Short stories, Flash fiction, and Novel Excerpts

The Mark of Cain–Excerpts

By: Ben Pollard

The Mark of Cain

“If you even breath one word during the trial, Jason will end up looking like a pin-cochin,” Dad forestalled my attempt to protest. “Not one word, I mean it. Enough damage has been done already.”

I stalked out of his chamber, slamming the door behind me. Turning the corner I ran down the dark corridor toward the dank dungeons.

I slipped on the slimy stone floor, skidding and wobbling, hopping from one foot to the other, and slammed into the wooden door guarding the entrance to the deep cells.

“Asmodious’ bouncing balls,” I swore.

“ ’hoo’s there?” A voice grunted from the other side of the portal.

“It’s me, Miranda. I’m here to see the prisoner,” I said, trying to sound reasonable.

“No one’s al’owt down here poppet, Go ‘way,” the hidden guard said. If reason wouldn’t work I’d try a different track.

“My father, Lord (Kain), said I could visit before sentence was carried out. If you don’t trust me then follow along. But I have the right,” I demanded.

“Oi, don’t get your knickers in a bunch with me girly! Best I canna do fer ya is ta git ya out side the young buck’s cell,” he said gruffly; then asked. “That be alright with ya me girl?”

“It’ll have to do,” I said.

A piercing screech stabbed through my ears as the thick iron strapped door opened on rusted hinges. The squat guard, now revealed, waved his fat stubby fingers at me to follow. The dim torch light flickered off his greasy pate between thin tuffs of disheveled hair.

“Come on now lass, ye best hurry before uh change muh mind,” he threw over his hunched shoulder.

“Lead on,” I said lengthening my stride.

The dirty guard stopped at a slightly less bound door and said, “Here we are lass, say what ya have ta and let us get ya gone from here.”

“A little privacy if you please?’ I asked archly.

He didn’t get the hint that I wasn’t really asking, “Now that, uh canna do lass. Be more than muh ears are worth don’t ya know. Just ‘ten like I’m notta here attal.”

That would be impossible with the stench that wafted from him in waves. I didn’t have time to argue with him though.

“Jason? Can you hear me love?” I asked through the door.

I heard a grunt and flesh slapping stone followed by muffled cursing.

Worried I asked again, louder, “Jason, are you alright? Can you hear me?”

Chains’ clicking was my only answer. “Jason! Please! Listen to me! You–.”

The guard setting his hand on my rump interrupted me. I spun around, my fangs gleaming, and hissed at the depraved slob.

“Here now poppet, no need ta get nasty now. Just a wee bit uh fun eh? Whadda ya say? Maybe then I open the door and take a walk ta the privy? How’s that sound my sweet?” The guard asked wiggling his eyebrows lewdly.


He tapped his chest, wincing, “Kevlar,” he explained.  “No use against a high powered rifle, but great for stopping small arms fire,” he said while struggling to his feet.  I grabbed his arm holding him steady.

“No good for head shots either,” I said

“This?  Nah, just a scratch.  Scalp wound always bleeds heavy,” he said. 

Hearing distant sirens I said, “We gotta get outta here.”

Cimare bobbed his head, “Yeah, cops’ll be here in a bit.”

“Umm, we can’t just walk out as we are.  And I don’t have a car,” I said.

Cimare thumbed toward the door, “I gotta car in the next alley down.  We’ll be seen, but it can’t be helped.” 

I ducked under his arm but he pulled away stumbling.

“No ma’am can’t be having that,” he said. 

Fists on hips I said, “Why?  You can barely stand.” 

He quirked an eyebrow at me, “Our blood can’t mingle, not that I’d mind, but your father’d kill me.” 

Suitably chastised I said nothing, just waved a hand signaling for him to lead.

We didn’t see anyone on the street as we made our way to the alley.  Cimare’s black Town car sat at the end of the alley.  Blood, dried black, flaked over the leather seats.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” I said.  The man had helped me out of a tight spot and now I ruin his upholstery. 

“Not the first time.  Gotta guy does a real good job.  No questions,” he said shrugging. 

Did nothing bother this guy? 

“You’re awfully nonchalant about all this aren’t you?”  I accused, trying to get more of a reaction than a shrug.  I failed as he shrugged again. 

“Don’t get me wrong, if this happened tomorrow, I’d be pissed.  That’s my day off.”  Cimare continued as he started the car and pulled out onto the street.  “Today though?  I’m getten paid.  Your dad’s libble to give me a hefty bonus for pull’n your chestnuts off the fire.  Maybe even gimme some extra PTO time.  You mind putt’n a good word in for me?” he asked. 

He had to be insane.

“Umm, I don’t think that’ll be a good idea,” I said looking at my reflection in the window.  “You know the guy I came in here with,” Cimare nodded, “Well, I was supposed to guard him, not kill him,” I looked back at Cimare’s blood encrusted face.  “Dad might not take it out on you, but any word from me wouldn’t be in your favor.”

“Ah, it might not be so bad,” he said.

Perking up I asked, “You really think so?”

I saw him glance at me from the corner of his eye. 

‘Nah, your dad’s gonna flip his shit.  Your probably right, forget I asked,” he said.

I slouched down in my seat and stared out the window.

What was I going to do now?






I stood in front of my door gasping, as a fresh wave of loss washed over me, tears rolling unheeded off my chin.  Time passed unchecked, unwanted, in miniscule segments of frivolity, flittering away as I caught my breath.  Slowly, as if afraid of what might be on the other side of the door, I set my hand to the latch and turned the handle.  Nothing.  I shook my head and pulled out my passkey, swiping it, hearing the loud click as the lock opened.  Pushing my way though roughly, I heard,

“Mister Devereux?  Señor, is that you?” said a middle-aged Hispanic woman.  Dark brown hair up in a neat bun, she looked crisp, sharp.

“Eh?  Yeah, it’s me.  Who are you?”

“Housekeeping!”  Her stark white uniform screamed that she was the paragon of industry, and not to be trifled with.

“Alright, should I come back?”

“No, no!  Come in, you must be getting ready for party Señor.”

“What party?  I don’t want to go to any party, I wanna go to bed.”

“Well is up to you señor, but you wanted be reminded so you not late.”


“Is what they told me.”

“Who, who told you, why?”

At this, she gave me a strange look.  I could have sworn I read her mind at that moment.  It was not a pleasant feeling, knowing someone thought you were a complete idiot.

“Wait, I’m sorry.  I completely forgot.”

Which could have been true.  My previous state did not lend itself to remembering much of anything, let alone appointments.

“Is ok, your costume is ready on bed Señor.”


“Sí Señor, for party upstairs.”


“Sí, you won’t be too late if you hurry Señor.”

“Late?”  Now I really felt like an imbecile, parroting her accented words for lack of any of my own.

“Señor,” she said slowly, so I might understand: because at this point and I had to agree, that I might just be a little dim-witted, “your Lady is waiting upstairs, in the Ballroom, for you to arrive at the Halloween costume party.  Señor.”

I was so close!  I had opened my mouth and almost proved my stupidity, but instead, I took in a deep breath, and let it out, slowly.  It was at that moment I decided to just play along.  I was also of a mind to hire her services: someone who could keep up this kind of professionalism in the face of my continued lack of comprehension, I simply could not live without, but as she had said, my Lady—whoever she was—was waiting.  I took another deep breath and said,

“Thank you ma’ am.”

Those simple words transformed her plain face into a beautiful glowing smile.  They were not treating her very well here, I supposed.

“You welcome Señor.”


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