all times, separated and cowed by fear, but they could easily rise up. It was something he never said, it would be suicide, but it was something that caused him unease. There were so many of them now and the numbers just kept growing. Sure they were supposed to move on when they served their penance, but that was bullshit. One, maybe two souls a year were released. It was the big guy getting greedy. Set up a debt system, every time they ate it added onto their time, every time they broke one of the arbitrary rules. Soon they’d be overrun by them. There were a few rumours though, not many, just a few, that there were jobs going, up top. It was treason to talk about that kind of stuff, instant death. Not the human version, no, the real death. Complete and utter obliteration and that was serious shit. He pushed the thoughts from his mind. No point in thinking about it. It probably wasn’t even true, after all, why would up top take him, not like he could be trusted or anything. No, they’d never take someone like him. Maybe someone higher up if they went turn coat.

He looked at his group. They were old, ragged. At least it would be easy, their spirits were already broken. Not much left for him to do but punish and torture. Still it might have been a bit more fun if they were younger, newer. They appeared to be healthy enough, they always did. Healing was a priority. Not much point if someone’s nerve endings have been burned off. They knew how it all worked and they waited obediently for him to get to them. He hadn’t had a runner in a while, couple of hundred years at least. That would certainly spice things up a bit. Around midday he got bored of it all and so he decided a little creativity was in order. He passed an old woman a spike studded bat and told her to have at it. It didn’t take her long to get into the swing of things, she almost seemed to be enjoying herself, this small bit of power. When she was done the young man was a bloody pulp, but he was already healing. He took the bat from the woman and smiled at her. “Good. You did good. Of course that counts as an infraction. You’ve added on about a hundred years to your sentence. Well done.” She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could he swung at her viciously. His clawed hand caught her jaw, ripping off the lower half, her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she sagged slightly, before standing up again. Her wound poured blood. No matter, it would stop soon enough. Power. That’s what humans understood. She had gotten a little taste and it had made her uppity. He had re-established he was in charge. Not her. Already he could see the bone growing back. She’d be all right soon enough. He didn’t know what exactly was done to them, that was above his pay grade, but they couldn’t pass out, no matter how painful something was. They remained conscious at all times.

Finally it was time to clock off. The old woman had stayed on his mind. She was pretty good at dishing it out, she might be a good contender for the arena. They needed some new blood in there to liven things up a bit. He’d have to put in the application soon. She’d do well. Maybe she’d be able to get out early, if you won enough it was one of the prizes. The fighters were treated well. Well being relative of course. They had free food and a safe enough place to sleep. All they had to do was fight to the death on a daily basis. It wasn’t really death, but close enough for humans. The fighting went on until on party could no longer fight back.  He walked slowly, taking his time. He’d nothing for doing tonight, everyone he knew was working the night shift for the next few weeks. He stopped into the shops briefly and picked out some food, he had enough for it, barely. Good thing he had nothing for doing, he couldn’t have afforded anything anyway. He carried his shopping back, wondering what he could do to break the funk he was in. He needed something, it was dangerous, feeling like this. He’d known others who felt the same, known being the operative word. They all disappeared and he had a good idea where. It would get better eventually. It would. It had to. He stopped at his door and put down his shopping, ready to dig around for the keys, then he remembered he never locked it. Shaking his head he picked up his bags and went inside. He put away his food, then washed his plate from the morning. It’d be time to sort out dinner soon. A shower first, that would be good. He had recently upgraded, he now had his own bathroom. He opened the door and froze. She was pressed against the wall, her eyes wide. Her skin was pale, almost glowing in the dark surroundings, her eyes were a deep purple, her hair a blondish white. He couldn’t breathe. He knew what she was. Someone was banging on his front door, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away. She looked towards the sound fearfully. One word. That’s all it was, but it was the most gorgeous thing he had ever heard in his life. “Please.” He nodded and still intoxicated by the sound of her voice, he closed the door. “Open the fucking door or I’ll open it for you.” Shit. He recognised those voices. They’d search the place. He opened the bathroom door and gestured at her to follow him. Damn why was this place so fucking small? Under the bed. It was the only option. She squeezed in and he covered the edge slightly, pushing the mattress down. This would never work. He jogged to the door and pulled it open. “Here, you seen anyone?” “No, just me in here.” “You sure bout that?” “Yeah, well the door was locked.” They pushed their way past him. They’d search the place and probably find her. Fuck. He could claim innocence. They raced through the place, tearing open cupboards, pulling stuff out. He was glad he didn’t have much now. If he did most of it would be destroyed. He didn’t say anything as they rampaged through his rooms, saying anything to them could be dangerous. He’d never even really been this close to them, they were the elite, big hulking muscular fuckers who’d happily kill everyone for blinking too loudly. They filed outside, looking disgruntled. “See anything, let us know.” He nodded, not wanting to speak, fearing his voice would waver. He closed the door gently, they looked like they were ready to stab someone. So it was true then. She was real. He walked to the bed, wondering how the hell they had missed it and paused. The mattress was resting on the ground. That wasn’t possible. He moved it up slightly, there was a hollow underneath, she was still there, asleep or passed out. He saw what she did, moved the rock, made it look like she wasn’t there at all. Smart. Dangerous, but smart. They might have sensed the magic. Fuck. What did he do? He’d have to call them back, tell them he found her, but they’d think he was hiding her. Shit. Shit shit shit. He didn’t know what had come over him. He leaned over slightly and was hit by her smell. It was overpowering, he couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything but stand  and breath it in. It was everything, everything he could ever imagine. The smell of fresh cut grass, oranges, flowers and sunshine. He couldn’t let them take her, couldn’t let them destroy something so perfect. She opened her eyes slightly. He took a deep breath, breathing in her scent to the depths of his lungs. He smiled down at her, “I’m going to get you out of this.”

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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