Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2312554-Dont-Look-Up
by Sumojo
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Dark · #2312554
Charlie was warned but…

Words 500
Paris 1800

An air of excitement and anticipation was evident on that cold, dreary day. The harsh weather hadn’t deterred the hundreds of spectators as they jostled for a good viewing position. Below their feet in the dank, dark cells, prisoners awaited their punishment from Madame Guillotine.

Hanging by his wrists from manacles set into the wall, hung the wasted frame of one Charlie Scraggs; a pickpocket and petty thief. This day he was to meet his maker. In his delirium he fancied he saw a man dressed in clothes of red and black, seated on a barrel in the opposite corner. The man stared at Charlie, with an unwavering, ice-cold stare.

“What are you staring at?” Charlie slurred from lips as dry as a dead leaf.

“You, Charlie. I’m staring at you.” The man replied.

Charlie closed his eyes. He knew he couldn’t trust any of his senses. He was starving and crazed with thirst.

“Looks like this is it, Charlie. No more chances. Madame Guillotine’s a’waiting.”

Charlie open one crusted eye. “Nothin’ I don’t know fella. So, if that’s all y’ gotta say then I suggest you leave me in peace.”

“I might be able to help. If you’re interested.”

Charlie gave a wry laugh. “Too late, mate.”

“What if I told you I could save your life, Charlie, my friend? Would you be interested?”

“If you could get me some water, I’d be interested.” Charlie gasped. His legs gave way and he hung from his wasted arms; his head slumped on to his bare chest.

The man jumped nimbly from the barrel and ladled a little rank water from a bucket into the dying man’s slack mouth. As he did, he whispered softly. “I’ll save you, Charlie, if you promise me your soul.”

Raising his head to catch the water, the condemned man stared into the glowing red eyes inches from his face. “Who are you?” He groaned.

“You know who I am. Didn’t your old mum always say you had the devil in you, Charlie?” The Devil smiled. “Do we have a deal?”

“Do your best. What have I got to lose?”

The door opened. Light streamed into the darkness which caused Charlie to screw up his eyes. Strong hands lifted him from the floor where he’d fallen when released from the restraints. As he was being dragged out of the dungeon, he heard a voice call out. “Don’t look up, Charlie.”

The noise from the gathered mob was deafening. They were there to see an execution and it was happening.
They jeered and yelled as Charlie was dragged, hands bound behind his back, to the guilletine, forced to kneel under the waiting blade.
The executioner stood, hand on the lever and pulled…

The blade stopped. Jammed halfway down. The crowd went wild. Everyone knew this meant the prisoner must be freed.

Charlie saw the Devil leaning on a tree, he was smiling. It was then Charlie turned his head and looked up. The blade fell.

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