Christopher Roman O'Halloran is a young writer in the lower mainland of Canada with training in acting for TV and Film. He has very little experience and this is his first published piece.
The Phoenix by Christopher O’Halloran
The broad shouldered man limped through the corridor of Ashley’s large Tudor
mansion and she followed, the long ice pick poised to strike again. His blood dripped dull off the end and splashed on the area rug stretching out towards her study. She could hear his rasping breaths coming quicker and quicker as he dragged his wounded leg.
“You bitch!” he shouted at her as he took hold of the door and slammed it shut.
Always, Ashley thought, always bitch. Every language, every accent, throughout the years it was always BITCH . The word men threw at her when faced with their defeat. It used to get her blood pumping, it used to fuel her hatred but now she rolled her eyes at it the same way a mother will roll her eyes at a petulant child after a temper tantrum.
He would have locked the door and started looking for a phone. That would be
after he saw there were no windows or obvious methods of escape. Most of them were the same once they were weakened past the point of fighting. They resorted to their basic instincts, acting like frightened rabbits in a trap.
Ashley heard the frantic noises coming from the study as she opened a door on the east wall of the hallway. She removed the coats hanging from the rod stretching across the narrow closet as the man flipped over furniture. She entered the combination to her safe as the man slid her heavy desk in front of her door. She removed the 9mm pistol from beside a journal full of names and descriptions as the ragged breaths came slow from the study, punctuated with curses.
The gun was always loaded. The safety was always off. Safety was never a
concern. It wasn’t always this easy, but the latest century of her long life introduced more conveniences with each decade. Weight was always reassuring. The weight of a rock two fists large, the weight of an obsidian dagger both reflecting and absorbing light somehow, the weight of an axe well used and well maintained. The weight of a fully loaded Beretta full of death and destruction. It made her feel strong, giving her the mechanical advantage where her own muscles had failed her.
“Hey Trevor, how are you holding up in there? Can I get you anything? Another
glass of wine? I had to hold my breath earlier when you were panting and drooling over me, maybe you’d like some gum!” She raised the gun and pointed it at the door, waiting for his reply.
“Why don’t you come out here and we can get back to where we left off? If you
could talk to my previous partners they would tell you I am worth bleeding for.” If ashes could talk.
Still nothing. Not even the sound of his laboured breathing. Had he bled out in
there? Ashley frowned at the thought of that. He seemed tougher than that.
“Come on you limpdicked faggot, maybe if you beg me nice I’ll keep it to myself
that you like to choke down cocks on the weekend. I won’t tell anybody that you like to pull on your tiny weiner when your boyfriend lovingly fucks you in your little ass!”
When all else fails, call them gay. Men hate that.
“Fuck you!” shouted Trevor, the big man with the strong arms, strong cologne and cheesy pick up lines.
Ashley aimed eight inches lower than where the sound came from and fired 6
shots through the study door into what she hoped was his center mass.
Her ears rang with a high pitch absurdly contrasted with the deep barks from the pistol. Many times she contemplated buying a suppressor but she just loved that blowback so much, the powerful ejaculation as her bullets raced out the end of the barrel towards the destruction of anything she loathed. Through the ringing she imagined she would hear the sliding of his heavy body and the thump as it hit the ground. In reality that wouldn’t have been the case, the bullets would have tossed him off his feet immediately but she thought herself an artist and her interpretation seemed more poetic, if a tad cliche.
She forgave herself for the cliche. When you’re my age, she pondered, it’s hard to pinpoint when things transition from fashionable to hackneyed.
She repressed that giddy feeling that always comes after a kill and walked towards the study. When she reached the door, she stood on tiptoes and ran her hand along the top of the frame. The feel of the key was unfamiliar. She never had a man run to the study.
Nothing about the long hallway suggested escape. It was dark and terminated in a single room. Most men if they got the chance to flee would run along the path they entered through, the one Ashley led them down, sometimes by the hand, sometimes by the tie, sometimes by something else.
Ashley had lived long enough to become mildly bored at the patterns she found
and this change of pace invigorated her.
“Still kicking honey?” she cooed through the closed door as she slid the key in,
feeling the tumblers rise and catch like puzzle pieces. Maybe he was still alive and she could watch his life leave his eyes. She imagined herself sitting on his chest as it hitched, him powerless underneath her. She wanted to feel his blood soak her pants as it seeped out of 6 little holes in his chest.
“My big strong man is awfully quiet, maybe I can liven him up,” she purred as she
turned the handle and pushed on the door. It moved slowly against the weight of the desk and she had to lower her shoulder to get more power into it. She heaved and the door slipped open a foot. She squeezed in and felt a splitting heat as
Trevor plunged a letter opener into her neck.
He followed her to the ground as his damaged leg gave way and the thin blade
slipped spraying arterial blood across his chest. It scalded him and he frantically ripped his shirt over his head and threw it away from him as he laid beside the dying woman who just 5 minutes ago thrust a heavy ice pick into his leg. He rolled away from her as the blood pumped from the side of her delicate neck.
Had he not known the monster she was, he would think her beautiful.
Ashley stared at him, surprise showing in her eyes. At first she tried to staunch the flow of blood escaping her but realized the futility of it and gave up. A smile spread over her face, touching her eyes
“You look familiar,” she said, “have we met before?”
Trevor shook his head. “My brother.”
Her smile widened as she remembered.
“Smaller than you. Still big though.”
He nodded and got to his feet, his right leg aching where the ice pick sized hole
“He didn’t fight as much as you. Probably because I got him in the temple. Got
him while he was inside of me.” Her smile widened and he thought if she smiled any more her head would open up like Pac Man. “I felt him shrivel up. I squeezed him out like a little baby, dying instead of being born.”
Trevor stepped over her and into the hall, making sure to avoid the spreading
blood that was pooling around her. It didn’t go very far, just ran tightly along her body, already beginning to congeal. He saw the open closet door and glanced inside.
“ Rock a bye baby in a tree top,” Ashley sang from inside the study, her voice
sweet and bursting with love.
He grabbed a shoe box and dumped out its contents. Faded polaroids of men, faces full of shock.
“ When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.”
He pulled a scarf down from where it lay draped over the rod. Paused, then pulled down another.
“ When the bow breaks, the cradle will drop,” the words floated on the still air,
pregnant with the next line.
He waited for it, one second, two, three. Ten.
Nothing. Then the sound of a crackling fire.
Trevor saw a broom and dustpan tucked away in the corner and grabbed it. He
limped over towards the study but was frozen by the sight of a raging fire.
Although the heat baked off and made him wince, the wallpaper showed no sign of burning. The door stood surrounded in flames but remained unburnt as well. Ashley lay in the middle of the fire, eyes closed and smile retracted to a peaceful, content look. She looked like she could be dozing as the fire consumed her.
He sat and waited, back resting against the wall of the corridor. One minute, two, three. Twenty. When she was ashes, the fire died down and faded away. No smoke rose from the pile.
With a grimace he rose using the broom to aid him. He hobbled over to the pile
and began sweeping the ashes into the dustpan. When the pan was full, he dumped it into the shoebox and repeated the process until he had gotten as much out of the carpet as possible. He placed the lid on the shoebox and wrapped the two scarfs around it as tight as he possibly could. The fabric seemed too thin to hold anything of great strength inside but he wasn’t worried.
In the trunk of his car he had chains. His drive home would take him over a bridge crossing a river just a kilometer away from the ocean. He walked out of her large home gently closing the door behind him, the shoebox cradled in his arm.
5 minutes into his drive, the wail of a baby cried out from the shoebox in the
passenger seat. Trevor shifted into fifth gear.