SAMPLE STORIES

  Here is the 2nd third of the story "Sugar" from the book Eve of Valor: 25 Tales from the writings of Lorenzo Samuel (me).  A young girl depends upon sugar to solve all her problems, including dealing with her counselor whom she considers a murderer. I present to you the 2nd third of the tale "Sugar." Enjoy.

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SUGAR (2nd third)

  After Evergine had several more sessions with Mr. Flatter, Big Sister sends her to testify before the Parents’ Committee. While she answers questions, first one parent, and then others, shake their heads in disappointment. She hasn’t provided as much as a hint that shows Mr. Flatter guilty of child molestation. 
  As the chairwoman dismisses her, Evergine shakes her head violently. Her imagination will not allow the easy defeat of future truth. Holding back proves too much for her. She must let Flatter out of her mind so the parents can recognize him.
“No, no!” she shouts before the startled committee. “Him monster evil. Him’s guilty. Him will hurt kids given a chance. Me knows more.”
  The chairwoman says, “Okay, Evergine, tell us what else you know.”
  Evergine wipes her sweaty freckled face with her blouse sleeve. The ease with what Mr. Flatter can do, even if he hasn't yet, makes her nerves shudder. “Learn sumpin' big about Flatter dude,” she says. The five parents on the committee lean closer. She relates what Gilda has told her as if she’s had it from the adviser himself. "Him brags how he uses young girls."
  At that exact moment, Mr. Flatter changes from potential to actual brutalizer in the mind of a teen-age girl. He morphs in Evergine's imagination to become the evil one, and although Evergine still speculates generously with most everything else, he will not change back. She has convinced herself, and the man will go forward from there. He will leap from her mind and run amok.
  The chairwoman says, “Troubling and shocking statements to be sure. Do you have anything else?”
  Evergine contemplates Mr. Flatter getting away with all he's said. Although the past invokes the past and doesn’t rule the future, she pictures the man on the edge of doing something horrible. It has become so real to her she doesn't question her prognosis.
  Flatter would have termed her state neurotic imagination, but to Evergine, her precognition shows the fiend's guilt, "I have to stop him while there's time."
  She shoves her masque in front of the committee and makes Flatter dance to a hobgoblin tune. Where the adviser had said twenty innocent words, Evergine has him incriminating himself. Where he had merely smiled, he leers before the parents. Evergine serves Mr. Flatter up skewered and cooked. As she prepares the feast, her creation grows in stature. She extrapolates his words and expressions and manner until she shares with the committee her absolute certainty of the man’s evil, and whats more, she lies not. She believes it herself. 
  The chairwoman says, “Evergine. Thank you. You’ve given us the nail.”

  When she enters Mr. Flatter's office, Evergine averts her eyes toward the window. Beyond the panes, dragons dart through storm clouds, chewing on the bloodied panties of innocent girls.
  Greeting her like an attentive friend, Flatter seems not to notice Evergine's avoidance. He offers her an almond jelly and says nothing about her appearance before the committee.
  Evergine sits uncomfortably rubbing her palms on her Mugglewort blouse as he relates the parents’ further infantile attempts to undermine him. "I see through their every move," he says. "Just as I can read your thoughts, I can read theirs." Jovially, he mentions how they try to trap him into a confession. “I guess confession from me would be good for their souls,” he says with a snide chortle.  
  Her adviser takes perverse pleasure in the notoriety he has gained. He primps as he paces around the office in his expensive white balloon suit and Czech goat-skin boots, all the while snickering and bragging about his superiority over those ignorant parents.
  His denials and criticisms feed into Evergine’s mind like rank potatoes and rotten onions added to a bubbling stew. Makes it putrid no matter if you mimic a great cook or not. She does not doubt his superiority. His arrogance pricks her sensibility; that disturbs the soil of her imagination. Into her fanciful expanse, he boasts like a man with hard pride in sin.
  The man is in a cheerful mood, striding around his office, chanting a Shakespearean sonata. “I am winning, I think, and this uplifts me,” he says, “but if I am found guilty by some stretch, I’ll not suffer any consequences, you can be sure. You may however.”
  He stops dead and turns sharply toward Evergine. He speeds toward her, his filed nails fully extended. He accuses her of twisting his words and exaggerating before the committee. “I know it was you who told them those lies.
  “I do not blame you though, even if you think I do,” he says. “You think I molested that girl; you flavored your reports to the Parents' Committee with that conjecture. You couldn’t help following your overactive imagination. No, I don’t blame you because some day you will suffer enough for your fanciful notions.”
  Evergine blushes profusely like a cut-open beet. “Made up nothin’,” she says grimly. “Said only stuff ya told.”
  With a wave of his hand, Flatter brushes her words aside. He continues, “Evergine, you have a most revealing blush. I guess we both know guilt when we see it.” He turns quickly toward his desk, leaving Evergine to stew. 
  He has taken only two steps in that direction when, like a tiger bursting through the foliage, he springs back and rams his face to an inch of Evergine’s. “I'll live in your mind, Evergine, where I can keep track of you. You will not foil me.”
  Grinning broadly, he backs off a few feet, his pink eyes focused like those of a hunting boar. “You know,” he says. “I could have had my way with that pigeon and then programmed her death, and nobody would have known a thing.
  “What the parents suspect did not occur. You can't convict on wrong facts. Takes more than wishful thinking." He bares his teeth like a chimpanzee.
  His vindictive eyes morph into blanched almonds. He smiles sympathetically and says, “My apologies, my dear. You could not help feeding lies to the committee. Now you see how generous and forgiving I am. You and I alike will share my fate, count on that.” 
  Mr. Flatter’s pig eyes glint through his gloss like witch light in a putrid marsh. “Get out,” he demands, then waves her out the office door.

  Flatter's dismissal, not by way of proven guilt, but under a compromise arranged by the Laboratory's chief of protocol, gives the parents' committee a pointless victory. The adviser gets three years severance pay, fully vested pension rights and all records of the investigation expunged. 
  He calls Evergine into his office the day after the bargain strikes. “So, you see,” he says. “I have won after all. You believed me guilty although you had no evidence. Proof is required you know. In the parents’ charges, I saw you at work. You should be more careful to be fair in the future. Someday, you might come under the gun. Then, you will think of Mr. Flatter and what you did to him.”
  Evergine gulps at the implied threat and says, “Going retire, eh ya Mr. Flatter? Going have fun, betcha. All time working be bummer, what say?”
  “I will return to Terre Haute, Indiana,” the adviser says. “Although I was not found guilty, no other Lab will hire me here. For sure, those dastardly parents will spread the word.” 
  Evergine wants to walk out, but each time she makes a start, Mr. Flatter stops her with eyes of command. Finally, she gives up and slouches back in her chair. Oppression moves through the air coating her skin like slime from a rotting pomegranate.
Mr. Flatter frowns, “Evergine, you fool yourself if you think you will ever be rid of me. The imagination that rules your days will always provide me a home. You see, you are responsible for changing the course of my life. You bear the mark of your lying, don’t you?”

  The Lab term ends, and Evergine’s vacation drifts by idyllically at a free nature camp run by the Quiet. She spends her time practicing silence, then bird watching and exploring the woods round about. Each day she imagines herself deep into the repair of optical systems.
  Her first day back to the city, she doesn’t seek out her friends, but walks old haunts until she owns them again. The air has cleared for a change, and the leaves on the trees die in glory. She appreciates the wind on her face and the bustle of the city.    When she passes the Laboratory, her thoughts glorify: this term will wrap-up her adjustment there. 
  The next morning she awakes to the annual Parents' Day. All children confine themselves to their dormitories on this day, so that they will stand available for a visit with their parents....
  As she enters the conference room, her mother shakes as she always does at these meetings. Her hair has grayed more since last year. The wrinkles on her brow make Evergine realize that life has its end.
  With his hands clasped together, her father smiles. He has weathered as well, and his threadbare suit hasn't adapted to his   loss of weight. Evergine sits down on the opposite side of the table from them. 
  An assistant discipline master gives each of them a list of the rules of conduct for the meeting. Evergine reads them, hoping they allow her to discuss her career plans with her father. He could tell her about the possibilities in optical systems repair if she could only ask. But no, not allowed.
  After they have read the rules, her parents stand up. They seem to have shrunk. They say, “We love you, honey; only a few months to go.”  
  The assistant master snaps, “How trite. Haven’t you done enough harm to this poor girl? That violation of the rules will cost you a thousand credits each. This conference is over.” 
  Evergine watches her parents walk out the door half bent over with their arms about each other. Her mother will hold in her sobs, and her father’s face will set rigidly in long suffering. Each year, the same: They pay what they cannot afford to say they love her.
  The visit with her parents strengthens her resolve to get through her final year at the Laboratory no matter what Mr. Flatter does. Tomorrow, she will begin the winter term. Big Sister has nothing for her to do. Her toxins remain in balance. Her imagination hides from the world. Deep in her subconscious, Mr. Flatter idles.

  She can’t sit still in first period. Noting her agitation, the indoctrinaire sends her to an assistant adjuster who checks her toxin blood levels. Biannual toxin implants provide a first line of control, but flurries of emotion often overcome them. The assistant gives her additional calmers, which Evergine flushes down the toilet first chance she gets. First day back in the oppressive space, and already her imagination twirls too fast to slow by anything but a ton of sugar.
  The only thing that levels out stress other than the Lab's toxin injections, sugar keeps her dreams alive even better than the Quiet sometimes. Adepts in the Quiet gain mastery over toxins, but only a novice, Evergine needs sugar. She needs it now. 
She has visited at least fifty different sugar parlors during her stay at the Laboratory. Of course, the adjusters, advisers and indoctrinaires do not like their patients to use sugar in lieu of toxins. Once a week at least, Flatter has tried to get her to stop. Since the adviser has joined the masque in her mind, Evergine finds solace in the parlors more often. 
  She never goes to the same parlor 2 days in a row. Also, she changes her route to the Laboratory several times a week. Another matter Flatter; she’ll search behind her and around corners for her ex-adviser. She fears that he stalks her.
  He hangs to her like a scab. He grows monstrous pig eyes. When she’s awake, the eyes stare at her unannounced, in a parlor, in the Laboratory, in her dormitory. When she sleeps, the fiend will only retreat to gather extra power, then burst forth worse than before.
  Finally, she tells Big Sister.
  “Too much sugar, Evergine,” says Big Sister. “Cut down and put more practice in on locating the Quiet, then Flatter won’t seem threatening.”
  “Scare anyone that Flatter dude,” Evergine says. “Not just me. Evergine no make up bogey.”  
  Big Sister replies askance, “After all, you did exaggerate your testimony, right? That could prick your conscience, but if he has been stalking you as you say, he knows you’ve met with dozens of persons and have probably told them about him.
“If you see Flatter again, tell him that you’ve told all your friends about the attention he’s giving you. Tell him that you’ve told some vigilantes too. Do it in a friendly way, not as if you are threatening him.”  
  Mollified more by Big Sister’s caring than by what she’s advised, Evergine lumbers away from the meeting house toward her dorm. As she turns a corner, she imagines that the man sitting in a chair at the coffee emporium materializes Flatter.
  This Flatter speaks into a wrist phone. Evergine tries to turn around quietly, but she can’t do it. Immediately, she has a dizzy spell. Neurons frenziedly misfire. Chemicals surge along electrical pathways. She cannot move so much as her little toe.
  Flatter scans her then puts his eyes on a young girl, skipping by with her mother. He wears expensive travel clothes. His face appears ruddier as if he’s lounged in the sun. Hair short and neatly trimmed. Still, his eyes have the same unhealthy piggishness.
  Evergine must bluff this through. “Hi ya, Mr. Flatter, come back, hey,” she says. “Been here long ya? Go Lab yet, eh? Mind me sit down? Us catch up.” She puts her hands in her pockets and slouches into her most casual one-footed stance, but inside nerve synapses fire randomly, and she can barely keep herself from crashing to the sidewalk.
  Her bogeyman vibrates at thousands of cycles per second. With no criticism of her argot, he laughs and gets up from his chair. “Not now, my dear Evergine,” he says. “See, I still remember your name. Are you nervous? Walk with me for a time. I’m on my way to a meeting.”
  His suggestion validates her enfeeblement. They walk, Evergine a sloth in skintight jeans and camisole, and in a space apart, Flatter alert as any predator. The air has calmed with night coming on. Old men stand on their corners, arguing. Flatter chatters steadily, alternately freezing and boiling Evergine's world.
  “I will vanish in a stunning escape,” Evergine fancies. Unfortunately, the best she can do makes the world go away for a few seconds. Besides, too lethargic and weary from a toxin-stress battle going on in her body, she cannot take even a step toward freedom. Swinging her cap to the right and back again and knotting her bandanna several times, she staggers along like a dog on a choker leash dragged by its brutal master.
  At last, the ex-adviser stops his monologue. Trying her best to speak coherently, Evergine says, “Does ya travel much?”
  “Only on business,” Flatter replies faintly. “I consult parents of troublesome children under 4. In my spare time, I’m perfecting an advanced toxin-delivery method.” A crooked smile plays over his lips.
  “What be those?” she asks tremulously.
  “For my toxin concoctions,” the man says. “They’re special mixes to enhance interrogation and therapy results in children. Sometimes, they resist, you know.”
  Evergine turns her head away and gulps down some anxiety. Trying to put Big Sister’s counsel into play, she says, “Me like hear about, but wouldn’t want be with ya much."
  Flatter seems to ignore the second clause. “Why sure, we could meet somewhere, and I will tell you all about them.”
  Flustered, Evergine says nothing. She tries to make Mr. Flatter disappear by focusing on the street and the people sauntering by.
  “Are you afraid of me?” Flatter whispers. “You probably still think I molest children, eh?” He scoffs softly.
  Urged by palpable dread, Evergine says, “Mr. Flatter, vigilantes watchin’ ya, betcha.” Sensing she’s goofed somehow, she wavers, blankly gazing at her feet.
  “How would you know something like that?” he says.
  “Me guessin’ maybe too mucho.”
  “Ridiculous,” says her ex-adviser. “They would have no cause.”
  “Tellin’ ya like a friend,” she stammers. She pulls away from Flatter’s disrobing eyes.
  “Even if so, no one should notice anything I do unless I desire them to,” Flatter chuckles. “Thanks for the warning though. 
  "I suppose you’ve told your friends about our chance meetings. You’re still a compulsive fabricator, I see. Never mind answering. I’ve had enough of talking with you. I have an appointment to keep and toxins to deliver, but I will find you again when I want, never fear.” Again, there comes the dreadful chortle. Abruptly, he turns left around the corner; however, Evergine senses that he has not gone. His afterimage has come alive in her mind and now has a life of its own in her imagination.
  Evergine blinks for several moments at the freeze frame of Flatter turning the corner. His image changes to smoke and congeals in her mind like blood pudding. She can't stop trembling, cannot shake his words; they hang quivering in front of her face, enfeebled and alive: “I will find you again when I want, never fear.”

  Flatter continues to slither through the nexus of mind and environment that make up Evergine’s days. Sometimes he remains in the cracks and crannies for hours, but at other times, he appears full blown whenever Evergine happens to visit a parlor, amble down a street, even seek peace at the meeting house. 
  Despite innately a strong girl, Evergine's nerves jelly, and become fertile ground for the Flatter of fancy. The toxins that permeate her cells exacerbate her enervation. Only sugar and the Quiet, when she can contact it, keep her poised at the edge of her strength and wit. 
  Always a little in front, the vile moment when she and Flatter will meet for the final time, draws her into imagination. For her sanity, she must get it over. When he storms into her world again, how will her state respond? Will she fight, run or plunge into despair?
  She turns into an alley. The garages on either side close in, channeling her toward her fate. The sky falls. She blinks, and Flatter appears striding toward her. His pig eyes drill into her heart like a worm. 
  She turns around and walks away as fast as she can, but with each step, she becomes weaker, as if the ground behind her sucks her energy. The man catches up easily and jogs on by. The Laboratory’s tolerance coach.
  The encounter exhausts Evergine’s sugar reserves. She stumbles to the end of the alley to where a sugar parlor fronts on the street. Two boxes of pure granulated cane should do her, she hopes. 
  Stealthily, to avoid Flatter’s everywhere eyes, she creeps through backyards and alleys until she arrives at Famous Park. In a secluded glade, she leans against a big oak tree and eats the small, sweet crystals. 
  The first box makes her so drowsy she can’t stay awake. She sleeps in the warmth of the afternoon sun until her insulin soars and shocks her into stupefaction. Weakly, she eats more sugar while trying to get up nerve to leave the park. Finally, when her mouth refuses to produce more saliva, she sneaks out from under the park tree to the street and begins to lunge along like a creaky old woman. As she turns a corner, she slams into a figure that seemingly materializes from the air.
  Flatter leaps from her imagination onto the sidewalk. “Help,” she squeaks as she backs away from the solidifying phantasm.
  “Running from someone?” A familiar voice whispers. The figure steps closer. 
  “Megana, you,” Evergine gasps. Her spirits revive. “Meganasan, how’s the dudess? Doin' fine? Us go Betty’s Parlor, talk, hey ya. Head back dorm after.”
  At Betty’s Evergine orders a caramel flip, Megana a black and white. “Flatter dude hangs out Lab no, dorm no. Looks for lonely place yes, where no see him, betcha,” Megana offers.
  “No, him smart. Him stay in plain view, so people no think him weird funny, eh,” Evergine says seriously. “Him have plan. Lookin' at me right now betcha.”
  “Bull damn!” exclaims Megana. “Edgy ya. Dude man makes face, ya scared to death. More fizz, drink ya.”
  They finish their fizzes and begin the ten-block walk home. The city has browned out, so only the corner streetlights glimmer. Cutting down a back alley, they hit the main drag leading to the patient dormitories. A vigilante watch-out waves to them.
  At Megana's street, her friend says, “Tight sleep ya. Okay ya?”

 

  The final third of the story "Sugar" from the book Eve of Valor: 25 Tales will post on or about Sep 1.