Horla Flash Fiction (March / April 2021)

 

USIK DAGINUT

by VICTORY WITHERKEIGH

I’VE been told that out of the seven thousand, one hundred islands of my nation, I am one of the few surviving practitioners still thriving in the modern world. My art, Usik Daginut, meaning “the little pieces of death,” uses bugs, needles, or glass to infiltrate a person’s pores. By all current standards, I am more of a witch than a sorcerer.

My Lola taught me just as hers had before her. Usually, we work on commission, being paid to inflict pain for a price against another’s enemies. It was a tool used for profit, as a witch can usually only survive as long as there is an unspoken acceptance of the community he or she lives in. We need our customers just as much as they need us. It’s why my use of my power today is so exclusive – it’s one of the few times I’ve been able to use it for myself.

The world is changing quickly, an unknown disease is sweeping across the globe, countries once considered beyond greatness are showing strains of falling to fascism and tyranny once more. All of this would usually not matter, except that my love is also in this nation. We are both married to other people – we met so young, torn apart by timing and circumstance, not for lack of love. By the time we found each other again, we had both settled – settled with people who were comfortable, safe, and boring. Reconnecting was the start of a brushfire in passion and longing. Old dreams resurfaced, sailing away to a deserted island, to make our own willing path with our animals and the sea. 

He and I had long given up hope that we could find a clean escape from the mistakes we’d made, settling for a normal life with the house and the dog. But this pandemic, this unrest has given us the perfect mask – the ideal way out. Each night, I crush the broken crystal champagne flutes – one from his wedding, one from mine. My chants carry the crushed glass into my husband’s lungs, into his wife’s veins. Slowly but surely, they will pass in their sleep as their lungs will with the caustic striations of tiny tears into the cells. Their blood will flow into their internal organs, drowning them.

We have purchased the sailboat. The tide is calling. I know many would judge the use of this gift for this reason, but I have paid my debts to this world. I have used my powers against political governments, dictators, enemies on all sides for my family’s need for control and money. My blood has spilled for the society the people of the world are watching crumble at their feet. I had no choice in my gifts. They made me into the tool, paid to do others bidding for too long. I want the freedom to choose my end, to have one selfish choice. Just once, to be with the one I love as the world burns.

 

 

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Victory Witherkeigh is a female Filipino author originally from Los Angeles, CA. Victory was a finalist for Killer Nashville’s 2020 Claymore Award, an Honoree for Cinnamon Press’s 2020 Literature Award, and Wingless Dreamer’s 2020 Overcoming Fear Short Story award. Her work has appeared in online literary magazines, Allegory Ridge, Bad Bride, Thought Catalog, Masque & Spectacle, For Women Who Roar, Fright Girls Autumn, Mason Street Review Blog. For print media, she has fiction short stories published in Red Planet Magazine,  From the Farther Trees, and Pvssy Magic Magazine. She has her print publications in a horror anthology, The Hollow Horror Anthology Book #3, as well as a literary short story in Overcoming Fear, through Breaking Rules Publishing and Wingless Dreamers, respectively.

Title photo credit – Joanna Szumska on Unsplash

Horla standard disclaimer – image has no direct connection with the fiction