Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Flash: Extractive

by Garrisonjames

Mantrimo adjusted the lux-lens. Just a little more to the left. Yes. Perfect. Smoke coiled from the crucible. Three years' wages worth of crushed opals and all the other required ingredients, all his hopes for Linnea, for their future together, were melting into one another. The words came easily, the gestures took a bit of practice. Ritual was not his strong suit. But Mantrimo persevered. Practised until his fingers bled, his brain became slightly addled with persistent fever. Nightmares came regularly now. Waking as often as not. He was becoming accustomed to them. Told himself they were a symptom of impending success. Perhaps they were.

'Nature Abhors a Vacuum.' Whoever wrote the old book he was referencing had placed especial emphasis upon this tired and trite adage. This hoary bit of painfully obvious wisdom. This warning he was far too gone to pay attention to now. He was a scientist, not some dullard shaman or pretentious sorcerer with delusions of artistic merit. He was on a mission. Driven by a mistress far more cruel than ambition or revenge. It was love that spurred Mantrimo through the darkness. Past all reason. Into madness and what lay beyond.

The melting process was successful. He diligently poured the glowing white liquid into the mold. Waited.

Mantrimo harbored no doubts. Indeed he now lacked the capacity for such things. The operation he'd performed by candle-light with the murderer's scalpel and a set of three mirrors ensured that he was as far from doubt as a knife's edge could make a man. He'd cut out his conscience. Or such had been his intent.

'Take what you want. Take it and pay the price.' The book had said that as well. Prices are to be paid. Balk at the cost and you were not committed enough, not serious, unworthy. Mantrimo paid the price. He kept paying every night. It had become his religion. His salvation. Damnation.

In darkness and silence he sat. Waited. Timing was critical.

The opal slid free of the mold. Lustrous. Liquid. Empty.

His penultimate achievement. A stone that other men might have sold their souls to attain. But that would hardly cover the cost.

Part the heavy black drapes. Snuff the candle. She wore the lace-edged gown. Expensive velvet. Form fitting in the classical style. The one he had bought for her on his trip to Nagrothea. The spider-venom paralyzed her body, but let her breathe. Her pulse was faint. But steady.

He placed the opal gently into the setting in her tiara.

The words rumbled and tumbled forth. They would not be held back any longer.

Darkness descended upon Mantrimo.

He never got to see the transfer.

The Inmost Light blossomed within the opal as Linnea passed the scalpel through his throat.

One quick pass and it was done.

She was Soulless now. Immortal. And he...he was a thing of the past. A broken shambles. Thrashing about on the floorboards like a fish out of water. Gasping blindly. Dying.

She only regretted that he hadn't been able to do more for her.


  1. A sad parable, for our time and place too.

    The rhythm and the pause midway really work. I'm glad you're posting this kind of writing so regularly - it's bite-sized, but very wholesome.

    1. Like a friend of mine once remarked: 'Narcissism knows no bounds.' yep. Not so sure anything related to Wermspittle would qualify as wholesome, but hey thanks! Glad you liked it. This 500-words-more-or-less thing is good practice.


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