Caveat

Hello all! Happy Halloween! I hope you have a wonderful night, with many a fright. It’s been a little bit since I uploaded a shortstory, and I’ve had this one saved up for a bit. Enjoy!

 


 

 

Phillip sat at his desk sipping on whiskey from a coffee mug. Some of the drink spilled out onto a stack of overdue bills. He sighed and pushed them off to the side. He hadn’t had a case in months, and those weren’t even all of the bills. He began to wonder if he should just call the whole thing off.

Maybe I can just downgrade my office… It appeared that sober Phillip wasn’t entirely gone. He looked around his office. It was pretty nice, hardwood floors, a fancy oak desk, an engraved name plate, and a comfy chair. Definitely more than enough room to swing a cat. Not exactly high end lawyer office, but he was doing well for himself. He span around in his chair to pour himself more ‘coffee’. He had almost downed enough whiskey to kill off sober Phillip.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Phillip almost dropped the bottle, then gently sat it on the shelf behind him. “Just one second!” Dammit what do I pay my assistant for- Oh I let her go. He straightened himself out. For all he knew this was going to be the client that would pull his practice out of the gutter. “Alright, come on in!”

The knob clicked, and a red man with curved horns and a tail stepped into his office. He was dressed in a nice suit and tie, and wore the smirk of someone who was actually successful.

Phillip stared blankly for a moment. Is this what my life has come to? Satan hitting me up in my office? “What can I do for you?” Phillip managed to sound not completely plastered.

“Alright, we don’t have too much time, so I’ll cut this short.” The devil sat down in the chair across from him. “I want to make a deal with you.”

“You have my interest. What’s the deal?” Phillip was drunk most of the time, so he was becoming a natural at being a high functioning alcoholic. He made some of his best decisions drunk. Then again, he made most of his decisions drunk.

“I want to offer you absolute power.” The devil grinned and revealed pointed teeth.

“Who are you? Are you the actual devil or am I just that gone?” Phillip began to question how high functioning he was. Maybe this is it… Is this what an alcohol induced coma feels like?

“Sorry, in my hurry I forgot proper introductions.” He stood from his chair and stuck out his hand. “I’m Stanley. Here’s my card.” He handed him a business card that read ‘Stanley Jones, Sarasota DA’.

“I’m Phillip.” He limply shook his hand. “So what was that about absolute power?”

“I give you absolute power, you give me Phillip Anderson.” Stanley sat back down.

“What do you mean? My soul?” Phillip was intrigued, he hadn’t really believed in souls and all, but he supposed Stanley might know otherwise.

“No, nothing like that.” Stanley laughed and shook his head. “I give you power, you give me your life. Your job, your house, your name.”

“I don’t know about that…” Phillip felt something wrong about this, after all, he was bargaining with the devil… Or at least someone who looked like it

“Your alcoholism, your student debt, your crumbling legal practice, your crippling loneliness…” Stanley counted on his fingers as he continued to list things.

“You know what?” Phillip slammed a different bottle of whiskey on the table and chugged half of it. “Screw it, my life sucks! You can have it! Give me the power!” He jumped up from his desk, and then leaned over, trying to not throw up.

“It’s a deal.” Stanley smiled again. He extended his hand for a handshake.

Phillip slowly extended his hand. He thought about his mom, but remembered he was a disappointment anyways, and that was his only remaining attachment.

Phillip shook Stanley’s hand, just as a green light washes over the room.

He looked around and saw himself sitting across the desk where Stanley had been. He looked down and saw that his skin was completely red. He felt a tail pressing up against his clothes. He felt a weight on his head. He ran his hands along two curling horns like a goat’s “What the hell!” He was completely sober now.

“There is a caveat…” Stanley smiled. “Unlimited power… But you look like that. Also, tiny thing, you can only use the power in deals. If you want something, you have to find someone who has it, or also wants it, and make a deal.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, also, stop thinking of yourself as Phillip. You’re not Phillip, I’m Phillip. You’re nobody.”

Nobody sat slackjawed at the realization of what he had just done. He supposed that he had it coming for bargaining with Stanley.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me.” He cleared his throat and began to scream. “Security! There’s an intruder!”

Nobody’s heart raced even faster. Phillip’s guards were Russian, and were definitely not associated with the mob, and definitely not told to shoot first and ask questions later. Nobody looked around Phillip’s office and saw the window that Phillip had forgotten he had. He leapt headfirst through it, shattering it with his horns.

Nobody slammed onto the ground outside of his office, and stumbled to his feet. He swept broken glass off his face, and swore as it just dug further into his skin. He took a moment to catch his breath.

Nobody ran. Nobody needed to find a way to be somebody. For now… Nobody ran.

 


 

〈  More of my writing  〉

That’s A Myth

Jonathon sat in a chair in front of an immense console of flashing buttons, knobs, and a yoke. He looked through a large window down onto a moon, that looked to be covered with buildings. The reactor steadily hummed in the background, the ship was otherwise relatively quiet.

“Dorian, commence landing protocol at site 1726.” Jonathon strapped himself into his chair.

“Yes, captain.” A high pitched male voice sounded from the computer.

“So do you really think this is an actual lead?” A woman asked from behind him.

“I’m not sure what I think Laura.” Jonathon sighed and turned to face her. “I do know one thing though.” He smiled. “This is one of the better bars around here. Kind of a hole in the wall, but definitely worth a stop on its own, so not really that much of a loss.”

“Why is it these guys always have to meet in bars? Why don’t they ever pick a shopping center or a concert hall?” She tried to hide her smile.

“That’s a good point. Alright, the next seedy criminal we need to meet, I’ll get him to meet us at a mall.” He laughed and turned back to the console.

“Landing protocol complete, captain.” Dorian chimed.

“Alright, are you ready?” Jonathon unstrapped his restraints and got out of his seat.

“Yeah, I’m always ready for a seedy bar.” Laura jumped to her feet and went out ahead of him.

“Hey! Hole in the wall doesn’t always mean seedy!” He called after her. He walked through the hall of the ship and out onto the platform.

Jonathon stopped and looked back at the ship. It was about the size of a large two story house. He looked at the name: The Nautilus II. “You know Laura? The Nautilus II is really warming up to me, feels like home, ya know?”

“Well, if you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” She laughed and poked him in the side.

“Well, honey, polygamy is still frowned upon, even in space.” He hugged her. “It looks like you’re stuck with me.”

“C’mon, we’re gonna be late.” She laughed, dragging him behind her.

They walked up to a medium sized building. The walls were a smooth gray on the outside, with a simple metal door. They looked up and saw a flickering neon sign that said: BAR.

Laura stopped and looked over to Jonathon. “So you’re saying that you wouldn’t call this seedy?”

“What’s that saying? ‘Never judge a book by its cover?’” Jonathon opened the door and they stepped in.

The bar was dimly lit by one light on the ceiling. Everything in the bar looked like it was salvaged from a junkyard, nothing was matching. The dim lighting almost managed to conceal all of the trash, crumbs, and spots on the floor. There was a vaguely humanoid blob laying in the center of the bar. It seemed to be moderately crowded, every table had at least one person sitting at it.

Jonathon walked up to the bar. Behind the bar stood a scaly humanoid, with a beard of brown feathers. Jonathon glanced over the bar and saw the man was in fact, quite small, and standing on a platform.

“What’ll you have?” The bartender spoke in a low tone, looking to Jonathon.

“Dealer’s choice.” Jonathon and the bartender both turned to Laura.

“I’ll have whatever you give him.”

The bartender nodded and pulled two glasses from the bar. He pulled two hoses from under the bar, and filled both glasses with half of each. He slid the glasses their way.

Jonathon dropped a few square coins on the counter and stepped away. He surveyed the bar. He saw many people, all of different species. He looked towards the back of the bar and saw a four armed humanoid wearing very bulky clothing, covering almost his entire body. He nodded to Laura and they both sat at the table with him.

The humanoid sat in silence as Laura and Jonathon both took their seats. His face was entirely covered except for his yellow eyes. Once they were seated he looked around, eventually seeming to be satisfied. “Do you have the credits?” He spoke in an almost normal human voice.

“Half now, half after.” Jonathon slid a fist sized bag over the table.

He inspected the bag for a moment and nodded. “Alright, I understand you’re in the market for… Valuable objects.” He looked between the two, trying to gauge his success, but their faces remained stoic. “I know where the horn of Magun-Viol lies.”

Jonathon laughed and began to get up from his chair.

“No! Wait!” He slid a card across the table.

Jonathon stopped and read the card. He looked up at him. “Lift your mask.”

The figure slowly lifted his mask and Jonathon saw a pale white face with red streaks. Jonathon had suspected he was Klax-On by his four arms, but the face confirmed his suspicions.

Jonathon sat back down at the table and slid the Klax-On his card. “That horn is a myth.”

“I am Gro-Unz, I was on the high council of artificers. They betrayed me and I made off with this, and some information.” He reached into a pocket of his bulky jacket and pulled out a roll of paper. “We discovered something.” He leaned in. “While Klax-On prime was ruined, it was not utterly destroyed.” He unfurled the roll of paper revealing a map. “Deep inside of his temple, you will find his horn, and Hurg knows what other artifacts.”

“And why would you sell me this instead of get it yourself?” Jonathon stared intensely at the map, trying to memorize it in case the Klax-On tried to pull something.

“Because, it is heavily trapped, and locked under several locks. Only a master could pull this off, so this map is of no use to me besides coin and revenge.” He rolled the map back up. “So, what do you say, Jonathon? This map tells you everything that you will need, without it, this would be impossible.”

“What’s your price?” Jonathon eyed the Klax-On suspiciously, he didn’t have the best of relationships with Klax-Ons in general, much less the high council of artificers.

“Five thousand credits and your promise to succeed.” He stuck out one of his hands for a handshake.

Jonathon shook his hand, rummaged through his bag, and slid him two pouches of coins. The man handed him the map and went on his way.

“So what do you think?” Jonathon turned to Laura.

“Well, we haven’t got much better to do, this seems like an excellent laying low activity.” She smiled.

“I agree.” Jonathon took a sip of his drink and promptly spat it out. “I believe that is actually piss.” Laura smiled trying to hold back laughter. “Okay fine, the bar is seedy.”

Out Of Shape

Noah reclined in his new gaming chair. He had saved up for months to get it, and he was rather pleased with himself for seeing it through. Some might not see the value in a good chair, but when it’s where you spend most of your time Noah thought there was no better use for money.

Noah had just wrapped up his calculus homework. He had put it off a bit longer than he should’ve and it had started to pile up. He was rather glad to be rid of it. He drank the last of his coffee and pulled up a game. He chose the chair over new games because he always ended up playing the same games anyways.

He was mid-way through a level when a green light washed over his room. He paused the game and got up and looked around. He wondered if he should see if anybody else saw it, but it was pretty late and everyone was already asleep.

He looked around his room and looked into his mirror. He leaned in and looked at his face, something looked a little off… He couldn’t describe it, but with something as familiar as your own face you can tell. Upon further examination, he couldn’t tell. The only thing weird about him was his acne, and that was already there before. He had tried all the creams, but nothing worked.

He tried to imagine what he would look like without acne. He laughed a little. Not that bad. He looked in the mirror a little longer and realized his acne had actually gone. He ran his hand across his face and it was totally smooth. “Whoa…” He stared at his face in awe.

If I could just wish away my acne… What else can I do? He took off his shirt and threw it on his bed. He looked for a moment at his much lacking physique. He imagined himself, but with a six pack. He looked in the mirror, and it was so. He shook his head. That’s enough for tonight, I’m delirious. I need sleep.

He turned off his computer, and dove under his covers. It felt a little real to be a dream, but a little unreal to not be. It was a nice moment either way. He closed his eyes and went to sleep.

Noah woke up and rolled out of bed. He stretched and set about his normal morning routine. He had definitely stayed up too late, and he was paying for it now. He showered and got dressed before going to do his daily facial cream regimine. He almost fell backwards when he looked into the mirror and his face was acne free. He was definitely awake now.

He lifted up his shirt, and sure enough he had a six pack. His mind began to run through all the possibilities. If he went out this drastically changed, people would start to ask questions. Noah wasn’t a conspiracy theorist, but he also didn’t believe that the government would pass up a chance to poke at a boy who went from nerd to stud literally overnight. No. He needed to take this slow.

He sighed and shook his head. He looked into the mirror, and imagined himself with slightly less acne than he had before, and it was so. He looked down at his killer abs, and wished them away in exchange for a slightly less skin and bones look all over.

Just because he had to take this slow, didn’t mean he wouldn’t do it at all.

He walked out of the bathroom with a smug grin. He walked into the kitchen and put some bread in the toaster. He looked over at the plate he had gotten down. He began to wonder if his powers could extend beyond himself. He imagined the plate as being blue instead of white, but there was no change. He imagined it being a bowl instead, and still no change. Maybe my powers only apply to me. He looked over to his mom, who was eating a bowl of cereal in front of the TV. He walked over and saw she was watching the news.

“That’s right ladies and gentlemen, the green light is nothing to be concerned about. Back to you, Jeff.” Noah’s mom turned off the TV.

“Good morning!” She got up and hugged him. “Hey, I think that new cream is working! Your face is starting to clear up a bit!”

“I hope so.” Noah laughed. “What’s she talking about, a green light?” He gestured at the TV.

“Oh, a big green light happened, and everyone in America saw it, well everyone who was up. Did you see anything like that?”

“Oh, yeah, I did see something like that.” The dots connected in his head. It was the light. He didn’t know how or why, but it was definitely the light. He figured he should probably just play it cool.

“Yeah. Some kid in Gainesville went blind, but they say it’s unrelated, and there’s nothing to worry about.” She paused for a moment. “I assume you’re not blind?” She laughed a little and went back to her cereal.

Noah lightly chuckled and went back to his toast. None of this really made sense, but he did know one thing. He would have to do what he does best and keep his head down.

 

My Name Is

My name is Alexei Maximov. I have lived in this apartment for 17 years. For 17 years I took. I extorted my neighbors for protection money on the mobs behalf. Now, I don’t know anymore. I was young and eager to be a part of something, so I picked the mob. It didn’t hurt that the money was good.

When the green light hit, I discovered my powers soon after. I shoot out pressure. I exert pressure on things in a straight line from my body. I tested it a while ago, and I broke the gauge, so something above a 20,000 PSI. I decided not to tell my boss, I figured no good could come of it. I think I’ll eventually tell him, but I’m a bit preoccupied right now.

I had been having trouble with room 103 for a while. Tonight would be the end of that. They were sending in some more advanced enforcers to take care of it. Only thing is, I don’t really want 103 to get ‘taken care of’. See, there’s a girl that lives there… She can’t afford protection, and probably wouldn’t pay it if she could. I feel a little bad about the whole thing, but what can you do? Either way, it’s almost nine, so that means they’re almost here.

I walk down the stairs and wait for them on the curb. Soon enough, a black van pulled in and 3 burly dudes stepped out. I haven’t seen them before, but they’re all wearing tool belts, and I don’t think they’re there to fix her sink.

“Where is girl?” The meatiest of the bunch spoke up. He had an incredibly thick Russian accent, and I’d wager he’s the only one of these fellas who speaks any English.

“Right this way.” I sigh quietly. I don’t know what this is, but I’m not okay with this, with any of this. I’m not okay with this awful feeling, I’m not okay with this girl getting her fingers broken, and that’s if she’s lucky. It’s not like I can do anything though. Even if I did get rid of these guys, 3 more would come and they’d be after a lot more than fingers.

I walk through the halls of my apartment. “Hey, wait here, I’ll signal for you to come in.”

“You have 5 minutes.”

I nod and bang my hand on the door. I know she won’t answer, but I don’t like busting down doors as my first resort. I wait a moment and then sigh. I back up and get ready to kick it in, when she opens it. She’s wearing a tank top and flannel pajama pants. As I look at her, I think about all the things that I’ve seen guys like this do. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sick to my stomach about something like this before.

“What?” she says flatly. She looks at me with sheer annoyance. She has no idea what’s coming. She has no idea what these guys are like when someone tries to stick it to them.

“I need to come inside.” I don’t know why I didn’t have anything better than that, maybe it’s because I’m putting too much mental energy to not throwing up.

“Are you sick or something? Fine you have five minutes.” She stepped inside. I don’t think she saw the men standing off to the side. I step inside and close the door behind me. “So? What do you want?”

“I’m here with three very angry men from the mob.” I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s not like her coughing up the money would change anything, at this point it’s about the symbol.

“Is that a threat? You can-” She didn’t even look a little afraid.

“You pissed off the mob. They are going to hurt you and your kid.” And there’s nothing I can do about it.

Her expression changes, she looked a mix of furious and terrified. “Do you like this? Going around and ruining lives? You know I can’t afford that kind of money! You’re disgusting!” She began to yell. “How can you work with these men! Are you going to go upstairs, and count your money while you hear us screaming?”

She’s right. I’m the bad guy. I am nauseating. I am a coward. I can’t do this anymore. “Do you have any way out of the apartment besides the front door?” What the hell am I doing? I am asking to end up on the front page as the man who committed suicide by shooting himself three times in the back of the head.

“Are you trying to help me?”

“I can’t do this anymore…” I truly can’t.

“You know we don’t have fire escapes here, the front door is the only way out.”

The door came flying down. I was out of time. There was no escape, I could fight and ruin my life, as well as the lives of everyone in this building, or I could ruin just two people’s lives. Who am I kidding. I’ve already ruined the lives of everyone in this building, it’s only fit to ruin my mind too.

I send a wave of force at the man who busted down the door. He flew through the brick wall of the apartment out onto the streets. The other two Russians stood dumbfounded for a moment before raising their guns and firing. I send another wave at the bullets. One of them went through the Russian who fired it, and the other through the wall. The one who was shot falls to the ground, the other freezes.

I knock the gun out of his hands and push him to the ground. I apply pressure to his chest, I think I broke some ribs.

“Tell the boss, he needs to step off of my block.”

The man runs out the door and back to his van.

I step out into the hallway. This is my block, they’ve been paying for protection for years, it’s about time that they started getting some.

My name is Alexei Maximov, and I am the protector of Shady Grove.

 

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Hello all! This is just a one off I wrote the other day that I thought was pretty good. Let me know what you think! Good? Bad? Do you want more of this? As always, thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!