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Frolic from Hell

fantasy by Jacquelyn Bartel

So a priest, a monk and a rabbi walk into a bar.  I know what you’re thinking.  I’m serious though.

It was last payday, and things were just picking up over at Fauna’s Festive Frolic.  The name might sound a bit fruity, but that place is a dive.  Worst sort of creeps are always in there after dark.  Even saw a couple of bridge trolls that night in the corner where the necromancers normally crash.

It was a little before midnight and I was trying to pick things up with some dancing tunes but no one was in the mood.  Got a broomstick thrown at my head only five notes into “Black Cat and the Jumping Jack,” and that’s always a crowd pleaser.  Anyway, I was just packing up when the three of them walked in and snagged a table by the fireplace.

They didn’t fit in, of course, and the monk kept looking over his shoulder and picking threads off his robe.  The rabbi was glaring around at everyone like he was looking for a fight, and we’re not talking just anybody here.  It takes a pair to look a change-lion right in the face and not even break a sweat.  The priest downed a tankard of that piss they serve for ale and told Maggie to keep ‘em coming.  Now, just because the folks in Fauna’s are riff-raff don’t mean they’re stupid. They started noticing those three were acting pretty odd.

Things got real quiet, and I was just starting to think about slipping out the back when the clock struck midnight and all hell broke loose.

First thing to go was the fire.  It roared right out of the hearth, grabbed that drunk priest and dragged him up the chimney screaming bloody murder all the way.  When it went out, it took the candle flames with it and left us in the pitch.  For a moment it was silent and then I heard the sobbing.  It was the rabbi.  “What have we done?” he was saying, over and over again.

That was when the hands grabbed me, and everyone else I guess.  They were cold and clammy but at the same time they burned a little.  When I couldn’t pull them off I started beating them with my lute.  There was cursing and yelling everywhere.  I got free enough to move and started heading down the bar to the necromancer’s corner.  These had to be dead spirits, and they were the only ones likely to know how to get rid of them.

It was the stench that reminded me it was bridge trolls and not necromancers sitting there.  I backed up but it was too late.  A club to the stomach sent me flying over the counter and shattering the glass bottles on the shelves.  Mercifully, the hands were gone, and since I couldn’t see I lay still.

One of the witches finally conjured a light and I wished she hadn’t.  The hands were everywhere reaching straight up from the floor and latching on to anyone who was within their grasp.  That wasn’t the worst part though.  They were actually pulling people into the floor like it was water or quicksand maybe.

The change-lion was sunk in half way and his growls turned to terrified whines as more hands seized his mane.  A street thug swung a mace out for the lion to grab but missed and struck him in the head, knocking him out cold.  Once he stopped struggling, the hands drifted away, leaving the lion embedded in the floor.

No one seemed to notice this surprising behavior and the hands continued to claim their floundering victims.  The rabbi was nowhere in sight, but the monk sat motionless in his seat by the fire, untouched by the hands.  I wanted to run for the door and safety.  Instead, I forced myself to stay limp.

It only took minutes, but it seemed like hours until the hands finished their grisly work, so that only me, the unconscious lion and the monk were left.  The hands milled about, grasping and releasing furniture, before finally gathering around the monk.  He raised his head and his eyes were glowing.  Not just glowing, but flickering.  He opened his mouth and said something I didn’t understand.  It sounded like the landslide we had last year at the mine, only louder.  I swear it made my ears bleed.

The hands raced forward and grabbed him.  They were gentle, caressing him almost.  I vomited, couldn’t help it, and he heard me.  He looked right at me and laughed as they pulled him under.

The necromancers got there then.  The lion woke up and they had to cut him free of the floorboards, but other than that he was fine.  They said the priest, the rabbi and the monk called the Devil up on accident when they were trying to conjure an angel.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, you’ll have to ask them and make up your own mind.

You got here right after that, Deputy.

Now, if anyone ever asks you if you’ve heard the one about the priest, the monk and the rabbi, you tell them to come straight to me because they’ve never heard one like this.

Copyright October 2010 by Jacquelyn Bartel

Jackie Bartel hales from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.  She spends her days riding horses and writing stories, sometimes both at same time.  During the brief moments when she returns to the real world, she studies criminal justice at a local university.

[Return to the October 2010 stories]

4 Responses

  1. […] Frolic from Hell […]

  2. Very imaginative and well-told; I could see the havoc playing out in my mind’s eye.

  3. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the read!

  4. I think the first sentence could be safely cut, but otherwise not bad. 🙂

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