PICK YOUR POISON
By Melissa L. Webb
Teetering on the edge of my bar stool I tried to decide whether I should call it a night or not. It had been one of those days at work. Sometimes I wondered why I ever bothered becoming a cop. No matter how hard I worked, the bad guy always seemed to get away with it. There were too many rules I had to follow.
And when I did they always protected the criminals.
I didn’t understand any of it. If we knew someone was bad we should be able to punish them. Even the bible thought we should. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.
But no. The guilty had more rights than we did. It didn’t seem fair. Not in the least.
With a sigh, I slid back on my stool. This wasn’t a night to stop at one drink. I needed several to dull the ache in my soul. The world was falling apart and I couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it.
The bartender slid a shot in front of me before I could even say a word. Wow. I must have looked worse than I thought. “Thanks,” I told him, glancing longingly at the brown liquid.
“Oh, it’s not from me.” He motioned down the bar. “It’s from her.”
A petite brunette smiled at me, her dark red lips drawing up in the most sexy way.
Well, now. Maybe this night wouldn’t end so bad after all.
Raising the glass, I saluted her with a grin of my own, bringing the booze to my lips. I tossed the liquid back, feeling it burn all the way down. I gasped from the pain. It was exactly what I needed. A cathartic blaze that cleansed the bitterness from within.
I sat the glass on the bar with a thud and glanced back down the bar. I believe I owed the lady a thank you. I frowned when I realized she was gone. Scanning the bar, I hoped to see some sign of my mystery woman; but she was gone. She had disappeared as quickly as she came.
So much for a night of brief happiness.
I stared down at the empty shot glass. It sat there, bleak and empty, like my life. Nothing to look forward to but more useless days on the force. It all seemed so pointless. Meaningless actions upon meaningless words.
It was too much to think about at the moment. I needed to go home.
Scooting the shot glass away, I rose from the stool. “Good night, Joe,” I mumbled to the bartender.
“Are you sure you want call it a night? You just got here.”
I glanced over at him, a witty remark on my lips. My thoughts fell silent as I realized the man was no longer there. Only a tall shadow loomed beyond the bar. It watched me with curiosity.
I shook my head, backing away. I was weary to the bone. My brain held too much fog in it. I just needed to go home and sleep this day off. That’s all it was.
I turn around, and froze. A black shape moved across the ceiling. It skittered down the wall and stopped, looking at me with black shiny eyes. It looked like a giant scorpion but with a human face.
It watched me as I started moving, a knowing grin spreading across its face.
Everywhere I looked, strange things looked back at me. People were no longer people and unnatural creatures lurked in corners. I started running. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t safe in there for me. Not anymore.
Pushing open the door, I raced out of the bar into the cool night air. What was the matter with me? Had I lost my mind from all the despair I’d been living through?
I spun around, frightened by what I might see this time. The brunette stood there, looking up at me. She looked perfectly normal. As good as when she bought me that drink.
That drink. She had bought me a drink.
”You put something in the drink, didn’t you?” I demanded. “What did you give me?”
She smiled. “A gift. Something special to make your world better.”
I couldn’t believe it. She had drugged me. “What did you give me?”
“You know something is wrong with the world. You struggle with that day after day,” she said, her painted smile never fading. “You want to make it better but you don’t know how. What I gave you was the answer.”
None of this was making any sense. “Answer?”
”Yes. Now you can see. I have removed the blinders from your eyes. You can see what is wrong with the world. The dark things that linger behind. And if you can see them, then you fight them.”
I smiled slowly, suddenly understanding her. The world was corrupted. That’s why I couldn’t make anything better. But now I knew. I could see the poison. And I could destroy it.
Tomorrow was going to be a much better day.
© 2013 Melissa L. Webb
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