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is this my song?
|# ? Jun 21, 2014 22:39|
|# ? Nov 27, 2022 16:03|
Well, here's my entry.
Inspired by Taco's version of "Puttin' on the Ritz".
Puttin' on the Ritz
A cloud moved, and the dull orange light of dusk escaped. It shone through the open, panelled double doors accompanied by a slow, yet constant breeze. This wind lifted the thin white curtains up into the air as if held in place by a tall and invisible man., revealing the weedy, overgrown garden.
This gently awoke him from his sleep. He’d been led across a three-seat sofa, atop the white sheets that covered it. Eyelids fluttered open. It had been an unexpected sleep. The sort you forget entering into, as deep as to leave all memories of life behind, to shape its own existence. The sort of sleep that lends credence to the possibility of a peaceful death. The sort of sleep where waking is like being born again.
He sat up, swinging his legs around so that his bare feet nestled into the thick carpet. A sigh. He rubbed his bare thighs that had never been as hairy as he would have liked. It had been a good sleep. But it changed nothing. He thought about checking his phone, left in his pocket, part of the heap of clothing on the floor.
Standing, he drew his back upright, feeling each cramped bone snap into place. He moved into the hallway. No carpet. Wooden floorboards. With a layer of dust. He was careful to place each bare-footed step into the shoe prints he had left coming the other way.
The first flight of steps did not creak. For some reason he thought that they would. He wasn’t sure if that was disappointing or not. Neither did the second flight. Or the third.
He felt the cold draft of air as soon as he stood in the third floor hallway. At the far end a bookshelf was half-open on a hinge. He knew that was where he had to go, but he couldn’t resist a quick detour into the second room on the right.
It was brighter than he remembered. Even after all the time that had passed. Memory does that. Changes. Has a language of its own. Posters, faded, retained the breadth of their colours. Books with their rainbow of sleeves. He pulled the white sheets from his old bed. The blue and red chequered duvet. It would all make so much sense to an outsider. The desire for a good life for him had been there once. But desire is an easy thing to have.
Back in the hallway. He pulled the bookshelf open further. The design of the manor interior immediately gave way to plain, red brick and dark, brown wood. A spiral staircase led upwards. Metal. No wood to offer the promise of creaking. It clattered softly as he made his way around them, the cold steps burning the soles of his feet. But he’d known it would clatter. The clatter between the walls at night.
The tucked away room at the top of the manor was dark, but the dim lighting still worked. It was smaller than he remembered. The wooden floor creaked as he walked to the large, grey trunk at the far side of the room. He winced as he felt a splinter dig into his toe.
He remained fixed on the trunk, refusing to let his eyes wander over the various other instruments in the room. Some he could see from the corner of his eyes, some he knew to be tucked away in drawers, boxes, discreet bags.
The trunk popped open easily, and swung silently on its hinges. He took the neatly folded bundle out.
He slipped the soft, black socks on first, taking it slow over the splinter. Then the black underwear. A bit tight, but acceptable. The striped trousers went on easily. Baggy. He left them unbuttoned. The white shirt with the Arrow collar next. Tucked into the trousers. The trousers tightened. The bracers slipped on to keep them steady. The cuff-links with those red, shiny stones – the ones that would catch his ear – carefully threaded into the shirt.
The black coat, a cutaway, fit perfectly. As if it has been tailored for him. It flowed over his body in just the right way.
Out of the cupboard in the corner, from the hatbox at the bottom, the high hat that had been such a staple of the silhouette belonging to the man who had worn it before.
He checked himself in the grimy mirror. He was almost complete.
It took him longer than he thought it would to find the box. It had fallen behind a battered dresser. His initials greeted him from the lid. Once shiny, now dull. It sprang open with a light touch.
The bow-tie. His bow-tie. The small, metal box next to it.
He dragged a wooden chair into the centre of the room. Pulled his trousers out as he sat down comfortably.
The tie around his neck. One end longer than the other. The weight square on the nape of his neck. The long end folded over the shorter. Then under. Afterwards, the tricky part. His fingers shook. Sweaty. The short end into a bow as he held the longer end, then that end folded other, back on itself, then through the centre of the first bow. He got it on the fourth try.
He sat there. Finished. “In the Ritz”. He held the metal box in front of him, and drew the aerial out. He turned a dial down. Pressed a button. A jolt at the back of the neck.
The dial all the way up. Pressed again. The pain quickly became so unbearable as to no longer register. He threw the box onto the floor, and began to stamp on it. Crushed and smoking. The buzzing on his neck went on. His eyesight began to blur. He fell forwards. Onto his knees. Crumpled.
The final embers of dusk ducked behind the horizon, and the wind stopped. The curtains fell still once again.
|# ? Jun 21, 2014 23:05|
No, this is your song.
is this my song?
|# ? Jun 21, 2014 23:05|
WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Making The Grade
I didn’t end up having a lot to say about this one. It was a fine story,and while I’m not sure it quite worked, Maggie being thrust into a world where her academic success didn’t count for much was an interesting take on the prompt.
BrilliantFool - The Whisperers
My initial comment on reading this, was “I feel like I’ve had a taste of something and been denied the meal it promised.” This is another story with something interesting underlying it -- the mystery surrounding the protagonist’s grandmother and whatever power she ascribes to speech -- that just goes completely undeveloped. And you weren’t even fighting the word count.
As a result, we know nothing about her, we know nothing about him, we know, essentially, nothing. And so we are left, in the end, with nothing.
Jick Magger - The Mirage
You had a few turns of phrase that erred a bit on the side of being too clever; “blinded by a sudden burst of flashlight”, while it’s a neat phrase, is a bit at war with the tone of the rest of the piece.
But that’s really the only complaint I had, and it’s a minor one. This is a solid piece of work.
V For Vegas - Ceiling Guy
This probably wasn’t objectively very good, but I liked it anyway. It carries itself on absurdity and charm. That’s a big risk, but you got away with it here.
I was left wondering why he didn’t just go out to, like, Home Depot and buy a ladder, though.
Kaishai - Writing On The Wall
From my initial notes: “I don't think this'll be my pick for winner (though it's hard to say) but it's one of the few that's going to linger with me long after this contest is forgotten.”
So what changed my mind? There’s something about the general theme of personal value being ascribed to objectively meaningless acts, thus rendering them meaningful after all that has always appealed to me, and I think that, in the end, is what made this story click with me so hard. Maybe your protagonist isn’t really a hero in the classical sense, but he occupies the same conceptual space as one, and his efforts are important simply because they’re important to him.
Its themes are reminiscent, in some ways, of another of my favorite novels, the combined Sailing To Sarantium/Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay. This isn’t the place to go into detail about that, but if you haven’t read those books, read them.
Nikaer Drekin - Small Victories
I hated this story. Not because it was a bad story; it wasn’t (though it was miles from the territory staked out by the prompt). But because it evoked such a strong reaction of “gently caress that guy” in me. Which, I think, makes it an effective piece of writing in its way. Better to hate your ineffectual spiteful gently caress of a protagonist than to not care about him.
I think that to turn this into a great story about a terrible person, though, once again I needed more. Some context against which his spite, his plans that come to nothing, his ineffectual revenge have some sort of meaning, or at least some reason for their existence.
Surreptitious Muffin - Constable Xinling Lands the Graveyard Shift
Even if you blatantly disregarded the flash rule you asked for, you turned in a solid enough piece of writing that it would be churlish to hold that against you. Oh wait, Thunderdome, so gently caress YOU FOREVER.
Idealistic cop in a world of corrupt cops is pretty well-established territory, but the execution of it was solid, and you use details well to enhance the experience rather than distract from it. I found the Special Branch cops a bit over-the-top but I even got a sense of humanity from them, in the end.
This, again, felt like a piece of something larger (which, from what you said before, it might well be).
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 16:20|
due to reasons i will not be submitting.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 17:46|
Ten hours remain to write the stories that make the whole world scream.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 18:06|
(Song: "Stand By Me")
Keeping the Darkness Away
Jen’s father had left, and the air was still humid and rank with sweat. She turned to her side as she was and stared out the window. Faint traces of moonlight fell through, barely piercing the thick darkness around her.
“Are you okay?” Maddie said from the side of her bed.
Jen nodded, once, barely. Maddie slipped under the sheets and gave her a hug from behind. It lit a fire inside her. The moon seemed a lot brighter again, as always.
“Try to sleep,” Maddie said.
“I love you, Maddie,” Jen said.
In 25 years, Jen had never trusted any man as much as Benjamin. They’d first met at the wine bar. When she’d approached him, and he’d turned to face her, his eyes had lit up and hers had felt like they’d done the same. There was something about him, maybe that innocent smile. It radiated a charming naiveteé.
“What are you looking for?” she’d asked.
“What is a good wine to enjoy by yourself?” he’d said.
“A good wine without company? We have a cheap Chianti.”
His smile had broadened then. Jen had never been the funny type, but that’s a thing she’d learned to appreciate about Ben. He brought out the best in her.
The same couldn’t be said for Maddie. Every night there would be questions. “What’s so good about him?” “How do you know you can trust this man?” Jen had ignored the comments, and it had worked out for a while.
Until she’d decided to take the next big step. And he’d agreed, of course. And it was awkward, at first, but also beautiful. Because she’d wanted it too.
That night Maddie reappeared when Ben was gone. She was eerily quiet. She didn’t join Jen in bed, or give her a hug, or tell her to try to sleep. She seemed lost in thought, and even looked translucent in the light of the crescent moon.
“What’s wrong?” Jen asked.
“You smell like him.”
Maybe she was just being dramatic.
“Not funny,” Maddie said. “Do you like him?”
“And what about me?”
“You’re like a sister to me.”
She tilted her head, stepped towards Jen. “And you think your heart is big enough for two.”
“What do you mean?”
Maddie smiled, but her eyes didn’t. “You're a mess Jen. You can't love both of us. So tell me, should I leave?”
“Maddie, you don’t have to--”
“Do you remember what that’s like, without me?”
She couldn’t be serious. “I--”
There was no Maddie.
A cold dread came over Jen, a sudden awareness of the thick air, the silence, the immovable walls and ground. She curled up on the bed, pulled the sheets towards her, pressed them against her chest. She was trapped.
The walls moved closer. The mute ambience rang in her ears. Her eyes twitched, hunting for something to latch on to. They found nothing. Darkness was all around her, entering her, filling her mouth and throat and lungs. She felt her breasts rise and drop, but no air. A metal fist pounded against her chest from the inside.
“Maddie, come back. Please, come back.”
He was in the room.
There was only the sound of his breath.
She felt it on her neck. She froze.
“Maddie,” she squeaked.
The moonlight returned.
Jen was safe. Aftershocks still sizzled through her body, leftover adrenaline giving her goosebumps.
“You will leave this man,” Maddie said.
“I can’t,” Jen said and began to sob. “I can’t. I love him.”
Maddie didn’t speak for a long time. Then she said: “Then he must disappear. Or I will.”
“Here’s to us,” Ben said. Their glasses touched. There was a ring in the air, clear and subtle. They drank Chenin Blanc. Jen nipped at it, while he took a big gulp. No appreciation for the good vintage.
They talked, but it was all meaningless. A farce that Jen couldn’t get into. Benjamin noticed something was wrong with her. “Is everything alright?” he asked.
Then he noticed that something was wrong with him, too.
Jen sat there, still and cold as an ice bust, as Benjamin complained about his dry throat and loosened his collar to breathe. He cramped up, began to shake. He reached out for her, clawed at the table. He gurgled something that sounded like her name. He didn't understand why she didn’t react. Innocent to the end. He keeled over, pressed against the soft fabric on their candlelight dinner arrangement. Then his body went limp, a final death throe that sent a jolt through her.
Ben was dead.
Maddie smiled. “Now we’ll always be together,” she said.
Jen stared at Ben’s twisted body, the final look in his eyes a mixture of shock, confusion and pain. The truth was, if he’d known what she’d done, it wouldn’t have made a difference. This man had loved her. If she’d told him it was poison, he would have probably drunk it on account of knowing that she wanted him dead. That was the worst of it.
She reached for Ben’s glass. Maddie took a quick step forward, but then Jen had already drunk the wine. The taste was almost spot-on. Almost. She’d have known the difference.
“Jen,” Maddie said, “what are you doing?”
Jen set down the glass, turned it in her hands. A tiny, clear drop swirled around the bottom. Her throat dried up. “I’m making the darkness go away,” she said meekly.
“But... there is no darkness. Not as long as we’re together?”
“I am the darkness.”
“Jen…” Maddie’s voice quivered.
“And you are.”
Maddie looked like a mirage in the moonlight. A shady echo carried over from a dark past. You could probably walk through her.
“I love you,” Jen said, but Maddie was gone, and Benjamin was dead. And in her final moments, Jen couldn’t even decide who she’d said it to. Probably both.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 21:35|
I've tried two different stories, neither of them are any good. I might miss this round.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 22:18|
Five hours are left on the clock. Twenty-nine stories remain unaccounted for.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 22:59|
The Song's Stuck In My Head (And I Kind Of Like It Now) 1200 words Song
I pull into that gas station at five thirty. It's always five thirty, because out here, the road's empty at five thirty. The guy comes out like always and this time I open a cooler in my passenger seat and hand him a six pack. The guy looks surprised and asks what this is about, and I say it's because I work in a brewery and he's got a tough job. He turns his head sideways and looks like he's going to turn down the beer but it's hot, so he cracks one open and I see the grin stretch over his face and you know, this time, he looks so happy I get back in my truck and start the engine.
"Ma'am," he says into my window, "ain't you gonna fill'er up?" He nods to my gas tank and it's a shame he wants me to stay but it's why I take this road and stop here. I do what I gotta do, and slam my door open right into his face. He staggers back and I climb out of my truck and think about how I should pick up some eggs on my way home as I open his head up with a tire iron. He doesn't move after that. I wash the blood off my hands and arms with the bottle I keep in the back of my truck for this kind of thing and take that country road home, to Darryl and the girl.
Darryl's real quiet during breakfast. The girl laughs in the yard, pretending she doesn't have school in an hour, and I take a sip of my coffee when he tells me why I'm awful today.
"You were late home last night," he says, and puts his spoon down by his bowl like he's got to have his hands ready for a fight.
"Sorry. It's got real busy at work." I try to smile at him but I'm too busy thinking about the guy at the gas station and all I give him is a shrug with my cheeks.
His eyes get real suspicious and I don't think he knows he slid his chair back but I've gotten good at seeing that sort of thing. "Is there another man?"
"No." It doesn't feel like a lie, so it must be the truth. I continue. "I got new responsibilities."
"Last night, when you got in. Babe, your shirt smelled like beer and men's cologne. It wasn’t mine.”
I don't have an answer to that, so I take another sip of coffee. Darryl's jaw cracks and his temple bulges. I give him back the quiet he's throwing at me and Sue-Anne runs in from outside. She's nine and blonde, so Darryl won't hit her. My hair’s black as tarmac. Darryl breaks the stare and stands, lifting his daughter, his tattoos wrapping around her waist like guardians. "Come on, Sue-Anne," he says, then he says something else but I'm thinking about the gas station. I don't know when it happens, but they're gone from the kitchen by the time I stand up.
I want to get home earlier than usual for Darryl, and the girl, so I put the shotgun in my truck. Five thirty comes and I pull in to the gas station. The guy comes out. I pull the trigger but the first shot misses and I get out of the truck and before I know it, the sun's going down. I get back in the truck and leave the body where it lays. I’ll be better tomorrow, I think.
It's dark and quiet at home so I get in bed. It doesn't feel right and I realize I've still got my boots on. I pull the covers back and see the mud I've left on the sheets. Darryl comes in the room while I'm cleaning and I can tell he's mad, because he just stands in the doorway and watches. We look at each other and he turns around and slams the door. I know he wants me to follow. He wants us to yell, but I don't feel like I need to yell any more. I clean the sheets and get into bed and dream about gas stations.
"You didn't eat with us last night, Mommy," Sue-Anne says in the morning. She sips on some orange juice and looks just like Darryl's ex-wife. It hits me that I'm not bothered by that any more.
"Yeah, Mom. Where were you?" Darryl doesn't have his daughter's smile in his voice, so I don't look at him when I respond.
"I had some extra work to do. I picked up food from a gas station on my way back. I'll be home early tonight, I promise."
"It's Saturday." Darryl stares at me. "I've got an interview at the fire station today, so you're keeping Sue-Anne company. She's going to tell me all about it later." He buries his fists in his words, just deep enough so his daughter can't see. I remember and tell him so. We watch him leave, then I help Sue-Anne get in my truck and we go for a drive. I notice my gas is running low.
I never meant for Sue-Anne to see, but the guy tried to run away so what was I supposed to do? We head back and she's real quiet, so I tell her a story while I drive. I tell her all about the little girl with the fire inside, and the man with the dragon arms who can't get burned so he beats the fire back. Then I tell her all about the long country road, with the gas station at one end, and home at the other, but the road keeps switching up which end's which, and sometimes the little girl's the one who can’t be burned, only she’s too small, so she has to beat harder. I even tell her about the accident, the one I kept a secret from Darryl, where I found the man who never remembers yesterday because he's always getting dead. Sue-Anne just sits there quiet, and it isn't long before I join her. She cries a bit. I don't care.
Darryl beats us home, and Sue-Anne runs up and hugs him. I start to make dinner while they talk in another room, then she leaves with the dog on a leash. Darryl comes in and he's got this anger I've never seen. He doesn't aim it at me, just throws over the table and shouts things that aren't even words any more. I nod and keep making dinner. He tries to kiss me, then he slaps me. For a quarter of a second, he looks like when we met and I get my feelings back. They're gone faster than they came. I give him that shrug with my mouth and turn away to check on dinner. Eventually, he takes some suitcases out to the car. I won't see him again, and it's funny how I know I should feel something, but my brain's busy elsewhere. I'm thinking about how I never did fill up my truck. I know my gas is running low. Maybe I'll go for a drive tomorrow.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 23:05|
song: I Need a Hero
The Man From Korreskine (1196 words)
After the war ended, soldiers began to pass through my forest. They came in ones and twos, ragged and glassy-eyed, going home. I asked the first one I met whether we had won. The look on his face told me never to ask again.
In a year the wood had once again grown peaceful; after two, it was as if they had never come. I assumed that every living soldier had found his way home. Yet one morning I found a final soldier unconscious in my garden, his clothing soaked in blood.
Wounds, from the beasts that haunt these woods, stood out like mouths on his skin. Beneath the cuts and sores were scars of every description. I bound his injuries with poultices. Finally, three days later, his eyes fluttered open.
“Where is your home, soldier?” I asked.
“Korreskine,” he said, in a voice so ruined I could scarcely make out the words. “Yet Korreskine is naught but ashes now, and my children burnt to ashes with it.”
For as long as men would murder each others’ children over scraps of earth, I would gladly live in the wilderness alone. “To where are you traveling?” I asked.
“When I laid eyes on Korreskine,” he said, “I vowed to travel until I fell where I stood.” Beneath his eyes were the dark circles of many sleepless nights. “Yet you have saved my life. And now I make this vow to you, on my childrens’ graves: I will keep you from any harm, for as long as I breathe.”
“You are kind,” I said, “But what harm could befall me in these woods?” For twenty years that spring, I had lived here alone. I had built my cottage stone by stone, and it had stood through every storm and siege.
“You do not understand what man and beast can do,” the soldier said, in that hoarse and ashy voice. “Especially when one believes oneself safe.”
That night I tucked him into my own narrow bed, and settled myself before the fire. I awoke a dozen times to the sound of the soldier’s knife against his whetstone, his heavy footsteps on the floor. Only at dawn did a fitful sleep overcome me.
When I awoke it was pitch-dark in my cottage. I looked about myself in bewilderment. Never before had I slept the whole day through. Then I noticed the tightly-fitted planks nailed over my windows. Although the door was not locked, it did not budge in its frame, even when I heaved my weight against it. Putting my ear to it, I heard chopping and whistling from the yard. I pounded at it, feeling panicked, and called for the soldier.
He grunted as he dragged away the stone that blocked the door. The light that streamed in blinded me. “What has happened?” I said. “Why have you boarded the windows? Why have you blocked the door?”
The soldier’s eyes were dark and sunken. I could trace his skull beneath his skin. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw a row of sharpened fenceposts at the edges of my little clearing.
“You are safer in the house,” he said. “How else can I protect you?”
He slammed the door behind him. I pounded on it until my hands were raw and bleeding, but no answer came.
For three days and three nights, I heard whistling and hammering from outdoors. I scarcely slept. It seemed the soldier did not sleep at all. I pounded the boarded windows and clawed at the walls. Nothing gave. I had made my cottage too strong. He had even taken my handaxe and knives: “You could injure yourself,” he said, “and I am not an expert at the ways of healing.”
He had trapped me like a bird in a cage.
He would hear no reason. He neither ate nor drank. I saw my clearing only when he opened the door. He had hung great swathes of thorns from his fenceposts. He had piled the corpses of bears and wolves in the garden.
One morning I squeezed up the chimney, to find that he had nailed a metal grating over the top. My shriek of fury vibrated the cottage walls. If I had wanted to go to war, I would not have gone alone to the woods. Yet it seemed, for the first time, that I must.
I went to my pantry.
Potatoes, carrots, and salt beef. Parsley and dill. And a bundle of leaves from that plant they call devil’s cherry. A pinch of it will ease the pain of injury. A handful will stop the heart. In an hour, the smell of my stew filled the house.
When the soldier returned, I made myself tremble.
“Are you well?” he whispered.
“I am afraid,” I said.
He drew himself upright. “What have you to fear?”
“I fear for your health,” I said. “You grow thin and sallow. If you collapse outside, who will protect me?” I dipped my ladle into the bubbling stew pot.
“I cannot,” he said. Yet I saw the hunger in his eyes. I let a look of apprehension cross my face, and pressed the ladle into his hand. He took it, and ate.
I waited on him as he sat before the fire. The dizziness of the poison had already lit upon him. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, nearly dropping his bowl.
“I am grateful,” he slurred. “I am grateful to have finally. Found somebody. Worth protecting.”
“Yes,” I said. “Of course.” I patted his hand where it rested in my lap.
“I only wish that I had…” Tears beaded in his eyes. He leaned heavily on my shoulder. “Now I just ask,” he said. “That you would bear me children.”
I had lived alone for twenty years. To imagine the soldier rutting atop me made my throat fill with bile. “Of course,” I said, a moment too late. Yet he must have seen my look of horror.
He shoved me away. I shrieked, nearly falling into the fire. He staggered to his feet. “Ungrateful,” he slurred, pointing a finger at me. “But you’ll see. I’m the only thing standing between you and…” He stumbled towards the door, dropped to one knee, dragged himself to his feet again.
“Wait,” I said. “Don’t go. I’m sorry. Sit back down.” The door was swinging shut. I flung myself at it. I heard him sliding the great stone in front of it.
“No,” I shrieked. “No! Come back!”
He dropped before he made it off the porch.
I sat for a few hours, weeping and calling out, until his hideous snoring stopped. Then came a silence that has not been broken since.
I have squeezed the last drops from my waterskin. My fingernails are bloody stumps from clawing at the door. My teeth have cracked from gnawing at the wood. I built this cottage well. It will never fall to my hand.
The soldier was the only man to stumble through my woods for many months. Now I can only hope, sitting in the darkness as my tongue dries out in my skull, that a second one will come.
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 23:10|
(Song: "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)")
I’ve Got To Have My Way Now, Baby
Irving sat at the bar, twisting his wedding band. He tried sipping the fruity cocktail in front of him, but its sticky-sweetness turned his stomach. Besides, he figured drinking would only make his headache worse. The heavy strains of synthpop needed no help in that department. Irving spun in his stool and looked out at the writhing crowd on the dance floor, bewildered that they seemed to actually be having a good time. Mike sat down beside him and clapped his shoulder, snapping him back to reality. Irving shot him a look.
Mike laughed. “Hey, don’t get all pissy at me, bud, this was your idea!”
“What? I wouldn’t even be here if you and Ed hadn’t insinuated that my idea of a wild night is discovering a new needlepoint stitch. What more do you want?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe for you to have a good time? Maybe get up and dance, chat up one of the five hundred gorgeous honeys scattered around the joint?”
“You know I’m married, Mike.”
“Well, you don’t have to gently caress any of them! Look, see that blonde over at the edge of the crowd?”
Irving saw her. A tall woman in a tight black dress, golden curls falling around her shoulders, shock-red lips sticking out in the dark. She gyrated alone, in perfect time with the music. Her eyes turned and met his. She smiled. Irving stood up in a flash. He gulped and walked over to her, Mike whooping back at the bar, Way to go, Irv-Man! Go get her, bud!
Another few seconds and he was in her space, reluctant at first, but she seemed to draw him in with her magnetic gaze, her slender fingers. She writhed against his body, hands running up and down his back. He undulated, caught up in a synth-fueled voodoo trance, heart pounding in time with the thumps of bass. Her fingers worked through his hair like snakes in a grassy field. She pulled his face close enough to bump her nose and shouted, “After this song… let’s find some privacy.”
Her amber eyes locked on to his, her lips curling into a slinky smirk. The pit of Irving’s stomach fell, but he nodded and smiled back, the warmth of intoxicating passion flowing through his body. The blonde clutched the sides of his head, kissing him as she dug in with her fingernails, and just as her body slipped away from his, the song faded out. She caught his hand in a tight squeeze and led the way.
The next thing he knew they were in a bathroom, blacklights shining up from the floor, the neon-blue glow making them look like a pair of Martians getting freaky. She attacked his face, her lips leaving a cherry-red smear after every impact. Irving clutched her tight, kissing back every once in a while, but content to let her do most of the work. He felt her powerful hips, the sleek curve of her back, then up to her shoulders, her dress’s slim straps arching over them. She felt his touch, smiled, and pulled away. She tugged one strap off her left shoulder, and the sight of her bare skin and the strap hanging there limp, her expression coy and sweet, made something click in Irving’s mind.
“No. No, dammit, I can’t do this! What the heck is wrong with me?”
“Not a single thing, baby.”
He flashed his ring at her. “Do you see this? Don’t you know what this is supposed to mean?”
“Oh, please. You weren’t thinking about that on the dance floor, sugar.” She lifted a finger, pressed it to his forehead. “Trust me, I know.”
Irving pulled away. “No. Sorry. I should never have…” He darted to the mirror, saw the lipstick smeared all over his face. “poo poo. I have to go, just forget it, okay?” He sprinted out of the men’s room, not noticing the blonde’s face twist into a wicked grin.
Back at the dance floor, the crowd seemed bigger now, pulsing and bumping to Dead or Alive, their big hit, You Spin Me Round. Irving could feel the crowd spin around him, rapid-fire synth notes piercing his senses, so he shut his eyes and barged forward, knowing that
ALL I KNOW IS THAT TO ME
he’d find Mike on the other side. He could feel his shoulders colliding with dancers, their laughs and gleeful shrieks blending with the music to create a disorienting cocktail, a thick fog of revelry that threatened
YOU LOOK LIKE YOU’RE LOTS OF FUN
to swallow him up. Irving kept moving, heart racing, trying to find one more burst of strength to make it through. He felt blades, or talons, or maybe even razor-sharp red fingernails raking at his skin and clothes, at first just light scratches, but each scrape seemed to dig deeper and
OPEN UP YOUR LOVING ARMS
deeper, flaying him alive. Still Irving endured, feeling the claws cut to the bone, pressing through despite the white-hot agony. He used his last drop of strength for one final push, and then…
WATCH OUT HERE I COME
Nothing. All of a sudden the pain was gone. All Irving felt was the cool air on his skin. His eyes filled with tears of relief, and he opened them, intending to find Mike so they could get the hell out of there.
He found himself standing in front of the bathroom door. The glow of a blacklight leaked out from the door’s edges. No, goddamn it, that wasn’t possible! He’d gone straight through, no turning at all, so how’d he end up back where he started?
He shook his head. His instincts told him, gently caress the crowd, just go around them, so he kept to the wall and ran. He went around a corner and saw the glint of neon blue ahead of him again, shining out from between the bathroom door. No, he screamed, gently caress it, gently caress IT! He charged past the door and around the next corner, saw the bathroom door again and kept running, tears blurring his vision, as the music bellowed at him over and over:
I WANT YOUR LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE.
I WANT YOUR LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!
Irving ran until stubble poked through his face, ran until it grew into a ratty beard. He kept encircling the dance floor until his clothes, sticky with sweat, started wearing away. His tongue felt dry enough to crack in two. Dead or Alive’s big hit kept looping, etching itself into Irving’s mind. Finally, after rounding one last corner, he stopped. His shaky legs lowered him to the floor, where he sat propped up on the wall by the bathroom. After a moment it opened, and the blonde walked out, taller than ever, rubbing her hands dry. She smiled at him.
“Hi, sugar,” she said. “I hope you’ve reconsidered my offer.”
Slowly, Irving nodded. He looked down at his hands and realized his wedding ring was gone.
The blonde beamed down at him, parting her flawless crimson lips. She offered him a hand. “Wonderful, my sweet. How about we get you a glass of water?”
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 23:19|
Here, have a 6 word, real-life horror story instead of my submission:
Masters thesis computer, potentially catastrophic problems.
I call it The Safe-Mode Dance
|# ? Jun 22, 2014 23:21|
A Mean Pinball
Nethilia fucked around with this message at 04:45 on Dec 30, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 00:06|
Inspired by Wind Beneath My Wings
Word count: 917
In the Shadows
Chris opened the door to the basement. The light from hallways spilled into the basement and Chris’s shadow appeared. He smiled at his old friend.
“I brought another one for you,” Chris said.
He turned the light switch on and the room became illuminated. His shadow grew darker. They walked over to the small girl who was tied to a chair.
The shadow detached from Chris and floated over to the girl. She squirmed as Chris approached, unaware of the shadow that moved around the room.
“Maybe this time it’ll work.” Chris said to the shadow.
Chris checked the ropes, ensuring that the girl was restrained. She let out a soft whimper, but Chris ignored her.
“Alright, it should be good.” Chris said.
The shadow approached. The girl became enshrouded in shade and she struggled in her chair. Her screams were muffled by the cloth and she shook furiously. The shadow sunk into the girl’s body and she went limp.
“Did it work?”
The shadow reemerged from the body and came back to Chris.
Chris stared at the white ceiling, listening to the monotonous beep echo in the room.
He heard footsteps and looked towards the door, hoping to see an old face to greet him. A shadow appeared under the door. His heart rose.
But the shadow moved into the room without a person. Chris passed it off as nothing more than a delirious illusion. The shadow moved around the room, but Chris turned his head away from it. He closed his eyes, ignoring the anomaly. He was tired, although all he did now was sleep.
He woke up to a faintly illuminated room. He opened his eyes and found that the shadow was still present. Chris was skeptical of whether what he saw was real or fake. A faint whisper was heard from outside the room, but it was too soft to be heard.
“What do you want?” Chris asked the shadow. Chris shook his head. He was literally talking to shadows.
The shadow came over to Chris and felt a chill as it approached its body.
A faint voice was heard from outside the room, “Do you need help?”
Chris sighed. “No. I don’t.” Chris wasn’t frightened by the voice. It was kind and soothing.
“Will you help me?” The voice came from inside the room.
“I don’t think I can.”
“If I help you, will you help me?”
“How can you help me?” Chris asked.
“I can give you a new life.”
“I’ll do it.” Chris said.
A warmth came over Chris. With a sudden surge of energy, Chris pulled off all of the needles and devices stuck to his skin. He stood out of bed and opened the door to leave the room.
“Thank you.” The voice now came from inside Chris’s head.
Chris followed the shadow outside the hospital. The sun’s warmth had been forgotten by him, but he was ready to take advantage of his new opportunity.
Chris walked out of the basement and into the kitchen. He sat down at the kitchen table and took a swig of his coffee.
“The next one will work.” The voice said.
They had gone through countless possible hosts, but none of them were viable. All of them ended the same way.
“Yes. Of course.” Chris said.
“We just have to look harder.”
Chris was doubtful. He was looking harder. Every person he brought in was better than the last, but every time it ended in disaster.
“We need to find the perfect host.” The voice said.
Chris was beginning to believe there was no perfect host. Even if there was one, how could he know? He had a system in place that he believed would find him the right person, but there has never been any success.
“Are you giving up?” The voice asked.
“Of course not.” Chris replied.
“Good. Remember our deal.”
Chris laughed. Of course he would remember the deal. The shadow would never let him forget.
“We’ll find the right one. I promise.” Chris said.
Chris got up and put on a coat. He had a few more people that he needed to test and others to observe. As he opened the door, he stopped.
“Could I be your host?” Chris said to the shadow.
“It’s a possibility.” The voice said.
“Can we try?”
“No. If it would fail you would die and I would have to find someone new to follow. People aren’t keen to accepting deals with a shadow.”
“Every time we’ve done this, it has failed. We have to try something new or you’ll never get a body. Maybe it’s me, and there’s only one way to find out.”
The voice was silent for a moment. “Fine.”
Chris walked back into the kitchen and sat down.
“Thanks.” Chris said, drinking the last of his cold coffee. “Thanks for everything.”
The shadow broke from Chris’s body and stood upright. The shadowy figure perfectly resembled Chris’s frame. The darkness moved closer to him and before it touched him, the shadow disappeared. His body tensed up as he felt knives being plunged into his chest, each strike was more painful than the last. The pain lasted for only a moment. Chris’s body went limp.
A crunch echoed in the room as Chris’s body was forced to move its hand. It struggled to push itself off the chair, but the body was defiant. It slumped back into the chair, but a smile appeared on its face.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 00:12|
Yeah I'm out this week.
I want to pretend it was work related problems but actually I just ended up partying way too hard this weekend and now my brain is crying.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 00:24|
Me also. :/
There's just no way i'll have time to finish my piece tonight. I'll try jumping in another time.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 01:21|
I've tried two different stories, neither of them are any good. I might miss this round.
You pick one and cannibalize the other. Come on, there's still time left!
I'll give you a line-by-line if you submit.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 01:35|
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:17 on Dec 29, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 01:47|
You pick one and cannibalize the other. Come on, there's still time left!
There's also the problem that if I submit, I'm guaranteed to lose, because it turns out that I don't know how to write a horror story and instead wrote a lovely sorta crime scene.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 01:50|
Me also. :/
There's also the problem that if I submit, I'm guaranteed to lose, because it turns out that I don't know how to write a horror story and instead wrote a lovely sorta crime scene.
The valiant don't declare defeat. The valiant finish up and submit, though they may be late and disqualified, though the chance of loss remains after hope of victory has fled.
Only stuff that makes it in on time is eligible to win (late entries can lose; that's the risk you run), but I'll critique all stories submitted within twenty-four hours of the deadline.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 01:59 on Jun 23, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 01:54|
You Take the High Road and I'll Take the Low
Song: Love Shack
I passed the familiar sign late that evening, still hanging there below the warning for a sharp turn. I was fifteen miles from the Love Shack with a thousand behind me. I flicked up the headlights and gunned it, my ancient Chrysler chunking with the effort. We tore down through the glen, between the mountains. Maybe I still had time.
It had seemed like a good idea back then: I remember that much. You couldn't have the same parties in Edinburgh, what with the pigs bearing down on the smell of grass. Pulling onto the final one-track road, I ignored the lost, bleating, GPS and kept on going.
The track up to the Love Shack was ten miles of bare earth, with great divots carved out of it by years of vehicles more used to city streets. My car knew the drill and we pushed ourselves up the slope, the familiar clashing of gears growing louder as we ascended. It was louder this time. Too loud. Something popped in the car's guts, and we ground to a halt, engine clicking.
poo poo. Two miles to go. Need to move fast. I opened the back door and hauled out my bag and stick. Reaching under the grimoire, I pulled out my compass. It still worked. Heaving the bag over my shoulder, I started limping up the track, my stick finding purchase in the soil beneath me.
- - -
There's an old myth round these parts. When the crofters were thrown off the land with fire and steel, they fled over the sea: America, Canada, the colonies. The sheep now grazing where they once strained over thin earth had no need of their houses, their old stone crofts; they sat, derelict, dotted across the Scottish Highlands, the sharp wind tearing them down over centuries.
The former tenants, so it was said, mourned their loss amongst the swarm of dispossessed souls that was the New World. As they died exiles on foreign soil, they went to their graves hoping to find their way down to the Low Roads, and pass beneath the sea. So these things go. People believe things. I remember them.
- - -
The path finally peaked, and sloped down into a copse. I slowed as I came into it, straining my eyes in the gloom. Up in the canopy above, a Tibetan prayer flags still clung to its branch. Fluttering in the wind, the sacred entreaties written in its fabric were cast soundlessly, over and over down the empty glen.
drat fool stuff, of course. When I first came here we were still young. Didn't have a clue what we were doing. This forest, rippled in darkness, seemed older than it did then, gnarled branches reaching up to block the moonlight. It was as my dreams had shown me.
Something had indeed woken here. I could feel it on my wrinkled, prickling skin. After the party in '76 none of us had ever gone back: quietly we had laughed off our days of dabbling and doping, at best an anecdote for the more risqué sixtieth birthdays. Funky trips, man, and spooky games.
Most of us had, anyway. But it seemed I wasn't the only one who hadn't moved on. Someone had shifted the balance here.
I passed another sign:
1 mile to the Love Shack
Stay away fools
is what it should have said. I remember. But something had got to it. Mud, maybe. 1 mile to was all that remained, the rest obscured. I started running.
- - -
By the time I reached the Love Shack my knee had nearly given in. The old stone house was worse than I expected: it was amazing it still stood at all. Panting, I opened my bag and felt for the grimoire. It had gone.
I cursed, and pulled out a torch. Its dull light shone on the front wall. The garish paints we had slathered over it were cracked and faded. The old patterns we'd copied for the rituals were interrupted by mud and moss and holes where stones had fallen, the size of a man's head. That couldn't be right. If the patterns were broken, the ritual had been broken. But then what was the foreboding in my dreams, the dark stain on this place, if not what we had played with as young folks?
Whoever – whatever – had done this knew what it was doing, breaking the bind upon the place. Our children's games had no power here now. They hadn't for some time.
The earth trembled. A few more stones came loose, toppling in front of my feet. That settled it: this was something else. The grimoire would have known what, but I had to go on without. Stuff like this belonged in the dead cold earth of yesterday, and here I was. It was our Shack, after all. I couldn't just leave it like that.
- - -
I stepped inside the skeleton of the house, ducking below the low doorframe. Inside it looked like a real earthquake hit it, but given how we'd parted company with the place I couldn't be sure. I remember the makeshift seating, the half eaten sofa, the cooker I'd set up in '69: all fallen now. The window sheeting was lost, and the wind tore through the croft, stirring.
A bang, and the floor cracked. My feet shifted, and the furniture began to slide into the crack.
I drew a breath. “Fie, darkness! Away wi ye tae the pit! By the-”
The whole building shook, and I fell to my knees, my banishing broken. Dust belched out of the hole, coating the croft. For a single precious moment, the Love Shack fell still, with only the franticly gentle tinkling of peace chimes to disturb me. I remember hanging them there. I must have put them up wrong.
I take one more look at the place my younger self had helped build, just before the walls crumple in on themselves and I fall.
- - -
It's nice and peaceful down here, but it's not home, and that's what counts; I remember. I can't stay here, mustn’t. Down in the darkness, I hunt for one elusive path, the road to that old Love Shack; I'm still searching and I've got to get back.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:00|
It Will Soon Pass, Celebrate It
1,108 words - inspiration here
... I give you my phone number, when you worry call me, I—
The whistling stopped.
He saw the room light up through his blindfold, his eyelids easing open once more. The first time they slipped his blinder off, he frantically tried to gather as much information as he could—cinderblock walls, concrete floor, steel door to his right, a single humming fluorescent light, eight by eight, maybe. Not much he could do handcuffed to the floor. The second time, nothing had changed. He had low hopes for the third.
Someone yanked the headphones off, and the hollow silence of the cell filled his ears once more. His head desperately wanted to loll back and sleep, but the taser burn on his neck made moving excruciating. His captor tore the cloth from his face, and his eyes readjusted. She squat down in front of him, her eyes piercing through her balaclava. She had changed vests—black, not tan. Same camo outfit otherwise. Same dead, brown-eyed stare.
“Money.” She didn’t phrase it like a question anymore, but as a rote statement, a hint of disappointment underlying the southern drawl. He tried to sputter a response, an apology, an anything, but choked on his words.
She settled down in front of him with a heavy sigh, resting her forearms on her knees. “It’s very old-school, this loyalty. I get it. You don’t want to sell them out.
“But this—look at me.” She pulled his chin up, her finger sticking slightly to the string of drool running down his neck. “This is over. There’s no one left to sell. Rose is dead, and Gregory’s on life support. Consider it a happy miracle for both of us that you’re not in there with them. Whether you stay that way is completely up to you. Where is the money?”
He weakly slurred a response. “Iunno.”
“Horseshit. We’ve got you on camera punching in the transfer codes.”
A tear traced a well-worn path down his cheek. He didn’t remember. He didn’t think he remembered. “Please...”
She sighed, and rubbed the bridge of her nose through the fabric. “Right,” she said. She took a small radio from her vest pocket and raised it to her lips. “Kilo for Charlie.”
A pause, then static. “Go ahead, Kilo.”
“Charlie, get the secondary ready. Over.”
“Roger, Kilo. Out.”
Kilo clicked the radio off and set it down between the two of them, then resumed her staredown. His eyes sank in exhaustion.
“Oh, come on,” she sighed. “No curiosity? Not even a little?”
He shook his head weakly. She leaned back.
“Up until now, you’ve been on the primary program. Official and proper and legal and poo poo. Documented. Secondary program...” She shrugged. “How long do you think you’ve been here?”
His head drooped. He had been counting—trying to count—how many times the song repeated. He couldn’t remember when he had stopped. He couldn’t remember when it had started.
“We’re coming up on the legal limit. poo poo, old days, we’d just shove you in a box, blast some Metallica, and wait for you to either confess or brain yourself against the wall. New rules say we can’t do that, don’t worry.” She grinned. “So be happy.”
He winced and dragged his head up. “gently caress you.” She got some sort of sick pleasure out of this.
“A lot of this,” she continued, “is for your benefit, you know? At the end of primary, we can dump you somewhere alive, because you don’t know poo poo.” She ran a finger under the hem of her mask, stretching it a little. “You don’t know what we look like, we don’t leave any marks—permanent ones, anyway. We get what we want, you get back to... normal-ish.
“Now, that’s all if you cooperate. If you don’t... Secondary program isn’t really a program, per se. Not an official one. Secondary program says you were dead on arrival. Then we get our guys to really go to work on you. We can’t use it too much, or the boys upstairs ask questions.”
“Please...” He sobbed. “You need to believe me.”
“It’s an honor, really, that we’d burn it on you. You’ve got...” She clicked her tongue. “Not long. I’d get to thinking.”
She picked up the radio, slipped it into her vest pocket, then pat him on the cheek. She tied the blindfold over his eyes once more, cinching it tight. He felt her put the headphones on again, and the outside world muffled itself.
“Next time I come back,” he heard, shouted through the thick plastic cups, “I come back with friends. You’ll get one more chance.”
He hung his head and winced. The one job he hosed up, the one time he hosed up typing the codes, the one time he had no idea where the money went, and they get busted. They wouldn’t believe him. They’d kill him. They’d make him wish they would kill him.
Kilo gave him one last look before she swung open the door. She shut the door behind her, and took her mask off. Rose ran her fingers through her hair, feeling sick. “Jesus,” she said softly, leaning back against the cold steel.
Gregory rested a hand on her shoulder. “You okay?”
Rose waved him off and tried to compose herself. “Fine,” she said, dropping her drawl. “It’s just harder than I thought it was gonna be.”
“It needs to be done,” Greg reminded her. “We can’t let him get away with what he did.”
“I know, I know.” She shook his hand off and sat on the floor, her back resting against the makeshift cell wall.
Part of her wanted to check the account again. She knew it would be empty. Three years of working together, gone in one betrayal. She tried to shake the good times she had with the man in the cell. The work they did. The money they took. The nights they shared.
Greg fished out his iPhone and resumed the single-song loop. The two heard their former friend groan beyond the door, then sob.
“How long until someone knows he’s gone?”
Greg rubbed his eyes and sank down next to her. “Couple days, tops.”
“Greg, if this doesn’t work...” Rose stared straight ahead. “When the time comes, I want to be the one to do it. I owe him that much.”
“You don’t owe him poo poo,” he said.
She rest her head against the wall, a single tear rolling down her cheek. “I owe him that much.”
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style / Ain’t got no girl to make you smile
But don’t worry
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:09|
The valiant don't declare defeat. The valiant finish up and submit, though they may be late and disqualified, though the chance of loss remains after hope of victory has fled.
You pick one and cannibalize the other. Come on, there's still time left!
You two are bad influences. If I lose I'm blaming myself first and then myself second and then I'm gonna poke at you two for a while going "you're a bad influence, you is" in a rubbish cockney accent.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:10|
Song: We built this city
Marconi plays the mamba
The hall radio crackled into unexpected life. Snatches of music, somber strings, swinging brass interspersed with static until a voice spoke. “Hello? Hello? James? Can you hear me?”
James put the tray of hors d'oeuvres down and crouched beside the speaker. “Yes?”
“James!” The voice came from behind him, as close to a shout as a whisper could get. James straightened up and turned to face the butler as he arrived at the top of the stairwell, brushing at his suit.
“What are you doing?” asked Mr Coates in a low, insistent voice, striding toward James. “Does the radio require attention that our guests do not?”
“No, Mr Coates. I thought I heard a voice.”
“A voice? Emerging from a radio?” Mr Coates towered like a Roman column above him and James felt very uncomfortable in his skin. “I am shocked beyond the telling of it. Do you take me for a fool, James?”
“No, Mr Coates.”
“Perhaps you think I have no better things to do than remind you of your duties. Tell me, are you, perhaps, unhappy in this service?”
“No, Mr Coates, please…”
“Then see to the guests before I am obliged to make you become so,” said Mr Coates and then he simply loomed, daring James to do anything other than obey.
James obeyed. He picked up the silver tray, balanced it on one hand and made his way into the enormous dining hall. Once there, he weaved around the groups of guests, stopping momentarily by each cluster to allow them to choose from the exquisitely constructed mouthfuls he carried. There was a radio in the dining room also, but James was careful to avoid it. Instead he focussed on becoming both invisible and omnipresent, as Mr Coates had taught him. Snatches of conversation came to him as he made the rounds of the room, talk of a spate of disappearances in the city, the rebranding of large commercial interests, the suspicious closing of a local dance club franchise. James heard it all and found it fascinating to learn what caught the attention of these finely dressed people but said nothing himself. Mr Coates was a good teacher.
Before long James’ tray was empty and he could not recall anyone that had not helped themselves to his fare. He made his way down the centre of the room towards the hallway entrance, but two groups of guests converged in front of him and he was forced to detour to the left. He approached the radio warily, but it didn’t make a noise. Speeding up, he was just about past it when the radio spat. “James! Are you there?” James bent his head and continued walking, managing to collide with a chair and almost lose his tray. He kept his head down and made it to the door without further mishap, but could not help but see Mr Coates frowning at him in his peripheral vision.
In the hall, the radio came on with a sharp burst of static. “James? Is that you?”
James hurried past, lowering his tray so it was almost a shield between him and the wireless. The stairs ahead led down to the enticingly radio-free kitchens.
“James? Please, James, talk to me.”
James hovered at the top of the stairs, wanting to go down, but unable to take the first step. “What do you want?” he whispered.
“James! It’s me. Don’t you remember? Look at me, James, please look at me.”
James looked anywhere but the radio, noticed that the tray he carried was polished to perfection. With trembling hands, James moved the empty appetiser tray between the radio and himself. The doily slipped to the floor and there were two empty, reptilian eyes staring back at him from the silver base, cold as jewels..
The radio hissed, “Say you don’t know me, James. Say you don’t recognise my face.”
James hurled the tray away and ran. It smashed a display case, and the sounds of glass shards falling and breaking followed him down the stairwell. He flung open the main kitchen door and a burst of warm air hit him, along with… silence. He stood agape. The kitchen should have been alive with movement, with the chef yelling at the under-chefs, with the sounds of cookware and cutlery. On the giant central table were more aperitifs on silver trays, but the rest of the kitchen was deserted.
James backed away and let the door close in front of him, shutting out the impossibly still scene. He tried the back door of the house, but it was locked and the key was gone. The bells rang for upstairs service; Mr Coates summoning more finger food. James spent a panicked moment wondering what to do, but the sound of the bells kicked off a strong impulse to return upstairs. Mr Coates had been an insistent teacher, so he went into the silent kitchen, grabbed the nearest full tray, and started up the stairs again.
The radio was playing when he passed it in the hall. There was no music, just the busy sounds of a full service kitchen filling the hallway. James hurried by, ignoring the whispers that slid beneath the noise, threatening, cajoling and inviting James to eat up the night, to feast on it.
Inside the dining hall, not a single guest was still standing. They lay on the floor in random disarray, all the colours of asphyxiation. Mr Coates stood beside the door, checking his cuffs. “You should have seen it, James. Every one of them clutching at their throats, begging for air. And there was plenty of it to be had - just not for them.” He wiped a tear away from his eye. “I have never seen anything so hilarious in my life. And you - cool as a cucumber as you served the strychnine hors d'oeuvres. Well done, my lad. The kitchen workers are all in the pantry - I made sure to move the bodies after you’d delivered the special staff treats. No point tipping our hand if somebody should wander down.” He gestured at the tray James still carried. “And I see you’ve brought nibbles. Marvellous.” Mr Coates licked his lip with a thin and forking tongue.
James, his mouth wide in horror and his tray clattering to the ground, ran for the hallway door. Mr Coates slammed shut it before he got there.
“Ah,” said Mr Coates. “Poor hatchling. The human skin is taking its infectious toll. They did warn me you were too much the neonate, but I knew you would come through. I see great things for you, my lad. Come, time to shed these hateful disguises.”
Mr Coates peeled off his face, tore at the butler uniform, and stood there, immense and scaled and staring at James with black, reptilian eyes. “Don’t you remember, my snakelet? We built this city millennia ago, and now the time has come to take it back.”
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:12|
Gonna have to flake out on this one, sorry Only had ideas that were creepy as gently caress instead of being actual horror.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:23|
Song: Walk Like an Egyptian
Living with the Curse of Married Life
Carl traveled halfway around the world to see the Sphinx with his wife, but after three days in Egypt he would have flown all the way back for a proper doughnut. Next week he’d be in Jordan, enduring a visit to Petra. Perhaps they would have a Krispy Kreme there.
“Wasn’t it magnificent?” Josie asked, before drawing a deep breath off the hookah they shared.
Carl answered with a nod.
Truth be told, Carl was unimpressed. If he wanted to see a decaying human form, he could just find a mirror. The cancer was eating away at him with an efficiency that sand and wind simply couldn’t replicate, but this historic landmark tour meant so much to Josie, and he wanted to leave her with some good memories. Carl couldn’t recall how many weeks he had left. Funny, when you are dying all the days blend together. When he thought back, the only real vivid memories Carl could find were not of the traveling he’d done, but rather of the days before the illness, pressing his police uniform the night before work, grilling out on the patio, those were the images that remained.
“Carl?” Josie interrupted, “I’m going to the bathroom, okay?”
The cantina was a dingy little alcove with faded, mosaic tiled floors and leafy vines stamped across the bottom of the bar. Carl’s table was in a shadowy corner, where the only attention he and Joise would draw was from the waitress. Along the far wall, aged men with face warts and receding hairlines smoked shisha, allowing the thick plumes of smoke to escape their parted lips. Carl wondered if he was staring when one of the oldest men approached him. He sat down at the table without asking.
“You’ve come a long way to be here; I can tell. You have a beautiful wife; you are young, so why hide in the darkness?” the man asked.
“I understand that you are sick, but is that any reason to act as if you are already dead?”
Carl was about to speak before the man raised a hand, a silent gesture urging him to shut up.
“It’s eating you alive. It’s clear as the sun,” he said, “but the question is, would you live forever if you had the chance? If the cancer wasn’t wearing away your muscle and bone.”
“I’d live as long as she does,” Carl said, gesturing to his wife on the other side of the room.
The man smiled. “That’s a good answer,” he said while getting up. He doubled back and rested his hand on Carl’s shoulder, saying, “it was lovely chatting with you.” As he walked away, the old man bumped the table, knocking both Carl and Josie’s drink to the floor.
“Don’t worry about that,” the man said with a rotten smile, “someone will take care of you.” Surely enough, moments after the man walked away, a blonde haired waitress that Carl hadn’t seen before brought two fresh drinks for the couple. The drinks seemed stronger than Carl remembered, but the couple didn’t mind, and they drank until the two forgot where their hotel was. Fortunately, the kind old man offered to see them back.
It awoke on the floor of the hotel suite, hardly able to open it’s crystalline eyes. It expected to see pale skin when it lifted a hand to rub it’s head and nurse the hangover pounding on its smooth skull and instead found a charcoal leather clinging to its bone. It didn’t find the lack of skin and hair upsetting, surprisingly, what it was moved by, however, was the hunger. So it decided to eat.
From it’s back, the creature found getting upright to be an impossible task. It’s body had a lightness and fragility that it had never experienced before, but with that came a lack of strength that it had never experienced, not even in illness. It had to stand up, so pushing with its bony palms, grinding the elbow joints into powder, it moved backwards, resting against the couch. This was the first chance it had to see the rest of its decrepit body, with legs as thin as the arms dangling listlessly from its torso. Save for the few wispy hairs on its head, the creature was as smooth as onyx.
Grinding its heels as it had its palms, the creature managed to push itself upright, but balance was difficult without meaty heels to stand on. It shambled to the refrigerator and opened it with skeletal fingers. There were beverages and sweeties alike, but it knew that they wouldn’t dent the hunger it felt.
It opened the bedroom door with a creak and a moan that escaped its toothless maw when it detected her silhouette. She was what it had been looking for. Josie, it knew. Asleep and under the half sheet only, thanks to the humidity, the creature traced her outline from head to toe. Its gaze lingered on her thighs, expecting to feel a sexual arousal, but instead finding only the hunger gnawing away at its core.
She was what it needed, but she was what it refused.
With every step and movement, the creature could feel the leather-tight skin on its bones pulling and stretching to the ripping point, but the pain in its extremities was nothing compared to the pain of turning away from what would finally sate the call. Still it did, and with each uncoordinated step, the call grew louder until it closed the door, leaving a smear of bonedust against its beige surface.
The creature hoped that the distance and barrier separating it from Josie would enough to discourage it from going back into the room and tearing and biting her to appease the ravenous desire, but it wasn’t. It knew that on the other side of a thin door was the one thing that would bring it peace, but it loved her once, and it knew that the only way to keep her safe was to get away. Its bony hand lingered on the doorknob.
“Carl?” Josie called.
The creature turned around and Josie began to scream. It wanted to apologize to her. It wanted to console her. It wanted to love her once again, but the only feeling within the dryrotten being was the desire to consume. The hotel room was small, and with all of the tacky, faux Egyptian furnishings, cornering the beauty in the matchbox bathroom was easy.
The creature collapsed at the edge of the bathtub where Joise was contained. Running its cracked and splintered fingers over her body once more, its hands didn’t stop where they had hundreds of times before. This time they lingered on her neck. Its thumb bones were sharp like little daggers, and the cloth wrapped around them, nonabsorbent. So when it punctured her delicate neck, spooning the blood into its mouth was difficult. As it did, the hunger faded slightly, then all at once as the young woman expired in the porcelain tub, and when Josie crossed that dark precipice, the creature did the same.
The authorities would find the beautiful corpse covered in a fine powder, but the kind old man knew.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:23|
Song - Heaven is a Place on Earth
Heaven and Hell
For Bea, the sound of gravel crunching under tires was the sound of Hell.
She had known it was coming by the fading light, had begun to imagine the sound for hours beforehand, straining her ears, and hoping that it would not come. But it always did.
A car door slammed, and after a moment the locks on the front door began to open. If the neighbors wondered why there were so many locks, they were sure to get some flippant answer. This wasn’t the part of town where the neighbors wondered much of anything, though.
The door opened, and footsteps approached. Her heart hammered in her throat as she set eyes on him, and she felt herself slipping, down through the cracks and drains in her psyche, down to the place he sent her. Her quiet place, her haven.
Distantly, she felt his touch, his arms around her body, holding her in a twisted semblance of gentleness. He whispered to her in ways he thought of as tender, pressed his mouth over hers like a kiss. She felt herself sway against him, and he drew her close.
Time passed around her, over her, through her, but did not touch her. Sound and color and light ran together, sensations as distant as the stars, the sky, the world beyond the house. She caught snatches of things, dripping down on her like cold rain: rough hands; the smell of sweat; her own voice, hoarse and high with fear. In her place, she did not feel the fear, but she knew it was there still, would always be there.
When she awoke, it was to the sound of the tires, receding this time, a promise to return again.
Bea lay where she was, on a bed she could not feel, under sheets like chains, tucked carefully around her shoulders by hands poorly aping love. The ceiling’s shadows faded as the sun rose, and she strove to memorize their shapes as they dissolved. At last she broke the spell, climbed back into control of her body and out of bed.
She was not sure what it was that woke her from her stupor. Sharp light against her face, perhaps, or the hush of the empty house. Perhaps it was the wrinkles that she knew were appearing across her body, harshly worn by the emotions she no longer acknowledged, but ravaged her nonetheless; a reminder that time was passing, and her life was, too.
Today, it said. Tonight, or never.
She rose, and began to search, all of it in places she had looked before, but now with the vigor of determination, and the creative eye of true desperation. She pried and dug and worried away, all at avenues she had considered hopeless to this point.
At last, she settled on the direction of her plan. He had become accustomed to her complacency, and in doing so, had brought her something she might use. She took her toothbrush from the holder, the pink half of a his-and-hers set, and set to work.
Deprived of any tools that might make the job simpler, she labored at sawing the end against any rough surface she could find. When this proved all but hopeless, she began to chew, gnawing away at the clear plastic, not caring whether or not she broke a tooth if it meant her freedom.
At last, after hours of labor, she held her weapon. The key to her cage, crude and twisted though it was.
She had never seen anything more beautiful.
She did not know how long she stared at the object in her hands, taking in its planes and edges, her hope imbuing it with an inner light that did not fade, even as the sun began to sink.
And suddenly, there it was; the sound of tires.
The tires stopped, and the engine’s rough growl cut short. The slam of the car door came next, and footsteps she heard so clearly through the double-glazed windows. She wondered if it was just a hallucination - she knew from experience that the windows were well sound-proofed. And yet she heard every step, every pebble underfoot, every dead leaf on the drive; each one a sound so deep it became a taste in her mouth. She swallowed a mouthful of bile, and positioned herself to meet him when he entered, her body hiding her makeshift knife from view.
Her pulse quickened at the keys in the door. The jingle of the keyring, punctuated by the dull thud of bolts sliding back. One... Two... Three... Her grip tightened.
The door opened on hinges smooth and well-oiled, but the swish of the carpet as it swung inwards sent chills down her spine. Was time slowing? Did it always take so long? She tried to remember, but the days and weeks and years ran together, and although she held her weapon fiercely, she began to slip away.
Desperately, she tried to hang on, digging her nails into her palm, biting her tongue until it bled, but she could not stop her descent. The pathways she had walked so many times, the sanctuary of the mind that she had so lovingly constructed, called to her, pulling her into its dark heart.
He walked in the room.
Her grip faltered.
She dropped the weapon.
His arms were around her, but she did not feel it. She had been afraid, but she was not afraid then. There were no more emotions. She was falling, sinking, drowning in the place that she had built for herself.
Her haven was her Hell.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:35|
An Urban Hunt
The wheels of the dark chariot clattered against the city streets, lead by a team of six snarling black hounds, each of them almost as large as a horse, their eyes a bright, malicious red. “Yah!” The chariot’s rider cried, cracking its whip over the hound’s backs. As one, they howled, the only sound to be heard in the city lit solely by the full moon.
Sheila swore, struggling to see in the dim light. It’d been another late night at the office, and she had been ready for hours to go home and just collapse onto her bed. She sure as hell hadn’t wanted to deal with another car breakdown. Christ, she had taken the thing to her mechanic just last week. Sheila turned the key in the ignition one more time, just to be sure. Nothing.
With a sigh, Sheila got out of her car, slamming the door shut behind her. She’d just have to call for a taxi. She slid her phone out of her pocket, frown only deepening as it refused to turn on. The drat thing had been fully charged just a few minutes ago! Grumbling under her breath about shoddy technology, Sheila tried the door to the office, only to find it locked. From what she could see, all the lights in the building had turned off.
It was the same story with every entrance she tried. Door locked tight, pitch black inside. Sheila had tried pounding on the door to try and catch someone’s attention, but the office seemed to be completely devoid of any human inhabitants. A sense of dread had been steadily growing inside of her ever since she realized that every light around her, not just those in the office, had been shut off.
There was a gas station, just a couple blocks away. As good a place to go as any, Sheila figured. Maybe there had just been some sort of power outage. Her sleep-deprived brain was probably just making ordinary things seem much creepier than they should be. Sheila started walking.
The chariot caught up to Sheila before she had even made it all the way down the block. Its master stopped long enough to deal with her, then continued rolling, rolling, rolling.
Jake had taken off at a dead run as soon as he heard the woman’s scream. His feet pounded on the pavement as he sprinted, taking no particular note of his destination, just wanting to get the hell away. He had known that something was wrong when, all at once, the streetlights had died along with his car’s engine.
Everything electronic had stopped working, and every building seemed to have been sealed off, somehow. The specifics didn’t matter, much. All Jake knew was that he was completely isolated and completely out in the open, and he’d seen more than enough horror movies to know how well that poo poo turned out for people. He figured that, as long as he got out of town, he’d be safe, and had been making his way out of town at a light jog before the scream had pierced him to his very core.
Now he wheezed and panted, crouched down and out of breath by the wall in an alleyway. In his blind panic, Jake had ducked into the first safe-looking corner he could find, and it was only now that he realized that there wasn’t any way out of the alley, except the way he had come in, which was the leading cause of death in slasher flicks. Shameful.
Having caught his breath, Jake got to his feet and started making his way out of the alley, only to cringe back against the wall as he heard a whip crack coming from the road. Trembling, he stayed as still and quiet as possible. All was quiet, and after a minute Jake was able to relax, letting out a sigh of relief.
He was able to scream, just once, before the hounds bounded down the alleyway and leapt on him. After they had gotten their fill, the chariot’s master called them off with a wave of their hand, gathered the remnants, and returned to the chariot. It continued rolling, rolling, rolling.
Kim knew that there was something out there, preying on the people of the city. Her people. Her badge glinted in the moonlight. There had been two screams, already, a woman and a man, closer to her each time. Kim didn’t know what she was dealing with, or if was something she could deal with, but she sure as hell wouldn’t just let it be.
You didn’t become a cop to enjoy an easy job and a nice, cushy paycheck. Over the years, Kim had dealt with enough horrors and scumbags for a lifetime, but the knowledge that she was making a difference was more than enough to make the work bearable. It didn’t matter who, or in this case what, you were, you did not gently caress with the people Kim had pledged to protect.
It was likely to late to save either of the screamers, a fact that was heavy on Kim’s heart. She couldn’t help them, now, but she could still stop the threat before it could claim any more victims. Kim crept along the side of the road, gun drawn, listening intently for any movement. She heard hear the sound of wheels clattering down city streets, close by.
Stepping straight into the center of the street, Kim raised her gun at the oncoming chariot. “Halt! Police!” She shouted, and miraculously, the team of hounds slowed to a stop. The one closest to her snarled and attempted to leap at Kim, but was held back by its harness. The chariot’s master dismounted and slowly started walking towards Kim, drawing a long, evil-looking sword from a sheath.
“You! Drop your weapon!” Kim commanded, but the figure did not stop its slow walk. It was larger than any ordinary human, almost eight feet in height, and clad from head to toe in obsidian armor. “Stop, or I swear to god I will shoot!” Kim almost screamed. Despite her terror, she remained in place, gun still raised. The figure continued to walk, and Kim unloaded her pistol at it.
The figure did not even flinch as the bullets struck it, and before Kim could reload, it was directly in front of her. To her disbelief, it raised its visor, revealing the helmet to contain nothing but darkness. Kim could have sworn that it nodded approvingly at her, once, before running her through with its blade.
At last, the end of the ride had come. The chariot’s master dismounted as a tall, slender woman dressed all in white emerged from the shadows. He knelt at her feet, and she bent down to kiss the forehead of his armor. “How was your hunt, my knight?” She asked.
“Fruitful, my queen. I caught an ignorant sheep, a panicked rabbit, and a noble lion.” He presented three raw hides to her.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 02:56|
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:57 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:07|
Forty-five minutes remain.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:16|
Ha ha, yeah, I dun hosed up. I'll aim for a disqual but if push comes to shove I'll take the .
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:23|
You can read 'Lizard' on the Week 99 Thunderdome Archives here! Use the username/password provided in the OP.
Anomalous Blowout fucked around with this message at 03:50 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:26|
(Song: "Take On Me")
“Ekuj. Hadzukah. Zbarhu.”
The words swam through its consciousness. The sleeper rose through the absence beneath reality.
“Stop reading that stuff. It’s creeping me out.”
There was light above, murky and tinged with dark colours. It knew of this light, had heard of it before.
“Seriously? Come on, babe, it’s just dumb bullshit. Nonsense words in a notebook someone left here.”
“Yeah, Leah, chill out. Maybe it’s some conspiracy nut’s coded grocery list. Eggs and milk and bread and bacon.”
The sleeper’s ascent slowed. The surface tension would not allow it to pass. Soon, it would begin the long drift back to rest.
“poo poo, I could go for some bacon now. You brought some, right?”
“Sorry, man. Tell you what, I’m gonna go back to town and get some. We need more beer anyway.”
“Marvens, seriously, stop. Can we just put on a movie before dinner? This cabin’s creepy enough, I don’t really need you incanting in Latin or whatever.”
“It isn’t Latin. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not Latin. Does ‘Femshinmu rourgyu’ sound Latin to you?”
Femshinmu. Rourgyu. The waters parted and the sleeper awoke, eager to discover the world above.
“Well, I don’t know what Latin sounds like. I’m not the medical student here.” Leah sulked by the fireplace. When they pulled up that afternoon, it had been sunny and warm. Now it was storming and cold, and the old cabin had sprung a leak. A puddle spread slowly by the window.
Marvens sat beside her, putting his arm around her shoulders. “Hey, you okay? This isn’t really about what I was reading, huh? You having second thoughts?”
“No. My dad’s going to be pissed, but he’ll get over it. Probably.” Probably not.
Leah would have said more, but a loud noise outside stopped her. There was silence, then screaming. Marvens lurched to his feet. “What the gently caress?” He ran to the door and flung it open, the wind slashing him with rain.
“Jeffrey! You okay?” He stepped out in the rain. The truck’s headlights lit the porch. “Jeff, what’s going on, man?”
Lightning flashed and Marvens was gone. Then darkness flooded into the cabin, racing towards her. The stench of rotting vegetation, salt, and mildew filled her nostrils. The thing flowed over the couch and stopped inches from her. The inky mass shifted constantly in the firelight. It had no limbs, only tendrils and pseudopods. She could feel its gaze crawling over her body, and yet it had no eyes. She felt studied, like a microbe in a microscope.
She sat rooted in fear. It reared up like a breaking wave. A deafening flash boomed and the thing broke away, flowing into the shadows. Marvens stood in the doorway, a long-barrelled shotgun in his hands. His face was ashen, his eyes wide.
Leah ran and embraced him. He shied away, favouring his left leg. “You okay?” she asked. He grunted and asked “Did you see where it went?” She shook her head.
The sleeper swam in the shadows between the walls, a piece of home in this distant place. It was in agony. A dozen holes burned in its body, fragments of metal driven into it. Why? It hadn’t done anything.
“What the hell was that?” This was the one who had hurt it. It had pushed that one aside to come in and explore this place, but was that worth harming the sleeper? Were these static things so violent and hurtful?
“Get in the truck. We need to leave.” The hurtful one.
“What about Jeffrey? Was he out there?” The other. The smaller one. The sleeper didn’t feel such resentment for this one. It hadn’t lashed out! All the sleeper wanted was to understand. To know.
“I don’t know, I didn’t see him.”
“I don’t want to leave him here with that thing. We have to find him. What if he’s hurt?”
“I said I don’t loving know! Goddamn it, Leah, just get your rear end in the truck! We’re leaving.” The hurtful one grabbed the other and shoved it out into the dark. It fell and made a loud, keening noise.
“If you want to leave so loving bad, then just go! He’s your brother, why don’t you want to even try?”
“I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not running around in a forest all night while some thing stalks me. Better to be safe than sorry. Or dead.” The hurtful one staggered towards the thrumming box. “Now get your rear end in here or I’ll leave without you, too.”
The smaller one made loud noises at the hurtful one, hitting it with its limbs. The hurtful one projected water at the smaller, then climbed into the noisy box.
The sleeper, a self-proclaimed intelligent being, felt these were, too. Should similar entities not live in harmony? Different ones coming to impasses was understandable, though regrettable. But the hurtful one and the smaller one were similar with their disturbingly static arrangements. Perhaps it should study them. But how? They reacted poorly to the sleeper’s appearance. Perhaps a disguise...
The truck tore off into the rainy night. Leah felt a cold dread sink within her stomach.
A branch snapped. Her heart pounded in her ears. She saw movement in the woods and the dread bloomed, running down her veins like ice-water. It was a man. “Jeffrey!” Relief washed over her and she ran to him, throwing her arms around him and laughing.
“You’re okay! I thought I heard you scream and then this thing was in the cabin and,” she trailed off. The odour of rotting marine life invaded her senses. Leah looked into Jeffrey’s face. It was blank and pallid and thin rivulets of glossy black liquid ran from his eyes, ears, and nose. One eye had hemorrhaged and pointed in a different direction than the one fixed on her. Jeffrey’s mouth twitched and opened wide. He rasped a hollow wheeze and raised his arms akimbo.
Leah screamed, kicking and shoving at the corpse. She broke free and pushed Jeffrey back. He stumbled away and tripped over his own feet. His head struck the stairs and burst open like a ripe gourd, glossy black pseudopodia writhing in the night.
The sleeper watched the smaller one ambulate at speed into the collection of vertical poles. It hoped the smaller one would be safe, as it was dark and these static beings were curiously inept in the darkness.
It extricated itself from the body of the smoke-smelling one and returned to the enclosure, resting by the open fire. It was pleasantly warm here. Perhaps this fire was what brought the beings to this place. Not much warmth from whence the sleeper came. Not much of anything.
As the sleeper drifted back to sleep and felt the waters of home lapping over it, it reflected that this experience would make a hell of a story. Needless to say, the others would never believe it.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:36|
Where are you coming from
Word Count: 892
In a futile effort Simon wiped the blood with shaking hands from his eyes, but the cut on his forehead was too fresh and new blood was quick to replace. A high pitched ringing cut through his pounding headache, likely the result of a concussion. Simon looked up through the webbed windshield of the stolen car and cussed.
He turned to his right and cussed again. Zelda was in poor shape. She was slumped forward in her seat; pallid with skin shining from fever sweats. Her blue hair hung limp and wet, covering her face, but her chest still moved.
Simon stared at the bloody bandage on her hand before he cautiously reached over, peeling back the layers and keeping watch for any sudden movements. The skin around the two bite marks were swollen and red. Viscous black ooze pulsated out from the puncture wounds in time with Zelda’s slow heart beats. It was too late for her. His eyes travelled down to her rings and he wondered if he should remove them and pawn them off.
With a sudden snarl, Zelda snatched Simon by the wrist with a painful iron grip. He instinctively tried yanking his arm back, but she was too strong. She turned towards Simon and snapped at him, but luckily, her seatbelt jerked her back into her seat. Her upper lip peeled back like curtains revealing green curved daggers for teeth and a deep growl rumbling from her throat.
In a panic, Simon reached for his gun but it wasn’t there. The smoke made it difficult but he saw the outline of his gun on the floor near his foot.
Through the smoke, Zelda’s other hand lunged out at him finding purchase on his shirt sleeve. He slid down his seat and grabbed his pistol, then snapped it up and repeatedly pulled the trigger.
Zelda’s hand slid off Simon’s forearm and into the space between the seats. Simon stayed pressed against the car door. His chest heaved rapidly and he couldn’t keep his breathing under control. With his free hand, he fumbled behind himself for the door handle. The door jerked open and he tumbled backward into the grass.
Simon moved around the car, keeping the emptied gun trained on Zelda. He opened her door and jumped back, looking at his companion. Nine bullets fired yet the only visible wound was on her neck. He approached again, nerves raw and twitching at every perceived movement while he reached for her gun.
He grabbed the gun and losing his footing in the retreat, fell back on his rear end. He switched weapons and shot a round into Zelda's head just to be sure. He grabbed a backpack that sat at her feet and pulled it out of the car. He opened it and rummaged through the contents, becoming more frantic in his search until with a long sigh he pulled a silver vial from the bottom of the bag.
He pulled a canteen from his backpack, opened it up and slipped the vial inside, then threw everything on and jogged into the forest.
Simon struggled to move his limbs. He leaned heavily on a thick branch he was using as a walking stick. His hair was plastered to his head and his face glistened with sweat. He needed a moment to rest. He leaned against a tree and slid down.
Simon gasped in pain, sucking in air through his teeth and turning his head towards his shoulder. He pulled up his shirt sleeve and his heart dropped; there were four scratch marks across his deltoid and a viscous black ooze welled up from the wounds. When did this happen?
He wasn’t bit or scratched in the escape. Zelda had been injured though, he’d had to shoot a weredog off of her- Zelda. When did she scratch him? His mind raced. In the car. In the struggle.
"No, no , no, no," he repeated, his voice cracking under duress. He unfastened the canteen from his belt, nearly dropping it in his hurry. In his hand, he held what was hopefully the missing link to create an antidote that would revert the effects of the Dog Police virus. They sacrificed a lot getting this. Winslow, Tommy and even Zelda. He could save himself if he were to drink the contents. But surely the weredogs would be on alert. He’d doom the rest of humanity if he didn't return with an antidote. He rubbed the vial with his thumb and bit his lip with green teeth.
Over the horizon, a group of humans noticed a large trench-coated figure walking towards them. They shouldered their rifles and placed the target's head in their sights. A bullet cracked through the air and the weredog slumped to the ground.
The humans approached the body to confirm it was dead. They paused, trying to comprehend what they're looking at. It was a late stage weredog, trenchcoat and hat, but with a backpack on, a branch tied to it with old meat hanging out in front. On its side was a canteen with writing on it.
One of the humans approached the body, reached down and plucked it before reading it out loud. "We didn't make it, but hopefully our sacrifices aren't in vain. Check inside the canteen. Keep the fight alive. Tommy, Winslow, Simon and Zelda."
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:49|
Things Heard in the Woods
crabrock fucked around with this message at 07:05 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:58|
Salt on the Steps
(Song: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)")
“Adorable night,” he says, “isn’t it?”
“These nights make my skin crawl.”
She can smell the Drakkar Noir rolling off him in cheap, synthetic waves. He had displayed little restraint in his application of the cologne; the florid tones of cardamom and rosemary, masked by some trace metallic taste, were overpowering, even in a field of ripening wheat.
Marion glances at the freshman: he’s wearing a crisp button-down adorned by a red checkered tie with the sleeves of the shirt rolled up, revealing two pale limbs, both elbows locked in place holding a recycling bin in a sloppy embrace. His gait is naturally slow and loping, further impeded by the blue bin.
“You sure you don’t need some help with that?”
“No problem,” he says, the words causing his chest to expand, almost toadlike, with teenage machismo. “You guys are so lucky. This is all so beautiful.”
He uses his shoulder to gesture at the surrounding field of wheat, days from harvest. The field glows, maintaining its lustre despite the passing of the sun.
“I mean, just look at the stars. And Venus and Mars, too. They’re practically illuminating the entire sky. Like I said, adorable.”
“Just a couple of big rocks floating out in space, if you ask me,” says Marion. “But, yeah. I suppose this whole scene is something out of Field of Dreams or some poo poo.”
Placing a hand in the recycling bin, she churns her fingers against the dense grains of salt, and extracts a palmsworth, before returning to draw a line, pinched between forefinger and thumb, upon the earth.
“I assume you or your parents have done this before. Seeing as there’s already spots where you’ve salted over.”
“Aunts. But, yeah. It’s simple enough a child could do it. Which is what I used to do back then.”
She pauses, starts rifling around in the front pocket of her hoodie. There’s a flash, a glint of silver. From the pocket she pulls a black bic and a joint, the joint’s translucent paper covered in cartoonish red cherries. She places it in her mouth, gestures. “You mind?”
A thin mechanical click, then a small gout of flame. She takes a drag, then offers it up.
“You sure? Take my word when I say it’ll make our work easier.”
“Work?” he laughs. “So, I guess it really wasn’t some euphemism when you asked if I wanted to help on your aunts’ farm.”
“Well, drat. I guess if that’s the case.”
Maneuvering the bin against one arm, he takes the joint and inhales.
“But, hell, who knows?” she says, “You may yet play your cards right.”
He exhales, smiles. They continue.
“It’s kind of odd. Why salt your own fields?”
“We’re not salting the fields. We’re circling that forest.”
She extends a painted fingernail, matte black, to a nearby copse. While horizontally small, no larger than four or five baseball diamonds, the rising, vertical nature of the woods, coupled with the treetops swaying in the absence of wind, lent it a unique visual trait: an opaque corona of darkness, as if it were some far-off oasis or monument or cityscape obscured by heat, the forest itself topped by blurred silhouettes, tendrilled refractions, rising up like smoke and continuing beyond the amorphous crown of treetops, the shadows eventually diffusing into a null sky.
“Does circling the forest with salt keep coyotes out or something?”
“Something like that.”
She places her hood over her head, grabs another handful of salt, and continues pouring.
“We’re basically done with the circle,” says Marion. “Just have to run a few lines through the forest. Shouldn’t be an hour more.”
“drat. No offense, Marion, but this is a real lovely first date. Unless you’re like a deer or something.”
“Hey. Can’t fault me: it’s a two-person job,” she says, “come on. The night’s still young.”
“Dark forest, no?” he says.
Her cell lights his path through dark. Dense root systems sprawl along the forest floor, writhing about the dirt like earthworms escaping the rain. The forest air is ripe enough with moisture and decay that, comparatively, she longs for the scent of Drakkar.
“That must have been some strong poo poo that you had, cause this place is loving weird.”
She reaches over, grabs some salt, sows it, and walks a few steps ahead of him. The freshman’s gait has become glacial.
“I haven’t seen a single coyote, let alone bird, since we’ve come into this place. Are your aunts sure that this whole salt thing is necessary?”
“Preventions. Policies. You know the score.”
“How many more times are we going to have to go through here?”
“Come on. It’s not that bad.”
They walk past a large elm, ensconced by dark, the trunk bearing a visage that resembles a wide-mouthed howl: knotted spirals of wood portraying eyes and deep, sallow ridges a gaunt facsimile of cheekbones.
“Hey, I’m going to have to bail. This—“
“Wait. Come here.”
She rounds a nearby bend. He stumbles through the dark, following.
He catches up to Marion. The air is thick with humidity. It takes a moment for his vision to adjust to the dim light, but as it does he finds himself in a grove, the center containing a tremendous baobab tree, an enormous outline of black pressed against shadow. A pair of leglike stumps, cleft like two hooves, anchors the tree to the earth, but from these roots hundreds of roots splay wildly in all directions, piercing the earth. As he cranes his neck upward, he spots where the treetop must end, and along with it a thousands arms, fat and gnarled, labyrinthine like knobs of ginger, forming a canopy. He corrects himself; the baobab’s limbs appear to stretch up endlessly, grasping against the empty sky.
Marion places a hand upon his shoulder. She thinks for a moment, and realizes she can’t recall his name.
“I know it’s not worth much, but thanks. For helping out,” she pauses, “and, uh, yeah. Thanks.”
Turning to face her, his lips pursed, he notices a flash of silver before a blade is sunk into his jugular, wrenched across his neck, and releases a font of red arterial mist, which soon dribbles down his throat. He falls to the floor gasping, clawing at the pulsating wound, but it only lasts a moment before he expires.
She hefts up the recycling bin, significantly lighter now, and continues to salt out the sigil.
After her fifth pass, she returns to the baobab. She walks over to the body, drags it over the roots and crags, the head lolling back and forth as if in laughter, and deposits it between the legs of the tree. The trunk is cool to the touch. She sits down, rests her against the tree, and lights up. She inhales. The taste of cherry mingles with that of cannabis and rot. Exhales. Just how many bodies, stacked, putrescent and bloating, lie as foundation beneath her calves? How much detritus does it take to barricade the door?
Here’s to you, soon forgotten.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 03:59|
Inspired by: Dancing in the Street
The Smell of the City Streets (~ 975 words):
Whenever Taylor walked the city streets, she could almost smell her vomit. Logically, she knew that the rain and the snow had washed it away, and that much worse substances had splattered the same streets, but she couldn't shake the absurd notion that the sidewalk carried that awful scent. She glanced up to check the street signs. Two more blocks and a right turn to the local grocery store, and then the return trip. She dug her fingernails into her palms, staring at the cracked asphalt in front of her. Every stranger around her seemed to stare as she tugged her coat tighter around her – strange to have such a heavy coat, really, mid-June. So many people. So much space. A part of her mind was screaming in terror, but the rest of it was reminding her that the fridge was empty.
God, she wished that Jake was here. Then he could deal with the grocery shopping. But he was off on a weekend business trip… She forged on through the crowd, trying not to think about what would happen if she broke down again in the street. The stares. The occasional snicker. The sense of panic, dizziness, and the overwhelming certainty that she was going to suffocate right here in the middle of the street. She quickened her pace, and after glancing up once more, turned right. The grocery store was safer. Some people, but not too much. And the ceiling was lower.
She was in! Almost light-headed from relief, she allowed herself a half-minute for her breathing to slow, and then grabbed a shopping basket from the rack. Jack would be back tomorrow, so she didn't need much. A carton of eggs, a loaf of bread, and some juice would do. She finished picking them out quickly, but as she neared the check-out register, the brightly-colored wrappers of those chocolates Jake adored caught her eye. They were expensive, but she got them anyway. Jake had put up with so much these months – her humiliatingly public nervous breakdown, and the now-omnipresent sense of fear that accompanied her outdoors. They used to stroll down to the local theater just past the music store, which always played songs as old as her. And sometimes, if they both recognized the song that played, they would twirl each other down the street.
The first time they tried doing that after the nervous breakdown Jake was so alarmed that he called 911.
"Cash or credit?" The cashier looked bored as he waited for her response.
"Credit, please." Taylor handed over her card, and after taking her receipt, walked up to the exit. There was less strangers on the street now, but the vast height of the sky remained. Taylor took a deep breath, and calmed herself as best she could as she adjusted her heavy coat. Frankly, it was much too warm, but she couldn't give up the protection it offered. She stepped out and made her way home, counting each step.
Just past midnight, somebody knocked on the door. Jake! Taylor put the book down and hurried to their front door, ready to welcome him back. But when she opened the door, she froze. Opened her mouth, and swallowed.
Jake looked at her and smiled. That was normal. What wasn't normal was the smell of alcohol drifting from him. He told me that he'd never drink again after –
He didn't slur the words much, but that didn't mean much. She forced a smile, met his eyes, and replied, "Welcome back! How was the trip?"
"I got fired." Taylor stared at him. His face didn't shift. He was joking, right?
"Turns out that my boss didn't really appreciate my opinion on the Elderburry case. He turned me out." Jake smiled, and Taylor involuntarily stepped back. "C'mon, honey, don't be like that."
"Like what?" Taylor's voice sounded dazed to herself. "Jake, that smile's scaring me." His grin only got wider, as she continued talking. "You need to go to bed, and when you get past your hangover, we'll talk about what we're going to do."
Jake stepped forward, and grabbed her wrist. Taylor winced. "Jake, you're – "
"I don't need to go to bed." In any other situation, Taylor would've smiled at the childish words, but now – "I just need to spend the night with my wife. C'mon, let's go see a movie." Jake started dragging her towards the door.
"Jake, I don't want to – I'm, I'm not dressed up enough!" Taylor dug in her heels and pulled back, but it didn't have much of an effect. Jake simply turned back and smiled again.
"Taylor, it doesn't matter what you wear. You're always beautiful to me, as long as you're with me."
The conversation continued in this manner all the way down the stairwell of their apartment building, and no matter how desperate Taylor's pleas got, Jake just smiled and kept on dragging her. As they neared the door that would lead out into the street, Taylor started yanking back harder. All she was wearing was a t-shirt and long jeans – she couldn't leave now, she couldn't, she couldn't –
Taylor sat down, yanking Jake down along with her. He looked at her, startled, and Taylor thought that maybe he'd finally listen to her. She opened her mouth – but then he simply hoisted her over his shoulder, nudged the door open, and then walked out.
Nausea hit Taylor, along with all the fears she had pushed down during the earlier shopping trip. She pounded Jake's back and screamed for help – but nobody came. Her mind swirled, her breath stuttered, and her vision blurred. She lost track of time, she smelled vomit – whether it was Jake's or hers, she couldn't tell – and she eventually blacked out.
The next time she was fully conscious, she was in a padded room.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 04:02|
Submissions for Week XCVIII: Music of the Night are now CLOSED!
An astounding number of you would appear to have submission--or maybe 80s pop--among your personal terrors. While twenty-three fighters sought to frighten us in their own special ways, Sitting Here, CommissarMega, GrizzledPatriarchy, SurreptitiousMuffin, PootieTang, kellsterik, lambeth, Benny the Snake, sebmojo, and theblunderbuss hid under their respective beds until the bad people with the big hair went away. My sympathy goes out to Fanky Malloons, though: her story of computer failure sent a chill down my spine.
Soon the judges will gather to determine your fates. I suggest you pray.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 01:44 on Jun 26, 2014
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 04:13|
|# ? Nov 27, 2022 16:03|
EDIT: never mind.
|# ? Jun 23, 2014 04:18|