'Ca$h Money' by Tristan Drue Rogers

Cash Money was a skull. This skull didn’t know where its body was, nor could it even ask. That name was only available to its undeserved memory because a young kid, whom had penetrated its eye-socket one of the three occasions it happened, carved it into the skull’s temple. One side said “Ca$h”—just like that—and the other side had been etched with three more corresponding dollar signs. The store clerk—currently setting up shop in the local Occult buy-and-sell took to this name for the skull as well—told of outrageous stories, often involving her in some stages of bloody undress.

Cash knew she was a lonely creature. And that she was beautiful in her somber existence. Cash didn’t have a clue why he could see her swaying as she replaced the many candles of the shop. That is, without the proper construction of eye ball bits and a functioning nervous system, as well as brain tissue, but it could enjoy the view rather plentifully if it liked. Cash was lonely, too.

Eventually, the store clerk lifted the skull from the shelf. This was an odd change to the skull’s usual fly on the wall aesthetic. Setting a new wick aflame a deeply red-colored candle, she spun the skull to face her as she smiled, showing off the wear and tear that cigarettes had done to her teeth, albeit a wonderfully devilish grin that excited and terrified Cash all at once, and then she tilted the skull, descending it down onto the table and onto the candle as well.

Before taking resident in the Occult shop, Cash had its center drilled out into the perfect candle hold. Somehow, he could feel the fire laughing at him as it charred the skull’s inner layer of bone. Cash was realer than a real jack-o’-lantern and no one nearby could hear its screams.

The store clerk moved a juicy container of shrunken gorilla brains closer to the skull’s weary vision, better to dust behind. She was more intent on her cleaning than normal, brushing aside clumps of dust and dead skin onto the wood floor before she swept. The skull and gorilla brains echoed in their horror—yet they couldn’t hear the skull. The apes wanted to breathe and to run away towards oblivion. The clerk moved the container back where it originally stood and Cash could no longer hear their pain, which had, for a fleeting moment, extinguished the tortuous fire inside.

Cash gazed at the Occult shop. Not much could so easily scare a sentient skull, death being a non-existent burden, and yet it felt a static popping as it paid closer mind to the shop entrance.

Two heavy dings were heard. DING. DING.

A man entered shortly after the sound shot at everyone and everything in the store. This man wore black hair down to his knees, and plain black attire. Don’t they all? If it weren’t for the hair, he would better resemble Hulk Hogan in his wrestling heyday, but with no facial hair, nor eyebrows to mention either.

Cash couldn’t hear what they were saying to each other after their embrace. Once the store clerk locked the door behind the man, she started to lower the shades. This was the moment the skull knew it had to do with itself. It always does. It can never just be a passive decoration.

The store clerk could never replace Cash Money. His conduit behaviors broke lunch for the clerk far too splendidly. The man sat down at the table beside Cash. He began twirling his head around in ungodly directions within a staccato rhythm. Show off, thought Cash. The store clerk grabbed the skull and placed it in her lap after she sat across from the man with the table between them. Red and black swirled around the table cloth, which was complimentary in color. She began to feed the skull as best she could with her clothes on, her head whirling in its own way.

Thunder roared from within the shop. Cash thought, could it be?

The woman uncorked the skull, rising it toward the low ceiling, incanting gibberish before slamming it against the center of the table.

Cash could already begin to move, but it couldn’t see. Now, it could hear and touch as well. The skull was too confused to speak without practice.

This wasn’t the Occult shop anymore. Pens and needles scraped against Cash’s skin, but it didn’t hurt. Cash started to feel itself walking—similar to drifting—into the point ends of floating metal. This world was about connection, thought Cash, remembering last time awakening here that the goal was to prick the blood of its mate. The skull thought, what could I be looking for?

A rough, but malleable liquid splashed onto Cash’s feet. He winced as it tore a big toe off by the sheer weight of the juice pressing down onto it. Cash needed to find the proposed connection immediately or things would only worsen.

Attempting to focus on the gibberish that the clerk screamed earlier, and that Cash could faintly continue to hear, already provided results. This world understood, so did Cash’s body. Running through sharpness, Cash eventually found its prick.

“Oww,” Cash said aloud. Cash hadn’t heard that voice in centuries and wasn’t even sure if that’s what it used to sound like anyway.

A foul, baritone creature began to speak. “Have your masters privileged you with the task of imprisoning me, floating dead man?”

“That all depends,” Cash struggled with the words in its head, but they came out all right enough. “Do you know Isabella? She works at Occultin’ and Storin’?”

The creature’s tongue seemed to smack against itself. “Well, she told me her name was Iz.”

“All right,” said Cash, flailing the dead man’s arms forward, scratching at the creature’s body. It was like tar. “Where’s the damn needle?”

“Needle No!” The tar thing tormented Cash with the sounds of its squealing. “They sent a Stitcher!”

“Yes,” said Cash, still searching the tar thing for a needle, even biting about for it. “What,”—bite—“of,”—bite—“it?” Bite. Bite.

“Here, man,” said the tar thing. “Take this Kinoccian pendant—it’s worth way more than my eternally damned soul.”

Cash held the pendant in the dead man’s hands. It was solid and obviously ostentatious in design. “Really? This isn’t a trick” The skull could now feel the tar thing kissing its feet.

“Allow me to demonstrate,” said the tar thing. “Kinoc, arise!” The thing smashed the pendant atop Cash’s skull.

Cash could now see and it was not a pretty sight. Cash could no longer control the body it was connected with, its motions were not its own. “Sorry,” Cash said to the tar thing as Cash lifted its hand to the thing’s body, somehow burning it into dust upon their touch. Cash then crouched down, smelling the charred remains. “Fleshlings,” said Cash, only it wasn’t Cash. “I am Kinoc. I am revived.” The voice raised Cash’s body with its strength, laughing a hollow kind of humor. “Do tell me the time and date, immortal one?”

Cash’s voice mashed into a catalog of sounds, mustering up some semblance of the words, “It… is… the… night… of… Halloween.”

“A marvelous time for Oblivion.”

Cash awoke atop the table with the two Occultists. They had lowered the lights, leaving not only the candles burning, but their loins. The skull began to participate to Cash’s woe.

While physically disrespected, Cash pondered upon the status of Kinoc and the pendant, altogether what Kinoc wanted, and if this was a bad thing or not. Cash would certainly have time to think about it.

Eventually, the two finished their bestial proclivities, closed down the shop, set a big bowl of assorted candies outside their door, leaving Cash to its demons. The skull couldn’t see a thing after the candles were finally blown out. The store clerk told Cash that she’d leave a small flame just for it. She lit it and closed the door. Before that final breeze waned inside and cemented the night, Cash noticed a glow coming from the table across the shelf where the gorilla brains contained themselves. The skull didn’t see any brains within that glow—perhaps a candle was skipped and perhaps the brains had knocked over during the ritual. As the flame soon put itself out by the rising hot wax, Cash heard animalistic grunting coming nearer to it.

“Dear, Cash Money,” said a hollow voice. “Stop monkeying around—pay them no mind at all—and come with me into the true darkness.”

Cash thought to itself, when will I ever rest?


Tristan Drue Rogers has had his writing and poetry featured in literary magazines (such as Genre: Urban Arts, Weird Mask, M, and more), and horror anthologies (such as 100 Word Horrors Book 3 and Deep Fried Horror). His debut novel Brothers of Blood is available anywhere books are sold. He is also a Site Contributor for Genre: Urban Arts. Tristan lives with his lovely wife Sarah and their son Rhett in Texas. You can find him on Twitter: @RogersDrue, or at: https://www.tristandrue.wordpress.com

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