Where do you guys get those sayings for the flash rules, if I may ask?
Stay tuned: this will be revealed once the entry deadline has passed.
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 17:39|
|# ? Aug 18, 2022 08:38|
The Baptist - 985 Words
“Have you ever known one of the ghosts,” Aiden asked me.
“These are Negroes, rapists, Jews and Jewesses, and all manner of unsavory blasphemers. They are no one I would know, yet we must save them all the same.”
“Rapists?” Aiden’s voice cracked.
“Our heavenly Father can change his mind faster than we can, Aiden, and while I may not agree with his new-fangled viewpoints, I will posthumously baptize based on His rapid revisions.”
I reached down and grabbed between Aiden’s legs. I felt two testicles and a flaccid member. Aiden’s eyes bulged.
“We are performing patriarchal blessings. With all the gender-bending going on in these latter days, I must be sure. Now, Aiden, try to pull out a Jew, they are the easiest to subdue.”
Aiden grasped his temple garment, and against the cream-tinted whiteness of the holy temple, a Jewess appeared, translucent and reeking of lox. Through her ghostly form, I could see the pale-green baptismal waters within the marble fountain.
“Ik zol ligen in drerd!” She shouted barbarically. Her voice echoed and oscillated in tune with her spirit body.
“Speak English, the language of God!” Aiden chided.
“She has been cut off from the Celestial Kingdom, how could she hear God’s language?” I said, “Beckon her to the fountain.”
Aiden extended his arms toward the waters. The Jewess continued speaking in her tongue, but the light of the temple and God’s presence seemed to subdue her. She spoke with less vigor, and after a time looked at Aiden, then at the pool.
“Go on.” Aiden smiled and turned his palms skyward.
She took a step toward the waters, yet I saw rejection of Christ cut across her features. “Aiden! Your training!”
Aiden, who was truly no longer just an apprentice, shoved the Jewess into the water, then leapt in himself. Water churned and spilled across the marble lip of the fountain as Aiden dunked the Jewess’ head in and out of the waters. Her protruded nose piercing the surface reminded me of a pelican, and the waters dripped from her philtral column to her philtrum proper as she gasped for air.
“Who is the son of your Heavenly Father? Who did your people maim on the cross? Who do you welcome into your heart so that He may welcome you into His Kingdom?”
“Yay-suhs!” she gurgled.
“That is the barbarous rendering of Jesus’ name,” I said, “in time she will learn our tongue. Now release her!”
Aiden let go, and a column of light shone down into the pool. The Jewess was lifted into the Celestial Kingdom. I looked down, and I trust Aiden did as well, as we of the Terrestrial Kingdom shall not look upon such splendor until our time comes.
When the light faded, I saw Aiden gripped in a rapturous trembling. “Have you had a revelation? Young Journeyman?”
“No, would that I be so lucky,” Aiden whispered. “It’s just…we saved her.”
“And we will save more. Steel yourself, I think you are ready for a negro.”
“But, you said they are--”
“Aiden, you can do this. This isn’t 1977, negroes are people now. And all people should have a chance at redemption.” I said these words, but I didn’t feel them.
Aiden clutched his vestments so tight I thought they would tear, and into the white purity of the temple, a scowling negro spirit stood before us. He wore glasses with thick black rims, and he sported a wild beard.
“A Moslem! Master!”
“The black Moslem is at once the most in need of our mercy, yet his primitive mind seems bred to spurn Jesus. Do your best, Aiden, I’ll think no less of you if he cannot be saved and is locked eternally in the spirit prison.”
The Moslem growled and jived. Its voice was deeper than any white man’s. “Who are you to pull me from the Garden?”
“I am Aiden, a Mor--”
“Don’t speak to him! A primitive mind responds only to force!”
The Moslem cocked its head at me, mouth appallingly agape. Aiden moved to shove it, but the Moslem dodged and hit Aiden to the ground.
“Hands off me, or I will send you to the cemetery! Undo your Kafir witchcraft and let me be at peace in the Garden!” It roared.
“He speaks of the Garden of Eden,” I said. Aiden stood up, and the negro stood tight as a bow with its fists raised. “The Garden of Eden is the most primitive habitat of man, and the colored Moslem thus longs for it.”
Aiden said, “Perhaps they think the spirit prison is the Garden? I can show him the truth, master.”
I knew then that Aiden would raise to the highest ranks of the church, and that he would receive many revelations. I had never been blessed with a revelation myself, but as I watched Aiden swallow his fear and confront this raging Moslem with mercy and understanding, I suspected that God was speaking to me through my former apprentice.
Aiden’s smile was like a white light, and seeing it, the negro relaxed and lowered its fists.
“I’m sorry, Brother,” Aiden called this one ‘Brother,’ something I could never do, “But we left the Garden so that we could father children and learn for ourselves what is Good and Evil. We can’t return, but God has a Celestial Kingdom waiting for us, and if you’ll just come down into this water with me, you can be with Him and be one with his love.”
The negro went into the water, Aiden’s hand on its back.
I knew then I would die with hate in my heart, and that’s why I’d never seen a revelation. But my apprentice surpassed me both as a posthumous baptist and as a human being, and when I finally died and went to the spirit prison, it was Aiden that came and saved me.
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 21:05|
Flash Rule: Your story must take place in India, but the time period is up to you.
Blessed By Yama - 998 words
Roopkund looked like a perfectly ordinary lake until I noticed the skeletons.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“Our ancestors,” Lokesh said. “Or at least, that’s what father believed.” He reached into the icy water and pulled a loose finger from among the bones, holding it up to examine.
“You shouldn’t touch them,” I said.
“What does it matter? They’re dead.”
“I doubt father would have approved of your disturbing their sleep.”
He rolled his eyes and tossed the finger back into the water. “Father always talked about how we were ‘blessed by Yama’ to protect the integrity of this place, but frankly, I think he was a loon.”
I didn’t agree, but I wasn’t about to argue. Lokesh was older and bigger than me, and I didn’t want to incur his ridicule.
“Come on,” he said, turning from the lake. “Let’s go home.”
I made to follow but had my attention stolen by a shadow on the far shore. Through the thick fog, I could just make out the visage of a human, glaring at me.
It was a woman, and on her face was a wide, haunting smile.
Then the mist swallowed her and she was gone.
I returned some years later, navigating the foothills of eastern Uttarakhand, in the shadows of the Himalayas. The familiar mists rolled in as I approached the lake and I didn’t realize I was at the shore until I felt the icy water on my toes.
I was pleased to find the woman there. “Hello,” I said.
“Hello.” She was wrapped in rags and holding a sleeping baby in her arm. Her face, though gaunt, was beautiful. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“Rajat.” I hesitated. “Are...are you my ancestor?”
“One of many,” she said. “What has brought you here, Rajat?”
“My father believed I was blessed by Yama to protect you.”
“Do you wish to heed Yama’s call?”
I nodded. “Only, I can’t help but wonder what the dead need protection from.”
She smiled. “From the living.”
More shadows began emerging through the fog. As they came into focus, I saw men and women and children with sallow skin, dressed in similar attire to the woman. Some were missing fingers, others full limbs, but most disturbing of all were those without heads, walking towards me as though they still had eyes to see by.
“We have long suffered at the hands of tourist and archaeologists who take pieces of us, be it for research or as souvenirs.” She cast her shroud aside to reveal just one leg underneath, a grotesque stump taking the place of the other. “I am a victim as well.”
“Someone has stolen your leg?”
She nodded “Your brother—Lokesh.”
I waited several days, then I barged into Lokesh’s home.
“Rajat,” he said, looking up from his dinner. “What do you want?”
“I’m here to take back the bone you stole.”
At first his face was set in ignorance. Then a glint entered his eyes. “You mean the one from Roopkund? How do you know about that?”
“I met the woman you stole it from.”
He scoffed. “You’re just like father, claiming to commune with ghouls and spirits. You can't steal from the dead, Rajat.”
Anger burned in my chest. “I’m not leaving without that leg.”
He rose from the table and came towards me, sizing me up. “And what are you going to do? Fight me?”
“Just give it back, Lokesh.”
“No,” he said, shoving me.
“It’s not yours!” I said, shoving him back. Then he slapped me and my rage boiled over. I wrestled him to the floor, scratching at his eyes and mouth. He landed a blow to my gut and then gripped my neck, squeezing my windpipe. I swung wildly, somehow managing to connect a fist with his face; his nose broke under my knuckles, and I took that moment to squirm away from him. As I rose to my feet, he charged, but I pushed him right past me, sending his head flying into the edge of the table.
There was a loud snap as his neck bent back and he fell to the ground, lifeless.
I searched for a pulse, but there was none to be found. In a panic, I began rummaging through the cabinets of his house until I located the leg. Then I dashed out the door, up the mountain path, and back into the night.
She was waiting when I returned. “I’ve brought back your leg,” I said, shaking.
“Throw it into the lake.”
I obeyed, and as it disappeared underneath, she pulled her shroud aside and revealed her leg had returned. “Thank you,” she said, though there was no joy in her words.
“That’s it?” I cried. “Nothing but a halfhearted ‘thank you’? I had to kill my brother to get it back!”
That’s when I noticed something was missing.
“Where’s your baby?”
Her expression grew pained, as though she might burst into tears. “While you were gone, a researcher named Jalil Venkat came to Roopkund and took her to Mumbai for tests. I want you to get her back, and if you should run into Venkat...” She paused and glared at me, venom in her eyes. “...do to him what you did to Lokesh.”
I swallowed. “And if I refuse?”
“You are blessed by Yama, Rajat; you can’t refuse.”
Thus Yama has led me here, to this plane, on the tarmac at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. As we take to the air, I pull an old photograph from my wallet; it shows my father, Lokesh and I, standing at the shores of Roopkund, smiling. He could never have guessed that lake and the dead who slumber there would be responsible for one son killing the other.
I am coming for you, Jalil Venkat. I am coming for the baby you stole, and I will make you pay for disturbing my ancestors.
I am blessed by Yama, and it is the greatest curse of my life.
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 21:54|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 19:51 on Dec 31, 2014
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 22:09|
Why Rules Are Important
Tess bent forward and poked a finger at the Ouija board. She giggled.
“Don’t toy around with it,” Jenna hissed over her shoulder. “This is serious stuff. We are summoning natural forces here.” She lit the final candle, on the washing machine, next to their ancient family bagpipes, rumored to have belonged to the great Isaac McScratchy, and thus completed the pentagram of lights that spanned across her mom’s basement.
“Okay, so how does this work?” Tess asked.
Jenna kneeled in front of the Ouija board, in the center of the room. “Take my hands,” she said. “Good, now we summon the spirit. Do as I do, say as I say. This is important. Don’t go off doing your own thing.”
She closed her eyes, breathed deep and chanted phrases that she had found on the internet. She felt a change in the mood of the room.
“Hello, dear spectre,” she finally said, opening her eyes. “Can you hear me?”
The stone on the board moved.
“Are you a good ghost or a bad ghost?”
“Does Jerry like me?” Tess blurted out. Jenna shushed her, but it was already too late. The protocol had been violated.
The ghost didn’t respond.
“Well good going, you cow” Jenna scolded. Tess blushed.
But as they turned away, the stone on the board moved again.
Jenna gasped. Tess grabbed her by the wrist. “Look!”
“Y-O-U D-I-N-N-A-E-H S-A-Y G-O-O-D-B-Y-E”
They let out a breath of air.
“N-O-W Y-E D-I-E”
The lights flickered. The bagpipes on the washing machine played a tune.
It was a funeral song.
A spark of amber jumped from the flame to the bagpipes. The distorted, hellish face of an old Scot reflected in the rapidly emerging flames. Jenn screamed as the fire started to hug her. A nasty voice cackled.
“Oh, and since ye asked, Jerry hates yer guts.”
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 22:33|
Brian slid the notepad containing the answers to that afternoon’s quiz into his backpack. The journalism department was usually deserted this time of day, and he was all alone, except for Walter.
Walter had his eyes fixed to the floor, hands shoved in his pockets, lightly kicking the ground. Brian looked down the hallway through Walter’s spectral form to see if anyone was coming. Confidant he hadn’t been seen, he turned to leave.
“Well, see you Tuesday,” Brian said. He had almost turned the corner when Walter called after him.
“So is that it, then?” Brian turned back, the sunlight streaming in making it difficult to pick Walter out against the white wall.
“Almost. Tuesday’s the last test of the semester. If I pass it then we can…you know.”
“Help me find her?” Walter looked up, and Brian shuddered as his eyes met the ghost’s glassy stare.
“Right. If I pass on Tuesday, we can figure out whatever happened to Pam-“
“Yeah. Find her, or find out about her, maybe deliver a message to her if you want. Then you can, y’know, rest in peace or whatever. Just make sure to get the answers by then.” Walter kicked the floor a little harder.
“I always get them, you know that.” Brian stormed back and stuck his finger in Walter’s transparent face.
“See that you do,” he said, his breath hissing where Walter’s ear would have been. “If I don’t pass, I don’t graduate in June. And then I don’t help you. You want to be stuck in the smallest, darkest corner of this building for another thirty years?” Walter said nothing, and backed halfway into the wall.
“That’s what I thought,” Brian said. “See you Tuesday.” He kept his eyes on Walter as he walked out of the department and around the corner. The next few days went by quickly. Brian spent his time finalizing his plans for graduation. He looked forward to never seeing campus- or being in the cramped little corner the university had shoved the journalism department into- ever again. He didn’t give Tuesday or Walter a single thought.
Tuesday afternoon, thirty minutes before the test was about to begin, Brian wandered into room 321 and took a seat in the back. It would be another ten minutes before anyone came in. He took a second to make sure he was alone, and then whispered.
“Walter. Walter I’m here.” Nothing happened. Brian called again, this time a little louder.
“Walter. Walter where are you?” Nothing still.
“Walter? Come on man, quit dicking around,” Brian said at almost normal volume. He saw a shimmer in the corner of his left eye, and turned to see Walter finish materializing.
“What the gently caress took so long? Did you get the answers?” Walter didn’t reply. He merely looked out the window. Brian threw a book at him. It sailed through and hit the wall. Walter turned.
“I asked you a question,” Brian said.
“I have a question for you,” Walter said. “Did you take Ethics in Journalism?”
“Um, yes. Hello. You were there.”
“I took it too, when I was alive. You had to take it to get on the staff of the school’s paper. Did you know I was the top journalist at this school for two years?”
“Walter. I do not give a poo poo.” Walter’s form darkened and Brian softened his voice. “Look, you can tell me about it later, okay? But the test starts soon and I want to out of here as fast as I can.”
“I don’t have them.” Brian’s jaw could have hit the floor. He sprang to his feet.
“The gently caress did you just say?”
“I don’t have them.” Brian took a swipe at Walter, but connected with nothing.
“Did you forget our agreement?”
“No. I remembered my ethics. I don’t want to help you do this.” Brian slammed his hands on the desk.
“Well then you can just forget about our deal, rear end in a top hat. Just try crossing over or whatever without me to help you. Without me you’ll never learn poo poo about anyone.” Walter took a few steps towards the door.
“Actually, I realized I would rather never know than spend another minute with a cheating rear end in a top hat like you. So thanks, I guess.”
“No!” Brian said, springing forward to block his path. “You said you couldn’t cross over without-“
“I know what I said. Now here’s what I’m saying: gently caress you.”
As Walter dissipated, Brian clutched at the air as if to grab him and force him to stay. His hands gripped nothing. Other students began filing in to see him standing in the doorway, his eyes crazed. He caught them staring and whispering and slowly shuffled back to his seat. Sweat ran from his forehead. His fists clenched as Dr. Abbott entered. He closed his eyes and furrowed his brow.
Think, Brian. Sure, you haven’t taken a test in four years but you’ve been to every class. Almost. You must have picked up something. You can do this. He opened his eyes to see the test on his desk. He breathed in and smiled. He could do this. He closely looked over the questions, searching his memory for any information he’d absorbed.
He was hosed.
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 22:58|
"Rematch" 973 Words
"It all started when that robot tried to summon the forces of darkness," Frank said.
The peace officer leaned in, "you don't really think that we're going to believe that some dumb robot started this whole mess do you?" he asked.
Frank shrugged and leaned back in his chair, the legs creaking. The peace officer sighed and slammed his palm on the table.
"Let's just start over again, from the beginning."
Frank yelled. He still couldn't believe that that his favorite death metal band, Choking Crucifix, was in town. He was jostled by something as it rolled past. Out of the corner of his eye he saw it was a robot. “It's probably on the way to get its master a drink,” he thought. He turned back to his favorite band and kept slamming his head.
The pentagram done, the robot threw the severed hand over its shoulder. It landed with a solid thump about twenty feet back. It laid down the piece of paper it had drawn on. "This unit summons you," TL-2018 said.
It's voice modulator, like all TL models, was not terribly advanced. It carried no hint of emotion, the cadence was perfectly spaced according to the robot's clock. It didn't even have the ability carry any inflection.
"Ulm-Lah Chi Ka Thul-Chi Nul Nel-Cha-Lee," it droned.
The darkness spread from the shadows. It creeped closer and closer despite the full moon as the robot finished it's a-melodic chanting. All at once it was as if a dark sheet was thrown over all the entire venue. People stopped dancing and looked around in panic trying to figure out why it was suddenly as black as newly formed obsidian. The pentagram began glowing a deep crimson as something rose from its center.
The being spoke, "Oh darlin' you best have a drat good reason for summoning me."
The specter’s gloved hand, now fully formed, flexed in the air, then darted out to the robot, grabbing it by its scrawny neck; it passed right through. “Darlin' I've been asleep for god knows how long, and you're bringing me back now?" it said.
TL-2018 pulled out the last item from its backpack and opened the National Wrestling Empire's compendium. It flipped open the book to Pain Train's entry and held it up. It said, “I command you to kill all humans.”
Pain Train looked troubled for a moment but a mask of determination drew over it. It reached out for the nearest person's neck.
The little robot dropped the book and retreated to find a hill to get a better view.
The crowd was in a panic. Piles of bodies had already accumulated around the now dark red pentagram. Frank, who'd been nearby when the whole mess had started was cowering behind a rather large corpse of a man in his 40's. He peaked out over the mound of flesh and saw the dropped book.
Frank dashed ahead while the monster was crushing people on the other side of the concert hall. He picked up the still-open book. The wind had flipped the pages to show the “Grand Slam Pachinko.” Surprisingly, there were words written in red at the bottom, “Lta-chu-fil-ka-hre hre kna da.” Frank, in a panic repeated the words and slammed his palm on the bloody paper next to him. The dark red symbols lit up and a whirlpool of darkness opened to reveal yet another wrestler.
A decrepid looking old man appeared out of that vortex. He stroked his long white mustache as he came to a stop and looked around with a slight frown on his face until he saw Pain Train crushing a twenty-something raver over his knee about thirty feet away. His eyes lit up.
“Pain Train,” the wizened man said, his voice booming over the sound of people screaming nearby, “you and me have unfinished business.”
Pain Train turned, the glassy eyed look vanishing only to be replaced with a blazing hatred as he dropped the corpse and charged his former mentor.
Frank, terrified and confused as to who these people even were, ran back behind his hiding place.
Grand Slam Pachinko bent slightly as his former apprentice approached and turned his considerable weight against him, flipping him head over heals. The beefy man slammed into the barricades and slid to a halt. Being tossed around like a coin did little for his mood as he jumped up and ran at his master again. This time he anticipated his attempted flip and grabbed the old man by the arm. The Grand Slam Pachinko in a flurry of motion punched at the his apprentice's neck, stunning him. He wrenched his arm free and gave the man a kick which knocked him back several steps, right on top of the pentagram.
Pain Train screamed in pain as monstrous claws grabbed at his legs and feet dragging him back down into the underworld. His fiery eyes glared at Grand Slam Pachinko as he was drawn below that undulating black and red mass.
Frank stood up from behind the mound of bodies he was hiding behind as Grand Slam Pachinko closed his eyes and dissipated into a cloud of mist. Nearby, people who were still alive peaked out of their hiding spots and began searching for their family and friends. Frank looked around and saw the robot chugging away toward the exit to the arena. He sprinted to it and rammed into its side with his shoulder toppling it over.
The cold eyes of the robot turned toward him and it reached out with its skeletal arm to crush his neck. Frank pulled the battery from its housing underneath the robot and its arm fell limply to the ground.
Frank fell to his knees as he heard sirens approaching in the distance as blackness closed in on him.
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 23:04|
"Come on, just do it."
We went through this every time. I would resist, until eventually he wore down my resolve. I pulled the bandana over the lower half of my face and walked inside the bank.
"This is a stick up! Everyone down on the floor!"
My name is Cattle Sam, and I guess I'm an outlaw.
Maybe I should start at the beginning. Growing up, I was a pretty normal kid. I played games with my friends, I went to the school house most days, and got in to general mischief, but nothing too big.
One day, my friends dared me to spend the night out at the old Miller Ranch. Legend had it was haunted, on account of the real graveyard out back of it. I didn't want to be called yellow, so I did it. I even spent the night out with the headstones, just to show how scared I wasn't.
That night was cold, and my breath was turning into steam in the chill air. I was trying to see if I could make shapes like I'd seen grown folks do with smoke. One puff came out, and then just kept right on growing. I reached out to touch it, and it was ice on my hand.
"Watch it!" the puff hollered.
It was a real live ghost.
"Who're you?" the puff ghost asked.
"I... I'm... Sam..." The words came very slowly from me.
"Alright Sam, you can call me Heinrich."
"What kind of a name is Heinrich?" The name felt weird in my mouth.
"An old one, so you best watch your manners."
I had so much I wanted to ask him, but nothing seemed important enough to waste his time on.
"What'cha doing out here in this boneyard, Sam?"
"I got dared by my friends, and I never turned down a dare before."
"Is that so? Well, Sam, things are gonna be interesting for us, I reckon."
Heinrich wasn't lying. Once he found out I never back down from a dare, he used that to make life exciting, least for him.
"Dare you to climb down into that canyon."
"Dare you to switch all Miss Jilly's chicken eggs with snake eggs."
"Dare you to go steal that horse tied up outside the general store."
That was when things really took a turn. Once he got to daring me to steal things, he really hit his stride. We stole horses, we stole wheels from wagons, we stole whatever we saw that looked fun to take.
I didn't realize we were building me a reputation 'round town, until I went into the saloon one night. Everyone in there turned to see who had walked in, and when they realized it was me, they all grabbed their drinks a little tighter and started whispering.
"Stole my barrels of grain just last week."
"Heard he stole Jim's cattle two nights ago, right off his ranch."
The cattle one, that was one I was a little proud of. Normally I felt right awful about what we were stealing, but stealing cattle is hard work. Heinrich hadn't thought I'd be able to pull it off, but I had. A whole dozen, right out from Jim's nose.
"That Cattle Sam, he'll take the boots right off your feet soon as you wink."
So that's what they had decided to call me. As far as nicknames go, I'd heard worse.
This was only our third bank robbery, but we had the routine pretty down pat. I go in (after some persuading), wait for the teller to hand over the sacks of money, and then high tail it to a hidden cave way out south, where we had a whole slew of sacks already stashed in an old mine shaft.
That's how the other stick ups had gone, anyhow.
"That's all, just hand them sacks over and you'll be alright." The teller hesitated. I put my gun up. Her hands reached below the counter for more sacks, but they came back up with a small pistol instead.
"Don't do anything stupid now."
She pointed it at me, hands shaking. "M... maybe you better leave here."
I couldn't help it; I laughed. I turned to Heinrich, to make a, 'can you believe this?' face at him, and I heard something behind me. It sounded far away and felt hot in my chest.
I looked down, and saw something on my shirt. I touched the stain, and my hand came away wet and red. I turned back towards the teller, and the last things I remember seeing are her eyes staring down the barrel right into mine, all uncertainty gone.
Another sound, further away. Then black.
As my luck would have it, they buried me out in that old Miller ranch's graveyard. I can see Heinrich's stone from mine, it's only two down. Sometimes, when the moon is out full, kids come in to our yard on a dare. They curl up, teeth chattering and eyes wide.
Just 'cause I'm dead don't mean that Heinrich stopped daring me.
"Come on, go spook 'em."
"No, they're awful young."
"You were littler than them when I spooked you, now go on."
I wait for their breath to fog the air, and I move in.
"What'cha doing out here in this boneyard?"
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 23:05|
Night Lights in Louisiana
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:52 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 23:12|
No Sleep ‘Til Richmond 924 words
"Dude, this shortcut was the best idea. Road trip, not so much, but this shortcut? Awesome." The smell of weed smoke carried the words forwards from the back seat of my car. I chuckled and wound down my window, replacing the smoke with the sticky hot night air that comes from summer in North Carolina.
"Yeah, but I don't know how we're going to find the interstate again. The car's GPS says we're driving in the middle of a river right now."
"Told you not to get a fuckin' Prius." Joey crawled into the front seat of the car, grinning at me. Everybody has a weird friend. The friend who doesn't care about consequences, the friend who will always shows up when everyone else has gone to bed. The friend who, no matter what, would be fiercely loyal to you, even when you felt like you spent most of the friendship apologizing to other people for his behavior. Joey was my weird friend.
"I know, but I haven't filled up since we were in Georgia. That's something, right?"
Joey flashed a sarcastic smile at me and stretched back in his seat. He burped and turned on the radio. Country music crackled from the speakers near our feet. "You think this Sarah chick's going to remember you? I mean, you know exes."
"She has to. We dated for a year; hell, we're friends on Facebook. Which is more than I can say for some people." I reached back to grab an energy drink from the cooler in the back seat. When I turned back to the wheel, I slammed on the brakes. A woman in a red flannel shirt stood in the middle of the road, leaning on a shovel. The car skidded and spun on the gravel road and I gripped the wheel hard. I closed my eyes as the car slammed sideways into a stone fencepost.
I must have blacked out, because the next thing I knew, Joey was pulling me out of my driver's seat and onto the ground. His eyes had an uncharacteristic serious look. I slapped his hands away and helped myself up. My legs turned to jelly as soon as I was upright and I collapsed back to the ground.
"poo poo. Matt, you wait here, I'll go try to wave down a car for you."
I wiped my eyes under my glasses and felt blood running down my forehead. "What happened to that bitch with the shovel?"
Joey looked uneasy. He rubbed at his arm and looked over his shoulder. "Wait here."
I hugged my knees to my chest and wiped the blood from my head again. The adrenaline faded and I felt all the minor injuries from the crash wash over me at once. My head had a cut and a bruise, my neck ached, my thumb felt like it had dislocated and popped back in. A realization hit me in the stomach; Joey convinced me to bring weed to make the trip more fun. If he waved down a cop car, I'd lose my license. I was already going to have a hell of a time explaining the xanax and antipsychotics in my pillbox. I scrambled to the car to clear the drugs from the glove box when a shovel slammed down in the dirt between me and the vehicle. I stopped and looked up.
A black-haired woman in a red flannel shirt sat on top of the car. She jumped down and pulled the shovel up with one hand. I bit my lip and tried to stand up.
"Where's Joey?" She had an accent I couldn't place, one with prominent hs and a y for a j. She put her spare hand down on the window and I saw a ring on her finger.
"I don't... who are you?"
"She's my ex." The woman's eyes lit up when she saw Joey arrive from the darkness. "I told you this road trip was a bad idea."
The woman laughed and disappeared from the car, reappearing beside Joey. She grabbed his arm with her hand and held tight. Joey closed his eyes and murmured something to the woman, who nodded. He opened his eyes again and looked at me, his face ten years older.
"It was fun to pretend to live again, Matt. I'm sorry your parents think I'm an imaginary friend. I tried to only spend time with you when you're alone, but we all make mistakes. A pickup will come down the road in ten minutes, they'll winch you out of here." He turned his gaze to the woman and sighed. "If it works out with this Sarah, do me a favor. Don't cheat on her. And sorry about all the pranks."
I felt a lump in my throat as Joey looked back at me. He grinned then closed his eyes. Both he and the woman faded into nothing. I looked to the car and realized all the bags and supplies Joey loaded in the back were mine. Joey brought nothing. I looked above the car and saw the fencepost I hit was that of a cemetery.
The pickup driver pulled the car to a nearby town. He spent the drive telling me how much I resembled his son, who was killed by a mail order bride. I thanked him for the tow and, once I found a mechanic, called my parents. They needed to know that I was in an accident, and that I was moving. They needed to know I would be okay.
|# ? Mar 16, 2014 23:59|
Title: The call of the Banshee
Word count: 994
The sound of his step-father grew more distant. The undergrowth was thick and gnarled, but for Henry the forest was not a scary place. It felt like his sanctuary. His pace slowed, and his gaze turned to the canopy. He felt at home in the woods, despite the villager's stories. The sun spotted shadows were comforting to him.
Sighing, he thought of his father, who was likely waiting for him outside of the woods. He’d never understood why his mother had married that man. A rich widow marrying a filthy cheating drunk, it made no sense to him. Whatever that man’s name was, he wouldn’t take it. He would always be a MacRaney at heart. That very attitude was why he was, once again, hiding in the forest.
The forest was chilly; damp in the shade, but warm in the summer sun. Feeling both cold and warm as he walked, brought goose-bumps to his skin. He shivered and smiled. He had always enjoyed the feeling. A stray branch smacked him in the face, serving as a timely reminder to pay attention to where he was walking. Gingerly, he pulled the detritus from his hair.
“Very funny,” he said to no one in particular. The villagers claimed fairies made their homes in the forest, and threatened to leave their misbehaving children in it. To Henry, if the forest had a presence at all, it was mischievous not malevolent.
Laughter drew his attention from some distance away. Moving towards the source, he forced he way through the undergrowth. He was surprised when he found nothing, except for a stream. Henry knelt to take a drink of water.
The sound was barely perceptible at first, slowly pleasant song eased its way into his consciousness. Suddenly, a clap like two boards striking each other startled Henry. He looked around, and realized that he had fallen asleep by the stream. He scratched he head, unable to remember when he had fallen asleep. The song drew his attention again, but this time the voice had a source. A young maiden busily scrubbed a shirt in the stream, singing to herself.
“Your voice is beautiful.” His words were like nails on a chalkboard compared to her melodious voice, and he visibly cringed. She smiled at him. She was the type of gorgeous that made his heart stop. Unsure of himself, he approached her. It seemed odd seeing her in the woods, especially with night fast approaching, but he dismissed his misgivings. Stained red, no matter how hard she scrubbed at it, the shirt remained dirty.
He struggled to strike up a conversation. “You know it’s dangerous for a young woman to be out so late?” She looked at him cautiously. “Let me rephrase that, I’m just sort of curious why you’re out here?”
She laughed at him and his face flushed red, “Why does it look like I’m out here boy?” The emphasis on the word boy deflated him immediately. From her looks, she couldn’t have been much older than he was, but it was clear that was irrelevant to her. She stood up, and shifted her heavy cloak around her shoulders, revealing a heavy blade strapped to her side. With a lump in his throat, Henry hoped the red stain on the shirt wasn’t blood.
“Would you happen to know the way back?” He hoped the change in tone would convince her to walk with him. “My name’s Henry, and I’m rather hopelessly lost.”
Her eyes narrowed as she assessed him. After a moment of thinking she smiled, and placed her arm around his. “My name’s Morrigan. The village is this way.”
Time passed quickly with a pretty girl on his arm, and he chatted with her enthusiastically. A piercing sound shattered the otherwise peaceful walk back. Henry couldn’t quite place it. It was somewhere between the cry of an owl and the wail of a mourning woman. He shivered involuntarily. “Don’t worry,” Morrigan teased him, “I’ll protect you from the banshee’s wail.”
Henry laughed nervously. “A banshee? Does that mean someone’s going to die?”
“It means someone will be murdered.” The way she said it the word came across as erotic. The contradiction between tone and meaning, made him shiver again. He was almost glad to see the clearing of his yard ahead.
Not sure what to do next, he scratched the back of his neck reflexively. “Thank you for the company, I guess. We’ll meet again sometime right?” She smiled solemnly, and nodded. The expression was confusing but intriguing to Henry. He turned to walk away and felt his heart sink. His step-father was waiting for him at the edge of his yard. Several whiskey bottled lay discarded in the grass.
“Filthy bastard.” His guardian stumbled towards him and slurred his words. “Disrespect me?” Henry looked back at the forest, and was relieved to see Morrigan gone.
“Shove it in your rear end old-man,” he stated dismissively. Attempting to walk past his dad, his way was blocked. Then, out of nowhere, a pistol was placed against his chin.
Nervous sweat beaded on his forehead. “That’s the last time you disrespect me you little bastard.” Desperate, Henry attempted to grab the pistol from his father. A gunshot ended the brief struggle.
Henry looked down to see his body lying on the ground. A pool of blood spread slowly on the street. His step-father stepped away wide-eyed, then realizing what he had done, fled the scene. Henry fell to his knees, while waves of conflicting emotions washed over him. He was dead, yet somehow he was watching himself lying on the ground.
A warm hand touched his shoulder. “I warned you,” Morrigan stated grimly.
“I have to say, you’re the best looking banshee I’ve ever seen.” He glanced at his body one last time before standing up.
She laughed. “More like the only Banshee you’ve ever seen.”
He smiled. As long as she was there, maybe death wouldn’t be so bad.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 00:47|
[13:44] <%ErogenousBeef> OH MAN
This is as close as I could get without writing fanfic:
Ghosts of the Modern World (971 words)
All weekend Olympia has introduced Miriam to her most exciting friends, and Miriam has mumbled her name and not much else. Olympia’s starting to wonder where she’s failing as a hostess. So when Miriam dives into Olympia's bed at two in the morning, just the same as when they were eight and eleven, Olympia’s first thought is so I’m still her big sister after all. What’s wrong? is only her second.
“I saw an actual ghost,” Miriam whispers. “I think it was great-grandpa Nantakarn.”
“Great-grandpa who?” asks Olympia.
“Nantakarn. Grandma’s papa. No joke, Olly, I woke up and he was sitting at the end of your couch.”
Now they are sitting in the kitchen eating sugary cereal. Olympia has confirmed the absence of any ghostly great-grandpa. But Miriam keeps glancing at the couch, and she has flipped on every light in Olympia’s apartment.
“How did you know it was him?” says Olympia. “He died when Mama was, like, five.”
“Wouldn’t you recognize your own great-grandfather?”
Olympia considers this. “No,” she says, “I probably wouldn’t.” She laughs and Miriam does not. “Oh, baby,” says Olympia. “It was just a dream. Living with Mama is stressing you out. Here, we’ll go shopping tomorrow.”
“It was definitely not a dream,” Miriam says, ignoring her. “I didn’t see him until I woke up. Although, actually, I was having an awful nightmare before I saw him. I was dreaming about ruining the Serng I-San dance at the Thai Festival.”
“Oh man, dance school.” Olympia shakes her head. “You remember all the grandparents sitting there, like, moldering and glaring at me for speaking English? Getting shouted at to lose weight so we’d fit into our costumes? I still cringe when I hear Thai music.”
“I always kind of liked it,” says Miriam. (“Sure, but you’re a thousand times better than me at Thai,” Olympia interrupts.) “It made me feel like I was part of history, you know what I mean? Like, it felt really real, like I had something in common with all the women who’d done that same dance before.” Miriam covers her mouth with a hand, blushing.
Olympia rolls her eyes. “Yeah, history,” she says. “Remember how everyone else would go out for ice cream after practice? And Mama and Papa would say no, we have ice cream at home? But then it’d be that Wal-Mart brand stuff that comes in a gallon bucket. Man, when I was twelve the thing I wanted most was a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.”
She passes Miriam the box of Sugar Spooks.
“Why do you even have this stuff?” asks Miriam. “It’s terrible.”
“Honestly?” says Olympia. “Because Mama would flip a poo poo if she knew. The day I moved out here, I went to Costco and bought all the crappy cereal I could fit in my cart.”
“She’s going to be even madder that you’re feeding it to me. You’re undermining thousands of dollars of orthodontia.”
“She’s probably mad enough that you’re out here already. It wouldn’t even register on the mad-o-meter.”
Miriam’s smile fades. “I don’t think Mama’s mad,” she says. “Do you really think she’s mad at me? Why would you say that? She was the one who told me I had to -”
“Wait, told you that you had to what?”
“I mean, you know, she told me that I could come here and visit NC State. If I wanted to.”
“I thought they wanted you to stay close to home for school,” Olympia says. “I figured this was some big fight between you guys, like the fit she had when I left for school. I know you never used to fight with them how I did, but I figured, since you’re practically an adult now” - Miriam begins to respond, but Olympia hushes her with a gesture - “I was about to actually call Mama,” Olympia says, “and tell her she’d better let you live your own life. I was going to totally embarrass myself, after not calling her since Christmas.”
“Well, It’s not like I didn’t want to visit, I just -”
Somewhere outside the apartment a car alarm begins to blare.
“I mean, baby, if you didn’t want to come out here, it’s okay. But no offense, you know, but you can’t just stay in their house and cook khaeng khiao wan for grandma until you’re a grandmother yourself. Dance school was cute when we were eight, but we’re adults now. You need to find out what your own life is about.”
Miriam is blushing furiously now. She looks around the cramped kitchen. “Like what?” she says. “Like kiddie cereal and rich hipsters and, I dunno, Manolo Blahniks?” She gestures at Olympia’s lovingly curated shoe collection.
“Hey,” says Olympia, “you’re the one being haunted by your great-grandfather’s ghost.”
“I’m going back to bed,” says Miriam, tossing the rest of her cereal into the garbage disposal. “The campus tour starts at, like, eight in the morning.”
Two hours later, Olympia wakes up from a dream - shopping malls, hedge mazes, rock concerts - with a ghost sitting at the foot of her bed. It stares at her half-lidded, wearing a bowtie and a porkpie hat. The ghost smiles in a way that is probably not menacing. “You’re the ghost from the cereal box,” Olympia says. “Sugar Spooks.”
“In the flesh,” says the ghost. “Well, in a manner of speaking.” He’s a hypoxic shade of blue.
“So Miriam gets a visit from great-grandpa Nantakarn, and I get one from a smart-assed cereal mascot?”
“Sorry, kiddo,” says the ghost, “philosophy isn’t in my job description. I just haunt ‘em.”
The ghost checks his watch. Olympia goggles at him.
“Well, I can tell you one thing,” he says. “People tend to see the ghosts they believe in.”
“But what does that -”
But the ghost has already floated to the door and disappeared.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 01:11|
A Ghost of Many
‘As per plan we need half a square mile of maples here. Make sure to spread them evenly and mark each and every single one of seedlings with the stamps I gave you. Fail me and I promise the heads will roll.’
Koltor was on the edge both mentally and physically. Just a week has passed since he had to cast a spell of destruction of immense strength – probably the most powerful in written history – and now it’s his job to get the town back in shape for the Emperor’s visit. Even when you are an Archmage some things are bound to take their toll.
‘Well, what are you waiting for, you fool?’ Shamed by his master, the peasant ran off to pass the orders to other workers while mumbling apologies and bowing on his way.
Fire Scourge has left the town without signs of ruins. Even the ground now buried under ashes mostly turned into opaque glass. Servants said that you could still see things like knives and pots melted into it. On ashes lied all sorts of saplings and young trees ready for the revitalisation ritual.
‘One hundred and forty-three… And finally, one hundred and forty-four!’ The Archmage was now done with the spell and seemed really proud with his job. After all, most destruction spells only take one symbol and he rarely had an opportunity to display his penmanship in all its glory. Even written on ashes the runes looked quite spectacular.
Koltor stood in the centre of the rune circle with his staff above his head.
‘By the power of the Sibling Gods vested in me through the divinity of the Crystal and the Great Oak whose branches gave me this staff I, Koltor, the eleventh Archmage of the Empire after Grevelich and those before him, call upon forces of nature,’ the Archmage pronounced every word loud and clear, but it was merely a little play to entertain peasants; as soon as the staff touches the right rune the spell is cast. ‘Bring life unto this land to let your sons and daughters serve you through their labour!’
Koltor pointed the staff towards the rune that looked like a cow’s head. A gentle touch and the town became illuminated with pale light coming from below. The plants began to grow as if years were passing in a matter of seconds. The grey of ashes started turning into the green of grass and the sound of water flowing from under the ground to replenish the town’s stream could now be heard. Magic runes vanished into thin air leaving nothing behind. The ritual must have been a success, yet something was amiss. The light just wouldn’t fade away.
‘That’s not how it goes.’ The wizard closed his eyes and tried to cover his face with hands not to see this mysterious shining. Still, all he could see was absolute whiteness.
Koltor felt a strange presence. Not magic, though, no, but something human, something alive.
‘What are you?’ The wizard gripped his staff tightly, even though without any surface in sight to write a rune on it was completely useless.
‘We were many, yet we are nothing to you,’ Koltor could hear a choir of voices rumble inside his head, ‘We had names, yet we are faceless to you. You brought us death, yet we are now alive to you.’
Koltor screamed in fear only to find that his voice was mute, overwhelmed by the voices of the ghost.
In a blink of an eye everything was back to normal. All workers have already wandered off and Koltor found himself on what now was a green pasture. He wasn’t alone, though. The Archmage drew a single symbol on the ground and then marked his staff with the same rune.
A gentle touch…
The staff caught fire and in a flash the Crystal became but a small pile of ashes. Koltor knew the ghost was still there and even the strongest magic could never banish it from his thoughts.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 01:18|
“You morons are heading to the house up that hill. Fetch the phial for me and take anything that looks used and important!”
The witch tasking them scratched at his patchy chin with filthy fingernails. “Finish this and this will be the last you see of me. Fail this and, oh, let’s say I’ll turn both of you into turtles and eat soup for the next few days!”
Mia, the pale, petite woman of the pair, muttered under her breath. “Turtles can have a wicked bite.”
“What was that?”
“I asked, ‘What does this phial look like?’”
Thad rolled his glazed eyes and cleared his throat, but his voice cracked anyway. “It’s blue and very hard to miss. Its old owner sure might, though.”
Before any other concerns could arise the witch faded and vanished, with his sweat-drenched and piss-stained robe disappearing soon after him.
The duo passed through the gate marking the start of the hill in the sweltering summer sun. The path to the house was still very green and trim and well-kept. Sonny felt as though he could’ve lapped the dew off the glistening grass as they hiked. His thirst and his bickering with Mia kept the foreboding feeling from suffocating him until he was at the porch.
“I’d rather we be abused by that maniac for another year than do this!”
“You don’t mean that.” Mia’s face fell into a well-practiced glower as she watched her companion cower. “I know for a fact you don’t mean that.”
Sonny’s big brown eyes welled over with tears as he shook in place. “Corpse ain’t cold yet and we’re robbing this witch!”
Mia’s voice rose to a shout, her temper starting to get the better of her. “I can’t be-loving-lieve what I’m hearing! You’re okay with robbing living witches and not dead ones! We’re almost done here, Sonny, don’t flake on me now!”
Sonny stepped to her, far more upset than angry. “I’ve pissed off enough of them! And what did this man do to Thad to deserve this?”
The third voice caused the pair to draw their weapons on reflex as they sought its source. A tall, dark-skinned woman leaned against the hut’s wall with both her arms and legs crossed. Sonny and Mia’s eyes were automatically drawn to the small, light blue bottle she tapped against her side. She wore a smile warmer than the weather as she watched the two.
The stranger took a light sip from the bottle. “This what you’re after? It’s the only thing of value in this little shack.”
Sonny missed Mia’s statement as she darted inside. His eyes stayed on the phial, not sure what to think. Someone’s already done the robbing and is toying with their freedom. He watched a dark liquid line the inside of the crystalline bottle, each nonchalant swirl igniting his thirsts.
He did not quite remember if he asked or thought the words, but he got a response nonetheless.
“Who are you?”
“Just someone who wants to see Thad lose his stooges.”
The stranger leaned on the porch railing in front of him. She capped the phial before handing it to him.
“You wouldn’t believe how cool that thing keeps the rose tea I threw in there.”
The tea was on his tongue so quick that he feared he might have swallowed the cap. But he was lost in that sip, it was all he needed: very mellow, very cool, and very refreshing.
He didn’t notice the arms drape around his neck from behind. A whisper in his ear told him, “We’ll talk later.”
The arms’ weight on his shoulders, the breasts pressed against his back, the feeling of both evaporated in an instant. The stranger no longer being present should have bothered him, but nothing did. He held their freedom in his hands.
The phial Thad so coveted sat on his ringed desk, surrounded by a sea of stale, empty bottles.
Sonny leaned against the stone wall, crossing his arms and legs. He had braced for the usual helplessness to overcome him once he saw and smelled this musty room again, but instead fought the vicious urge to smash each and every one of those bottles over Thad’s head. The witch’s shrill voice made matters worse, as each of his words fed the indignant, kindling rage eating at him from the inside.
“Her name was ‘Lane,’ and no, she didn’t have any apprentices.”
“Don’t get your hopes up, she was an amazon.”
Sonny stood from the wall. “We’re done here.”
“Your surly friend isn’t up here.” The witch stated this as if he’d just noticed.
“I told her to celebrate early.”
“Just as well, I prefer you anyway. Nice and spineless.”
“What does that mean?”
The witch threw his head back in a chilling laugh that would have chilled Sonny to his core. “That means ‘You’re not going anywhere, stand still a moment.’”
Thad raised his glowing hands, the yellow increasing in intensity as they climbed. Sadistic triumph was written all over his thin face as the light darted toward Sonny.
Sonny’s hand shot into the air out of reflexes he never had. The magic dissipated against his palm in a very refreshing sensation. The same hand that guarded him now curled around Thad’s throat, the witch’s sadism overwritten with sheer astonishment.
He threw Thad down, sending the bottles flying in a glass wave. The blue phial was pulled into Sonny’s palm. Before the stunned witch could recover, two hands appeared and held him down at his shoulders. On the other side of the desk stood the stranger from the shack, her eyes livid and lusting.
Thad choked. Sonny forced the rest of the “tea” from the phial down the writhing witch’s throat.
The stranger winked at Sonny and dissipated like the magic she defended him against.
Thad was underneath him, his body slackened and cool. The witch gagged and half belched, “We’ll talk later.”
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 01:23|
Spirits Cannot Harm The Living
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:26 on Dec 25, 2014
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 01:37|
Hey, lotta important poo poo came up this weekend, so my submission is gonna be late, can't finish it by 9 PM PST, I'll just eat the DQ. (Hopefully it's not loser-bad. Can't take the pos. of judge if I were to win anyway, because I'm headin' out of the country with limited internet for 10 days starting tomorrow. Hence the busy weekend.)
Don't wanna be 'ed though, so I'll have it up, just more like around 2 AM PST. Blegh, sorry.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 02:12|
A Thesis on Ghost (938 words)
Duko slammed his notebook on the square gravestone. The dull thud rang much louder in the silent graveyard. “There can be no ghost, QED!” he said. “Get it, Suryati?”
Suryati stopped looking around and faced Duko. “Ghosts are ‘free’ souls in the sense that they can walk anywhere. But souls can’t be free. Once a man’s dead, he’ll have to answer to the two angels: Munkar and Nakir. It can lead to prize or punishment, but in both cases the soul remains in the grave until Doomsday. As such, ghosts can only exist if the angels are imperfect, which is impossible.” As Duko nodded, Suryati felt a chill behind her ears and looked around. There was nothing but the leaves being perfectly still.
“There’s a bit more, but that’s the basic idea. As such, a ghost will not disturb my disrespectful slumber,” Duko said. He sat down on the green tarp next to the grave.
“Extremely disrespectful,” Suryati said. “This is weird, Duko.”
“Three years I have studied the Qur’an and the Hadiths, Suryati. I feel at one with Allah, the All-Knowing, the Most Majestic. I have very strong faith that the Qur’an explains everything. This piety won’t last, Suryati. My fear of ghosts will. If, on this night, my logic prevails against the ghost, I will know for sure ghosts aren’t real. Also, that’ll be a brilliant graduation thesis.”
“gently caress the thesis, Duko. You’re not sleeping next to a grave. Let’s go home. You’re just stressed from making your thesis.”
He leaned on the gravestone. “I’m staying. You can tell my mother I’m busy at the library or something.”
Suryati looked at the name on the gravestone. “You’re desecrating Handoko’s resting place.”
“It’s empty now. Handoko moved out like three days ago. Have you prayed Isha?”
“Yes! I said yes when I came here, yes when you explained your ‘logic’, yes until the next Isha! Do you just not listen to me?” Suryati asked.
“Sorry, bad habit,” Duko said.
As few minutes pass, the graveyard ceased to be still. There were sounds of crickets, of leaves dancing in the air, of Suryati’s warm breath facing the cold air. Suryati was in the middle of relaxing and Duko in the final stages of dozing off when a ghost appeared.
There were no signs of its coming. No drop in temperature, no sudden silence, no disappearance of the moonlight. It moved towards Duko and Suryati. Crickets still chirp. Duko stood up from the tarp and pulled out a pristine small Qur’an from his shirt pocket. He read some verses at the ghost.
It moved closer.
Duko stepped and Suryati hopped, backwards. Duko flipped through the pages of the Qur’an, reading the verses in increasing speed.
It moved closer.
Suryati was already few graves away from Duko. She could still hear his recitation, but not his steps. She looked back once in a few frightened breaths and saw it coming closer to him. The more she looked, the more she noticed its features. It had legs, although all the toes were fused. It wasn’t translucent; it just had no body under a really thin white covering. It actually had a face, just no eyeballs. Duko almost screamed the verses.
It moved closer.
Suryati ran faster when Duko’s voice stopped. She got on her motorbike and drove off, her imagination assaulting her mind. She seemed to find the ghost between the streetlights. It did not hide under the shadow on the gutters, it were the shadows. The buzz of her bike, the infrequent coughs of her exhaust pipe and the creak of her brake handles became its voices.
The paranoia continued deep into her night. Suryati felt a face on the windows. She felt its touch on her blanket. She saw that it had no hands, but she felt its finger bones caressing her face, opening her eyelids and pressing her throat. In a few hours, the fatigue of being too scared to sleep brought her to sleep.
She woke up at midday without the paranoia. She wished she didn’t remember Duko, but his seeming demise returned to her; His last screams repeating in her ears.
Duko’s apartment door was slightly ajar when she arrived. She pushed it to find Duko sitting on the carpet, looking over many papers filled with ugly scrawls. She called his name three times to no avail.
“Are you okay?” Suryati asked.
“What are you writing?”
“Results of the ‘experiment’, of course! It’s a breakthrough!”
“What is i-“
“The Qur’an is a holy book given down by Allah through His Prophet to guide the Ummah. The Ummah consists of humans and ‘jinns’. But ghosts aren’t in the Ummah.”
“Stop talking about ghosts,” Suryati said.
“How do you interpret that? In the Qur’an He did say ‘I have not created jinn and mankind except to serve me’, but what are ghosts created for?”
“Nothing! Qur’an had nothing on ghosts. Allah had nothing on ghosts. Ghosts have no divine guidance! Ghosts…can do what they like.”
Duko looked at Suryati. “You just don’t understand.” He stood up and began pushing Suryati out. “I have more work to do, Haryati. Don’t disturb me.” Suryati just now realized that some of the papers on Duko’s table are torn from the Qur’an.
“What happened to you, Duko?” Suryati asked. Duko remained silent and pushed her out of the room.
Duko looked at Suryati’s eyes. “His logic is wrong.”
Duko smiled and pointed at his chest. “Ghost can do what they like. Duko is not here anymore.” It slammed the door shut.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 02:19|
Things That Die
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:45 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 02:30|
Hey, lotta important poo poo came up this weekend, so my submission is gonna be late, can't finish it by 9 PM PST, I'll just eat the DQ. (Hopefully it's not loser-bad. Can't take the pos. of judge if I were to win anyway, because I'm headin' out of the country with limited internet for 10 days starting tomorrow. Hence the busy weekend.)
Yeah I'm in the same boat and will be late as well so will have to take the DQ. I'll have my story done about two hours after the deadline.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 02:35|
The dead girl’s milk-toned skin was flawless, really perfect, truly, except for the purpled bruising outlining the silver chain and crucifix around her neck. Miriam once had skin this lovely. Was this bruising a clue as to what killed the little church mouse? Strangulation? Not likely. She had no structural damage. Miriam primed her scalpel, admiring the way it reflected the clinical light of the examination room. She dragged it down the center of the dead girl just like she used to do the frogs in biology. Nothing. Not a cut. Not a scratch. Not a single inch of dead perfect skin moved under the edge of the blade that could kill Miriam or her partner with a single reckless swipe.
“Sarah,” she called to her partner, “you've got to see this.”
“What’s that?” Sarah asked.
“The girl’s built like a steel girder,” Miriam said, showing off the girl’s rigidity.
Sarah tried to bend the girl’s arm, but it wouldn't move. Picking up the scalpel, she tried her hand at cutting the girl. Nothing. She sliced again, and again. “This goes beyond any rigor mortis I’ve ever seen.” Sarah announced before turning her attention to the clipboard behind her.
Removing the green latex glove with a snap, Miriam explored the dead girl’s pearly rock hard skin, running a finger from her bellybutton up the gentle incline of her chest, terminating with lingering fingers on her delicate neck. Felt like skin to her. Miriam traced around the purple tracks outlining the girl’s necklace. As she closed the small loop, Miriam felt a jolt that made her eyes water. She closed her eyes to quell the pain and found her mind invaded by dread and perverse images; mutilated corpses of her loved ones, of Sarah; cuts on her arms, legs, and belly, fresh and gushing, carved in languages unknown to her; the dead girl, her eyes open, gelatinous, and coal black. The dead girl’s mouth open, chanting, and releasing carrion flies between her incantations. One flew into Miriam’s ear. She was chosen.
“Miriam!” Sarah shouted.
Miriam turned around from the dead girl, all glassy eyed and rubbery.
“Let’s figure this out,” Sarah said.
There was a humming in Miriam’s brain; the vibrations, quick, rapid, unyielding and generating an unbearable, overwhelming, heat. Miriam staggered to Sarah’s side and picked up the discarded scalpel. The skin would yield now, she knew. With a gentle and steady hand, Miriam cut the girls eyelids into little doors, opening them and revealing coal black gelatinous eyes.
“I’ll step through, yes” Miriam said, staring into the black void.
“You broke through?” Sarah asked.
“That's what I said.”
Sarah glanced one of the dark, black, eyes with the tip of her needle, before gently breaking the membrane. Perhaps the humour would explain it all. Sarah gasped at the inky sludge filling the tube. Where would she start with this?
As Sarah began to test the mysterious fluid, Miriam lowered her mouth over the other onyx eye, and with pursed lips, sucked the mush out with a pitiful pop. She drifted to the other eye, the one that Sarah had just wrecked with her needle, and began hungrily scooping the gunk from the socket. Miriam was still hungry. She opened the girl’s mouth to look for something. Miriam stared into the girl’s sockets; they began to smoke like little fires in her skull. She watched the smoke rise softly, and feeling the hunger stir in her, began wafting the dark clouds into her face. She breathed like she had never held a breath of air in her sad lungs once before. Reaching behind the girls neck, Miriam unclasped the necklace, put it on, and smiled. “Sarah?” she asked, wiping away the residue from her mouth with the back of her hand.
“Yes?” Sarah replied from behind a microscope, sniffing the air absently.
Miriam sat at her desk, pretending to copy notes on the poor girl. “What happened to the girl’s eyes?” she asked, knowing what was necessary.
Sarah pulled out her flashlight to inspect the corpse’s sockets. She hunched over the girl, and Miriam could smell the disgusting floral notes of her perfume. Sarah probed the hole with her finger. Miriam’s eyes were stinging. Sarah’s finger went deeper.
“Enough!” Miriam shouted.
With a flash, the dead girl’s arms swung up and locked themselves around Sarah.
Miriam would help her friend. Sarah struggled against the corpse’s grasp, thrashing with abandon. Sarah dug her nails into the girl’s arms. Nothing. Miriam grabbed the syringe. She would show Sarah the light.
Sarah turned just in time to see the coal black eyes and the cocked arm of her friend Miriam; she threw herself over the table, rolling over the dead church-mouse and pulling them both to the floor. Miriam came down with the needle; clanging against the table, it bounced from her hand.
“amplecti, ad amorem meum,” Miriam chanted, clenching her eyes shut. Opening them with a force, darkness fell across the building.
Sarah struggled against the weight of the teenage corpse latched to her. With the lights out, she had no way to defend herself. Something was leaking onto her neck. It was the black fluid. Sarah heard the sound of the bone saw spinning its small blade.
“Sarah!” Miriam prowled the room.
Sarah dragged herself under the examination table, finding the syringe of black tar. Dipping her thumb into the black socket, Sarah turned the corpse’s head, reared her arm back, and plunged the needle deep. It let go, and, across the room, Miriam screamed and collapsed.
Sarah traced the black veins running the course of the unconscious Miriam’s necklace. Sarah squashed the overwhelming desire to unclasp the crucifix and wear it herself. She needed to find a priest. She looked to the examination table to ensure the corpse was still strapped down. It was. Maybe there was hope for her friend still, Sarah thought as she slid Miriam into freezer compartment 2A. Miriam wasn’t a toe tag, not yet.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 02:48|
Ghost Stories for Children
Sara ran up the stairs, her breath heavy and ragged. All around, the house creaked and moaned, its structure unstable. She reached her bedroom and without looking back, slammed the door. With her whole weight against its frame she fumbled with the handle, trying desperately to lock the door. Even after hearing the lock’s familiar click, her hands shook. She struggled to listen over the blood pounding in her head but the house was silent.
“Tommy,” she said, not sure whether to shout or whisper, “this isn’t funny. Come out or I’m telling Mom.”
A minute passed. Her brother didn’t respond.
“Tommy, I’m serious!”
Her brother obsessed with scaring her. Every day, after school, Tommy would be on the internet. The lights off in the office and the blinds closed. She could only see his face by the dim glow of the monitor. He would watch as she put away her books, a smile spreading across his face.
“Hey Sara,” he said, “did you know that Cry Baby Bridge is called that because mothers used to throw their unwanted babies-.”
“Stop it! I don’t want to hear it!” Sara stomped to her room.
She had complained to her parents but it just made him more determined. He would wait until they weren’t home to tell her stories. Stories about nuns hanging themselves at the local Catholic school, about crazed mothers burning houses to the ground with their children still inside, about monsters that lived in the woods. He talked about the Melon Heads, the Dark Man of Egypt Road, the Witch’s Grave. Tommy knew every local ghost story and was eager to inflict them on her, relishing her reaction to past carnage. His favorite stories to tell were about their house.
One night, her closet door had creaked open and a voice whispered, “You know how Mom got this house so cheap, right? The Hutchinsons used to live here, but one night a serial killer broke into the house.”
She knew her brother was hiding in her closet but she was too afraid to move. She remembered her parents talking about the Hutchinsons while she pretended to sleep. Her eyes watered in fear.
“They had a kid, you know. The family begged and pleaded but after the killer tied up the family, he smothered it in its crib. He killed the baby and hid it in the walls. Now the Hutchinsons roam the house, looking for someone to replace their baby.” He leaned out from the closet, his eyes wide. His mouth twitched as he tried not to laugh. “Maybe they’ll use you as a replacement.”
She chucked her lamp at his face. They both got extra chores. Sara had pushed her desk in front of the closet to prevent her brother from pulling the stunt again.
Even though she knew the stories were fake, a part of her still believed. Every night was long and sleepless. If she closed her eyes, the monsters would find her. Only by being alert could she be safe. Nothing could soothe these thoughts until Tommy stopped. That she was sure of. She decided to scare her brother into submission. A classmate let her borrow an old Halloween mask.
Sara had prepared to confront her brother, but the house was empty when she got home. The lights were on in every room. Someone had lifted the windows in the office and a light breeze blew through the house. The effect was eerie, as if the entire house had been sapped of life. She took a step forward.
Then, without warning, something moaned. Not the pipes, but something distinct and human. There were footsteps in the kitchen. The front door swung shut. She turned and dropped her book bag, the mask rolled onto the floor. Sara pulled the handle but the door was stuck. Three rooms away was smashing glass and falling chairs. Her worst nightmare realized.
Her mind raced through her brother’s stories. The Melon Heads only attacked in the woods. The nuns preyed at night. The only monster that could be in her house now were the Hutchinsons, looking for someone to replace their dead child. Looking for her. The ghosts would kill her if they saw her. She had run up to her room and hid.
Sara leaned against the wall. The room was deserted, except for the clothes and stuffed animals overflowing from a slit between her closet doors. Although cluttered, Sara was confident she could hide as long as necessary. Better for the ghosts to get distracted with someone else arriving home. Yet, the hairs stood up on the back of her neck. Something was wrong, out of place.
Sara stood up, looking at her room again. Her bed was unmade. Toys were strewn across the floor. Her desk was pushed against the wall and the closet door was ajar. She stared at the closet, heart pounding. Someone was inside the closet watching her, smiling.
She screamed as the door creaked open.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:05|
The Throng Song
Flash rule: A hideous throng rush out forever / And laugh--but smile no more.
Allie rushed into their shared bedroom, red-faced and panting. She ran to the bed Sophia was sitting on, and dove under her older sister's arm, into the pile pillows.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Allie? I'm trying to read."
"Well, get off my goddamn bed. You have your own."
Slowly pulling her face out from deep within the pile of pillows, she sniffled, still visibly frightened.
"Sophia, you won't even believe me. But it was real."
"What was real, you little turd?"
"I don't know - these monster ladies in this building by the Arby's. I went in there, and they started chasing me and I couldn't get out at first and I dropped Mom's pocket knife and then I finally-"
"Wait, you lost Mom's pocket knife? The one from Pop-pop? You shouldn't have even had that! Now she's gonna be mad at me! You said if I let you go outside you wouldn't get into trouble. Now she's never going to let me babysit you again and I wont be able to get those goddamn tickets!"
"I'm sorry! I was going exploring and thought I should bring it..."
"You stupid little poo poo! You know how much she loves that stupid little thing. Now you have to go back and get it, you know."
"No, I can't! I'm not going back there!"
"Well, you don't have a choice. You left it, you have to get it."
"You can't make me!", she said, while running into the bathroom. There was a click from the doorknob and then the shower radio was turned on so loud she couldn’t hear anything else.
The sun was just starting to set when Sophia reached the back entrance of the old, abandoned strip mall. As she approached the building, she began to hear faint laughter, which sounded like her aunt and her friends having brunch with too many mimosas.
Sophia approached the door that seemed to lead to the source of the sound and heard a loud crash, like the sound of a wine bottle breaking, and then cackling.
She opened the door and shined her flashlight into the doorway. The back entranceway was small, but led down a narrow hallway towards a waiting room in the front of the building, covered in dust and littered with decade-old magazines. She was just reaching for the doorknob of an office door when she heard a voice behind her.
“Why hello there, young lady!” squealed a woman excitedly.
Sophia turned and saw three women, sitting on the chairs in the waiting room. They were all dressed immaculately, but their figures and faced looked disturbingly unnatural. Their lips were inflated ten times over and their cheekbones were higher and puffier than she had ever seen. There wasn’t a wrinkle or blemish to be seen on any of them, and the technical perfection was so unsettling that she couldn’t help but turn back the way she came and begin running.
Less than five steps into her escape, and well before she had made her way back into the hallway, her left foot caught the back of her right ankle and she fell to the floor with a heavy thump. She quickly rolled to her back to protect herself, but the trio of ghouls was already upon her.
“Why are you running from us? Aren’t we beautiful enough?” they howled, with their faces showing almost no expression, save for the slightest movement of their lips. Now backed into a corner, Sophia scanned the room for the best way out.
Behind the now incomprehensibly moaning women, she saw it. Not the exit - though she saw that as well - but the pocketknife her Pop-pop had left her mother when he died. It was just under a side table, near the front door to the building, and quite unfortunately on the other side of the ghastly women.
Thinking fast, Sophia belted, “You are beautiful! You’re too beautiful! I’m not pretty enough to be with you, though! You shouldn’t have to spend time with me; you’re so much better than me, so much prettier!”
“Oh no, stop it! You’re too nice. Stay with us a while, have a drink,” the women said, despite clearly parting enough to let her through.
Quickly, but not too quickly, Sophia got up, grabbed the pocketknife, and left through the front door.
“Okay, but you must come back! We’ll do brunch!” she heard faintly through the now closing door.
As she crossed the dark parking lot, toward the road home, a street light flickered, revealing a sign: “Glen Oaks Cosmetic Surgery Center.”
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:21|
For the ten of you who have neither submitted yet nor admitted your failure, forty minutes remain.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:22|
Drifting - 766 Words
The sea surrounded the wooden lifeboat. A harried looking man sat in the middle of the boat, his only company the gutted body close to the keel. He passed a knife between his hands. The moon rested in the clear, cold sky.
Three days before, an albatross coasted feet above the ocean waves, passing within arms reach of the boat. Bernard managed to stand and reach for the bird, but the dingy nearly capsized at any motion. It glided away.
He awoke from his half-slumber, jolted by a racking cough. Every burst of breath burned in his throat, long hoarse from coughing spells. Hands covered his mouth, strangling an end to the fit. Then it was silent once more.
A gasp sounded from the darkness around Bernard. His eyes searched the waves for the origin of the noise, spying a pair of arms waving for help in the air. He grabbed for the oar and began rowing.
“Hel-, -m drown'. -n't swi'.”
He was closer then, making out a waterlogged figure dressed in a torn white shirt panicking in the waves. He reached out at the man with an oar.
“Grab on, I'll pull you to the boat,” Bernard said.
In that inky darkness, Bernard saw the man grab for the oar. His hands didn't find purchase. They sank into the waves. Bernard reached deeper into the
water, hoping to save the stranded man, when a pair of hands grabbed the edge of his lifeboat. The thin man dragged himself into the boat.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, my name is Henry and I thank Christ for you sailor.”
“Welcome to paradise.”
“You said your name was Henry, right? I'm Bernard. How did you get out here?”
“It's a tale. We were crossing with the trade winds, and I leaned over the side to try to catch fish. Next thing I know, the drat wooden rail gave way. Boat kept goin'.”
“What about you, good sir?”
Bernard glanced over at the corpse resting in the keel. “Mutiny.” He locked eyes with Henry and continued.
“Once, I was on Hispaniola. This big idiot Scott kept bragging to the barmaid, telling her how troubled his last trip was. How his buddy got scurvy. How the
captain wouldn't set down for shore leave. Bellyaching rear end. I looked him in the eye and told him about a real damned voyage.”
He took a deep breath and let it fog out into the night. “We were crossing in summer and hit the doldrums. The fish wouldn't catch. Weeks of eating biscuits, wormy lovely biscuits, and we were starving. One of the midshipmen even boiled his leather hat. One night, I look under my cot and find a shriveled up dead rat. You know what I did? I ate the bitch raw, so nobody else would beg me to share. Scot didn't say a word after that.”
“What's that got to do with the mutiny?”, Henry asked.
“I thought I knew what hell was. I told that story all over, but this? If I get home, I won't be telling a soul.”
A thin smile marked Henry's face. “What the devil are you grinning at?”
Henry gestured to himself. “At least you have a boat.”
The two men sat in silence in the pitch of the waves. The moon set, and the sky began to brighten. A gasp for air rocked the boat as Henry began retching. Curling away from the horizon's light, he held on to his chest. “Bernard, thank...you. This may be a bit ugly.”
Water spurted from his mouth into the sea like a fountain. Bernard looked on in horror at the side of his companion as he vomited clearly into the ocean. In the morning light, he could see Henry's gray skin and hair. Bernard made the sign of the cross over himself as his thin companion started to fade into translucence. He stopped vomiting water and turned to Bernard, his face just as gaunt and desiccated as the corpse resting along the keel. His lips pressed together as he sank through the boat.
Bernard wept. He grasped the hilt of his knife and twisted his wrist toward himself. As he pressed the tip of the blade to himself, he heard a faint whisper, “Bernard, I didn't fall, I jumped.” A pinpoint of blood welled up on his arm. “Purgatory is worse than rotting flesh.”
He shrieked and threw the knife into the ocean. An albatross glided overhead toward a tall ship on the horizon. Bernard dumped the corpse overboard and screamed to hail them. The ship turned.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:29|
Road trips? I loathe them. My wife? She loves them—a family tradition for generations, apparently. For the holiday season we made plans to visit her family. While this could easily be accomplished by a flight to Rhode Island my wife insisted that we instead take the four hour drive by car. The tradition she grew up with dictates that we visit a roadside attraction for every trip we go on, never visiting the same place twice.
Our gimmicky destination was a new fad in tourist traps: ghost museums. Compared to most of the places I’ve been dragged to—bed and breakfasts, World’s Largest Catfish, gruesome murder sites—I’ve actually got some enthusiasm for this one.
The deal with these places is that cutting-edge devices can extract enough psychic energies and ectoplasmic residue to pull the deceased back into the realm of the living. Of course, the logical application of this technology is to squeeze money out of gullible sightseers.
Positive attention is not all that these establishments garner, though; the ghost rights advocates, the “White and Red,” oppose these practices on the grounds of indecent and immoral treatment of the dead. While ghosts don’t currently have any legal protection under the law these activists insist that the newly undead deserve fair treatment and perform disruptive acts of “political demonstration” to get their word out.
The entry cost was a bit pricey but decent for what we were getting. Before the guided tour started I took a survey of the other tour-goers. A strongly-accented and exceptionally rotund southern family clad with matching fanny-packs, a placid elderly black couple studiously examining the tour material, a group from Asia each with an expensive camera hanging from their necks. In fact, everybody seemed connected to another tourist except for a lone youth dressed in white shoes, pants, and hoodie. I could not put my finger on why but this youth unsettled me more than the prospect of seeing a ghost.
The host of the tour was an unassuming man with a gratingly cheerful attitude. He started by explaining the advanced and interesting ghost-summoning technology. As we moved along the tour each set of ghosts were grouped into separate containments. The tour guide manipulated a control panel on the wall. A steel door rose. Through the glass we could see our first subject: a corporeal form that, based upon his style of dress and hair, appeared to be from the American 1960’s.
“See,” my wife said, “this isn’t bullshit! They do have ghosts!” I have to say, it was pretty convincing. This “ghost” in front of us appeared with a translucent, unnatural blue tint.
The tour guide had a prepared speech regarding this subject and confirmed the ghost was an accountant from the 1960’s who had died with a gun in his mouth. This self-inflicted wound was apparent as the poor soul mulled around his display cell.
As the guide explained this history the ghost seemed aware of his current spot in the limelight. He laboriously drifted towards the glass separating the tour group from his captivity and threw himself lazily against the display.
“He just wants to get out of his cell,” the hooded youth from our tour said. I had to agree with him.
The tour guide assured us that their technology prevents ghosts from being able to penetrate the glass and that none of us were in any risk of harm. While this was comforting, Mr. Accountant did not seem to have any urge to harm us. Instead, he made a melancholy tantrum towards his audience—seemingly sad and cognizant of his captivity.
We were scurried along by the tour guide. I took this as an attempt to keep us from having a bad taste in our mouths from the experience. The next container displayed a family in a colonial-themed enclosure; the family keeping busy at chores from their era. They mulled about doing mundane tasks appropriate to their era without taking any notice of us. The tour guide’s speech for this attraction heavily reminded me of the historical reenactment park that we attended on a trip last summer.
It would have been best if we had gone to one of the ghost museums in a big city; most of these ghosts were honestly kind of boring. The best that they had to offer were a B-list starlet, who was mostly concerned with staring at herself in the mirror as she endlessly brushed her hair, and a local murderer-celebrity “Billy the Blade” who had stabbed twenty-one victims before being put to death at the electric chair.
“Where did he get the knife? Did you all give it to him?” I asked, referring to the phantasmal knife that the ghost stalked around his cell with.
As the tour guide stammered for an answer my wife replied optimistically, “It’s just part of the show.” The tour group seemed content with this response—all excepting the lone young man.
The metal door rose as the tour guide explained the next attraction, a Native American camp, and how people lived before America was settled. While the tour guide was exceptionally proud of this exhibit but the hooded youth was noticeably put off.
The youth unveiled plastic bottles of blood taped to his torso. He sprayed the tour guide with the blood-filled containers while shouting, “Respect for our ancestors! End all ghost prisons!”
Blood covered the guide, the protestor, and the exhibit control panel. Sparks shot out from the panel and a deep, lurching noise flooded the exhibit hall. Lights went out and the doors to each ghost container rose. The sharp noise of breaking glass and the sight of Billy the Blade stepping out of his cell are the last things that I remember.
Now my wife and I, along with the rest of the tour—the activist, the Asian family, the tour guide, the maniac—relive that experience for rubber-necked tourists day in and day out.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:39|
Her mother’s ghost was screaming at her again, but Lyla did her best to ignore it. The figure had blood pouring out of its eyes as it flailed about, trying to block her path as she trudged down the dirt road, somehow always managing to stay the same distance ahead of her.
Lyla would be worried, but her mother wasn’t dead. Well, probably wasn’t dead. She was pretty sure her grandmother would have mentioned it in the semi-weekly e-mails she laboriously typed out in all caps, but maybe she wouldn’t; Lyla’s mother was a bit of a taboo subject.
The hallucinations were always worse when she was hungry. She was trying to run through the exercises her therapist had taught her, but it was hard to concentrate when your stomach felt like it was caving in. Lyla had never been 100% sold on therapy, but it seemed to help a little.
She looked around her for the first time in days, ignoring the still-shrieking phantom. She saw a farmhouse off in the distance, and decided to head for it; in more rural communities people were more likely to food to miserable-looking teenaged girls. She soon realized from the dilapidated state of the windows and siding that there was no one there to beg food off of, but she was heartened by the sight of a few pieces of fruit lying on the ground beneath a nearby tree.
As she approached, she saw apples hanging from the branches, and tried to find a ripe one that hadn’t already fallen, without success. Reluctantly, she looked for the freshest-looking one on the ground and picked it up. By this time, her hands were shaking, equal parts low blood sugar and the continued grating of her mother’s illusory voice against her nerves. She bit into the apple.
Of course, there was a worm. There was always a worm, in Lyla’s experience. She stared at it for long seconds before deciding she was hungry enough, and swallowed, took another bite. She’d eat around the rest.
“I can’t believe you’re eatin’ that,” a voice interrupted her mother’s, which cut out abruptly. Lyla whirled around, and nearly dropped her apple. She choked back a scream.
A towering vision stood before her, black and grey and slathering; claws and teeth and horny protuberances jutted out between ogre arms and pendulous breasts. Cysts and boils split on veined skin as she watched, and she imagined the pus that leaked from them added to the smell that came off of the creature.
“What’s the matter with you?” the creature said, leaning closer to peer at Lyla. “You stupid or somethin’?”
“I…” She knew acknowledging the hallucinations wasn’t productive, but the creature was levels beyond the kind of terrors she usually experienced. She couldn’t look away. Tears welled in her eyes and began to creep down her face.
“Aw, jeez, I’m just messin’ with ya, y’ain’t gotta take it personal.” The creature frowned. “What're y’all doin’ out here, anyway?”
“I’m… I don’t know. I’m just trying to get away, I guess.” Lyla stared at the creature, wiping her face with a wrist, the forgotten apple still in hand.
“Huh! That right? What’s a little thing like you gotta get away from so bad, huh?” The creature smiled, or tried to around its myriad teeth.
“My mother,” Lyla said, blurting the words out before she had a chance to think. "She hates me." Tears began to leak out of her again, the dam that had been holding her together for the last several months on the road breaking apart.
"Ah, that right? I never did get on very well with my own ma. Still, you're awful young. Ain't you got nobody cares where ya go?" Lyla thought the creature might have shrunk and inch or two, but it was hard to tell. The smell, at least, seemed to have abated somewhat, which was a relief.
"Not so you'd notice. My grandmother says that she does, but you’d never know it. She hasn't tried to find me, anyway." Lyla looked down, tears falling onto her apple, and the dying worm it contained.
"Sounds like what you really want is to be found," the creature said.
Lyla laughed, bitterly, and then looked up to reply No I don’t,, but stopped when she saw the creature.
The terrifying figure that she had been greeted with was melting away, leaving behind a regular woman. She looked around her mother’s age, but her face was kind, if a little worn. Lyla’s shock at the transformation must have been apparent on her face, because the woman frowned.
“What’s the matter now?”
“You’re… different,” Lyla said.
The woman looked down at herself and laughed. “Well, I’ll be damned. I guess I jus’ wanted to be found, too.”
Lyla shrank back as the woman walked towards her. When she raised her hand, Lyla was sure she was going to hit her, but instead she pointed at an apple hanging just above them.
“Here, this one ain’t got nothin’ wrong with it,” the woman said, smiling. “My name’s Adelaide, by the by.”
“I’m Lyla.” She reached up and pulled down the apple Adelaide had pointed out, her hunger returning. She dropped the other apple with half a worm still in it.
Adelaide smiled sadly. “I think yer gram cares about ya more than ya think, Lyla. Y’all should take care of one another. It’s no fun dyin’ alone.” She turned away and started walking towards the farmhouse.
“Hey, wait!” Lyla called out to her, but Adelaide was fading, her figure disappearing into the tall grass around the house.
She felt a strange sense of loss. It was the first time she could recall ever being sad about a hallucination ending. Adelaide hadn’t felt like the others, though; she had almost seemed real.
Lyla sat down in the grass and ate her apple. In her head, she began to write an e-mail: HI GRANDMA. I AM DOING OKAY. HOW ARE YOU?
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:48|
The Fire in the Night
“Wait up guys, I’m stuck,” Ricky said. Shining my flashlight revealed Ricky to be nearly waist deep in the Hockomock swamp mud.
“Stop getting stuck,” Billy said. He was a few feet in front of me, taking high steps through the brackish waters. “We’re going to lose her.”
Dangling just in front of Billy was her, the will-o'-the-wisp. The soul of Billy’s baby sister, he believed, a burning mote, flickering no brighter than a lantern. The first time he brought me with him, he was crying big fat, snotty tears, pleading me for help to catch it.
Every night we chased the wisp this far into the swamp and Ricky, because he was the smallest, would always get stuck. Every time before Billy would begrudgingly come back and help me, never noticing that the wisp never flew any further away. And before we knew it, the little flame would disappear in the light of dawn. We’d all go back together, changing our school clothes we hid by the big boulder, and we’d try again the next night.
This time Billy wasn’t turning around.
I never saw what he saw, I only saw a silent, overwhelming presence trying to lure my best friend into the dark swamp. When I realized I couldn’t keep Billy safe by myself, I brought Ricky with us.
“I think I’m really stuck,” Ricky said. He had that drat tone of voice about him, bored and confident.
“I don’t care, you’re just slowing us down.”
Ricky looked at me, somehow pleading for help through his slack countenance.
“Come on, Billy, you have to help your friends, right?” Ricky never lost eye contact me with.
I held in my hands a mason jar filled with dried herbs and some soil from his sister’s grave. It was supposed to help us trap the wisp, and bring his sister back. I didn’t know what to do, Billy trusted me.
The wisp was a drunk pendulum, swinging in uneven strokes back and forth just a few yards away from Billy. When he turned back to it, it flared as though it were stoked by a fresh log.
“Billy, come back, we have to help Ricky,” I said.
“Yeah, you can’t leave me,” Ricky said.
“No, god damnit,” Billy shouted. “I can’t, I can’t lose her. Not this time.”
“Ricky’s sinking, we have to help him.”
“You don’t get it, you don’t have a sister or a brother, you don’t know what it’s like to lose someone you love,” he said.
I almost dropped the mason jar. I had always thought of Billy as my brother, and Ricky too. Without them, I had nothing, and I couldn’t understand how Billy didn’t see that. Ricky was my friend more than Billy’s, that was true, but we had always done everything together. It was my job to make sure that we stuck together.
But I couldn’t leave Billy, I was holding the jar. He trusted me. He needed my help, he must. I looked over my shoulder to Ricky; he was sinking even faster now. The waters were up to his ribs, but he seemed unflappable.
“We need your help Billy, I can’t get out on my own,” Ricky said.
“I said no!” Billy stared right into my eyes. “Come on, let’s get going.”
I wondered what would happen if Billy finally caught up to the wisp, he would turn to have me hand him the mason jar, and I wouldn’t be there. Lifting in slow, wobbly circles, the wisp would flit away into the sky just as the sun came up, leaving Billy behind. The wisp would never make the same mistake and be caught again, and it would be my fault.
But I had another vision, a vision of leaving Ricky to help Billy chase the wisp, the malicious creature that had already led us into deep waters. I saw myself, hand in hand with Billy, chasing the wisp until dawn, Ricky left behind, mud flooding his mouth and nose, too tired and flooded to scream, to even gurgle.
And so I tossed the mason jar into the mud. I'd like to think Billy would be angry, but he was already gone, assuming I was following right behind him.
Ricky and I sat on the boulder that served as the meeting stone. Ricky lay naked on top of the boulder, staring up at the moon, completely calm. After we had changed into our school clothes, after the moon began to sink, even after I was almost sick with worry, Ricky was still cool.
“You did the best you could,” Ricky said.
Just as the first rays of sun split through the swamp willows, Billy came trudging up the path, caked up to his neck in mud.
I leapt off the rock and ran to him, falling into line behind him. As we walked past the boulder, Ricky hopped off and strode behind me. When we got to the path through the tall grass, the one that took us back to the neighborhood, Billy paused, turned to us, his eyes still red from crying.
“I want to be by myself this time.”
Without waiting for an answer, he went down the path and left us there, wondering where to do next. Ricky then hummed a tune I wasn’t familiar with and parted the tall grass, and I followed behind him.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:53|
El Cucuy (993 words)
In the city of Juarez, Mexico, there were two boys: Jesús and Diego. The two were cousins and while they didn't have brothers, they were brothers for eachother. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, Diego met Jesús at a liquor store.
“Hey Chuy, what's-” Diego said before his jaw dropped. “What's that in your mouth?”
“It's a cigarette, pendejo. Wanna hit?” Jesús asked and handed it to him. “It tastes like mint.”
Diego pushed it away from him. “That's bad for you, Chuy!” “Chuy” was a common nickname for those named Jesús, based on how the “J” made an “h” sound.
Jesús laughed. “Man, you're such a kid!” He said and smacked him on the back. “Come on, guey; I have something to show you.”
“What is it?” Diego suspiciously asked.
“You know what? You ask too many drat questions.”
Diego and Jesús walked down the street. “Hey guey, you still seeing Rosa?”
“We're studying together, if that's what you mean,” Diego answered uneasily.
“You hosed her yet?”
“Christ, Chuy” Diego said and shoved him in the shoulder as Jesús laughed.
“Man, you are too easy to gently caress with,” Jesús said and grinned.
“Well, we're not,” Diego answered uncomfortably and stepped away from him.
Jesús took a long drag from his mint-flavored cigarette. “Look, man; I'm just looking out for you. I mean, God forbid that you turn out to be some strawberry-eating jota.”
“Well, I'm not,” Diego said and coughed as his cousin blew smoke in his way.
“Good, because me, my dad, and your dad would beat it out of you,” Jesús said and grinned like a Cheshire cat.
Eventually they made their way downtown to an abandoned building. Caution tape was wrapped around and bullet holes riddled the walls. “What is this?” Diego asked.
“This is where that cartel shootout went down a few weeks ago,” Jesús said and ducked under the caution tape. “Wanna see a dead body?” He asked and smiled.
“Dude, can't you read?” Deigo asked and pointed towards the tape. “It says, 'Do not cross'!”
“poo poo, man,” Jesús said giving him the eye. “You are such a pussy, you know that?”
Reluctantly, Diego followed him. Inside was an abandoned restaurant. The whole place was cleaned out by the police and all that remained were bare floors and a bar counter.
“Dude, let's get out of here,” Deigo sad and edged his way to the door. “This place looks haunted.”
“Listen to yourself,” Jesús said and made his way to the back of the bar. “Hey, I bet I can find a bullet back here. That'd make an awesome necklace!”
“Chuy, I'm getting out of here,” Diego finally gathered up the courage to say. “I don't want El Cucuy after me.”
“What did you say?”
“You heard me,” Diego snapped at him. “I want out.”
“Mira, cabrón,” Jesús said and hopped over the bar. “How loving old are you?” He asked and leered at him as his cousin cowered. “There is no such thing as el cucuy. There are no boogeymen waiting under your bed when you gently caress up. That's just a story to keep us in line like the devil or la llorona.”
Diego said nothing. Jesús shook his head in disgust and went back to the bar. “Holy poo poo, take a look at this!” He said. Diego went over to the bar and gasped. Jesús was holding in his hand a pistol with the image a skeleton lady on the handle. “Isn't this the the most awesome thing you've ever seen?”
“Dude, put that down!” Diego shouted at him.
Jesús laughed. “Don't be such a pussy!” He said and whacked him on the back. “Hey, I bet you some cartel soldier killed a man with this thing. I mean, look,” he said and pointed to the handle. “That's Santa Muerte on the handle! That's badass!”
“Dude, just put that down already,” Diego begged him, but his words fell on deaf ears.
“I wonder if it's loaded,” Jesús wondered aloud as he stupidly pointed it at Diego and pulled the trigger. A loud bang sounded and a bullet flew out and went straight through Diego's left eye, leaving the wall behind him painted with blood, brains, and skull fragments. Diego tried saying something, but he collapsed as a pool of blood formed from the wound from the back of his head. Jesús dropped the gun from his hands and ran out of the building as fast as he could, scared out of his mind.
Jesús didn't say a word as he arrived at home. Eventually, his father went into his room. “Jesús, were you with Diego today?”
“N-no, I was all alone,” he lied. “Wh-what's the matter?”
His father bowed his head mournfully. “I'm sorry, Jesús. But Diego...”
Jesús threw himself into his father's arms and wept. He didn't need to say a word, he already knew. He cried himself to sleep that night.
Hours later, he woke up, hearing a familiar voice under his bed. “Diego?” He asked. He peeked underneath his bed and screamed in terror. Starring back at him was the one-eyed face of his cousin, whose face was being eaten away by maggots from the wound in his left eye. Before he could do a single thing, the corpse grabbed him by the hands and pulled him underneath the bed.
“Jesús? Mi hijo?” His mother called out hearing the screaming. “Is something wrong? Jesús?”
His mother gasped as she found a pool of blood forming from under his bed. She looked underneath and shrieked in horror. Underneath was Jesús' skinless, bloody body. His eyes were eaten out by maggots and his mouth was empty of his tongue and teeth and filled with blood. An unseen presence from within with glowing eyes stared ahead and disappeared in the darkness.
Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at 03:59 on Mar 17, 2014
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:57|
The Lost Hour
Jodi and Amaya pulled up to the entrance to the park. Amaya squealed. "That's Mikki's car!"
The dented white Volvo was most certainly their friend's car, but Mikki himself was nowhere to be seen.
"He probably went ahead," Jodi said after they'd walked the parking lot and found no sign of him.
"Mikki," Amaya called. No reply. "Should we call the police?" She said quietly to Jodi.
Jodi pulled out her phone and frowned. "Got no signal out here. Hey, what time did we leave the bar? My phone didn't switch over to daylight savings time, or something." The display read midnight, but it should've been after one o'clock.
"Oh, was that this weekend?" Amaya said distractedly. "poo poo, I can't get a signal either. Lets at least go make sure he's not laying dead ten feet up the trail."
They walked a short way up the path, into the deeper black under the trees. Jodi glanced over her shoulder. Her heart thudded.
"Amaya, stop. We went too far. Look." The parking lot was almost out of view, little more than a small patch of light that Jodi could've covered with her palm.
Amaya-aya-maya-ya, called a chorus of voices. They echoed through the trees, bouncing playfully as though the wind itself was juggling the sounds. Jodi grabbed Amaya's arm.
"Back to the car. Now."
"Mikki," Amaya called, straining against Jodi's grip. "Are you an idiot, Jodi? Mikki's like right over there, didn't you hear him?"
"That's not him, it's some--" Jodi was cut short as Amaya broke free and bolted further down the unlit forest trail. What the hell was going on? So many voices. She could hear them still, murmuring in the dark, and if she could just stand still long enough to really listen, maybe...
But Amaya's footsteps had disappeared. Jodi looked over her shoulder. The parking lot seemed even further away, was only a spec of light in a tree-limbed tangle of black-on-darker-black.
She turned back and started in the direction Amaya had gone.
Seward Park was a hump of land that jutted out onto Lake Duwamish. The trail followed a gentle slope downward toward a narrow strip of rocky beach, where Jodi found Amaya talking to empty air.
"...don't worry about Jodi, she'll find us. I just wanted to say how bummed I was that you didn't end up playing the show..."
"Amaya?" Jodi whispered. Her friend didn't respond, just kept talking to the air like it was Mikki.
"Too slow," said a chorus of voices behind her. Jodi whirled around to face them, and the world changed.
The lights from the houses on the far side of the lake were gone, as was the distant sigh of the freeway. Amaya was gone.
Jodi's breath caught in her throat. She held very still, teeth clenched, tears running down her cheeks.
"...ou're going too slow." The voices resolved themselves into a single voice, just a few feet away from where she stood. Without the ambient light of the city, she couldn't make out the speaker.
Jodi pulled out her cellphone and flicked it on, trying to illuminated the stranger, but stopped when she saw that the clock still read midnight.
"Just tell me if you're going to hurt me," she said, trying to keep her tone even.
"Hurt you?" The voice sounded surprised. "We only wanted to show you. On but one hour of the year does the Bosom of Abraham open to the quick-living. So few are there that come here willingly, and time is passing with gathering speed as we near Judgment."
"I don't..." Jodi began, and then the wheel of the heavens turned. The stars swung around until the sky shifted from midnight blue to blue grey to the golden promise of sunrise, then paused again, like the world was a reel of tape that could be sped up and slowed at will.
Jodi turned in a slow circle, heart pounding. The mound that had been Seward park was bigger and covered in massive, ancient-looking pine trees. Even the air smelled different, thick with loam and empty of car exhaust and fried food.
Distantly, she could see people in low wooden boats like canoes fishing on Lake Duwamish.
"Rush not, wait not. For everything that was, everything that will be, has always been. Remember that, quick one," said the apparition. Jodi squinted into the air, could only make out a blur in the air, vaguely human shaped. It seemed to be looking out toward the far-off fishers on the lake.
Something about the scene was so familiar that it tore at her heart, like a dream of returning to a home she couldn't remember being sick for. Her very cells recognized the scent of the trees, the currents of the ancient wind across the lake.
"What did you mean, time is speeding up?" She asked the specter.
"Judgment nears," it replied.
"Then what does it matter if I see this? I don't even...this isn't even possible. But even if this is really happening, what do you want me to do?"
There was a slight ripple in the air, and Jodi felt the apparition turn its gaze on her. "Slow down," it said simply. "There is no redemption for humanity when time slips through your fingers faster than you can account for it. No time for goodness, for mindfulness. For love." There was a pause, then, "Abrahams Bosom closes. We will return you to time."
Freeway sounds filled the air, and Jodi almost wretched at the assault of smells on her nose.
The sun was just cresting the mountains. Amaya and Mikki were curled up under Mikki's jacket asleep on the ground near the water.
Jodi held her hand to her chest until she felt her racing heart slow, then went to wake her friends.
When time slips through your fingers faster than you can account for it...the apparition's words echoed in her mind, made her turn back toward the rising sun. Liquid gold splashed the clouds and oozed over the mountains. Jodi's face broke into a broad smile and she sank down to the rocky shore.
Mikki and Amaya would be awake soon enough, no need to rush. Jodi drew her knees close to her chest and watched the sun inch up into the sky.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:59|
Ghost Stories of the Old World
Flashrule: The Tygers of Wrath are Wiser Than Nightmares
Kate was relieved to see that the years had kind to the La Paz Resort. Though the plaster walls of the Tico-styled buildings had faded and chipped, and the grounds were overgrown, the jungle's reclamation of the resort had only accentuated its rustic beauty. She allowed herself a moment to take it all in, she felt she deserved that much after seven months and thousands of miles. Burying the corpses that awaited her inside could wait.
Kate cut through the dirt patch that used to be the resort's parking lot and made her way towards the Waterfall Trail. The trail markers had been swallowed up by the jungle long ago, but she didn't need them. She navigated by memory and had no difficulty arriving at the waterfall's basin. Kate slipped the pack from her aching shoulders and peeled off her sweat-soaked clothing. Hard-won wisdom told her that the roar of the waterfall would mask the sound of another survivor sneaking up on her, but the prospect of a refreshing dip won out over caution. She dove into the waters headlong.
The sun was hanging low in the sky when Kate reluctantly decided to leave the basin and survey the resort. She moved from building to building, taking stock of things she could use. The wells pumped up fresh water, the kitchens were filled with canned goods, and there were even a few sets of clothes that had been locked away in drawers that fit her. Satisfied by what she found, she grabbed a plastic-wrapped set of bedsheets and made her way to the honeymoon suite bungalow.
The bed in the suit held a pair of corpses in a severe state of decomposition. They were both curled into a fetal position, with the man holding the woman. Kate had seen this before; the virus worked so fast that most victims never had time to get taken to the hospital. At least they went together she thought as she dragged their bodies by the bedding and dumped them on the porch.
Kate made the bed and collapsed in it. It had been hers once before, a lifetime ago. That was before the virus came, before having to bury loved ones, and before the horrors of being a survivor. She had seen the worst she thought the world could offer, and now that she was here she could at least have that moment of paradise.
Kate was awakened by the sound of her own screaming. Her trembling hands groped in the darkness for her pack. She found it, pulled out her flashlight, and scanned the room. Empty.
She climbed out of bed and walked to the glass-paneled door and shined the light out on the porch. The couple was right where she left them.
She gathered the sheets from the bed and dragged them into the master bathroom. She barred the door with a hutch and spent the rest of the night in the jacuzzi tub. It was just a nightmare, she told herself. The dead were gone and this was her home now.
Kate felt silly the next morning as she emerged from the bathroom into the light of day. It was pointless to be afraid of ghost stories after having faced true horror in the actions of desperate men.
She made her way to the kitchen and breakfasted on a can of peaches. She spent the day cleaning and rearranging the resort. She dragged the bodies out from their beds and piled them in the parking lot with every intention of digging graves for them all, but by the time she found a shovel the sun was low in the sky. She spent the rest of the day on her porch reading a Blake novel she had found in someone’s luggage while golden rays of sunlight pierced the canopy and drew patterns on skin. When night fell, she recovered the bedding from the bathroom and went to sleep on the bed.
Kate woke from her nightmare with the overwhelming urge to retch. She staggered out of bed and dashed for the bathroom, making it just in time to spill the contents of her stomach into the empty toilet. Each heave wracked her body until there was nothing left for her to spew. When she finished, she lay there trembling on the cool tile.
“It was just a dream,” she said to herself “Only a nightmare.”
That was when she heard the sound of someone else retching wring out from the bedroom. Kate’s stomach sank as she heard a second person start person join the first and start retching as well.
Kate slammed the bathroom door closed, not daring to look at who was making those sounds, and drag the hutch from the corner to bar it again. The vomiting continued unabated, punctuated only be the sounds of crying. Kate lay in the bathtub, shaking and crying herself for what seemed like hours. Eventually her body gave out and sleep took her.
The next morning the bedroom was empty, devoid of any sign that someone beside Kate had been there. This time she was furious and delirious from lack of sleep. She rummaged through the resort, looking for gasoline and matches, possessed by the half-mad idea to burn the pile of bodies. Dead by damned, she thought. The tygers of wrath were wiser than nightmares.
She stormed through the compound towards the parking lot, but when she rounded the corner her heart skipped a beat and she stopped dead in her tracks.
The pile of bodies was gone.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 03:59|
Empyrean Son - Less than 1000 words
In the long shadow of the ziggurat at dawn, the lesser man knelt before me and begged forgiveness. I raised a cool stone and slammed it against his jaw. Teeth white as ivory spilled from his mouth as he fell. When he recovered and rose his head, I thrust my dagger through his eye. I placed the bloodied dagger and shattered teeth on my wife’s pillow that same morning. When I returned for dinner, our bedroom was clean, and my wife had prepared lamb with lentil soup.
As highest advisor to the King, I was not reprimanded. Just as the King had power over me, I had power over those beneath me. But the King said, "Perhaps this is wrong. I task you to find what is truly just."
I wanted to clear my mind, so I paid for a drink and a woman, taking the woman first. She mounted me, and then I her. Just as I finished, mud gushed from her mouth. She sprang forward and knocked me to the ground. Earth oozed between her teeth and her nostrils as she squeezed my throat with her hands. She smiled at me, and I knew from her eyes she was dead. I woke up caked in dirt and with a bruised neck.
The high priest offered me water, which turned to dust in my mouth. I choked and gagged, coughing up a throat full of sand. I bit into a loaf of bread, and it melted to a coarse mud, grinding against my teeth.
"I can see into the underworld," I said to the priest. He assured me we were alone, but in the darkest corners of the temple I saw them moving.
"And you taste it as well," he said.
I had sent a man to this dark world of mud and dust, and I too would go there.
I found I could live on sand and earth, yet it never quenched my thirst or sated my hunger. I lived like this for a tortuous year, and the King still awaited my answer. In the riverbanks at dawn as I slurped up my sustenance of sludge, I thought of an answer for my King. I paid a man to bash my teeth and pluck out my eyes, then I went to see the King.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 04:00|
Captured Memories (916 words)
Erin stopped at the corner of Fifth and Main to light a cigarette, the taste of her own breathe crisp on the morning calm. The sun still slept and the streets lay silent. She retrieved her camera from the ground. It was time to get moving.
She stepped towards the wharf, the cigarette at arm's length. Erin didn't smoke. The cigarette was for Sasha. Sasha couldn't smoke, but she liked to remember.
The apartment had been marketed to Erin in no uncertain terms on the quality of its view. It was breathtaking as advertised. Also as advertised it came with some problems. Nothing major, they assured her. A modest fixer-upper. The doors creaked in winter and one of the drawers in the kitchen was stuck, and the previous tenants complained of a leak. The doors didn't bother Erin. They made the place feel old. The drawer she forgot about when the leak turned out to be Sasha.
Over the first few weeks Sasha had turned out to be many things. A woman, for starters, short-haired and blonde. An acerbic Irish Catholic, dripping wet, and dead. It took Erin several phone calls to make peace with the fact she was sharing her living space with a roommate only she could perceive. A roommate prone to bummer her for smokes that she didn't have that she couldn't use.
"Smoking kills over 400,000 people a year you know."
"Oy, aye, file that one away why don't I?"
"I thought the body was supposed to be a temple to you people."
"You people? Good Lord, I'm with a heathen."
"I'm not a heathen!"
"No, not no more I suspect."
After ten days in dire need of distraction, Erin remembered the drawer in the kitchen and forced it open with her father's bowie knife. Inside sat a well-worn old camera, the sort that printed its own photographs. She turned it on its side and the camera breathed dust. She set it before Sasha and Sasha fell silent.
"This yours?" Erin nudged the camera across the coffee table towards the armchair where Sasha pretended to sit.
"I...I don't know."
"...Would you like me to fix it?"
"...You can actually do that?"
The next day Erin brought home a book about old cameras she'd picked up at the corner shop, along with a packet of cigarettes. The two spent the evening in silence and tinkering, a single cigarette smouldering in the ashtray. Erin said nothing because she was concentrating. Sasha said nothing until the camera sat reassembled before her.
"I think...I think I rather liked it. Taking pictures, I mean. Fancied myself a photographer."
"So it's yours then."
The following months were markedly more friendly. Sasha could follow wherever the camera led, so Erin took to taking it everywhere. On occasion Sasha would command her to take a picture of such and such a thing and Erin would oblige her, hands shaking and unsteady.
"Can you not shoot properly girl? You hold it like this, steady on now, on the exhale."
Despite Sasha's coaching, Erin lacked the eye for it. Nonetheless, she kept all the photos she took, and the more she took the more Sasha seemed to recall.
"We lived around here, me and my folks. Up in that apartment with my little sister."
"Did you get along?"
"Aye, terribly. A model child, she was. All proper and practiced while I was all problems. Weren't no end to ma's complaining."
Shouldering Sasha's instructional abuse and rekindled memories, Erin decided she needed to practice. She took to rousing herself from bed before the sun had yet cracked the night, waiting at the windowsill to capture the sunrise. Over the weeks she accumulated quite the collection. It was the evening before she set out for the wharf she showed them to Sasha, who - to her dismay - informed her that sunrises were boring.
"Hold on a tic." Sasha's eyes narrowed, her attention split between three different sunrises. "Who's this?"
Erin regarded the photographs in question. The majority captured merely the horizon, where the sky met the ocean. These three caught the tip of the docks, where an indeterminate figure stood alone by the sea.
"I don't know."
"Go to her."
Erin's footsteps sounded light against the old stone pavement by the wharf. There by the ocean leaned a middle-aged woman all bundled up, her hands in her pockets, her hair in a bun. Her hair was blonde. She turned as Erin approached.
"Well hello there, deary. Here to take in the sunrise?"
"Er, yes," Erin looked over her shoulder. Sasha was floating uncomfortably close. "Is this your favorite spot?"
"It was my mother's, rest her soul. She always liked to come her to watch as the sun burst through the waves."
"Really? Why here in particular?"
The middle-aged woman signed.
"When she was young she fell off a boat not too far from here. Her older sister dove in and rescued her, but got caught herself in a current and got pulled under the boat. My mother liked to come her to remind herself. I suppose I just do it out of habit."
She spied Erin's camera.
"Are you a photographer? I'd love a picture."
Erin obliged her. The camera clicked and produced a picture. She took it and looked at it, her eyes wide.
There by the woman stood Sasha, smiling. She turned to look, but Sasha was gone.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 04:01|
Mud (890 words)
There was once a mansion that sat on a hill, surrounded by a sea of trees. People in the neighboring villages said that it was haunted, and there even rumors that an insane woman had killed her husband there many years ago. Legend said that, every night at midnight, the ghost of that woman came out to drive whoever was inside mad, just like her.
One day, a pastor by the name of Reginald learned about the house. A man of narrow conviction, he believed that there was nothing wrong with the house, and he offered five-thousand dollars to the person brave enough to spend the night inside. However, no one had the nerve to take him up on this bet.
That is, until one day when a boy by the name of Hansel went straight up to and took the man’s challenge. This boy did not believe in ghosts, and scoffed when Reginald asked if he wanted the pastor to leave the doors unlocked.
“Lock them,” he said. “Wouldn’t want any intruders getting in, right?”
The preacher gave Hansel a look but did what he asked.
Later that night, Hansel was locked in the mansion, and all of the doors leading out were locked.
Hansel smiled to himself. “This place isn’t so bad,” he told himself. “All of these town folk are just superstitious fools.”
After exploring every nook and cranny of the mansion, he retired to the living room. He lit a fire and the fireplace and hopped on the antique couch, not even bothering to kick off his shoes. He placed his hands behind his head and soon began to drift off to sleep.
Then, as nocturne settled outside, a gentle creek woke Hansel from his slumber. As he rose up, straightening his third collar, he could swear he heard a voice coming from somewhere.
“Who did this?” sang the voice.
“Must be the wind,” Hansel mumbled as he closed his eyes again.
However, it was not long before the voice came again.
“Who did this?” it cried.
“It has to be my imagination playing tricks,” Hansel told himself. “Just has to be. No such thing as spooks.”
He didn’t close his eyes again. The voice was back not long after, and it was coming from the foyer. Hansel rose to his feet and stomped over to the stairs.
“Alright, you little freaks.” He called out. “Come on out. You’ve had your fun.”
Just then, the fireplace in the living room went out, sending the entire house into pitch darkness. With a trembling hand Hansel reached for a candle on a table and lit it up.
Just as he turned around, there, in the light of the flame, was a floating severed head, it’s eyeballs ripped from its sockets and rotted teeth pitched in a growl.
Hansel nearly fell over in fright. He covered his mouth with his free palm and the head, that of a woman, parted its jagged maw, lifted an unconnected hand over her head and spoke.
“WHO TRACKED MUD ALL OVER MY CARPETS? AND ON MY SOFA?” screeched the woman, pointing a bony finger “WAS IT YOU?”
“Yes! Yes!” Hansel pleaded. “I swear it was an accident! I didn’t even know I got mud on my boots, just please don’t kill me!”
“FOR SHAME. I JUST GOT THIS CARPET INSTALLED LAST WEEK. DIDN’T ANYONE TEACH YOU TO WIPE YOUR FEET AT THE DOOR?” the woman spat. “HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I CAME INTO YOUR HOUSE AND STOMPED ALL OVER YOUR CARPETS?” she groaned. “KIDS THESE DAYS. NO RESPECT.”
Hansel blinked. Then he sneered. This was it? The spook in this house was some old coot?
“Okay, wow? Really? That’s what you’re getting angry about?” Hansel sneered, his fear suddenly draining. “Look, lady, everyone in town says you’re spooking up the place? They say whoever comes here is driven insane by a ghost. If this is your idea of coming back to haunt the living then you should, like, go back to being dead.”
“OH, SO YOU WANT TO BE SCARED?” she held up a piece of ghostly paper in her disembodied hand. “YOU SHOULD SEE HOW MUCH I’LL HAVE TO PAY TO GET THESE CARPETS CLEAN.”
Hansel looked at the paper, then at the floating head. Then, with a deep, calm breath, he looked at the paper clutched in the woman’s pale hand.
It was already morning, and Reginald was going up to check on the cocky boy. In his hands was a paper bag filled with the reward money. A promise was a promise, after all, and he intended to fulfill his end of the bargain.
Needless to say, he was shocked when he saw Hansel leap straight out of the window nearest the door. The preacher was prepared to ask the boy what was wrong when he froze. Hansel rose to his feet, a crazed look in his eyes and his pants down at his ankles. He couldn’t stop screaming, not even when he shoved Reginald off his feet. And so Reginald sat there on the grass, watching until Hansel disappeared into the clearing, left to wonder what in the devil he just saw.
That was the last anyone saw of Hansel. Some say he is still running to this day. In the end, no one ever did claim that reward.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 04:04|
Submissions for Week LXXXIV: Who You Gonna Call? are now CLOSED!
Techno Remix, Jeza, asap-salafi, and Anathema Device are, apparently, afraid of some ghost: they have failed to submit and are presumed to be cowering under their beds. JuniperCake and Jay O, both subject to , have declared their intentions to haunt us in a belated fashion. We shall see whether their words are good.
Now that we're past the wire, I can reveal the sources of certain flash rules. Those assigned by Fumblemouse were modified verses from William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell." Specifically:
Lake Jucas: The tygers of wrath are wiser than nightmares.
Original verse: "The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."
WeLandedOnTheMoon!: A dead body suffers not injuries.
Original verse: "A dead body revenges not injuries."
Paladinus: Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of your victims.
Original verse: "Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead."
QuoProQuid: Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse dead children.
Original verse: "Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires."
curlingiron: The cut worm forgives the wicked knife.
Original verse: "The cut worm forgives the plow."
CommissarMega: Eternity is in love with the secretions of time.
Original verse: "Eternity is in love with the productions of time."
My verse assignments came from different poems.
Barracuda Bang!: A hideous throng rush out forever / And laugh--but smile no more.
Source: Edgar Allan Poe's "The Haunted Palace."
Jay O: And the shadow of thy perfect bliss / Is the sunshine of ours.
Source: Edgar Allan Poe's "Israfel."
docbeard: In the teeth of Things forbid / And Reason overthrown
Source: Rudyard Kipling's "Helen All Alone."
We'll aim to have results out on Monday as always, but there's a great deal of reading to be done, so the judges require your patience.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 04:14|
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 05:38|
Wizards + bees, 200 words.
That's wizards fond of bees, wizards summoning bees, wizards composed entirely of bees; whatever floats your boat.
Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 06:29 on Mar 17, 2014
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 06:19|
Henry Arcanimus, 8 years old, still hadn't found his magic. His father paced their tower and chewed his lip. Miles, Henry's older brother, could call storms and send messages on the wind. There was a cousin who could raise the dead.
Henry began to suspect that he did know the nature of his special knack. It just wasn't very exciting.
I started when a bee landed right on the tip of Henry's nose.
"Shoo!" he said. The bee took off, but instead of flying away, she circled around his head. Henry felt confusion and disappointment that wasn't his own.
Soon, all of the bees of the family garden responded to him, shared their feelings with him.
One day, a withering blight struck all the farms in the realm. Henry's brother couldn't make the storms bring rain, and his cousin couldn't keep up with the number of dead from the famine. Only the family garden remained healthy.
Henry asked the bees if they could travel beyond the realm and bring back pollen from healthy forests and farms. In weeks, the land was verdant and bountiful again.
For Henry, there was never again a season without flowers.
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 06:56 on Mar 17, 2014
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 06:47|
Rules of Nature
‘Are you mad, wizard? This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!’ The castle was half empty and King’s words echoed through the hallways.
‘Your Majesty, we are completely cut off from our allies,’ said the wizard wearily. He hasn’t eaten for two days and hasn’t slept for two more. ‘Our resources are scarce due to the blockade and sadly I’m limited to nature spells. So, if we just summon…’
‘It’s still insane,’ interrupted the King.
‘If we summon all the bees from our so-called allies they’ll be bound to help us,’ insisted the wizard, ‘They don’t have druids, so it will give us at least some leverage, as a kingdom without bees is bound to suffer great economic losses. I swear, it makes sense.’
After a good minute of silence the King announced his royal decision with a faint nervous smile on his face, ‘So bee it!’
When the enemy entered the kingdom, it resembled a gigantic bee hive, except with swollen corpses lying here in there.
‘Buzz buzz buzz, Buzz,’ said the Queen to her general.
‘Buzz buzz, Buzz Buzz!’ The general eagerly flied off. He's been waiting for another order to attack for far too long.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 09:48|
No More Bee Juice 199 word
Blake ran back into the building and slammed the door. He held it shut with his shoulders and pulled off his mesh mask. His eyes darted around the room before centering on a chair. He rushed over and grabbed it, using it as a prop to keep the door closed. "Remember that bee we hosed with, with the purple flower on its head? It just did something I don't know how to explain and we need to go. Now."
"What's up dude? You're not making any sense." Tamara put her sandwich down on a pile of research papers and spun around. She began to stand when a loud squelching thud shook the floor. She rushed to the window.
A giant golem of honey and wax stomped towards the research center. It scooped up a tree and began pulling leaves and branches free. Upon reaching the building, it scooped the lid clean off. Blake and Tamara screamed as it slammed the tree into the center, mashing their innards against the log before scooping it up and into a gaping maw where a mouth should be. It smacked its golden lips and stomped away, looking for more human juice to suck.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 15:06|
|# ? Aug 18, 2022 08:38|
The Wizard's Bee
The wizard turned the horrid gaze of his third eye on Jeremy. His sonorous voice echoed throughout the scriptorium, “Your word is xangrashterphenotics.”
“X...a...n....g...uh....” a bead of sweat collected on his brow, “A?”
“Wrong!” the wizard cried. With one fluid movement of his knobby finger, he ripped a hole in space time and cast Jeremy into the nether.
The wizard turned to Ashley, and the poor girl withered under his stare. “Your word is sanguinostication.”
“Wrong!” the wizard cried again, and Ashley burst into a pile of worms.
“Next!” the wizard said. Suddenly all eyes were on me. “Your word is ftghnigrnndl.”
What?! The others at least had a chance. It wasn't fair!
The wizard's thin lips stretched into a wicked grin. “I am waiting.”
My heart was pounding in my chest. I needed something. Anything. “Uh...can you use it in a sentence?”
He furrowed his brow, “I...I can't.”
And just like that, the wizard vanished in an explosion of color and sound.
|# ? Mar 17, 2014 15:15|