Monthly Archives: July 2012

Short Story – Hell’s Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen

By

Dorlana Vann

I watched as a guy in a dark suit dug up Beatrice Beaumont Virgil, April 5, 1965 – August 19, 1998. Funeral flowers still fresh, dirt still moist, Until we meet again her epitaph.

 

I stood in the shadows and dared to watch a moment longer before deciding I would just make note of his car license on my way out. If I had to say, I would guess his height as six feet and give him a generous build of medium. And I would only use this information if there were questions. Otherwise, I’d rather my secret after-hours visits stayed my secret.

 

As I turned to leave, the moody clouds drifted, allowing the full moon to tattle. I limped away as fast as I could, but my bad knee had started acting up again. I could only hope I was far enough to seem a ghost. Just as I began to breathe, I heard the man shout, “Hey you… stop!”

 

A gun fired; the bullet ricocheted off the tombstone next to me. I stopped.

 

“Now, get over here,” he said. “Slowly.”

 

As I approached the gravesite, I could see that he had dug about halfway down into the grave. He held a shovel in his right hand and a gun in his left. “You’re not going to run are you?” he asked. His appearance seemed rather ordinary— until our eyes met. I’m not easily spooked, but his keen stare alarmed the hair on the back of my neck.

 

“No,” I said.

 

He tucked the gun into his pants and then threw me the shovel. “Start digging.”

 

I dropped the shovel down into the thigh-deep hole and grunted as I followed it inside.

 

“What are you doing out here this time of night?” he said as he sat down and wiped his brow.

 

“I’m the groundskeeper.”

 

“That’s strange. I did my homework; there are no employees at night.”

 

“I’m not supposed to be here either.” The shovel sank into the dirt easily enough, but my muscles complained when I started shoveling it out of the hole.

 

“Hmm,” he said. “So, what are you doing here?”

 

“It’s peaceful at night.”

 

“So you work here… and come here to hang out? Kind of an eerie guy. But I suppose the right kind… if one has to exhume a body.”

 

I kept digging, and the man kept watching until the shovel caused a clunking noise.

 

“All right,” he said. He sat with his legs dangling over the side of the hole.  “Now start digging on the sides so we can open my treasure chest.”

 

When I had finished my task, the man jumped in beside me. It took quite a few hard pushes before we finally had the lid all the way open.

 

I generally have to be content with a mental image of my residents—unless their loved ones are kind enough to leave me a picture—I couldn’t help but comb my hair with my fingers to tidy up a bit before I met her.

 

Her long blonde hair flowed gracefully over her petite shoulders. Rosy cheeks and ruby lips highlighted powdered fair skin. “Beautiful.”

 

POW! I felt the deafening discharge from my fingers to my toes. Beatrice received a bullet hole in the middle of her forehead. I had stopped breathing.

 

“Hmm,” the grave robber said. “Grab her arms.”

 

“What?”

 

It took him aiming his weapon at me before I comprehended the instructions.

 

“Grab her arms. I’ll get her feet.”

 

Heavier than she looked, the first attempts at getting her out of the grave were grotesque. I wanted to lay her back in her bed, fold her arms back across her body… smooth her hair.

 

Finally, we had her in a somewhat normal position lying in the grass next to her assumed final resting place.

 

My dilated eyes absorbed a sudden explosion of light. When I regained my vision, I realized the man was snapping pictures.

 

I couldn’t withhold my curiosity a moment longer. It had fused together with fear and sympathy for Beatrice and formed a knot in the pit of my stomach. “I do realize that this is none of my business, and I really shouldn’t be asking you anything, but…”

 

“I don’t off chicks,” he said. His chest heaved in and out, just like mine.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“That’s why I’m doing this. That was your question… right?”

 

I nodded.

 

He pulled a flask out of his jacket, put it to his mouth, and took a drink. Surprisingly, he handed it to me. As the unexpected bland taste of the pure water quenched my dry tongue, he spoke, “Some asshole hired me to kill a woman. This is just what I do when I’m put in the situation.”

 

I swallowed hard. The liquid felt like a tank going down my throat. The man standing beside me murdered people for money. And he’d said Iwas the creepy one. “So you’re going to pretend that Beatrice is the woman you were supposed to kill?”

 

“Beatrice,” he said and stared down at her. “They don’t want them at their doorstep. All I need is proof. I did a lot of obituary searching to find her. Same facial features, hair color, age.”

 

“What about the real girl?”

 

“She’s on a plane as we move our lips.”

 

We stood there for a moment: the atmosphere thick with the smell of death and the moonlight animating tree shadows across Beatrice’s face.

 

“So, why did someone want her dead?” I asked.

 

“Don’t know… didn’t ask.”

 

I nodded.

 

“Let’s get her back down,” he said.

 

The chore of replacing her didn’t take as long as excavating her had, but I hated our method. We just dropped her in.

 

We climbed in after and put her back in the casket. Except for the bullet hole and the dirt in her hair, she looked like she did before we disturbed her. I said my goodbyes and shut the lid.

 

When I looked up at the assassin, his jaw was tense and his eyes and gun were focused on me.  He said, “You know, I have to kill you now.”

 

I stopped to inhale the earthy air, to scratch my nose, and to think about my new home with Beatrice Virgil’s address. Until we meet again, my epitaph.  “Yeah,” I said. “I know.”

 

***

 

John knew the old saying: Revenge is a dish best served cold. But he had to disagree. Because this time, his revenge would be cooked and served sizzling hot.

 

Being the cook for the Beaumont family had definitely been hell, and it seemed as if he had already worked for them an eternity. When he saw his murderer, standing there on the auction block, another saying seemed right on: What goes around comes around.

 

New arrivals went straight to the auction house. Both demon and H.S.L. (Human Soul Laborers) bought souls for a variety of reasons—the juicier the more they cost. John’s assassin was already up to a stellar price.

 

The red demon auctioneer had the whole house animated with energy. He was saying, “This soul here has no moral backbone. He killed over fifty men. He’s a thief, a cheater, and a murderer. Do I hear seventy-five….”

 

When John held up his auction paddle, his assassin looked him in the eyes. John remembered the last time their eyes met. The next thing he knew, he was in hell, standing exactly where this guy stood now. John had committed minor sins in comparison to murder, so buying him to eat would have been like buying a sickly, skinny cow. Not worth eating.

 

John had been purchased as an H.S.L. by one of the more prestigious demon families. Some souls were bought for pulling wagons, for building roads, for housewives, for…dinner. He understood how lucky he had been that he knew how to cook. His duties included buying groceries at the auction house.

 

He didn’t win the bid on his murderer just for pleasure; he would also make a fine meal. The Beaumonts planned to have a dinner party for twenty guests. John purchased two other plump souls as well.

 

When John arrived back at his kitchen, he put the three men into his tall, refrigerated cage. They needed to be fresh. Much longer out in the heat, and they would have been tough. He himself had developed skin close to the texture of leather. He hadn’t lived in Hell long enough to figure it all out, but he reckoned all the demons started out looking the way the human souls did, but in time they adapted to the atmosphere, causing their crimson, rutted skin.

 

Once John shut the cage, the hit man said, “Funny meeting you here.”

 

“So, you do remember me.”

 

“I never forget a face.”

 

“Of someone you killed or just in general?” John reached in a drawer and pulled out his knife sharpener. He wanted to give this guy the full treatment. At that moment, if he had ever wondered before, he recognized one of the major reasons for his descent. He kept deep hatred in his heart. Hmmm. He began to grind the knife across the sharpener.

 

His murderer said, “What are you doing here?”

 

“I’m about to make dinner.”

“I mean, in the hole. I never characterized you for a sinner.”

 

“We all have our sins. It’s the people who realize it too late that end up down here.”

 

At this, the hit man nodded his head.  “So, what are you making?”

 

The two other men in the cage looked downright terrified. John looked down at his knife. No matter what kind of show he put on for his murderer, this wouldn’t be any easier than any other meal.

 

He inhaled and then nodded his head over to the man standing to the right of the murderer. “Leg of Sam,” he said. He glanced at the next guy, “Barbecued ribs.” He looked directly into the hit man’s eyes. “And roasted pig.”

 

“You don’t have to be so nasty. Just making conversation.”

 

“Perhaps we should save the small talk for the guests.” Meals had always just stood in the cage awaiting their fate. Once in awhile one would sing or one would cry, but never did he actually have to talk to one before he prepared it.

 

“For what it’s worth,” his murderer said. “I apologize. I was just doing my job.”

 

John thought about this for a moment. He wondered if he would have repented if given more time. If he had not been killed at that moment, would it have caused a different finale? He doubted it. Just doing my job. “All right,” he finally said. “I’ll accept your apology. I have an apology of my own.”

 

“I suppose you do,” the man said.

 

John said, “You know, I have to cook you now.”

 

“Yeah,” the hit man said, “I know.”

 

The End

 

Note: This was originally two short stories – That is why there is a shift in POV – but for the purpose of this post, I put them together. The first one was called “Body” and the second one was “Hell’s Kitchen.” I had written both short stories for the anthology, Split, by the Humble Fiction Café .

Ninja vs. Pirates Goodreads Giveaway

Hi friends, Click on over to Goodreads and enter the Giveaway for my Children’s Book, Ninja vs. Pirates!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ninja vs Pirates by Dorlana Vann

Ninja vs Pirates

by Dorlana Vann

Giveaway ends August 16, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Are you Team Ninja or Team Pirate?

Step into the hilarious imagination of Riley and Richard as they use clowns, ghosts, poop, and jokes to argue who are the better warriors—ninja or pirates? Riley dramatically acts out his tale about how the ninja tricked the brainless pirates. And Richard draws pictures to get his point across: pirates were smart and inventive; the ninja were the real clowns! Will the boys ever agree? Or will it always be ninja vs. pirates?

For all ages (especially 8-year-old boys)

Mild Pirate Violence

Dorlana’s 8-year-old son, Dean, wanted his mom to write a book for him that had pirates, ninja, and jokes. Soon, the project became a partnership. Dean is the illustrator of PART II, model, and advisor on all things little boy.

Buy the paperback at Amazon
Ninja vs Pirates

Buy the paperback at Barnes and Noble:
Ninja vs Pirates

The Retelling of a Fairy Tale (Dorlana Style)

When I’m preparing to write one of my fairy tale inspired stories, I never know what I’m going pull from the fairy tale itself, and I often add a fun challenge. Here are some of my favorite methods I have used over the years to inspire and challenge me.

First, pick a fairy tale then…

1. Have someone list all the words that they associate with a fairy tale and then write a story using the fairy tale as your muse, but without using any of the words on the list.

2. Add another element: I usually use something supernatural, like werewolves, mermaids, vampires, etc.

3. Pick a genre (mystery, romance, sci-fi) before you read or reread the fairy tale you are going to use.

4. Interpret the moral, and only use that for your story.

5. Pick one of the supporting characters from the fairy tale and put that character in a predetermined setting or time.

6. Use a picture/snapshot plus a fairy tale to write the story.

I used method #6 for my short story “Blueberry Eyes.”  We were looking for writing prompts in my writers group a few years back and my daughter had taken the picture you see on the upper left of this post. I matched it with the fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel and the result was the short story. Now I’m using the short story for the starting point/inspiration for my work-in-progress – a new YA supernatural fairy tale, Potion.

BTW “Blueberry Eyes” is one of the short stories from my fairy tale inspired paranormal collection, Supernatural Fairy Tales. The eBook is available for only .99 cents at Amazon .

Supernatural Fairy Tales: Fairy tale inspired paranormal short stories.

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

These 9 Supernatural Fairy Tales are not retellings of the original fairy tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, and more, in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.

Blueberry Spell Perfume

Blueberry PotionJFay of Studio3b used, “Blueberry Eyes”, as inspiration for one of her fairy tale potions, BLUEBERRY SPELL. This magical perfume is an enchanting blend of luscious Blueberries and Vanilla, with a hint of Blackberries and Amber.

Supernatural Mystery FREE today

Hi Friends,

Passage to Queen Mesentia

Passage to Queen Mesentia is a Paranormal Egyptian Mystery.  The Kindle edition is free today worldwide.  Here is the blurb:

The assassination of her archeologist parents thrusts Lillian Steward from her comfortable life and into a dangerous quest for an ancient Egyptian artifact. The mystery guides her from Texas to Egypt as she follows the clues left by her parents. Accompanied by a mysterious stranger with a romantically tragic past and her protective ex-boyfriend, who is still in love with her, Lilly walks a tightrope of forbidden attraction and blind determination. Will they finally be able to bury the past, or will a history of love, hate, and blood repeat itself?

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Amazon FR

Also, Passage to Queen Mesentia, is lonely over there on Amazon – poor little thing has no reviews. If you do pick it up today and love -or hate it :(  or anywhere it between, a couple of words would be cool and much appreciated!

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

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