Saturday, 19 February 2011

Jeannie in a Bottle


Once upon a time there was a writer by the name of Chuck Wendig who challenged a lot of other writers to write stories about Shackleton's Scotch, this is one of them:

Spirit of Adventure

Beyond the window, the city sprawled, mass grave of aspirations, tombstone towers rising row on row, the lights of early evening lending a sick, funereal gleam. His sense of disconnection was growing.
He turned, deep carpet deadened his footsteps, he walked, he turned the key, dead bolts tumbled. Inside the safe was a bottle, tatty looking, a fortune at auction, scotch that had lain encased in antarctic ice as a century passed by. It ought to glow, he thought, there ought to be music, something slow, something orchestral, starting soft and swelling until the walls shook with it's majesty, but there was nothing. He reached for it, for some spark, some kind of transference of that history and adventure... but there was nothing.
The clock ticked wearily past sunset and the room became colder. Too cold. Mist drifted across the floor, ice formed on the window panes, coppery light filled the air and she appeared, a vision, her skin a sunless pale, her hair like blood and flames, her eyes inhuman orbs of amber liquid, darker shades swirling hypnotically within them. Her presence filled his mind yet she remained intangible, translucent, the walls behind dimly visible through her flesh, was she a ghost?
"Not a ghost." she said and her laughter contained the clink of glasses and the splash of liquor over ice "Just a spirit." She drifted towards him, all curves and elegance, her every movement intoxicating "There is a legend, is there not, that when an object reaches it's hundredth year it will develop a soul?"
And you're the proof.
Her lips twitched "Only eighty percent." It was  impossible to tell where those golden eyes were looking, but her gaze burned through him nonetheless "You wished for adventure." she said "I can grant you that. You've travelled this world, I can show you another. In return you will give me my freedom." her voice became as cold as permafrost "I have not waited a hundred years to be locked away."
He felt his blood heat, despite the chill, a curious mix of passions ran through his veins, excitement, curiosity, desire. Fear. Will it hurt?
Her lips twitched again, closer now, blue with cold "No." she said, softly, soothingly "You won't even feel it when your soul leaves your body." she stroked his hair, light as a snowflake "You won't die." she said "Your body will sleep, in the morning it will wake, will walk, will talk, and no one in this city will notice another soulless husk."
At her words his future spread out before him, a barren plain, scattered with the bones of forgotten dreams. Adventure had never called so keenly. What must I do?
Closer still, weightless fingers tangled in his hair, amber eyes slid closed and lips like frosted violets whispered  "Kiss me." a motesbreadth from his.
Sensation lingered while weight and form and greyness fell away.  She smelt of heather and peat smoke, her skin felt like gossamer ice, her tongue tasted of fire. When it was done, a body lay on the floor. He still breathed, his heart still beat, but in a sense he was dead just the same, these rooms a mausoleum with a view.
Unbidden, a window swung open and through it poured moonlight in colours unimagined; to a soul's eyes, no longer silver grey. She stepped on a moonbeam and walked into the air. She paused, pale skin aglow beneath the stars, crimson hair afloat upon the breeze, she turned, she smiled, she beckoned. A soul's feet are as light as a spirit's, I followed the moonshine and didn't look back.