• Flux Magazine

"A Brush With Death" by Shelby Liddicoet

Adam began to stir. He awoke to the sight of the dungeon-chic ceiling above him. He blinked a few times, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness before sitting up gingerly. His head pounded and his throat was dry, but that didn’t stop him from crawling over to Miles and shaking him awake. Miles pushed Adam away and rolled over still in a state of semi-consciousness. Adam grabbed his friend and shook him violently resulting in Miles’ eyes flashing open with anger, then concern. The boys looked at each other before glancing at their third sleeping friend. Silently they agreed on what had to be done.

Miles struggled to move but eventually inched his way to Ryan’s side. He took one look at his unconscious friend then looked back at Adam. “Are you sure we can’t leave him like this?” Miles asked.

“He is a lot nicer in his sleep.”

Adam shot Miles a disapproving look. Miles shrugged and turned his attention back to Ryan. He raised his hand and brought it down fiercely against Ryan’s face.

“Miles!” Adam hissed.

Ryan’s eyes flew open and he sat up immediately almost colliding heads with Miles. “What the fuck,” Ryan mumbled.

“Relax, you’re alive, aren’t you?”

“Where are we?”

“Yeah, where are we, Adam?”

“I don’t know, yet,” Adam answered pulling himself up from the floor. He stared away from his friends and noticed a small, antique desk with a dim candle perched in the corner of the room.

Ryan and Miles noticed Adam’s changed expression and made their way to their friend’s side who had already made his way to the desk. Rather eloquently carved into the top of the desk was the phrase “For your story to continue, payment I require.” Below the carving sits a blank sheet of paper, a bottle of ink, and a rusted nib pen.

“What do you suppose that means?” Ryan asked as Adam ran his hand across the carving. “Why are these things always so cryptic?”

“I mean payment probably is referring to a sacrifice of some kind,” Miles stated, “probably blood...actually most likely blood, with our luck.” Ryan looks in Adam’s direction disturbingly when Miles mentions blood.

“And why the fuck are you looking at me?!”

“You’re kind of our unspoken leader, so open a vein, man,” Ryan taunted as Adam glared

daggers into his soul. While the boys continued to bicker, a dark-haired figure dressed in white appeared in the opposite corner of the room.

“Having fun, boys? Because I know I am,” the figure jeered.

“Who are you?” Adam asked taking a step towards the figure.

“In time you will figure that out, dear Adam. But let’s focus on getting you out of this trap...”

“You know how to solve this?” Ryan interrupted.

“...it’s my trap.” The figure flashed a warning at Ryan before continuing. “All you have to do is write the name of someone on that paper, they die, and you get to leave.” Ryan and Adam looked intently at each other so much so that they failed to notice Miles pick up the pen.

“How do we decide...”

“Miles...Miles...no, stop writing names,” the figure cut off Adam. He waved his hand annoyingly at Miles causing the pen to vanish from his hand. The wall to their left sunk in revealing a dark hallway.

“I guess that works, but you didn’t actually kill anyone. Since you wrote so many names in a short amount of time all you did was shorten their life spans. The magic in the paper can’t work that fast.”

“You knew that, right, Miles?” Adam asked concerned for his friend’s well-being. “You didn’t just try to kill all those people?”

“Why is my name on this?!” Ryan blurted out while snatching the paper from the figure’s hand.

“To be fair, it just says Ryan,” Miles retorted.

“Oh really, do you know another Ryan?”

“...Seacrest.”

“You tried to kill Ryan Seacrest...” Ryan glowered at Miles.

“I am regretting multiple life choices,” Adam told the figure, who put his hand on Adam’s shoulder then disappeared.

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