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The Puzzle

By Yana Axar All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Scifi


There are many ways to darken the human soul and turn her in service of evil. Sometime it is only necessary to taste impure food or drink.

The wine-grower had never seen such a man. Truly there were rich people in town and he had seen films on the fair, but he never imagined that there is a so rich man. The enormous golden ring with a ruby on his hand and the huge luxury car hinted of the man’s vast wealth. The white color of the stranger’s clothes absorbed the light of the sun rays that fell on it. His white sun-hat prevented his face from being seen well.

“Sign here” pointed the unknown buyer and hand over the pen to the wine-grower.

The man looked at the dried out plants that were beyond reviving. For years he took care of those vine yards. Inherited by his father and grandfather for a long time they were giving birth to the best grapes in the region that could be turned into the sweetest wine. That lasted until a year ago when everything dried out without any reason. The weather was lovely and everyone expected this to be the best year in the last ten. But one morning the rays of the sun rose over darkened leaves and dried fruits. People from all over the county came to see the misfortune. Some were worried for their own crops, others gave advices, third gave suggestions for the reason and some just came to see other people’s suffering. The vine grower tried everything possible to revive the plants, but nothing helped. When he run out of options he decided to sell the land, but the crowd of buyers melted with the death of the crops. At the end of the year the land and the buildings were worth nothing. Suddenly a man appeared at the door with the offer to pay for the property twice more than the price in the best days of the vineyard. The only condition was until the next day’s sunset the family to leave the village. The deal was performed on the crossroad that connected the main road to the nearby village and the alley leading to the vineyard, right on the border of the property and the rest of the world.

“Do you not agree with the price?”

“On the contrary. Yes, I will sign” said the owner thinking over the situation and turned to the man who’s name he could not remember at all. He received a smile terrifying like a dagger pressed on the throat of a new born baby. He took the pen and scratched over the dotted line. A press line appeared on the page, but no color.

“It get’s dry so quickly” the stranger took the pen and shook it. “Try again.”

The ink pen glided over the snow white page leaving behind a ruby trace. The dazzled gaze of the vine grower met cold eyes.

“I like red ink. Don’t worry it is not illegal to sign papers with red liquid.”

In the moment when the last letter of the seller’s name was written a line of ten trucks and few cars passed by them. They made a turn next to the sparkling white car of the new owner and headed up the dusty road between the vines. The vehicles seemed to the seller as a giant black reptile that soon vanished in dust clouds. In the beginning of the twentieth century cars were a rare sight. Even the richest people had no more than one and this man possessed so many.

“Have a nice trip” said the new owner of the vineyard.

“I just want to ask you what are you going to grow here?”

The stranger turned before entering his car:

“Wine for pure souls” he said and his car headed to the house.

No one was going to believe the ex owner if he had mentioned the child hand he thought he saw on one of the barred windows and the crying he thought he heard. Also no one would believe that the moment when the new owner entered his property the bright clear sky over the vineyards grew darker and greasy like a tar.

The man shook his head. He was imagining things. He got in his car and headed north with his family to start a new life far from the home town with a large amount of cash on the back seat.

The day after the property purchase the mailman could not believe his eyes – the vines were healed. Everything was green and amongst the leaves glow dark red grape grains. Many people came to see the miracle, but preferred not to ask questions. They explained the change with the knowledge of the new owner who came from far away land and probably knew something more than them. Just as soon the people stopped being surprised that all workers are children, because everyone knew that child labor is the cheapest. No one even thought that he was hearing children cry in each arriving truck. After all, who needs new workers every month? It was impossible that the children are running all the time and no one from the vineyard never called the town doctor for a sick child or reported raging sickness. The newcomer stopped being the center of the attention and the people went on with their daily life. All that was left was the stories in the bar and the facts.

And the facts were that the wine made by the new owner was gently said unique. Those who had the chance to try it said that it is like a ruby in a glass, soft like velvet and it always feels warm and lively like the hug of a child.

Another fact was that the wine was delivered only to churches. There was a rumor that the pope himself ordered the production of this wine, but this seemed to be just empty words.

Almost one hundred years after the first bottle was made interest to this wine arose again caused by a homicide murder. A bottle of the wine that was accidentally broken was tested in search of DNA from the killer. The problem was that the forensics discovered the presence of thirteen different genes in the samples and not even one of them could be connected to the investigation. That discovery created enough questions for a separate investigation.

Not long after that the detectives searched the owner of the vine-grower for answers. The gentleman, who’s name the detectives could not remember and always seemed to forget to write down, stood in front of them in a sparkling white suit. He invited the detectives in his office and sat behind his giant mahogany desk on a chair made of the same wood and upholstered with milky white leather.

After the host studied their identification cards he invited them to sit:

„Gentleman, there is no need to ask questions to which I have no intention to answer. For now I will say that we had made this wine for years and there have never been any complains.”

On the businessman’s face shined a dagger-smile behind which the flame of a flashing thought left unnoticed by the people in present that was:

There have never been any complains, because no one lived long enough to complain.” He went on out loud:

“When you gather evidence regarding something out of the order come visit me again. Until then, detectives, please remember that we are supported by great number of influential people, pillars of the society and church representatives. Our company makes great donations and we are always the first to help in need” the businessman smiled again. “We stay by the words of our motto in everything we do and that is why our “Wine for pure souls” is so well receiver on every table.”

With those words the detectives were kicked out. For a long time they tried to get to the bottom of the story. Eventually everyone who were curious about the mystery vanished without a trace or got sick with a deadly deceases and died within days. Soon there was no one to search for the truth. The only thing left were the facts and the people’s gossip.

The man in the white suit smiled while looking out of the window. Yes, everyone wants facts and evidences. It was a fact that there was blood in the wine, but no evidence how it got there. Another fact was that there were drunken man’s stories of vineyards and children in trucks that went missing without a trace. There was the fact that the businessman looked alike to his great grandfather to the point that you could swear they are the same person – with sparkling white clothes and a name that no one can remember and always forgets to write down.

The “Wine for pure souls” was also a fact – the warm ruby velvet… just like blood.

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