God's two Fingers

Submitted into Contest #214 in response to: Set your story on the eve of the first day back at school.... view prompt

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Fiction Teens & Young Adult Drama

A place to be alone; that is what he values most. He has found it here in the woods, deep and far away from home, and he will stay in this lonely place until the sun burns away and the sky is left blank. They will come then, the only ones he wants to see, and they will be together here in the concrete fortress that overlooks the cold, shimmering pool of impersonality that is Callander Bay.

He loves the darkness because it is his; it belongs to him on the nights when everyone else in the world has fallen asleep, and those nights have become a common occurrence. 

Nothing is real in the sun’s absence, and this is why he spends most of his days in a drug-fuelled stupor, letting the hours drag by and fall away, making way for the shadows.

Some nights, when he’s lucky, adventure will befall him. 

“Like last night,” he says. “Remember that?”

He strokes the fur between the ears of his German shepherd, and even in the scant, withering light of evening, you can tell she’s a beautiful thing. Her fur is black and gold and her eyes are deep; her teeth are gleaming like diamonds, and her ears are as sharp as knives. She is slim and lean and dangerous, and he admires her.

“Remember, Rosie?”

She licks her lips and sniffs his face, so he laughs and pushes her away. 

“Yeah, you remember.”

He was laughing when he stumbled through the front door last night, dropping his phone down the wooden steps—he nearly fell himself trying to pick it up, and the driver was shaking her head. 

“Watch your step,” she said. 

“Hah. Thanks.” 

He had been curious when he saw her face through the windshield, and now that he had heard her voice he was sure: he’d had this driver before. Her name is Chantelle, and she listened to his music in the car one time. 

“Have you heard this guy before?”

“Uh, no,” he lied. 

“My son started listening to him a few days ago; apparently he’s only fourteen.”

He’s fifteen, actually, but of course he didn’t tell her that; he only said, “Hmm. That’s pretty cool.”

Rosie followed him out of the cab and Chantelle waved, beaming. She’s the only taxi driver in the city who allows a dog in the car, but she’s also the only driver who listens to his music. She’s different, this Chantelle, in ways he can’t explain. She smells nice, like flowers and gentle winds, and he often wishes she could pick him up every day, every time. She doesn’t talk too much and her voice is soft like her skin, and maybe if things were different… maybe if he weren’t so young and maybe if she knew—

“Hey! Wait up!”

His arms were above his head and Rosie was trotting along behind him, panting quietly as her tongue lolled around. The brake lights burned like coals, and Chantelle rolled her window down. 

“Hey. Sorry. Um… listen. Can I get in for a sec?”

Everything is so quiet as he sits here on the edge of the roof, his legs dangling as his breath comes softly through the mask that conceals the lower half of his face, but he can hear them. It is happening soon. 

The love they have for him is stronger than a lion and he can hardly feel the phone vibrating in his pocket. 


She is furious, of course. They were supposed to have dinner with his grandparents tonight, and here he is, his skin like milk in the moonlight as he takes in the new, much fancier Terrace Suites in the field below, where windows burn and the pond shimmers. 

“It is 11:30! Are you kidding me right now? It’s the first day of school tomorrow and I need you home!

“You don’t need me home, Mom.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’ll be there in a bit.”

He sets his phone on the gravel surface of the roof because no, she does not need him home. She will be perfectly fine without him, and besides, he has better things to do. 

“We’re almost rich, Rosie.”

It makes him sad sometimes, the way she thinks he’s neglecting her. He doesn’t know how to make her understand that what he’s doing is for her, for them. 

“You’re wasting your life,” she always says, standing outside his bedroom door while he sits at his desk, headphones around his neck, listening. He never talks back, would never dare, for he respects her. He just sits in his chair and listens, his lips a grim line, until she leaves and he can get back to work. 

“I made an album,” he told her three nights ago. “It’s finished.”

She wouldn’t even reply. 

Below, the parking lot is overgrown, littered with fallen trees and furniture that has been tossed through the shattered windows. Crumbs of drywall and shards of glass crunch beneath his feet as he paces before one of these windows; pool tables lie askew in the billiard room and the carpets are soggy from all the rain that gets blown in. There are porcelain bathtubs and sinks and smashed apart toilets and mirrors, electrical panels with their wires stripped out and light fixtures that dangle, bulbless, from the ceiling, which is ripe with mold. 

His finger is trailing on the rough, rotting walls as he takes the stairs that have no railings and are surrounded by torn drywall, so the building’s wires and pipes are all revealed. The only piece that remains untouched, except for some dust and mud, is the carpet. It muffles his steps as he creeps through the obscurity, and isn’t it striking? How suddenly silence dies. 

Rosie’s ears perk up and he turns round, grinning like a madman because silence has died in a chorus of voices tonight, echoing from down the old access road. 

He makes it the rest of the way up the stairs, his feet pounding now, and he is breathing fast because he knows this is it, the beginning of everything he’s waited for, a hand of five fingers and two rings reaching from clouds of gold, offering it all to him. 

He clambers through a window that once opened onto the roof, back in the days when there was still glass to be opened, and he pauses at the edge. There are four of them down there in the parking lot, lugging a generator to the front door. Chris, positioned at the rear, lifts his eyes and finds him among the stars. Then, they are both gone. 

It takes them over an hour to get everything set up, and he watches them the whole time. They know exactly what to do, and the price of their labor is not cheap, so he can afford to sit with Rosie and supervise. 

“Ulysses,” one of them says, and his head snaps up. “Uh, sorry. So, do you want the lights all around like this, or…”

The sound of his real name startled him; he isn’t used to hearing it when he’s behind the mask like this. “Sure,” he says. “Yeah. Immaculate.”

It is never any less of a shame when something, someone, brings him forcefully out of his thoughts, scraping his knees and making them bleed, and dumps him back in real, terrible time. It’s cold here; the world doesn’t look like a painting anymore, and is the air as sweet as it was a few seconds ago?

“All right,” they tell him when the lights are right. “We’re ready.”

He rises to inspect their work, nodding as he goes, and then the rain begins to fall. 

“This is perfect.”


“The rain. The show. All of it.”

“Getting what you wanted?”

He removes the baby blue hood from his head, his golden hair like silk, and closes his eyes as the clouds make them wet. “I just want something to take my breath away.”

The stage is splattered with neon paint and the heavens are alive with spotlights that sway from side to side, dancing with the stars. The lights and the paint are of every shade, blues and reds and orange and green, and he loves this moment. He’s seen it a thousand times, the moment his music begins to transform the environment, filling the atmosphere with its curated detail, inviting bodies to move and mouths to sing, to laugh, to scream.

The roof of the abandoned hotel is quaking beneath his feet as he performs, for he didn’t dare dream that this many people would attend his show. The post on his Instagram story must have been shared a thousand times and you should see him here onstage, sharing his art with an audience of people he has never met, people he knows well, people he hasn’t seen in a very long time, people he has met but doesn’t know—

None of that matters. Right now, they only know the half of himself he has chosen to share with them. Right now, beneath his blue hood and behind the silver mask encrusted with jewels that sparkle and shine, he is absorbed with the spectacular demonstration of his talent that is unfolding before his very eyes and, at the same time, excited for it to be over so he can escape to that special place, the place where no one can see or hear or know him at all.

The mystery is the most fascinating part of his work. He is small enough that people suspect he’s a kid, but no one is certain because no one has ever seen him take off the mask before. No one knows who this early superstar really is, and they love him for that. 

Hey!” someone shouts when the sixth song has ended. “How much for you to take off the mask?”

“It cost me two grand to put it on,” he says, his voice enchanted with autotune. “If you can give me the same price, I’ll take it off again.”

But the guy doesn’t respond. 

Amidst the crowd, he spots four girls in matching pink bikinis. Their faces are decorated with the same neon paint that has been splashed across the roof and the walls of the hotel, and they are launching paintballs at people from homemade slingshots. One of the metal orbs soars right past his face, and he drops to his knees as one of the girls comes past at his feet. He grabs her arm and she shrieks as he hauls her up into the eye of fame and glory.

“You almost hit me with one of those,” he says, and her eyes are like frosted glass up close, her skin as soft and tempting as butter. 

“Sorry,” she blurts, nervous and drunk. She’s older than him, he thinks; she’s slightly taller and those eyes of hers are alive with sex. 

“Let me play that last song one more time,” he says, and he is supporting her as she teeters on her bare feet. She is the type of woman his mother warns him about, he can tell by the way she wants him, but he wouldn’t trade this for the world. “You know the words, right?”

“Wow…” she whispers once they’re alone. “You’re him.”

There is still a party going on outside of the room with the door, and he knows this as the room with the door because it is the only door in the whole building that has not been ripped from its hinges and smashed into nothing. The door is closed and they are lying on her hoodie, and she is lovelier than the stars above, lovelier than the feeling he gets from looking down at a crowd of people who know his songs as she lies with him on the floor in her bikini. 

He lets her remove his hood, strands of blonde hair falling in his eyes, and soon he is shirtless. Her hands are in his jeans and the bottom of her swimsuit falls to her ankles, like a comet from heaven. She is loud and he is strong and he doesn’t even mind when his mask comes loose and begins to slip. 

She is staring into his eyes as it happens, as his anonymity disappears, and just like that the want in her turns to disgust. 

“You’re a kid?

She is kicking him and screaming, calling him names, and he stumbles back, falling into the remains of a white bathtub. He scrambles to get the mask back on, wishing it weren’t this girl but Chantelle, wishing it weren’t this musty place but the backseat of a taxi, wishing so desperately for something as small and comforting as a familiar face. 

She doesn’t bother pulling her bikini up before she bolts from the room, a drunken animal of ugly hatred, and begins screaming that she has been raped.

He doesn’t know where she is, but he knows he has to find her. Either that, or get the hell out of this place.

He staggers through the dark halls, dodging all the people who want him to give them his autograph and take photos with them, searching for a pink bikini. 

And there she is, over at the other—

But then everything is red, and his face has hit the ground. Some guy stomps on his back when he tries to get back up, then kicks him in the stomach. 

“Is it true? Are you just a kid under there?”

The girl in the bikini is standing off to the side, a hand over her mouth, her feet still bare on the filthy carpet. She finds his eyes as her boyfriend kneels with one knee against his neck, making it impossible to breathe. 

“Get… off.”

There are hands prying at the mask on his face, poking him in the eyes and clawing at his cheeks. He can feel the world beginning to fade, can hear his mother’s voice in his distant head, can—

And then there is life, rushing forth like a river. The weight has been removed from his neck and he scrambles to his feet, tripping over himself and landing against the wall. His breaths are coming raggedly now, the sort of breaths you take when you’re battered and bruised and still fighting. The room is an open eye and its irises are of a thousand shades as it blinks, bringing shutters of pink cherries and showers of hot magma. He squints against the strobe lights and, through this conscious effort, perceives two—no, there are three figures on the floor, thrashing in a fierce struggle. 

“Rosie,” he cries, tackling the magnificent creature. “Rosie, get off!”

The girl in the pink bikini is screaming something, pointing fervently at one of the gaping windows, and then the world is alive in a whole new way, a way of alarm and sirens as a conflagration of blue and red closes in on the scene. 

“Shit. Cops!

The room of sporadic lights becomes a hurricane of motion, people stumbling and trampling over each other as they flee, but he keeps his eyes on Chris, for it was Chris who tackled the boy to the ground and rescued him, and it is Chris who clambers through the broken window and onto the roof, which is black and sticky and tarlike. 

“Come on!”

He steps into Chris’s cupped hands and is hoisted up, over the edge of the stage. Chris helps Rosie up, too, and then they are running. They are on the highest part of the roof now, heading for the old fire escape. Their feet are hammers and their hearts, their lungs, they are machines. 

But then Chris is no longer beside him, and he knows they are not getting out of this. Rosie wheels back, snarling, but something knocks her down hard. There is a tremendous presence bearing down on him; he doesn’t stop, barreling toward the fire escape, and the whole structure lurches and sways beneath his feet. 

“Oh, shit,” he exlaims, seizing the rust-coated railing. “Oh, shit, shit, shit.”

His eyes flicker up in time to see the boy who knocked him to the ground flying through the air, his left leg raised. The kick hits him in the chest and launches him into the railing; the corroded bolts that support the escape give way with one final squeal, a ghastly rending of metal as it tears free.

There is a certain sound to death. A certain melody; a blaring silence that never lasts as long as you’d like it to. Everything… everything is quiet, the kind of quiet you hear when you wake in the middle of the night and lay still, sensing the presence of things that aren’t there while your family sleeps all around you. And then there is chaos; screaming, crying, the sounds of earth rushing back to life. Gravity takin hold, the flow of air, the pounding of hearts. There is fear screeching inside, an organ’s pipes clogged with blood. Suffocating. To witness death is to drown, to choke and gasp and to crave a voice that fails you. Even as the world comes to life, you are still. You are choking on this fear, this blood that is darker than roses, and how does the air taste? You wish, in vain, that someone would remind you. 

“Holy shit,” says a voice, one of the first sounds of earth rushing back to life. 

“He’s… dead.

“You… Jesus. You killed him.”

“Mom…” is the only word that escapes his lips. His legs are pinned beneath the metal staircase, crushed and bleeding, and her eyes are all he sees, her voice is all he hears. He would do anything in this moment, would give it all up—the lights, the crowds, the money, the complete satisfaction at his own artistry—just to feel her embrace and listen to her as she murmurs in his ear, “It’s all okay.”

September 09, 2023 02:40

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1 comment

Andrea Corwin
02:52 Sep 14, 2023

Awww, I didn't want it to end like that! And what happened to Chris and Rosie? Did they make it out (I hope)? Great descriptions.


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