I had been sitting alone on a metal, slightly rusted park bench when he had come to me.
I can remember hoping that he would pass by me without stopping, for his appearance had been very eccentric. He had been tall, with sleek blonde hair that fell to his shoulders. On his head, he wore an old-style top hat and had a curious moustache that made me think of days gone by.
“Bad news?” he had asked, gesturing as he did so at the plain, grey mass behind us. I smiled cordially, not being in the habit of talking to strangers and, once again, I turned my back to the hospital.
I think that I had then expected the man to move on. I had purposefully not engaged with him so that I could be left to the solitude of my dark, brooding thoughts. Yet he did not move on. Instead, he crossed the patch of grass that had stood between us and came to lounge beside me on the bench.
“I had bad news once, too,” he continued, seemingly indifferent to how uncomfortable I was. “I went in there,” he said, gesturing at the hospital again, “and they told me that I had stage three cancer.” He laughed. “Well, obviously, you can imagine my surprise. It was not what I was expecting to hear, having only visited my doctor about a head cold.”
“I’m stage four,” I said, rather coolly. “It’s inoperable. There’s nothing to be done.” At this, the man put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. It was nothing more than a friendly gesture, but it took me completely by surprise and I leapt to my feet.
“Hey, now,” cried the man, getting to his feet, too. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I want to help you.” I looked at him then, taking in his kindly expression for the first time and, as my eyes met his, I felt something soften in me. It would have been impossible to say why, but something about this man had made me trust him. I still do not know what unearthly power flows through Dr. Jacques Mathok, but from the moment that I looked into his eyes, I became helpless. He had taken me by the hand and rubbed it gently, telling me again that he wanted to help me. Then he had led me into a dark car and belted me into the passenger seat, brushing my hair from my face as he did so.
“I want to help you,” he repeated as he drove me away from the park and out of the city entirely. We drove for hours, but I had not resisted. I had not asked him to stop. I had only smiled airily as my kidnapper had driven me away from my home.
Then, at long last, he had stopped driving. I do not remember too much about where he had taken me. I only remember that we were in a country lane with rocky cliffs behind it. The rest of my thoughts seemed clouded by my unflinching trust of this stranger.
Mathok had climbed out of the car and had come around to my side of the car, unbelted me, and then taken me by the hand as he led me up the rocky path behind us. Before long, we had come to a cave. It was small, and most of it was taken up by a large pool. An extended stalactite reached over it and, from its point, a steady drop of water was filling the pool.
My captor had then asked me to kneel by the edge of the pool and I, as helpless as ever, had obeyed him. I watched meekly as he pulled a curious, glass flask from his pocket and offered it to the pool. As the stalactite’s water began to fill it, he let out a low hum that echoed soothingly around the chamber. I smiled as he offered me the flask.
“This will cure you,” he had said and I, nodding, had drunk.
Mathok had not lied, of course; the pool’s water had cured my cancer. Yet it had also cured me of something else: my humanity.
From the moment that the water touched my lips, I felt my personality drain from me. I was no longer myself, but a spectre of the fountain. I no longer wished to contact my friends or family. In fact, I could hardly remember them. The word ‘career’ meant almost nothing to me and all of the problems that I had known that morning had simply melted away.
My only concern now is the same as Mathok’s. A slave to the pool, it is my wish to bring others to taste its waters. I go to the nearby hospitals and I wait. Then, when I have chosen a suitable candidate, I approach them. I let them look deep into my eyes, through which the pool’s waters now flow. They become entranced by me and I, using this connection, lead them to the pool. There they drink, and there they lose themselves.
It is a repetitive life, yet the pool makes it all seem worthwhile. I may be its servant, but what does that matter? It cured me. It will cure us all.
Word Count: 882.
This piece of creative writing was inspired by the prompt from Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick to the word count for this prompt, as the idea for this story really took a hold of me. I have therefore decided not to join the link-up for this prompt (this for flash fiction, after all), but you can read the stories that have managed to stick to the word limit by clicking on the blue froggy below! Thanks for reading!
Picture Credit (Photo #2): Enisa.