Saturday, January 6, 2018

Dice the Scrounge by James LaFond

“Fuck your mother’s cold, nether eye,” snarled Gristle, as he shook the skull of bones, blackened by a thousand greasy hands, at the foot of the Whither Wall.

“The Consignment Crows beat you to her every part, I’m afeard,” hissed Dice, at his fellow scrounge, as the six mummified eyes and the single die tumbled, ever rattling the luck-speak, within the skull of bones, sacred to their feral kind for representing the luck—bad, worse and indifferent—that ruled the shifting gale of the life left to them in the City of the Faceless God.

Then, when a wink from Gristle informed that the fickle fates of the all-seeing Crones of Hel were addled enough not to know with a certainty who they cursed and blessed, Dice, luckiest of his ill-starred kind, hooted, “Two crones eyeing the horizon, two looking to Heaven and two to Hel!”

If his prediction proved true, he would take control of the skull, if the singled die within agreed by speaking two dots, he took the ventured item. If there was a disagreement between die and eye, he added an item to the, pot—the skull of a giant bear, just now occupied by a trinket of ivory despair given him by a Sacriphant Beauty of high sort, before she flew from the Whither Wall in gossamer shroud, against which Gristle had placed a coin of unrustable goal.

Up turned the die speaking two.

Up turned two eyes, gazing upon the realm of the Faceless God.

Over rolled two eyes, gazing at the bleak horizon circumscribed by their hide-shod toes.

Down rolled two crone eyes to gaze into their pit of bitchful bemoanment.

“And such me wee pee pee, crones of hel!” capered Dice, as he spun on heel and reached for the coin of unrustable goal and his ivory trinket of dainty despair…

Only a boot of iron-banded black, heeled in kraken-hook grey pinned his avaricious hand to the cold bone-plate pavement—cobbled of countless layers of human shoulder blades, pelves and vertebrae—as a matching boot of High Aisian design, crushed the bear skull pot, obscuring that ventured within.

As a brother in service to the faceless God should, Gristle had his back, so to speak, and as he scampered away, declared in solidarity, “I’ll whisper your name to the crones whenever I piss into the wind, Brother,” and off he clambered, up the Whither Wall, a battlement against the ever-moaning winds sweeping down from ice peaks to the sea, fashioned of the countless eyeless skulls of the Faithful. Up climbed his fellow, toward the distant scaffold, where the Yellow Man defleshed a young dainty of virginal appearance, retrieved from yonder fall, to adorn forever, this unmeasured wall.

A tear reached his cheek, the first shed since the Consignment Crows took off his mother, forty warm moons ago.

Was that tear shed for his own wicked self at his glory end?

Or did he cry for that Dainty that flew on gossamer wing after he so gingerly escorted her—carrying her most the way—to the place of her terminal desire?

A creature of conformity, even in his final extremity, Dice dared not look up at the towering form who bore such weight so deftly as to have glided up behind the Scrounge of Scrounges, at Dice yet—when witch-senses were alert—but rather awaited the summons to serve or the severing stroke, whichever it was to be, mouthing only what duty he long wed to his cracked tongue:

“Lordly booted of Ais, so gracious not to grind my knuckles ‘till I piss, here me wait, scamperest scrounge of World’s End, wheedling doorsweep of the Whither Wall, damned of the Faceless God to serve his Supplicants’ needfulest whisper—what will yeh ‘ave of wee me?”

He shuddered to think what the answer might be as the cruel whither wind swept down the cavernous, bone-paved alley, piteously walled with howling skulls, and the craning neck above tucked under the black-of-black cloak that of a sudden engulfed him like a recessional curtain and placed him in unforgiven conclave with that which profaned, THAT WHICH had long ago damned Dice to scrounging kind.

(c) 2018 James

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