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Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Plague Man

“I bring to you the seven tokens of the flesh to end the blight.”

The Plague Man knelt on the stone floor; his raven mask muffled the sound of his voice, red glass hid his eyes, while his black coat spread out behind him.

The old monastery was nearly abandoned. Only one remained to keep the copper pipes struggling to bring in clean air, free of disease, or to replace the broken glass on the stained windows. The rest had fallen to ruin­­, the gardens now nothing more than a graveyard.

Isaiah reached for them­­: blood, scales, bone, and claws, all carved from the monsters that brought the sickness.

The Plague Man stopped his hand. “Perform your rite Holy Man, but touch them not, or the seven devils will search for you instead.”

Had the man asked Isaiah the same only fourteen days past he could have­­--the plague would have ended right here and now.

“I cannot.” Isaiah replied, and hung his head in shame. “I gambled with the necromancer on the hill, and lost my soul. I had hoped…” Tears blurred his vision as he cut off what he had been about to say. What difference did it make what he had hoped? “I must now give him the tokens or my afterlife will be his to command.”

A specter's wail sounded in the distance, carried by the wind.

“The devils are near.” The Plague Man tilted his head in the perfect parody of the carrion eaters he resembled, listening. “I did as you asked thinking I had finally found the end.”

His cloak folded like wings against his body when he stepped aside, favoring the shadow of a pillar. Isaiah stared down at the tokens, seeing freedom from the plague ruined because of his folly. Because he thought there had been a way to convince the necromancer to destroy the demons.

“Tell me Plague Man, now that you have them could you not seek another holy man with these hidden away?”

“Not with seven devils at your door. My skill is not so great as that.”

The scratching and pounding announced their arrival; with howls to send the bravest intentions to dust with terror at what waited beyond the oaken door.

Before there could be any objection or thought, Isaiah reached out and touched each grisly item. He did not feel fear as he thought he would, but instead absolved.

“I swear to you, for the time you have bought me, when this is done I will free your soul.”

The Plague Man wrapped the tokens in a thick leather case, so as not to touch them again, and let them vanish into the folds of his coat.

"Thank you,” Isaiah whispered to the dark­­, never hearing or seeing the man disappear as the door shattered.

A.J. Vasquez says, "Unfortunately, I’m not funny, and cruel to my subconscious creatures as I toy with their emotions in black and white."

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