A Flare for Spices

See if you can guess why I am posting this story now (on all accounts).

 

A Taste of Armageddon

By

Robert Garbin

 

 

The great cauldron sat deep in the fire, shimmering waves of heat rising all around.  Flames licked the soot blackened metal almost to the rim.  What could be seen of the kitchen where it boiled was a nightmare of warped selves, darkened by millennia of cooking, filled to the brim with jars of all sizes and colors, jars that contained any number of rare delicacies for the tastes of the depraved.  Light flickered off jars of spurned love, betrayed trust, and glutinous lust.  Helen reached out a fine hand covered in smudges of vanity and grabbed a jar from a shelf.  Her exquisite hair clung to her scalp in oily strands, while the porcelain beauty of her face was hidden under layers of soot and sweat.

She opened the jar and smelled the powerful aroma of polished leather and expensive cigars wafting off the influential men who had guided humanity only for personal gains, men who were careless of the costs to others.  Helen reflected on how plentiful this particular spice was now.  She carefully shook only two screaming businessmen into the bubbling cauldron, knowing full well its overpowering nature.  Pursing her full lips, she perused the glass crocks from which blood smeared bodies writhed in the throes of agony.  The mistress of the cauldron reached up to the top shelf for a jar distinguished by a bloody red cross.  Opening the lid she inhaled the cloying smell of incense mixed with sacramental wine.  Letting a wicked grin twitch one side of her mouth, Helen pulled out a hefty squealing Catholic Bishop with several child molesting Priests clinging to his legs.  A quick flick sent the caterwauling bunch into the stew.  The Bishop should add a nice hint of hypocritical self-righteousness with a lingering aftertaste of restrictive dogma towards the female gender.

Ingredients from millennia of human history weighed down the shelves of Helen’s kitchen, which made the creation of each stew an art unto itself.  Every century carried a unique note that had to be accounted for if the final product was to be worthy.  Helen walked down the long line of shelves to where the light from the fire barely touched the dark shadows and the glass containers were smoky with age.  She selected a jar from near the bottom, rubbing away the accumulated dust of ages.  From within, Helen pulled out a golden statue of a cow.  She left the squirming orgy of the makers of this false idol in the jar; their unfinished orgasms holding them in an eternally unsatisfied agony of unreleased pleasure.  Resealing the jar she placed it back on the shelf.  From a nearby nook she pulled down a bottle filled with the blind arrogance of military leaders so set in their ways that the deaths of thousands could not change their useless methods.  The bottle swirled with broken bodies in a gravy of thick blood.  Helen returned to the bubbling cauldron to add her latest ingredients.

She tossed the golden cow into the stew and watched as it melted like butter, giving an oily film to the top of the concoction.  Helen lifted a paddle from the wall and gave the contents a stir before adding in the next ingredient; the comingled smell of sins tickled her nose.  Continuing to stir with her right hand, the mistress of the kitchen upended the entire contents of the bloody bottle.  The smell of scorched earth, decayed bodies, and dried blood rose strongly from the cauldron.  Young men dying on the battle fields of hypocrisy would form the base for the Master’s soup.  Helen hung the paddle back on the wall to allow the stew time to burn a little.

She brought a delicate finger to her lips.  The challenge was to create harmony in the stew without losing the distinctive notes of each individual spice.  The arrogance of ambitious officers, while overpowering, carried the desires of all the other spices to fruition and formed the tempo that organized them into a coherent symphony.  To dilute its presence too far would turn the mixture into a chaotic blend of competing players with no direction, every flavor trying to outdo the other.  Helen pulled a tarnished spoon from the pocket of her stained apron.  With a deft flick of her hand the spoon slipped just below the surface of the thick morass and carried a steaming sample to her ample lips.  She blew softly then placed the spoon into her mouth.  The rich blood of sacrificial lambs rolled over her tongue followed by the tang of secret meetings and religious doctrines, ending with the bitter taste of betrayal.  Not quite everything she was looking for yet.

Helen tapped the spoon in her open right hand as she contemplated what to add.  She moved to a set of shelves just behind the cauldron where newer hybrid varieties of older spices glistened in their shiny bottles.  She studied the shelves for several minutes before hooking a finger around a bottle of swirling grey mist and dancing sparks.  Removing the lid, Helen caught the strong aroma of gunpowder and deception from modern war profiteering.  This particular bottle carried a stronger variety gathered from the leading councils of the NRA who reaped wild profits for the corporations they represented by making it harder to stem the tide of guns sold to criminals, while using the fear of such weapons to sell more to the public they pretended to protect.  The refined hints of misdirection, duplicity, and rabid loyalty were intoxicating.  In combination with the blind Generals, the profiteering would add a satisfying base of rampant death and misguided trust.  Helen turned and sprinkled a liberal helping, almost sneezing from the pungent smell of spent gunpowder.  She returned to the cauldron and stirred for a while.

Inspiration came to her as she worked scorched mixture loose from the sides of the great pot.  She reached to the right for a jar wrapped in red velvet.  Pulling off the velvet, she revealed a jar filled with a thick golden substance that seemed to flash as it swirled inside the bottle.  Helen tugged the stopper out and sniffed the scent of floral perfumes, stale vomit, and leftover sex, Hollywood’s finest.   Women forced into visions of splendor by old men drunk on power and lust.  Girls who worshiped at Aphrodite’s Alter and suffered through the jealous goddess’s penance of anorexia, low self-esteem, and unrewarded trust.  Helen knew all too well the costs of following the dictates of this creature of legend.  The golden spice should add a nice touch of unobtainable perfection and foolish pride, affecting men, as well as women, since they would desire the illusion more than reality.  They would punish themselves for not obtaining the ideal, while they abused their lovers for failing their dreams.  Blending with the other spices, the golden essence would bind the others in a knot of tension that would explode upon the Master’s palate.

Helen added the essence of delusion then reached for the stirring paddle before sitting on the stool near the cauldron.  The only task left was to watch over the stew to keep it from burning too much as she allowed the concoction to reduce and concentrate the blend of sins to a conflagration of flavors.  Centuries passed as she tended the great cauldron.  Civilizations rose and fell.  Finally, Helen judged the mixture complete and extinguished the nether world fires beneath the charred cauldron.  She called out to the Master’s servant Adolf, while she searched the pantry for an appropriate vessel to carry the stew to his table.  Pulling down a large golden soup tureen she returned to her stew and neatly ladled the final product almost to the brim before replacing the lid.  Turning to the immaculately dressed servant, Helen carefully placed the Master’s dinner onto the intricately etched silver tray he held out.  Without a word, since he had no mouth, Adolf turned and left the kitchen through a heavy wooden door.

He walked down a short hall as quickly as possible though the fear of spilling even a single drop caused him to sweat profusely.  Opening the door at the end of the hall, he entered a room worked to a grand scale, several miles from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.   Thousands of fine crystal chandeliers with hundreds of candles each filled the vast space with a soft burning glow.  A fireplace, five hundred feet wide and two hundred feet high, was placed in the wall opposite the entrance and before it was set a table half a mile long with hundreds of seats to a side.  The Master sat near the fireplace at the head of the table.  Without stopping, the servant Adolf moved swiftly to the Master’s side, the focus of the room weighing heavily upon him.

When he finally arrived at the near end of the table, he refrained from looking at the ornate tableware set for the Master’s favored minions, whom would eat only after the Master had deemed the meal worthy.  Unfortunately, he could not tune out the orgy of lust, treachery, and murder, which played out continuously down the length of the table’s center, droplets of various bodily fluids threatening to stain his spotlessly maintained outfit.  With great relief, Adolf finished his journey and bowed to his better before carefully filling the Master’s bowl with the steaming broth and then he moved to his place behind and to the left of his Master.

Satan inhaled the spicy mixture of lust, greed, and violence, making some guesses at the ingredients this particular cook had used.  Millennia had weathered the world bald as cook after cook had failed his expectations for the final feast, the screaming anguish of his starving horde gnawing away at his delicate temper.  Tentatively, the Master grasped an ornate spoon and broke the surface of the stew.  He closed his eyes as the smells of sins, new and old, rose from the disturbed surface, saturating his sinuses and causing his nostrils to dilate with anticipation.  Satan’s sensual lips parted as he brought the spoon slowly to his mouth.  Flavor burst upon his tongue with a release of spent tension that deposited the blood of millions to caress his palate in a celebration of carnal desires, causing his overheated skin to rise in excited response.  Subtle tones of abused childhood melded magnificently with betrayed youth and bitter old age.   Boy molesting priests, philandering husbands, and vindictive sirens merged with religious fervor, hush money, and tabloid headlines.  Blind trust answered by cruel manipulation.  Satan quivered as he tasted the slaughter of entire species and the desecration of almost all of God’s creation.  A long sigh of pleasure escaped his lips as the spoon fell to the table forgotten.

The servant twitched with fear at the cacophony of furious hunger that raced along the walls of the enormous hall, while hundreds of servants rushed forward to fill the table before the horde was freed.  Few were successful as the Master made a negligent flick of his wrist.  Even the Master’s personal servant was flung viciously to the side, ending in the great fire behind Satan, as the ravening pack annihilated anything in their path.  Most of the candles throughout the chamber were extinguished, sending the room into a nightmare of primitive sounds and fears.  Slurping sounds were punctuated with the snap of bones as even the centerpiece of human sinners was consumed.  The sharp staccato din of platters crashing to the floor echoed off the distant walls.  Overall, Satan’s satisfied chuckle could be heard.  Finally, at Satan’s command the candles relit, freezing the horde of demons in mid debauchery for which the Master smiled fondly at them.

Satan arose from his seat to walk the length of the table, hundreds of gleaming red eyes and pointed ears tracking his every step.  A lazy hand caressed the spawn nearest as he progressed down the grand feast, letting the copious amounts of blood and bile drip from his delicate fingers.  When he reached the end of the table, Satan turned to address his minions.

“Beloved, at last our great task is at hand.  I held back your succor for millennia so that your perfection would not be sullied by an inferior product.  Tonight, you have supped on the sublime creation of all my dreams and are now prepared to unleash the fullest measure of your talents upon the flawed creations of the world.  Go, go and show the heavens the will of your Master!”

But for Satan, the room was now empty.  He strode gracefully toward the kitchen entrance as a wicked grin creased his handsome face.  When he entered the kitchen, the walls were spotless, the shelves modern, and the kitchen fully outfitted.  Helen winced as her appearance changed from one of weary exhaustion to radiant beauty before her master had taken a single step into the room, grand illusions even unto the end.  The Prince of Lies entered his kitchen with a broad smile on his face and a cocky swagger to his step.

“My dear Helen, you have finally outdone yourself.  My minions would also give you their expressions of joy, if they did not have other business to attend to.”  Helen shuddered involuntarily.  “Soon all will be set right and I have you to thank.  I see now that I could not live another day without your delectable creations so I have decided to make your position permanent.”

“Noooooooo…,” Helen screamed as her legs buckled.

On the surface, cities fell and nations died.  Man finally knew the apocalypse had come.

Advertisements

Patreon page no longer active

Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I have closed my Patreon page.  I have not been able to post content there because of the new job taking up so much time; however, I look forward to rethinking how to bring more excitement and value to those who follow my work.  One door has closed, somewhere another has opened.  Stay tuned for updates.

P.S. There is a lot of content currently on this blog to check out now, please enjoy.

You are in Luck Today (from my Patreon page)

Guys and Gals, you are in luck today.  I had decided to open up another story for the public, but when I went searching on my Patreon page, I realized I had not loaded this particular story.  So I am actually adding a new reward for the month that I have decided to share with the public.  The story is a little over a thousand words, making it a quick read, and is called “A Taste of Armageddon”.  Here is what I posted on the sight:

“Well, it has been several months since I have uploaded a new story and I also had this particular one in mind, given the state of the union.  I honestly thought I had already uploaded this one a while ago.  I am glad that I hadn’t.  I am leaving this reward open to the public so feel free to leave comments on my blog, which I very much look forward too.”

New Reward – A Taste of Armageddon

Free to Download

I have decided to begin opening up my Patreon story rewards to the public in hopes of stirring up interest and gaining readership of my work.  If you like what you read, please consider supporting the creation of more work.  It only costs $1 a month or $12 a year and would serve as a morale boost and a reason to continue.  The first opened post contains the story “Sanity” along with the cover I created for the collection I hope to publish.  Find the files here First Patreon Reward.

A Good Stretch is All I Need

 

Finally getting back to writing, albeit at a slow pace, has got me to thinking about the collection that was the reason for creating my Patreon page.  “Mystics and Misfits” is a celebration of everything I love about the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre filtered through my experiences and feelings.  I became an artist because of the artwork from the books, movies, and TV shows.  I started writing because of all the great stories I read that touched my heart, made me laugh, cry, and rage.  Now I have a chance to show you guys what it means to me.

I just reopened the file that contains the collection and it stands at 58,173 words and my goal is 80,000 for the final book.  If “Lost Contact expands out as I think it will, I should be at that mark.  I will also be adding in my sffworld contest entry “A Word in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” because I think it is a worthy story and will help get over the word goal.  From there is where I will need all of your help and support.  I want to get a real editor to go through the collection and make it as sharp and tight as a professional collection, but that will take money and encouragement.  Please consider helping anyway you can.

Well Hello There

Nice to see so many people checking into my blog tonight so I decided to give you a treat especially since I just crossed the 1,000 word mark in “Lost Contact”.  I am enjoying my new phone making all this noise with alert after alert.  So here you go:

 

Lost Contact

by

Robert Garbin

(A Work in Progress)

He couldn’t breathe!  The suit should be providing enough oxygen but it just wasn’t making a difference.  Emergency alarms were buzzing in his ears along with a synthetic voice trying to calm him down, which coupled with his panic made things worse.  He tried clawing at his helmet; unfortunately, fingers softened by thick suit gloves were useless this way.

Air … open, unrestricted breathing had to happen now!  Wheezing frantically, Jack desperately tried to collect his thoughts to operate the release on his helmet’s seal ring.  His hands fumbled uselessly.  Blazing anger and sickening fear slammed like waves on the shores of his mind, clouding all rationality as he began to hammer his head on the rocky ground.  The first few hits almost jarred him enough to stop but the effect did not last.  He started again, harder and harder until a jagged crack formed in his faceplate and with one more powerful blow the glass shattered.  Carson immediately breathed deeply only to chock as a strong dose of sulfur dioxide entered his mouth.  Retching horribly he fell to the ground, finally out of strength, his eyes bulging and throat closing from the abuse.  His motions became nothing more than tremors as he began to lose consciousness.   On the edge of death a voice entered his mind, somehow familiar.

 

Two Weeks Earlier   

Jack Carson passed Tom Watson’s office heading for the company locker room after a long day of babysitting a rich politician making campaign rounds.  Jack worked for Terra Novae Security Inc., which was a polite way of saying mercenary force – soldiers for hire.  Almost past the door, Tom called him into the office.  Jack’s ever present voice of doubt and fear whispered from the deep pool of his damned up personality; his stomach gave him a jolt of acid.

Tom Watson was a bear of a man.  Six foot four out of fatigue boots with shoulders as wide as a normal man’s leg length and not an ounce of fat on his body.  Of course, the build made him look silly in his business suite.  His hair was a close cut dirty blonde just starting to grey at the temples.  Watson leaned back in his chair as Jack came in, putting his hands behind his head.

“How was the Haverson gig,” asked his boss?

“Boring,” Jack replied quickly.  “The man is so low on the food chain no one cares enough to even remember his name.  Why he feels he needs a body guard is beyond me but as long as he is paying the bills I got no problem.  At least the food is good.”

“Yeah, Haverson is a real paranoid.  My guess is he has some skeleton in his attic with some muscle still on it.  Well he was pleased with your work anyway.”

“Wow, I never expected him to mention me,” Jack replied, genuinely surprised.

“He did and that is why I am going to offer you a lucrative long term assignment,” Watson said as he motioned Jack to sit.

Jack sat in the hard wooden chair that was the only seat available other than Tom’s comfortable but well-worn desk chair.  Tom’s desk was neat and well maintained but like his chair old and traveled.  Jack had herd from some of the original members that the desk was a relic of Tom’s military career with the Antioch Marine Corps of Galina colony.  Tom had a falling out with a political backer there and chose not to reenlist when his tour was over.  Shortly thereafter he founded Terra Novae Security, Inc. with several of his command staff.

“Okay, what’s the gig?”

“I have a long time client putting together an off-world expedition who has lost a security expert on short notice and asked me if I could fill the void by tomorrow.  They are paying top dollar and a completion bonus of ten percent” Tom said.

Jack hesitated for a minute as the whisper in the pool turned into wails.   In his two years with the company he had never been asked to do off-world work, which was to his liking since he was more of a homebody.  However, the money sounded good with his debt being heavy from finally buying a house that was maybe a little more than he ought to have purchased.

“What’s the pay?”

“3500 credits a day plus food and board for the duration of the expedition plus the 10% per day bonus upon completion of the project.  Let me tell Jack, this is a sweet deal.  Have you ever been on an expedition before?”

“No, I have been content with planetary security,” Jack replied, sweat trickling down his neck under his shirt.

“Then you have been missing out.  The egg heads that you will be riding herd over are spoiled teachers and scientists with all the pretentiousness of movie stars.  They get catered meals to keep them happy and productive for the corporations funding the research and the company behind this mission spares no expense on their people.”

“So what happened with their other expert?”

“I think they said some kind of personal business came up, lucky for you though.  Think about it; spend a week or two on some exotic planet getting catered meals three times a day just to watch the backs of some brainy scientists.  Oh, hey, did I mention that the planet has no known predators, just plants as far as the eye can see.”

Jack was wary of this deal but he was desperate for a big paycheck.  Also, considering he passed up almost off world work for so long, he was afraid to turn down a gig the boss recommended him; his future employment might be at stake.

“Can I think it over,” Jack stalled for time.

“Unfortunately, this space need filled today because the expedition leaves in a week.  Are you in or out Jack?  If not, I got to see who else wants this sweet deal.”

Butterflies started dancing the rumba in his stomach as his cheeks became flushed.  Tom’s words made it sound like no sweat off his back if Jack said no, but his tone said he had better step up or find himself with much less work in the future.  Damn! He was comfortable doing what he did.  The money wasn’t great but the responsibility level was just what he could handle.   Jack wondered how he could have let himself get so in debt.

Director On Set

Tonight I am actually in good enough shape to get some writing in and “Two Steps From Hell” station is running on Pandora for the grand soundtrack type music.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t just write, I paint with words.  In actuality, I direct my stories like a movie.  That includes the visual arts of designing the props and building the sets.  It also includes choreographing the scene and actions of the characters, which includes the pacing of their dialogue, body language, and emotions.  I doubt it will ever happen, but someone making a movie out of my stories should be able to set up the scene easily if I have done my job well.  Okay, time to direct some more.