Blogophilia 22.10 – Dismas Part 2
It’s time again for Blogophilia, the fun blog group where Martien gives participants promts to use in their weekly blog. This week’s prompts are:
We continue the Dismas story from last week. Either next week’s entry will be very long or this one will take four weeks to write. I don’t know which.
A noise came at the other side of the door. Dismas sniffed and recognized John’s scent. A fellow guard, he’d been more than eager to come. Unlike Dismas, that enthusiasm had remained, and when he came outside, Dismas could see it still shining in his eyes.
“I’m here to relieve you.”
Dismas didn’t argue, only stood with a grunt and headed inside. A rough table and chairs were gathered in front of an old hearth; ancient herbs still hung from the rafters by rotting strings, and a shelf of jars had gone cloudy, so that it was impossible to see through the glass to what was inside. It was an old cottage, long abandoned by mortal occupants and left to rot. That they had taken it showed their desperation.
Kateesha scoffed from her place on a low bench. “We are not desperate, my friend. Only using what is at hand.”
He cringed and dropped his eyes. Like Malick she could climb inside his mind. How could one be comfortable when their very thoughts were not their own?
Kateesha’s eyes glowed. “Why do you worry, dear one? Do you have thoughts we might find…” She stood and sashayed to him. After a long once over, she drew out the word, “…unpleasant?”
His eyes struggled to look anywhere but her. With a laugh, she chucked his chin and moved away. “It is not a sin to doubt, pet, so long as you do not betray us.” She spun back, her eyes narrowed. “And I have faith you will not betray us.”
Though he made a noncommittal sound, the fear pooled in his knees. She didn’t need to remind him that betrayal meant death.
As does staying.
He took the empty chair. Two of the table’s other occupants were embroiled in a primitive game of checkers, while the third watched and muttered advice. Dismas leaned his chin on his hand and watched the players move their pebbles around the board marked with chalk. He remembered playing the game with his brother a long time ago. Like the vampires, they’d used pebbles, worn smooth by a creek, and dotted with paint to denote the colors. Their board was piece of worn cloth, the checker pattern painted in crooked lines. He couldn’t say how many hours they’d spent at it while their father gave sermons, or tended to the sick, or drove the wagon from one lonely place to another, spreading God’s word like wildfire and handing out comfort and brimstone in equal measures.
Those long journeys by wagon were both irksome and exciting, a mix very little in life had managed since. Maybe the loss of such feelings came with the end of childhood, like so many other discomforts. Being a man wasn’t all it was said to be, and many times Dismas wished he could go back to those heavy summers, where bugs buzzed in tall grass and old ladies gave them tea and hard cookies. He’d even welcome the summer he was sick to sitting there in a crumbling old cabin, waiting for the Executioners to attack. A fever was better than this.
And at least mother told me stories, he mused to himself. He remembered snatches of his favorite, “Once upon a time in the land of misty satin dreams there stood a house, and a man who painted. Day in and day out he painted woodland scenes; squirrels and rabbits, deer and trees, but never people. However, such was his skill that he could have painted them easily.” Dismas’ memory ran out there, though he knew the gist of the rest. The artist had once painted portraits in his youth, but had discovered that he had a knack for painting a person’s true form; the person they truly were inside. Surrounded by kind people, the talent was celebrated but then, on the eve of his wedding, he sat down to paint his bride. As the brushstrokes fell he discovered who she really was – not sweet and beautiful but ugly and dark. Furious with the painting, she broke the engagement, and he went to live alone in the woods and swore to never paint a portrait again.
But, A beautiful, but wicked, queen wanted him to paint her portrait. He refused, and she started doing terrible things, like burning his cottage, and sending woodsmen to cut down the forest, until he finally agreed. Of course, the painting he did revealed her for the ugly woman she was, and he was thrown in prison until someone freed him. The prince perhaps? Though Dismas wracked his brain he couldn’t remember who it was, or why, or even what the moral of the story was supposed to be.
Whatever it was, I guess I didn’t learn it.
Unlike the myriad of bible verses that were burned into his brain. His father had one for every occasion and had raised Dismas and his brother to do the same with the understanding they would follow in his footsteps, called by God to be ministers. Though his brother fell in line with his destiny, Dismas had never felt the call of the word, and was more than happy to escape what he saw more as a burden than a blessing. Like the man running to his cottage in the wood to hide with his squirrels. Maybe that was why he’d always liked that story?
A rough voice cut into his thoughts. “Do you want in?”
He blinked at the offered game and shook his head. The vampires shrugged and started the next match. Dismas chanced a glance at Kateesha, seated on the bench like a queen, a book in her hand. She devoured words the same way she devoured blood, and she didn’t seem to be particular about the source or quality of either. The book she held now was dotted with mildew, its pages curled and the words on the spine indecipherable, yet she read it as though she was a goddess reading the very words of Zeus himself.
As though she felt his scrutiny, she looked up and smiled, something smug in her eyes, as if to say, “You can look to the past all you want, but you’re mine now.”
The thought made him shiver.
And now for guesses:
Topic: Dianne Jillian
- broken wings 2. fallen angel 3. dark angel 4. shadow puppets 5. shadow on the wall 6. angel of darkness 7. guardian angel 8. in the shadows 9. how the heck does Jonathan keep guessing these? 10. I think he might be cheating. 11. He is the evil twin 12. maybe I should wait and just copy his guesses – except then *I* would be evil…. 13. silhouette 14. devil is an angel too 15. light and dark 16. shadow and light 17. black and white 18. or rather nothing is black and white because everything is… 19. Shades of Gray 20. that’s like a plug for my book, which is free from all ebook retailers. (Just saying).