This is the short story I entered into the Winter 2014 round of Writer’s Weekly 24 Hour Writing Contest. I didn’t come close to placing, but I’m still quite happy with what I produced.
The only editing I’ve done is to add in the italics, as the contest guidelines had specific markings to indicate italics that don’t make sense here. EDIT: I’m sorry…I tried twice, but I just can’t get the paragraphs to space out properly 😦
The seconds ticked by on the antique clock. Father Alexander frowned at the laptop screen.
…I’m a representative of Algol and Associates…I have some advice for you…
How appalling. Divorce lawyers trying to advise him.
And sending that owl-eyed blonde woman after him. Twice. With her immaculate suits and bothersome, pushy nature. She was probably divorced herself, having put her career above her duties as wife and mother. A shame, really. She’d make a pretty bride.
Alexander sipped smoky Scotch, neat, from a glass tumbler. The smooth liquid burned a path down his throat, warming his stomach.
Algol. What an unusual surname. But there was something about it that unsettled the priest.
He opened up a search browser and plugged in the surname. The search results turned up some computer references and something about stars.
Alexander jerked, his gaze darting over to the shattered window pane. A stiff breeze blew into the room, ruffling the curtains and setting the shadows dancing. With a muttered curse, he rose to investigate the damage.
“That’s not very priestly of you,” chided a silky female voice.
He scanned the room. It was just him and the shadows. The shadows that looked an awful lot like a serpentine creature slinking across the room. “Heavenly Father, I love You, I praise You, and I worship You…”
Mocking, feminine laughter filled the room. “You are adorable, Alexander.” The shadow flexed and pulled away from the wall, solidifying into the glittering form of a dragon. Its black scales sucked up the muted light from the stained glass desk lamp.
The prayer stuck in Alexander’s throat.
The beast’s heavy coils rose up and melted into the curves of a beautiful woman. Her flowing dress of whore’s red glittered with dozens of silver amulets: owls, cats, lilies, jackals, snakes, flames, moon phases, more. A black snakeskin belt circled her hips. Her long, dark hair hung loose around her slim shoulders. The dress left her long, milky arms bare. Her grey eyes glittered like the dragon’s scales, dark and wild and deadly. She smiled, baring perfect white teeth that looked a little too sharp. “Prayer can’t protect you now, my dear.”
“Be gone, beast! I cast thee out, temptress of Satan!”
She laughed again, hard enough that she had to clutch at her belly. The charms on her dress tinkled. “Oh, my dear, darling Alexander,” she gasped. “You really have no idea who I am? My Daughter tried to warn you. Poor thing took pity on you. I told her it was useless, but she insisted…”
“Stop! What is this madness?”
The woman giggled and perched on the edge of his desk, pushing the laptop aside and snagging the glass of Scotch. “It’s time you account for your sins, darling.” She sipped the liquor and grinned. “Ooh, this is nice.”
“My…? No. I am a man of God. If I have sinned, only He can judge me.”
“Well, you have, and He has, so here I am! You see, we have a deal, God and I. I give Him a few tips here and there, and I get the hypocrites in return. Sit, Alexander, you’re looking a little pale. There, that’s a good boy.”
“I am not a hypocrite,” Alexander gasped, struggling to catch up. “Who are you?”
The woman leaned across the desk to stroke the priest’s handsome face. “What a lovely boy you were,” she murmured. “I am Lilith.”
Bands tightened around Alexander’s ribs, cutting off his breath. Witch. Demon. Temptress. Succubus. Whore. Divorcee.
“Now, let’s go over the list, shall we?” A parchment appeared in her hands. “I’ll ignore that ingenious curse a moment ago. You were startled. Let’s begin with Pride. You, child, are a very Proud man. Almost vain. You let all those whispers and giggles get to your head, and now look at you. Strutting around town like a peacock, judging women because they’ve chosen to do something with their lives instead of pump out babies.” Lilith wagged her finger in front of Alexander’s face. “No one is lesser than you are because of her genitals, darling.
“Now, Greed and Lust have come together here. You have a nasty habit of preying on the natural Lust your female parishioners feel for you in order to squeeze more money from them. Not terribly priestly. And then what do you do with the money?” Lilith looked around the office, with its beautiful antique furniture and exquisite art. “All that money those women give you is supposed to help the poor, not furnish your home. Or buy this exquisite, expensive Scotch.” She tossed back the last of the amber liquid.
The parchment disappeared in a puff of smoke. “And this is the best part, darling. You, as a ‘man of God,’ preach to your adoring flock that they shouldn’t do any of this stuff. But your collar doesn’t mean you’re above it all.” Her smile turned venomous. “Now that that’s done, let’s have some fun.”