Sink or Sacrifice

Here is my latest Flash story for NYC Midnight. NYC midnight is a 48 hour compeition to write a 1000 word short story based on three prompts.

Sink or Sacrifice
Group 39
Prompts: Ghost Story; Set of a game show; toothpaste.

Synopsis – A hellish gameshow forces a man to choose between his soul and the woman he loves.

“Meet our final two contestants. They’ve sacrificed to get to their last challenge, but they need to give more if they want to win. As always in the Purgatory games, the loser will,” the host paused for dramatic effect, “go to hell!”

Nestled into the corners of the room are cameras. The hosts giant head fills the TV screen positioned at eye level. Teeth whiter than snow flash from between thin lips, but the used car salesman’s smile never reaches his cold blue eyes.

Your eyes dart to the shadowy figure beside you. If possible, he’s in worse shape than you. Blood covers his arms, legs, and face from several cuts and two fingers on his left hand are nothing but stumps. His head droops toward the sandy floor and his body tips back and forth, like a drunk man.

A white Perspex lowers like a guillotine, isolating you from each other. The sand beneath your feet shifts and you sink to your shins. The sand continues to pull you down a fraction of an inch at a time.

“Let’s play sacrifice or sink. To your left is a green button. I will ask you to make a series of offerings. If you agree to the sacrifice, you will stop sinking for ten seconds. Who will be the first person to be buried? Your first sacrificial offer is love.”

The TV flickers to an image of you making love to a woman who is not your wife. Your lips and hands explore her ridges, hills, and valleys. Your bodies move together with a sense of abandonment until orgasmic waves crash against your shores.

Afterward, you lie beneath the sheets face to satisfied face, whispering and laughing. Playful emerald eyes stare into yours. Soft pink lips hypnotize you with their words and kisses. She teases you about your hateful tasting toothpaste and makes you promise never to use it again before sex. The words from those lips and the looks from those eyes make you feel like a man, again. You treasure every limited second beneath those sheets. Dreading the moment when you leave the hotel room and return to your purgatory.

“Will you sink or will you sacrifice,”

Those stolen moments will never return. The past is gone, and you should focus on the future. There will be other women. None like her, but some that may give you pleasure or brighten your day. Even if they never make you happy.

You sink further into the sand until it covers both legs. A faint buzz in the other room indicates your competitor chose to sacrifice.

“The next offering will be status.”

The image on the television changes. You’re the host of a game show called Come on down. You charm the crowd with your fake grin and snow colored teeth. Your smile changes when you point to the model in the frilly pink dress. The dress shows off an ample bust and lean milky legs. Beneath playful emerald eyes, soft pink lips part into a mischievous smile.

The sand is to your chest now. Your sad eyes fall on the close up of delicate hands, bare of any decoration, and then to the golden wedding ring on your finger. The network needs you to keep the ring on to avoid getting axed. Come on down’s ratings have been in limbo for months and can’t afford to lose any more viewers.

“Will you sink, or sacrifice?”

The man on the screen is a ghost. His status a lie. A man you used to be before the trials. The things you’ve done since, the decisions that cost you your soul, are who you are now. You press the green button. A faint buzz in the other room indicates your competitor made the same call.

The TV changes to a reporter mouthing words to the camera. Behind her is the image of you in coitus with your lover. The scandal will destroy you and the show, but you stopped sinking, if only for a few seconds.

“Next offer, pain.”

The screen flickers to you trapped in a crushed car. You are pinned beneath what’s left of your Cadillac. Cracks spider-web across the windscreen. The smell of gasoline is all around you and everything hurts. She slumps forward in the passenger’s seat. A trickle leaks from the corner of soft bloody lips. Unblinking emerald eyes, no longer playful, stare into yours. You can move your arm, but she is out of reach. The wedding ring on your finger reflects the small fire in the back seat.

You feel the agony. Every injury from your trials flares and your body feels as though it will shut down. You sink further into the sand. Its weight crushes your chest like the front of the car after you lost control and hit the telephone pole. Stars burst behind closed eyes, and a dry coppery taste fills your mouth. You wish for death. Death from these injuries, before the sand claims you.

“Will you sink or sacrifice?”

Only your right arm and head are free now. The sand builds around your neck and chin. Flecks stick to your lips, and you spit and blow to cleanse your mouth. You force yourself to breathe through your nose. But the crushing weight against your chest makes each breath a struggle.

If you press the green button, the pain will be gone. You can sacrifice it and avoid hell. You would be free. Free to move. Free to breathe. Your fingers twitch. You bend your elbow and put your finger in your mouth. Your teeth close around the ring you should have taken off years ago. You pull your hand away, and your bare finger pops out of your mouth.

You’re free at last. Free to sink and join me. If you sacrifice too much life becomes it’s own hell, and sometimes the price of winning can cost your soul.  You don’t need these games to escape purgatory. My soft pink lips are waiting for you.