Flash Fiction - The Devil Begins

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Hi guys, blog still under construction - taking longer than expected but I'm committed on having a solid post backlog before I officially start - However I got into another one of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge.

This time Chuck presented his readers with this nifty little page called the Idiomatic, and its brilliant. The page simply takes a few idioms and mashes them together, the result is more often than not a combination of funny and awe inspiring, in any case its a great tool for writing prompts. I tried it and love the first one that popped up "The Devil Begins with a Single Step", couldn't help myself to write something with it, and here we are, hope you like it.

Flash fiction, Image of The reverse flash by Wyv1 at Devianart

The Devil Begins

The devil begins with a single step… - Dean’s grandpa was fond of saying. Over and over throughout the years.

When Dean's family went to visit him on holidays, or in those rare occasions when he made the trip over to their house in the suburbs, there was always an opportunity, an event or occurrence that prompted good ol’ grandpa’s favorite saying. And for a long time growing up Dean failed to understand what he meant by it, but the sentence got scrawled into his psyche just the same. 

As the years went by, Dean did his best to figure out what he meant by it… no easy task. After all, old pop-pop seemed to wield it all the time; when good things happened, when bad things happened… until there came a point in his early teens, as Dean was “going through a phase” according to his mother, when he decided the old man mostly used it as a lament, to be uttered after something sad or tragic.

The courthouse hallway was rather empty now, and Dean sat leaning forward, taking deep breaths and staring at his reflection in the polished floors. 

A couple of people wearing suits talked to each other, quite aways to his left, and a uniformed maintenance guy droned by the end of the hall, conducting the machine responsible for the luster under his feet. 

I'm here because I needed to… Dean kept repeating to himself. The more he thought about it the more certain he was he hadn’t had a choice in the matter, not really.

He began counting the white marble pillars lined along the wall once more, already knowing there were 16 on each side, with nothing better to do while he waited for a bailiff to come get him to testify.

He missed his family on occasions, and this was one of them. If he’d known they weren’t going to be there when he came back… he might have listened to his dad and changed his mind about enlisting. But at the time there were too many voices in his head, and the army seemed like the perfect place to quiet them down. Any way, what's done its done, as they say… He’d left and his family was no more… the devil begins with a single step alright... uh grandpa?

Of course, he wasn’t here as Dean Hughes, no. Today he was Steve Redford, the star witness on the trial. Steve the innocent passerby who’d seen everything! ...in all its gory detail. Steve the concerned citizen that’d called the police after finding the blood pooling under the apartment’s front door, who’d bravely checked inside as he remained on the phone line, troubled and distressed; concerned that someone might be hurt and in need of immediate assistance.

I know CPR! - He’d said almost hysterical, to the emergency operator - I might be able to help!

It was all in the recording the prosecution had played a number of times already to the jury. After some heavy breathing and thumping sounds came his frantic screams as he came into view of the body, of the blood soaked... everything around the room… of the man lying unconscious next to it, Culter Jones.

Not a bad man if his previous record was to be believed, just an average joe working a living. A survivor of a tragedy, just like Dean.

It was the prosecution theory that Jones had been maintaining a secret relationship with his neighbor, which Culter denied vehemently from the get go. The relationship had been strained over the final months, as revealed by a series of deleted emails on both the victim’s and Jones’ accounts. 

Culter had broke down when they introduced the emails as evidence, his head shaking side to side as he cried inconsolable on the accused table while they read them.

Then one night - The prosecutor had said - Culter just snapped, Killing his girlfriend. In a jealousy induced rage, he drove a sharp screwdriver 37 times into the poor girl’s body.

The case had been a wrap from day one. The police had found the guy covered in blood, passed out after ingesting some pills and alcohol, the murder weapon nearby with almost every finger print readable. The prosecutor sustained that Culter had tried to commit suicide after realizing what he’d done, but failed to take enough pills to get the job done. Luckily or unlucky depending on who you asked.

But even though the case was a sure thing, the prosecutor had insisted that Dean, or Steve as he knew him, testified. “Drive the sword all the way through” He’d said, and after some faked reluctance Dean had agreed.

Dean stood up and started pacing, his bright expensive shoes clacking echoes along the hallway.

 In a few moments he would go in and give the performance of a life time, describing in full, gruesome detail what he’d seen that day in the apartment, just like he and the prosecutor had practiced. In reality, Dean hadn’t needed coaching, he’d been practicing to manipulate and play on other people’s emotions for years after his supposed death in the army, when he’d been recruited as special ops. He operated in the east hemisphere for almost 5 years, disconnected from his previous life, following orders and serving his country, fighting battles the world would never know were taking place.

He’d been declared MIA so he could move freely under different identities, "...serve 5 years " they had said, and Dean could come back to America if he so chose to, with a substantial bank account, tax free of course, and a comfortable post at Langley.

We feed the media some bogus story - His handler had said - amnesiac on an eastern Europe hospital… standard operating procedure.

5 years in the mud and he would come back to his family a hero.

He’d done his 5 years, survived hell and back. Done unspeakable things in the name of good and justice. All the time telling himself he was making the world a better place… safer. Protecting the unsuspecting people from the dark things that go bump in the night. But deep down, Dean had always known, he'd just been another pawn doing whatever the guys above needed doing to suit their agenda. After 5 years he’d had enough and wanted to come home.

He’d come back, but home wasn’t there anymore. His family was gone, died in a fiery car accident not six months after he stopped being a soldier and became an agent, rotting in their graves as the government kept him in the dark, busy for half a decade.

“A terrible accident” the news had said, “No one at fault” the papers had chanted, after a jury acquitted Culter Jones in his trial, citing a car defect that made him lose control and ram his family’s Prius off the road.

It has been a little over four years since that trial. four years of preparation, planning and execution. A fake electronic trail here, some chance encounters there… enough to create the illusion of a relationship, and Dean was finally here, with Culter Jones back on the accused stand. 

This time he wasn’t getting away... Dean had seen to that. He would spend the rest of his life in a max prison until he died with needles stuck in his arms.

Of course Dean could have killed him a hundred times over, but that would have been easy… that would have been wrong. Killing him would have been vengeance, and Dean told himself over and over that what he wanted... what he deserved, was justice. 

An innocent woman had had to die for this to be so, and he felt terrible about what he’d done to her, but Dean knew it had been necessary. He’d understood sometimes bad things ARE necessary, ever since the last time he’d talked with his pop-pop all those years back on his death bed.

He had clutched his granddad hand in his own, listening very carefully to what would be the old man’s last words.

The devil begins with a single step Dean… but sometimes you have to take it.