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The Debtors (standard:Psychological fiction, 1226 words)
Author: Kenneth MoonAdded: Jun 05 2003Views/Reads: 3597/2148Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A story about a man who died twice. Sounds simple right . . . ?

The Debtors 

Stephen Colling died twice. 

The first time was an accident, at the age of eleven.  Every winter he
and his parents would take up residence in northern Florida, inside a 
refurbished Civil War mansion.  Stephen loved to watch the machines 
crawl through the cotton fields, gathering up the white pugs with their 
steel paws; and, when his mother would flap her thin hand, 
ostentatiously shooing him away from the “horrid machinery,” he would 
traipse down to one of the several water holes dotting the plantation. 

Today was no exception to the routine, and Stephen soon found himself
wandering around the perimeter of a stagnant pond, just south of the 
large Victorian mansion.  In his youthful exuberance he was able to 
ignore the fetid air, enjoy the ordinarily aggravating bugs as they 
bolted in and out of the water, and relish the tough of the slippery, 
lime-green moss.  He could not tolerate, however, the fiends who 
inhabited the swampy area – the very ones who hid under his bed at 
night.  These monsters loomed everywhere and Stephen soon forgot the 
joyful subtleties of the swamp, and his eyes darted back and forth 
erratically.  He could feel the sultry breat of one of the imagined 
creatures on the nape of his neck; and, in response, swatted nervously 
behind him, edging closer to a gnarled tree hanging precariously over 
the tinted water. 

Without realizing his actions, he sidled onto the slimy, lichen-covered
wood, oblivious to the groaning sound of the roots grasping the bank.  
Before the monster could snatch him, the wooden fingers let go of 
safety and Stephen, with a panicked gasp, found himself immersed in the 
greenish water.  Five years of private swimming lessons did him little 
good, for his leg was impacted between a rock and the guilty tree.  No 
amount of struggle could give him freedom and his body soon felt a last 
shudder and went limp. 

Stephen's mother, endlessly searching for him in the past and present,
spotted his lifeless floating hand and screamed in horror.  Her 
attendants were not far behind her cry and they endeavored to pull 
Stephen from the water.  The audible cracking of bones escaped the 
attention of his rescuers as his leg twisted unnaturally out of the 
entrapment.  His mother turned her head affectedly, unable to bear the 
thought of losing this, her only heir.  She was apprehensive at the 
thought of ever making a new one. 

One servant pumped Stephen's soaked chest, while others displaced the
stringy seaweed that covered his person.  All efforts seemed futile; 
and, and after a few last attempts at resuscitation, they gave up, 
turning away at the very moment a cough slipped from the shivering body 
and the eyes opened wide.  The only thing Stephen remembered of the 
incident was the wonderful floating sensation and then the horror as he 
was uninvitingly sucked back into his frame. 

* * * 

Now at twenty-three, Stephen hobbled along the streets of windy Chicage,
a trusted cane ever in his grasp.  He gazed admiringly at his third 
leg.  The pointed tip was encased in gold, and polished wood, now 
stained deep red, was carved by request from the very tree that took 
the life from his leg. 

For only a moment he stared at the cane, soon returning to an
ever-vigilant watch.  He was rich; he fully realized the fact after his 
parents died two years previously when he was inundated with 
invitations of service from lawyers, doctors, politicians and corporate 

Thereafter, the monsters of his childhood took the shape of greedy
lawyers, avaricious businessmen, and beggarly charities.  Stephen soon 
concluded that the entire human race sought his money.  The innocent 
looking child holding fast to his father's leg, the hot dog vendor with 
the grating accent, the woman draped in black with a shiny cross around 
her neck – all of them were envious of his wealth, covetous to the 
degree of theft. 

Stephen entered his building, eager to get to his office, the place

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