Sparkle and Shine
by Tonia Laird
Issue 5: Occult | 686 words
“Your mother looked nice today.” I try to make conversation as I slip the Rolex—bought for me on our first anniversary—from my wrist.
“Of course she did, I paid enough.” My lovely wife says as she plucks another cotton ball from the glass cylinder in front of her.
A whimper from the hall and well-manicured claws that make a clickity-click sound against enamel-coated salted steel catches my attention. The poor beast has been sitting there in that crate since we arrived home.
“Has it gone out yet? You don’t want it soiling its crate. I hear they need to…visit nature, every so often.” Opening my top drawer, I place the watch beside my father’s Timex. It’s not worth much, especially when compared to the Rolex. Sentimentalism, I suppose.
“Have you taken it out?”
“No.” I huff out a sigh, knowing where this is going. Before sliding the watch drawer closed, I decide to slip the Rolex into my pocket.
“Well, then there’s your answer.” Her right eyebrow arches in the mirror as she stops her evening ritual of plucking, brushing, lotioning, and… I’d like to say, shellacking? That naked gaze slides over to lock onto my reflection; the only time she even looks me in the eyes these days.
“Fine,” I sigh and shrug back into my somber black blazer.
“Don’t you dare let it loose inside. I don’t want it ruining my hardwood.”
I move to the door, but stop as she taps the wastebasket beside her with her foot. With us away for the last two weeks tending to her mother, and then planning and attending the funeral, I made the case that it didn’t make sense to pay the maid to clean an empty house. Still, that doesn’t mean I should have to be the one hauling garbage and taking some beast out to relieve itself in the middle of the night.
“Don’t worry about feeding it. Jaclyn’s boy is coming in the morning; they just bought him a new car. He’s willing to drown the monster for a bit of gas money.”
With her trash in one hand and the surprisingly heavy crate in the other, it’s a fumbling trip to the backyard. I toss the wastebasket to the side and ensure the door is tightly closed. Don’t want the beast tracking anything back into the house. Yet.
I pull the latch, break the intricate runes locking it with the swipe of a sharp rock I find in the garden, and swing the crate door open before stepping back. Blackness roils out with a hiss. As the thing pulls itself up to its full height, the grass beneath it shrivels as the electric porch light sizzles and dies. I should have done this on the patio stone.
It turns when it finally fully extracts itself from the crate. Two points of light in the swirling maelstrom of its mass focus on me.
“You heard what she said?” I try to keep my voice flat.
It didn’t say anything. My wife’s favorite necklace, a string of pearls from her mother, worth at least twenty large, float serenely in the infinite black of its body.
“I thought your kind can talk?” I take a step forward. Claws materialize as the beast focuses its mass. I guess it didn’t like that. Time to step back again.
I move back to the door and turn the handle, careful not to turn my back to it. You don’t turn your back to their kind. Ever.
“You were summoned for a job. You did it; the old lady’s dead. But instead of honoring the pact, my wife is going to hire a neighborhood boy to drown you. Probably in our ornamental fountain. Humiliating way to go, really.” Even that doesn’t phase the beast. Hmmm.
“She’ll take the necklace back.”
It clicks together those impressively manicured claws as a growl I can feel more than hear rumbles through the cool night air. It doesn’t like that. Good.
I pull the Rolex from my pocket, letting the moonlight glint off the gold. “I have a proposition…”
Tonia Laird is a Metis writer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. She has writing credits on Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition, and was the lead writer for the mobile game Everlove: Rose. She is currently taking her MFA from the University of Saskatchewan.