Author Topic: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons  (Read 995 times)

Offline Rami

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Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« on: July 08, 2011, 10:10:06 AM »
I did this as an exercise in a writing group. Started with a myth or folk story and gave it a twist. I'd love to see what you think. It's from the perspective of two demons...

A man in a checkered button-down shirt, baggy khakis and scuffed leather penny loafers weaved through the mall shoppers and joined thirsty office workers lining up at the food court Starbucks. He took his place behind a woman who clearly looked 20 years younger than him. She was wearing a red blouse, black skirt and red heels.

"What about him?" The voice thundered - unheard by those flocking in the food court.

The khaki-clad man had his nose in a sci-fi book. From behind the book, he noticed the heeled woman. She was perspiring slightly through her thin blouse. Her skin glistened. With a jolt, he shifted his gaze back to his book.

"With the books?" A second voice deeper than the first pierced the air.

"That one, indeed."

The master demon and his apprentice considered the scene at the coffee shop.

"He's tempted," the apprentice said.

The master snorted. He shifted his hungry eyes onto the heeled woman whose perfumed sweat reached the demons perched on the upper level railings above the food court.

"No?" The apprentice pressed. "He's weakening."

A second later the khaki-clad man jumped out of danger. He ran out of the food court looking at his shoes every step of the way.

"Look again." The master turned his back on the coffee shop. His red eyes penetrated into his apprentice. He let out a sigh.

"Lesson number one: Death speaks loudest to those who flee."

The apprentice demon faced his master. With a sneer, the master demon then recounted the following story:

Many of their years ago I was apprenticed to Death himself. It was in the year 1187. We were visiting one of the many villages that Richard the Lionheart's crusaders were traveling through on their way to the so-called Holy Lands. We had been watching these vile creatures as we were now - looking for subjects. I should clarify. Death had an appointment later that evening. We were killing time, as they say, so he was testing my ability to identify subjects. Then, I was nearly as awful at choosing subjects as you are now.

The apprentice demon weakly supressed a growl.

"If you plan to challenge me, please, don't let me stop you." He bared his fangs. "It will be my fleeting pleasure to rip the essence from your body and swallow it whole."

The apprentice turned his gaze away. The master sneered, then continued with his story.

As I was saying, we were in an open market watching His pathetic children trading and buying goods. I noticed a servant hovering near a fruit stand. Apples, I believe. Figs, too. I pointed him out. Death smiled when I suggested the servant.

Death instructed me to watch. He descended down to the market, transforming into a woman. Death brushed against the servant who then turned to look. I was allowed to see through Death's eyes.

The servant found the woman's form pleasant to gaze upon. The servant's attention caressed her. As you know, you can not look into Death's eyes for long. But the servant did. The blood drained from his face. A tremble shook his soul, and the servant ran away. Death lingered, looking at the ripened fruit.

Before Death returned to me, a wealthy man approached. With the forcefulness afforded only to the nobles of the time, the man grabbed the woman by the shoulder, turning her forcefully towards him.

"Why have you made threatening gestures at my servant," he asked Death.

"I did nothing of the sort." Death's voice was deep like a man's. "If you know who I am, it would be wise to remove your hand."

The wealthy man obeyed.

I could hear Death's thoughts. She was searching the man's soul, reading his mind. Laughing.

"Your servant mistook my surprise for a threat," Death said, betraying a smile. "You see, I was astonished to see him here in the market."


I could hear Death laughing louder and louder inside my head. Death was laughing at them.

"I take it your servant has fled? You lent him your horse didn't you?"

The wealthy man took a step back. His eyes widened. His mouth parted slightly as if to say something to deny the claim.

"No need to speak, man. I know," Death said. "Your servant saw me, then fled to you, asking if you would help him hide in the next village."

The wealthy man did not need to confirm the truth of Death's assertions. The man's wide-eyed stare betrayed him.

"Fools… Death speaks loudest to those who flee."

Death moved in close to the wealthy man, their noses nearly touched.

 "Your servant rode away from here to avoid his fate… But the boy doesn't realize he is running to me."

Death kissed the wealthy man on the lips.

"The look your servant saw was of astonishment," Death said. "I was astonished to see him in the market now since my appointment with him is not until later tonight in the next village."

The master demon went back to observing subjects in the food court. His apprentice turned with his master.

"Shall we try this again?"

Offline The Dude Abides

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2011, 11:43:24 AM »
Some of the words the head monster says after he begins to tell the story are in quotes and some are not. That is a bit confusing. Also, the plot device of having Death make an appointment for a single death later in the day seems wasteful of time. I would have thought that in 1187 there would have been enough dying to keep him hopping full time without setting up meetings. Unless this servant person was a special death.

There was one place where I think a question mark would be better than a comma:

"Why have you made threatening gestures at my servant,?" he asked Death.
"Little red wagon
Little red bike
I ain’t no monkey but I know what I like"
                 Buckets of Rain, Bob Dylan

Offline Rami

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2011, 11:54:27 AM »
thanks for catching the question. missed that. your comments have given me something to ponder in regards to Death's appointment. I'll confess that the extended narration was new for me, and I wasn't sure how to format it. Something of an extended monologue, I guess??? thanks a bunch for reading and sharing your insights. :)

Offline Rami

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2011, 02:54:57 PM »
I just looked back at my original. I had tried isolating the longer bits of narration by indenting the left and right margins as a way of showing it was something of an extended monologue. When I cut and pasted it, I didn't fix that. Sorry. You think that's enough to do to not make it as confusing? Maybe a colon before entering the extended narration?


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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2011, 03:33:49 PM »
Interesting. I take it the folk story/myth is the tale within the story, of the devil meeting the servant?

Knowing who these two demons are, and why they are engaged in predicting human activity, would provide a context for the story.

 Identifying the speakers is somewhat confusing, perhaps the lines the demons speak could be in italics? If you identified the speaker as the apprentice demon in the line “What about him?" the voice thundered…” it would help to clarify the sides of the ensuing conversation.

Otherwise, I think the story is well written and engaging.

Offline Rami

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2011, 04:06:08 PM »
Yes. the folk story/myth is the tale within. I went Spartan in attribution and explanation, but since confusion is not my goal, I can see the benefit in adding more to identifying speakers. Thanks for the comments. I thought of italics as a possibility, so I'll try that. As for the demons, I was influenced by C.S. Lewis. The demons are trying to win souls for the devil - a lifelong pursuit fought in the minute details of life. Thanks again for the feedback. It's helping a bunch.

Offline Laura H

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2011, 10:06:05 PM »
Hi Rami,

For me - you've done a good job developing the characters in a short space.  I could picture the mentor demon & apprentice as they chatted. 
 I think you can ditch the descriptions of the clothing in the first paragraph and not detract from the story. 

The first segment was slightly confusing for me - the khaki guy is fleeing from death? 

Worth keeping & developing in my opinion.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline Rami

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2011, 08:20:00 AM »
Thx for the comments. Was wondering about the clothing detail. When I started the exercise, I had intended to contrast their clothing to draw attention to the woman's bolder ensemble. Then as I moved on, it didn't really go that way. As for the khaki guy fleeing. I intended it to contrast with the servant fleeing. One from danger, the other towards it. I tend to write short, so sometimes these details don't get fleshed out. Glad you liked it on the whole, though.

Offline T.M. Penrose

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Re: Short Story 858 words - fantasy, demons
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2011, 03:05:51 PM »
Hello Rami

Good story, everything I was going to comment on, has already been touched upon, so all I can say is well done ;D ;D really enjoyed the demons discussion, souls of prey, cool. I like that kind of stuff ;)