It’s time for the final Costumed Curses entries! I apologise for not getting these up sooner — this weekend left me unable to have access to the internet, and I had other things I needed to attend to with Gram’s funeral.
I hope you enjoy these final entries! Winners will be announced 31 October!
by Eleni Sakellis
Word Count: 496
In the waning days of the empire, there lived a builder of bridges. Famed throughout the known world for his engineering feats, the builder was charged with bridging a fearsome gorge, an expanse never spanned high in the mountains above a raging river. Delays plagued the project. Workers feared the dangerous heights and the villagers feared change. Content to live as they always had, isolated and protected by sheer cliffs, the villagers viewed the builder with suspicion. He was determined, however, to convince them of the need for the bridge.
“This bridge will bring prosperity and civilization, tourism and trade!”
The villagers only shook their heads at the builder and walked away. He could only see what the village stood to gain. The villagers knew what they stood to lose.
The builder complained to his wife. She comforted him.
“They cannot stop progress, husband. The bridge will be built no matter what.”
Construction began and was completed on schedule. Moments before the official opening, it collapsed. Such was the power of empire in those days that the bridge was rebuilt. Again, it collapsed. Undeterred, the builder ordered his workers to rebuild. Construction resumed. Fearing a third collapse, the workers suggested the builder consult the local witch. He laughed at first, but then thought what harm was there in satisfying the superstitious fools. His wife tried to dissuade him.
“Please, husband. No good can come from magic.”
“The bridge must be completed. Another collapse will ruin my reputation. How do you expect to live in luxury if I cannot find work?”
“Do not gamble your soul for money and reputation, husband.”
“More superstitious nonsense. I don’t believe in any magic. I’m only humoring the ignorant workers. Perhaps the witch will scare them into doing a better job.”
The builder kissed his wife and went off to consult the witch. He found her at the crossroad. She held up her hand and stopped the builder in his tracks.
“Place the silver on the ground.”
The builder did as he was told.
“Shore up the bridge with bone, or it will collapse again.”
“Your bones will make it strongest, but the bones of your wife will do.”
The witch took her silver and disappeared into the woods. The builder returned home. Construction resumed, but the builder was plagued by nightmares of a third collapse. On the third night, he decided to heed the witch’s advice. He led his wife to the construction site and tossed her into the foundation of the bridge. While he piled the stones and mortar upon her, she cursed him with her dying breath, and then, she cursed the bridge.
“As my bones are ground to dust beneath this bridge, may it shake and sway forever.”
When the final stone was set, the bridge did not collapse. The builder made his final inspection and fell down dead. He is long since ground to dust himself, but the bridge still stands and still it sways.
by Jason A. Rust
Jim stared at the smallish man sitting opposite him in the dark. Darrin — he probably should stop thinking of him as “Darrin, the office intern” — flicked the wheel on his Zippo. A blinding orange flame erupted.
Just before Jim looked away, the dark eyes looking back seemed to flash red.
“What’s wrong, Jimmy-boy?” Darrin, or whoever, whatever, he was, asked. “You wanted the weekend off and you got it.”
“I wasn’t fucking serious!” Jim spat, whispering. “Just pissed that I had to waste my weekend re-writing Horton’s 200-page proposal while he spent the whole time on his boat with his damn mistress.”
“Tsk-tsk, calm down or you’ll draw…attention. These luxuries have a price. And, honestly, doesn’t it feel good knowing that pompous dick can’t lord over anyone else, ever? Think of all the careers that just got heaps happier.”
“But you killed Horton,” Jim hissed through clenched teeth. “Christ, I didn’t want him dead.”
Darrin blew smoke. “Of course you did. You don’t say things like, ‘I hope the boat crushes the fucker,’ otherwise. Besides, I didn’t do it. You did.”
“I DID NOT!” The shout echoed down the dark cinder block hallway. Jim’s hands flew to his mouth.
“Maybe I should come back later.”
“No!” A deep breath. “No, I…look, you just overheard me. We never made a deal. Please, help me.”
“I already helped you. And, sure, we made a deal. You wished for the boat thing. I even popped into your office to make sure I’d really heard you wanted something.”
“You were going to the deli; of course I wanted something. A sandwich.”
Darrin chuckled, eyes flashing red again. “I didn’t ask you if you wanted a sandwich, did I?”
Jim buried his face in his hands. “I don’t want this. Please, I just want things to go back…”
“Look,” Darrin said, “bastard deserved it. And the way you loosened his boat so it would rocket off that trailer and run him over in that asshole convertible was poetic justice.”
Jim’s voiced quivered. “You. Did. That.”
Darrin laughed again. “Well, those security camera pictures tell a different story, don’t they Jimmy-boy?”
Jim sobbed. “Please.”
“Okay. Tell you what. Since I railroaded you at bit here, maybe I’ll let you off the hook.”
“Oh, God. Thank you.”
Those eyes burned a steady red now. “He has NOTHING to do with this.” The fire fading, Darrin backhanded Jim across the cheek.
Jim startled awake and lurched upright, head thunking the bunk above. Rubbing his forehead, he stood and stretched.
Something tickled the top of his bald head. A set of long shoe laces dangled from the sprinkler head.
The iron door clanged open at the top of the cell block.
“Johnson!” the guard barked, “Court day. Let’s make you presentable.”
Jim snatched the laces and tucked them under his bunk. For later.
A tear streaked his cheek.
A man like him surviving a place like this was, well, just plain wishful thinking.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox
Join other followers