Sojourn in the Devil’s Lair

 

Sojourn in the Devil’s Lair  By Angie Mullins

 

A shuffling creep with a twisted leg:

My first encounter with the living dead.

He gestured me into his home

I felt as though I should atone

For all my sins- I was made felt

That I was going straight to hell.

Alas, the joke it was on me-

I had just entered hell, you see.

 

Then his wife, a terrible demon

Conceived of some abysmal semen

Did grace us with her presence thus.

My insides turned to instant mush:

What hatred dwelt behind her eyes!

I near fell to my knees and cried.

Such cruelty in the hearts of men

Are found within the coven’s den.

 

Her sister then I chanced to meet,

Her cloven hooves concealed by feet.

The grey pant-suit and 80’s hair

Could not quite hide her fork-tongued tail.

Her puckered scowl which didn’t bend:

The image of a cat’s rear end.

I dared not move, I couldn’t rest

Embedded in that vipers’ nest.

 

For two long weeks I battled bravely

Against these fiends- my chances gravely

Faltered yet I strongly fought

Until the day in which I caught

A lucky break, and so I fled.

Another week and I’d be dead.

I wept with tears of joy abundant;

Relief as such makes fear redundant.

 

And so I’ve tried repress this tale:

It marks a most unpleasant fail.

An ink blot in the copy book

Which rather smarts-I seldom look.

But yet today I did receive

From skulking Pant-Suit (scowl of glee)

A bill to pay, a handsome fare

For my sojourn in the Devil’s lair.

 

 

Crimson

 

Crimson

He brought the bottle to his nose and breathed in deeply, embracing the aroma. Then delicately, he put the rim on his lips and slowly let the liquid seep onto his tongue. Each drop of the wine exploded onto his taste-buds and filled his mouth with the rich tang of decadence. He grasped the wine bottle and shook it gently. The contents flushed around, splashed up and stained the man’s clothing. Upon seeing this, his grip on the bottle tightened and in a fit of rage he threw it against the wall with the remainder of his dwindling strength. It shattered into several pieces and the crimson liquid dribbled down the wall in haphazard lines until it reached the floor where it pooled up.
The man was immediately filled with a sense of regret: regret that he had wasted a decent bottle of wine; regret that he would have to clean up mess; regret that the shattering of the bottle and the spilling of its contents mirrored his own life. He was alone. He was always alone. All he had were his thoughts and his words, but sometimes even they dissipated so rapidly that he was only left with a wistful sensation of what might have been. Long ago he had been a hopeful young man with dreams and aspirations but the weight of the world and the pain of a thousand lifetimes had hit him and his once vibrant soul had fled and was replaced with silence and a pervading loneliness. It was all he knew now.
Startled by the faint recollection of an old memory, he looked up and saw the daylight stream in through a gap in the thick curtains. He watched transfixed, as the light suspended the dust in the air. It appeared weightless and rose effortless as if it were being pulled by an invisible string by an unseen puppeteer. He broke his gaze, heaved himself up off his chair and slowly ambled his way towards the window. Opening the curtain slightly more, he stared up at the sky. Though the sun shone, the sky was murky and dark and it was apparent that it would rain soon. He wondered how many people’s hope for a good day had been dashed by the sight of the gloomy dawn.
 
 
Sighing, he gave the curtain a quick tug and it closed with a jerk, once again enveloping the room in darkness. The only thing that gave off some semblance of light was the remains of last night’s fire, yet it too was fading. The glowing embers danced around, desperately clinging to life. He didn’t bother rekindling it. The warmth would never reach his heart and to him that was all that mattered. Carefully he walked back to his seat and collapsed into it. Though the light in the room was quite dim, he could make out the faint outline of his surroundings: the unmade bed; the near empty bookcase, the ragged sofa. He was by no means a poor man; however he chose not to utilize his wealth by indulging in frivolous items. The pile of the wine bottles could be made out too, the green glass glinting in the light. Frivolous items he did not posses, yes, but his money fuelled his desire for wine, and the wine fuelled his desire to escape. He never did truly succeed in escaping his mind.
 
Angie Mullins

 

 

 

The Freedom of Failure

The Freedom of Failure

Having been accustomed to success- or rather, not failing, it was with supreme bemusement that I viewed the result of my assignment. The figure, scrawled in pencil with definite sadism, punctured me to the core: 20%. Twenty. Percent. Stunned, I clutched the feedback sheet in a tight fist and backed out of the secretary’s office. I unfurled the paper from my clenched fingers and examined it more closely. Below the ignominious grade was a line cutting through the marking scheme. The line, much like the line’s creator was imbued with venom.

Below this, a note. It read: “Impossible to attribute marks. This was a rambling reflection not based on any real evidence or reference materials. You can write. Next time read so you’re your writing has convincing content.”

I leaned against the wall opposite the office, suddenly awash with mirth. This was my first time failing anything. And I failed spectacularly. I felt more liberated than I had in a long time.

Angie Mullins ©

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Like a Dog with a Bone

 

Like a Dog with a Bone

 

This constant vacillation between who I am and who I want to be is driving me insane. Some nights I go to sleep content in myself, and yet the following morning I awake emancipated of any sense of satisfaction with my being. I am positively sick of the constant niggling and supercilious nudges within my head, urging and prodding me in the ‘right’ direction, whatever that is; I don’t think either of us know for certain, but my head just likes to play along.

 

Yesterday I would always have tomorrow to decide, but suddenly tomorrow is today and I am in the so-called prime of my existence, sans any idea of who I am supposed to be. In the very breathless, acne-riddled whimsy of my teenaged angst, I would imagine this God-like creature of who I would blossom into: a social butterfly, confident in her own skin.  And yet now that I am what I imagined, I rather feel I prefer the younger me, the girl who was so unsure of herself that she embraced it all and trusted in the future.

 

But now the future is the present, and is still as decayed and troubled as the past. All the tenses seem a blur and I am sitting on my bed at 2am overwhelmed in an elaborate shouting match between what are effectively two sides of the same coin: desire and regret. I want what I was, and yet back then I wanted what I am. Not only is the grass greener on the other side, but there is a bloody great wheelbarrow of false promises plonked in the center of the lawn.

 

The daily consequence of this argument is a constant turmoil within myself, sometimes unconscious, mostly otherwise. I have begun to lose some of my youthful wide-eyed reverence for the supposed deliverance of age and maturity, as my problems have not dissolved into resolution, nor have I been struck with any illuminating revelries on the workings of the human mind. Instead, my initial sojourns into ‘real life’ have been fraught with unexpected bitterness and an unprecedented seediness and scepticism. It is a society in which naivety and innocence play no part. This indeed was a crushing blow to my sensitive disposition and optimistic nature.

 

And yet I am thankful, in a way. My rose-tinted glasses are gradually becoming a grubby shade of brown, but I will never let them become the familiar shade of medicated grey worn by so many. One thing that becoming my current self has taught me is to cling to my own sense of dignity, regardless of what identity I am currently wearing.  My ideas and my wanting may change, but the undisputed center of my being will always define me, and that can never alter.

 

And so the gnawing dissonance between the foibles of youth and the dull consequence of maturity will constantly divide opinion within me, as it has done and will most likely continue to do for the foreseeable future. Perhaps in my twenties such a startling and conclusive realization will dawn on me…? One wonders.

 

Angela Mullins ©2012

To tell you the truth

To tell you the truth

 

“To tell you the truth…ah…” She paused delicately. Her fingers drummed against the desk; her brow furrowed as she struggled for the right words. “Well… it’s not that we don’t want you here. It’s just… you understand…” She mumbled something about ratios and pay cuts.
Greg could feel the embarrassment radiating off of her so he decided to step in. “It’s all right, I understand.”
“You do?” She looked up eagerly, relief flooding her face.
“Yes. Employee of the month five times running, highest percentage sales the company has ever seen, Golden boy of this department…You don’t need to say it. I’ve been expecting this promotion for a long time. His chest swelled with pride.
A look of confusion crossed her face, followed by a deep reddening of her cheeks. “No Mr Banks, I… I fear you have mistaken me. As you may be aware, the company is in some serious debt. We must make some… sacrifices. And I’m afraid that-”
“Look Deborah, Let’s cut to the chase. I’m the greatest thing to happen since this company was established. It was only a matter of time before I became manager” His voice was cocky, arrogant. He casually swung his feet onto the desk and leant into the chair, clearly at ease.
Deborah’s face turned a healthy shade of plum. She spluttered in-comprehensively, her eyes burned with rage. “Look Greg, I am the manager of this department. I-”
“Listen Debbie, I’m really sorry that I’ll be taking your job, but these things happen. You’ll find a new job… maybe. You are a bit on the old side”
Deborah’s eyes bulged and clutched at her chest frantically. Her skin turned rapidly from plum to blue to a nasty shade of gray and she collapsed noisily onto to her desk, scattering papers and office debris. Un-alarmed, Greg got up checked her pulse. Satisfied that she was dead, he strode out of the room whistling. “Sacrifices do need to be made…”

Angie Mullins © 26th April 2011

Crimson

Crimson

He brought the bottle to his nose and breathed in deeply, embracing the aroma. Then delicately, he put the rim on his lips and slowly let the liquid seep onto his tongue. Each drop of the wine exploded onto his taste-buds and filled his mouth with the rich tang of decadence. He grasped the wine bottle and shook it gently. The contents flushed around, splashed up and stained the man’s clothing. Upon seeing this, his grip on the bottle tightened and in a fit of rage he threw it against the wall with the remainder of his dwindling strength. It shattered into several pieces and the crimson liquid dribbled down the wall in haphazard lines until it reached the floor where it pooled up.

The man was immediately filled with a sense of regret: regret that he had wasted a decent bottle of wine; regret that he would have to clean up mess; regret that the shattering of the bottle and the spilling of its contents mirrored his own life. He was alone. He was always alone. All he had were his thoughts and his words, but sometimes even they dissipated so rapidly that he was only left with a wistful sensation of what might have been. Long ago he had been a hopeful young man with dreams and aspirations but the weight of the world and the pain of a thousand lifetimes had hit him and his once vibrant soul had fled and was replaced with silence and a pervading loneliness. It was all he knew now.

Startled by the faint recollection of an old memory, he looked up and saw the daylight stream in through a gap in the thick curtains. He watched transfixed, as the light suspended the dust in the air. It appeared weightless and rose effortless as if it were being pulled by an invisible string by an unseen puppeteer. He broke his gaze, heaved himself up off his chair and slowly ambled his way towards the window. Opening the curtain slightly more, he stared up at the sky. Though the sun shone, the sky was murky and dark and it was apparent that it would rain soon. He wondered how many people’s hope for a good day had been dashed by the sight of the gloomy dawn.

Sighing, he gave the curtain a quick tug and it closed with a jerk, once again enveloping the room in darkness. The only thing that gave off some semblance of light was the remains of last night’s fire, yet it too was fading. The glowing embers danced around, desperately clinging to life. He didn’t bother rekindling it. The warmth would never reach his heart and to him that was all that mattered. Carefully he walked back to his seat and collapsed into it. Though the light in the room was quite dim, he could make out the faint outline of his surroundings: the unmade bed; the near empty bookcase, the ragged sofa. He was by no means a poor man; however he chose not to utilize his wealth by indulging in frivolous items. The pile of the wine bottles could be made out too, the green glass glinting in the light. Frivolous items he did not posses, yes, but his money fuelled his desire for wine, and the wine fuelled his desire to escape. He never did truly succeed in escaping his mind.

 

Angie Mullins ©

A tale with a twist

He slowly prised the bracelet off  her wrist, careful not to agitate the delicate gold charms which tinkled deliciously with movement. Slowly, slowly, there-it was off. Holding it up to the silver moonlight which streamed in through a slit in the curtains, he regarded it fully. Chain linked, adorned with eighteen little solid gold elephants it glistened dangerously in the moonlight. He tried to hide his smile of satisfaction but was unable to: this, the object of his coveting was his at last and he could do nothing but revel in the delights of his sin. Softly she stirred in her sleep. He quickly stowed his stolen treasure away and stealthily crept out of the room.

Outside in the courtyard the coarse heady blackness of the night was disturbed by the figure of a man moving swiftly through it. He stepped lightly, his recent plundering having ignited in him the thrill of wrong-doing. Little did he know that he was being watched by seething eyes, silently vowing their revenge.

A man, drunk and hopelessly dead lay slumped against an alley wall. His slit throat oozed streams of crimson blood which flowed down his body, staining the beautiful gold trinket he clutched in his hand.

 

Angie Mullins

18/10/2011