Quickies – A Collection of Short Stories

Guest of Honor

As I take my seat in the back of the room, the strangers in black start to meander in from the outside world.  Some take their seats on the cold, hard wood and stare forward in silence, while others engage in some form of disconnected communication with words and gestures that sometimes seem so foreign to me.  The pungent aroma of half decaying flowers stings my eyes and makes my morning breakfast perform acrobatics within my stomach.

A squirrely, stocky, sweaty bald man in glasses motions everyone to take their seats, and instantly chaos becomes order.  There is no assigned seating, however somehow the collective unconsciousness sits in an eerie sort of organized fashion with the people most important to the guest of honor in front, and the casual acquaintances and strangers in the rear.

After a few speeches, to which I tune out, the strangers in black line up like lemmings at the edge of a cliff, and one by one, they take one last final look at the guest of honor before departing.  I find it amusing that all it amounts to is a few tears shed and some snot blown into a wet, soggy Kleenex and then it is all over.  The Guest of Honor is carried out on the shoulders of their friends, and once again I am left alone in silence.

I sit and think until the squirrely, stocky bald man in glasses motions for me to leave.  As the morning sunlight blinds me, I put on my sunglasses, take out my newspaper and pick one more name to circle out of the obituaries.  As I head into work, my mind is clear and a smile is on my face because for one more day, I am not the Guest of Honor.

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Destroyer of Mankind

Once upon a time there lived an evil wicked queen in her evil wicked tower surrounded by her evil wicked minions.  The evil wicked queen had succeeded in her evil wicked plan to destroy the world, and all that was left was the evil wicked queen and her evil wicked tower, filled with her evil wicked minions and one lone prisoner.

One night the evil wicked queen awoke to sounds of blood curdling screams emanating from the dungeon.  Oddly enough, these screams usually served as a lullaby when the evil wicked queen was unable to sleep at night.  However on this night, the screams of the lone prisoner pierced through the evil wicked queen like nails on a chalkboard and awoke her from her deep slumber.

“Minion!”, shrieks the evil wicked queen.  Suddenly a small, grotesque figure appears in the doorway.

“Yes, my queen?”, asks the horrid henchman.

“Minion!  I want you to go down to the dungeon this instant and put a stop to that infernal racket!”

“At once, your vileness”, responds the henchman, and vanishes into the darkness of the evil wicked tower.

A moment later, the anguished screams of the lone prisoner cease.  The evil wicked queen feels satisfied and begins to put her head on her pillow and go back to sleep.  As soon as the evil wicked queen shuts her eyes, the screams begin again.

“Minion!”, shrieks the evil wicked queen once more.  Again, the same small grotesque figure appears in the doorway.

“Yes, my queen?”, asks the horrible henchman.

“Minion!  I told you to put a stop to that infernal racket, didn’t I?  If that is true, then WHY DO I STILL HEAR THE SOUNDS OF SCREAMING?!?!”, the evil wicked queen shouts at the top of her lungs.

“I’m sorry your wickedness, and beg your forgiveness”, the horrendous henchman responds as he kneels before the evil wicked queen and bows his head.  “We have tried everything from flaying to flogging and from stretching to shocking.  The only thing left we can do to stifle his screams is to cut out his tongue or kill him.”  The evil wicked queen begins to say something when the minion continues, “However we know that in doing so, we would be depriving you of your communication with the last of mankind.”

“Be gone with you vile beast”, commands the evil wicked queen as she waives the minion out of her presence.  “I have no need for you to remind me why I have spared the last of mankind.”  However in her awakened stupor, the evil wicked queen had forgotten of her selfish need for companionship and had almost ordered the execution of the last living man.  The minions were not much smarter than a rock and could not hold a conversation to the evil wicked queens liking.  The only person who could ever hold her attention was the lone prisoner that was chained and locked in the dungeon of her evil wicked tower.

“This will not do.  This will not do at all”, says the evil wicked queen to no one in particular.  “I must go down and tend to this problem before I make any more rash decisions and destroy what is left of this wretched planet.”  The evil wicked queen quickly puts on a robe to cover her wrinkled, elderly, demonic form of a body and hurries down to the dungeon to quiet the prisoner herself.

When the evil wicked queen approaches the beaten and battered skeleton of a man, he quickly ceases his moaning and instinctively shrinks away from the evil wicked queen due to the countless years of abuse and torture at her hands.  The evil wicked queen remains silent and slowly begins to circle the prisoner dangling in shackles from the ceiling.  The evil wicked queen finds great delight in watching as the prisoner’s head turns around like an owl every time she steps behind the prisoner.

The evil wicked queen abruptly ceases her circling of the prisoner, grabs his face within one of her claw-like hands and stares directly into his sunken, lifeless eyes.  “Give me one good reason why I should not just rip your throat out right now for disturbing my rest?”, the evil wicked queen demands to know from the prisoner.

The shallow face of the prisoner seems to almost glow as he slowly raises his now life-filled eyes to meet those of his captor.  With an almost eerie steadiness in his voice, the prisoner utters a single word, “Love.”

The evil wicked queen stumbles back a pace, almost as if slapped by an invisible hand.  “LOVE!  HA!  How dare you lecture me about love, for there is no one left on this accursed planet to love!”

“This is true, everyone on this planet has been destroyed by your hands.  Everyone except for one”, responds the prisoner.  “I have been your prisoner for longer than I have been alive, and I have noticed the look in your eye for many years now when you watch as the minions dish out your brand of torture.”

“LIAR!  FOOL!”, the evil wicked queen snaps as she spits into the face of the insulting prisoner dangling in front of her.  “How dare you accuse me of being able to feel things for such a lowly wretch as yourself.  You are a mere mortal and know nothing of me or my feelings.  I ought to have the minions chop you up and cook you into a stew for tonight’s dinner.”

The prisoner merely smiles as the evil wicked queen’s dry spittle runs down his face.  “Ah, but I do know that you will do no such thing”, the prisoner says.  “I know this face because for years you have threatened me with death, yet you are unable to carry out your promises.  You cannot kill me, because you cannot stand to be without me.”

To this the evil wicked queen had no response.  The prisoner was correct!  She had kept this lone prisoner for companionship and was unable to fulfill her destiny of becoming the destroyer of mankind because she was in love with this mere mortal.  The thought seemed impossible, immoral even.  “How can the destroyer of mankind fall in love with the last of the one she is destined to destroy?”, the evil wicked queen thinks to herself.

Suddenly the evil wicked queen’s stomach feels as if someone has punched her with a sledgehammer and she quickly flees into the safety of her quarters.  Once back in her own room, the evil wicked queen starts to feel better.  The idea of her being in love was preposterous.  There was no way she could ever…

…and it suddenly became clear.  The evil wicked queen sees the error of her ways and rushes down to the dungeon to free the prisoner and finally understand what it feels like to be in love.  The evil wicked queen and the prisoner embrace and for the first time in her life, the evil wicked queen feels the impenetrable ice shield around her heart begin to melt.  In a short time, the evil wicked queen and the prisoner become inseparable and rule what is left of the decimated earth as the last royal couple, hand in hand.

One day, the evil wicked queen and the prisoner gaze out at their evil wicked empire from atop their evil wicked tower.  The evil wicked queen pours the prisoner a glass of wine as the prisoner slips behind her in what appears to be a warm embrace.  However the warm embrace is really the culmination of the prisoner’s many years of planning his freedom, and she shoves the evil wicked queen off of the balcony of her evil wicked tower to her death.  As the evil wicked queen plummets to her demise, she looks upwards at the quickly fleeting smirking face of the prisoner and utters one final word before she hits the jagged rocks below, “Why?”

The prisoner waits until he hears the distant wet thud from below, then proceeds to finish the wine that the evil wicked queen had poured for him moments before plummeting to her death.  “Why?  I will tell you why, my love.  Freedom.”, the prisoner says to himself as he laughs maniacally.  “And in killing you, my love, I have taken your place as the destroyer of mankind.  Your kingdom is mine to rule now!”

The prisoner sets the wine glass back down on the balcony railing and notices, a little too late, the white residue at the bottom of his glass.  The evil wicked queen had poisoned his glass of wine before he had a chance to achieve his victory.  As the prisoner sinks deeper and deeper into the dark abyss of death, he cannot help but chuckle at the irony of it all.  After his many years of planning, and the successful murder of his captor, the evil wicked queen still gets to retain her title as the destroyer of mankind.

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