Six Vignettes: Azure

The cornfield is a brilliant yellow beneath the cloudless sky, and Tony Alekhin is sitting in the middle of it.  He is cross-legged and bare-foot, and the cuffs of his trousers are ragged, frayed as they dragged across the asphalt roads that have led him here.  His throat is still torn but the bright red from the beach is now a dull burgundy; all his blood has trickled out and been washed away by the ever-cleansing ocean.  Little tatters of skin flutter in the breeze, chasing away curious insects and tugging at his throat.  It's a strange sensation, as though someone is forever reaching for him to throttle him, but failing to get a proper grip.  It reminds him of his wife.

His ex-wife?

Do the living dead still have legal standing in relationships?  He's been and looked for her already but their house was empty, her angry cat was starving in the vast bedroom she'd demanded, and her car was missing.  It looks likely that she's already fled, running away from an unnecessary murder.  He isn't surprised, he never married her for her strength of character but because her father paid him to do so.  He wonders now if it was worth it.

The corn ripples like water stirred by an invisible hand, spreading outwards in concentric circles, ears bowing down to the ground and only slowly returning to their proud stance.  Tony watches with curiosity, one of the few emotions he still seems to be able to feel.  He tried laughing earlier, and it hurt his face until he stopped.  He tracks the ripples to their epicentre, and then squints, trying to focus on something that might not be there.

He shudders, or perhaps the world around him does, and then he can see a cowled shade standing there, one hand holding an umbrella and the other outstretched, as though offering to help Tony stand.  He rubs his eyes, and his fingers scratch against the bony sockets, and he remembers the seagull pecking his eyeballs out.  It didn't seem to affect his sight any though, just as having his throat cut hasn't stopped him walking all this way.  He takes Death's hand, wondering if he really has any choice.
Stood up, he sees that Death's umbrella is actually a sword, and that his own bony, fleshless fingers are the twin to Death's.  He waits, wondering why Death has returned.

No words are spoken between them, but a conversation nevertheless appears to have taken place, as if both participants wait a few moments then alter the past to contain the memory of speech.  Death makes Tony an offer, a trade of immortality for immortality.  Tony remembers the transcript of his chess game, and pulls it from his pocket, unfolds the crumpled paper and looks at it.  What, he wonders, is it worth to him now?

The End

7 comments about this story Feed