House of Memories - 1,324
The old house talked to Lyle. He and it were the last ones that remembered all the bygone days. Even though everyone he knew from those days was gone, the house preserved them, kept them from being lost to time. When she was still alive, his Mom had said, “If these walls could talk,” and they really did, now that everyone else was gone.
It was a wreck: The foundation was cracked; the once white walls were now licked with rot, and its windows were covered in lichen.
Still a young man as far as years went, Lyle’s once fair skinned face now had the complexion of burnt toast, with icepick scars and little sores that never healed. He was rail thin with feathery black hair that had started to grey. His knobby elbows looked like doorknobs through his thin plaid shirt that lead to veiny forearms with taut, wiry muscles. He stood back from the porch, eying the house up and down. He bounced up and down on his heels and kept putting his hands in and out of his overall’s pockets. The dead house loomed over him, like it was rendered through a fish-eye lens.
Beside him stood his family’s contractor, Barry. He was red faced, reminiscent of some species of rodent, with snow white hair encircling a bald, sunburned crown. His thumbs were pressed behind suspenders straining aside his bulbous belly. His cheeks ballooned as he puttered air out from his lips, turning his gaze to Lyle. Lyle looked to Barry like he was lost in a dream; the young man’s sad grey eyes seemed to look right through the cracks in the foundation and into the bayou and beyond.
“Zoning office said you got six months to get it up to code, or they’re tearin’ it down,” said Barry. Lyle scratched his left arm through his shirt. “Don’t know what business they have doin’ that. All the way out here, it’s not an eyesore to nobody. Thing’s a piece of history.” They stood in silence for a while. The chirps and hoots of cicadas and loons crept in around them. Barry studied Lyle’s scowling face. “poo poo son, I’m sorry.” Barry put a hand on Lyle’s right shoulder, and felt him tense up, so he lifted the hand back off. “You probably got all kinds of recollections wrapped up in there--” Barry continued speaking, but Lyle wasn’t listening anymore.
He was trying to listen to the house. Beneath Barry’s speech, and the sounds of the woods, he heard it moan. The house wanted to die. It wanted to surrender to entropy, wanting to sink back into the soft green earth. He shushed through his teeth, trying to soothe the house. He wanted to tell it that he was going to fix it, heal it, make it just like it was all those years ago when things were simple.
“Young man like yourself, sure you’ve got time and energy to pour into her, but a thing like this, boy, it’ll pull you down with it. What’s gone is gone.” Lyle was still listening to the house; it had stopped moaning. “Sun’s going down. You want a ride back into town?” said Barry.
“Thank you, Barry, but, I’ll be stayin’ here.”
“This ain’t no place to be stayin’ Lyle. Shoot, I’ll put you up.”
“I’ll be staying here.” Lyle crossed his arms, straightened his back and nodded towards the house.
“Sleep? In there? You’re crazy, son. There’s black mold, poisonous spiders, all kinds of nasty poo poo in there. Place looks ready to fall down!”
“The place is my home, Barry.”
“Alright,” Barry started back towards his rust colored ‘59 Chevy pickup, “well, let me give you something before I go.” Barry pulled out a double barreled twelve-gauge and a box of shells from the truck’s bed. He unlatched the breach, peered down the barrel, then snapped it back shut. “You know that shanty town on Washington? Well, few days ago law came in, made ‘em clear out. All sorts of undesirables running around the woods now with no place to go. This’d be a real nice place for them to stay, black mold or not.”
“You don’t have to be giving me that, Barry,” Lyle said as he took the shotgun and inspected the breach himself. “Awful kind of you, though.”
“You’re a lot like your daddy was: Stubborn as all hell.” Barry got back into the truck and started it up. “I’ll be back in a few days, see what you’re up to. You take care, now.” Lyle shouldered the shotgun and nodded.
Lyle lay on a mattress on the floor of his parent’s old bedroom. He had found some old letters written in chicken scratch handwriting by his father to his mother, and was reading them by a kerosene lamp. They were from when his father was roughnecking back in Texas. Some of the letters had black thumbprints on them. There wasn’t much to them; just his father going on about how good the money was, how they’d have enough for a house soon, how he missed her. Lyle’s eyes grew heavy and he started to drift off.
He was lying on his side, propped up on his elbow when he woke up to what he thought was the house talking to him, but it was someone else in the room with him. A girl in her twenties with a dirty face was crouched beside him, looking right at him as she was reaching into his pants pocket for his wallet. Across the room was a young man in his twenties pointing the shotgun at him.
“Just keep your hands above your head,” said the young man.
“My wallets in my jacket,” said Lyle to the girl. The young man holding the shotgun smiled, his teeth were black and yellow. She pulled out the few dollars that were in his wallet, tossed it aside and stepped back. “Now what?”
“Kneel down on the floor, and face away from me,” said the young man. Lyle did as he said, and cupped his hands behind his head. He heard the young man take a few steps closer behind him. The girl whispered something to him, and he told her to shut up under his breath. The house moaned.
Lyle reached back without looking, and grabbed the shotgun with one hand. The young man tried to wrestle it free.
The shotgun went off next to his ear.
Lyle felt blood trickle down the side of his face. All sound was replaced with a high pitched whine. He wasn’t hit. Buckshot had sprayed across the room, and exploded the kerosene lamp which had caught the mattress and the old curtains on fire. “Help me put it out!” cried Lyle, he couldn’t hear his own voice. The couple were gone. Lyle tried to smother the fire with a blanket, but it had already spread across the room. Beneath the roar of the flames and his own coughing, Lyle heard the house creak. “No!” he shouted to the room around him. “I can still make it better!” Tears streamed down his face. His fathers letters were caught in the blaze, and he watched as the edges curl up as the flames consumed them. The smoke was too thick to breathe. He made it out of the room. At the bottom of the stairs he saw the shotgun and the young man lying beside it. His lower leg was bent sideways at the knee. Lyle made it down the steps, and pulled him out the front door, past the porch and onto the lawn in front of the steps.
Lyle watched the house burn. All the memories of his life were licked up in the flames, and floated away as dying embers. As the roof gave way and crumbled, he could hear what the house was saying clearly now: It was saying that everything would be alright.
Banjo Bones fucked around with this message at 03:51 on Aug 25, 2014
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 03:02|
|# ? Aug 13, 2022 09:37|
The Rivers Still Run
Grandma was bouncing the boy on her knee, a little harder than usual. Her chair rocked back and forward in time with his rolling laughter. Dusk was stealing into the house, and the rain fell through the dwindling sunlight, tapping on the roof, probing for gaps. The Devil was beating his wife that evening.
“So what do we do when we meet a kelpie, Junior?”
The little boy scrunched his ruddy cheeks and giggled. “We run away, Grandma! We don't listen to its imm-prih-cay-shuns.”
She pinched him gently and he squealed. “'tis no joke, child. Why do we run?”
“Easy,” said Billy Junior. “Because it'll take you down with it.”
The door opened. Father came in, the mud caked to his pants and his face lined with the strains of the day. “Are you filling the boy's head with devils again, Momma? The preacher tole you to cut that out.”
Grandma pushed the boy gently. “Off and play. Don't you forget, now.”
“I won't, Grandma! Can I hear more?”
Father cut in. “No more, for God's sake. To bed, son.”
Junior's face fell like a bag of bricks. He pushed himself off Grandma's lap and stood up as tall as he could. “But I wanna know about kelpies and that stuff! I love those old stories.”
“You already heard too much of this superstition, boy. To bed! Now!” Father moved towards him, sending Junior scurrying away up the steps. As the creaking sounds receded up the staircase, Father took his chair before the crackling fireplace. “Why you gotta ruin him with all that old country nonsense?”
“I'm telling him what my granny tole me, son. Boy has to know.”
“Know what? Don't tell the boy about devils he ain't ever gonna meet. You're just scaring him.”
“Good. He should be scared.”
Father snatched up the paper on the table. “Plenty to be afraid of here already. Real problem round these parts, your drat horse spirits?” He snorted. “You've lived here all your life: how many you seen, huh?”
“Ask your father. He met one.”
“Oh hell, Momma. You're losin' your memory, you know that ain't right. Pappa drowned. They found him face down under the jetty.”
“That's what I just tole you,” she said.
When Sunday came around, Father told them about a change of plan.
“There's a new preacher out of town,” he said. His head was buried in the hood of the car, and his words came out muffled, echoing through the engine. “Maybe this one can put an end to all this devil talk.”
Grandma put an arm around the boy and pulled him to her side, leaning on her stick for support. “You said that about the last two, son. There ain't no devils in the boy. What're you going and doing this for?”
Father pulled himself upright. “I think he can help you too, Momma. You gotta let go of all that.”
“I never thought I'd raise such an ungrateful boy. Maybe I'll just stay put.”
He opened the door and pushed the seat forward. “You do as you please, Momma, but the boy comes with me. Junior! In!” Father beckoned with an outstretched arm, and the boy squirmed out of Grandma's grip. He cantered to the car and folded himself into the back. Father pushed the seat back and turned to Grandma. He didn't speak.
“Perhaps,” said Grandma, “I will come after all. I should see this man of God who thinks he can handle the kelpies.” She shuffled over to the passenger seat, but before she could open the door her son was there. He laid a hand on her shoulder.
He opened her door. “Thank you, Momma,” he said. “I promise it'll be okay.”
“No-one can make such promises. Now let's be away and hear your drat preacher.”
“Momma!” The car rolled out of the drive and along the dirt track to the main road. Junior sat quietly and read comics like always.
By the time they arrived, the preacher was already in full swing, his voice cracking with cries and imprecations. He looked younger than he sounded, his lineless face scanning the wrinkled and bent congregation like they might bolt. His fine pants were soaked in the water of the river, its eddies flowing around him like he wasn't there, but he paid them no heed.
“What are we but sinners? Wrecks, unmanned in the storms of the Almighty. Who amongst ye has sinned?” He smiled, teeth gleaming in the afternoon sun. “Come forward, and find redemption in His waters!”
Father stepped forward, an arm firmly on Junior. “Reverend, I beg your counsel for my son. He has listened to too many tales of spirits and devils, and I-.”
“Devils? What are these devils?”
“He's been told of the spirits of the old country. Of the-” he paused, “the kelpies, spirits who can take the form of man!”
A murmur swept through the crowd, and was extinguished with a wave of the preacher's hand. He paused for a moment, and nothing was heard but the rippling flow of the river. The assembled farmers waited on his word. He drew breath. “There is no such thing as a kelpie,” he said. “Such tales are blasphemy.”
“Like hell, preacher!”
They all lurched towards the sound. Grandma had her stick in front of her like a spear, stabbing her way through the throng. She was moving faster now, each step a little further than the last, building up speed. “One took my Jack at this here river! Don't you deny it.”
The preacher grinned again and shifted his weight, pawing at the riverbed for balance. “Are you sure it wasn't a grumpkin, ma'am? Maybe an Indian ghost?” He made a face, and his flock laughed cold and sharp. “Tell me true: did you see this beast?”
“Let me tell you about devils, woman. The legions of Hell are numberless, their plans a myriad, rising from the Pit. To lure you into temptation, idolatry, and paganism!” His nostrils flared like tent folds. “You, boy, you must not be lured into such filth! Kelpies, hah! Christ the Redeemer hath, in his sacrifice, banished all monsters from the face of the Earth. There is only the Enemy.” He spun in the ankle deep water, churning foam as he cast eyes over them all. “All your souls are imperilled by this heathen. Give me the boy, and I shall bring him to the light.”
Father turned to Grandma. The eyes of the multitude lay upon them like a weight. He reached out. “Momma, you should listen to the man. He can help us, help you-”
“Cold iron! Ain't no man of God denies that evil walks the earth.” Grandma brandished the stick. “We are leaving. Take me home, sonny, afore I do something I regret. That man ain't laying one hand on my grandson.”
A hush of whispers spread through the crowd as Grandma covered the last few steps to Father and Junior. With an effort, she crouched down before the boy. “Don't you listen to that fool man, sweetheart. He don't know nothing about kelpies.”
Junior looked back at her. His bloodless face shivered, and he looked at his feet. “'salright, Grandma,” he said. “I know they's just stories.”
“William Junior, don't you talk like that-”
Father laid a hand on her shaking shoulder. “You know I love you, Momma.”
“I know, son. Take us away from here. For the boy's sake.”
The preacher glared up at them, eyes afire. “Then flee, sinner! Go where you will, but I shall be right here!” He turned to the herd. “Away with you all. You shame yourselves by permitting this outrage.”
Grandma tugged the boy's shirt. “Come, Junior.” He stood there another moment, but she yanked him again, harder than usual, and he came. The three of them turned, and walked together up the bank and away from the river.
“The child,” the preacher said to their retreating backs, “is welcome here whenever he wishes Salvation. If he is not saved he shall meet devils, in time.”
Away from the bank, the preacher and his river were hidden behind the rising hill. They walked back to the car in silence ahead of the rest of the congregation, Father glaring at Grandma all the while. When they got to the car, he leant on it rather than open the door. “The shame of it,” he said. “Cussing out a preacher like that! I put up with a lot, Momma, but you're letting yourself go real bad. Just because Pappa got drunk and-”
“Don't you dare, boy!” She rapped him with the stick and he cursed. “Your pappa weren't no drinker. If he could hear this slander, he'd rise from his grave and strike you hisself!”
“Don't be a fool, Momma! The whole drat town knew he-” Grandma grabbed his hand as fiercely as a vice and he stopped mid-flow. “Wait,” she said, “where's Junior?” They turned back behind them.
No sign of the boy. No third set of footprints. Father looked at her, and her eyes said it all. He broke into a jog, then a run: he galloped back across the field towards the riverbank, accelerating.
An animal sound rose on the afternoon heat. No-one else would swear to it later, but Grandma heard it just fine.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 03:20|
The end of the line
The screen door of the trailer slammed shut, and Jerry couldn’t help but notice Sal didn’t let it slap her rear end on the way out. He stood by the door, watching her wiggle angrily down the steps, and then wiggle angrily along the dirt path to the makeshift parking lot.
“But baby,” he called out to her departing rear end. “Let me explain, you know that ain’t right.” His voice petered out and if Sal or her rear end heard him they gave no sign. She pulled her car keys from her jeans, wiggled angrily into the front seat and sped off along the dirt road to town, pausing only to flip Jerry the finger as she reversed out.
“Well, sheeit,” said Jerry, glancing around the trailer park and not seeing a soul. He thanked Heaven for small mercies and was about to return to the depths of his trailer when another door opened in an RV across the way. The head of Miss Wichita appeared, all blonde curls and long neck and looking in his direction.
“Everything all right, Jer?” she called.
“Right as rain, Miss W,” said Jerry, smiling and waving. “Sheeit,” said Jerry, ducking back inside with speedy nonchalance and closing the interior door.
Jerry drew the blinds and sat on his bed. In the gloom of the darkened trailer, he could still make out the offending pair of his cousin’s panties on the floor. “Christ,” said Jerry to himself and possibly Christ, “I guess Mama was right. No good deed does go unpunished.” He picked them up, let out a sigh, threw them into the washing hamper at the far end of the trailer. Slam Dunk. he lay back on the bed, eyes closed, wishing the world free of women and the trouble they brought.
There was the sound of metal hitting stone outside his window. Jerry made a gap between two blinds with his fingers and peered out. Miss Wichita faced away from him in a kimono-style robe, struggling with a lawn chair in the afternoon sun. He watched her through the slit for a while, enjoying the way the kimono let the light through at certain angles and Miss Wichita’s silhouette became gorgeously apparent. She gave the lawn chair a final push and it clicked into shape. Jerry watched. She bent over to place its feet full on the ground. Jerry sighed. She stood up, looked to either side, and then dropped the kimono, revealing a shapely, naked derrière. Jerry gasped.
Miss Wichita turned to look directly at his trailer. Jerry whipped away his hand and the blinds snapped shut. Had she seen him? Were the blinds still moving? Jerry touched them to keep them steady. He heard nothing but his heartbeat for a full minute, and then, at the edge of his hearing, the creak of a lawn chair being sat upon.
Jerry felt thirsty all of a sudden and moved off his bed to open the icebox. The tiny cube spilled a small amount of fluorescent light into his darkened trailer. The icebox contained precisely no cans of beer. “Sheeit,” said Jerry.
“Whiskey with a beer chaser,” said Jerry to the bartender of the Stag’s Head
“You sure you want another?” asked the bartender. Jerry thought he looked young, but these days everybody looked young to Jerry.
“Pretty drat sure,” said Jerry. “Hang on, let me double check.” He finished the dregs of the previous beer. “Yep - still do.”
The bartender poured a shot into a glass, then filled a beer glass from the tap. “Everything all right?” he asked.
“My girl Sal gone left.” Jerry swung slowly on his barstool, left, to right, to left.
“Ooof,” said the bartender in sympathetic windedness. “Your fault or hers?”
Jerry found that he had drunk enough to want to tell the tale. “She found a pair of panties in my trailer that weren’t hers. Sheeit. I don’t know what she thought.”
“I’m pretty sure I got a fair idea,” said the bartender.
“No -you don’t get it. It was my cousin - they were hers. I lent her the trailer a couple of weekends ago when we were in the mountains because my aunt just won’t put up with her greasemonkey boyfriend.”
“So you did nothing wrong?”
“Well, her d-bag of a boyfriend never showed. I get back and she’s still there, crying and drinking, and one thing led to another and…”
“Your cousin? Folk like you doing a hell of a job freeing us from the hill-billy stereotype.”
“She’s only my second cousin. Family poo poo, it’s complicated. Jeez, women, though. If it’s not your drat cousin its some blonde across the way sunbathing in the all-together. I didn’t know where to look when I came out here. Just focussed straight ahead - there’s beer to be drunk. You ever just want to say ‘the Hell with it’ and throw in the towel.”
“Can’t say I ever have,” said the barman, polishing a glass. “You thought about calling your girl?”
Jerry was on the verge of describing the abject impossibility of finding her if she didn’t want to be found when the door to the Stag’s Head opened. The bartender looked up and kept looking. Jerry swivelled round on his barstool. Miss Wichita stood in the doorway. She was wearing tight jeans and a checked shirt tied up beneath her cleavage, showing her midriff. Her hair curled blondely around her shoulders. She smiled at Jerry. Waved. She came walking through the bar, and Jerry could see that she didn’t wiggle at all. She swayed.
“So, what are we talking about?” she asked Jerry. “Weren’t it a lovely day today? I got so much sun!” To the bartender she said, “Whiskey with a beer chaser.”
Jerry remembered the drinking. And then he remembered the rest of the drinking.
After that he didn’t remember so much. Just flashes here and there, like lightning when there’s no rain. There was some walking, the road back the trailer park, leaning on Miss Wichita like she was a walking stick. Jerry thought that next there was some kissing, he could definitely remember some lips and tongues and maybe teeth. And then she’d asked him something and he’d answered in all, drunken honesty. In Beero Veritas! What the hell had he said?
The trailer was an oven when Jerry opened his eyes at last, baking in the noonday heat. His throat was a gravel road that little trucks of spit tried unsuccessfully to travel when he swallowed, and his forehead beat painfully to the sound of the knocking at his trailer door.
Jerry remembered that she’d asked him what he wanted. And he’d told her, straight up, and she’d moved her head slowly down his chest, kissing as she went.
“Jerry!” said his Aunt’s voice between rattling bangs. “I’ve had Sal crying at me all night. What the hell have you been doing?”
“Unh,” said Jerry, half falling out of the narrow bed. He picked himself up and made his way towards the door, then stumbled over a dislodged sheet. With one foot he kicked it away and then opened the interior door.
Outside, through the screen, Jerry’s aunt said “Oh, for the Lord’s sake, Jer’, put some clothes on.” She looked him up and then down and then screamed. She backed away down the stairs and almost twisted her ankle on the final step.
Jerry look down at himself, saw the smoothness, the faint blush of new, pink skin. He pushed open the screen door, and came down the stairs, ignoring his aunt. The RV across the way had driven off in the night. Jerry walked over to its empty patch of dirt and stood there, letting the sunlight fall all over him.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 03:49|
Life was sweet, and everything was fine.
Me and my little brother’s dominion spanned the field of grassy gold, and the very edge of the forest. We ruled with laughter and pounding feet on the warm earth. We ate sun-warmed blackberries that grew along the tree line, never daring to go deeper into the wood.
Life was sweet. Sometimes I thought of our parents, wondered where they were under the flawless blue sky.
Everything was fine. Sometimes I saw glimpses of things in the forest. Half-remembered faces, the beige siding of an almost-familiar house.
“Do you ever wonder if there’s anyone else here?” I asked him one day as we rested in the shade of a pinkly blooming cherry tree.
“Why would there be? We don’t need anyone else here,” he said.
“People aren’t just around because you need them,” I said, but I was uncertain. There hadn’t been anyone there with us before. I thought of our parents, but their faces were dim and indistinct, like shadows behind frosted glass.
Michael only smiled at me. Life was sweet and everything was fine, so I laid back on the soft moss beneath the tree and let the swaying branches and sighing leaves soothe me to sleep.
“Get away from me,” a voice shrieked. I sat up, dripping sweat, and looked around. I was still under the tree. Michael was still next to me. He was smiling.
“What was that?” I got to my feet, sure that someone had finally come for us from the dark heart of the forest, which was the one place Michael and I did not go.
“You,” Michael said softly.
“Liar,” I snapped. “I think I’d know my own voice.”
My little brother only shrugged.
I looked toward the forest. My heart skipped a beat. For a fraction of a second, for only the briefest of moments, I had seen something massive and white and terribly out of place through the trees.
I blinked and it was gone.
“Hey, stay away from the woods, kay?” I told my little brother. Goosebumps pulled my skin into a tight jacket around me.
He shrugged again. “It’s only bad for you to go there.”
“What do you mean? Did you see someone?”
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said in a singsong tone. “I’ll tell you if...you can catch me!” He lept to his feet and raced off across the long, golden grass, away from the forest.
“Michael!” But he already was halfway to the horizon.
I raced after him, the wind blowing my hair back like a cape. I ran for miles, tracing the grassy curvature of the earth.
When I caught up with Michael, he had his back to me. He was staring at a distant smudge on the horizon.
“What is it?” I asked, catching my breath. I hadn’t known I could run for half a hemisphere.
“The forest,” he said quietly. His little face was solemn.
“You led me in a big circle!” I said in a mock accusing tone.
Michael shook his head. “It’s all around us. It’s the whole world”
Goosebumps rippled up and down my arms and back. I took Michael’s arm, tried to pull him back the way we came. “Then we’ll stay in the middle of the field. We’ll stay where we can’t even see the forest.”
Michael let me lead him back the way we came, slower this time. Soon, there was nothing on the horizon but waving yellow grass and blue sky.
“I’m tired,” Michael said.
“I think we’re far enough now,” I said. “Lets have a rest.”
We laid down side by side in the long grass. Life was sweet, and everything was fine.
When I woke up, Michael was gone.
I started to run. It had come for him, I knew it. Whatever terrible, wrong, half-forgotten thing waiting in the darkness beyond the trees had come for him, taken him from me as I slept uselessly.
The forest appeared, distant and hazy on the horizon again. Every now and then, the sky above it would warp. The blue would fade to white, then back to blue. Soon, it was less like I was rushing for the forest and more like the forest was coming at me, massive and unstoppable as an unholy freight train.
The sky flickered. Blue, white. Blue, white.
I found Michael standing at the edge of the forest, chewing his shirt collar.
“I thought we said! I thought we said no going near the forest,” I gasped as I came to a stop beside him. “Don’t you see the sky? It’s dangerous to be around here. It’s probably all, like, radioactive or something.”
“What’s in there can’t hurt me,” Michael said through a mouthful of damp shirt.
“Every little kid thinks nothing can hurt them,” I said. “But mom and dad aren’t here to…” I trailed off.
Michael looked at me. “Who?”
My head spun. My skull was a dam about to burst. Something was trying to get out, like a baby chick pecking at the inside of her egg. Places and faces and terrible truths pounded at my insides.
“Lets just go back,” I begged Michael.
“You can’t,” he said simply.
“What do you mean? We just came from…” I had turned around to point at the massive expanse of prairie land we’d run across. But instead of a boundless horizon, I found more forest. Our grassy field was little more than a meadow surrounded by tall trees and the black spaces beneath them.
“You have to go in eventually,” Michael said, nodding to the forest.
“But everything is so sweet out here,” I said. “Everything is fine the way it is. Why do I have to go in there?”
“Because,” he said. Then his face split into an impish grin. “You can’t catch me!”
He ran to the edge of the sunlight, and then he was gone.
I followed my little brother into the forest. It was like any other forest at first, all loamy smells and humming insects. I could hear the quick, dull thud of Michael’s little feet ahead, so close I should’ve been able to see him.
But the world flashed white, blinding me. My face hit a wall.
Thump thump thump thump went Michael’s little feet.
The whiteness was everywhere, more terrible and massive and inevitable than the darkness or the endless forest. This was the something, the terrible truth that stalked the edges of me and Michael’s world.
Thump thump thump thump. Someone called my name.
“Michael!” I screamed, but there was only white, and now some red sliding down the white in little rivers that divided into even smaller streams, but mostly the terrible, glossy white all around me.
There was a world-splintering crack! and then unfamiliar faces were coming at me. Horrible, lying, masked faces.
“Give me Michael back! Michaaaaael,” I howled.
The faces grew arms and torsos and the world of white resolved itself into a tiled room. The faces said my name. Their arms tried to gather me up from a tub of tepid water. My forehead pulsed with pain, and blood trickled into my eye.
“Michael,” I sobbed, letting myself settle completely into the terrible, bitter world, where nothing was sweet and nothing was fine.
“I know, I know,” my mother murmured, holding me close. Her eyes were pitted, terrible things. Her face was etched with grief lines, wrinkles so fresh they looked painted on. My father leaned in to dab a towel at the place where I’d broken skin beating my head into the white tile wall.
“Let me go back,” I begged them, trying to pull away.
“You can’t go back. Michael can’t come back.”
I inhaled. I exhaled. I let the world come back to me, one sense at a time: the room temperature bath water, the distant sounds of the neighborhood outside. The smell of kids’ shampoo, the real gentle stuff mom always bought for Michael.
I let my parents pull me out of the tub, wrap me in a towel, take me to bed, where my mom and dad and I sat and we talked and we cried, and I hated them for doing all of the things a person does when they are trying to let go.
I have never truly left that field. I go there every night, just before I fall asleep. In my mind, I call up pictures of waving grass, the flavors of sweet berries, and the feel of warm wind in my hair.
It's all very empty and lonely for right now, but I know that if I keep dreaming, my little brother will come back to me, and life will be sweet, and everything will be fine again.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 03:51|
edit: story removed. Is probably going to appear in a book.
SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 15:59 on Sep 27, 2014
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 03:51|
The Devil You Don't
Mabel's suitcase slammed into the top of her head as the truck screeched to a halt.
Someone was standing in the middle of the road. He was shirtless, barefoot. His jeans dripped wet and soaking in the downpour.
Even though she wished Abby would go in her place, Mabel climbed out of the truck, flashlight shaking in her hand. She was the reason they had been kicked out of the retreat that night, only 2 days in. The fight with the rear end in a top hat Swami didn't have anything to do with Abby, but she was her ride, and so they were both here, winding their way down the mountain after midnight, their things stuffed behind their headrests in the cramped cabin of her boyfriend's truck. But at opening ceremony the other facilitators had said they needed to be open to new experiences, and she decided if she was going to learn at least something from the experience, it would be that.
The man didn't say anything. He just kept his head down, staring between his feet.
Mabel stood on the wet asphalt. Her light cut weird shadows across his face. "You all right, mister?"
Then he jerked up like he was kicked, looked straight at her, and bolted off into the woods.
"Jesus Christ!" She stumbled back into the car.
"What happened?" Abby asked. "I can't see poo poo in this fog."
Mabel leaned forward and put her head in her hands. "He turned and he looked at me, and when he looked at me, oh jesus Ab he ain't had no EYES."
"What?" Abby stared at her friend. "You all right, girl?"
Mabel looked up with red eyes. "I'm serious, Abby."
"Well... what do you mean, like, just holes in his face?"
"No. White, like nothing there, just dead."
"Maybe it's just some kids out running around, playing dress-up, funny contact lenses, you know? TV show contacts. I seen them before. White, black, they got every color. Made outta sunglasses stuff, I think, so you can see through it."
"Maybe," Mabel said, sounding unconvinced. She sat back up in her seat, clenching her hand rests. "Let's just go."
The town at the base of the mountain was dark when they reached it. They drove through empty streets, passing homes vacant and decaying, the only signs of life vines climbing up the sides.
"Must be a power cut or something," Abby said.
"Huh, what?" Mabel tried to look like she hadn't been dozing off.
"I'm not losing you over there, am I, Mabey baby?"
Mabel rubbed her eyes. "No, but..." She looked out her window and screamed.
Abby slammed on the brakes for the second time that night. Down a side street, something long and white and four-legged turned around a house corner and was gone. "A dog. It's a loving dog, Mabes."
"No. It weren't walking like a dog. Those legs don't bend like—"
"Jesus Christ." Abby held the wheel in a death grip. Her eyes burned holes in the windshield. The conversation was over.
Mabel stared out of her side window as they started moving again. Once or twice, she thought she saw something else. A glimpse of something white moving. She didn't say anything.
And soon they were back on the open road, cruising at 80 MPH under a dark sky.
They were 25 miles away from the town when the hail started. It was coming down hard, hammering the truck roof in a roar, and the truck's wheels were starting to slip on the road. Abby decided to pull over and let the storm pass.
But the hail kept growing in size.
"poo poo," Abby said. "Jake'll be pissed."
"Nothing you could do." Mabel looked out her side window again. There were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by crops stretching off into the distance. The plants waved and shuddered in the hailstorm. And something was gnawing at her.
"Ab," she said. "It's been a while since we passed anyone. Those dumbasses in the mountains were the last ones, weren't they?"
They had passed a car full of teens weaving left and right, hooting as they swerved just in time to miss the girls' truck. One of them was leaning out of the window and nearly fell out when they blew past.
"I think so..." She looked over with a squint.
"But that must have been hours ago, now. Nobody since? Why not? Not even no trucks? They drive all day long."
"And it ain't day no more. Look, Mabes..." Abby rubbed a thumb into her forehead, her eyes closed. "We're not on a big interstate. We're on a two lane loving highway between Nothing and Nowheresville. So nobody ordered a special delivery at three in the morning. Who gives a poo poo."
"I..." Mabel shook her head. "I don't know—"
"No, you don't know, but that don't stop you." Abby stared straight at her. The hail hammering on the roof and coating the truck bed, slowing now, was the only sound in the cab. Mabel wanted to crawl under the seat.
"It... It just don't seem right." She was on the verge of tears. "I just... I got a bad feeling, is all."
"Mabel Jones," Abby said. "I have heard entirely too much about your feelings for one night. And I am tired as poo poo. It sounds like the hail's letting up, now. If I let you drive the rest of the way back, will you shut up about them?"
Mabel nodded, biting her lip.
They sat a couple more minutes in silence, waiting for the hail to stop.
Mabel got in the driver's seat and started the engine. "Don't tell Jake," Abby said.
They got to his house just after four.
"Park on the street," Abby said.
"I can't believe the power's out here, too."
"Why not?" Abby asked. "Hailstorm, remember?"
"I just don't like how this feels."
"Mabel, what did we say about those feelings of yours?"
"Quiet," Mabel said. "Aren't there usually crickets out? Or even birds, this time of morning? There's nothing."
As if in response, a gust of wind waved the trees around them. The still-wet branches dripping water onto the ground and the truck. Then it was silent once more.
"I'm going in." Abby got out and grabbed her duffel bag, her chin thrust out. "You coming?" And she walked off.
Mabel watched her go around the side of the house and disappear. Then she sighed, turned off the lights, took her case, and followed after her.
It was dark inside. Abby couldn't even light a candle for her?
It didn't really matter, Mabel knew her way around. It was warm and musty inside, even more than usual. Starlight peeking in from side windows turned all the furniture into dark blobs. She dropped her suitcase in the hallway and shut the back door.
She headed to the couch in the living room, but stopped halfway through the dining room. There was a sound coming from the kitchen, something like rustling, or popping.
"Abby?" she called out. The sound stopped. "Jake?"
Still no answer. She started backing up, slowly at first. Then she caught a glimpse of something stark white slinking out of the kitchen, and she turned and ran.
Something told her to get down, and she went flat on the floor. A white shape slammed into the bannister post at the bottom of the stairs with a thunk, then wobbled on its too-long legs. Mabel grabbed her suitcase, legs under her, swung it heavy in an arc and hit the thing right in the side. It bounced off the bannister onto the floor, writhing silently. But she heard more movement upstairs.
She opened the back door, shut it behind her, and ran back to the truck. The tires squealed as she drove off. She didn't know where she was going, but it was not here.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 04:00|
Poppa always told me never to go into the marsh. We lived on a farm but we didn’t farm anything. Poppa was a Vicar and the home was passed down to him. The marsh was past the dead fields, over a ditch that stretched long past the far. Momma also told me never to past the marsh but she didn’t talk much after Poppa hit her.
You might be asking yourself how could he do such a thing. I’m telling the truth. I am the daughter of a Preacher, after all, and lying is a sin. But a man of God, laying a hand on his wife? He did it only the one time, admittedly, the same night I ran into the marsh. It was Momma though. She got real cross at Poppa. She told him there was something wrong with me. She couldn’t deal with it. It was just too much, she said. Poppa tried to be reasonable with that warm tongue of his. He told her that I was their daughter. She agreed, and then she wished I was never born. Then Poppa slapped her.
I wasn’t scared. Just couldn’t stay and watch Momma cry. I didn’t put on my shoes, I just ran out of the door. I could hear Poppa call after me but I did not listen.
It was strange. I didn’t even consider Poppa’s words until I was knee-deep in shrubs. I remember that there was a full moon and I stared up at it. The view overlooked a small lake, and the moon reflected off of the water.
“Pretty view, ain’t it?”
Voice came to my left. I turned to look and found a Hog. It’s body was of unfinished leather and rotting meat. He smelled of decay. I wasn’t scared then either.
“Ain’t it past your bedtime, child?”
I could see it was pleased, about what I couldn’t tell. He took a sniff of the air, squealing, before flashing me a grin. His teeth were as sharp as needles, caked with what I could only reckon was blood. It laughed. What came from it did not sound anything like laughter. The blubber in it’s maggoty cheeks and it’s swollen belly reminded me of a stout man. It considered me for a moment, darting his inky eyes, licking it’s snout with it’s moldy tongue. Even then I wasn’t scared.
“May I ask a favor?” When I said nothing it continued. “Could you bring me a swine? Freshly cut? It has been a long time since Ive had pork.”
“...Aren’t you a swine yourself?”
“Aah, don’t you know child? Us hogs will eat anything. I am of a particular pallet though. Bring me some fresh pork, fresh. Chop it into bits if possible. My teeth, they aren’t what they use to be. Tomorrow evening, same time. Could you do that for me, child?”
Didn’t take long for me to nod.
“Good girl. Now you head home. It’s awfully late.”
I arrived back home. Momma and Poppa were asleep and I went to sleep right after. Everything was real quiet. Momma and Poppa couldn’t bear to look at me.
I could tell Poppa still loved me, but over the past year he stared at me like a man of God stares upon a false prophet; dripping with confusion and doubt but full of righteous indignation. Like I wasn’t his little girl anymore--like a devil gobbled me up and was wearing my clothes.He gave me the benefit, I’ll give him that much. He was a good man, or at least tried to be. And I really hated him for that.
I went out around sunset. Poppa just nodded when I told him I was going out. Couldn’t even tell you if he saw the cleaver or the sack. He didn’t take his eyes off his book.
The nearby farm was only a skip and a hop away. Once I reached it, I hopped the pen. The piggies were corralled into several pens. I was worried that I might attract attention, but I could hear the pigs squealing from down the road and I reckoned that would do just fine. I picked the one that was fast asleep. I made short work of the pig. Slit it’s throat to keep it silent. Cut it just as the Hog requested. I was covered by the time I was finished. Filled the sack with the pork and guts, threw the cleaver inside and got out of there.
Hog whistled when I arrived. It stood at the same spot as the night before, like it never moved. I unzipped the sack, placed it under his snout. He sniffed deep like he was devouring the air. He made short work of his meal.
“Excellent. Juicy. I appreciate your kindness.”
“Anything for a friend,” I said.
“Har. You’re no friend of mine, child. Don’t get any ideas.”
I plopped down on the ground as it started lapping at the bones. I stared up at the full moon, fingers playing with my short locks of hair.
“But a cute girl like you, killing a piggy like this? I’m surprised. What would your parents think?”
I finally lowered my head to look at the disgusting Swine. I smiled. “Frankly? I don’t give a rat’s rear end what they think.”
Hog kept on smiling, but in his dark eyes I could see a glint of melancholy, a hint of pity, but something else I couldn’t recognize. “You hate your mother and father, don’t you?”
I didn’t even respond. I just laughed. That was enough answer for the swine.
“Did you know that human is my favorite delicacy, child?”
I shook my head. “Hogs eat anything, don’t they?”
“Smart girl. Do you think you can bring me some?”
“Heh. What are you suggesting? That I just cut up Momma and Poppa and serve him to you?”
The hog did not respond. It just grinned at me. He was hungry and I was eager to feed him, so I went back home and killed Poppa and Momma. Then I fed them to the hog.
That was the the story I told the police when I turned myself in.
Should have seen the Sheriff had no clue what to make of this story. I repeated it to him three times. They held me in jail for a day or so. They never found Poppa or Momma. They didn’t find the cleaver or the sack. They checked her clothes and the house. They checked the field and the marsh. Eventually they just gave up. Sheriff chalked it up to a mental break after experiencing the loss of my father. As much as they hated to admit it Besides, how could I do such a thing? I am a the daughter of a Preacher, after all, and lying is a sin. The same Preacher who lived next to a farmer who owned over a dozen pigs. And I don't have to remind you about what Pigs eat, do I?
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 04:05|
Aight the sun has set his weary rear end down behind Gator Rise and Uncle Zeke's castin' what you might call meaningful glances over at the rifle on the wall so that's it.
Results in a while, crits too.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 04:12|
Demons from the abyss vs. Stern Suburban Housewives
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 04:18|
The creature crawled across the cold floor, its belly leaving a cold trail of black ooze in its wake. It could smell the life within in the house, vibrant and bright. Its purple-red tongue flickered over its needle teeth in anticipation of the sweet taste of heartsblood.
Abruptly, the creature found its skull in collision with a Swiffer brand mop, and the black pits where its eyes had once been were afire with Lysol Original Lemon Scent spray. It tried to recoil, to escape the searing pain, but was suddenly trapped within the confines of a Glad(TM) Heavy Duty garbage bag with Lavender Febreeze scent. It opened its jaws to scream, but was abruptly cut off when its mouth was filled with Arm and Hammer Odor Fighter Baking Soda.
Luckily for everyone, it was garbage day.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 06:47|
BELATED CRITS WEEK 106
Before I begin, there was a certain pattern that emerged in the stories, where a whole bunch of you wrote the exact same "faded/upcoming rock stars do a gig and it goes ok I guess" vignette and after a while they all started to run together. There was only one that really worked, and even that suffered for looking too much like the rest of the pack. Now I'm probably the worst person to take advice from here, but I see the prompt as a jumping off point. If you want to do something bugfuck crazy and different with it, I'm totally cool with that as long as you do it with enough panache. So long as I can see the seed of the prompt and how you got there, that's awesome.
If I ever end up judging again by some minor miracle, remember this.
Anyway, specific stuff.
Hammer Bro - Regicide
Entry #1 in our "rock stars do a gig" list is aggressively middle of the road. One week later, I cannot remember a single goddam thing about this story. I feel like my brain has been painted beige. Hammer Bro, you get an award for competency but not much more than that. Try to break the mould a little more. The absolute worst thing that can happen is an avatar switch, but it'll certainly up your chances of getting noticed, both in the 'dome and with your writing in general.
Genre: Dad Rock
Anathema Device - Comet Song
This was pretty, and we were tossing it around for an HM. Ultimately thought, it was a little too dialogue heavy and we didn't get to see enough of those nice little prose flourishes. The whole 'dome has a problem with overusing dialogue, and here it was what killed you.
Genre: Romantic, but some rear end in a top hat in the front row keeps talking on his phone.
Sitting Here - Dead Star
You were on usual top form until the last few paragraphs, and then it started to get fuzzy around the time it really needed to be clear and well-blocked. Yeah yeah I get it he's high and it's his PoV but ultimately that finale was a confusing jumble. It kinda felt like you wrote a 1000 word story, then saw the word bonus and hastily tacked on a bunch of trippy poo poo near the end. I've lectured you enough about concrete concrete concrete and you've definitely been getting better there, but it's still an issue.
Genre: "No seriously bro hang around for the end this poo poo is about to go off the wall"
Amused Frog - a year to change the world
#2 in our "generic rock band has troubles and then does a gig that's ok I guess" chronicle. All of these seriously ran together past a point. It's a nice quiet character drama, but it needed something special to push it ahead of the pack and it just didn't.
Genre: more loving dad rock
December Octopodes - Untitled
This was a weird one. I kinda wanted to HM it, but also didn't. It's certainly brave: 3 perspectives, multiple time periods and a huge scope all in the space of 1000 words. You reached for the stars and kinda faceplanted, but I can't hate you for trying something difficult. In the end, what you really needed to do if you wanted it to work was strip down a lot of the adjectives and excessive verbiage then go wild with all the crazy stuff on top of that. The dense prose already made it difficult for you to slide in under the word count and you just couldn't do it. Props for chutzpah though.
The Wildest Turkey - The Big Break
Transcript from a conversation Rhino and I had like a week ago
"are they gay?"
"I think they're gay"
"he's going to suck his dick now"
"why isn't he sucking his dick?"
"this is the worst"
Searing sexual tension aside, I did like how the sparse prose fed into the whole 'desert' feel. We don't see that often around here: the physical shape of the prose helping to build setting. Your failing? It just wasn't very tense or interesting. Two dudes talk and one of them's like "oh no I'm sad" and then they don't kiss each other.
Genre: Elton John Dirty Dubstep Desert Remix
Thalamas - Battle of the Band
Oh god more loving faded rock bands being all sad about poo poo. This week made me want to punch Van Halen. Way too much dialogue in the intro and outro, made me feel like I was floaing in a white void.
Genre: Dadliest Rock-rock-rock
docbeard - Honour Her
Part of me suspects that you're trying to pander to my well-documented love of Greek mythology (and in particular the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice), but I like the prose flourishes here. There's a very painterly aspect to a lot of your descriptions, which is very cool. Mercury did sound like a Final Fantasy summon though.
Was one of the three pieces we chucked around for winner. Overall very strong.
Genre: gentle lute strumming
Alpacalips Now - Golden Revelation
What in the flying gently caress even happens in this story? We had to read it three times just to understand who was who and who was doing what. I can't fault you for creative interpretation of the plot, but you really need to work on your clarity. I'm not even sure I can analyse it deeper than that, because my brain just keeps skittering off it in self-defense. I'm going to tell you the opposite of what I told everybody else: slow down and try to write something simple. You've got interesting ideas, but they're totally falling apart between brain and paper.
Genre: Lupe Fiasco having a stroke
Ironic Twist - Over and Over (Again and Again)
Guys go and listen to this seriously, it's loving adorable in the best way possible. Twist aint got bad pipes on him either. We couldn't stop listening to it and smiling. This recording was the best thing about our judging night, and if we were handing out winners on that alone, Twist woulda taken it.
We weren't though, and while the story is decent it felt much better as a spoken word piece than a written one. The lyrics don't really work on the page with all the oh-oh-ohs and kinda break the thing up too much. Still, it's a novel interpretation of the prompt, and the relationship between the two women is sweet. Prose is workmanlike, but it does the job well enough.
Obliterati - Aint No Devil Can Bring Me Down
Was it supposed to be really unclear that Michelle was a saxophone, and not a woman? Because we didn't realise until the very last paragraph, and then we had to go back and read the whole thing again to understand it properly. There's a throwaway line about him "touching her keys" but you're affecting this old-timey bluesman thing and it just came off like a piece of slang for tits or something.
The voice is what killed you. We're not entirely sure if it's racist, but it toed the line close enough to leave us overall uncomfortable with the piece. The voice was distracting, confusing, and overall ruined what could've been a decent story. Take what you'd see in a movie and dial it back a couple of notches. Step away from stereotypes if you really want to shine.
Genre: HERITAGE NOT HATE
Entenzahn - Love Songs
Generic title, too much dialogue, overall eh. We need more flair, and more physical description before we start to give a drat.
Tyrannosaurus - Because Sometimes You’re Not Appreciative Because You Just Don’t Understand
Some funny pacing near the end, but overall excellent, especially considering the curveball I threw you. It's sweet, it's touching, it carries itself with a quiet confidence that we're going to give a gently caress about the people in it, and we do. Everybody go and check this one for to balance dialogue and prose. Dialogue is like salt: you only use as much as you need, and generally that aint much. Mr. Dino here nailed it. I had it picked for HM personally due to the squiffy ending, but I liked it very much.
Club Sandwich - The Astral Plane
Wow, those are some bigass walls of text you're expecting me to enjoy reading. Breaking your ideas up into more discrete chunks of information will help the reader a lot. Also, lots and lots of runon sentences that seem to never end and I go "wow this is a long sentence I wonder when it's going to end" but it never does and my brain goes 'aaaaaaah' and it's already in a big wall of text which makes it hard enough jesus k I'm gonna pass out now because I need to breathe.
You need to work on the more physical stuff: sentences, paragraphs etc. The ideas were cool, but nobody's fighting through that word-swamp to get at them.
Genre: a man banging trashcan lids together while shouting bible verses
LOU BEGAS MOUSTACHE - Pest Control
Huh, so it's the Pied Piper of Hamelin with rock? I can dig it. The issue was that you didn't really do anything interesting with it beyond the genre shift, which is really important when rewriting older stories. Why did you shift the genre, and what does that mean? Which themes in the original story are resonant with the themes in the new setting, and how do they resonate with your audience? Failing that, simply be more interesting. Rewriting older stories is hard, and you didn't pull it off with enough flair. If only you'd gone balls-to-the-wall and rocked out with your cock out, you probably could've saved it.
Genre: RAT rock, like Limp RATZKIT or RAT against the MachineRAT see what I did there
Meinberg - Protest Song
gently caress, I really wanted to give this the win. This is the sole standout in the Dad Rock 'dudes in a rock band do a show that's just ok' collection. It starts a bit iffy and the song works much better as a poem than a song (though it's a dynamite poem) but the thing that really sells it is that ending. It's gorgeous, soft and understated. I've accused you of being a bit unfeeling in the past and allow me to redact that fully: this was great.
The things that pushed Tyranno over the top were
1) your song didn't work as a song
2) it was just too similar to a bunch of the other entries. You took the easy path and while you did something amazing with it, it knocked you down a position on the charts.
Genre: dad rock, but really good dad rock. Like that one Springsteen album where you're all like "wheeeedleywheeedleyweeee" and then you get sad about veterans.
perpetulance - Midnight Special
I liked this. I was ready to get mad at you for historical accuracy re wobbly hobos/pinkertons, but I looked it up and found out the Pinkertons actually stuck around as strikebreakers for a long time after their big important parts in history, so that was cool. I like learning new things. Prose is nice, possibly a little dialogue heavy, but it falls apart in the ending when it's just really hard to tell what's happening.
Physical blocking is important for physical scenes, and people tend to underdescribe rather than overdescribe. We need to know where important things are in relation to other important things for the scene to have any tension, and this just didn't. Try to go back and rewrite the bit where he steals his harmonica back, and focus on physical movement and positioning.
genre: bindle stick trashcan band
Schneider Heim - Busker's Jam
Hey, you listened to me saying "WRITE ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES THEY'RE REALLY COOL," which is nice. Your story doesn't really work though, because everybody in it is an rear end in a top hat. Antiheroes have to have big stakes to fight against, or else they just end up looking kind of dumb. For a lower-key character piece like this, they need to have a few more redeeming qualities before we glom onto them as readers.
genre: whatever the gently caress Oasis are. It's listenable but it's like "oh god the Gallaghers are such pricks" and then you go listen to something else
Paladinus - Double Act
I hated the way the narration worked here, but DocK thought it was cute so I dunno. Overall, I wasn't sold on the forced 'witty banter' between the two of them and could've used a lot more physical description and blocking. The premise is cute, but you're too reliant on the humour that just isn't quite clicking. Like, this is basically aaaaalllll dialogue and that just does not work at all in any way.
Also, was that a rape joke?
genre: awful dick jokes set to bongo drums
Grizzled Patriarch - Notes in an Empty Room
This was nice. Good balance of dialogue/description, does something creative with the prompt, gets some real human emotions going, makes us give a gently caress. It's a little short in the lead-up thought, and you had the words to spare to flesh that out some more. Overall good work, but watch the pacing.
genre: sad violin music just on the cusp of hearing
Sebmojo - Civilized, Mile-Deep Darkness
YOU hosed UP A BAXTER QUOTE YOU LOSE EVERY 'DOME FOREVER.
The reason this didn't clear HM is because at points it's a little too on-the-nose about its flowery descriptions. I'll level with you mojo: you're a cool motherfucker. You're at your strongest when you kick back and let the cool, rather than trying to build up these big elaborate flowery descriptions. When you do the sparse drawl with the occasional lyrical touch, it's amazing. When it's all metaphors and colours blasting everywhere, it's a mess.
Nice use of a difficult prompt, but the floweryness dragged you down
genre: being beaten over the head with an acoustic guitar that's painted with totally groovy colours man
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 07:48|
The Missing Pie 217 words
Her pie was missing. She had finished the apple pie, and set it to cool on the window sill. She turned away to wash up, and it vanished. She knew something was wrong, and the neighborhood kids were simply not quiet enough to pull it off. She wandered outside and quickly noticed there was one more gnome than normal in the yard. Walking over she quickly picked up the extra by the scruff of his neck.
"I know it's you Bifrons, so drop the act." The gnome pulled a face, and shifted to its true form a monstrous head attached to nothing at all. She tossed him down to the ground, and pinned him with her stiletto heel. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't banish you for a century, pie thief."
Bifrons squirmed under her heel. "I can reveal the secret herbs for longevity, vitality, and power. I don't want to go back to hell." He whined.
"Tell me something I don't know." She said. Her temper was short, and losing that pie was making it hard to not finish the job.
"I know who took your second child, the other twin." He gasped as she dug her heel in a little deeper.
"I don't have a second… What did you say?!" He had her attention.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 11:44|
Thanks Muffin for the crit!
It's been a while, but can I ask for a crit for my Week 105 story? I want to work on it more and turn it into something longer. I can crit back, and pay it forward by giving a random person a free crit.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 13:30|
Okay, all crits for Week 102 will be done this week. Just heads up if you completely forgot that I was still intent on doing them.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 20:56|
Last crits for Week 105 for Lead Out In Cuffs, Schneider Heim, Perpetulance, Grizzled Patriarch, Tyrannosaurus, Djeser, Fumblemouse, Lambeth, Phobia.
Schneider, I'll give yours a line-by-line in the next day or two.
|# ? Aug 25, 2014 23:38|
THUNDERDOME CVI RESULTS
I can't shake the feeling that most of you guys didn't really read the prompt. Here's what I wrote: "This week I want some stories in the Southern Gothic style. The idea is that there is something out there that your character should avoid but fate has other things planned." Very few of you actually wrote about a character needing to avoid a [ insert situation here ] but failing to. Even less (somehow!) bothered to do any sort of research into Southern Gothic. I'm just gonna copy paste from motherfucking Wikipedia
"Goddamn Wikipedia posted:
Common themes in Southern Gothic literature include deeply flawed, disturbing or eccentric characters who may or may not dabble in hoodoo, ambivalent gender roles and decayed or derelict settings, grotesque situations, and other sinister events relating to or coming from poverty, alienation, crime and violence. While the tales in literature can be set among various classes, the decay of the southern aristocracy and the setting of the plantation are the usual settings for southern gothic tales in the popular mind.
So look at that. And then look back at what you wrote. There is a ton of awesome poo poo to draw from right there! This was an awesome prompt! You guys gave me a bunch of creepypasta with a coat of American South painted on last minute. Whyyyyyy
Well. With that being said, this still wasn't a terrible week. Most of you guys are good writers and it showed. You gave me a fairly decent collection of stories that just happened to say "gently caress you prompt I'm a do my own thang." Whatever I guess. If you guys had actually followed the prompt I was prepared to make it rain honorable mentions. This is what ya got instead.
Oxxidation, Noah, SurreptitiousMuffin, crabrock
Meinberg, Club Sandwich, Fuschia tude
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 00:00|
Doesn't this bring Kaishai to an even dozen wins? Someone tell me which organs of theirs I should harvest to gain their power, tia
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 00:05|
no, she "only" has 10
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 00:12|
Triumph! Success! The highest throne!
Long live the queen!
You're probably here for the prompt, though, huh?
Thunderdome Week CVIII: The Dewey Decimal System
Judges: Kaishai, Djeser, and The Saddest Rhino.
I recently moved from the seventh-largest city in America to a town with a population of just over two thousand souls. Don't get me wrong: I love seeing trees and corn fields every day, but there's something I desperately miss. A good library. So I'm going to browse the shelves vicariously through all of you, because your prompt this week is to write a prose story related to a Dewey Decimal division.
Here's how it works: within a day of signing up, you'll be assigned a Dewey Decimal number. Let's say I give you 841, which is French Poetry. Your entry needs to involve French poetry in some way; perhaps your main character is a poet, or perhaps he studies verse, or perhaps she's lonely and tries to pick up men by reciting sweet words to them in la langue de l'amour. Please observe however that I've specified prose, so submitting poetry in French or otherwise is straight out.
There's a further complication! I'm rather cheerful about this whole ten wins thing, and I won't have any of you bringing me down! Your entries must be upbeat. Nothing grimdark. No downers. All stories should end on a note that is, if not happy, hopeful for your protagonist or for the world.
ADDENDUM: All entries must be fiction. No fanfiction. No erotica. No GoogleDocs. Write in English.
Sign-up deadline: Friday, August 29, 11:59 pm USA Eastern
Submission deadline: Sunday, August 31, 11:59 pm USA Eastern
Maximum word count: 1,400
Fumblemouse (378 Higher Education): "Higher Education"
Sitting Here (537 Electricity and Electronics): "The Wire"
Meinberg (385 Railroad Transportation)
Chairchucker (521 Celestial Mechanics): "Vavoom"
V for Vegas (738 Ceramic Arts)
Obliterati (798 Equestrian Sports)
Anathema Device (549 Mineralogy; Flash rule: A character in the story collects something.)
Nethilia (561 Paleobotany): "Resurrection"
Morning Bell (677 Textiles): "The Shawl"
PoshAlligator (574 Genre Art; note Wiki's definition of the term): "Under the Museum"
Grizzled Patriarch (714 Water Features): "Love Like a Deep River"
bromplicated (025 Library Operations): "Faces in the Dark"
PootieTang (167 Hypotheses)
perpetulance (135 Dreams and Mysteries)
CommissarMega (296 Judaism; Flash rule: At least part of the story takes place during a holiday.)
Pseudoscorpion (359 Sea/Naval Forces and Warfare): "MK 9"
Hammer Bro. (391 Costume and Personal Appearance): "Emotional Nudity"
Fuschia_tude (090 Manuscripts and Rare Books): "Rare birds"
Schneider Heim (292 Greek and Roman Religion): "Aphrodite and Hephaestus"
Gau (187 Epicurean Philosophy): "Tomorrow in New York"
docbeard (005 Computer Programming, Programs, and Data): "Discovery"
Phobia (748 Glass; Flash rule: Nothing in the story can break): "Lovestruck as a Window Washing Lifeguard"
Ironic Twist (568 Fossil Birds): "YX"
JuniperCake (115 Time): "Standing Vigil" (Submitted past the deadline.)
Tyrannosaurus (871 Latin Poetry): "Love"
Blade_of_tyshalle (774 Holography): "A Heart of Broken Glass"
Entenzahn (929 Genealogy, Names, Insignia): "Underdog"
God Over Djinn (585 Gymnospermae)
cargohills (634 Orchards, Fruits, Forestry)
Meeple (153 Mental Processes and Intelligence): "Thought and Memory"
Skwid (708 Galleries, Museums, Private Collections): "The Fantastic Collection"
HopperUK (423 English Dictionaries): "St Martin's Summer"
Mons Hubris (594 Mollusca and Molluscoidea): "The Last Diver (1,380 words)"
Dirtbag Diva (712 Landscape Architecture): "Park"
Swarm (622 Mining and Related Operations)
the wildest turkey (188 Stoic Philosophy)
Amused Frog (551 Geology, Hydrology, Meteorology): "Tipping Point"
Sithsaber (608 Invention and Patents)
crabrock (767 Etching and Drypoint): "The Glass House"
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 17:38 on Oct 11, 2014
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:02|
I, for one, welcome the cold, wet, artificial intelligence of our new highest queen. Four armed is forewarned. In.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:05|
*Sitting Here thoughtfully surveys the shifting of constellations, the falling of sand in the hour glass, the slow decay of mountains*
No I don't think I'm ready to change my sweet av yet.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:05|
Alright, let's give this a shot.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:06|
A few drive-by impressions 'cause my belly's too achy for programmin'.
God Over Djinn: I dig metafiction. I also dug your meta, but the fiction was ho-hum. Breaking the mold just to not-write a cookie-cutter story. I will admit that I'm having more fun than I thought in revisiting this. You read Borges?
Morning Bell: Wait, was this last week's theme? Your timing may unfairly hurt you there, as I just finished reading a bunch of stories about bands. That being said, the last two paragraphs really brought this one together. Mischief, revenge, and recurring troubles for an addict -- all good stuff. But in the end, not terribly memorable; perhaps too much time spent wandering.
Anathema Device: "Memere" made me stumble. Without the accents, I thought it was perhaps an odd attempt at phoneticizing "memory", which didn't seem specifically significant. The "bile and whiskey and tears" line is excellent, and in general the amusing idea that whiskey was the occult offering of choice down south stuck with me.
Entenzahn: Clever; one of the better uses of irony that I recall. Although strangely, the irony is about all I recall. Something about the prose just didn't set the right tone for me. The abstract story is creepy, but the memory of the read is dry.
Oxxidation: I like the implicit apocalypse and the overall mood, but I was a little confused about the sequence of events. What wasn't Neil's fault and why does he think otherwise? And when you're trying to make the fire significant, showing how it spread rapidly since everything was dessicated, all I could think was that something else would've started a fire around there sooner.
Erogenous Beef: "Devil gotta commandeer my soul before I let you in, Earl." Nice (except the curvy quotes). Worked for me as a figure of speech, didn't even catch it at all as foreshadowing. For half the story I thought Earl thought he hadn't shot his wife and that the twist would come when he realized he did. I like what you actually did much better. However, some of Earl's actions felt unbelievable to me. A little more trepidation in dealing with the Devil (there are always consequences), and stronger goading to get him to shoot her again and it would've sat smoother with me.
crabrock, you magnificent bastard. Doubling the word limit by getting me to read it twice. This one I very much enjoyed. Decent with regard to prose, and delightfully melancholy in a way that stood out. Plus I got to the end with a question in my head I wanted answered (I don't think that happened with any other story), so I reread the first half and smacked my forehead for missing it. Then reread the second half for pleasure.
Grizzled Patriarch: You went a bit too heavy down the "she's a spider" route for my tastes. It takes away from the tension of the climax when I already know what to expect.
bromplicated: I like the idea of a guy who hears the house speaking through its natural sounds. But I just didn't feel the emotional impact you were going for, and I can't easily (now that it's past time for me to clock out) say why.
Obliterati: Also a tad too heavy-handed with the twist. Maybe if you'd mentioned more than just kelpies, maybe if it were less obvious that Grandma was good (and therefore right) compared to Dad who was mean (and therefore bad). But as soon as you mentioned a new preacher, I thought full-immersion baptism style, somebody gon' be drownin'. A little less vilification of the dad and preacher and I might've been more surprised. I also didn't end up feeling empathy for the grandmother or the boy.
Fumblemouse: I really like imperfect memories of important events in stories. But I'm not sure I can piece this one together. I feel like "In Beero Veritas" should be the key to unlocking what happens, but darned if I know what it means. I wanted to know what he'd answered, but not enough to put forth sufficient effort to find out. So the surprise falls a little flat, since I still don't know the significance of the "blush of new, pink skin".
Sitting Here: Kudos for creating an ethereal, fable-like realm in my head. The abstract and unusual descriptions hit the spot. I also appreciated the transition back into reality. But I wasn't moved like I could have been. I didn't feel the tragedy of the sister (very early on I'd decided she was the sister, although I'm not sure if that was stated/contradicted explicitly), possibly because I didn't feel enough of her attachment to her brother. He's just sort of obnoxious and contrary, and I suspect I subconsciously projected that she cares about him about as much as I did.
SurreptitiousMuffin: Didn't you write about Maori stuff last time? That pulled me out of the story for a moment, even though it's not a characteristic of this story on its own. The "texture" (some aggregate of prose, pacing, mood, and other aspects) was appropriate, but the plot felt uneventful. In the title, "everything you love will die". Dying man's curse, "everything you love will die". Everything he loves dies. The effects of him not loving himself and the implication that comes from his love of the planet are nice, but it's not enough to break the monotony of everything he loves dying.
Fuschia tude: The white things work well enough as creepy devices, but the ending is unsatisfying. The climax is we find out that Mabel was right the whole time (like we expected), and that she runs away. There doesn't seem to be any significance in this story.
Phobia: I'm usually really distracted by "it's" as a possessive pronoun, but I couldn't get over "Poppa" and "Momma". Maybe it's a regional thing, or maybe you really were referring to Notorious B.I.G. Either way, it took me out of the story repeatedly. I like the concept of inventing a fable to cover up a crime, but I don't see enough justification for the crime in the first place. (Note to self.)
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:10|
Enter me into your decimal system, computer overlord lady.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:10|
I always assumed John Dewey invented that system, but apparently not. Sign me up.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:13|
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:14|
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:16|
I was that kid who memorized and still knows certain DD numbers.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:18|
Judgeburps: full crits to come by Sunday 2359 PST.
Djinn Experimental fiction
clever tarantinoesque lampshade porn meets annoying footnotes.
Morning bell Tennessee Blues
gently caress get on with it, but actually pretty great. Very precise hm?
Club sandwich creek run
gently caress get on with it also learn to paragraph annoying interstitial flashback competent words, dm
Anathema Device NO TITLE tsk
What is it with the lardy starts, plus sort of a lardy middle and the characters are painted with a cute little gravediggers shovel-style trowel
Guinness13 The Hunt
Someone’s seen cabin in the woods, and has used the experience to fashion some effective horror-style tensioning, but lame and purple ending
Entenzahn Tapper Ware
Dreadfully cliché Hammer Horror, but effectively written. Another main character kill.
Phenomenally slick but I think you messed up with the cosmic horror angle, I wanted the strange in the mundane
Liking the jutjawed Canadian cop but then wtf spooky magic you could have got to satan quicker, he gets all the best tunes
Too clumsy to foot it in a week this strong, ill-fitting closer dm
Great precision and detail choice, a cool narrative eye and a story that actually integrates this mystical hooha properly. HM/W
Thank god someone can finally write an opening sentence. And hey what do you know some excellently well-chosen and precisely ordered words to go with it. W
drat son, that’s p fine. The slow-building energy of his yankee insanity is cluttered by a bit too much incident, clunky writering and some poorly chosen details, but dang if it doesn’t land a great punch.
Slick, well-controlled horror; basically grown up Goosebumps, though, innit?
True life ghost story with your usual exacting precision. HM
Is this gonna be a thing where the demones are aktually reel. And will there be ANOTHER SPOOKY HOUSE (lol at sinister cinnabar sky) … huh. Doesn’t quite land it, and loads of clunky words (persimmon! Cinnabar! Absquatulatory!), but not as cliché as I feared. Kind of begs the question of the Evil House though doncha think.
ANOTHER OLD HOUSE COOL I wonder if it’s gonna be spooky; hrm, yes and no. This is a closely shaved set of story bits that don’t quiiiite match up, but making the house into a character works rather well. Cheesy ending, though.
Ploddy back and forth dialogue without any real motivating action is not making me love your on-ramp; I hope something happens soon? Oh. Eh.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the sassy slap of your style in this (though you overshoot a few too many times, could have used another edit pass) but I confess to being a little baffled by your ending – I worked it out, but it’s a hard left into weird that the story needed a few hundred more words to justify.
Whoa. This is how you do building tension, an overlapping clinker built story boat made of unanswered questions then a big wave at the end crashing down. W
Brittle and brutal and strangely beautiful. HM
Bland and burbly DM
it’s is only short for it is DM
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:18|
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:22|
Why not? I'm in!
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:27|
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:31|
I want to write another story for this week. I'm in!
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:34|
crabrock, you magnificent bastard. Doubling the word limit by getting me to read it twice. This one I very much enjoyed. Decent with regard to prose, and delightfully melancholy in a way that stood out. Plus I got to the end with a question in my head I wanted answered (I don't think that happened with any other story), so I reread the first half and smacked my forehead for missing it. Then reread the second half for pleasure.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:35|
I think I have a too so it's time to live dangerously.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:38|
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:38|
Sounds cool, and it's been a while for me- count me in
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:41|
gently caress it! In.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:53|
In, why not? And as a special punishment for mediocrity, this time I'm actually going to write it when important events happen. I don't think the implications have been treating me (everyone besides me) well.
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:56|
|# ? Aug 13, 2022 09:37|
|# ? Aug 26, 2014 01:56|