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The front door slowly creaks open just as I reach to touch it with my cold, stiff hand. I stand still, hesitant, wanting to walk away, but finally I peek into the house, and through the darkness of the old Victorian home is a shadow of a flickering light from a fireplace. It is him—the treacherous, most feared in Northern New Mexico – Luis Vasquez. He sits on a wooden chair next to his famous granite table, glaring into the fireplace deep in thought. I cautiously step into his home.

            “Please come in,” he says in a deep, dark voice.

            As I move toward the stench of his burning cigar, the front door slams shut.  

            “Are you here to repay me?” he asks.

He lifts his head and looks at me. I stumble back, almost falling to the floor.

            “Don’t be afraid,” he whispers.

            With his beasty eyes on me, I gain my composure and stand still. He looks to be in his mid-twenties, short black wavy hair, pointy nose, and skin as white as an egg. He wears a long black robe with gold trimmings, and as I step into the dining room, he places his lit cigar on top of the table.

            “Are you nervous?” he asks.  

            “No Sir.”

            “You know as well as I do that the sunlight is not my friend. But I assure you that I am the great Luis Vasquez, the glorious one, the strength that binds all living things.” He picks up his cigar. “I fought with Juan de Oñate, not to mention my distinguished record of converting non-believers to Catholicism.” He smiles and then takes a puff of his cigar.  

            “My father sent me,” I say.

            “I see, but I did not expect you to be so young.”  

            “I’m eighteen, Sir… just started college at Highlands.”

            “Oh Highlands… how pitiful. I helped establish that school back in the days to teach poor Mexicans how to speak and write English. You probably didn’t know that.”

            “No Sir.”

            “Why did your father send you?”

            I lower my head shamefully and reply, “Because I created this mess.”

            His moves forward in his chair and leans against the table. He doesn’t move. He just sits there, silent in the sound of the crackling fire. I am about to say something when he pushes his chair back and stands up, dropping his cigar on the table. His towering height blackens the room, dimming the only light from the fireplace. “Oh…yes, you are the one,” he says, pointing his finger at me. “You are the one that killed my wolf.”

            Now with a trembling hand, I reach for my back pocket, pulling out the report. “I have this as proof,” I mumble while I unfold the paper. “This is the police report. They said it was an accident. I didn’t mean to kill your wolf. It was late at night. He jumped right in front of my truck after a rabbit.”   

            “I should kill you for what you did.”

            “But you made a promise to my father.”

            “I can change my mind.”

            “You can’t.”

            We stare at each other for a moment. His silence is horrifying as the police report slips out of my hand onto the cold floor. He then creeps around the table, walks up to me and glares into my face.  

“Your life is over,” he whispers.

            “You can’t do this.”

            “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t end your life.”  

            “I’m too young to die. I haven’t lived my life.”

            “How interesting…your words reminded me of a time long ago. I was young like you when it happened. Death was upon me, and I saved myself. Do you want to be saved?” he asks.

            I nod my head.

            “Life is full of suffering and misery,” he says as he walks back to his table. “And when I asked you to give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you—your answer is because you are too young to die. That you haven’t lived your life.” He reaches for the hearth of the fireplace and picks up a poker. “Now I am going to ask you a very important question. And if you get the answer wrong, I am going to stick this poker through your neck and hang you from my ceiling. Do you understand?”

            “That’s not fair.”

            “Life is not fair.”

            “This is crazy!”

            “Blame your father for sending you here.”

            “I don’t want to do this.”

            “You have no choice.”

            “But why?”

            “Because I can kill you right now.”

            I take a deep breath. “Okay, what is the question?”

            “What is the purpose of life?”

            “What?”

            “The purpose of life, what is it? And the answer I seek has nothing to do with the discovery of truth, the pursuit of happiness or to make a difference. Nor is it to serve others, your family, a legacy or for the sake of God’s name. Now tell me,” he demands.  

            He moves to the fireplace as the front door opens. I look at him. I then look at the door. I look back at him and run, but I slip and fall. I turn around, and he comes at me with the poker.  

            “I don’t know!” I shout.  

            “Yes you do. You know the answer. It is why I exist. You can have the same life as me.”

            He lifts up the poker, ready to strike me as I cover my face. Without thinking, I shout, “To live! The purpose is to live!”

With his eyes wide open, he drops the poker and stands still. “That is right. The purpose of life is to live… and to live a long, very long life. That is all.” He moves away from me. “I have this feeling that one day you will be just like me. Now, before I change my mind, your father said you brought me something as payment for my dead wolf.”

            “Yes, Sir,” I reply out of breath.         

“Then let’s finish this,” he says.

            “He is in the car.”

            “Then bring him to me.”

I rush out of the house, down the stairs, almost slipping on the ice. I step through the thick snow and reach the trunk of the car. Anxious to get this over with, I open it, and poor Leo is staring at me confused. I grab his taped wrists, and with all my strength, I yank him out of the trunk. He lands head first into the snow as I grab his taped legs and pull him towards the house. He squirms, biting at the tape covering his mouth. I reach the stairs and pull… and pull, but I have no strength left. I pull again, but I can’t get him up the stairs. I give one last tug, but I slip on the ice and fall back, hitting my head on the corner of the stone step.  

As I sit up in pain, Leo is suddenly lifted up and pulled by his head into the house by Luis Vasquez. I don’t know why but I crawl on top of the snow and ice to the front door, and as I sneak inside, Leo, my dear classmate, is being stripped. The tape firmly around his mouth, legs, and hands is torn off. He is then manhandled onto the granite table.

            “Please stop. Don’t hurt me,” Leo cries.

            Luis Vasquez removes his robe and as I close my eyes, I hear Leo praying.

            “Your God can’t help you,” Luis Vasquez says.  

            To howling wolves outside of the house, I open my eyes as the fangs from Luis Vasquez tear into poor Leo’s neck. It is an unforgiving sight as blood flows on the granite table. I crawl desperately out of the house to the stone steps, but when I look up I am surrounded by five dreadful wolves.

            “Let him go!” Luis Vasquez’s voice echoes from inside the house. “He is only eighteen, his life just started, but now he understands the purpose of life.”

            The wolves retreat back into the cold dark woods as I stand up, make my way to my car and drive away.  

 

The End 

 

 

Bio:                          

 

Inspired by The Cask of Amontillado, Vidal started writing fiction about death, horror and suspense. In February 2017, he published his first novel Walking in the Shadows of Death and the Supernatural. He lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico which is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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