After taking some time off, I’m back with another of Rachael Ritchey’s #BlogBattles. If you haven’t done it yet, I would highly recommend that you give it a go. They’re great fun and everyone is welcome.
This time, though, I cheated.
The word was “Bricks” and one story kept popping into mind. Edgar Allen Poe wrote a tale called The Cask of Amontillado. It’s a fun little story and the idea behind my little addition to its lore. Poe was a fantastic author who left us with an amazing body of work.
I only hope that he’d approve of my little story.
The light blinded him. It shone unhindered into his eyes, and Fortunato turned his head away from it. Pain beat against the inside of his skull in time with the flickering. Was it the light or the drink? It didn’t make much of a difference; the pain was complete either way. Beat and thrum, it was as ceaseless and uncaring as the ocean’s tide.
Chains clanked as he moved to cover his eyes, his hands stopping short. The sound rang hollow and he cried out in pain. Again, he tried to move his hands, this time to cover his ears to block out the noise, but to no avail. He jerked again and again, each time harder and harder. Unabashed screams flew past his lips with tears flowing from his eyes. Panic welled up in him. The pain was too much to bear, and he had no way to—
A shape of indistinguishable shadow blocked out the light. “I’m glad that you’re here. Now, will you please be quiet?”
Fortunato screamed again, yanking in vain. Panic, barely repressed, was supplanted by a very real, very persistent need to be away. Away from this place with its wine and chains and death. Reaching forward, his fingers could just brush against the bricks that blocked him away from the light—the light of freedom and. . .
His head beat in tempo with the crash of chains as he flailed about. He must escape. Nothing less would suffice. Escape and to see the sun again. The sun and the moon and the stars. All this had to be some sort of misunderstanding. A joke gone terribly awry.
“Ha! ha! ha! –he! he! he! –a very good joke, indeed –an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at the palazzo –he! he! he! –over our wine –he! he! he!” he said.
Two eyes glinted in that shadow. Twins in amusement or malice, Fortunato was unsure of which.
“The Amontillado!” His voice was harsh, bitter. The tang of rage flicked on the edges of his words.
“He! he! he! –he! he! he! –yes, the Amontillado. But is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let us be gone.”
“Yes,” the eyes lied, “let us be gone.”
“For the love of God, Montresor!”
“Yes, for the love of God!”
Joy rang in those words. Joy and madness.
Fortunato slumped forward, only the fresh brick and mortar keeping him from sliding to his knees. The pain in his head was nothing anymore. Coldness replaced panic and suppressed hope. There was no reason to continue.
That name, which had stood for so much was not worth an empty wine cup. Pride and wealth could only go so far. Neither could unlock chains or break down walls.
He kept his silence, even when the torch, shoved through the last, scant hole, hit him in the head. Grinding reached his ears, and he watched in the fading light as the last brick was laid into place.
If you’re interested, you can find a copy of the original The Cask of Amontillado here.