Tuesday Tale - Inferno

Please go to The Inferno and read the opening half of this story. 'The Inferno' is an adjunct to The Artist Challenge, where writers respond to a challenge issued on the site, similar to the challenge issued to artists on The Artist Challenge. This is, after all, my birthday present to you, on my birthday.

Update: edited for consistency.

And now ...

The Cask of Infinity

A Short Story by
Louis Charles Lohman

continues ....

He found himself standing alone and naked under a gaslight. His hair was long and shaggy, dripping water as the wild wind and rain blew it about and soaked it through. His beard, also long, also shaggy, dripped water that ran down his chest.

He felt none of it. Not the wind. Not the rain. Not the chill in the air or the nakedness of his body.

All he could feel was the pull of the Symbol. The pull, and the excruciating burn in the palm of his hand, where the form of the Symbol was impressed in his flesh.

The Cask was broken. The Symbol had separated from the Cask and was lost. It was here. In this world.

It seemed vaguely familiar to him. This world. This place. But the pull of the Symbol, close as it was, drove all other thought from his mind. He must retrieve the Symbol and restore it to its rightful place atop the Cask of Infinity.

He raised his hand, palm out, and slowly turned completely around, sensing through his palm, the direction in which the Symbol lay.

There. That building, across this .... street. The word was slow coming to his mind. He stepped into the the street and slowly crossed over the cobblestones, across the sidewalk that bordered them, and up the short flight of stairs that led to the first floor of the building. The building where the Symbol lay hidden.

He paused before the door. He was puzzled, briefly, that this ... thing obstructed his path. He held up his hand and felt the power surge through his palm and he walked through the door, and then the inner door, only to find himself in a hallway with doors on either side.

There. That first door. That door hides the Symbol. It drew him to itself and in his mind, he could sense the glow, the power, of the Symbol. He walked to, and then through, that door, too. As though it wasn't even there.

She woke to see a man in her room. Naked and pale, with long shaggy hair and beard. His hand came slowly up from his side, palm toward her. She could see in his palm, an angry red glow. A figure eight. And she knew he had come for the golden figure she'd found in her tenant's room, all those many months ago.

Her hand slid under her pillow. She felt it there. It was hers now. Her treasure. No one or nothing could take it from her. Her fingers closed around it as the naked apparition seemed to float toward her, the glow in his palm growing stronger, more intense and she felt compelled to rise from her bed and offer her treasure to this apparition, this pale and naked man now in her room. She fought the impulse, now growing more and more urgent, to hand it to him. He came close, both arms now outstretched, until she was encircled by his arms and ready to hand it over to this man. Ready to hand over the treasure that she had claimed for her own, but at the last moment, in a spasm of rage, she held it back and away from his grasp. The Symbol glowed and his palm was as if it were fire. The glow of the symbol seemed to reach out to his palm and the fire in his palm reached out toward the Symbol and they connected and just as he was to grasp it in his hand she threw it on the bed and they both disappeared from this world in a blinding flash of white-orange light.

The police were called.

The landlady had disappeared. No one knew why or where she might have gone. Her nightgown was found laying on the floor in the middle of her room. And there was a strange sign burned into the sheet which covered her bed. A figure eight was scorched there. No one had any idea why. Except for the Constable who first came to the scene. Normally a forthright and honest man, he found himself strangely compelled to pick up the golden figure eight he saw on the bed, and put it in his pocket.

He thought it his treasure. Almost, as if it were payment.


Eric S. said...

Nothing is as it seems in The Realm of Infinity.

Lou this story was just so much fun. Thank you for playing along, I enjoyed it immensely. I am sure your readers and ours did too.

Casdok said...

Brillient! Beautifuly written.

moneythoughts said...

Happy Birthday Lou!

Shadow said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!! mmmmmmwah!

and what a gift you've given us today, thank you!

ROSIDAH said...

Hi Lou, my friend Jientje has sent me to you. Happy Birthday! Wishing you a lot of joy and blessings as you step into another year. Have a wonderful week :)

ROSIDAH said...

Hi Lou, my friend Jientje has sent me to you. Happy Birthday! Wishing you a lot of joy and blessings as you step into another year. Have a wonderful week :)

Jientje said...

Intriguing. Very well written, it held me breathless!

Have a great Birthday Lou!

Employee No. 3699 said...

Happy Birthday!!!!


Ponderer said...

O this I enjoyed, continuing here from The Inferno. Happy Birthday to youuuuu Cheryl

2Thinks said...

Jientje sent me to tell you Happy Birthday and so, Happy Birthday to you, Lou!
Heidi at 2Thinks

Tara R. said...

Happy Birthday! Very intriguing story.

Patsy said...

Don't have time to read this right now, but I wanted to come by before the day got totally away and say HaPPy bIrtHDaY, dear friend. I hope you have had a great day and that the next year will be full of unexpected pleasantries and happiness with a few adventures thrown in to keep it exciting.

Momisodes said...

You are so kind to present such a wonderful gift to US on YOUR birthday! This was such a fun read. Loved it.

Oh, and of course...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

I hope you had a wonderful day.

LceeL said...

Eric: I hope everyone who reads it enjoys it in the context presented.

Casdok: Thank you, Ma'am.

Moneythoughts: Thank you, Fred.

Shadow: Thank you, Shadow. And you are most welcome.

ROSIDAH: Thank you, ma'am. Thanks for coming by.

Jientje: Thank you, Princess.

Employee: Thank you, Linda.

Ponderer: Thank you, Cheryl. Very much.

2Thinks: Thank you, Heidi.

Tara R: Thank you, Tara. Glad you liked it.

Patsy: Thank you, Patsy. And do read the story.

Momisodes: Thank you, sandy. I'm so glad you liked the story.

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

Happy Birthday, Lou!

Another Virgo. I'm surrounded by them...my husband, my daughter, my best friend.

Love this story.

Michael said...

brill story that the ornament seems a bit like the ring in lord of the rings only the ring dissapears with them.
where they gone another dimension?

got my own laptop at last sat in bed with it got the old thing running again tonight

Kim (frogpondsrock) said...

Happy Birthday Lou..

secret agent mama said...


Please forgive me for not wishing you a Happy Birthday. You know my life and how hectic it is. No excuse for forgetting a friends birthday. A dear friend. But, please forgive me!

I just got around to reading your half here. It's OUTSTANDING!

Love Always,
Your Friend Mishelle