A lot of fun in this one. As the title of the short states, there's Pretzels and there's Apocalypse. The set up is a busy street and a homeless man chanting away. Two archangels watch. And a truck is moving.
People of course. Or its full of bombs. Or its got some kind of destiny. Evil or Holy? That's your job to decide. So head over to the Finish the Story Contest and write your ending!
Cheers all, and thanks to @f3nix for another great prompt!
Apocalypse and Pretzels
Early in the morning, in the bitey air of an unripe April, fine pearls of rain drew averted trajectories, trying to prolong their run towards the ground. The morning sunlight slipped through them, caressing their lopsided dances.
A freshly baked pretzel perfume mingled with the acrid, yet familiar note of wet tarmac. Similar to the inviting singing of a mermaid, that fragrant smelling trail traveled for blocks coming from who knows where, bringing the illusion of a tasty breakfast at hand.
On Madison, the sound of a distant pneumatic hammer, disinterested in that diaphanous moment of peace, reminded the city of its daily duties. The need to renew the infinite interweaving of order and chaos, the human sap of a monotonous and, at the same time, different becoming.
An old beggar was taking shelter from the drizzle under the entrance of the Met Breuer.
He seemed to come out of nowhere and, in a sense, gave the idea of having been there forever. The shabby headgear with ear-muffs could barely contain the explosion of white hair, gathered in damp, frayed cords due to the persistent drops of aerosol. The festive and bizarre trichological chaos reigning on his head only sharpened the contrast with the fixedness of his gaze, veiled by a cataract under the crusty eyelashes. Forearms and hands rested parallel, laying on a small and unusual pink plastic banquet that seemed to have been recovered from an abandoned nursery.
In front of him, carefully lying on the small pink table, he placed a typical cardboard square. Strangely enough, where a message of help was supposed to be found, not even a "everything helps" decorated the miserable panel which, laconic and brash together, was left naked to look at the sidewalk.
None of the hasty passers-by would have ever bothered to look down at the bizarre old man but, if someone had stopped for a while, perhaps he would have noticed that his open lips uttered a constant chant, a whisper of elusive and continuous vibrations.
"Now the distortion around him has become almost visible, how much do you think it could go on?". In truth, for several hours what had happened under the gray shed had captured the growing interest of two luminescent figures, on the other side of the road. From time to time, they exchanged positions to steal each other the best view. Their feet seemed to slip soft like fog on the cold sidewalk.
"Learn about silence once and for all, Duth. Would it make sense to even just hazard a guess in front of this.. thing?".
"But how is it possible for a human to perform the Chant, or to just gather.."
"And instead, if you bothered to listen, you would have noticed that this supposed human has just added the sixth voice," the archangel interrupted him, punctuating the words as he tried to separate red pomegranate grains from their peel.
"I think we've observed enough, we do not want him to start opening a seal, do we?", he continued, trying to resume his usually compassionate tone, "We have to report about it to Metatron. Stop stalling, let's move".
The old man's eyes suddenly gnawed them, like a blacksmith's hot pincer. Duth did not even have time to finish wondering how a simple homeless had been able to identify them on the subtle plane from which they were watching him.
An Autie Anne's Pretzels van sped in the direction of East Harlem, sprinkling the city with its fragrant trail. For an instant, the driver seemed to have heard a curious song, but he didn't pay too much attention.
Duth insisted on staying. "We don't have time to report it to Metatron. We need to stop it right now."
"And if it stops us? What then? It continues and opens a seal?" David asked. "Listen. It's on seven. When it reaches thirteen, this entire place will descend into Tartarus. We need backup."
David watched the throngs of humans, New Yorkers as they called themselves, march down the blocks on either end on their way to work, play, eat, sleep, fuck, laugh, dance, drink, wallow and die. And not a single one ever knew the outcome of that march. They could slip on a puddle and land in the street and be crushed at any moment by one of the thousands and thousands of different automobiles, a 4-ton-death-machine. And they never flinched. Never bothered to notice to infinite possibility of death all around them. They swam in an eternal ocean of demise, and yet there they went, pacing on by the daemon disguised as a homeless, holding an empty sign.
"Completely unaware," Duth said outloud. He stood up, knocking over his Pumpkin Spice latte.
"Quiet!" David said, his shouting alerting everyone else relaxing on the cafe patios on the Saturday morning. "You go for him. I'm going to get backup. If it gets crazy, don't do anything stupid. We're here to monitor and seek orders. Not act for ourselves." David turned up the street, eyeing the Auntie Anne's Pretzels truck speeding towards them. "I'll be back as I can. Don't be reckless. Remember what happened to the last one who decided to seize things for himself."
David stepped out to the road as the truck smashed into his body. The humans around him screamed out in horror as blood flew into the air and David became half jelly and half mist.
Duth, desperate to remind himself that it was what David needed to do to reach Heaven, stared back at the homeless man.
It now stood, a grin the size of a butcher's knife across his face.
The Pretzel Truck's brakes squeeled as it spun into the other lane of traffic. Then it continued.
"Jesus," Duth said out loud. "Jesus, no."
The truck reached the other end of the street. The crowds had begun to flee. The truck raced them, plowing down innocents.
"JEE-Zuss can't help YOU!"
Above the screams, Duth heard it.
He lept from his chair among the fleeing New Yorkers, landing square atop the homeless man. He, it, the daemon, laughed away among the crush of bones. Police sirens rang out and gunshots tore through the air.
Duth gripped it’s throat, smashing it’s face with his other fist. It continued to laugh. He punched it again and again. Then his fist went through the mouth, the face, the thing. An absence consumed his hand. Then his arm. Cold. so cold.
A voice spoke.
“Enter the circle, Duth.”
The absence trickled up to his heart, and Duth felt a fire die.