In going through an old notebook, I found this piece I wrote several years ago. I dusted it off, made some changes, and offer it up as a bit of flash fiction for your enjoyment. It’s a shorter piece, just under 800 words, but one I’d held onto to see if it became anything more.
This piece has no connection to any existing world and was written as part of a flash group I was in before COVID. I’m not sure it was ever presented at the group or if things closed before it made it into the world.
Throne of Dreams
Marion found it hidden in a corner of the basement behind a stack of water-damaged boxes, a broken pallet, and the old water heater. Chunky, clawed feet and the tall finials of an old, heavy wooden chair peeked from beneath thick layers of dust, cobwebs, and rotting cloth. Three days, four soaking baths, and too much ibuprofen later, and she’d dragged the chair to the center of the basement.
It was gorgeous.
Made of dark mahogany by a master artisan, the chair’s back was an intricate filigree spreading into the shape of wings. The arms, like the feet, were tipped with three large claws gripping jawless skulls. The seat was upholstered in a dark brocade of black, gold and crimson. She pulled over a floor lamp and discovered the faded remnants of red paint hidden in the corners and seams. Her fingers itched to polish it to a beautiful shine.
The dreams started that night, jerking her out of a fitful sleep. She scrambled to reach the bedside lamp, acid churning in her stomach to coat her throat with bile. Whimpering, she flipped the switch and light flooded the room to reveal her tangled and knotted sheets and sweat-soaked skin.
She shuddered and drew her knees to her chest. Her arms tightened around them to keep out the memories, the darkness and hunger and clawing, aching need which still reverberated through her very bones. Her soul keened, a sob escaping to fill the emptiness of her room. She had to regain control, finish what she’d started.
Stumbling from the bed, she stepped into the shower. Scalding water stung her skin and chased away the chill of that almost-remembered dream. She followed the heat with freezing cold to keep her awake. She didn’t want to return to sleep this night. A pot of strong coffee later and with dawn a mere promise on the horizon, Marion returned to the basement.
Her initial idea of dragging the chair to the library dissolved like the dust motes in the air. It was too large to fit through the doors and too heavy to drag up the stairs. She had no idea how it got to the underground room. There were no exterior doors or windows. An ill-conceived project by a master craftsman, perhaps, whose skills hadn’t spilled over to basic logistics. Very well. She’d improvise.
The next week was spent clearing the debris from the basement. Boxes of books and papers too fragile to touch, dusty trunks smelling of dried herbs and decay, and wax-sealed bottles containing murky liquids or blobs of things she’d rather not think about. And crosses. More crosses than she’d ever seen outside of a religious-themed gift shop.
And the dreams kept coming. Some nights she woke terrified, her sheets in a tangled mess and her heart pounding. She’d jump out of bed, turn on every light in the house, and start at every odd noise, whimper at every creaking moan the old house made. Other nights, she tossed and turned engulfed in such need her body ached with it. She’d wake with sweat cooling on her skin and a sensual ache deep in her core.
After work, she kicked off her shoes and headed toward the basement. Between the restless nights, a chaotic week at the office, and clearing the last of the trash from her new lounge, she needed some down time. Soft jazz played from the old turntable she’d brought into the basement, and the soothing scents of sandalwood and patchouli wafted from the candles on the mantle. With a cup of tea and a contented sigh, Marion sank into her throne-like chair where sleep wrapped her in dark wings and pulled her under.
This dream was different from all the others.
The hunger remained, the need, but her fear slid away as the darkness coalesced into a shadow figure. She sighed when he pulled her into his arms, moaned at the brush of silky feathers against her back, and cried out at the sharp teeth piercing her neck. The pain was excruciating; the ecstasy, exquisite.
She missed her alarm the next morning. And the next. And the next. She slept twelve, fourteen hours and woke with dark circles under her eyes but joy in her heart. She lost her job. She lost weight. She lost interest in everything except him. Her salvation. Her damnation. Her everything.
The police broke down her door a month later on a wellness check. Her bedroom was coated in the dust of long-disuse, her phone flashing with dozens of missed calls and messages. They found food spoiling in the refrigerator and flies swarming the dirty dishes in the sink. They found stumps of scented candles in the basement and a pile of torn rags beside an ornate throne-like chair.
They never found any trace of Marion.