Friday Fiction: A Queen for a King by Mickey McRosh
Mickey McRosh is a software engineer by profession and a writer and a hiker by inclination. He is new to writing and has worked on multiple short stories and flash fiction, and has published them on his personal blog. You can reach him at his website.
A Queen for a King
“I’m going to disappoint you. But you knew that already.”
The Nergal smirked at the emaciated old man. “You are not scared to die?”
William whispered, knowing that Nergal could appropriate his thoughts anyway, “What have I to lose, demon?” He leaned back into the wooden spokes of the worn-out Boston rocker. “If not now, then of old age.” His light brown eyes scanned the dingy room.
It had one cracked, leaky, and moss-covered skylight; the only other source of light. A quarter of the crescent moon shone through the crack, illuminating the Staunton chess set in front of him. William was glad that they sat where they sat, as the wall-candles weren’t luminous enough for his presbyopic eyes. Tiny droplets of water hung from the skylight’s flora. The room stank of rotten eggs.
A drop finally gained freedom and descended.
When it splattered itself on the board, the Nergal’s irritation-masked voice resonated through the room. “Is that why you have that metal-spitting weapon? Spare me your philosophy and make your move, paraplegic.”
“Rush me and you will lose, Nergal,” William retorted, “and you will return sooner, without my soul.”
Outside, the breeze died away, allowing some leaves to fall through the crack and dance to the cold stone floor.
Will had never seen the death god’s face; it absorbed all light that dared to embrace it.
The creature spoke, “So, you want to play that game?” In the darkness that was its face, a thin red line appeared; curved like a menacing smile. Then it parted horizontally, to let out a barrage of cackles, before vanishing into the darkness. “Then I’ll make my move now.”
It snapped its talons to let out a tiny red spark. Unseen to Will, his Samsung’s screen lit up for a second in his shirt pocket, and returned back to dormancy.
The wind started blowing again. A single flash of light appeared in the sky. A few thousand miles away, in a small one-bedroom house, on top of a drop leaf table, a cell phone dinged.
A notification on the screen read: Won the Powerball today. Let’s get divorced so that I can enjoy the money alone… kidding…see you soon. Love you.
Mrs. William grinned seeing this. “Oh, I’ll show you.”
She replied: Be happy… I’m leaving.
Back in the dark cold room, William fake-frowned at the message from his wife. “Ah Nergal, have you ever loved?”
The Nergal remained silent. The beeswax wall-candles flickered the slightest.
“Ok, let’s end this. I hope you will not trick an old-timer.”
“Alright, creature, I’ll stop futzing around.“ He moved the rook deep into enemy territory, and said, “Checkmate.”
The Nergal stiffened and leaned forward, studying the board carefully. A set of dark-red talons swerved in from the right, hovering over its majesty. Its long, scaly tail moved non-stop from side to side. Then the tail froze and the talons retracted into darkness.
“So,” started William, amused, “time to take me home?”
“Yes, but keep your weapon close by tonight, human.”
Tension showed on William’s face for a split second.
“Is that fear? Yum.”
William blinked and he was at his front door. His watch showed midnight.
There was a note on the front-door, attached with scotch-tape. The writing on it was smudged. It was signed by Mrs. William and it read: Take care. I’m leaving. – Martha.
Was she crying when she wrote this? he thought. He ran to every room, checked every corner; she had really left.
Seconds passed into minutes. Sweat rolled along his cheek and dripped from his inverted church-steeple of a goatee.
Something moved behind him. “Surp-”
With his eyes closed, he turned and pulled the trigger three times.
“rise…” he heard his wife’s drowning voice finish.
He opened his eyes to see her lifeless body on the floor with her blood sprayed across the walls. The gun fell from his jaundiced hand and he dropped to his knees.
While his eyes were still on her, Mrs.Williams blood-smeared lips started twitching wildly. His eyes widened in shock and his brain commanded him to move away from her, but his body wouldn’t heed. Her lips then stretched and curled into a crooked smile and her head careened to a side — he heard the sound of her neck snapping. Her eyelids jutted open and her red-rimmed eyes moved to focus on his face. As he fell back, her lips, with the creature as their puppeteer, exploded with a tinge of amusement, “I’m going to disappoint you, too. But you knew that already.”