The Conversion. Short Story.

Weekend was relaxing. got back into reading, finished off a book and started another. I’m currently reading Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King. It’s pretty good, despite the (in my opinion) terrible name. It’s definitely pulled me in. I stayed up quite late last night reading it, very, very enjoyable.

I did some writing too, which was much more pleasant than I expected, did some rewrites, which aren’t particularly fun, but have to be done.

Hope everyone had a good weekend,

On with the show!

___________________________________________________________________

Stephanie picked up the mail and sorted through it as she walked to the kitchen. Once there she placed two neat piles on the table, one for her and one for Dennis. She glanced at the clock. Dennis was running late, again. At least they didn’t carpool any longer. As she drunk her morning coffee and ate her toast, she opened her letters and as she expected, they were mostly junk. She stood, brushing the crumbs from her skirt and threw the envelopes out. She could hear the shower going. At least he was up now. She didn’t have time to wait around, she threw the mail in the bin and put her cup in the dishwasher. She had made Dennis a cup of coffee, but it would probably be cold by the time he got to it. Shaking her head, she left the kitchen, picked up her backpack and left for work. Upstairs the shower stopped, Dennis stepped out and quickly started to dry himself. He knew he was late, that didn’t concern him, but the cold air did. When he was dry he dressed, wondering what he could say today. He wasn’t usually this late, he was usually in by nine, or at least within ten minutes of it. His boss didn’t mind that, not too much, particularly as he stayed a little later to make up for it. Today though, with traffic how it usually was he wouldn’t get in until at least half nine, if not ten. He went to the kitchen and found  cup of lukewarm coffee, smiling, he took a sip, then looked in the fridge.

While the bacon cooked, he looked through the mail, there was never anything good in the piles, but it was still habit. He flicked through them until one caught his eye. It was a normal, white envelope, but it was glowing faintly, a soft yellow. He smiled, realising that it was just the sun reflecting off the paper. He wasn’t awake yet. He frowned. There was no beam of sunlight. He moved away from the grill, turning the letter in his hands. It was definitely glowing. What if it was radioactive? He almost threw the letter on the ground. No, that was stupid, radioactive stuff would be glowing green, if it was even glowing in the first place. Maybe it was some new marketing thing? Make people want to open the letter. But then again, what if it wasn’t, what if it was dangerous? He looked at the envelope carefully, there were no suspicious bulges, no strange lumps. It seemed perfectly flat and the longer he looked at it, the more he was convinced that the envelope was completely empty. He took a breath and held it, then, he opened the letter. There was no puff of powder, he let out a shaky breath then peered into it. It was empty, as he predicted. Feeling disappointed, he started to put it down before a small slip of paper caught his eye. He reached in and pulled it out. The paper was blank. Well. That was disappointing. He put the entire thing on the table and went back to the bacon, making sure it hadn’t burned. Maybe it was just some kind of weird glow in the dark paint. He pulled the pan out of the grill and started to flip the bacon, as he was about to put it back into the grill when he started to feel faint. He turned off the grill and stumbled to a chair, he felt sick, his vision was blurry. He learned forward and put his head between his knees, trying to breathe evenly and slowly. It didn’t seem to be helping. He tried to think, but his head felt thick, murky. He stood, then hit his head off something hard. The pain brought him back to reality. He let out a yell and instantly started rubbing where he had hit. It was dry at least so he wasn’t bleeding. He must have fallen and hit his head against the grill. He turned around, to make sure he hadn’t burned anything, only to find a stone wall. He looked up, the ceiling was low and a small protrusion was what he had hit his head against. He appeared to be in a small cavern, it was  completely empty. He tried to think, how had he gotten here? He hadn’t walked anywhere, he hadn’t even left the kitchen. There must have been something in the envelope, someone must have grabbed him when he passed out, but why? Maybe it was some kind of prank. There was no door in here, he could leave if he wanted. He stepped towards the entrance of the cavern, moving cautiously, who ever had moved him might still be hanging around. He peered outside, it was another tunnel. He looked around and picked up a rock. It wasn’t the greatest weapon, but if he needed to he could brain someone with it.

The tunnel was short and led to another room, this had two exits. What if he was trapped down here? He didn’t even know where here was and no one would know either. He took a deep breath, he had to stay calm, to be ready. He tried to think back, he had never went to boy scouts, it seemed lame. He regretted his decision. Wait. He had read something before, a book about kids trapped in a cave. How had they gotten out? It was something to do with the air. He stood by each exit and waited  a moment, there was a breeze coming from one, while the other had a low, rank smell that caught in his throat. He left through the right exit, he didn’t want to follow that smell, it was probably an animals den. At least he hoped that was all it was. The next few caverns only had one exit, until he reached one with five. All had slight breezes coming from them, none of them seemed any different to the other. He stood, deliberating, before finally deciding to take the third tunnel. It felt right. He was walking for fifteen minutes when he started to question his decision, maybe he had chosen the wrong one. He considered turning back, when he heard water. It was faint, but it was ahead of him. If he could find a river, he’d have water. It would be something.

Ten minutes later and the rushing water was no longer faint, and just above it, he could hear muttering. Dennis crept along the tunnel, trying not to knock over any rocks. At least he wouldn’t trip over anything, he could see perfectly well. He stopped. How could he see? There was no light source that he could see, all the caverns looked completely sealed so sunlight couldn’t be getting through cracks. There was no moss or fungus growing on the walls, in fact, everything seemed perfectly clean. There were no lights hidden in the ceiling, nor were there torches. It wasn’t right. He knew little about caves, but they should be dark and damp. This place seemed dry. He noticed that the rocks were warm, it wasn’t cold in here at all. His heart thudding in his chest, he started to move again. He just wanted to get out of this weird place.

He paused at a corner and peered out, there was a small man sitting at a desk, frowning and scribbling furiously. The were a small river behind the man, it splashed and gurgled gently. Dennis couldn’t make out what the man was muttering. Still, Dennis was taller and could probably take the man in a fight if he needed. He continued to move forward, he could pick up bits and pieces.

“They promised me a goddamned computer down here, but no, they keep them all to themselves. Do they even care about how much I have to write? No, why would they. Selfish pricks. Been a long time since they had to do any work, forgetting their roots. That’s the problem with them, that’s the problem with everyone.” Dennis was standing at the desk, the man still hadn’t noticed him. Dennis awkwardly cleared his throat.

“What d’ya want?”

“Uhh…where the hell am I?”

The man dropped the pen and looked up, smiling.
“Oh, you found us, good for you, a few of them didn’t think you’d make it.”

“A few of who?” The man looked at a small clock then noted a time on the piece of paper.

“Damn. So close. If you had of been just a few minutes longer I would have won the pool. Chrissy will the happy though. Lucky bitch.”
“Who are you? What the hell is this place?”
“Oh, sorry. Sorry, where are my manners, welcome! You are at the entrance of the underworld.”

“Am I dead?”
The man started laughing, clutching at his sides, occasionally shrieking “Am I dead he asks?” after a moment, he calmed himself and brushing the tears from his eyes, he smiled, then chuckled. “No lad, you’re not dead. Don’t worry about that. We just call it the underworld cos it’s under the world. Not very creative I know. I was shouted down at the meeting though. It’s the land of magic, I guess that’s what you’re lot would call it. It’s science, but just a different kind. You’ve probably heard of us though, fairies, goblins, dwarves. The whole lot of us are down there.”
“Right…ok…well, if you could just direct me to an exit?”

“An exit? There are none. Only the special folk can get down here. But we have to test them just in case. The tunnels. If you don’t have it, you’ll choose the wrong one every time.”

“Have what?”

“a bit of the gift. Here, hold out your hand.”

Dennis reached forward, hoping it would speed things along, if he went with it, maybe they’d show him how the hell to get out. The man pulled out a short stick and smacked it into Dennis’ palm.

“fuck!”
“Yeah, sorry. Shoulda said it hurts.”

The man pulled back the stick, then licked the spot of blood, he rolled it around his mouth, tasting.
“Yup. Just as I thought. Fairy. Horny little buggers. Always going off to bang a human. You taste pretty fresh so I’d say maybe grandmother? Great grandmother at the most.”

“So you’re saying I’m a quarter fairy?”
“Well, for now you are. You’re fairy part will be taking over soon.”
“Why didn’t you take my mother then?”
“Well, the old systems were flawed, we didn’t get to everyone in time. Now, Jenny there will take you on a tour and answer any questions you might have.”

“Jenny?”

The man pointed at a woman across the stream, she waved at him. He stared at her for a moment, she had wings, real life wings that glistened in the light and fluttered slightly.
“There’ll be other coming soon, I don’t want a back log in here. Go on, it’s alright.” Dennis stepped forward and in one more stride he was across the stream. Jenny giggled, “Welcome! We’ll be going to the new arrival centre soon, so you can pick up your gifts, then we’ll continue with the tour.” She dragged him along, down another tunnel. The man at the desk shook his head. Nasty business that. Still, had to be done. Blood lines were starting to get a bit murky. Didn’t want to be in his shoes, the conversion process wasn’t fun, not at all. Wouldn’t even remember his human life, not really. It’d be like some strange dream. He shook his head and started to write, still the food his body would provide would be delicious. He muttered again about the lack of computers and got back to work.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 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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