Macabre Profession – Very Short Story

The sky glittered in the moonless night, its rays hidden beneath the horizon. Things had gone well for Mr. Harrison, his business boomed in the absence of the king, and his daughter was out of the house, married to a sweet young man who would honour their trade.

Yes, things were looking well for Mr. Harrison and life was good.

He brought out his celebratory pipe that twirled in a fashion suited for the occasion and filled it with a blend of roots and herbs, gifted by his friend the Herbalist. Mr. Harrison grinned, knowing he was one of the few outside the Herbalist’s family who had ever tasted it. He sipped at the blend and let the smoke engulf his mouth, watching it sail down in front of him. 

This was how power tasted, he thought.

With a smile, he puffed another cloud of smoke that rose and fell until the balcony was in a haze. Wind soon caught in it and dragged it away into the night. But as he watched the smoke sail away, a cloud remained near his face that swirled without a sign to dissipate. He stared at it, not in fear but in bewilderment, and as it remained he puffed another cloud that soon merged into the haze. Mr. Harrison sighed and sunk into his chair anew, dismissing it as a mirage. But again the haze caught wind and the single cloud remained in front of him. Confused, he swung his hand at the spot but the cloud remained.

Suddenly, the cloud changed form and the contours of a man emerged. His heart made a jolt when a face stared back at him, then the cloud dissipated. Mr. Harrison looked around nervously, as if being watched and he let the ember in his pipe die from neglect. Hesitant to light it anew, he grunted defiantly at the otherworldly scene. A Harrison was not squeamish whatsoever, especially considering the field in which they worked. So he lit the pipe again, now with a steady hand, and he watched how the smoke sailed and dissipated. For a moment, everything seemed back the way it was when the cloud slowly formed again, this time, the face emerged disfigured and his heart raced when he recognised his handy work.

So shocked was he that he swung his hand around like one who would swat a bee and his pipe arched over the balcony in his exertion. When the smoke dissipated once more, he entered his house and closed the door. Then, as if closing the door made him exit one world and enter another, the furniture swirled and bent in shapes not possible by solid objects. The tools on his wall seemed to leap out after him and he shrieked in fright as their sharp edges lurched towards him. Mr. Harrison rushed into the living room where no dangerous tool hung and he rummaged through his cupboard with trembling hands. Finding what he was looking for, he filled a glass with a golden liquid.

Calm washed over him from the liquors warming grace and he saw his home as it was, and he breathed out. “What the hell was in that blend?!”

© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

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