I have had too much coffee too early in the day. My hands are shaking. Here is the fourth installment of the short story, Purge.
Anita found Brian in his room. He was hammering away at a small piece of silver under a curious looking glass bulb. She has seen Brian hunched over his desk pedaling away at some contraption or another hundreds of times, but the bulb was new. Anita had never seen anything like it before. A tiny hair glowed within it letting out a pitiful amount of light. It could have been magic, perhaps an enchanted glass sphere, but the light in the bulb was much weaker than any magic she had seen before. Brian sat under it squinting at his project. His dinner coat was draped over the back of his chair. It was kept far away from the grime of the desk. Anita noticed that it was a new suit from last year. Or rather, she saw from the nearly invisible stitchings at the seams, it was the same suit but extended with care.
Brian suddenly let out a frustrated shout and slammed his work into the table. He shuffled his hands together squeezing his fingers until his knuckles turned white. He gripped even harder and held them against the table surface. It didn’t help much, they still shook.
Suddenly, The town bell began ringing. It rang seven times. Brian flinched with each toll.
Anita watched carefully. Brian brought his head to the messy workbench and anchored his elbows onto the wood. Anita heard him take in a deep breath, watched his back rise and fall. Then he sat up and reached for a handle on the bulb frame and adjusted something. Again, like magic, the small room glowed a bit brighter.
“What is that?” Anita said.
Brian tumbled out of his seat, and in the course of falling, his arms struck the bulb sending the stream of light upwards.
“A-Anita?” He spluttered.
“Please. Do work on your greetings. I like my men with a little creativity.”
Anita walked into the room.
Also, stop giving yourself heart attacks. It’s bad advertisement to have a client die just by looking at me.”
Brian opened his mouth and then closed it. Then he opened it again.
Anita beat him to it. “I’m not Medusa you know.”
Brian sat up.
“Although I wouldn’t mind you as a statue in our house,” Anita said.
She could hear him blushing in the darkness.
“Why don’t you just knock?”
Ah, the little mouse is getting braver are we? Anita thought.
She ignored him, and walked over to the bench. The bit of silver Brian had been working on was still there. She poked it.
“Mr. Blacksmith. What are you making?”
Uncharacteristically, Brian leapt to his feet with lightning speed. He swept the piece away and threw it across the room.
“Nothing,” he said innocently.
Anita narrowed her eyes and dragged her attention away from him.
“Fine. What’s this then?” She pointed to the glowing bulb.
She knew she had hit a mark as soon as she said it. Brian bit his lips but a foolish looking grin split his face despite the effort. He hurried to the desk and expertly creaked joints into position and turned several screws so that the glass bulb met Anita at eye level.
Brian dove under his bench. With difficulty, he wrestled with something heavy. Anita heard the dragging of ropes across the floor, and then curious buzzing sounds like insects frying in a pan. Curious, she bent down and peered under the desk, but it was too dark to see anything.
Brian got up again to face the contraption. Anita shot up along with him to avoid smacking her nose against the back of his head. Brian then gingerly picked up her sleeve and brought her finger to a small dial.
Anita looked at him.
“Turn the dial.”
She did and whatever lame yellow light that was in the glass before suddenly exploded into a swarm of blinding blue. Anita has never seen anything like it. It was indescribable really. The zapping lines of light had no beginning or end. They just appeared out of thin air. Like magic. No, she thought, more like lightning. But even lightning followed a path. This was just chaos.
She has never seen anything move quite so fast. the light was instant and untrackable, Anita knew that no matter how much she tried to observe it, she would never be able to predict what it will do next. The light bounced around the glass, buzzing fiercely like a swarm of bees. Drugged with excitement, Anita inched the dial further. At once, the air around the bulb grew warm, then hot. The pack of vibrating light grew brighter and brighter. Anita had to take her hands off the dial and cover her eyes against the glare. Despite the pain, she couldn’t look away. A low sizzling buzz started rising from inside the glass. Brian hurried to turn the dial back down, but it did nothing for the madness.
“Oh no. Anita,” Brian said. “We should probably step away.”
Anita did not move.
“Move!” Brian pushed her backwards, and in that moment the glass shattered spraying shards into the air. The air rang in their ears. It had sounded like a thunderclap but closer and far more sharp edged.
“What the hell!” Anita cried at Brian.
“Oh” Brian looked at his hands and then back at the girl on the ground. She was bristling. “Lords Anita. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to- Lor- Please, please don’t kill my dad and I.”
“No Brian,” Anita gripped his shoulders so hard Brian felt the glass shards cut into him, “What the hell was that?”
She gestured around them. The room was smoking and glass was everywhere. Anita had glass stuck in her arm.
“It’s not magic. I’m not stupid enough to believe it is.”
Brian breathed a slow breath to calm himself, but it skipped and faltered. Soon he began hiccuping uncontrollably and started to shake in Anita’s grip. Tears rolled down his face. He couldn’t keep the grin straight on his face.
Brian looked directly at Anita. He was wide eyed and breathing hard.
“That was electricity. “