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Calves to Slaughter // c01: Merry Moss Christmas, D-Bag

by FruityBickel


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.

New York City, New York

Cole inhaled sharply through his nose as he stared through the wall-length window onto the frost-bitten grass of the grounds below. It had just started to snow, a heavy blanket of white slipping lazily from the sky in small, powdery flecks. He turned his head to the left and took a long while examining the Christmas tree in the corner, glowing with soft gold lights and draped in tinsel, dotted with gilded, antique baubles and topped with a porcelain angel; it was identical with every other Christmas tree in the house, one for every room. His mother was just like that.

He took one more look out the window, sighed to himself, and lit a cigarette. He turned on his heels and made his way across the creaking hardwood floors to the door, leaving the library and coming out into the hallway. He took a puff off the cigarette, the smoke unfurling and dwindling through the stale air as he made his way down the carpeted staircase. Voices drifted up the stairs from the living room; his sister’s high pitched voice, bubbly and vaguely warm; his father’s low, gruff voice, emotionless and factual; and his mother’s voice, calm and even, confident. They were talking about Christmas Dinner the next day, from the sounds of it, their voices getting louder and louder as Cole reached the landing and stepped off the stairs.

He walked into the living room and was met with abrupt silence; his father eyed him up and down, looking with disapproval at the cigarette in his hand. Cole took a long draw off it, blowing the smoke towards the center of the room. His mother sighed.

“Nice of you to join us,” his sister, Emelie, beamed one of her bright smiles at him, her teeth lined with lying as she scrutinized him, too. “Had enough introspection for the day, schizo?”

“Be nice,” his father grumbled at her. “At least for Christmas, especially because of Grandad.”

Cole’s face screwed together, his eyebrows knitting in the middle. “What about Grandad?”

His mother’s face became overcame with a dull sadness, getting that far-away look in her eye that Cole had seen more and more of over the years. “Your grandad has passed, sweetie.”

She held up the letter in her hand, pages and pages and the envelope they had been stuffed in. Cole made quick work of crossing the room, pulling it from her fingers and scanning it. His fingers began to shake as his eyes digested the words in front of them: Gilbert Moss, esteemed doctor and inventor, wonderful thinker and dreamer….dead….leaving behind five sons and three daughters, nine grandchildren….the inheritance…the Moss Manor….left to whoever….willing to fight for it.

He let the letter fall to the floor, taking a long, shaking draw off his cigarette to steady himself. Grandad Bert, dead. The Moss Manor, up for grabs. He looked at his mother and father.

“Well?”

“Well what?” His father growled. “I got enough money to last us our days, ain’t no need to go fighting for that damn house. It’s cursed, anyway.”

Cole let a scoff tumble out of his mouth. “Cursed? Bullshit. You just don’t want to leave New York.”

“None of us should want to, dear,” his mother said soothingly, getting to her feet and putting a hand on his arm. She was wearing an evening gown, sea foam colored, which complimented her evergreen eyes, full of sympathy and confusion as she looked her eldest child in the face. “Please don’t get wrapped up in all that, Cole. I know you were Bert’s favorite, and you played at the house as a kid, but - “

“If it goes to anyone, it should go to me,” Cole hissed, taking a sharp step backwards and yanking himself from her grip. “I was there for him. I was his student, I was there when he got sick. None of those damn cocksuckers deserve that house, not like I do.”

“Enough,” his father snarled, getting to his feet. “Don’t you even think about going to that mansion, Cole Hubert.” He drew himself up to his full height, glaring slightly upward into Cole’s eyes. “And I mean that. I’ll kick your ass if you step even a toe outside of this house.”

Cole made a big deal of rolling his eyes. His mother tutted, hovering on the side of the two, fidgeting with her hands.

“No violence on Christmas Eve, dears. Please. You all promised, after all.”

Cole did his mother a favor and took a step back. “Fine. We can let Bert’s legacy go to the one-tooth meth-head hicks on Aunt Mia’s side.”

He was distracted from the conflict by his phone pinging, a jarring bagpipe sound that meant only one kind of text message. Cole dug his phone out of his pocket and checked the screen to make sure, then gave his father a cursory glance before his eyes drifted towards the upstairs.

“I’ve gotta go for a bit, ‘m having company over.”

His mother made her signature sharp noise of disapproval, smacking him on the arm. “On Christmas? Really? Of all days? It’s supposed to be time for family, for Jesus’ sake!”

Cole turned his head to look her in the eye, arching an eyebrow as he stepped towards the stairs. “Using our good Lord’s Son’s name in vain? On His holiday? What would Pastor Smith say?”

He snuck up the stairs and tried to hide the smirk on his face, finding it rather unfortunate that he couldn’t stick around to watch his mother work through that one. He sent a quick text back, letting the recipient know to come thru the garage stairs, door will be open w purple lights before retreating to his bedroom, shutting the door most of the way but leaving it cracked.

He slammed his way into the desk chair, arranging his abnormally long limbs into something he could adequately work with; legs tucked under the desk, easily splayed, knit-sock-clad feet flat against the hardwood floor; and his right and left arm working seamlessly to blend the visitor’s order together. His brain short-circuited long enough to give him slight pause; but first, music. His right hand reached out automatically, somehow transferring through several layers of reality at once, clicking his mouse and moving it back and forth once to wake up his PC. To Spotify he went, putting on the first playlist that popped up in his recents. There, some background stimulation.

With that situated, he got back to the task at hand. Three of these, six grams of this, two grams of that. Eight of these, but four of those, and another six of those kind, and 3 of these kind. Another two grams of the first, then all wrapped with a bow and slapped with his label as a sticker on top. Not even a minute later, there was a creak of the hallway floorboard and then a small knock at his door.

“Oh? Yo.”

“Yo,” Cole swiveled his chair to look Derek over, chiseled muscle in tight fitting shirt and slim jacket, skinny jeans - nothing hard to look at. Cole gave him a subtle nod. “Merry fucking Christmas, ya animal.”

Derek hummed, flashing a large wad of cash and tossing it onto the surface of the desk. Cole hummed in return and tossed him the bag of goodies. He was surprised when Derek lingered.

Cole lit a cigarette. “What, dude?”

Derek glanced over his shoulder, at the open door and presumably at the voices drifting up through the stairs. “Sounds like a good time, huh?”

“You and me are sittin’ in the same room,” Cole puffed on his cigarette. “You tell me, man.”

He stuck a hand into the jar on his desk and dug around until he produced a medium sized, oblong pink pill. He popped it in his mouth, swallowing it dry, and shrugged at Derek. Derek looked down at the cocktail order in his hand, slowly stuffing it into the pocket of his jacket.

“Yeah, well,” Derek cleared his throat as discreetly as he could, looking around at the meticulously organized yet highly chaotic room, strung with lights of every color and furnished only with a bookcase, a desk and chair, a few posters on the wall, and a bed shoved in the far corner, with black sheets and a midnight blue duvet neatly spread over three-quarters of the mattress. Two pillows, no nightstand. It looked unused, and judging by the jars and jars of stimulants and other assortments of drugs, it wasn’t hard to doubt it was. Every other bare surface was covered with some knick knack or another, a seashell or jar of sand from someone who went somewhere or a hung up post card, a tarantula tank or three tucked away between the decorations. Cole was a busy man, with lots of empty connections. Derek suddenly fidgeted, seeming unsure of something, seeming uncomfortable in the space.

“Anyway, ah. Thanks for the stuff, dude. Merry Christmas.”

Cole, who had been staring absent-mindedly through the frosted window above the desk, puffing idly on his cigarette, merely hummed, barely giving Derek a glance.

“Hm? Yeah, sure. Happy fuckin’ holidays, d-bag. See you later.”

He turned his storm-cloud-grey eyes back to the window, and Derek nodded to himself, biting back a sigh as he backed out of the room.

Cole felt the heavy blanket of solitude envelope the room again as Derek shut the door behind his departure. The lo-fi music bumped quietly in the background, and Cole felt his brain getting fuzzy as the drugs started to set in.

The shapes of furniture and acid neon colors of the postered walls began to swirl together as Cole leaned back in the desk chair, stretching his thin legs out and yawning, tilting his head back against the stuffed neck-rest. He turned his squinted, puffy gaze upward at the purple haze canopy of ceiling, his mind unfurling like cigarette smoke, tendrils expanding and overlapping and expanding more, hungry and searching, hunting. For what, he never knew, and neither did the tendrils. Knowledge, stimulation, feeling, connection? Anything like that was dulled by the fog of constant inebriation, leaving only one thing left: neediness. A thirst for something more.

One of the tendrils stumbled upon an inkling from earlier, reminding him of his grandfather’s death. He bolted upright, swinging his chair to face the desk and reaching his hand down to yank open the right-hand drawer. He plunged his hand inward and flung it about, searching and searching, rifling through the papers eventually with both hands, now completely bent over the drawer, and then he found it. He slowly straightened, holding his prize very carefully in his hands, bringing it to the surface of his desk to examine it under the lamp light. The only existing photo of it, anywhere, the only one his grandfather allowed to exist.

The structure was large, too large to fathom even looking at it. It had too many windows, a dozen on each side and two grand ones in the middle, in line on either side of the grand archway door. The flanks of the house went on for what seemed like forever, nothing but dark clapboard siding weathered by years and years of weary existence. It was rather tall, too, towering evenly with the vast expanse of woods behind it and around it; its roofs arched into multiple pointed peaks, complete with two towers on opposite ends of the manor. Something out of a gruesome fairytale, grand and elegant, but becoming more haunted and unsettling the longer you looked at it. The grounds it rested on seemed abandoned, and even when his grandfather was still teaching out of it, the house seemed empty, unused, unwanted, void. Still, as Cole looked at it, he felt a sense of home, a sense of longing. A sense of need. That thirst itched in the back of his brain.

He suddenly got to his feet and yanked a duffel bag out from beneath the bed, throwing it on top of the mattress and flinging it open. He took the picture and shoved it into his wallet, then began to roam around his room, throwing things into the duffel bag as a plan formulated in his mind. His tendrils had found something to go after, and as he finished packing the duffel bag a few minutes later, he paused to pull the picture from its newfound home. He looked at it once more, taking in the sight. He couldn’t help but find it glorious.

The Moss Manor. His inheritance. He was ready to fight for it, just like his grandfather had written. He was willing to do whatever it took. 


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Sat May 14, 2022 3:23 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi FruityBickel,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Let's start with the review right away. It is an interesting and exciting chapter. It definitely left me with some questions which makes it very good to look at this as a first chapter because there is a certain curiosity for the sequel.

You create something very positive with the writing style and the directness that the story takes to move forward. It feels to me like it still has a lot to show, especially on the part of Cole and his father. I think you also manage to take the reader to a higher level based on the writing style, as I feel like the sentences and paragraphs are a bit longer and more professional than a simple novella.

I think that's a bit of the main point, which I really like, but also had a bit of trouble getting into the story. Your sentences have a great structure, but they seem philosophical or poetic in places, and in addition they seem a bit difficult to understand. I noticed this especially at the beginning, when I was trying to get into the story. But since the text is more for older readers, I don't think that's a problem, but I think you could also try to insert smaller "breaks" in between, or more digestible portions.

At the end, for example, you manage to rewrite everything a bit, but it seems a bit like you've run out of steam, so I think you have to try to create a little bit of uniformity there, because it does stand out.

Since the plot has only just opened, I can't say much about it yet. But I think we already have some very interesting relationships, especially between Cole and his parents, but also with others, which leaves me with the feeling that there is much more to see than there actually is.

In summary, a good start with a great touch of mystery.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




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Points: 99
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Wed Apr 27, 2022 8:49 pm
simpleJ wrote a review...



You do a great job painting a picture with this one. I can imagine the family dinner downstairs and the purposeful chaos of the bedroom. I can see feet up on a desk as smoke bounces off an icy window while quiet lofi plays in the background. I’m not sure if what your plans are with this one but definitely share the rest if this was just the beginning. It seemed personal too, only making me feel like this was someone I knew. Cole is relatable and consistently bleak but also adds some humour. Good work bud. I guess my question is where's the rest, this seems like the first chapter of something good...





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