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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Tom Koperwas: Feeling It

95_ym_feelingit_burke.jpg
Art by Wayne F. Burke 2022

Feeling It

 

Tom Koperwas

 

“Somehow, I’ve lost the feeling,” Oliver explained to his handlers, his fingers gingerly touching the suicide bomb belt attached to his waist. “I don’t know if I can go through with it now.”

“But what of your faith in the cause?” asked the short, rotund man with the sleepy eyes. “Have you lost that, too?”

“Of course not. Don’t get me wrong, Sammy. I must simply be in the right state of mind.” replied the tall, aristocratic-looking man. “It’s not every day that one sacrifices one’s life to destroy a government.”

“That is not true,” said Gabe, taking a deep draw on his Gitane. “Perhaps you need more time to think about it. We’ll leave you alone for a while so you can meditate on the glory of your great mission.”

The handlers shuffled out of the room into the kitchen, pausing by a grimy window to look out at the dark factories and shadow-laden houses of the city’s slum quarter.

“Just our luck,” complained Gabe with a nervous shake of his head. “Our first North American assignment, and we get saddled with an artist who has to be in the right mood.”

“True,” smiled Sammy. “The minister, Mr. Linscombe, was once a stage actor, an artist of high repute.”

“Bah!” spat Gabe.

“Mock him if you will,’ said Sammy, “But don’t forget what happened to Lincoln when he met Booth. Now how’s about relaxing with a game of cards while our Minister of Culture prepares for his glorious self-immolation?”

****

Oliver Lanscombe, Government Minister of Culture, sat on the carpet looking deep within himself for an answer.

“This government must be removed to make way for the adherents of the true cause,” he reflected with fervid conviction. “Yesterday, I was certain I was the man who could do the job. Now, I’m not so sure. Somehow…” Oliver’s fingers explored the bomb belt. “I must convince myself that I can perform this act of purifying violence.”

The thespian’s eyes lit up with sudden inspiration. “I’ll take on the role!” he blurted out eagerly.

Oliver concentrated. He imagined he was walking into the seat of government, the bomb belt hidden beneath his suit. “No one will suspect a cabinet minister of being a suicide bomber,” he whispered to himself as he sat down in his usual chair next to his fellow cabinet members. His hand slid stealthily down toward the detonator’s trigger switch in his pocket; his heart beating wildly. All I have to do is flip the switch, he thought. It’s so easy…

Oliver’s fingers squeezed the trigger switch; then he stopped.

“For a moment there, I felt I could do it,” he said, gasping for breath.

****

Sammy turned over his hand and grinned. “A flush, all diamonds,” he laughed. “Diamonds represent money, you know. Too bad we can’t gamble for stakes. But it is forbidden.” Sammy closed his eyes and rubbed his fingers together, as if they were holding wads of cash. “but I can still imagine my winnings.” He smiled and said, “And it feels like all the money in the world.”

“Fine,” sneered Gabe. “Now all you have to do is live long enough to enjoy it. You’re in the wrong business for that.”

****

Oliver wiped the sweat from his brow and breathed heavily, until he felt himself calming down. I still lack the conviction to destroy myself, he thought grimly. Being a suicide bomber is the hardest role I have ever attempted. I must take on the role again, but this time with greater zeal and depth of feeling.

****

Gabe turned his hand over and grimaced. “A royal flush, all spades,” he whispered. “Spades represent death.” Gabe’s eyes opened wide, as if he were seeing the world anew. He rubbed his cold hands together in an effort to warm them. “But I don’t have to imagine death, do I? That’s the business we’re in.”

****

Oliver closed his eyes and concentrated. He imagined he was back in the cabinet chamber, his ears filled with the sound of cabinet members seated about him, conversing in low tones. He could smell the fragrant perfume of the Minister of Women’s Affairs. Suddenly his eyes blinked open, his hand firmly gripping the trigger switch.

“You’re all going to die!” the thespian shouted, jumping up from the floor, flipping the trigger switch.

****

Gabe stood up abruptly when he heard the minister shouting in the adjacent room. “I can feel death all about us, Sammy!” he cried with sudden realization.

****

For a moment, Oliver realized he was completely lost in the role he was playing. That he’d gone too far to turn back.

****

The ancient man turned his gaze away from the gruel on his dinner plate when he heard the blast, to stare out the dirty tenement window at the burst of light illuminating the garbage-strewn alley.

“Well, look at that,” he said to his wife. “It sort of gives you a feeling of warmth and security to see the old neighborhood lit up like that, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, dear,” she whispered.

The End

Thomas Koperwas is a retired teacher living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada who writes short stories of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in: Anotherealm; Jakob’s Horror Box; Literally Stories; The Literary Hatchet; Literary Veganism; Bombfire; Pulp Modern Flash; Savage Planets; Dark Fire Fiction; The Sirens Call; Blood Moon Rising Magazine; Corner Bar Magazine; Free Bundle Magazine; and The Chamber Magazine.



Wayne F. Burke's drawings have appeared in a number of publications, in print and online, including FLARE, Portland Review (ME). Red Savina, Duane's Poe Tree, Driftwood Magazine, Grey Sparrow, The Octopus Review, About Place Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in the central Vermont area (USA).

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