external image dark-forest-3_00443604.jpgGoyle stumbled through the darkness stretching before him. Inklings of the moon’s hazy glow tore through the decayed branches of trees, like hands eager to grasp at what hid underneath. Hands eager to get at him, at his precious. Goyle’s fingers curled around the plastic bag in his arms. His crusted, bloodied lips curled into a snarl. “Shitfuckers.” He glanced behind him, looking at the building in the distance, a white dot behind the rotting trunks around him. A tiny dot of light flickered around its door frame.

Goyle groaned, kicking the nearest tree. A burning sensation spread across his bare toes, wetness dotting his broken skin. A clean job, a clean job is all that he wanted. He kicked the tree again, the burning and the wetness spreading further along his foot. That’s what the old woman had told him back at the pub. That wretched, greasy, old fucking woman! Goyle kicked against the tree, hearing the crack in the bark. He winced, glancing down at his right foot. The white skin was dyed a sickly crimson and littered with coarse pieces of bark. Goyle grunted, leaning into the tree with his head.

A hefty metal contraption pushed into his chest, irritating the bruises and scars already seared into his skin. It registered with the sharp pain of his foot, mingling in his chest like a twisted chorus of hurt. Goyle didn’t mind it though; he was used to the constant surging in his veins, the searing heat blistering his body each time he moved. Hell, he enjoyed it. Reveled in it. He never learned to talk like all those other people do. The way he talked, thrashing and bashing every inch of himself around until he had all eyes on him, was the only language for him, as far as he cared. And if it damn well didn’t get results too. Goyle stared at the contraption in his hands, fingers gliding across the bottom. Even through the plastic bag, he could feel the cool, smooth metal surface. This was what the woman had wanted, what she told him to take…

The scent of alcohol and grime joined together in his nose as he downed another jug. The liquid flushed down his mouth, the blisters in the back of his throat stinging from the bitterness of the drink. Goyle dropped the mug on the table, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Enjoyin’ the drink the’r Goyle?” A woman walked up to him from behind the table. She smiled at him, the wrinkled white skin wrapping itself around her mouth. Goyle grunted, banging his mug on the wooden surface.

“More!” he shouted, banging it down once again. The woman only chuckles, taking the mug before he could bring it down again. Her hands lingered against his for a moment, the scars running along them rough against his skin.

“You know, Goyle? Before I ‘ad this, I was the wife of a mayor from before! Me! Smack dab in the middle a luxury! You shoulda seen it hon, my old ‘ouse. We ‘ad it all back in them days, young and in love and together. But when ma ‘usband died...,” the woman grew silent, her shoulders drooping.

“When ‘e died, everythin’ was lost to me. Everything! What ‘urt almost as bad as my ‘usband though, that was this...I ‘ad this sewing machine, back in the day. Best seamstriss ‘round this city o’ Columbus!” The woman turned towards him, the liquid in the mug sloshing with her.

“I was so good, every rich family would come on down to me and say, ‘Mrs. Maxson, can you fix this up for me?’ One time, I even ‘ad my ‘ands on that famous belt of them Bennetts. Fixed ‘er on up so good, I ‘ear they still singin’ my praises!” She handed Goyle the mug, his face lighting up the minute it was in his grasp again. As he began to lift it, the woman put her hand over the top, keeping his lips from the sweet nectar within.

“Shitfuck!” Goyle screamed, pounding his fist on the table. The woman laughed, reaching into her shirt. She pulled out vial of green powder.

“Not so fast, ‘oney. I also used to be, and still am if I say, a very good medicine woman. Best in the business.” She popped open the vial, pouring the powder into his drink. “Now, why don’t you try that, Goyle?”

Goyle glared at her as he tipped the mug back, the familiar burn of the blisters soothing him. But he felt something else. A warmth radiated from his stomach, rippling through his veins into his arms, legs, head. He howled, the warmth overtaking every inch of his body. It was a bliss more pure than any he’s felt before. Before he knew it, the woman’s hands were on his shoulder, the wrinkles reframing themselves around the smile she flashed.

“Feels good, doesn’t it ‘on? I can get you more of that, make you feel that way again, if you do me a favor.” Goyle, still lost in ecstasy, nodded his head, grunting in affirmation.

“Good! I knew I could count on you. That sewing machine I was talkin’ about? That one? I ‘ear it’s over in Wade’s Widgets. Bastards musta taken it right after I got booted down ‘ere in the slums. Listen, Goyle. If you get that sewing machine back for me, in one piece, I’ll give you more of this ‘ere fine feeling.” Goyle’s eyes widened, a toothy smile spreading across his face. He nodded at the woman. He’d do anything to feel this way again, anything...

A sharp pain erupted in his side as Goyle fell to the ground. The sewing machine dropped out of his hands, landing to his front with a thud. Blood soaked through his side, covering his elbow.

“Precious!” Goyle scrambled towards the sewing machine, the pain nothing compared to the bliss he knew he was close to having again. His fingers brushed the edges of the bag as a foot crashed down on his back, twisting itself against his spine. Goyle roared, arms and legs flailing against ground.

“I’ve caught him, sir” his attacker announced, burrowing his foot deeper into Goyle’s back. Goyle tried to glance up behind him, only for another foot to arc right into his jaw. Goyle saw a flash of red before everything around him faded to black. The attacker, a large man dressed with a mask, got off of Goyle’s back, kicking him to the side. Another man strolled up behind him, lowering his shotgun to his side.

“This the one Chunk and Jack were talkin’ bout? Man, he don’t even look like nothing.”

“No, sir.”

“In any case, we found our theif. Chunk and Jack oughta consider themselves lucky we got tipped off by the old Mrs. Maxson right before he got too far away. Don’t like helpin’ out these slum dwellers, but I gotta make an exception for ole Mrs. Maxson.”

“Agreed, sir.”

“Take this sewing machine back to Maxson. And don’t forget our reward!” The second man said, gathering up Goyle’s body.

“What are you going to do with him, sir?”

“Same as with the other trash; into the deepest bad water I can find.”