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Apr 1, 2010

I am in! No backing out, no surrender.


Apr 1, 2010

Empty Glass- 880 words.
"Sure, it's not really a 'for white people' thing, but it is a well-respected Buddhist retreat, and just by visiting I felt way more, you know, enlightened. I could see the universe in myself and myself in the universe, you know what I mean," said Corey, between mouthfuls of popcorn.

"You mean, like, you could see everything all together," said John.

"I mean that I could see that I was God, basically. Like I'm not actually God in that there's no God but if there was a God then I'm that God. You know. The Buddhist God." Corey put the bowl of popcorn down on the kitchen table, and began sloppily pouring vodka and orange juice into a glass.

John put his glass to his lips before taking it off again. "You know, I don't really think that's how Buddhism works."

"poo poo," said Corey, sweeping vodka off his red sweater sleeve. "What? I mean, like, maybe it's not how it's conceived of as working, but it could work like that if you interpreted it right, like the right way."

"I mean, maybe you could probably interpret it that way," said John, gulping the rest of his drink down. It was two in the morning, he noticed, and his roommate had yet to shut up. It was going to be one of those nights.

"It's just that, you know," Corey said, topping off his orange juice with yet more vodka, "it's a revelation. That you could be god. Or that you could be anything. If you just realize it. You just have to know it." His grip tightened on the glass, which slammed against the table.

John hoisted himself from the couch with a grunt, leaving his drink on the table. "I'm going to bed, Corey. You can stay up and be god, but be a quiet, merciful god."

"Wait, you can't go to bed!"

"The lease says I can do anything but paint the walls, Corey."

"But. There's -- Hold on, what if I say something really important and I don't have anyone to hear it?"

John leaned his hand on the white door frame, "Then write it down. Make a Bible."

"Gods don't write bibles, John! Prophets do," Corey said, putting his hands down on the table.

John looked down at his belly, inhaled, and exhaled. He looked at the empty glasses on the coffee table, the popcorn on the floor, and the crumbling cabinets behind Corey. Another breath before he processed what Corey was doing. Corey was, of course he was, sitting in full lotus on top of the kitchen table, next to his drink.

"Just think of me as a conduit from the universe. The next thing I say could change your life forever."

"There's nothing you could say that could -"

"I took triple my dose of seroquel today."

John stopped. What was that again? Was that a bad thing? Then he remembered. Right. The important thing is that he was talking to a loving crazy person.

"I don't believe you."

"Okay, look, I know I'm being really goofy, but -- but you know I'm like that when I'm manic."

"You also lie all the time when you're manic. So why not just believe that that's what's going on? And why all this," he struggled for a word, "bullshit?"

Crawling forward onto the table, Corey said, "It's just, it's just an idea taken too far. I know I'm not, like," he stumbled off of the side of the table, where he hit his head on the floor, clutched his head, and rolled over to continue, "but you know it doesn't have to be like the end of the world to make sure I don't, like, throw up everywhere or have night terrors or whatever because I'm pretty sure it was like too much, like way too much, like too too much."

"Don't be so dramatic," John said, shutting the door. He rustled through the piles of clothes on the floor to find his pajamas. He turned off the light and stood there for a few minutes. He finally opened the door again to find John on the sofa, staring at the door.

"Oh, thanks John, just make sure I'm okay. Do you know what happens if I overdose?"

"Yeah," he lied.

"Okay," said Corey, yawning and pulling his arms towards his chest. As soon as John felt like he could move him without him waking up, he put him down on his bed, tucked the fucker in, turned the lights off, and went to his own room.

He descended into a blissful sleep, and woke up the next morning to the frost outside his window. The air was colder that day -- cold enough to numb his toes even very quickly after getting out of bed, cold enough that he put on a jacket before he opened the door to his room. Outside the window it was violently bright. As he walked out the front door and down the stairs to his car, he saw the snow was still as plentiful as ever, but it was playing with the sun's rays, teasing out beams of light that illuminated the trees from all sides. As he crunched down the stairs, he noticed Corey's car still iced over in the parking lot, and ran back up into the stillness of the apartment.

Apr 1, 2010

I am down for this system. I think getting at least two critiques is super-useful, especially for new writers who might not have the writing vocabulary to grok every critique they get immediately.

Apr 1, 2010


Apr 1, 2010


Apr 1, 2010

I'm in!

Apr 1, 2010

Okay, I wound up having to flop out last week, but this week I am DEFINITELY IN. If I don't have anything for this prompt, I'll never post to this thread again.

Apr 1, 2010

blackswordca vs. Impermanent
Handicaps/disabilities must be important to the plot.

Yesterday Upon the Escalator
(1350 words)

I felt in my pockets for the rest of the stuff, and after a couple seconds of flapping my arms around, realized that I had left it in the car. Tony was over by the crane machine, looking at the stuffed animals.

“Steve, you ever think all those little dudes are just fuckin’,” said Tony.

I did a spin that was definitely more graceful in my head to see if there were kids around. There weren’t..

“No, Tony, I can’t say that I’ve ever thought that,” I said.

“Man, you should, it’s like a movie. They’re poundin’ it,” he said, staring at the dolls. He leaned slightly on his artificial foot.

“I’m gonna get us some pretzels,” I said, figuring that he was in one of his intellectual moods and wouldn’t want to be bothered. It was hard to tell if he was higher than me or just showing it a lot more, but playing the who’s-higher game always made mine worse, so I dropped it. Sometimes he did this kind of thing because he wanted us to get food, but didn’t want to walk across the mall. I had been lucky enough to go to college after high school, and he had gone to the army.

The mall was kind of a piece of poo poo. We wound up gentrifyin’ more and more since they put the airport in, and the mall’s clientele seemed to be exclusively tourists who came in during the spring and then disappeared as soon as it got hot. Everything was beige. The ceiling was beige, the carpets were a kind of milky white beige, and the ornamental faux-stone columns that carried up through the bottom floor to the top floor were off-beige.

This is not to say that we hated the mall. We loved it. Tony and I were the mall’s most loyal disciples - we just were not so crass as to go to there to pillage it. We lived off the land, staying there for days, sometimes falling asleep in Tony’s car nearby when we were too stoned to drive home. Most of the cashiers at the starbucks in the bookstore in the mall (a nested structure, proof that it was living - the mall had cells, baby stores nurtured inside its stores) I navigated through the place with the constellations firmly in mind - right at the intersection of the LEGO store and the H&M, straight on til’ GAP.

The food court smelled like every food court in America: a potpourri of processed food, a slurry of shakes. When the flavors all are put together the common denominator is the smell of a low, meaty growl, like the brown of all the colors mixed together. The Pretzel Palace was the only place both of us could agree on being untainted by the funk that surrounded the court, and it was as I was ready to get in line when I saw it: behind a small boy in a cornflower blue basketball jersey, the door.

That same gray door with the grate on the bottom half. Tony and I had, in our teens, found it while we were trying to get free gumballs from a machine that had been installed in front of it. It was just an empty room. A lost space. We wound up setting up a bean bag chair in there, a Gandhi poster, and christened it the chill out zone. Then I went out to the college towns, and by the time we came back they put up a new machine in front of it and we had figured the room had been removed or repurposed. But there it was.

Not making any sudden movements, I drifted towards the the door. Either they had not put up a new kiosk or whatever yet (it was a great spot for that kind of thing, right near the entrance of the court) or the machine that had been there wasn’t, so I put my hand over the door knob, pressed my fingers, and creaked the knob clockwise. And it opened. The blue beanbag was still on the floor. The Gandhi poster still on the wall. Everything was as it had been.

I pulled my phone out to call Tony, when I saw I had no bars. That was fine, though. I walked into the room and saw that the plaster on the other side of the room was chipping. White flecks had spilled onto the grey carpet, and I pulled at the white flecks to find the shape of yet another door knob.

The doorknob felt old, so I turned it slowly, and used only a little of my weight to push it open. Outside was another food court. It was definitely a food court by smell alone, but it was a different one. Ours didn’t have a Chick-Fil-A, or a Subway. Most importantly, it was definitely just after eight at our mall, so the sun shouldn’t be so bright. And there wasn’t a skylight over the food court. And we don’t have a patio.

A lady in a minnesotan accent must have seen me staring, and she came up to me and said, “Do you need somethin’ fella?”

“I just, like, didn’t know we had two food courts.”

“Ah, no, honey, there’s just the one. Are you thinkin’ of the two-story mall over in Barstow?”

“Ah, no, I’m thinking of this one here in Asheville.”

“Asheville? No, honey, you’re in Lancaster, California.”

I stood there for a moment, absorbing that information.

“Really? I always wanted to go to California.”

“Well, ya did it. Good on ya.”

I doubled back, running into the room and flung the door open before slamming it behind me, when I saw the kids, must have been six, all dressed in designer clothing, all tugging on the bean bag.

A pause drifted through the room. I coughed.

“So do you kids, like, want the bean bag?

They looked at each other, and then the tallest one said, “Are you a shopper?”

“Ah, well, no. Kind of? I’m just a guy, basically.”

“Do you want a discount,” another one said.

“Uh, no, it’s just that that’s my bag, and this is sort of mine and a buddies’ room.”

Silence, and then, “Is this your store?”

“Uh, no, it’s just a place we hang out at sometimes.”

This spurred some rapid discussion among the kids. They were basically all around the same age, with the youngest around seven and the oldest about ten. They looked too different to belong to the same family, but they all talked the same - a weird mishmash of different accents and, well, a lot more “amazing’s,” “deals” and “right for you’s” than I had ever heard kids throw out.

“We would like to buy this bean bag. We can offer great value.”

“Okay, kids, you know what? You can take it. It’s a - a free sample.”

“Free sample? Thank you for shopping,” the kids all jumped on it, smothering each other to lie down on the thing.

“Yeah, okay.”


“Steve, how long does it take to get a pair of pretzels? You have to rub one out in the bathroom or somethin’? That’s what I did.” Tony was sitting on a bench near the front of the mall, massaging his legs.

“It was just an experience, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah I do. A high experience. I kinda thought I was more gone than you, you know that? I guess not,” he grabbed his pretzel from my hand.

“Yeah, you know, that kind of thing.”

I sat for a minute, watched him eat, and decided to risk it.

“Do you want to go to the other mall tomorrow? The one out near Brevard?”

“Why? You love this place. I love this place. This is our place.”

I shifted on the bench next to him, “I just wanted to, well, I’ve got a theory.”

He sat there for a second, ran his hands through his hair, and said, “Well. gently caress it. Okay.”

And that’s how the whole thing started.


Apr 1, 2010

I'm in!

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