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Data de Morte

dark fantasy by Lorna D. Keach

Shelby put down the gigantic ebony horn she dragged, long enough to wipe the gore from her glasses.

So far, she’d felled the Great Blood Beast of Hanthor, mastered the mysteries of the Foul Scribe of Felchamathea, and polished the floor of Yagfargain the Terrible’s summer cottage, so her long and harrowing journey was near its end.

The temple of the Dark Lord de Morte loomed above her, glistening white under the moon. Its walls had been forged with the bones of countless fallen paladins who had attempted to knock the necromancer king from his throne.

Shelby limped up the stone steps that lead into the Dark Lord’s temple,  kicking away the stray skulls that the ancient desert winds had tossed across the threshold.

A green light beckoned to her from inside. A bonfire of emerald flame burned there, as evil and eternal as the thirteen robed figures who surrounded it.

“Approach, supplicant!” The Dark Lord De Morte’s fiendish voice echoed over the temple ceiling.

Shelby prostrated herself before the cabal, pushing her glasses back up her nose with one bloody finger. “I have completed the task set before me, O Lord of All Things Wretched and Irritating.”

She hosted the horn up over her head. “ — something about on my knees, forgot the line –” she mumbled, then cleared her throat. “And I deliver unto you, the Horn of the Great Blood Beast of Hanthor, to satiate your hunger for carnage.”

She chucked the horn into the bonfire.  The flames leapt up, blazing with an unholy light.

The thirteen robed figures applauded politely.

“Very good, supplicant. You have done well.” The Dark Lord’s voice was like an earthquake rumbling up from the bowels of hell. His insidious face was covered by the worm-eaten folds of his hood. “Now, seeing as you have felled the Great Blood Beast of Hanthor, mastered the mysteries of the Foul Scribe of Felchamathea, and polished the marble floor of Yagfargain the Terrible’s summer cottage, there is but one task left for you to conquer before you join our hallowed ranks.”

Shelby coughed, finally catching her breath.  She nodded.  “Cool.”

“Follow me.”

She managed to get to her feet again and limp over to the Dark Lord de Morte.  That stupid Blood Beast had left more than a few horny barbs in her left calf during the battle and they itched terribly.

But, thank the Gods of Burning Hideousness, she didn’t have to follow the Dark Lord far. The Dark Lord lead her to the back of the temple where a black door awaited, a black door seemingly carved from the midnight sky itself. When he raised his desiccated, undead hand, the door parted willingly to allow them both to enter.

The Dark Lord’s office lay inside.

“Data entry!” he bellowed, “This is the final task reserved for you, supplicant.” He walked over to the desk and patted a pile of carbon copy receipts. “Sad to say we’re behind on our soul requisition reporting.”

Shelby shrugged.  She’d taken typing classes in the Academy of Tempestuous Sorcery just like everybody else, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Typing was way better than slaughtering gigantic Blood Beasts, in any case.  “Sure, I can take care of that for yo — wait a minute.”

She squinted at the desk, wiping the remaining Blood Beast gore off her lenses. “Um — that’s a Mac.”

“So it is.” The Dark Lord said, gravely.

“Look, I’m sorry but, I’m a PC.”

“What difference does it make?”

“What difference?!” Shelby scoffed, “Ohmigod — seriously, I’m not using one of those things. I’ve got my laptop in the car, I can make you a brand-new spreadsheet, reorganized and everything. It’ll work way better than your current system.”  She shrugged.  “As long as I can get the file converted.”

The Dark Lord de Morte crossed his arms over his sunken chest. “I’m afraid that’s not possible. We’ve got a lot of sensitive data in these receipts, and to put them on another machine would be a violation of our confidentiality agreement.”

He shook his wormy hood. “I’m afraid you’ll just have to grit your teeth and take one for the team.”

“Not with that thing, I won’t.”

The Dark Lord huffed.  “Seriously, people these days with their technological prejudices. Just use the Mac.”


“I insist!” The Dark Lord bellowed, his voice booming.

Shelby crossed her arms, “No.”

The Dark Lord sighed. “You’ll enter this data right here, right now, or I’ll rend the very fabric of your soul to shreds and send you screaming into the depths of purgatory itself.”

“Sorry, but it’s still no.”  Shelby pulled out a small silver emblem from the folds of her robe, which was only slightly blood-stained from her battle with the Great Blood Beast and only slightly charred after mastering the mysteries of the Foul Scribe. It was a simple charm, awkwardly carved with incantations in a language older than the world itself.

She held it up.  It gleamed even in the shadows of the office, the Dark Lord de Morte took one look at it and howled a scream so tortured and damned that it seemed the very walls of hell shook themselves apart to let that howl loose.  And with a flash of sinister light, the Dark Lord exploded, burst into a cloud of bone dust and grave dirt.

His robes settled softly to the floor and Shelby put the emblem back into its hidden sheath. She glanced at the remains of the Dark Lord and sighed. “Apple’s such a cult.”

She stepped over the pile and walked out of the temple.  Surely some other necromantic organization in the area had openings for which she could apply.

copyright April 2011 by Lorna D. Keach

Lorna D. Keach lives in Lawrence, Kansas.  Her fiction has appeared in The Harrow, Theater of Decay, The Willows and Necrotic Tissue, with upcoming appearances in Blood Bound Books’ Seasons of the Abyss and The Harrow’s Day Terrors.

[return to the April 2011 main page]

2 Responses

  1. Sweet punchline.

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