Posted Sept. 29, 2023, 5:19 p.m. by Lieutenant Commander Gravel Mardusk (Chief of Security) (James Sinclair)
The stone house sat alone in the middle of a large field in the Irish hills. It was a one-story house built in the traditional style. The land around it was rocky and overgrown; but here and there one could see the remains of old fences and stone walls. A sturdy wood door set in the middle of front was flanked by large picture windows, both closed off by heavy drapes on the inside. A wisp of smoke came from one of the two chimneys but no light could be seen from inside. Tonight, like every night, the house seemed deserted save for the small tendril of smoke.
Inside, the house was a testament to neglect. Broken furniture and empty bottles littered every room. Ceiling plaster hung in damp clumps in several places, and the smell of mold and mildew was heavy in the air. The only lights inside came from fusion lanterns sitting on the floor in places. Mouse droppings littered the baseboards, and the entire interior oozed a sense of malice.
The lone occupant stirred in a large bed, well used and soiled with years of use and not changing the linens. Liam O’Hara slept fitfully, the last of the whiskeyin his system having been processed and aching to be free of it’s confines. Finally, the urgency pushed through the drunken haze and he got up and walked to the bathroom. A few minutes later, he went back to his bed and laid down, clearing his throat with a loud racking sound and swallowing back whatever had come up. His eyes closed, and soon his body relaxed.
The lighting of one of the lanterns cut through the dark and caused Liam to scream and bolt upright. There, sitting a chair like some vid character from a thriller, was the giant green figure from the pub. He was dressed in a dark gray shirt and black pants and boots, and he looked at Liam. “Evening, Liam… or rather, ‘morning’ to be technical. You remember me?” the giant asked.
“Your the alien what’s marryin’ Cara O’Farrell.” he said as his arm fell to the side of the bed, his fingers seeming to try and grasp something that wasn’t there. “Gravel. Gravel Mardusk. And yeah, that’s me.” Mardusk said, his arm dropping to the side of the chair and bringing up an old-style plasma shotgun. He set the gun in his lap as Liam’s eyes widened. “You really should take better care of your weapons, Mr. O’Hara. This thing is in such bad shape, it might misfire and hurt you.” It was then that Liam noticed Mardusk’s hands… they were in gloves.
“Now then.” Gravel began. “First and foremost, relax. I’m not here to hurt you. I am here to make you an offer.” He looked at Liam for a long time in silence and then said “I want to buy your house.” Liam stared in shock for more than a minute. “W-w-w-what??” he asked. Gravel sighed. “I want. To buy. Your house.” he said slowly and deliberately. “This. This house we are in and the land it sits on. I’m gonna buy it from you. And you are gonna sell it to me.”
Liam looked at him like he had suddenly grown three heads. “I… I am? No. NO! This place isn’t fos sale! GET OUTTA HERE BEFORE-” and Gravel said “Before you what? Call the Guarda? Call your brother? Go ahead. None of them give a flying f=<k what happens to you. Look at how they let you live.” and he looked around at the deteriorating room. “But I am here to offer you a deal.” and he looked at Liam. “Double. Double what this place is worth. With the stipulation that you leave town and never set foot in it again. Nor any of your family. Not your brother. Not your nephew. None of ya ever come back.”
Liam’s eyes narrowed. “This place is ma home. Ma granddad built this house. I was born in this house.” “And it hasn’t been cleaned since, I can see.” Gravel said. He leaned forward and said “Look. You and I both know that you hate living here. This place reeks of depression. So sell it. Take the proceeds and leave. Go anywhere you want. Hell, leave the planet. It’s a big galaxy. Even you might find somewhere they like you.”
Liam was quiet, thinking. Gravel knew the money enticed him. But was it enough?
“My brother owns half. He’d hafta agree. An’ he won’t. Oh, he’d sell the place sure. But not ta you. You had Reggie thrown in the stocks. Donavan is gonna want your head.” Liam said with no small amount of glee. Gravel shrugged. “Well… okay then. If you can’t convince him to sell for double- that would be a full value payment to both of you, not a split- then you are both too stupid to negotiate with.” and he stood up and tossed the shotgun on the foot of the bed. “Your loss, Liam. So stay here and rot. Stay here in a village that hates you. That knows your brother and nephew are sexual deviants. Go ahead and carry the looks… the whispers… the outright glares of the entire village. Carry on here knowing that you will never have a friend. Never have a quiet drink where you aren’t being judged. Never get a good night’s sleep that isn’t found at the bottom of a bottle. Stay here and rot in this…” and he looked around and made a disgusted face, “… tomb. Or just grab that blaster right there and do everyone a favor. See ya.” Gravel said. He stood up and started walking to the door. He could hear Liam scramble for the gun and grab it, and could the click click click as he thumbed the firing stud. “Took the power cells out, ya dunce.” and he stopped and turned around. “Now I’m only gonna offer you fifty percent more. If you change your mind, come see me. And when your brother gets here, tell him I said hello.” He turned and started walking down the hall towards the front door, but only got halfway before he heard Liam’s bare feet on the wooden floor.
“Wait! Wait! Just… just wait.” Liam said and he came scurrying into the hall. “You said double. I’ll take that. But you tell me brother that it’s face value. That’s the deal.” Gravel crossed his arms on his chest and glared at Liam. “So now you want me to help you? That’s pretty ballsy. And you haven’t exactly kissed the Blarney Stone, have you? You want to screw your brother over, that’s none of my business. But if you want me to help you screw o er your brother… you’re gonna have to make it worth my while.”
Liam thought for a long time and finally said “Ok. Here’s the deal. My brother and I sell you the house and land for value. You pay me that much again. In exchange, I convince my brother to sell and I clean the place up. Repair it. Make it move-in ready.” Gravel looked around and shook his head. “I dunno… although Ronan at the pub said you used to be a good builder.” Liam laughed once. “Used ta be?! I am the best builder and carpenter in six counties. My granddad taught me everytin’!” he said with no small amount of pride. “I’ll fix this place up and you’ll never know it was anything but perfect!” Gravel looked at him, and could tell he was serious. He thought for a moment. “Ok. BUT! The repairs are paid for by you. And the ‘extra’ you are getting? Half up front, half when it’s done to my satisfaction. That’s my offer. Take it or leave it.”
Liam didn’t flinch or wait. He spit in his palm and held out his hand. “Deal!” Gravel grinned and spit in his own hand and grasped Liams outstretched hand. Suddenly, he yanked the man up in the air, leaving him dangling off the floor. Liam screamed in surprise and pain, and Gravel pulled him close so they were face to face. “But know this. If you try and screw me on this… or if your brother does anything to piss me off… I’ll find the closest pig farm and feed you both to the hogs. Piece. By. Piece. Understand?” Liam nodded vigorously and Gravel dropped him to the floor. “Good. Pleasure doing business with you, Mr. O’Hara. Be seeing you, I’m sure.” and he turned and walked out the door and into the early morning darkness.
Mardusk, Home Owner
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