Meet Max was my submission for the first part of a Terribleminds two-part writing contest.
Many characters were well written and offered a potential to be the backbone of a good story.
Coreal is a character created by Mr. Zach Klimczak. She started telling me her story as soon as I read her description.
Before that particular challenge, I had never written or attempted to write, let alone write and edit, a 2,000-word story in a week. That kind of productivity is something that I thought was beyond me at this time.
I had certainly never produced a story that long in a week where I had a 36-hour emergency trip that ended with a 1,800 mile car ride followed by a minor medical procedure which required me to lay flat in bed for two days.
In essence, I had to write, and, edit 2,000 words of a story using someone else’s character in three days. This is a task that if you had told me beforehand I could complete, I would have called 911 and have you remanded into forced psychiatric confinement as a danger to yourself and others.
I say this not to provide an excuse, but to show you the lesson I (re)learned.
The lesson is, often what we can and can’t do is only limited by our fears of failure and pre-conceived notions, or, as Babe Ruth more eloquently stated, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
On that note, I hope you enjoy this story as well as the many others available by following the “part two” link above.
Stake, Well Done
Coreal wore the black tactical boots and color matched long sleeve Victorian dress she considered play clothes while humming a light, haunting melody that drifted off into the unused depths of her dark cavernous warehouse.
The prisoner was secured to an iron cross and splayed out like pictures of Christ that Coreal had seen. He looked amused; she was.
“You can’t be serious,” he said.
She smiled at him, continuing her tune as she removed the sheet, uncovering her antique wooden desk. Light from hundreds of candles surrounding the small area flickered off a variety of medieval medical equipment arranged neatly the desk.
Coreal watched the prisoner struggling a bit as if expecting to escape his bonds easily, and then more when he found he couldn’t.
“Struggle all you want. If you break free, which you won’t, even you won’t be able to bend the bars of the cage that surrounds you,” she said.
The prisoner pulled hard, attempting to release his arms one final time before giving up and taking a moment to examine the bars; his face contorted into a gruesome, frustrated scowl.
“As for being serious …” She began as took a long, round piece of wood, sharpened to a point on one end from the floor and set it on the desk, “I am dead serious … pun intended.” She added, laughing a bit at her own joke.
Coreal worked the chains. She lowered the assembly of prisoner, cage and cross slowly toward the floor before letting it drop the final five feet. The thud she felt in her feet and gut was as satisfying as always.
Fear crept onto the prisoner’s face and his eyes widened as Coreal reached into a jar and pulled out a handful of cloves. The smell of the garlic caused his fangs to grow involuntarily.
“Get that away …” he started.
Before he was able to complete his sentence, Coreal reached through the bars, grabbed a fistful of hair and slammed the prisoner’s head against the cross. When he opened his mouth wider to scream in pain, she stuffed the garlic into his mouth.
She turned her back to him and began slipping long, heavy duty elbow length rubber gloves over her hands and dress as words scrolled across the display screen on her desk.
“Stop this, Please!”
Coreal imagined how pitiful her prisoner’s voice must sound, more so muffled by a mouthful of garlic, and smiled.
“You can talk, cry, beg all you want,” she said.
More words scrolled across the screen.
“Talk. Yes. Let’s talk about this.”
Why do they always say that? She thought as she turned to face him, a plague doctor mask in one hand, an amputation knife gleaming in the candlelight in the other and a playful, confident smile on her face.
“You can talk all you want because it’s useless. I can’t hear you,” she said.
“No!” He cried
“In fact, I can’t hear anything at all.”
“Please. Please don’t do this.”
“Sadly, I won’t be able to hear how much what I have planned for you hurts.”
Coreal began slipping the mask on, saw the flashing light of an incoming message on her datapad and stopped.
“I’ll just be a moment,” Coreal said.
Her smile filled her eyes and her voice lilted with the added anticipation of what was to come for him, and, her.
The message from Rath, her uncle, and mentor had already appeared on the screen.
“I just picked up something that you’re going to want to see. I’ll bring it to your warehouse in an hour.” – End of Message
Coreal paused for a moment, thinking, What’s so important that Rath would want to bring it here on such short notice. That just isn’t like him.
With a pained sigh, Coreal walked back toward the prisoner, setting the knife on the desk and grabbing the sharpened wood in a single graceful motion.
“It seems we don’t have any time for fun,” she said. Her tone held a genuine sadness.
The prisoner looked somewhat relieved.
“Today is your lucky day, believe it or not.” She added, a moment before ramming the wooden stake expertly between the cage’s bars, directly through the Vampire’s heart.
* * *
With her tools put away and the latest kill removed and burning in her makeshift crematorium, Coreal took a moment to change from her long sleeve dress to her more casual, armless dress of the same color and style. She took a moment to look at the dull, matte black finish of her cybernetic arms, inspecting them for scratches that might show the underlying chrome and give her away while hunting at night.
Rath entered from the basement door. He dragged what Coreal assumed was a hooded prisoner, along the floor by a short length of rope.
She read Rath’s lips as he spoke.
“Help me get him mounted, this one’s heavy,” he said.
As Rath came closer, Coreal lifted the prisoner mostly off the floor by the noose around its neck with one arm as Rath let go.
“I got it. Get the cage ready.”
Breathing a bit heavily, Rath prepared the cross and cage. The prisoner was beginning to move slightly. Rath and Coreal quickly secured the prisoner to the cross and locked the cage.
Coreal turned to face her mentor.
“I don’t hear from you in weeks and you just up and bring … something here? I was in the middle of an interrogation when your message arrived. What is so …”
Rath cut her off with a wave of his hand.
“Trust me you’re going to want to see this,” he said.
The prisoner was only partially conscious, its chin resting against its chest when Rath removed the hood.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” He said.
Rath looked at Coreal, his sad eyes lingering on her confusion filled eyes for a moment, before he lowered his head and walked slowly, with slumped shoulders, out through the basement door.
“What the Hell?” She said.
Coreal grabbed the prisoner by the hair and slammed his head against the cross. She stumbled backward bumping against the desk, eyes and mouth wide open when the prisoner opened his eyes and looked at her.
“D..d..d..d..daddy?” She said in a small, weak voice.
“Hello Sugar Plum. It’s good to see you again.” He replied, smiling.
* * *
Coreal ran through the streets of the Mix which even at this late hour teemed with the city’s downtrodden mass of humanity until she could run no more. Exhausted, she slumped to the ground against the side of a decrepit building and cried.
When she could cry no more, she took the datapad from her satchel and began tapping.
“Because you have to.” Was Rath’s immediate response.
“How? You know he died with Mom. We went to their goddamned funeral!”
“Do you remember what you told me? How badly their bodies and faces were mutilated and how you couldn’t be positive?”
Coreal sat for a long moment, remembering, thinking about what Rath said.
“Skinner got her last year. I went over to his place a few weeks ago and saw a picture of my sister’s face on his trophy wall.”
Mom, a kill, a picture as a trophy. The thought made her vomit, leaving a strong taste of bile in her mouth. She read the rest of Rath’s message.
“After I saw her picture, I started asking questions. I went off grid for a while, tracking your father.”
Another wave of nausea punched Coreal in the gut, but she managed to choke the bile back.
“Why didn’t you just kill him?”
“You know why.”
Coreal did. By bringing her father to Coreal, Rath was giving her the opportunity to give the prisoner a swift end, if she wanted to.
“I have to go.” She tapped.
“One more thing.”
Shit. Now what? “I’m here.”
“His boss turned them both. Some dinner party the day before your parents’ murder was staged. I have all the info you’ll need to find him.”
* * *
Thoughts raced and swirled through Coreal’s mind as she took a slow walk back to her warehouse workshop. Sorrow fought with anger. Rage battled grief. Hatred and loyalty waged a riotous war. Eventually, Coreal formed a mantra to give her the strength she would need to do what had to be done.
“The prisoner is not my father. My father died 22 years ago. The prisoner is a Vampire. Vampires must be exterminated.” She repeated flatly, over and over during the last twenty blocks of her walk.
Focusing on repeating the phrase Coreal was oblivious to the crowds, the constant bombardment of holo-ads trying to sell her things people in the Mix couldn’t afford, the movement in the bars she passed, even the mingling of body odor, vehicle exhaust, ozone and occasionally, urine or vomit that was unique and pervasive in the Mix, was lost on her.
Coreal stormed into the warehouse intent on giving the prisoner a quick end and being done with it. She grabbed a stake, advanced on the prisoner and glanced up to take one last hateful look at him before plunging the spike through his dead heart when she saw he was speaking.
“Sugar Plum. What are you doing?”
Her face and body tensed when he spoke his pet name for her. It brought back happy memories of swing sets and ice cream, of birthday parties, books being read and a little girl being tucked into bed.
She found herself backed up against the desk, trying to shove the memories away.
“Do not call me that. You are not my father. My father died 22 years ago. You are a Vampire. Vampires must be exterminated,” she said.
The Arctic coldness of her glare and the venom that dripped from her voice hid the mix of emotions she was struggling to push away.
“I may have died 22 years ago, but I am still your father Sugar Plum.”
Coreal raised her left arm quickly and fired a quick jet of holy water from a finger directly at her father’s exposed hand. The flesh bubbled, hissed and sizzled in response.
“Damn it. That hurts!” He shouted.
“You are not my father and if you call me that again I will not give you the quick end I am planning on.”
“Coreal, baby, you’re …”
Another shot of holy water, this time to the other hand, with the same effect.
“Son of a bitch, Coreal, stop this foolishness right now and get me out of this thing!”
This thing may look like Daddy, but it’s not. Daddy never swore. Daddy died years ago. This thing is a Vampire and must be destroyed. She thought and quashed the last of her conflicting emotions, hard.
A calmness born from complete resolve and confidence washed over Coreal. She looked the prisoner in the eye and raised the stake with one hand while grabbing a large wooden mallet with the other.
“Coreal, please, stop. I’m begging you. Listen to me. Please listen to me. We can talk about this.”
Just like the others. Sad. “I don’t ever do this, but considering who you were, I will allow you the courtesy of final words.”
The long stake was an inch from his heart; the mallet held back, poised and ready. Coreal watched the prisoner focusing only on his lips.
“I love y..”
Coreal used every bit of speed and force her enhanced arms offered when she drove the stake through the heart of the thing that used to be her father, splintering the wood against the back of the iron cross before he could finish his words.
“No you don’t you bastard. Dead things can’t love,” Coreal spat.
Coreal paused for a moment and looked into the dead prisoner’s still open eyes. She dropped the mallet, grabbed her datapad and began tapping.
“Done. Now tell me where I can find the fucker who killed my parents. I’m looking forward to trying out the new Napalm finger.”
Story copyright 2015 the human who writes as A.R. Stone. Coreal used with permission of Zach Klimczak. All rights reserved.