A friend of mine was the one who guilted me into calling this thing “occult adventure,” due to the tone. But reading back over it I have issues with calling it that. There are some very dark elements in this story that make it not entirely adventure and more horror. I keep having this idea in my head that horror must not contain light-hearted elements, must be fully horror non-stop all the time. But if I’ve learned anything from Manly Wade Wellman, it’s that the characters in a horror story can be horrified some of the time, and can also have fun some of the time, even while they’re horrified. So here is some…
“You may call me Amnon,” says the man, genially enough, all trace of tooth gone from his voice. “Might I ask your name?”
“I thought you were expecting me?” the boy says, still dazed.
“I anticipated your arrival due to your motions. Your… energies? But names, sadly, I cannot predict.”
The boy doesn’t answer right away. He thinks again of leaving. What the hell is he talking about? His emotions? His energies?
“Richard,” he finally states. “But look, we should make things clear…”
“You’re not here for sex.” Amnon says this with a smile, as if he’s made a joke.
“Right,” Richard sighs.
“Then you are in the right place. Though you could have one of these if you wanted.” Amnon gestures to the two girls. The one at his leg finally looks at Richard and it’s a shock to his system. But her eyes drip with malice. He looks away.
“Perhaps after,” Amnon adds. “Business first. Did you bring a weapon?”
He says this so blandly, so matter-of-fact, that Richard isn’t certain he heard right.
“I’m sorry?” he says.
“A weapon.” A hint of impatience. “What do you expect to do without a weapon?”
“I thought…” He doesn’t want to voice what he thought, it seems so ridiculous.
Amnon smiles, white teeth showing. “You thought this was a hitman business.”
Richard’s face grows hot, and he knows he’s blushing. He doesn’t know what to say.
“Fiona.” Amnon speaks to one of the girls but keeps his eyes on Richard. “Fetch the knives.”
Fiona still hasn’t finished painting her nails, but she gets up with bits of cotton still separating her toes and goes into the next room. Richard can’t help but notice the way her butt wiggles under her shorts, if you could call them shorts.
“So who is it?” Amnon interrupts his thoughts.
Richard starts, this time guiltily. “Who?”
“Did they cheat on you?”
Richard shifts in his chair, which suddenly feels very uncomfortable. “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“Oh, but we must!” Amnon leans forward and peers at Richard from beneath dark eyelashes. “Were they a good fuck? Is that why you’re so angry they fucked someone else?”
Richard leaps from his seat, seething, fists clenched. He is about to say something, or worse hit the man, but Fiona appears and unrolls a cloth across the coffee table, displaying a variety of knives. Only a couple look modern – switchblades and Bowie knives. The rest look like they came from a museum – long, short, straight, curved, decorated with linen, finished with leather, bare steel, black metal. One doesn’t even have a hilt. But that’s all Richard can say about them; he knows nothing of weaponry. Wasn’t that why he had come here?
“What is their name?” Amnon breaks in.
“What?” Richard had almost forgotten he was angry. Something about those knives. Why is he here? “Who?”
Amnon sighs. “Are you going to waste my entire night? The one you want to harm, of course. The one who ran off and fucked some other boy or girl.”
Put that way, Richard finds it hard to deny. “Kimberly,” he rasps.
The girl at the foot of Amnon laughs. He backhands her across the face, expression unchanging, his body barely moving save for his arm. It’s almost as if he does nothing at all. But she rubs her cheek morosely before going back to caressing his thigh.
“Go ahead,” he say. “Pick one.”
Richard stares at him, mouth agape, uncomprehending. “For what?”
“Would you rather I throw you out having done nothing at all?” His voice is honey but his eyes flash anger.
Unnerved, Richard reaches down and picks a knife at random. He fumbles with it before he gets a grip on the hilt. There barely is one – only a curved indentation with little in the way of a guard. The blade is leaf-shaped, the edge flashing even in the dim light as if to announce how sharp it is.
“Now come closer,” Amnon says, all business.
Now Richard is really worried. A veritable armory of blades laid out before him in front of a strange and easily angered man, Richard thinks more strongly than ever that he really should go. His basic survival instinct is screaming flight at him with every snap of his synapses. His muscles contract and tighten and he is about to drop the knife and head toward the door.
“Don’t be frightened.” Amnon’s voice is dark, seems to echo in the little room. The whole room seems darker, seems to stretch around Richard like an optical illusion. But he barely notices. He is locked on those eyes that are blue as a sky or ocean he has never seen.
He steps around the coffee table to this man who is no longer threatening, who actually seems rather pleasant and he can’t imagine why he would have wanted to leave. The flames on the candles flicker and he notices the scent of lilac, or at least lilac scented candles.
The pleasant man rolls up his sleeve and holds out his arm to Richard. His eyes are brown again, but Richard is so at ease he thinks nothing of it.
“Cut my arm,” says the man.
“What?” Richard shakes his head quickly, just a back and forth, almost a tick. He was having such a good time just being here. Why would Amnon want him to do something so crazy?
“This part has to be of your own free will in order for it to work. I can’t babysit you any further.” He raises his arm closer to Richard. “Have you forgotten what Kimberly did to you? Didn’t you want her to pay?”
“Yes but… I don’t understand.” The mention of Kimberly is a shock, bringing him to his senses. He wants again to run but part of his mind tells him not to be afraid and not knowing where this thought comes from he trusts it.
“Kimberly,” Amnon continues, “who should have been true to you. Because you fucked her so good and hard it should have been enough. But she needed more. She needed to screw a hell of a lot more.” His voice grows deeper, huskier. His smile widens as he spits the words. “No matter how thoroughly you fucked her she still needed a more thorough fuck. And with someone else’s lips pressed against her cunt she shouted someone else’s name…”
Richard slashes the knife across the outstretched arm. Amnon gasps and throws his head back. The girl at his feet clings to his leg.
Richard steps back, breathing heavy, gripping the hilt of the knife so that its strange curves bite into his hand.
Amnon lets his own breath out in a shaking sigh, bites his lip. He locks eyes again with Richard, who is about to speak, to tell him don’t say another word.
But Amnon raises his arm, presenting it to Richard.
It’s clean, no blood, no trace of an injury.
Richard forgets his anger. His mouth falls open. “But I cut you. I felt it hit you.”
Amnon leans forward, eager, expectant.
“Now where else would you like to cut her?”