's 2017 Horror Write-off:


Submitted by Anonymous

The scheme was simplicity itself, really. Seduce notable senators on both sides of the divide (with different fake identities, of course), deepen their love for him ever more, subtly stroke their fears and sharpen their anger towards the other side. And then... disappear, leaving behind a note for each to imply he'd been killed for upsetting extremists on the other side. The notes were written and left with accomplices along with instructions to deliver them at the opportune time, the senators suitably manipulated (and, of course, socially isolated to the best of his capacity to protect their gentle radicalization). Now, all that was left to do was the great vanishing act.

And so here he was, sitting naked on a stool and waiting for his disappearer to prepare herself in another room.

She was an odd sort, insisting on referring to her workplace as an 'atelier' and him as 'canvas', staring appraisingly all around him before even allowing him to sit down and then staring some more. Any other time, he would've been delighted to garner such focus -- the woman was strangely cute, with her focused expression and decisive movements -- but hers carried an intensity that unnerved to behold. Nevertheless, all his associates had recommended her. Go to her, they'd said, and no one will see a glimmer of you anymore. And what honor was there, if not honor among thieves?

The only door in the atelier aside from the entrance and the vanisher re-entered, carrying a smattering of paint brushes and bottles in her work-weathered arms. He tried to start conversation off them, aided by his Charming Grin Number 5 (slightly teasing, but with the air of no true malice intended), but received only silence in return. Well, that and that constant gaze, much like a hawk's when it appraises the land for signs of life. Best to just get this over with as soon as possible, then, he thought as she lay her equipment on a side table, and best not to question.

"Allright, then." said the vanisher while inclining her head to and fro, looking at the fraudster with eyes that seemed to see past him to some ineffable dimension. "I've decided. For you... I believe a greengrocer, with a smile for every customer and a bit of trivia for every occasion. Yes, that would suit you marvellously. Don't you agree?"

"Fine enough." he said ruefully - he had always hated eating his vegetables - but she'd already turned her gaze to the bottles and brushes, proceeding to take out one with a pale liquid. Flesh-coloured, creeped a thought into his head as she opened it and dipped a thin brush into it, swirling to catch the substance onto its strands. "Yes, just a little softness in those cheeks to start with..." she muttered, more to herself than to him. "Do hold still now."

She's going to paint the flesh onto me, thought the rogue as the brush crept closer, the notion only really perturbing him for a moment. Festenyan secrets could get a lot more gruesome than a little magic paint in an honestly rather nice atelier. And anyway, as the vanisher's first stroke caused his cheek to tingle and he felt the subtle shifting of skin as new matter grew under it, he was too busy thinking of future ventures to be scared.

I wonder what employment will find me next. Of course, my usuals know my codeword so this won't be too much of an impediment... perhaps another seduction? Those really are rather enjoyable... Or perhaps a pyramid scheme? No effort needed at all. A senatorial campaign? Fools these days will latch onto anything that sounds hopeful, won't they... or maybe


Oh? The loud thought almost felt like it had come out nowhere, but it wasn't like it was completely unfitting. Well, of course I will actually have to sell vegetables every now and then, and especially intensely while this humdrum dies down, but a man's desires for fulfilment can barely be sated with mere selling of foodstuf-

Yes, they can. They will. Only vegetables.

The rogue's eyes shot open -- in its aftermath, that thought felt definitely wrong. He'd been a swindler his whole life, he'd always disdained the fools who found only the most mundane of things to be fulfilled by -- why would his head now be occupied with such heavy thoughts towards vegetables, of all things? Visions of tubers and leaves and the handling thereof welled from some new recess of his head like sewer water now, making his insides lurch and his abdomen tingle with what a voiceless voice said was delight.

The vanisher, shouted some desperate force inside. She did this to you. The rogue tried to strike her with a paralyzing chop he'd learned from a Planar Market scroll, but managed only a weak tremor of the body. He tried to scream, but in vain -- his new lips moved not, stifling his cry into a muffled moan. Briefly, the vanisher ceased her painting and tutted.

"Do hold still now," she repeated, unaffectedly as if lightly scolding a child, "or you'll never be a masterpiece."

As the brush neared the rogue's eyes, frozen open, the words he had been spoken to rang horrifically clear in his head: no one will see a glimmer of you anymore. They'd known. They'd known this would happen... who? Who had sent him there? He desperately tried to search his mind for his codeword, the oaths he'd sworn in shadowed halls, his betrayers -- but they were all as if behind a wall. He could only stare at the nearing paint, panic slowly giving way to a sort of gentle warmth that seemed to have always been there...

...and the last glimmer of him was snuffed out.


"...and there's your change. We hope to see you again soon!" exclaimed the greengrocer with a dramatic flourish of the arm, paunch under his uniform gently jiggling from the action. He gave it to everyone, of course -- his only charming feature, he liked to say -- but this particular customer seemed to always be pleased to see his satisfaction. As if she were... satisfied with herself for it, somehow? She was a weird one, to be sure. Asking about his past, smiling that strangely satisfied smile whenever he repeated he couldn't remember... but she was nice enough, in the end. And anyway, he'd sell greens to Gyalla herself. That was his oath, and he'd stick to it.

Whistling an off-key tune from last night at the night club, the greengrocer leaned on the counter and knew he was content.