Monday, July 07, 2008

Scorpio's Jewels (Part Four)

The sportsman leant back in his chair to let his servant wipe the puddle of milk from the tabletop. He had considered cleaning up the mess himself as it was only a moment's work, but his servant had heard the glass being knocked over and rushed into the room within seconds. Shooing the man out would have appeared strangely out of character for the sportsman, so he sat back, trying to give the man as much space as possible, and suffered the slight awkwardness of the situation without complaint.

A moment later the servant straightened, extricated himself from the sportsman's personal space, and left the room as quickly as he had come. The sportsman looked down at the rest of his breakfast, the same food he had been eating in the mornings for as long as he could remember, even from the days before he had amassed his fortune. But the food was not the same – the fruit was imported from half way across the country, not painstakingly picked out by his grandfather on his usual morning trip to the local market; the boiled egg was perfectly formed and white as ivory, not misshapen and blackened like the vast majority of the eggs consumed by the local populace.

With a sigh the sportsman pushed away his plate and stood. His appetite had quite deserted him, but he still felt the urge to consume. Almost inevitably, he gravitated towards a buffet-table at the back of the room, where a great assortment of sweets lay arranged as if plucked straight out of a schoolboy's daydream. To the sportsman's shame, this was the place he had begun to spend increasing amounts of time, during the days and sometimes even during the nights. To him, not even his choice of drug was honourable – he did not drown his sorrows or float from them like smoke; instead he chose to stuff himself with the most expensive and delectable of sweets in an attempt to quell a hunger that was anything but physical.

Feeling disgusted at himself, the sportsman reached for one of the juiciest sweets on the table, but just as his fingers brushed its sticky surface, he froze. A bead of sweat appeared on his forehead and his eyes widened in shock. Inches from his outstretched fingertips was a huge jet-black scorpion, its wicked sting hanging ominously above its gleaming segmented abdomen, seemingly ready to strike.

To be continued

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