Another week, another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terribleminds.
This week we had to pick a photo as inspiration from here. My story is inspired by Door To Hell – Derweze, Turkmenistan.
The Devil’s Dirty Work
She wore a dress that bellowed through the din of club, the music was thumping, but Luca heard her loud and clear. He stood at the bar, watching her cross the dance floor in a luminous yellow dress, emerging from the crowd like a canary from an uncharted mine. He sipped his drink, never taking his eyes off her. Like all women, she would know she was being watched, and when she looked – they always look – he’d smile, if she smiled back – they usually did – then he was in. She looked over, his light brown eyes met her emerald green ones, he held her gaze, and then – Bingo – she smiled. Luca walked down the bar to where she stood; trying to get the bartender’s attention. Luca whistled, and the man running ragged behind the neon lit bar looked over. Luca indicated to himself and the brunette in the striking yellow dress. The barman stood before them, a picture of reluctance ‘I’ll have an Old Fashioned’ he turned to the woman, took a quick whiff of the air, he caught the scent of mint, lime and rum ‘and a Mojito for the lady.’ The barman walked away. Luca, could feel her eyes on him, he turned to see her staring at him, her mouth slightly open, as if in shock. ‘Have you been watching me all night?’ her voice was like her eyes; full of sex. He smiled and said ‘It’s my party trick’ he offered her his hand ‘Luca’ she offered her red tipped fingers ‘Gloria’
The unenthusiastic barman returned with their drinks, Luca paid him and then turned back to Gloria who said ‘Luca, that’s Italian right?’
‘My mum was Italian’ he said ‘So is the suit’
She smirked and sipped her drink, trying to act coy, but she bit her straw, giving it all away. ‘What do you do, Gloria?’ he asked.
Before she could answer, the barmen returned, his tone as stoic as before ‘courtesy of the gentleman in the VIP’ he slid a bottle of champagne across the bar, Gloria’s eyes lit up, while Luca looked over to the source of the interruption. The man gave him a wave; he was sat alone. He turned back to see the barman pouring Gloria a glass. He sighed to himself, and then crossed the club to where the man sat. He sat; arms outstretched along the back of the sofa. He oozed success, everything from the handmade shoes, up to the slicked back strands of golden hair. Luca stood before the man, his face stern. The man smiled at him
‘Balthazar’ said Luca his face breaking into a smile
‘It’s William’ he replied with a wink
Luca took a seat as Balthazar slid a card across the glass topped table. He picked it up and studied it “William Tsar – Life Coach” Luca smiled and slid the card back ‘Very nice’ he said ‘Doing well?’
‘Twenty-eight thousand souls in’ he sucked in air, to aid his mind in thought ‘two hundred and ninety-seven years’ he said
Impressed, Luca raised his eyebrows and nodded his head ‘That a record?’ he asked
Balthazar shrugged ‘Yeah, but who’s counting’ he smiled, a flash of white teeth
‘Should we be meeting like this?’
‘You’re not scared of a few Light Wielders are you?’ Balthazar asked
‘No, it’s the Watchers that worry me more’
‘you’ve been summoned’ he said
the words took Luca aback, he felt as though he’d just been punched in the chest
‘Wh…What?’ he stammered ‘Why?’
Balthazar shrugged ‘The big man has sent me to tell you, but only he knows why’
Luca’s mind raced, a state of panic crashed with random assumptions
‘Look kid, when you get summoned before a tour of duty is over, it can only be by his Lordship’
His words did not make Luca feel any better, quite the opposite in fact. Balthazar reached inside his jacket, withdrew an envelope and handed it to Luca, who after opening, scrutinised the contents, looking up he said ‘Turkmenistan?’
Balthazar nodded ‘Your flight leaves at midnight’ he checked his watch ‘gives you about three hours’
‘Fasten your seat belts please’ the stewardess said walking down the aisle. Unlike many of his kinfolk – who felt flying was not for the fallen – Luca liked planes. He would have enjoyed this one more had he not been so worried about the destination. ‘Wait!’ the sudden shout broke him away from his thoughts. A woman came bounding onto the plane; her hair was ruffled, she was pink with exertion and panting for breath ‘I’m sorry’ she said. Luca saw the hostess smile coldly. The woman clambered awkwardly down the aisle, apologising to those she hit with her bag. Luca smiled, he had seen prettier women, and bedded prettier still. But something about her made it hard for him to take his eyes off her.
Luca picked up his bag from the carrousel; he was in no rush to get going and took his time. ‘Excuse me’ Luca turned to see the woman from the plane ‘can you stop that bag for me’ she said to him. Luca picked up the floral print suitcase, reading the name tag as he placed it before her
‘Oh thank you’ she said, smiling.
‘Your welcome, Gaby’
she looked at him, partly stunned, but mostly amused. He pointed to the bag
‘Ah’ she said
‘Luca’ he said holding out his hand
Gaby smiled, her eyes shimmered like sapphires. She took his hand. A strange feeling erupted within the pit of his stomach, like a storm rising. It was a new feeling; he smiled.
Luca stood on the precipice, the orange glow of earth’s own core basked over him. He took in the view, a sight he had not seen for two hundred years. He thought he’d be glad to see it, but he was full of anxiety, the butterflies in his bowls flapped up a hurricane of nerves. He took a deep breath, and then dived in, beginning his descent into hell.