Count To Ten

Instead of some old work today I decided to see what i could pull off and wrote a completely fresh short story. Since I’ve recently been trying to be more flexible with the way I write the style of this short story will not be in my more comfortable first person angle but rather from a narrator who is seemingly unrelated to what is going on. The premise for this short story is rather simple and hopefully at the end you are also given a sense of disbelief. But rather than lingering on that disbelief, I want the reader to really understand the situation our character is thrust upon, and the decision they would make if they were in the same case. But I’m still experimenting so this story may not have that kind of effect, either way it’s short and I found the topic to be kind of interesting. So have at you, here it is, “Count To Ten”.

Sometimes, when we least expect it, time stops. Actually that’s a lie, when we’re feeling bored, when we’re not doing much, time always seems to stop. That’s the truth. We expect it to happen. I mean, staring at paint doesn’t make time fly, in fact, what makes a fly fly, is wings, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is what happens now. The now of today is different from the now of yesterday, but we will never have a now of tomorrow, for that is forbidden. So when does time stop? It stops just when we want it to.

For example, take thirty-four  year old carpenter, Russell Howe, who’s making a morning drive to take his five year old son to school. For all intensive purposes , let’s just say that today isn’t the best day for our friend Russell. Today, he got into a fight with his wife. It was a stupid fight, you see, Russell’s wife has  recently been put off of work. Disheartening, I know. But that’s life. So, with all this free time on her hand, she’s taken the wheel to drive their son to school. However, just this morning, out of nowhere, she demands that Russell do the job. He is infuriated by the thought, oh how the world will end if he were to drive his son to school. But after a barrage of yelling, he reluctantly accepts it. He curses and makes one final remark to his wife.

“I’m always doing everything around here.” Which, to an outsider may sound like an arrogant remark. But there is credit given to where credit is due. Most of the furniture is handmade, considering his line of work, that also entails self repairs, and he also has knowledge of electrical wiring and piping, so that covers up a good portion of most of the work. However, what we traditionally give to woman, the act of house chores such as cleaning and laundry, does go out to his wife. If I were to be bias, then I would say Russell has about 60% of the work load. However, one cannot replace a mother’s touch and a mother’s warmth. To raise a child, you need two, not one. To raise a child, you need spirit, not strength. To raise a child, you need courage, not pity. And to raise a child, you need to believe in only yourself, not what others tell you.  No one can take that basic human right away from you. You must pave your own way, and make sure that your child isn’t left behind. A mother cannot be replaced. And that is why Russell cannot adhere to the acts of infidelity.

So, on his lonely drive to his son’s school, Russell is clouded with such thoughts.  He cannot come to comprehend why his wife would suddenly task him like that, nor can he comprehend why he lashed out on her like that. A simple yes would have sufficed, yet that is not human nature in of itself. A simple yes is not directed to us intelligent beings now is it? So, as Russell sits in his seat, driving his child, unaware of the streets in front of him, he ponders. He ponders and ponders and of course with all situations where one is unaware of what is in front of them, something bad happens. I can let you take a guess. How about, ten seconds? Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Car crash. Was that what you were thinking? Perhaps so.

But what makes this situation any less or any more exciting than other situations? Just as Russell’s car was about to make impact with the front end of another car, something happens. Something unexpected. Sometimes, when we least expect it, time stops.  Russell covers his face in fear, but in the ten seconds that it takes for him to register anything about to happen, he realizes nothing has.  He lowers his hand, and sees a car directly in front of his. The driver frozen in fear and time. He looks over to his son and waves his hand in front of him. He gets no response. He then opens the car door and inspects the scene. Two cars, frozen in time, just before an accident. In fact, the world around him seemed to be frozen in time. The wind no longer blew, the birds above him stopped flying, and the bystanders still as statues. Before Russell could take the time to wrap what kind of pseudo paradox he had entered, something stroke him first.  Something unlike what he had ever and will ever feel in his life.

His muscles began constricting, and all movement was halted. He fought back, but he couldn’t break from his spell. He thought he was paralyzed, but when he looked down onto his body, he saw scales climb. His body was under a spell, it was under wraps from a snake. It slithered towards his head, but even with all the nerves he sent out, he couldn’t move. Russell was trapped and frightened by the snake, but, it was not dangerous. The snake curled itself up to Russell’s ears and opened its mouth. It’s tongue shot out each time it spoke, ending with a period, and rolling with a capital.

“You who has been clouded by the thoughts of humanity, will you accept my inquiry?”

“What are you?” Russell asked, still fearful of the beast that had him in its grasp.

“I am naught but a figment of all humanity. A beast manifested by your savagery. For it is not but you who has summoned me, I cannot exist alone, neither can you. ”

“What inquiry are you talking about?”

“The inquiry of the human soul. For as you see, I am not a human. I am born from humans yes, but that does not mean I have the slightest bit of indulgence with your kind.  I am mal-informed with the deepest trenches of what created me. For I am born of all sin and malice, I do not know what true kindness is.”

“The human soul?”

“Bring me it, and I will allow you to turn back time. I am a creature that is capable of the incapable. If you would like to survive, then I will make it so. Just give me your soul and I will have a toll. ”

“Give you my soul?”

“Yes, for I will seek out its deepest secrets and I will display it like a trophy.”

“And If I don’t?”

“No matter. There are more than enough vessels for me to dine on. If one does not comply, I still have a myriad of souls at my disposal. If you do not want your soul taken from me, you can simply die.”

“What will become of me? If I give you my soul.”

“You will be chained by fate to me. When you die, you will become one of my servants. Serving me in death and in eternity.”

“To collect souls?”

“Precisely. I am all but a creation by your very people. And yet I devour my very creators. Such is a life that I now tread. And such is a life until I find distaste in my own meals. But I digress, for the human heart and the human soul is nothing but the tastiest on the brink of death. You humans will shutter at the very sight of it. And I have barely accustomed with all the emotions drowning you in your pitiful existences. Some may even call it a pilgrimage. ”

“How much time can you give me?”

“I will give you ten seconds. Better start counting.” The beast disappears, and Russell’s limbs are freed from the constriction.  He knows he only has ten seconds, yet, those ten seconds, feel like an eternity.  For our friend Russell, time surely has stopped. Now, why don’t we, count to ten?

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