More FREE flash fiction!! Sit back and enjoy Monkey Skull (900 words)…
“What is it?” Lee asked.
“A skull,” the old man answered, without missing a beat.
“I know that,” said Lee. What he really wanted to say was ‘no shit’ but the old man was probably pushing ninety and Lee figured he’d at least earned a modicum of respect. “What kind of skull?”
“Obvious, ain’t it?” the old man said.
Lee sighed and repressed the urge to smack the old man in the head with the skull. “If it were, sir, I wouldn’t be asking. So, indulge me.”
Lee surveyed the two tables of assorted junk. Presumably all the old man had left in his life besides dentures and constipation.
The skull was heavy. Odd for an empty husk of bone. And smooth, seemingly polished from who knew how many years of age, weather, and handling. The teeth were still in place, probably glued. The canines looked pretty damned sharp. However, it wasn’t the weight or the teeth that captivated Lee. It was the eyes. The empty hollows of bone-basked shadow bore into Lee’s own eyes, as if it were studying him.
The old man rapped his cane on the table, tearing Lee from his daydream.
“Well,” said the old man, “you want it or not? This is a yard sale, not a museum.”
Lee scratched the four-day-old stubble on his chin. “I don’t know. What am I going to do with a monkey skull?”
“What the hell am I going to do with it?” said the old man. “Now buck up or move on.”
“For a monkey skull?” said Lee.
“Three for the skull, two for my pleasant disposition,” said the old man. “Five dollars.”
“Ok, ok,” said Lee. He fished a five out of his wallet and offered it to the old man. “Sold.”
The old man reached for the bill, but Lee snapped it back.
“First,” said Lee, “I want to know where you got it.”
The old man leaned across the table. His sickly yellow eyes locked on Lee’s face. “Now listen, you persistent pain in my ass, take the skull home. If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for by sunrise tomorrow, bring the skull back. I’ll give you your five dollars.”
There was something in the old man’s face, something in his eyes, that told Lee he wouldn’t see him, or his five dollars again. That he wouldn’t need to, because by sunrise tomorrow, he’d be well aware of what he’d bought from a roadside yard sale.
He placed the five in the old man’s calloused hand and nodded. “Pleasure.”
Lee was a few steps from the table when the old man called out to him one last time. “And son, thank you.”
Lee woke up sweat soaked and trembling. It was still dark. He’d left the window open and the breeze teased the curtains, forcing them to sway in the moonlit beams.
He grabbed the alarm clock and brought it closer, rubbing sleep from his eyes. The digital red numbers told him it was 3:27 a.m. Lee dropped his head back onto the pillow and tried to slip back to sleep. It wasn’t working.
He’d had the strangest dream. In his dream, he was out, somewhere in the city. Somewhere with music and dancing and flashing lights that splashed across the bare backs of barely dressed young women. It was loud and pulsing, heavy with the musk of stale cigarettes and perspiration, reeking of alcohol and pungent with blood.
There was an alley. Rough brick and sewage and lips pressed, locked together and sweet perfume. Steam vent swirls that curled like translucent snakes around her stiletto heels. Burgundy lipstick and nails to match and her hips, supple curves under his grip.
His grip, tightening on her hair, on her wrists as she struggled to pull away. On her throat as her eyes registered fear. On her face, clamping over her mouth so she couldn’t scream. Her pulse hammered in her neck, blood rising. Warm blood rising as his teeth tore and savaged the soft flesh beneath.
Hot, coppery blood splashed the back of his throat, coated his tongue, ran in rivulets down his chin. He drank and chewed and ripped the life from her, punching through her chest to pull free her heart and offer it in primal sacrifice to the ancient and elder gods who once walked beneath the pale and ancient moon.
Your offering pleases us, Lee Mason…
Lee snapped upright, throwing the covers off. “Who’s there? Who said that?”
The curtains snapped and the shutters banged open. Lee leapt from his bed, twisting and sliding from the tangle of sheets. He ran to the open window, meaning to close and latch it. His bare feet met something wet and slippery on the floorboards. Something dark.
He slipped before the windowsill, falling in the drying, now sticky blood. Blood, coating his hands and staining his knees. Blood caked under his fingernails. He clawed his way up and away from the horror, stumbling naked down the hall, clothed in blood and sweat. Her blood, his sweat. He knew that now.
He flipped the light on and dashed to the sink, gripping the porcelain. His own pulse thundered in his ears. His head ached, burned. He lifted his face to the mirror and stared at the reflection staring back.
Staring at those sickly, old yellow eyes.