Writing Prompt #118 — The Loon Business

Prompt: The Mafia doesn’t tolerate anyone moving in on their turf – especially not the cultists of eldritch, incomprehensible gods.

Me and the guys were sent as a warning. A “Hey, quit your shit or you’re going to get snuffed” warning. We tolerated other groups in our sector of the city, let them do their own thing as long as they keep to themselves and didn’t interfere with our business. Not everyone followed the rules, but usually after a visit or two, they do. They might come out of it more worst for wear, but they’re straightened out.

The abandoned bar on the corner of 9th was the home of their operations. Boarded up windows, red bricks gone gray, weeds sprouting from cracks, shattered glass splashed over the sidewalks. That kind of place.

“Why’re here again? Who’re they?” Tony asked as we sat in the car out front, waiting for the sun to set. We always worked better at night.

“Some loons,” Antonio said, smirking. “A group of fuckin’ loons.”

I slapped the back of Antonio’s head. “Your mother was a loon, but we don’t call her that, do we?” Respect is key, even if our views don’t align. I turned to Tony. “They’re a religious group. From what I’ve heard around town is that they worship some ancient god.”

“Then why we here?” Tony said. “There’s been plenty of cults in town, and we never paid them a visit.”

“They’re recruiting people,” I said. “Stealing business. Turning people from users to worshippers.”

“Ah…” Tony mused. “Okay, okay.”

I looked out the window and the sky was going dark. We waited in silence for a little while longer, then when night came, we got to work.


Upturned tables and chairs, shattered glass, stains and mildew greeted us in the main room. It stunk of piss and shit.

“What are these?” Tony asked, looking at a large chalk drawn symbol on the wall.

“I don’t know,” I said, standing next to him. The lines weaved at odd angles within a five-sided shape. It had no rhyme or reason, and staring at it for too long made my head hurt.

“Hey!” Antonio called from the opposite side of the room. “There’s more over here and… Shit, on the floor and ceiling.”

I turned and he was right. They were all varying shapes and sizes, but were scrawled across the dusty floorboards, the bowing ceiling, the other walls. A sharp pain lanced through my head and I closed my eyes, wincing. “Shit.”

“You okay?” someone asked.

“Yeah,” I rubbed the bridge of my nose, the pain subsided. “Yeah, I’m fine.” I opened my eyes, took in the shit show that was the bar once more. “Where the hell are these guys?”

I received no reply. Typically Tony always had some smartass thing to say. I glanced over my shoulder. He was gone.

“Tony?” I asked, glancing around the room. “Tony?”

Antonio was missing, too.

“Shit… Antonio! Tony!” I called, my voice echoing.

I moved to the doorway as a chill ran down my neck, settling at the base of my spine. Stopped. One of those weird symbols was drawn on the door. Was that there before? No, no, I was certain it hadn’t been. I shook my head. It didn’t matter. I was leaving. I tried the handle but the door wouldn’t give. I used two hands but it was like trying to pull a house.

The symbol began to glow a deep purple, blue, and the lines within spun, forming an endless spiral. And my hands. Jesus Christ. They wouldn’t— couldn’t release the handle as though they were one in the same. A whooshing noise kicked up and filled my ears, and before I could dig my heels into the floor, I was sucked in.


A daze. A haze. Tumbling in water that felt like air but a honey consistency. I chocked as it filled my lungs but I could still breathe. Fog or mist or something like it drifted over everything, casting wherever I was in darkness. Above, or below, or somewhere in-between, there was Antonio and Tony, falling or rising miles away. There were things attached to their heads and limbs, wisps of shadows that had form, then didn’t, rinse and repeat.

The symbol from the bar blared overhead, forcing white light down into the sea or ocean we were in. The lines wavered, but I wasn’t sure if it was the water causing it. They peeled open, revealing yellow and red orbs, thousands, millions of them, pushing through as oily vines seeped from other open crevices.

A voice boomed. Words that made no sense. Sentences that shouldn’t have been. Black smoke came over my vision, floated into my nostrils and ears, bloated my insides. I tried to stay awake, as though I would miss something important if I weren’t, but everything was far too much and I blacked out.


I came to outside the bar, covered in what felt like baby oil and grease. It was still dark and I was nude, and a scorch mark ran up my belly, across my chest and shoulders, down my arms. I was one of them now, apparently. I stood, shivering, glancing around. No Tony or Antonio, no one else in sight. I didn’t bother to wonder where they ended up, if anywhere at all. The car was still parked on the corner but Tony had the keys, so there was that. So, I walked; walked the some-odd miles back home.

I never checked in with the business after that. Never bothered to let anyone know what happened. Would they believe me if I did? Plus, now that my skin has these ugly lines, would they let me back in anyway? I was more apart of, as Antonio would say, “the loons” than the business now anyway.

Read my previous prompt, “Death’s Remembrance

Read more of my writing prompts here.

Check out my bibliography for more of my work.

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