Category Archives: Short Stories

The Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart is one of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe poems. It’s an absolutely perfect read for Halloween time, but don’t worry, this isn’t my only Halloween post for the day! -HRG

By: Edgar Allan Poe

TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded –with what caution –with what foresight –with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it –oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly –very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! –would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously –oh, so cautiously –cautiously (for the hinges creaked) –I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights –every night just at midnight –but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers –of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back –but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out –“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; –just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief –oh, no! –it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself –“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney –it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel –although he neither saw nor heard –to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little –a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it –you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily –until, at length a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open –wide, wide open –and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness –all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses? –now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! –do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me –the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once –once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye — not even his –could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out –no stain of any kind –no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all –ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock –still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, –for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled, –for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search –search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: –it continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness –until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale; –but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased –and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound –much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath — and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly –more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men — but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed –I raved –I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder –louder –louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! –no, no! They heard! –they suspected! –they knew! –they were making a mockery of my horror! –this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! –and now –again! –hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! –tear up the planks! –here, here! –it is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Trouble

There are nights that seem to happen for no reason at all. I suppose you could say every night happens for no reason at all, but I’m talking about those special nights—the ones that stand out from all the rest. Nights when you have a raging party with friends or philosophical discussions with a complete stranger. Then there are nights when, at one in the morning, you decide to go camping. In the middle of nowhere. In the back of an SUV. With your best friends. During finals week.

On that particular night you would wait until your friend, let’s call her Logan, gets out of work, and you’d pack up your black 2007 Dodge Nitro with enough pillows and blankets to keep a small village warm. You’d get your other friend, let’s call him Jake, to bring his bottle of Vodka but only after pestering him to share because you never ask him for gas money to cart his ass around town.

Once the car is packed up, you’d pile in and put your iPod on shuffle because it’s “God’s Playlist,” and the songs played will superstitiously dictate how your night will go. You’d notice your car has only half a tank, and although it takes less and an eighth of a tank to get to Allegany State Park and back, you’ve seen the horror movies, and you know that the pyscho-killer always goes for the kids who think they’re prepared.

Once you decide that you need to fill up your tank to feel comfortable, you soon realize that every gas station is closed. Why you live in a place that all the gas stations close by 11 p.m. is beyond you. You’ll stop at multiple Kwik Fills and 7/11s and get out to swipe your card and attempt to pump gas into your vehicle, and none of them will actually pump gas. You’ll give up after the fourth stop and an unnerving encounter with a pickup truck that shone it’s light in your face for five minutes and some creep in the corner of a deserted Kwik Fill smoking a cigarette. Your friends will ask if you could all stop at Tops to get snacks because they know the muchies are going to hit real soon based on the amount of dope you have in the car. Naturally, you oblige their request. And at this point, it will be 2 a.m.

Of course, because it’s 2 a.m., Tops will be empty except for an employee or two and now you and your friends. As a group, you’ll decide on Cosmic Brownies—because what sounds more like being stoned than the word “cosmic”?—and an array of other junk foods. You don’t plan on eating them though, because you’re allergic to gluten, and won’t have a place to puke and clean yourself up when you’re in the woods. You’ll just stick to your gallon of water and hope to God you don’t have to piss at some point during the night.

While you’re walking through the isles of Tops you’ll turn your head and see a short, overweight man who looks like he could be homeless limping toward you. You’ll notice that he’s the same man who, about two weeks ago, motioned you over to him in McDonalds and whispered a few sentences that sounded like they were from Revelations in the Bible. That scared you then, but seeing him now ensures you that you’re not going to make it through the night. It was a sign. You’ve seen the horror movies, and this is shaping up to be one.

You’ll run away from the guy, who seems to be wearing the same tattered brown jacket, large-frame glasses, and stained baseball cap that he was when you first met him, and you’ll find your two friends, pay for your food, and get the hell out of the parking lot before the man can see what kind of car you drive, the license plate number or what direction you turned out of the parking lot. You’ll notice the only other car parked is a pickup truck. You and your friends will laugh and say you’re all being over paranoid—but what the hell was he doing at Tops at 2 a.m. anyway?

You’ll shake it off and begin the drive to the state park. When you hit the Allegany Indian Reservation, suddenly the air will seem thicker and a misty fog will be rolling around on the ground. Your truck will blaze through it, but it’s getting harder to see. You know that it’s always foggy at night around here, but you’re still uneasy.

Someone in the car makes a joke saying it would be nice if there were at least a few streetlights. The road ahead is lit by only your headlights, but even then, you can feel the darkness surrounding your car like a bully ready to steal your lunch money. You knew it was coming, and there was nothing you could do about it. You could’ve stayed home and been safe, but where’s the fun in that?

You continue to drive. The voices in the car have ceased, and now all you hear is the songs playing from your iPod and the repetitive sound tires make when speeding down a road. Soon enough you’re headed up the side of a mountain. The twists and turns in the road seem impossible, but, guided by your headlights reflecting off the guardrail, you soon see the rock marking the entrance that has “Allegany State Park” engraved on it. Once you pass the rock, the guardrail disappears into the ground like it had done it’s job, and you didn’t need it anymore. But now you need it more than ever.

There’s a pickup truck sitting on the right side of the road. Before you pass it, you know you shouldn’t look inside because you’ll either make eye contact with your killer, or you’ll see that no one is in the car and that your killer is already trekking through the trees. You look anyway. It’s empty.

You ask your friends where they want to park to spend the night. Previously you agreed on the stone tower, an area where you all hang out. It’s full of graffiti and Satanist symbols. It sounded like a badass idea in the daylight. When you suggest that, Logan quickly replies that she’s “looking for trouble, but not that much trouble.” Then you realize that you are, in fact, looking for trouble. Why else would you go camping at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night in Allegany State Park without telling anyone you were leaving campus?

You manage to navigate the winding road with walls of trees on either side. Your friends suggest parking by the lake. It’s a pretty open area, with more than one way to exit in case of an emergency. So you pull into the grassy-dirt area near the lake, which is somehow even darker than the road you took to get there. Your headlights flash across the lake. Earlier that day, the water had been murky, but not foreboding. Now it was black sludge waiting to engulf you.

“The car must be parked strategically,” you think, preparing yourself for a quick getaway when the killer shows up. Once you park, you turn off the car, and you exchange a look with your friends. It’s not a look of confusion or fear necessarily, but more of acceptance, a “now what?” look. There is a collective sigh in the car, and almost on cue, your headlights turn off. You know they are programmed to do that, but it doesn’t make it any better.

You brave the darkness to set up your bed in the back of the Nitro by putting the backseat down and layering blankets and pillows. No one will be paying attention when a pair of headlights emerge from the forest and begin to drive towards the lake. You’ll all notice when the engine becomes audible, and you’ll stand like statues, holding your breath, as the pickup truck, remarkably similar to the one from the side of the road, turns into the grassy-dirt area, makes a wide circle around your Nitro, and drives back out and down the road. When you look at your friends, you finally breathe. Logan will have her hands on her walking stick, ready to fight. Jake will have ahold of the back hitch, ready to slam it shut. And you realize you are clutching your keys, ready to jump in the front seat, rev your engine and speed out of there. But that wasn’t needed—yet.

Once your bed was made, you’ll all pile in, crack the windows a bit and sit in a circle in the back of the Nitro. Logan will reach into her bag and pull out a cylindrical container. When she pops the cap, the scent of incense and pot are released into the air. You’ll relax a bit as Logan pulls out the apple you two smoke out of. Apples always get you higher, and the weed lasts longer in an apple than in a pipe. She piles it in. You distribute lighters. One for you. One for Logan. Jake doesn’t get one. He can’t ignite a lighter, so you have to do it for him.

You feel the smoke fill your lungs. It almost burns. Soon enough the car is cloudy, and you feel hazy. That’s when Logan sees a mass over the lake. Jake sees it too, and when you turn around, you see a mass made up of light. You’ll think that’s what they’re talking about until they say it’s moving and it’s dark. You don’t see the same thing. Now the paranoia sets in.

Dope never made you feel paranoid before today, but now is a hell of a time to start. Jake and Logan continue to talk, but their voices become muted to you. You turn around, facing backwards in the car, leaning up against the back of the drivers seat, and you look out the window. The trees start to move, not sway in the wind—move. Large masses emerge from the forest, and you shake your head to try to get rid of them, but they keep advancing towards you, so you take another hit.

Two minutes of relaxation, and the process begins again. You begin to wonder what trouble were you actually looking for. Logan announces she’s tired. Jake is nearly asleep already. You crawl forward, now ignoring the forest encroaching on your vehicle and the masses levitating over the lake. Your body hits the makeshift mattress, and Raevin complains she’ll be too warm in the middle, so you switch with her. It’ll give you more legroom anyway. You all cuddle up with each other. You’re about to fall asleep when you hear an engine. It stops. You hear a knock on the window. “It’s just your imagination,” you think. Your imagination continues to knock as you fall asleep. Trouble can wait.

-HRG

The Beginning

The Beginning

Preface

The vast space of the universe was once nothing but just that: space. Two men presided over the emptiness, enjoying one another’s company but dreaming of much more. They had dominion over everything, but created nothing but materials for themselves.

The beautiful night sky beamed with stars. Their mansions placed in the bare field were of tremendous stature and colors so vivid they could make Earth’s Mother Nature fierce with jealousy.

The two men became lonely with only each other and began to create other beings to share their days with. Their immortal creations were made in likeness of themselves and each had a special power or talent of their own. Each was named and given a rightful place among the others. And so their eternal days began. Never aging and hardly changing.

Soon, however, the creators of the utopia began to feud over how to rule, leaving the people in dismay and begging for an end to their trivial donnybrook. The leaders obliged, but the only way to settle the dispute easily was to divide the society and rule two separate kingdoms. And so they did.

The citizens were commanded to choose their preferred leader and when all choices were made they parted into adjacent kingdoms with borders no one could ever pass. And the kingdoms were named Heaven and Hell.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Godrick! Godrick! Answer the door!” The tall girl with fiery red hair pounded the mahogany doors until, stumbling, Godrick swung it open from the inside.

“It is nearly midnight, Lucy, what is it?”

“It is nearly midnight on our anniversary, which you forgot!”  Suddenly it was all coming back to him. July 7. The day Lucy finally agreed to be his.

“It’s the 7th already? I’m so sorry, Lucy. I-I really didn’t mean for this to happen! I love you, I really do, but with my work and everyone I have to keep happy-I guess it just slipped my mind.”

“Well I’m going to slip right our of your life if you don’t start paying more attention to me!”

With that she turned away, facing her pale skin to the moonlight so it gleamed like that of a porcelain doll. She flipped her flaming hair over her shoulder and strutted down the street, looking as arrogant, yet as beautiful, as ever. Godrick was just about to re-enter his home when he realized his neighbor was sitting on her porch and had quite obviously overheard the whole dispute.

The olive skinned girl didn’t react. She didn’t even move her head, which was resting on the gunmetal colored iron railing.

“She’s something, isn’t she?” Godrick chuckled, awkwardly trying to make light of the obviously embarrassing situation.

“Who? Lucy? Oh, she’s a peach.” Her voice was stone and her face, even more grave. The girl’s dark hair fell in her face as she turned to Godrick, raising her chin to look over the railing, her hand resting on a small notepad on her lap.

“I’ll say. She’s definitely one of a kind.” Godrick sighed and didn’t wait for a response. He nodded a farewell and stepped back into his doorway, not turning his head to see the look of longing in his dear neighbors bright green eyes. Gabrielle wanted nothing more than to see Godrick happy, but he, being the oblivious fool he is, didn’t even realize.

Inside his home, Godrick felt his way through the dimly lit den and into a small room, where, with the touch of a panel on the wall, a small opening in the corner of the room appeared.  He walked towards the new doorway, avoiding the tiny, circular table and chair set in the center of the room, and entered, pushing a panel on the other side to close the secret passage.

Inside he found nothing had been disturbed when Lucy had drawn him from his work. The bookshelves lining three of four walls were still full and rather dusty. The antique mirror in the far corner was still cracked down the right side. The few experiments he had simmering were still bubbling lightly. Everything, the chemicals, test tubes and books lay exactly where he had left them. Deciding to retire for the night, Godrick picked up a small leather-bound brown book, tied shut with black ribbon, that was sitting on a mahogany end table at the end of the lab bench closest to the entrance. His fingers traced the worn spine and led themselves to the design on the cover, a medium blue circle with a forest green dot in the center surrounded with seven six-point stars.

Godrick contemplated the contents of this little book as his fingers followed the lines. He picked it up as he neared in the large burgundy velvet chair in the corner adjacent to the entrance. The floorboards and structure of the armchair creaked as Godrick lowered himself into it. He opened up to the next blank page and snatched up the pen on the table next to him and began to scribble his notes from the day.  He reported on his research and the events of the day, ending with the visit from his dear Lucy.

His dear, dear Lucy Lee who never left his mind. He had been infatuated with her since the moment he saw her and would do anything to please her. With these thoughts, he continued to write.

“Today, I had almost blown it. I nearly lost my love all because I couldn’t remember the date. How could I forget this wonderful day? I’m so stupid. She’s the only thing worth anything. I must think of a way to make it up to her, she’ll be expecting it.”

He closed the journal, wrapped the ribbon around it and placed on the nearest table. Godrick leaned back in his chair, taking in the old, almost musty smell of the room. The faint stench of chemicals with the rich scent of loved books mixed to the familiar, comforting smell that Godrick loved. He began to think of ways to please Lucy, gifts he could give her, something to create. His mind wandered until he lay sound asleep in his velvet armchair.

By the time Godrick awoke it was mid-afternoon. His groggy eyes opened to slits as he examined the room. His legs, while reluctant, dragged his body from the armchair to the lab table and his hands began to organize the ingredients and chemicals that were strewn about, slowly putting them back into their rightful place. His mind awoke fully not long after his body did and soon the events of the previous night flooded Godrick’s memory. He paused, reviewing the happenings in his head and then panoramically viewing the room, his eyes began to search for an answer to his minds one question: how do I fix this?

His mind and fingers wandered through drawers and books, looking for some hint to what to do. At first, he happened upon old love letters, all signed in beautiful penmanship, “Lucifer Lee” with a small heart following the last letter. He flipped through the letters, landing one dated for his dear Lucifer Lee’s birthday, however he never sent it to her. The final line read, “Lucy, I love you. If I could give you the kingdom, I would.”           He gripped the letter tight and scoured the walls, the books and the tables, then his deep brown eyes set on his small brown leather-bound journal with the design on the cover.  Racing to the small, rectangular end table and nearly knocking over stacks of ancient books, Godrick stared at the journal in amazement.

“I don’t need to give her this kingdom when I can give her a new one, one that’s just for her: her own world.”

Without hesitation, Godrick rushed to his shelves, scanning the books, his fingertips dancing down the spines. Finally, they landed on a large bronze colored book, Advanced Alchemy. Godrick blew the dust of the cover and brushed off the spine before slamming the book down on the table and flipping open its pages. His fingers twisted through the pages. It didn’t take long to find specific creation recipes, but he knew he must improvise with this project; it had never been done before.

No sooner did Godrick begin to gather the needed supplies from his cabinets did his doorbell chime in interruption.

“What now?” he spoke underneath his breathe. He wiped his hands on the white towel sitting on the bench, careful to avoid the multicolored stains. He exited his chamber, careful to shut the door behind him, and followed the path to the front door. The doorbell rang again, “Obviously an impatient visitor,” thought Godrick. He was surprised to open his door to Lucy’s tapping foot. She moved her hand from her hip and leaned forward on the intricate twirling woodwork around the doorway.

“Have you figured out how you’re going to redeem yourself?”

“Well, yes, yes, I have. I can’t tell you though.”

“And why not?” She sounded infuriated.

“It’s a surprise, darling. Please don’t ruin it.”

“Me? Ruin it? I don’t ruin anything! You’re the one that forgot our”

“I know! I know I forgot! I’m trying to make it up to you now but I can’t if I stand here talking!”

“Fine! This better be good, God. You better hope it’s good.”

“It will be, dear.”

The conversation ended abruptly. Lucifer did not respond to God. Instead, she flipped her fiery red hair and strutted down the street once more. He watched her hips sway in the fitted black dress she wore with the click of her bright red heels on sidewalk. He turned away to re-enter his home. Lucy’s image ingrained into to his mind as he returned to his laboratory.

Godrick pushed the panel on the wall and once again stepped into the opening in the corner, closing the opening behind him. He hadn’t noticed how late it had already gotten; he completely missed daylight. On the left of the door, sitting on a dust-filled shelf was an antique radio. He turned the dial, allowing the sounds of the preset channel to boom into the room.

“Well it was a beautiful day in the kingdom today! And it’s shaping up to be one beauty in Hell tonight as well!”

The singsong voice took over the dim room as Godrick went to work, pulling out more ingredients for his creation an organizing what he would need. Planning, as much as possible, for the seemingly improbable feat he would attempt: forming a completely new realm of absolutely nothing.

“It must be lesser than this universe and have the ability to be ruled, but govern itself at the same time,” Godrick whispered to himself, “It must be perfect for Lucy.”

So he worked late into the night. He never rested and he didn’t realize that his doorbell had rung until he broke himself away from his work with the realization that he did not have the proper equipment for his plan. Even then, the only way he could know was the note with the plate of cookies that he nearly stepped on when he opened his front door so he could make a trip to Lucid Reactions, one of the few alchemy shops in the kingdom.

The nighttime air was cool, but not chilly at all. The stars shown bright and attracted his eyes to them, which is when he nearly crushed the double chocolate chip cookies that were placed on the extravagantly designed ceramic plate and left sitting on his porch with plastic wrap protecting them. There was a note written on yellow notebook paper torn from a pad that read:

“Dearest God,

I know you’ve been quite distracted and possibly a tad upset because of the drama with Lucy lately. When I hadn’t seen you at all for the entire day, I figured I’d whip up a batch of your favorite cookies and pay you a visit. Since you aren’t home, maybe I’ll catch you later. Until then, enjoy your sweets.
Much love,

Gabrielle

Godrick caught himself with a smile as he read through the note and pulled a cookie from plate. Obviously they hadn’t been on the porch for long because they cookies were still warm and when he bit into the chewy, golden dough, a chunk of chocolate melted onto his tongue. With the remainder of his cookie in hand, Godrick set out for Lucid Reactions.

When he reached the store, the overweight owner with the balding head and handlebar mustache greeted him warmly.

“Hey, God! Good to see you! It’s been so long!”

“Yes, yes, it has, Michael. I’ve been good on supplies until now. I just started a new project so you’ll probably see me around a lot.”

“Good, good! You’re always welcome in my shop, you know that! Now, why don’t you tell me what you’re whipping up with all your talent?” Michael chuckled and his hearty laugh rang through the empty store.

“Sorry, it’s top secret!”

“Alright. Well, maybe once you’ve finished I can have a peek? You know I love your work.”

“We’ll see, Michael.” They exchanged grins and Godrick paced up and down the isles, picking up and putting down bottles, contemplating what he would need. This was entirely new to him. Godrick checked out and returned home to find Gabrielle sitting on her porch, looking up into the sky.

“Thanks for the cookies. They’re delicious,” Godrick said, breaking the silence of the night.

“No problem, God.” It was a short exchange but left both feeling nothing but happy.

God gripped his shopping bag tight as he maneuvered his way around the dimly lit rooms and into his lab. He wasted no time and went straight to work. After mixing powders and potions of all different colors, he poured them all together into a large, transparent goblet with a base made of white gold and encrusted with jewels.

On contact, the ingredients began to swirl together, lifting themselves from the bowl and creating a vortex of colors and sparkles in mid air. Soon, indigo and forest green with hints of deep brown and tan became the prominent colors. It wasn’t long until everything settled and Godrick was left with exactly what he hoped for, a near replica of the picture from the front of his journal. The blue sphere levitated in front of him with a large green oval on the center of the surface.

He liked what he saw, but noticed it was too dark. And so, much like in the sky of his kingdom, Godrick created a sun and a moon to separate night from day. As the sun appeared on this new world’s first day, he chuckled and under his breath, whispered, “Let there be light.” He yawned and realized his own exhaustion. Taking a seat in the velvet armchair, Godrick watched his creation as he slowly drifted to sleep.

The next morning, Godrick awoke fully energized to continue his work. He got out of the armchair and stretched. He cleaned off the lab table from the previous days work and organized everything he would need for his plan today. However, as he did this, he realized he didn’t have a plan for the day because there was no plan for this; he had to make everything up as he went along.

With these thoughts, he began examining the sphere, still floating above the beautifully crafted goblet. It didn’t take Godrick long to realize what he had to do next. He noted that the blue parts of the creation were all liquid, and the green and brown were solid. With this in mind, he raised half of the blue up and turned it into a gaseous layer he called air and made that home to the sun and the moon. Then he lowered the other half down and called it water; the green and brown dot that he called land stayed covered in the water because Godrick had no idea what to do with it yet. These three, land, water and air, were different from that of his own realm, but Godrick decided the names he knew would suffice.

After working for quite some time on separating the particles in his creation, Godrick made himself lunch and took a shower to rid his skin of the grime and chemicals of the past two days of work. While in the shower, he mentally reviewed his remaining supplies. Concluding that there was no way he could get through any more work with what he had left, he dressed in dark-wash jeans and a plain black V-neck tee and headed out for Lucid Reactions.
This time, his exchange with Michael wasn’t quite as long, even though he bought more items than the last. Michael attempted more than once to obtain information from Godrick, but God refused to tell anyone what he was doing, he couldn’t risk Lucy finding out and ruining the surprise.

On the way home, Godrick picked up dinner, a large ham sandwich with all the toppings, at his favorite corner deli Hell’s Kitchen. Walking back, he balanced his bags of powders, potions, and chemicals, and munched on his dinner. By the time he arrived home, the sun, his sun, was setting and Gabrielle was sitting her porch again, this time eating a bowl of starfruit, an orange-like, citrus fruit that grew only in the kingdom of Hell.

The two merely exchanged smiles, but it was a special moment. Godrick unlocked his door and realized he had left the cookies out from days ago. He moved them to the kitchen, where he left the remainder of his sandwich when he entered his lab to organize his new supplies for the next day.

For the first time in days, Godrick slept in his bed at night. During the night, God dreamt of the land in his creation rising up from the water to meet the air. In his dream, there was a breeze that blew through sweet smelling flowers and trees and brushed the fur and skin of all sorts of animals and the sun shone bright.

When he woke up, Godrick knew exactly what he needed to do. Still in green plaid pajama bottoms and shirtless, he ran into the lab, almost knocking over the table that held his journal. He grabbed bottles and containers, reading labels and throwing things back down until he found a small can with the words “Lifting Salt” written in block lettering on the top. He took a small dash of the salt into the palm of his hand and walked over to the sphere, which was now experiencing daytime.

God closed his eyes and whispered, “please work” as he tossed the lifting salt into the atmosphere of his creation. A small rumble came from the sphere and the water rippled. It was working; the lifting salt raised the land to the surface of the water and exposed it to the air. Godrick smiled and laughed. He did exactly what he didn’t think he could do. Satisfied with the result and not wanting to disturb the delicate balance his creation was currently in, Godrick left the lab.

That night, God sat out on his porch, talking to Gabrielle. She flirted, he didn’t even realize that she was and therefore he ignored it. When it started to get late, Gabrielle said something that sparked God’s mind.

“Aren’t the stars just so beautiful?”

“I never really thought about it but yeah, I guess they are quite wonderful.”

Gabrielle smiled and Godrick thought. He was flooded with inspiration for his creation.

He didn’t return to the lab until the next day when he was sure that everything would have been in place long enough to stick. When he did, however, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He waited until the sun went down in his creation’s realm and took a tiny, silver bottle out of the cabinet. He sprinkled some of the particles from the bottle into a tray and added a white liquid from another unlabeled bottle. The mixture began to fizz and spark and Godrick shielded his face, thinking he made a horrible mistake. But when the miniscule circles stopped the erratic behavior, each shone brighter than he could have every hoped. God had created stars.

Since the stars were hot from the sparks, he put on gloves and picked up each one singularly. He placed them in the sky of his creation, sometimes drawing pictures for Lucy to look at. He drew a cup and a lion and even a fish. They were all wonderfully intricate and took a very long time to place but when he was finished, it was a gorgeous sight. Weariness ran through his body as he retired to his armchair and quickly fell asleep.

That night, God dreamt of his creation again. He saw the animals roaming the earth, swimming in the waters, and flying through the air. They lived in harmony with beautiful rivers and waterfalls everywhere. It was a luscious land. When he awoke, he decided he would convey his dream onto his creation.

Penetrating the sky, God put animals into the water, to swim freely forever. Then he made creatures with feathers and wings, which he called birds, and they would fly through the air more gracefully than anything. He made beasts of all shapes and sizes and appearance and he fell more in love with his creation as he did so. He knew Lucy would too.

God worked into the night and when the clock struck midnight, he realized it was the sixth day he had been working on this creation for Lucy. He smiled at the thought he seeing her face light up when he gave her the surprise. Thinking of her only made him want to work faster. So he began to make animals that would inhabit the land and he watched as his creation blossomed and bloomed and came to life before his very eyes.

Those eyes, which were full of love for his creation and for his dear Lucy, were begging to close for the night. Despite his heart’s want to continue to work, Godrick gave in to the demands of his body and mind and retired to his bedroom for the night.

Godrick slept through the following morning altogether. His energy was drained from his efforts to impress Lucy; he put everything he could into making her happy. He would have slept all day if he hadn’t been woken up by a loud crash coming from his dining room.

His eyelids struck open, revealing deep brown and glossy eyes. In the same pajamas he had worn for the past week, Godrick slipped out of bed, his bare feet trembling on the cool wooden floor. He crept out of his bedroom doorway and into the hallway towards the dining room, which contained the entrance to the lab. As he approached the room, he realized, he never closed the lab door.

“Who’s there?” Godrick yelled just as he was about to turn into the room.

“It’s just me,” Lucy batted her eyelashes, trying to pretend nothing was suspicious.

“What are you doing here?” Godrick asked, surprised and slightly annoyed.

“Well, I just wanted to see if you’d made any progress with my present. I mean I haven’t heard from you in nearly a week!”

“Lucy, I told you it was going to take some time and that I needed to finish it before I showed it to you.”

“I don’t want to wait!” Lucy stamped her foot, her black high heels clicked against the hardwood floor. “Is this where you’re making it?” She took a step towards the lab entrance.
“Yes, but no one is allowed in there but me. No one even knew it existed except for me until you broke into my house.”

“Excuse me? Godrick, you are trying to win my love right now, I don’t think you should be blaming me for anything.”

He thought about her statement and to make amends, decided to show her the creation.
“Do you want to see your present?”

“Yes!” Lucy scuttled excitedly towards the door and God guided her through the doorway.

“So where is it?” She asked impatiently.

“Come over here.”

He showed her the sphere. It’s sun shone bright and the sky was baby blue with cotton ball clouds dancing in the air. He showed her the land and explained that there were many animals that lived on it and even some in the water and air too. He told her he made all of it for her, so she could have her own world and when he was finished, she could see it at night when the stars were out in that realm and she could look at all the pictures he drew for her in the sky.

When God finished his speech, he was beaming with pride. However, when he looked at Lucy, her face showed nothing but disgust.

“This is your idea of making it up to me?”

“But Lucy, I worked so hard on it and I—”

“No! This is horrible! It’s such a stupid and idiotic idea! Why would you ever think that I could possible want this rubbish?”

“Lucy! Please!”

She wouldn’t listen to his any longer. She raised her left hand and smacked the sphere out of the air, her ring, a ruby-red stone set in gold, flew off her finger and into the atmosphere of the creation as it toppled to the ground. God’s attempt to catch it was futile and the creation smashed into the floor.

“Great! Now I lost my favorite ring to that piece of garbage you tried to pass off as a present! Look what you did!”

“Lucy! I’m so sorry. I really tried. I thought you’d love it. I thought you’d really love having your own world.”

“Well I hate it. I hate it almost as much as I hate you. I never loved you, you vile excuse for an alchemist.”

Lucifer Lee, the love of Godrick’s life, stormed out of his home and left him alone, standing in his laboratory. After staring at the doorway for a few minutes, just to ensure what he just saw was real, he turned to his creation. He picked it up, noticing that the land, which had once been in one piece, was now in several and spread out all over the globe. He assumed that once it got dark, he could see that the constellations he made would be missing stars and some may even be gone completely. God set the creation back in the goblet and it began levitating again. He knew that despite the world seeming okay, that many of his animals must’ve died and that he’d have to make new ones. All he had left was his creation. And so he began to sob.

His weeps came out with heavy breathing and his chest convulsed like he was hiccupping. When God finally gathered himself enough to raise his head, he was staring into the old, broken and dusty mirror in the corner of the room.

“If Lucy doesn’t love me, I will create others that will love me.” God made creatures in his own image and likeness, creatures that would love and appreciate him. He worked diligently but soon his sobs began again and instead of letting them crash into his creation, he simply returned to his bedroom and went to sleep.

The next day, he slept late. It was the seventh day since he started this project. God entered the chamber and flipped through his journal. He picked the first letter of the first word on the first five pages of the journal and they spelled out Earth and so he named his creation Earth.

God looked at Earth. It looked peaceful and wonderful and he was happy for a moment, then he remembered the previous night. He broke into tears and began ranting to himself.

“If only I had chosen to go to Heaven when the kingdoms split! I wouldn’t have ever been with Lucifer! She’s so horrible; I can’t believe I ever loved her! Heaven is probably amazing. No Lucifer, no worries. Why am I stuck in Hell? I hate this!”
God pounded on the tables and threw bottles at the wall. He smashed the mirror. He destroyed the lab and sobbed his way through it. He cried and cried until he couldn’t stand it any longer and then he left the lab. He walked outside and sat down on his porch steps, not even realizing Gabrielle was outside as well. She startled him when she first spoke:

“Hey, are you okay?”

“No. I’m really not,” He looked at her with bloodshot eyes and a pink, puffy face.

“Oh, God, maybe she’s not right for you. Look beyond her,” Gabrielle joined God on his porch for the first time. “Maybe if you can see past Lucy and all of the problems she’s caused for you, you’d find someone else, someone who’s been right in front of you the whole time.”

“Lucy is the only one and I ruined it.”

God shook Gabrielle’s hand off of his arm and stood up.

“Please, don’t go away, God. You can do so much better than her!”

Godrick opened his door.

“Goodbye, Gabrielle.”

The door shut behind him and he could hear Gabrielle begin to cry, but he did nothing about it, no matter how much he wanted to. God was blinded by his need to impress Lucy, he missed his true love for Gabrielle and somewhere in his heart he knew that. He knew he loved Gabrielle, but he would do nothing about it.

God entered the lab and opened the cabinet farthest from the door, next to the mirror. He pulled out a bottle that was tiny and black with three small, white X’s printed on the front.  He looked at the old love letters in Lucy’s handwriting; they were all lies. He looked at a half-eaten cookie that he must’ve forgotten about, it was one Gabrielle made. Lastly, he looked at his journal. He saw the design on the cover. The blue circle with the green dot surrounded by seven stars that inspired this whole mess. God unscrewed the cap to the little black bottle and glanced at his creation, his Earth. His mind flashed over the past week. He worked for six days and on this, the seventh day, he would rest eternally.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Epilogue

It wasn’t long before Gabrielle came looking for Godrick. She found his lifeless body lying on the floor of the laboratory in heaps of broken glass and potions, the little black bottle still in his cold hands. When she called for help, she was answered. Officials came and took Godrick’s body away. When Gabrielle questioned how he could die, after all their species was supposed to be immortal, she received an unpleasant answer.

“He was the best alchemist around. You know that. We all know that. Look’s like he figured out how to kill an immortal being.”

She slouched into his velvet armchair and wept as they began to empty his home. The last thing to go was his precious creation.

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

“Yes?” Gabrielle answered between heavy breaths.

“Do you know what this is?” The officer pointed at Earth.

“I’m guessing it’s his last project.”

“Well, if it’s of no sentimental value to you, we’re going to throw it in the dump.”

“Take it.”

Gabrielle couldn’t even think of keeping it, even though she wanted to. She knew it was meant for Lucy. She heard their fight that day.

Eventually Gabrielle returned home baked double chocolate chip cookies, just for old-time’s sake.

Earth was taken to the junkyard, just as the officer promised. God’s beautiful creation was left to rot and be ravaged by war, sickness, and plague. The beings he created were left with free will and dominion over the planet. Some didn’t believe God ever existed. Some thought he abandoned them. Others believed he still reigned. No one could guess the true story, however. No one would ever guess that their only salvation would be to learn to help themselves because their precious God was dead and gone.