An Inevitable Forfeit

Submitted for Contest #48 in response to: Write a story that features a protagonist with an archnemesis.... view prompt

38 comments

Jul 03, 2020

Funny Thriller

Accidents are my largest source of income. In this town, people always come to me after an ill-fated incident, donning a look of utter misery and grief as they pleaded for their loved ones' lives. Some were twisted backwards in places, some staggered in their steps, almost all were invariably accompanied by trembling men - ones you'd never witness in such a vulnerable state. Ever.


Praise is a compelling motivator, although, not as adequate as money - yet they both bestowed their own fruits of glory and fulfilment. I crave that gratitude. It's a special kind of bliss that stains my mind like a gray cloud on a rainy day, just as overbearing and charged with profound wonderment.


At least six people visit daily, stammering the same vague account of a highway accident or a parking collision as I glance at the victim. A few even have the audacity to challenge my capabilities - maybe it's my lean arms - but they usually surrender with near-teary eyes having no other alternative.


It's only after a couple of hours that they return, elated to see their beloved awaken and seem so brand new. My points of advice fall onto deaf ears, so I know they haven't paid attention to my words before immediately promising to be more cautious on the road. I can't blame them for being happy. We're all fragile in one way or another. Not as precarious as glass, but rather, a fire. Obscure yet unknowing of any little gust of wind eagerly waiting to pounce. Yet once-reignited, the fire forgets the hot ashes lying beneath.


My father had once introduced me to this job at the age of eight, presuming I'd follow his shadows without a question. Sadly, I discovered no appeal in tending to such kinds of patients, ones so damaged and stiffened in their places - spoiled by the ways of the roads. Eventually, I caved to his wishes, cowering from his glare - or rather, two spotlights of disappointment. However, I did find it ironic that he had brought us a fortune from someone else's misfortune. Life's strange that way, I guess.


My mother, on the other hand, says she's proud. I think her favourite pastime is unashamedly redirecting conversations with strangers so they can gush about my work. Pride fills her like mercury on a hot day. I doubt she's ever seen the things I actually do, probably terrified that she'd injure herself somehow. Knowing her, that possibility doesn't seem too far-fetched.


The other day, as I was savouring a well-deserved nap during my break, someone had the ingenious idea of slamming the door to grab my attention - in reality, its magnitude could've drawn my consciousness back from a coma. The man was dressed entirely in black with several tattoos etched upon the bulky expanse of his arms and his footfalls resembled anvils crashing into the ground. But this man, this man, had the most devastating expression before he began to plead, declaring to pay the highest price.


His grip on the victim's long, skeletal arms was firm, protective even. There was a slight flicker of doubt in his eyes as he took notice of my slender physique. Without even looking at the damage, I assured that his "Harley" would be just fine. Rookie mistake. You never tell anyone that they'll survive. It gives them hope and hope hinders reason. He left cautiously, giving one last look at Harley. I followed his gaze and that's when I saw it.


It was an angry red, that dissolved into whispers of orange and yellow. Several cuts and scratches were carved along the surface as if it had endured the high seas. Scars had emerged from beneath the silvery skin, harsh like sandpaper. I recognised its distinct odour, felt it between my teeth as I bit my tongue. I had lost a few of my own over the years, suffering from the same disease. And since then, nightmares of its dark umber had been imprinted in my mind, planning for the right moment to taunt me.


I glanced back at the graveyard - excuse me, backyard - where I had buried the ones I had failed to save. Ones in such dreadful conditions that not even my best co-workers, Vin or Edgar could fix them. It was a monstrous plague, attacking the weak, the unkempt. Anyone in similar professions would escape as soon as they lock eyes with its horrors. It was a sickness so sinful, not even Hades would wish this sentence upon his worst. It was a mechanic's worst nightmare - rust.


Rust had once cost me a lawsuit. In fact, I still owe $82,000 to the owner of a vintage sports car who had ordered to restore his vehicle in preparation for a luxury car auction. Unbeknownst to either of us, the lethal virus had already begun to duplicate around the axel. I wasted my savings trying to find the antidote, purchasing grease and wax removers from suspicious dealers in the middle of the night - in short, the condition worsened and the last investment I made was court-approved attire.


Similar instances had happened earlier and from then on, I pledged to never revive - or attempt to revive - an infected automobile. It was the equivalent of crossing a black cat. And here I was again, practically stroking the feline. Vin and Edgar widened their eyes at the massive motorcycle I was staring at, one of them had taken a sharp breath at the red-brown tint.


Despair was evident as I trudged to the garage, suppressing the sentiment of pity that radiated from the room. I ran my fingers along the azure plating, every single memory resurfaced to my mind. My father had gifted the bike when the business had flourished. Despite finally having one of my lifelong dreams roar awake at the flick of a switch, the pat on my back he'd given was more valuable. Besides, my model was similar to the rust-contaminated one. It was my only option. After one last prolonged gaze, I made my decision.


"Looks like you're getting a new owner."

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38 comments

Harken Void
18:02 Jul 03, 2020

Haha, oh my god, I thought the whole time the protagonist was a necromancer or a voodoo healer or something, but no. I was wrong! I love the vagueness. You hint at what his occupation is, yet it's written in such a way you'd expect the 'victims' to be real people, not cars and bikes. Just briliant! You had me wonder at 'Harley', but I wasn't sure until the rust. Wow. And I love the eloquence of your writing, especially the opening lines. Very poetic :) The only thing I can offer as feedback, is that the end felt a bit 'sudden'. You've s...

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Arya Preston
18:11 Jul 03, 2020

I'm glad it wasn't too obvious and easy to catch on! And thank you so much for the feedback, I guess it was kinda sudden - I'll work on establishing relationships in future stories. Happy you liked it :D

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Kathleen March
02:08 Jul 09, 2020

This story is precious! I was going to point out examples of metaphors and similes that really grabbed me, but there were too many. You have a great ability for description. It is almost surreal. The humor is superb.

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Arya Preston
03:17 Jul 09, 2020

Thank you so much Kathleen, that's really kind of you!

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Daryl Gravesande
16:13 Jul 06, 2020

Another GREAT story, by a GREAT author! Keep it upppp! :)

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Arya Preston
16:52 Jul 06, 2020

Lol thank you so much, Daryl! :D

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Daryl Gravesande
11:09 Jul 07, 2020

No prob!

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Grace M'mbone
18:05 Jul 04, 2020

Arya this was brilliant. Wow. I am blown away.

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Arya Preston
18:34 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you very much, Grace!

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Batool Hussain
07:08 Jul 04, 2020

Hello! This is a very unique! Everything is all so on point. I loved the way you kept the reader in the dark until the very end. Good!

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Arya Preston
07:57 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you so much for reading it, Batool! Glad you enjoyed :)

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Batool Hussain
08:06 Jul 04, 2020

You're welcome

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Corey Melin
04:42 Jul 04, 2020

Very well done on keeping the reader in the dark until near the end. Well done

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Arya Preston
05:49 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you, Corey!

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Sayani Sarkar
17:29 Jul 03, 2020

This was quite interesting. Very different,I must say!

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Arya Preston
17:53 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you very much!

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:49 Jul 03, 2020

This was a wonderful story! Quite a unique take on the prompt as well! I loved in the first line! Well done Arya!

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Arya Preston
15:03 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you for reading, Roshna! :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:04 Aug 03, 2020

OMG you’re good! This was brilliant. When I came to the Harley part, I thought – not a great choice for a name because I’m immediately thinking motorbike. Even then I didn’t see the ending coming. After you reveal the plague is rust, I thought you maybe went on a bit too long, until I got to the second twist (something of a specialty of yours I see) when the mechanic gives his/her own bike away. So twice, I thought you’d made errors that were, in fact, not errors at all but were entirely deliberate and enhance the story incredibly. So I’m no...

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Arya Preston
04:23 Aug 04, 2020

Thank you for reading, Jonathan! I really appreciate your comments! I'm sure you've noticed how much I love misdirection - so, I'm happy that the plot twists were slightly foreshadowed yet easily overlooked. I was debating whether I should keep the name "Harley" since it seemed too obvious, but I decided that without it, the ending would seem too random :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:15 Aug 04, 2020

Absolutely, you did it brilliantly. The Harley thing adds so much to the story. I think what you're learning is the reader will make certain assumptions upfront, and if you do that properly (which you do) then you can hint at the twist a lot and they won't see it coming. And that's what makes your stories great. I wouldn't be steadily making my way through your old stories if they weren't. Although, I'm nearly finished, so hopefully there'll be a new one soon...

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Jt Burnett Ii
17:06 Jul 13, 2020

Good afternoon. I apologize for not getting to this over the weekend. I said Saturday, but I was unable to for personal reasons. Please forgive me. I do not like telling people I will so something and then not being able to do it. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. I appreciate your attention to grammar and punctuation. It shows respect for your reader and a for the craft. Thank you. “An Inevitable Forfeit” is a story about an exceptionally gifted mechanic battling rust. I thought the imagery of the mechanic was metaphorical, and I was n...

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Arya Preston
17:20 Jul 14, 2020

I had to read this twice to thoroughly acknowledge all your thoughts on the story. First, I'd like to say, please don't apologise for not being able to comment earlier - I completely understand that real-life commitments are your top priority, especially when I had requested you give my story a glance. Your invaluable feedback was well worth the wait! Second, thank you for taking time out of your day to provide such an intricate response, I truly appreciate the gesture. And to answer your questions, I had never considered writing a sec...

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Talia Vander
19:20 Jul 10, 2020

Wow, this story was beautifully written! Plus, I can't say I thought the protagonist was a mechanic when I started reading :P

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Arya Preston
19:28 Jul 10, 2020

Thank you very much, Talia! Glad I was able to deceive you :D

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Praveen Jagwani
14:45 Jul 09, 2020

This is masterful Arya :) You've got some great comments, so I won't repeat. But will list my two favourite sentences. Accidents are my largest source of income. It gives them hope and hope hinders reason. The alliteration in the second is poetic. The second sentence of the story has mixed tenses. Other than that. Brilliant !

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Arya Preston
14:53 Jul 09, 2020

Thank you very much! Incorporating literary devices are possibly the best aspects of writing for me, and alliteration is a great one to grab a reader's attention - glad you noticed it! And thank you for the feedback, I didn't catch that tense change while editing, will focus on that for upcoming stories :)

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03:20 Jul 09, 2020

Wow what an interesting take on the prompt. I actually had to read it twice to totally get it 😃 great job love this

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Arya Preston
03:35 Jul 09, 2020

Thank you, Sarah! I really appreciate it :D

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Audrey Winter
15:24 Jul 08, 2020

You kept me guessing the whole time! I love how you gave a few clues here and there to direct the reader and eventually gave the answer - but still never saying it right out. Really clever and beautiful writing. Well done!

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Arya Preston
17:28 Jul 08, 2020

Thank you so much, Audrey! :D

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Charles Stucker
05:57 Jul 08, 2020

Clever presentation. I just read a horror tale before this and saw a necromancer raising the dead. Not a mechanic fixing cars. This despite your clues of "or a parking collisions" and "lean arms" as an indication of no ability. Even the name of the beloved "Harley" (though come on who doesn't like Harley Quinn and thus think about a blonde instead of a muscle bike?) Technically, it IS possible to eradicate rust from the body of a vehicle, but it doesn't really stop the twist end from being humorous.

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Arya Preston
06:19 Jul 08, 2020

Thank you, Charles! My idea was to write it as open as possible so there could be many interpretations and necromancer seems to be a recurring point amongst others as well. And yes, it is possible to remove rust using vinegar hence, the character's co-workers are named Vin and Edgar - a subtle hint that's quite hidden. Glad you enjoyed the story :)

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Anoushka Jain
05:48 Jul 08, 2020

Wow. This was absolutely brilliant. I could never have guessed that plot twist! I love how you word things, and you have an amazing writing style. I wish you would have expanded on the relationship between the 'archnemesis' and the protagonist more though! Either way, great story!

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Arya Preston
06:14 Jul 08, 2020

Thank you so much for reading, Anoushka! I really appreciate the feedback as well, will work on it for future stories :)

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Anoushka Jain
17:09 Jul 08, 2020

No problem, it was an amazing story!

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14:27 Jul 07, 2020

Oh! What really? I wasn't sure even after Harley that it would be a bike - thought Harley is a guy, even you kept it in quotes, you gave hints but I couldn't guess. Really! you created a dark world. I am pleased to read from you... Wonderful! Arya...

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Arya Preston
15:22 Jul 07, 2020

Thank you very much for reading! I tried to give as many clues as subtly as possible. There's one which no one has picked up on yet, but it's quite difficult to piece together! :)

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