I got an e-mail this evening, alerting me to a new blog post. It was by Amanda McCormick, an author who I follow. She had come up with the following writing prompt: Your Guardian Angel appears before you- the thing is, this is not what you were expecting.
I had one of those rare moments where a short story came to me, almost fully formed. So, despite the fact that I had enjoyed half a bottle of wine, I wrote it. The result is below. I hope you enjoy it!
Usually, I never give the convenience store a second thought. Until I’m forced up against it one night. Two men, physiques borrowed from their ancestral gorillas, stare at me, their faces deadpan. Giant hands on my shoulders. A third, a little guy with big muscles, pulls out a switchblade.
‘I need a wallet,’ he says. ‘You got a wallet. And a phone.’ He glances down at my hand. ‘And a wedding ring. See where this is going?’
His bald head flickers by the intermittent light of the shop’s neon sign. Live Well Discount Store. Discount prices? More like cutthroat.
‘Nice and slow,’ the bald guy says. My hand goes for my pocket. I’m almost cross eyed from staring at his knife, but I’m thinking of what I’m handing over. Debit card, credit card, sixty five pence in silver. My Costa card. I had enough points for a free Americano on that’s damn thing. I’m being mugged, and suddenly all I can think about is the ghost of my coffee.
‘Stop,’ a voice says behind switchblade. He turns, we look. Gorillas’ necks twist too. The speaker is a tiny man. Crisp blue suit, neat moustache. The type that only cuts with his wit. ‘Let him go,’ he says.
The mugger replies with his fist. Knocks the man to the floor with a single punch. A punch with his left hand, the weak one.
Then, everything stops.
Switchblade’s arm’s pulled back, ready for another blow. Gorillas are halfway to grins. The neon sign’s paused, permanently on for once. The man in the suit gets up, clicks his jaw.
‘Well that was unfortunate,’ he says, rubbing his mouth.
‘What the hell?’ I ask?
‘Time pause,’ he replies. ‘Give’s us time to plan.’
I recently read a book where the hero ignores his eyes and wastes time denying what’s right in front of him. Suddenly, I’ve got a bit more sympathy for the character. However, I settle on what I consider to be a reasonable question.
‘Who are you?’
‘Maurice,’ he says. ‘Your guardian angel.’
‘You look underqualified,’ I say. I note the purple bruise blossoming on his face. I don’t say that Maurice is a stupid name for a guardian angel. I’m thinking it though, and my thought volume’s turned up to “shatter glass.”
‘Things aren’t going how I hoped,’ Maurice admits. ‘We can change that though.’
‘Ok,’ I say. ‘Can you get me out before your time freeze thing ends?’
‘No,’ he replies. ‘I can do things to you, but I can’t move anyone else while it’s active.’
‘Health and safety. Or terms and conditions. Can’t remember, to be honest. Just know I can’t.’
‘But you have an idea.’
‘Yep,’ he says. ‘And you’re going to hate it.’
‘What is it?’
‘I’m not going to tell you.’
‘Because you’re going to hate it. Do you want me to do it?’
‘Will it get me out of here?’
‘Yes, it’ll sort out your immediate problem.’
‘Does it involve selling my soul?’
Maurice giggles. Literally, a girlish, high pitched giggle. I’m starting to think I hate my guardian angel.
‘No, your soul is not in danger,’ he says.
‘Then do it,’ I reply.
‘Ok,’ he says. He walks over, leans in between the heavies.
And sinks his teeth into my throat.
I gasp, and give a gurgling scream. I try to force him off, but he grabs my arms, pushes them against the shop’s window. The gorillas still have my shoulders.
Maurice sucks. Really sucks, not just figuratively. The bastard’s draining the blood from my neck. I clamp my teeth together and moan. Then, he steps back. Releases my arms, places a hand on the gaping wound he’s just made.
Instantly, the pain fades.
‘That’s better,’ he says.
I don’t reply. I’m fighting the urge to vomit. Maurice goes and stands in front of switchblade. All of a sudden, he’s taller. The bruise on his face has faded. His suit looks tight on him. Too tight. The white buttons on his shirt fly off with a ping. They travel a few millimetres and freeze, now just objects stuck in the time thing.
‘Shame,’ Maurice says. ‘This was a good suit.’
‘Think my sodding blood ruined it already,’ I say.
‘Where I come from, we’ve got dry cleaners for that,’ he replies. ‘I’ll never find all the buttons though. Reckon one rolled down the drain.’ With difficulty, he tugs his blue jacket off. The man’s ripped now, his muscles obvious under his shirt. They’re a size that treads a fine line between dedication and grotesque obsession.
‘Let’s sort this all out,’ he says. He puts his hand just in front of switchblade’s fist, and time unfreezes. The buttons scatter. I can’t see the mugger’s face, but I can imagine his eyes widening as Maurice catches his hand. He grabs the knife from his other hand, tosses it away. Then he twists the guy’s arm, wrenches him round. He flings him away with little more effort than throwing the knife.
The mugger tumbles into the road. I suppose it’s fortunate there’s no traffic about. He coughs as he hits the floor.
The gorillas release me and turn on Maurice. They bring their arms up.
‘Really?’ Maurice asks. ‘After what you’ve just seen?’
Their heads incline slightly as they look him over. The unbruised face, the change of physique, the bloody shirt.
‘We didn’t do nothing,’ one of them says.
‘Do something now then,’ Maurice says. ‘Sod off.’
Both of them oblige, sprinting down the street. They shoot round a corner, and their heavy steps recede. The other mugger gets up with a whine.
‘I’m calling the police on you,’ he says. Maurice takes a step forward, and the man legs it, wheezing as he runs.
‘That’s that then,’ Maurice says.
‘Am I meant to thank you now?’ I ask.
‘Would be nice,’ he said.
‘After you gouged my neck.’
‘It was for a good cause.’
I don’t have any words to argue with him. ‘What now?’ I ask.
‘Go home, get some sleep, and don’t mention me to your wife.’
‘I think she’ll notice I’m covered in my own blood,’ I say.
‘Nah, it’s gone midnight. She’s fast asleep.’
I assume he knows that for sure, somehow.
‘You’ve had a long night, you could use some rest. Get some shut eye, get up tomorrow, fresh and renewed. I’ll come by and explain everything.’
‘The house is a mess,’ I say. ‘Sarah doesn’t like visitors when we’ve not cleaned the place.’
‘We’ll go out then,’ Maurice says. ‘Tell you what, we’ll go to Costa. You can buy me a coffee by way of thanks.’
‘Great,’ I say. I watch as he disappears in a flash of light.
I just got mugged, and had my blood sucked by a guy called Maurice, I thought. He’s also my guardian angel. And tomorrow, he’s going to sponge my free coffee off me. I wandered home, wishing life was simple. Wishing I’d just been mugged and got it over with.
Writing prompt courtesy of Amanda McCormick. Find out more about her at https://authoramandamccormick.wordpress.com
Featured image courtesy of https://pixabay.com