Always read the small print...
‘What’s in this!?’ Holding up the nondescript medicine bottle in his hand.
The therapist shook her head; back against the smashed glass cabinet, a chill in the air from a space where the shops front door used to hang.
‘What did you give me!?’ Dried blood caked to his torn clothing, a harried look in his eyes.
Finding syllables instead of words, the therapist pointed toward her injured husband, slumped and bleeding next to her on the glass-strewn floor.
‘You need to take it back; the antidote, change her back before she does it again!’
Then she recognised the man; that thin band of white skin where his wedding ring used to fit, those swollen red eyes denied of sleep. ‘Your wife.’ She managed, looking once again to her husband for support. ‘She was having an affair.’
‘Ex-wife.’ Nodding his head curtly. ‘You told me this would help get her back.’
The hate potion; ‘How much did she drink?’ The man on the ground, teeth clenched, right arm broken lying awkwardly at his side.
He flung down the empty bottle; ‘All of it!’
In the middle distance a siren warbled ever closer to the scene.
Bringing her shaking hands up to her mouth, the therapist looked from one man to the other; ‘She killed him?’
Grasping onto the counter that stood between them as if his legs were about to fail, his face a conflicting mess of emotion. Shaking his head, unclear to the couple whether he was answering her question or trying to shake the lucid facts from his mind.
‘You were only supposed to administer a few drops.’ Hooking himself to the counter in an attempt to get traction then onto his feet, the therapist’s husband levelled the man’s eye line. ‘That amount of hatred is enough to kill.’
‘Well it worked!’ Body arched against the counter, blazing eyes at the man who, two days ago, had smiled and told him everything would be alright; all he needed to do to get his ex-wife back was to slip a little of this potion into her drink.
‘A drink before bedtime,’ the therapist instructed, her exotic voice slithering across the small shop to him. ‘And, when she awakes again the following morning, the first person she sees will be the target of her pent up hatred.’
Handing over the small nondescript medicine bottle, as her husband checked the keys and rung up the sale on the till.
‘And how will this help me sleep?’ That’s what he wanted, that’s all he had come in for, a little something to help him sleep at night; conventional drugs only seemed to make him drowsy or kept him awake so, when he noticed the little alternative therapy shop at the end of the High Street he thought he would give it a try. What else did he have to lose?
The therapists husband smiled a huge beaming smile of wisdom; ‘Tiredness can only be cured by diagnosing the underlying root cause of the problem.’
Worn down to the state that he could only stand with the additional support of his hands against solid objects; ‘and you think it’s my ex wife? That her leaving me is the underlying cause?’
The therapist couple smiled knowingly.
‘Then why not just give me a love potion so she falls in love with me again?’ He hated Mike, the man who had swept his wife from off her feet, but their daughter Molly thought he was the coolest person alive; as much as he hated her liking him, what his daughter thought mattered to him and so did the people she cared for.
The slim therapist lazily shook her head, braids of dark hair tumbling from her shoulders. ‘Love is forever: if she loved you enough once to marry you, she will always love you. To break the spell cast by her new admirer, you must implant hatred in her mind whenever she looks at him.’
It made sense, only because he was so tired that everything seemed to make sense.
Those sirens getting louder in his ears; his ex-wife unconscious and shackled to a chair for her own safety; the coolest person in the world, unknown to him, still away on that business trip; and these people in front of him, begging him to spare them any more pain. ‘Please, there has to be an antidote.’
Their silence was the reply he feared. He hated himself. So much more than the sudden fatal hatred his ex-wife felt for their little daughter, her blood on his hands as much as on hers.
If it had been the weekend, then he would have had custody of Molly and everything would be okay; their little daughter waking from a nightmare in the early hours and seeking the comfort of her mother’s arms. The knowledge would never let him sleep again for the rest of his life.
© Mark Robinson November 2009.
Mark's previous writing has appeared on Thrillers, Killers n Chillers, Sunk Island Review, Microhorror.com, Hackwriters.com, Manchester’s Transmission Magazine, Birmingham’s Raw Edge Magazine, Short Story Library (US), Txtlit.co.uk, Post Card Shorts, Enigma and the Lulu Anthology, Never Hit by Lightning, Edited by Tucker Lieberman & Andrew Tivey.
Forthcoming publications include Powder Burn Flash, A Thousand-faces & Delivered.
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