He could feel it starting. Up along the ridge where forehead met hairline. And he knew there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop it.
Standing at attention, it required all of his focus to avoid any outward sign of movement. Although he desperately wanted to reach up and wipe the offending droplet of moisture away, he could not – would not – allow himself that indulgence. It wasn’t every day that one found themselves standing before The Council.
The room was dimly cast in flickering light and shadow, the only illumination coming from a few scattered torches that fought in vain against the darkness. The stench of sulfur crowded his nostrils.
It was quite odd, he thought. It was much like being on display. There was a time, in his younger days, when he had been a rock star in his particular field and never would have tolerated this indignity. And now here he was reduced to this. He tried not to think of it as an insult and failed.
Without moving his head, his eye shifted the smallest possible amount and he thought he caught Nosferatu looking askance in his direction. Was that the barest hint of a smirk on the demon’s face? Refocusing his eyes forward he tried to put the thought aside.
He realized that Chthon was speaking.
“Yes, your achievements in the field of Sloth were quite impressive.” The filthy demon counted on his claw-like appendages as he recited the list. “Best New Sinner. Best Performance in Sloth for six years running. And twice you were recognized as Sinner of the Year.”
The bead of sweat, now pregnant and fully-formed, began ever so imperceptibly to move over the skin taught against the front of his skull, pulled by the inexorable force of gravity. The room was electrically charged by the unspoken criticism hanging in the air as Chthon paused during a laborious act of drawing his breath.
“But,” Chthon continued, “this is not merely a Council of Sloth. If it was, no doubt you would reign as King.” Even the act of chuckling caused great pain, which was one reason Chthon rarely joked.
“The hubris! The impudence! The arrogance!” Chthon hissed, slamming his deformed fist down. “How dare you stand before us like this.”
“And to think,” he added, “We were actually considering you for a Lifetime Achievement award.”
Chthon paused again and appeared to look off into space. “These chambers are not the place to discuss what-might-have-beens.” He spit in disgust, starting a small fire by his feet. “Your … single-mindedness … cannot be tolerated.”
“What of the other sins?” he demanded. “What of Wrath? Gluttony? Lust, Greed, Envy and Pride? What of them? In your reckless abandon you have completely disregarded our sacred traditions!”
On the dais before the Council, in front of Chthon, was a parchment, weathered and ancient. Chthon, his hands shaking, reached out to grasp it.
Remaining completely still, now knowing what was about to come, the man fought the urge to strike the droplet away. His mind raged against the will of the his body that now longed to betrayed him. The sensation was almost unbearable. It was almost as if acid was burning against his skin. The perspiration encountered his eyebrow where it paused, as if gathering strength for its final onslaught.
Chthon was now unrolling the yellowish scroll, formally holding it in front of him as he began to intone the words inscribed therein. “In the name of the Council of Sin,” he began. As each word was spoken the ink it had been written with burst into flame and the parchment crumbled away. “You are cast out.”
It was his moment of destiny. The droplet flung itself from his brow and landed squarely in his eye. He screamed.
Author’s Note: I was told I shouldn’t blog about my boss so much. As inspiration was sadly lacking, I decided to try my hand at a little creative writing. This was supposed to be a “drabble” but it ended up being a drabble on steroids. Think of it as a quint-o-drabble. It’s about five times too big. Much like my sloth.