Evey Friday, horror author extraordinaire Chuck Wendig dares everyone who reads his blog to write a piece of flash fiction, this week’s theme being holiday horror, and the only rules are that it must be 2000 words or under. Here’s my answer to the challenge, a surreal winter tale I call… THE RINGER.
Warning: this story contains violence.
by G.G. Silverman
A man ringing a bell stood alone in the middle of nowhere, a frozen, stark white landscape under an ice-gray sky. He didn’t know why he was there; he had forgotten the purpose of ringing his bell, or how he arrived there in the first place, where the cold frost stung the exposed skin on his face, rendering his lips numb. Beside him, a red kettle of coins hung from a chain on a tripod stand. He kept ringing his bell, unable to stop, his arm and hand controlled by an unseen force that he fought against, to no avail. Nor could he move his feet, or any other part of his body except his bell-ringing hand. He screamed until his throat grew raw, and he gave up, hoping the sound of his bell would carry far into the distance and spur his rescue, though the small voice of his conscience told him that no one could hear him.
He stole a sideways glance at the kettle of coins, searching for clues about his past, or what brought him here. The words on it had been partially rubbed off, the only remaining letters reading Sal Arm. The bell ringer decided this was his name, Sal Arm, and that his bell-ringing arm was a relentless perpetual motion machine.
He attempted to pass the time, trying to think of songs he could hum. Fragments of winter songs came, but not enough to comfort him. God rest…God rest what? Ye merry…hmmm. There was another song he remembered, something about a little boy who liked to drum, or was it something else?
The perpetual motion machine of his arm kept swinging, swinging.
The hours passed, and the sky grew darker, and a sense of despair crept over him.
He closed his eyes. Shards of more memories came. Something about a former life.
There had been an alley. He had dragged a kettle of coins into an alley. Was it his kettle? He wasn’t sure. There had to be have been something more. There had been noise, shouting. Maybe a scuffle.
There had been a dark parking lot.
And, there had been a beating. Someone. A man.
A man was beaten. There was blood. A head wound.
The man cowering as someone brandished a tire iron, swinging, swinging.
The man screaming, Don’t. Don’t.
He remembered now.
It was he who held the tire iron.
Laughing, taunting, No one can hear you scream.
The man limp on the pavement, his blood pooling on dirty, cracked ice.
He had beaten the man and left him to die, and dragged off the kettle into the night.
The man had been a bell-ringer, as he was now, in this frozen karmic wasteland. And now his bell-ringing arm kept swinging, swinging; a perpetual motion machine.
He scanned the horizon for someone, anyone. The white sclera of his eyes burned, unable to produce tears. He opened his mouth wide, and raged against the vast expanse of snow and sky. It was a cold day in hell. And no one could hear him scream.
The Ringer © G.G. Silverman 2014. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced, performed, or adapted without permission.