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literature

The Magic Ring

GDeyke's avatar
By GDeyke   |   Watch
5 11 296 (1 Today)
Published: September 18, 2017
He’d been stalking a sneezy old lady with an elegant handbag and fingers full of rings, trying not to think of the fear he’d see in her eyes when he reached her, when it happened: an ambulance rushing past, sirens blaring, hurtling towards a man in the crossing too fast to swerve. Roderick’s feet were running towards him, his hands pulling the man towards safety, before his brain had quite registered what was happening. When his mind caught up with his perception he found himself hyperventilating on the pavement, with the stranger standing over him and offering him his hand.

“Thank you,” said the stranger. “You saved my life. I’m Doc Winters – please, let me buy you a drink.”

Roderick stood mechanically and allowed himself to be led into a pub. Dim lighting and a comfortable leather booth chased the worst of the adrenaline away, aided by a glass of whiskey and several slices of orange.

“You all right?” asked Doc Winters.

“Yeah,” said Roderick. “Pretty much. Thanks.” There was a fresh bruise on his arm, blue and violet and grey, but nothing worse; his mind was still spinning, grasping wordlessly for the old lady who got away in the confusion of the moment.

“You look pretty dopey.”

“Just shaken, that’s all.”

“Listen.” Doc Winters leaned towards him, holding him with eyes like warm amber. “I owe you something big – you saved my life back there. So if there’s anything you need, anything you want to talk about, whatever – I’m here to listen. I’m here to help.”

Roderick wasn’t drunk, exactly, but the world felt strange and distant and the man had eyes he could trust. “My mother’s dying,” he said, “my job’s shit, there so much money in the world I don’t have and it just –” He looked down at his drink, almost bashful. “I thought, criminals have it easy. There’s so much out there just – there for the taking. But my trouble is I can’t stop thinking about the way people get scared or hurt, like it hurts me when I hurt them, so I can’t follow through.”

He sighed heavily and knocked back the drink. Doc Winters whistled low, and said, “Sounds to me like you’ve got too much empathy.”

“Yeah. Guess so.”

“Like I said, I owe you something big,” said Doc Winters. He pulled a ring from his finger: smooth unmarked gold, by the look of it, probably worth a small fortune. “This ring will take all that extra empathy away. I’ll loan it to you – say, a month? Should be plenty long enough.”

Roderick stared at him, sleepy now with whiskey and the passing of adrenaline, but not quite without his sense. “Are you for real?”

“A month from now you’ll be a happy man, Roderick. I promise.”

-

So he’d taken the ring, and for the rest of the month it was always on his finger, heavy and warm.

He stalked another old woman just a few days later – still feeling nervous, at first, but the ring on his finger gave him the courage to rip the bag from her hands. He drowned his guilt in the elation of success. By the next night he was able to threaten his victim at knifepoint.

Their fear fed him. Their pain was his power. He killed a boy who wouldn’t surrender his wallet at once: his blood ran in red rivers over Roderick’s hands, but it was good, it was good. Even before the body went cold he knew he’d kill again. There was a sport in it, a thrill in knowing he could bring another’s life to an end; by the time the bruise on his arm had faded to an ugly shade of yellow green, it no longer mattered whether his victims had money to steal.

His mother was sick, was dying, needed care. He’d wanted to steal to keep her alive, at first, to keep her in comfort – but what was the point of it, he wondered, why should he be bothered? The ring on his finger was heavy and bright, urging him to forget what she was to him, who she was, that she was a person at all. She was a corpse taking too long in dying, and when she stopped breathing he’d be her heir.

The night before the month was out, he smothered her in her sleep. Afterwards, he pulled the ring from his finger and wept.

-

“You look grumpy,” said Doc Winters, leaning back into the corner of the booth. “Have a grape.”

“Take it back.” Roderick shoved the ring back across the table, where it lay heavy and gleaming. “I don’t want to do that, don’t want to be that any longer. That thing, that ring is pure evil.”

“I’m sorry to hear you say that.” Doc Winters picked it up and pocketed it with a shrug, waving for another drink. “I’m afraid you’re wrong, though. It really isn’t.”

“It turned me into a monster.”

“Not at all.” The man popped a grape into his mouth and grinned. “I’m sorry, but it’s just an ordinary ring. Nothing special about it. I hate to break it to you, Rod, but there’s no such thing as magic.”

Roderick stared at him hard, head swimming, eyes burning.

“The monster was inside of you all along.”
© 2017 - 2019 GDeyke
Written for THE GAUNTLET. Fourth challenge: THE ADVENTURES OF PERSPECTIVE MAN (Triplet word counts, only: 555, 777,...) In your story, it is revealed that the protagonist was the monster all the time. Somehow incorporate each colour of the rainbow and all names in Disney's 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'.

This whole story is obviously a reference, but while I know the basic structure of the story I'm referencing, I have no idea of the name or any real details about the original, so I'm hoping it's famous enough I don't need to link a reference.

Wordcount: 888.

Scrapped 11.08.2018
Comments11
anonymous's avatar
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TheSkaBoss's avatar
TheSkaBossHobbyist Writer
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo I love it :D

-Lyrrie
LiliWrites's avatar
I'm glad I'm not reading what the challenge was before I read the piece. It flowed so smoothly, I would never have noticed you incorporating such complexities. :P Well done! Again! 
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
Again, very glad to hear it! Keeping the challenge elements from standing out is always the hardest part of these things. Of course, I only noticed afterwards that it called for all the names, not all the names of the dwarfs - by then it was too late to work the others in.
TheWarOfTheRing's avatar
TheWarOfTheRingStudent Writer
Oh, geez

That ending.
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
;) Thank you!
TheWarOfTheRing's avatar
TheWarOfTheRingStudent Writer
Welcome!
Caffeinated-Bunny's avatar
Caffeinated-BunnyHobbyist Writer
Snow white and the seven dwarves? 
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
I would never even have known the Disney version's dwarf names if it weren't for this challenge.
ThornyEnglishRose's avatar
ThornyEnglishRoseHobbyist Writer
I'm not sure about a specific story, but the old placebo formula is pretty classic. This was well done. The increasing severity of the crimes is particularly effective. And kudos for not taking the easy way of having a character called Violet. :XD:
GDeyke's avatar
GDeyke Writer
I've still taken the easy way out with the oranges, though. :XD: Thank you!
anonymous's avatar
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