Today I'm posting an original writing for Write..Edit..Publish (WEP) bloghop. This months prompt is THE END IS THE BEGINNING.
DETAILS: Can be written as a flashback – or as a cascading change, any branching off point can be an end and a beginning.
It’s also the end of the year and next month allows for a new start.
So, the last WEP prompt in October was DARK PLACES, and I was kinda working on a concept, but I did not have time to fully develop it. What I've posted below is the finished and tweaked version for December's prompt. I'm hoping I've satisfied the concept for THE END IS THE BEGINNING. If not; well, at least I wrote something, lol.
Check out the prompt details HERE, and click on the linky list to read more interpretations of the end of year prompt.
word count: 1014
Full Critique Acceptable: note that this is an original writing for WEP and not intended as a prologue, excerpt, or other publication.
Jerome leaned close over the chest of the linen wrapped body. The first he had been allowed to fully tend to on his own.
“This one is nearly ready, Master.”
Down in the crypt below the mortuary, Dr. Khalid preferred his students call him Master. There were three others besides Jerome; though none had progressed in their training beyond the cleansing and embalming rituals. The oldest Brother had taken the initiative to impregnate one of the chosen girls without permission last year. Jerome had been granted the pleasure of drugging the errant youth and burying him alive.
“I believe you are correct,” Master said over Jerome’s shoulder. He finished buttoning his tuxedo jacket then glanced at the monitors around the table.
Jerome was shaking, he could hardly contain his excitement. The next steps would be the most important to preserve the physical self for afterlife for both the girl – Nancy – and his offspring. He stroked Nancy’s dehydrated fingers with a gloved hand. Tears stood in his eyes, and he wiped them away on the sleeve of his lab coat so the moisture would not drip onto her body.
“She’s so perfect,” Jerome said.
Master put a hand on Jerome’s shoulder and smiled. After a silent moment he sighed, straightened, and strode to the mirror before the crypt door. “I am sorry, Jerome, but you need to prepare Mrs. Daughtry for viewing tomorrow. The family will be in at 8am sharp to insure she is presentable.”
“But –“ Jerome stuttered, gesturing to Nancy. “I should witness her final breath. And I still have to paint her death mask.”
“I know. But the grieving family did pay a ghastly amount to have the funeral expedited.” His face took on a shrewd look; mouth pinched to a line that made his cheeks puff and pulse. “Their haste paid for the casket for Nancy.”
Jerome’s shoulders stiffened. An expense he could not afford as yet, which would have drawn out the eternal process for Nancy and his child. Had he not agreed to the demands of the family, his beloved would have a much longer between-time than necessary.
“I thank you for the reminder, Master,” Jerome said. “I shall attend to Mrs. Daughtry immediately.”
Master placed his palm on the keypad then entered his pass code. The door chimed to proclaim access granted to the elevator that would take him up to the preparation rooms of the mortuary.
“So close,” he mumbled to himself, not sure if he meant Nancy’s final breath; or his defiance that would make him Master over his remaining Brothers.
After kissing Nancy’s shriveled, dry lips and replacing the resin tea infusion, Jerome headed to the shower alcove to wash the stink of death off his own body. He bathed with the same sodium carbonate, cedar oil, and cinnamon elixir he used to cleanse the cadavers, then dressed in green scrubs and a fresh white lab coat.
Upstairs, he immersed himself into the work of painting Mrs. Daughtry’s purple face into a semblance of the young woman in the provided portrait. Even in his distraction, no other artist could rival Jerome’s lifelike, death makeovers. His skills were in high demand, and more than offset the exorbitant mortuary fees.
Nancy was still breathing when Jerome returned to the crypt. He sat vigil for two days before her chest fell for the last time. He was pleased with her endurance. She had fought for survival every step of the way; from abduction by Dr. Khalid, to rape and torture and final impregnation by Jerome. The rapes and torture had ended on the day Nancy had a positive EPT; but the next phase of starvation and the diet of nuts, berries, tree bark, pine needles, and a resin tea to cleanse the body of decaying bacteria had been as much a battle of wills as the rapes.
Swiftly he started the embalming, adeptly inserted the hook through her nose to liquefy her brain, poured out the contents of her skull, then expertly sliced her left side and removed all her vital organs, except her heart, and filled her empty cavity with sand and rags.
He loved Nancy, and the embryo that would accompany her into the afterlife. Jerome’s immortal legacy was assured with this offering to Ament: lady of the underworld who restored the bodies of the dead so they could live with Osiris in his Kingdom.
The final leg of Nancy’s journey was witnessed by Master and Jerome’s two Brothers as he wheeled her into the chamber under the incinerator. His brothers were dressed in the traditional colors of Osiris; green with white stockings, holding ceremonial hook and flail. Jerome distrusted the dedication of his twin brothers, but dared not brooch the subject with his Master. At least not tonight, as Master slit the beeswax from Nancy’s mouth and eyes, and beseeched Anubis to watch over Nancy and her unborn child, and speed their passage into the afterlife.
Jerome, secretly, prayed to Ament. He hoped the Goddess would see his sigil branded into Nancy’s left foot and reward him for his sacrifice.
“You have done well,” Master told Jerome after the interment was over.
“Thank you,” Jerome acknowledged with a bow of his head. He was so giddy he wanted to happy dance; but restrained his urges to gloat. Master had imbedded within him the lessons of control, and Nancy was his testament to success.
“Your next offering should be a woman of your own choosing,” Master stated without preamble. “You have progressed far within our ranks, and you are ready for your next step in the succession. Brother Ahmed is in need of a dedicated tutor, and I’d like you to take over his tutelage.”
Jerome stopped walking and considered for a moment. Ahmed was impetuous, disorganized, a brut of a man who considered women beneath his attention. Ahmed was more likely to bed a man than implant his seed into a woman. Yet, he had his uses when it came to brutality.
“As you wish,” Jerome agreed, already contemplating the demise of his Master.
Well, tell me what you think in the comments. And if you'd like to read the interpretations of other participants, please click here.