Friday, 15 June 2012

#FridayFlash - Living Hell

Agent Barnes picked his way through the detritus towards Special Agent Langley. Broken masonry and tattered advertisements littered the floor of the museum. Shattered glass lay in fragments between the corpses.

“Yes, Barnes?”

Langley didn’t even break her gaze to look at Barnes. Her keen brown eyes swept the scene, picking over the details as crows pick over carrion. Barnes glanced at the creased paperwork clutched in his hand. He looked down at the broken body of a tour guide and gulped.

“Um, we got the report on Person Zero.” Barnes didn’t even know how they could identify the source of this blast among all the wreckage, but the boys in forensics could work miracles.

“And? Details, Barnes.”

“Her name’s Penelope Ann Fairweather. 35, mother of two. Phone records say she’d placed eight calls to the same number in the hours before the event, and she’d placed sixty three over the preceding four days.” Barnes stared at the paper, determined not to look across the atrium towards the figures in white suits. He knew they surrounded a body – the body of Ms Fairweather. At least, what was left of it.

“Any leads on the number?”

“Her therapist. She was being treated for –”

“Let me guess. Severe anxiety, paranoia, and possibly some form of depression.” Langley folded her arms and faced the remains. The white suits sifted and prodded, muttering between themselves in a language that was utterly alien to Barnes. Langley frowned.

“How did you guess?”

Langley pointed at several corpses on the floor. Two were spindly figures, more like skeletons wrapped in leathery skin. Skinny fingers ended in claws shaped like sickles, and serrated fangs lined their open mouths. Two more corpses were fat, white and limbless, the goo from their bodies forming pools on the floor where they lay.

“The gargoyles are anxiety reapers. Nasty buggers, but they don’t look as well fed as I’d expect. Those white maggots are paranoia parasites. You can guess what they do. And that pile of chalk white dust near the window was a depression demon – they disintegrate during direct contact with daylight,” said Langley, gesturing towards the dust heap.

Barnes looked around the museum atrium. He tried to focus on the twisted bodies of unearthly creatures, ignoring the humans caught up in the blast. Melancholy painted the walls grey, and despair tinted the remaining glass dark blue. Black streaks of anguish marked the floor like smears of ash in the aftermath of a fire. All of that emotion, repressed through time but unleashed in an instant.

“What the hell happened to her?” he asked.

“Something scared the hell out of her, Barnes. And based on this mess, I’d say it was a very personal kind of hell indeed.”

***

This flash was inspired by the line “it’s scaring the living hell straight outta me” from I Found Away by Alkaline Trio.

18 comments:

Helen said...

Cool story! Something indeed scared the living hell out of her.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

something scary enough to make you explode... Nice!

Tony Noland said...

Having your personal demons be actual demons that have a physical form - what a cool concept! Well done!

Sonya Clark said...

Anxiety reapers! Yay, something to add to my nightmares. Excellent story!

John Wiswell said...

"Anxiety reaper" made me imagine someone who reaps when they're anxious, like a "nervous eater." That'd make a cute gargoyle.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Poor Ms. Fairweather. I think her estate is owed a big refund from that useless therapist.

Larry Kollar said...

I've heard of having an explosive temper, but this goes above and beyond!

Being in a museum, I was expecting a mummy to show up, but this was scary enough without… nicely done.

CharlotteC said...

Fab term anxiety reaper wish I'd come up with it

Icy Sedgwick said...

Helen - I've always thought it was such an odd phrase...

Maria - Bangin' stuff, eh?

Tony - I've often thought that they do...

Sonya - Sorry!

John - I can't think of gargoyles without thinking of concrete-coated gremlins.

Tim - Maybe she should have gone to see your estate planners?

Larry - Maybe that's what scared her...

Charlotte - I have all kinds of mad stuff like that in my head!

Steve Green said...

When I was reading this, I thought she was a suicide bomber, I really like the idea of an emotional explosion causing such havoc.

Katherine Hajer said...

I loved the manifestations -- very cool. It certainly takes the impact of solipsism to a whole new level.

But the most haunting part for me is that missing trigger.

storytreasury said...

personal demons means real demons? I like the concept.

Natalie Bowers said...

It's such a shame that it came to this for Miss Fairweather. I can't help thinking that literal demons should be easier to deal with than figurative ones. I hope her 'therapist' loses his/her license! Great story.

Aidan Fritz said...

This has some great world building to it. I like the police procedural feel and the intriguing reveal of how the mayhem had been caused. Great cast of supernaturals here.

ganymeder said...

Wow, what a great concept. I wish I wrote that! :)

jackkholt said...

Ooooh, great concept indeed. Could have legs... Lovely work, Icy. :-)

Icy Sedgwick said...

Steve - Emotional problems always feel so much more epic.

Katherine - Maybe I'll look into what caused it!

Sonia - Yeah, why not?

Natalie - They should be but sadly they often aren't.

Aidan - I've never really done police procedurals before...but I missed The X Files and came up with this!

Cathy - My brain works in weird ways.

Jack - You saying you want more?

Jen Brubacher said...

I love the mix of detective story with supernatural.

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