Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #9

The Care and Feeding of Angels
by Josh Vogt


Standing before the entrance to his private workshop, I scan the note left with my father’s will.

Beyond the shop and fortune, there is another legacy I bequeath to you.

The door swings open at my touch. Neon lights flicker on, illuminating—

Bloody clamps pin the wings to the rear wall. Shackles contort the arms and legs, while the stained tatters of a white robe do nothing to hide the emaciated figure. A rotting stink assails me, and I steel myself for a closer inspection.

I believe it held a minimal rank in the divine legions. How else could I, a mere jeweler, have captured and kept it all these years?

A rod and welded collar locks its head over an empty metal bucket.

Jesus wept, and so do the angels, my son.

The surrounding shelves sag with all manner of prod and blade and brand.

Torture is the most effective method—yet I learned rare acts of kindness can inspire bursts of productivity. For instance, after particularly severe sessions, tending a wound or providing sustenance often triggers further outpourings of grief.

Chains clink as its head raises enough for our gazes to lock.

“Help…me…” it begs in tones of broken chimes.

Crimson beads glint in the corners of its eyes. One trickles down and drops into my waiting palm. With my father’s old loupe, I inspect the ruby and murmur in surprise.

“Flawless.”

Its head bows anew, and tears cascade into the bucket.

The sound is of rain.

48 comments:

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ahhhhhhh. Beautiful.

Aerin said...

blood rain, like the plagues on Egypt

Sarah Laurenson said...

Had to come back and read it again. An early favorite for me.

J.C. Montgomery said...

Like Sarah, I find myself returning to read this again.

Flawless.

Beth Harar said...

This is a favorite for me too. So original and so well written.

Aerin said...

(of course, what would we expect from our newly agented Josh?!)

JR's Thumbprints said...

Excellent use of a title to set the pace.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Creepy. Loved this one very much-the concept is startling.

Aimee Laine said...

Interesting way to 'gather' jewels but my heart goes out to the angel 'against' the greed of the father. :)

Peter Dudley said...

Wow, what I love most about this (besides the wildly creative premise) is the way you reveal the entire scene, tension, plot, and setting so smoothly.

Here is a really masterful flash piece.

maybe genius said...

Wow. How delightfully creepy. It gave me shivers and pulled at my heart at the same time. Well done.

Aniket said...

Genius plot and beautifully written. Perfect pace too. I'd be really, really surprised if this isn't in the top 5. It might as well, go all the way to win the big prize. Very well done.

catvibe said...

Love it. The voice of broken chimes, so sad...

Jade L Blackwater said...

Wow - harsh, and beautiful. Nicely written.

Stephen Hill said...

My favourite thus far. The idea and the imagery that supports it is stellar, and conjures up a myriad of emotions within its relatively few words. Beautiful and brutal.

pegjet said...

Oh my. I am speechless. Oh my.

You have a gift.

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Fine story, beautifully wrought. Images that linger.

Deb Smythe said...

Wow! That goes for both the story and the writing.

Timothy P. Remp said...

Wow! This is one of my favorites. Very powerful imagery.

-Tim

http://timremp.blogspot.com/

Kelley said...

I had one of those "I wish I had written that" moments.

jelismorgan said...

I have a special place in my reader's heart for anything fantastical, and that place is further augmented when the subject is of angels in a creative and original way. You've managed to capture my imagination so thoroughly. Beautifully written!

Precie said...

Expertly written!

Kimberly B. said...

Wow. That was twisted and gorgeous, and leaves me wanting more!

MRMacrum said...

Awesome story. Just awesome.

Allie said...

The idea of this is just brilliant. 250 words is the perfect length, too, to tell this tale.

Lee said...

Fantastic, and sure to depress the rest of us who entered. Well done!

theanvilsings said...

Lovely. Gets my vote.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Josh!

Nicely done! When it rains, it pours?

(tears on the raindrops of the soul)

Dottie :)

fairyhedgehog said...

Such a sad story. How can the narrator bear to cause such pain?

McKoala said...

I'm giving this one my non-existent: 'Best title' award! Love it.

akika said...

Creepy. Distressing. Beautiful. Heart-rending. Sad. Amazing.
If I could string all those words into a proper description of what you'd written I would, but I find myself left inarticulate.

Joni said...

I'm completely taken with the concept. Beautifully written. Two thumbs way up.

JaneyV said...

Oh Josh - you never ever ever disappoint. This is just amazing. So beautiful and so heartbreaking. I'm not sure what stings more - the pain of the angel or the casual cruelty of the father.

You have a breathtaking talent Josh.

Vincent Kale said...

Aaaaaamazing!

I love the notes the father leaves, as if they're instructions for a particularly finicky but valuable machine.

I want the story to continue: does the narrator continue in his father's footsteps? Do other angels come in search of their missing brother?

Fantastic

Laurel said...

This is one of the most dynamic pieces I've read. Fabulous, beautifully written, sad.

I really want more. I want to find out what happens. Something terrible for the jeweler, I hope.

Josh said...

Wow. Thank you everyone for such an incredible response. As always, it's great to be able to take part in this contest, and I've loved reading through all the other entries as well.

bekbek said...

In some other comment thread related to this contest, somebody mentioned your name in a "wow" context, so when I clicked on "#9" and saw "Josh Vogt," I had to remind myself to not have expectations, just read.

Well. ~grin~ Whatever to that, because this was AWESOME!

I especially like that you don't examine your main character's feelings. The stink and the scene of torture is clearly unpleasant, without going too far--you don't try to completely horrify us; you just let us explore. This is particularly adept because you don't overwhelm the sweetness of your final line.

Really, really beautifully done.

Mike Robertson said...

How do we post a Reader's Choice vote? Because this one gets mine!

Chris Eldin said...

Sooooo creative and masterfully written! I always love reading your takes on these contests. Very well done!

JR's Thumbprints said...

After a second reading, I'm reminded of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short story, "The Old Man With Enormous Wings." Except your story is much much more gruesome.

Catherine Vibert said...

Well, this gets my can't get it out of my head vote for the entire contest. Great one Josh. I commented earlier, but thought I'd come back to tell you how haunting this one is. It really speaks with just two characters of the way that greed trumps guilt and morality in human nature all too much. To tie up and torture an angel, GREAT metaphor on so many levels.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

This is powerful! I like it a lot! I think it's interesting that so many stories have the same theme of jewels coming from human or human-like forms.

Catherine Vibert said...

SEE? Calls it like I sees it. Congrats Josh, you totally 100% deserved to win this.

Josh said...

Thanks again, everyone for the incredible support here. I love taking part in this and seeing the amazing stories folks come up with.

Josh said...

I like to use the word "flabbergasted" in this sort of situation.

raine said...

Congratulations, Josh, and just...wow. This broke my heart.
Compelling writing!

Dan and Kristie Puls said...

Josh, my friend,
This piece is awesome. I am glad to see that people are appreciating your work. Like a rocket to the top. Keep on writing. PS send me some of your stuff I am starving for quality work over here.

Josh said...

Dan, my friend,

I will send you my current work post-haste. You remain one of my biggest cheerleaders throughout years of computer gaming, marriages, and desk drawers full of Halloween candy.