Descent

“I would hate to have to call in Sam,” she threatened coldly. It was her oft sung line in this song. His work slowed, she pushed, he resisted, she would invoke Sam. This was a long game by now, years played.

“To Hell with it then,” he said, not looking at her. He sat at his desk, his papers thrown about in tantrum. A few notes were still floating down like snowy flakes. “I—” he stopped himself. Quieting a moment, musing after removing the black frames from around his eyes and tapping them against his knuckles, he snorted. Casting his glasses into the mess which had been an ordered study a minute ago, he spat, “I’m done, damn it. How about I call Samuel? That’s my life, isn’t it? Do this,” jumping up, he displaced a few more papers with a sweep of his arm, sending them fluttering onto the floor, “or else.” Green and white pages lay scattered over the carpet, the cheap, thin paper tearing as he stepped on it. “Well,” he said, his shoulders drooping, “I choose the ‘or else.’” Reseating himself, he turned to her. “I don’t care anymore.”

The lighter was still in his pocket. He felt it there, its smooth plastic pressing into his leg. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, and with a certain puzzlement, he found he was holding it out before his own face. The old hag snarled.

“Give me that,” she said, reaching out her bony hand.

Rising up, he slapped the aged crone, displacing her wig and half throwing her withered frame over his desk. The flint sparked in his hand, and the little flame danced hungrily. He fed it, holding it under a few paper drooping over the edge of his desk. Alarms sounded as the smoke rose. The old lady tried to get up.

Pressing her down, he held the woman near the fire. “To Hell with it,” he said, “everything burns.”

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