Room 210

2004-2005 Short Story Finalists 2

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Vincent Alexander, a tall, battle tuned man in his early 20s, was about to die.
His travel-worn hands were bound tightly together behind his back with iron shackles. He was rested on his knees, in a rancid pool of his own sweat and blood, wishing nothing more than to have the cold steel in his mouth end his torture.
He had been staring at the blade, through lengthy black strands of hair and ash grey eyes, for what seemed years.
Time was suspended in that dim, cobblestone room. It was lit only by the glowing embers of a single torch that was suspended on the wall behind him.
It was silent. All that could be heard in that small circular chamber were the echoes of Vincent's perspiration and blood as it trickled to the floor from various divots in his body.
Drip, Drip, Drip!
His crimson, leather trench coat, a shimmering broadsword, removed from its scabbard, and his throwing knife lay on the ground next to him.
The jet-black pants and undershirt he wore were stained and torn from the recent battle that led to his capture.
"Speak! You will tell me what it is or you will die!" his captor yelled.
The sabre had sliced his tongue as his oppressor pushed it deeper into Vincent's face, his own salty blood seeped from the gash in his mouth. It seemed that the taste of iron filled every taste bud on his tongue.
He cringed at the flavor but still remained silent.
"What's the secret to unlocking the Power of the Dragon Father? Tell me now damn it!" his captor bellowed.
Vincent was quiet. The blade was still in his mouth. Then he heard a low hissing voice.
"Well Vincent, since you won't comply, there seems to be no other way. We have a hidden resource to use against you. Hmm! What could it be?"
Vincent knew what they had.
"I, Mathias Valgo, have taken your precious Katrina captive. She is in my quarters far from here, hanging from her wrists, as we speak.
Mathias jerked his sabre from Vincent's mouth. He then walked to his left and kicked Vincent in his right cheek with extreme force and stood upon his body, which was now on the floor. The thin spines that stuck from the toe of his boots dug into Vincent's ear. He then bent down to his face and with a mocking tone said, "Tell me now, or your precious little Katrina will not live through this evening."
"Alright," Vincent, who always had a thing for the ladies, complied as he coughed up globs of blood. Breathing heavily and with much effort, Vincent righted himself onto his knees. His captor had entered the light, and Vincent saw him for the first time.
Mathias Valgo, a man of average height, had long silver hair. His red eyes seemed as though the concept of hate itself was dwelling within them. There was a noticeable scar that trailed from his left eyebrow, across his nose, and down past his bottom lip. His opaque white coat had a gothic cross on the right sleeve and was spatted with droplets of Vincent's blood. As he placed his sabre into his scabbard he spat upon Vincent and said, "I knew we would get it out of you, you useless cur.
"The secret, to the Power of the Dragon Father can be unlocked by sacrificing your most precious possession."
"That's all? Just to get rid of something? Then I gain invulnerability?" He smirked.
"You also need that. He looked towards his sword that was lying on the ground. "On the hilt of my sword hangs the Pendant of Death." The flat, silver, human skull shaped pendant hung from a chain. It was about the size of a quarter. The eyeholes held two golden topazes that glimmered in the light of the torch. He continued, "You need that and you must take it to the Shrine of Tel Fyr. Place the pendant on the shrine. You must then throw your possession in to the fire, then to finish off the ritual, you must shed your own blood onto the pendant. Then you have it, the Power of the Dragon Father. Are you happy? Now let me go."
"Not just yet Vincent. I need you to come with me to make sure nothing unexpected happens." Mathias said, then whispered to himself, "That is where Katrina is really held." He then went to Vincent's sword and broke the pendant off of its chain.
Vincent heard him and knew what he had to do.
The truth was, that wasn't the real pendant. And he knew that name. Vincent had cut open his left palm and inserted it under his skin when he found out someone named Valgo had been searching for it about four years ago.
"With this I can finally be a god! I have been searching for years and I have found the answer! Now nobody will be able to defeat me!" Mathias turned and laughed to himself with an evil tone in his voice. While Mathias was laughing to himself, Vincent used the knife that he picked up after Mathias had kicked him, to pick open the shackles on his hands. "We shall depart immediately," Mathias said.
"Would you please unlock me?" Vincent asked.
As Mathias turned to take the key from its ring, Vincent hopped up, grabbed the torch and dug it into Mathias' face as he turned back around! Vincent saw a door behind where Mathias had stood.
"You insolent cretin! Damn you!" wailed Mathias.
Vincent grabbed his coat, broadsword and throwing knife, jetted for the door and as he ran outside, the crisp air of an early evening nipped at his nose. Off into the distance, he saw two horses hitched to a post. They were Clydesdales. Vincent darted for them. As he approached and unhooked the auburn one, he saw Mathias behind at the tower running right at him.
"I know I can save her," Vincent muttered.
Mathias was right on his tail. Tel Fyr was not far from here. After a hellish run through dense woods, the clouds began to kick up and Tel Fyr could be seen off in the distance. Katrina was there. As Vincent was about to dismount for his sweetheart, Mathias threw his sabre at Vincent and hit him in the leg. Vincent fell and threw it back at him. Mathias grabbed it in mid air and got to Katrina.
"NO! KATRINA!" Vincent yelled.
She stood there with her hands above her head. Her long red hair covered her tearful eyes. She had seen the blade enter her love. She was in her forest green cape and long brown trousers. Mathias ran up behind her. Grabbed her by the neck, removed her hands from their holding. Pulled a dagger from his ankle scabbard, and held it up to her neck.
"I told you not to mess with me, Vincent! Now, give me the real pendant in your hand or she dies!"
How did he know? Could she have told him?
Thunder was booming all around them now. Vincent then cut his palm open and pulled the pendant from his hand. He threw it towards Mathias. He caught it. Then smiled with barred teeth. "MWAHAHAHA! You moron! You thought I was foolish enough to fall for that trick! I knew you wouldn't give it to me. As a matter of fact, you handed it to me on a silver platter! Your lady here told me everything in exchange for your life. How about that?"
"LET HER GO!" Vincent screamed.
"Not so fast, I haven't completed the ritual yet."
"But you don't need her!"
"That's where you are wrong Vincent, I have already placed the pendant on the alter, and am about to sacrifice my most precious possession, my daughter."
"It's true Vincent," Katrina said. "He was married to my mother and slaughtered her after I was born, luckily I was saved by three women and taken refuge. But he found me, and brought me here." She cried at the pain of what was about to happen.
"What?" Vincent asked. "But how?"
"Now you know, and now I go!" Mathias then pulled the knife back through Katrina's neck and held her until she gargled blood up, and ceased moving.
"No! You bastard!"
Mathias then threw Katrina into the fires of Tel Fyr. Her body flared up and was incinerated in seconds. He pulled the dagger on himself and sliced his wrist above the pendant. It seeped onto the glittering prize and then the ground began to shake. Thunder roared and mighty torrents blew about in all directions. "I have achieved it!" His voice echoed over the thunder. "I am God!"
Vincent couldn't believe what he was seeing. Trees were uprooting and flying everywhere. He could barely stand up.
Then it stopped. Silence covered the desolate wasteland.
Mathias looked at his hands. "What? What has happened? Why did it stop?"
It was a trick.
Vincent jumped and darted towards Mathias. "I forgot to mention one thing Mathias! The powers take a full day to activate! I will avenge Katrina's death!"
Mathias looked at Vincent and laughed, "That's where you are wrong boy!"
Mathias' coat tore from his back and huge, black, leather wings sprouted from his back. He leapt into the air and was off.
He had to think fast, so he took his throwing knife from his belt and flung it hard. As the spiraling blade approached its target, Mathias pulled the sabre from his scabbard, knocked the missle from its path with a swift swipe.
Staring in astonishment, Vincent could do nothing more. He had lost the one he loved but he had to try. He picked up his sword.
Mathias' red eyes glowed in the dark heavens above the Earth as he pulled the dagger he used on Katrina from his scabbard and with perfect precision, threw it towards his assassin.
Right into his forehead.
Vincent stood for a brief moment, swayed, then dropped like a rag doll onto the eroded ground beneath him. His gore spilt from his head and he laid limp, lifeless, dead.
"Foolish child, you should never believe what others tell you. The good guy doesn't always win." Mathias muttered. Without another thought, he turned, and flew away into the night sky.






   Once upon a time, in a place not too far away, there stood a lovely young girl named Serenity, next to a superhero named Darius.
   Darius had been her companion for many years, as she grew, as she laughed, as she cried, he was always there. He was her superhero.
   For many minutes, the two stood side by side, in the open, silent field. Every day, Darius was with Serenity to protect her, teach her, and guide her.
   Serenity was a bright girl, had good judgment and often chose the right path to follow. She was rather short tempered, quite impatient at times, and a little sarcastic, but she was also a respectful, well-mannered young girl, full of life, and she never failed to show a smile.
   Though many overlooked her beauty because of her temper, her superhero always saw that she was beautiful and he also loved her smile.
   "So, Serenity, if you could have one superpower, just one, what would it be?" For many moments, Serenity thought about this. She had never thought of having a superpower, despite her strong imagination.
   After moments of thinking, Serenity answered, "Well, I'm afraid if I chose to fly, I might run into something and I could read minds, but that might not only get confusing, but also be a heartbreaking power to possess.
   Darius laughed at this. With a warm smile, he replied, "I must say, Serenity, that those would probably be the first two I'd pick."
   "Well, then I suppose I'd choose to fly," Serenity said.
   Serenity, watching this bird and thinking of what her superpower would be came up with a question for Darius.
   "If birds have a brain just as we do and they have eyes to see, just as we do, why can we not fly...just as they do?"
   With the same warm smile, Darius answered. "Well, I'm afraid having eyes doesn't determine whether you can fly or not, but I know what you are trying to say. Humans have many abilities that birds don't have. For example, we have emotions, thoughts, moods. With that he finished, "You see, all they have to worry about is agility, predator and prey. We have plenty more to worry about. Our lives are full of many surprises, conflicts, laughs, and tears."
   Serenity gave this much thought. She decided that if we did so much, so much that as beautiful as a bird was, it could not, that we already have superpowers. But still, she thought, it would be wonderful to fly.
   Then, with great surprise, Darius took her hand and suddenly, they were flying. High they flew into the clear sky and through the cool breeze. They flew higher than the birds, up into the clouds, looking down on their world. As they flew, it was as if every fear, every care, everything to weigh Serenity down had been lifted from her.
   Serenity laughed and smiled wider than ever before. She couldn't believe it. She had the superpower of flying. She could actually fly, thanks to her superhero.
   They slowly began to come back down and as they drew nearer to land, she could see her shadow, and on her back there were wings. Then, they finally landed gently.
   "That was the most beautiful, amazing thing I've ever done! I ever could do at that," Serenity exclaimed.
    "Your request is my command," Darius replied.
   Years passed and Serenity grew older. Soon she would have to face leaving her superhero, and go on with her life without him, yet holding on to everything he taught her in precious memories.
   One sunny day, it was time to part. "Now, Serenity," Darius said, "Even though I can't stay, I'll always be with you in your head, and in your heart. Whenever you need me, just listen to your memories and they will guide you."
   As a tear fell from her eye, Serenity nodded, gave her superhero one last hug, never wanting to let go, but then she pulled away. "Goodbye," she said softly.
   She then turned away, and began on her way to great places awaiting her, afraid to look back. But then she heard Darius say one last thing.
   "Serenity," Darius called out to her. She paused and turned. "Remember: You can now fly as high as you want."
   With this, they smiled at each other, and her superhero vanished. Serenity began to cry, but not tears of sadness. Instead, she cried tears of joy.
   Then, looking up at the sun, Serenity spread her wings and flew away, soaring higher than the birds, and somewhere, somehow, Serenity knew that her superhero was flying right beside her.

   It was my best friend's deepest secret and I knew it would be a hard one to keep. I knew I shouldn't keep it, yet, she was my friend and I reluctantly was sworn to secrecy.
   Tears streamed down my face as I looked at the scars upon her arm. I wanted to hold her, change the world so it wouldn't hurt her. I felt helpless as she began to cry with me. There was nothing I could do.
   "Why did you do it?" I asked, though I already knew the answer.
   "I don't know. Everything's gotten so hard. Now that my mom's gone. I miss the way things were," she replied.
   I knew she missed her mom, but I did not quite understand how things used to be. Tracie and I became best friends in second grade. We were completely inseparable. When she cried, I held her and we would cry together until neither could remember what we were crying about. I guess that's how things used to be.
   Before that, she relied on me to heal her wounds. Now she relies on cutting. She turns her emotional pain into physical pain, something she can stop, something she controls. Tracie doesn't need me anymore. At least, that's how I felt.
   "Why didn't you just talk to me? You could've called." I wanted to scream, knock some sense into her, hold many different emotions.
   I knew I had to keep under control. I got up and hugged her. I was actually surprised when she hugged me back.
   Tracie did need me. Maybe that's why she cut...because I wasn't there.
   It was as if she had read my mind. "I needed a hug really bad," she said.
   "I'll always be here," I replied. "With that, I made another promise, a better promise.
   I would never leave her.