Trophy Hunting in El Paso
It was a legend told in the backs of school buses, the bottom of pint glasses, and the ends of roasted campfire marshmallows in El Paso. And just when life became too comfortable, the story of The Hunters would reemerge, written in a pool of mysterious blood or scratched into a series of unexpected shell casings strewn in front of city hall. The first time Victor heard it, he was riding shotgun in his daddy’s truck to see the Cleveland Browns versus the Houston Oilers; the first time he believed it was twenty years later.
Victor had just finished a night shift at the warehouse and was debating between going home and drinking until he passed out or waking up early and depositing his meager paycheck when he saw the lion. From behind the windshield it was more of a yellow streak cutting across the orange stained asphalt, but even after the earsplitting crack and exploding window, even after popping the curb, even after wrapping the truck around a lamppost, and even after spilling onto the street, he knew what he saw.
Victor held the ground to brace himself against the spinning and throbbing. Once it subsided, he noticed an inky pool of blood streaking into an alleyway. He thought about that drive to Houston twenty years earlier.
“Victor,” his father said, “think about all of the great men you know. Who comes to mind?”
“Policemen?” he asked.
“Army men, football players, you.”
“And what do we all have in common?”
Victor spun the football in his hands, “Umm, I don’t know.”
“We attack problems. If you are going to be a successful man, whenever you see a problem, trouble, or danger, you need to attack it.”
“That’s why you saw what you did the other night. Daddy saw a problem, and he attacked it. Everything is okay now. Alright, buddy?”
Victor was nodding when he lifted himself from the concrete, still nauseated from the impact, and followed the trail into the darkness.
Victor was still following the trail when another shot tore through night. It sounded like the same crack that he heard moments before crashing his truck, and in that moment, he first wondered why he hadn’t heard any sirens yet. Shouldn’t someone be coming? A cop? A boyscout? Anyone? It didn’t matter; daddy taught him self-reliance. Another shot. This one closer, forcing him down into the blood he followed. Another, and Victor could smell the iron in the syrup, and then it stopped. He turned back, looking into the street at the wreckage he abandoned; he swore he saw a pack of wild dogs run by.
The alley fed into the closed courtyard of an apartment complex. There, against the fluorescent lighting of the fire escapes, he saw the silhouette of a large creature. Just like the glass statues in his grandmother’s curio that he stared into during every dinner while his grandfather asked about algebra or biology, or whatever he was currently studying. The ears, the trunk, the shadow, it was unmistakable. But when it turned, Victor was filled with a moment of doubt, he’d never seen an elephant from the front. He’d never seen one charge before either.
He turned and hobbled as the stomping got closer. It was right on top of him when he ducked behind the recycling dumpster. Then another shot, and the ground shook as the gray hulk slid by his alcove. Blood was seeping from his mouth, but he was still alive. The second shot tore through the metal wall Victor hid behind, biting him in the shoulder. Run to the trouble, he thought; so he did.
Victor faced down the fluorescent courtyard in the fastest sprint he could manage, and as he entered the courtyard, Victor saw him. He was tall, but his gun was taller, and Victor could make out the shape of a cowboy hat upon his head. Victor couldn’t take long to stare; however, because he saw the man reloading his tall gun, and then take aim down the sights.
Victor ran until he found his way underneath the metal sheeting of the fire escape. He was panting, his breath heavy and labored, and between those tired, heaving, gasps he could hear the thundering metal reverberations approach from above. Cowboy was coming, so Victor pulled the boot from his foot and smashed in the window of the strange apartment.
He moved silently through the foreign apartment, even though smashing the window surely meant that anyone who was home would be stepping out of the bedroom with a gun, or a bat, or something equally menacing. It was a tidy place, but there were cats, lots of them. Victor was careful not to kick any of them on his way to the front door. Behind him, he could hear the cowboy’s footsteps crunching on the broken glass he just passed through.
Instinctively, Victor ran up the yellowed stairwell of the apartment building. The banister wobbled under the weight Victor placed on it during his climb, and with a sweep of his boot, the gilded support beams from the section were dislodged from their place. Victor picked up the most splintered piece, and he had a weapon. Victor heard the door beneath him open, and there was no place to hide. Cowboy had his gun, but Victor knew that long guns don’t work in small spaces, so the moment that the hunter rounded the stairs, Victor lunged down the steps, his stake in hand.
He was caught. Cowboy was a hunter, and he had a hunter’s reflexes. He was a tall and thin man, and in moments, Victor understood, Cowboy would turn Victor’s own hand against him. Staring into his eyes, Victor saw his father. Perhaps it was the heavy bags under his eyes and billowy, drooping cheeks. He reminded Victor of his father. Maybe thats why, with the last bit of strength Victor could find, he shoved Cowboy through the railing down to the ground floor of the apartment complex.
THE ASSOCIATION OF EL PASO BIG GAME HUNTERS
Victor read the card that he pulled off the dead man. By the time he descended the stairs, the people of the apartment complex began filtering into the lobby, so he made sure to find an exit quickly. In his departure, however, Victor doubled back to the alley from earlier in the evening. The elephant carcass was gone, but then again, Victor knew it would be missing.
Victor kept his eyes peeled for a police station or tow truck, unsure of which he’d be happier to see. He lifted the stolen cowboy hat from his brow when he saw the glow from the Chevron station, and, suddenly, the debate resolved itself. He’d call a truck and get back to his home on the outskirts of town; to hell with the cops anyway.
And then, unexpectedly, he was pinned to the ground. Victor turned over against the weight in time to see the lion, bloody and shaking, bear his teeth for the first and last time. In the distance he heard a howl, different from the one coming from the beast in front of him. The hunters were out, and the evening wasn’t dead yet.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:32|
|# ? Dec 4, 2022 01:18|
THEM CREEPY rear end TREES. 906 Words.
The woods are too dense to discern the giants from the trees; thick legs could be stumps, stretched arms could be branches. I can't tell.
"Hurry, Chico! They're right behind us!" My words come out in short breaths. Chico has me clenched tightly while he runs, wrapped bound in a blue blanket. I can't remember how long he's been carrying me. I'm not even sure where we are.
Without slowing, he glances over his shoulder. "No one's behind us." He speaks effortlessly, not tired at all.
"Don't you see them?" I'm having trouble catching my breath. "There? In the trees?"
Without looking back, he tells me there's no one chasing us.
I can't move my arms, can't move my legs, and he tells me we're safe. Thirty minutes ago I was a captive patient. I'm free now, but at a price.
"I've been sedated — paralyzed — by madmen!"
Chico's eyes flick down at me for just a second, then straight ahead. The lights overhead cut through the branches, shining off his greasy black hair. A bright flash, and another. And another.
"Annette, he's awake." Chico says, the way he'd tattletale on his sister.
From ahead she asks him, "Is he comfortable?"
He looks down at me. "Are you comfortable?"
"I can't feel my legs; you wrapped me too tightly in this blanket. But there's no time to fix it now."
"Are you hurt?" He says this time without looking down, keeping an eye on our guide.
"I told you already, they paralyzed me! I can't feel anything below my chin."
"No one paralyzed you." A smile flashes across his face and he adds, "But they might find us if you don't stop yelling at me."
We go over a bump, and my head falls forward, into the blanket. I can't see the trees go by, but I hear Chico and Annette's footfalls on leaves linoleum, echoing in the woods corridor.
The woods smell like piss and old magazines.
"Annette, he's awake. Says he was paralyzed. What do you want to do?"
He calls her Annette?
Annette stops running and turns to face us. Chico stops before we run into her. She's out of breath. How long have we been going? She pushes a brown lock of hair out of her face. She wore a cloak when we first escaped, I'm sure of it, but now it's gone. Her face is young, but the wrinkles new wrinkles make her look older; and tired. Her eyes are glassy, upset that Chico made her stop? I can't tell.
I don't know Annette.
"What is it? Why did you stop?" I try to look around Chico but he's too big. She's walking towards me. I pull the blanket around me. "Who are you?"
She smiles in a way that looks like her muscles can't hold the pose for too long. Her breath goes in and rushes out in a flicker. "I'm your daughter. We —"
"You're lying." My hands go to my wheels. "Chico she's lying."
"She's not lying Mr. F." He's looking at her, not at me. He shrugs.
"Don't condescend me boy; I know my daughter. Annie's five, saw her last week. Who are you?"
A bird chirps. Bell dings.
"I was wrong Chico." Her voice cracks and she says, "Maybe we can try again tomorrow?"
Annette Annie looks back over her shoulder into the woods, except the woods are a glossy mural on pockmarked cinderblock walls beneath fluorescent lights. Beyond the trees is a sky, the color of blue you'd only find inside a bottle of antacids.
I raise my head to ask Chico to put me down, but his arms are by his side, giant hands wrapped around the handles of my wheelchair.
There's a draft across my legs so I pull the blanket tighter. A woman in scrubs passes us with a clipboard in her hand, and the giants among the trees have gone away. I'm safe, Chico was right. But I'm scaring the hell out of Annie, acting like a fool.
"No," I tell her. "Stay here, with me." It's hot and my forehead's damp. I wipe it and I nod. "I'm okay. Annie."
That's not right anymore.
"Annette. Please. Stay with me, just a little while?"
"Daddy?" She wipes a tear and I pull the blanket tighter around my shoulders.
"Yes. That's right." I smile like a damned idiot to soothe her; make her stop crying. "It's me. I'm here. Where were we going?"
"You —" Her words hitch in her chest. "You wanted to go to the courtyard to look at the trees. Remember?"
"The trees! Of course. The oaks, right?"
Chico coughs like he doesn't have all day for this.
"Chico?" I keep smiling. Just get this moment behind us. "Let's go look at those trees, that all right with you?"
He clears his throat. "It's all right as long as we don't have anymore fuss."
I wave my hand. "No fuss. My Annie's here. We're going to see the trees."
The chair rolls and Annie Annette leads the way. The painted trees are peeling along the tops where they touch the lights clouds and a bird weaves in and out of the branches, so gracefully I can't take my eyes off it. Chico's steps are hypnotic on the forest floor, and pretty soon I can't keep my eyelids open.
He'll have to hurry if we're going to escape the giants.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:32|
For Every Moment of Truth, There's Confusion in Life
It was inevitable my parents would find out what happened to their daughter. So I decided to tell them.
“Hi, Lindsey,” my dad said over Skype. I had been away from home for two years and I had changed a lot. Dad still looked the same. Salt-and-pepper high-and-tight, collared short-sleeved button-down tucked into his khakis over a beer gut, and a bright red, cherubic face. “How’s school?”
“School’s okay. Exams are coming up, but I’m dealing.”
“That’s good. You look stressed, that’s for sure. Getting plenty of sleep?” I said I was, and lied about staying away from coffee shops. Starbucks and I had become best of friends once more, but he didn’t need to know that.
“So what did you want to talk about, that a phone call wasn’t good enough?”
“Is Mom there? It’s important.”
He nodded. “Yeah, sure. Give me a second.” He left the camera’s view. Even if you were a room apart, Dad always went looking. He never shouted, even when it made sense. He came back. “She’s just putting on the roast.” I missed my mom’s roast. She knew exactly how to season meat, and just how long to cook it. A skill I found myself lacking.
Mom joined him, the view shifting to get both of them in frame. She wore a green coverall, and I figured she’d been out in the garden again, probably picking sweet peas. It was the right time of year for sweet peas.
“Hi, sweetie!” Mom waved. I waved back. “You cut your hair again?”
“I don’t like it long. It gets messy easy.”
“That’s why you wash it. You look good with long hair. You should grow it out again, like in Girl Guides. All the other girls were jealous of you.”
“Denise,” my dad muttered, “Stop badgering her about her drat hair.”
Mom threw her hands up in mock defeat. “Fine, fine. I won’t ‘badger’ her.” Mom’s own hair was locked into the enormous curls Farrah Fawcett had made famous. She had an agenda, clearly. “But you do look gorgeous with long hair.”
I rolled my eyes and sighed, giving her the reaction she sought. “Mom…”
“So, what’s the big news, sweetie? Finally got a new lady in your life?” Mom’s eyes twinkled in an eerily hungry way, and her mouth split into a too-wide toothy smile. She tried to be accepting of my life, I knew. It had been hard at first, especially with how Desiree and I ended. Neither one of them knew what to do about it. How could they? But I knew it was about to get a lot harder.
“Not exactly,” I said. Somewhere in my chest, a marching band’s percussion section tried to pull off a jazz solo. “You remember when I told you I was a Satanist? I mean, I brought Desiree home from prom and sacrificed her to the Dark Lord, Beelzebub, so it’d be hard to forget.”
Mom’s smile became painfully wide, like her face was fleeing her teeth in a panic. Dad nodded, his red forehead developing white lines as he concentrated. “And we’ve been as supportive as possible with your lifestyle choice, honey. What’s going on?” she asked.
“Well, I’ve come to an important realization, a fundamental turning point in my life. I’m, um…” Anti-Christ, who turned up the heat in here? Sweat poured down my back.
“I’m actually a cannibal Satanist. And I always have been, if you really want to know.”
Complete silence. I thought the connection glitched out, the picture was so still.
Mom exploded. “What the gently caress is that even supposed to mean? You’re a cannibal Satanist? You’re my daughter, how can you be a cannibal Satanist?”
I tried to explain, to tell them how I’d felt for years, that I wasn’t a worshipper of the Prince of Lies like I expected to be, like I thought I should have been. How I’d felt about other worshippers, how I thought about smothering their succulent flesh in chocolate or sri racha, and thought that meant I was somehow wrong. Cannibalism just wasn’t something for civilized folk, even ones who otherwise plumbed the depths of human depravity! Now I knew differently. But she was too busy flipping out to listen.
“I knew I shouldn’t have breastfed her, I knew it! She’s all confused because she got a mouthful of boobies everyday for years!” Dad stared at her like she was a stranger. “My mother told me to use formula, but what did I do? I told her to mind her business because this was my baby, not hers. And now my baby thinks she’s a cannibal, oh my God. Lindsey, is this a joke? Are you trying to, what, to ‘own’ me? Trying to hurt me? Just stop this now. Didn’t I love you enough? I figured the Satanist thing was just, just a thing, that you’d get over it,” and she just kept going. And going. So I tuned her out.
Dad sat in silence, his chronically red face having faded to a more normal colour. He didn’t react, he just sat beside my mom as she went nuclear, and thought.
Eventually, Mom realized neither one of us was contributing to the conversation, that it was just her freaking out for nearly ten minutes. Her eyes were wide enough to see white on all sides. She turned on my dad. “Well? What do you have to say about this delusion our daughter is having?”
Dad looked up from his ponder, his forehead wrinkled with deep thoughts. “I don’t claim to understand this, honey. I guess I figured you were sacrificing children to be cool or to make us mad, like when I listened to the Bay City Rollers growing up, and that you’d grow out of it. But time went on and I could tell that forging unholy blood pacts with demons from beyond the realms of sanity really made you happy.”
Then he smiled, and I knew it was okay.
“We never told you this, Lindsey, but you weren’t an only child. You had a twin, when you were still in the womb. But it died, and you absorbed his or her cells. I guess what I’m trying to say is… we knew you were a cannibal before you did.”
If Dad was making dumb jokes, it was okay.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:44|
Phobia fucked around with this message at 14:52 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:47|
There is a place under my house that goes somewhere nobody knows but me.
You have to go down into the basement, over the wet cardboard on the floor, then through the hole in the wall behind where my mom keeps the cans of food and the boxes of old brown bottles. You have to suck in your tummy to get through the hole, but after that there are tunnels of brick older than our house that go out in all different directions. I bring my flashlight and some sidewalk chalk to mark the walls so I don’t get lost. When Mom falls asleep on the floor or in the bathroom I put my rubber boots on and come down to go exploring.
And yesterday, I met a boy there.
Mom had come home and sent me to my room. I waited a little while, came back down and saw her asleep on the floor in the kitchen. I grabbed my flashlight, my chalk and my rainboots, went down to the basement and crawled through the hole. I walked for awhile, until I didn’t see any of my arrows anymore.
Then I saw a light, coming through a hole in the wall of one of the tunnels. I peeked through and called “Who are you?” and shined my flashlight. There was the boy. He looked a little older than me, and different. Maybe his mom was Chinese and his daddy black, but he didn’t look like anybody from my neighborhood, or any of the kids at my school.
“You from the suburbs?” I asked.
He just stared at me. His flashlight was bright enough to make me squint.
“Where are we?” he asked, looking around.
“Under my house,” I said. “Well, I think we are. I’ve never gone out this far.” I took my piece of chalk and put a yellow arrow on the wall, pointing back toward the hole I’d come through.
“Your house? Your home is here?” He made a funny face. “It stinks.”
“It’s under my house, silly,” I said, “and it doesn’t smell that bad.”
“So is this Darmeesha? Or the Garden Districts?” he asked.
“What are you talkin’ about? Are those suburbs?”
He turned his flashlight down and suddenly I could see him. He was wearing really strange clothes, like a bathrobe and heavy boots. “Why are you dressed funny?” I asked him.
“Why are you dressed funny?” he said back.
I looked at him, hard. “You look like a kid from a movie, one with horses and dragons and pretty people in it.”
“You look… strange.”
We stared at each other for a little while. My belly felt weird, the way it did when I forgot my homework or heard Mom drop a bottle in the kitchen. It made me want to come down here and hide, but I was already here.
He turned around quick, weird looking boots sloshing in the brown water. “Well I’m going back up,” he said.
“Where?” I asked.
“Out the Trade Gate tunnel where I came in,” he said.
“Is that by Gateway Park?” I asked, following him. He was taller than me, so I had to jog a bit to keep up. I didn’t think I’d gone that far, but Gateway park was like ten minutes on the bus from my house. “Is there a way to get down here from there?”
“That’s how I got in. There aren’t any parks there now,” he said. “My teacher will be waiting for me.”
“Teacher? It’s night! There’s no school now.”
“I live with him. He told me to be back in an hour. I probably shouldn’ta gone down this far,” he said. Then he looked over and smiled at me. “I wonder what he’ll think of you.”
I didn’t know what he wanted to think of me, but I followed him anyway.
We made a bunch of turns and climbed more ladders than I thought there would be between us and the street. I marked the way with my chalk, just in case I came out in a neighborhood I didn’t know and had to come home this way. When we finally came to a hole in the bottom of the street, the boy yelled down at me, “Careful of your eyes!”, then moved the cover off the top.
The light above was as bright as the sun. I could hear music.
“Come on!” I heard him yell. I climbed up the rest of the ladder with my eyes closed, still holding my chalk and flashlight.
“Where are we?” I said, slowly opening my eyes and blinking in the bright light.
“Trader’s Gate,” he said, helping me stand up.
The street was paved rusty red, and there were people everywhere running around in bright clothes like bathrobes. Horses were pulling carts full of stuff. I’d never seen a horse in real life before.
“It’s day time,” I said. I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Come on,” the boy said. “I want you to meet my teacher.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me forward.
“Wait,” I said. “What’s your name?”
“Teacher usually calls me Underfoot, but my Mother called me Khalen,” he said.
“I’m Niki. Nikisha,” I added.
He nodded at me, like my name meant something. “Good. Come on Niki, we’re probably already late.”
That was yesterday.
“So do you want to go back?”
“I… I don’t know.” I swung my feet back and forth over the edge of the bed. I had met Khalin’s teacher, a tall, dark man with dreadlocks down his shoulders and two fingers missing on his left hand
“Well, how about we take it slower,” he said, sitting on the floor in front of me. “What do you want to do right now?”
I thought for a minute. “Eat breakfast,” I said.
“What kind of breakfast?” he asked.
I didn’t even have to think. “Waffles!”
He smiled at me. “Waffles it is.” He reached out, and I took his hand. We walked out of his small, bright house and into the colorful streets. A few minutes later we were sitting on small stools, eating waffles covered in fluffy powdered sugar from little paper sleeves.
“Why did you ask me? If I want to go back, I mean,” I said, biting into my waffle.
“Because I’ve asked that question before,” he said.
Khalen came running up behind Teacher, who handed him a waffle. Khalen sat down and puffed through powdered sugar. “Mm, breakfast,” he said, getting the white stuff all over his face.
“To this one,” Teacher said.
“What about me?” Khalen said, looking up.
“I was telling Niki that she’s not the first one I asked to stay here,” Teacher said. “You were.”
“What?” I was very confused.
“I saw your arrows,” Teacher said. “One night, on the back wall of a house. You carry that chalk everywhere, don’t you?” He pointed to my hand, where I still held my stick of yellow sidewalk chalk.
“It’s in case I get lost,” I said.
“It was the same with me,” Khalen said. “See?”
He pulled something out of his pocket. It glowed like his flashlight, but now I saw that it wasn’t a flashlight: it was a crystal, like the kind you see people hang in cars and windows to make rainbows. “I used to play with it, back before I came here, and Teacher saw the light. That’s how he found me.”
“Sometimes, Niki, there’s… overlay.” Teacher took my used waffle paper and put it on top of his. I could see the print on both papers, the one through the other. “Things come through. Sometimes even people. Usually, it’s just the people who need to. Where did you say you were from?”
“Chicago,” I said.
“I’m from South Central Los Angeles,” Khalen said. “Or I was.”
“What about your Mom and Dad?” I said.
Khalen shrugged. “My dad died, I think. I never knew him. My mom died too, when I was really little. This was hers,” he said, rolling the crystal around in his hand. “Then I was in a shelter for a while, and one night, Teacher found me. I just walked with him through a door and all a’sudden I was here.”
“Where’s here?” I asked.
“Home,” Khalen answered.
“So do you want to go back? We can show you the way, if you want,” Teacher said.
“Where did I come out?” I asked.
Khalen finished his waffle. “Not far from here,” he said. “I can take you there right now.”
“Yes, please,” I said.
Teacher didn’t try to stop us. We ran the whole way.
When we got there, the metal cover on the street was exactly the same. “I can lift it for you, if you want,” Khalen said.
“No,” I said, looking down. There was a yellow arrow, marked on the top of the plate, pointing back the way we’d come. “I’ll just follow my arrows home.”
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:49|
Caleb knew birds. His bookshelf held a phoenix feather protected in glass, its brilliant orange and yellow mirroring the fire in the hearth; ensconced in a display case beneath his end table rested a piece of a roc's eggshell, cloud-white and an inch thick. His yard was strewn with birdfeeders and birdhouses, his roof lined with cages for pigeons.
He took pride in knowing all there was to know - until his pet crow flew in from the north and brought him a feather the blue of a twilit sky, marked with an eye-shaped spot that mirrored the moon at its brightest. Peacock blue was dull beside it. Only the phoenix feather burned more vibrantly. To discover something new, to become known, had been his lifelong dream. He held up the feather and saw two moons, one in a scrap of sky in the middle of the northern mountains. He packed his bags the next day, left an assistant to tend the pigeons, and set off with his crow flying overhead.
The trek took days, but he had traveled the world to study birds; the mountains were his backyard. How the crow had found a feather he'd never seen before so close to his own home, he couldn't guess. He hiked and hunted, kayaked and climbed, until he scaled peaks he had only seen through binoculars.
After a week, with his supplies dwindling, he finally saw it: A flash of blue on a higher peak, deeper than the daylight sky. Caleb climbed higher, until he clung to a scrub bush across from a nest where a twilight-blue bird fed chicks the color of scruffy clouds. She watched him warily, but he didn't move, and she soon ignored him. He hardly dared breathe. It truly was no bird he had seen before, and he had seen a hammerkop appear in a lightning storm, felt the wind from a griffin's wingbeat.
The twilit bird spread wings edged with eye-shaped markings that glowed like miniature moons, and dove from the nest in search of food.
Caleb set up his tent on a plateau below the scrub bush, where a path he didn't dare take led nearer to the nest. He ventured to the valley floor to hunt, but spent most of his time watching the birds. The three ungainly little cloud-chicks had an endearing way about them, their grey feet too big for their bodies, their necks so scrawny it was a wonder they could eat the meat their mother brought them. He had never seen such a brilliantly-colored raptor. He studied, recorded, wondered how he could never have heard of this bird if it lived so near to him.
He awoke one morning to unfamiliar shrieks and calls. He climbed up to his viewpoint, and saw a blaze of orange in the twilight blue. A larger bird tore at the mother, whose feathers were stained red. The chicks lay scattered, unmoving, except for one in the far corner.
Caleb shouted and waved his arms, but the orange-tipped bird ignored him. He abandoned his usual vantage point and sought the path he hadn't dared climb, that led to the nest's peak. He scrabbled for handholds in the rocks wet-slicked with droppings and blood. He dragged himself over the edge and found himself beside the last chick, as the blazing intruder stepped over the mother's limp body.
No other choice entered his mind: If he lost this, he would lose his opportunity. He scooped up the last chick and held it tight to his chest. The adult hissed, its orange crest flashing in the early touch of sunlight, its orange breast feathers flaring, and lunged at him. Caleb toppled from the nest and landed on a ledge below, groaning at the pain in his arm. The chick flailed, peeping; the crow croaked. A shadow moved above. Caleb gritted his teeth and slipped from that ledge to the path below. He nearly toppled over the edge, and threw himself back hard against the cliff face as blue streaked past him.
When it came back, it met his crow. It pecked and scratched at the far larger bird's eyes, beat its wings in its face, until dark blue melted away, pursued by hoarse caws echoing sharply off the cliffs. Caleb got to his feet painfully and made his way back to his camp. He didn't dare risk the male's return. He rested, bandaged his arm, and gathered what he could still carry to return home.
The bird's harsh trills followed him down the mountain, but faded by the time he reached the river, and stopped altogether when the forest thickened. His crow rejoined him for the journey back. The chick settled as Caleb fed it pieces of his catches, grew used to being carried. Pigeons flew from him in surprise when he climbed the steps to their cages and created a makeshift nest on the roof for the chick, separated from the pigeons by mesh.
The bird grew quickly. Its body became proportionate to its feet; its cloudy fluff was gradually replaced by blue. After growing up with the pigeons fluttering by, it ignored them when Caleb took it out of its enclosure. It watched them fly until it took its first leap off the roof, which ended with an ungainly thump on the landing below.
Caleb sent out his findings, and experts came to study it. It was similar to an eagle; it shared traits with a phoenix; it wasn't quite closely related to anything. The aggressive male was never found, though scientists searched the mountains with Caleb's guidance. Through it all, the young bird he named Inigo showed attachment only to her surrogate father.
As the story spread, more than scientists got word of the new, rare bird. Caleb woke to another chaotic morning: Pigeons fluttered, his crow squawked. On the roof, a dark figure bundled flashing moon-eyes in the enclosure's mesh. The bird thrashed, but was not yet full grown; the roof was already splattered with dark.
Caleb's bellow rivaled the mother bird's screams. Again, there was no other choice, but fame was the last thing on his mind. He charged the thief, tackled him to the ground, beat his fists into the man, until a sharp pain in his chest knocked the wind out of him. He sagged to the side. His hand touched loose mesh; his fingers seized on it, and he pulled.
Twilight and silver flashed above him and Inigo lunged at the thief. A clatter; morning light reflected off the knife skittering across the concrete. The thief shouted and fought, but Inigo dug in with claws and hooked beak. Caleb found his feet, snatched the knife; shoved Inigo aside and pinned the thief. He tied his hands with torn mesh, and waited for the police and an ambulance.
Inigo watched from the roof's railing. The medics paused only briefly to stare at stark blue in a lightening sky, and listened in awe and disbelief when Caleb told them how his bird had fought like a mother protecting its own. His injuries weren't serious. Yet when he returned home, Inigo was nowhere to be found. Only a few scattered feathers remained from the scuffle, blown into corners.
Had she been stolen, after all? Had she left when she realized her home was no longer safe? Caleb could find no sign of a thief. Days passed; weeks, months. Inigo had ventured off before, but never for so long. She didn't peck at his window when he overslept, didn't follow him around the yard more like a dog than a bird, didn't harass the crow and squawk indignantly when he tweaked her tailfeathers in return. She had run other predators away from the pigeons, chased a dog away from Caleb - and saved him from the thief.
Caleb had already published research on the strange birds, their behavior and growth cycles, their aggression under threat and apparent devotion to those around them. Now, he informed the public that the birds were no longer near him. There would be no more accolades for him, especially when a few more of the species were found in distant places, easier to study. Warding birds, some began to call them, though Caleb thought that was a terrible name. It said nothing of their color, their strange little chirrups, the way Inigo tried to copy the crow and pigeons but couldn't quite manage either sound.
Nearly a year after the robbery, Caleb once more awoke to commotion among the pigeons, but the crow's call wasn't a warning. He walked onto the landing and looked at the roof. Twilight blue met him with twice the silver moon-eyes, and a crest and breast of orange, distant on top of the cages. Caleb stared, and vowed that he wouldn't publish another paper: These birds were his, and this time no one else had to know.
Inigo chirruped to the sunrise while her mate preened orange-tipped wings.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:54|
What My Aunt Left Me
My mother and I were arguing over the phone.
"Would you believe that pot's the only thing your aunt left our family?" Mom scoffed. "And she gave it to you? You hardly knew her!"
"And whose fault is that?" I said.
"I didn't ask her to leave. That was her own decision."
"Mom," I said. "Aunt Cecilia's dead. Please show some respect, for once."
A pause. Maybe my words got through.
My mother sighed. "Sorry. She was my sister, Michelle. If anything, she made a mean cup of hot choco."
If only she could see my smile. "Yeah."
"Just get that pot looked at. Maybe it'll sell for a fortune. Or maybe it's got her recipe inside. I could never tell what weird stuff she put together for her choco."
We picked more emotional scabs before hanging up. Talking to Mom left me drained, like she knew exactly what made me happy and kick it down like a child throwing a tantrum. She wasn't exactly evil; it was just the way she was. I threw my phone like a shuriken onto my bed. It rebounded off the pillow and landed face-down. That was the longest conversation I've had with my mother in ten years, and it was fairly pleasant by our standards. Of all the family you could have left alive. I wonder how Dad would've reacted. He had liked Aunt Cecilia.
I shot a glance at my aunt's chocolate pot, thin and long-necked, standing majestically on the bare dining table. It did come with a note, but nothing like my mother had been expecting. Make sure you use it, Aunt Cecilia had written. Sure I will. Before we were separated, my aunt had imparted to me a love of hot chocolate. Let everyone else palpitate on caffeine and die.
I made some chocolate in the kitchen, nothing fancy like Aunt Cecilia's recipe. How nice it would've been if she had included instructions in the package.
The pot performed its duty well, remaining cool to touch on the outside. It was as new as the day I last saw it, that last time I shared an afternoon cup with my aunt. I felt unworthy. Why me? Mom was right. I hardly knew her. My whole impression of Aunt Cecilia was made out of one or two pleasant memories.
I poured myself and sipped. I savored the drink, relishing the bitter thickness. When was the last time I made something for myself? A hint of chili carried its way to the back of my throat. Memories flooded into me, soaking forgotten canals in my mind.
I was a child again, the last time I had ever seen my aunt. We were in the gazebo, the sun at our west splashing everything with orange.
"Why are you leaving, Auntie?" seven-year-old me said.
Aunt Cecilia stared at the pot (the very same I used), then to her cup, as if contemplating a way to dodge my question.
"What do you think is the most important ingredient in making hot choco, Michelle?"
I took the bait. "Love, of course!"
Aunt Cecilia reached over and patted my head. "That's my niece." Her smile grew sad. "Love is precisely why I can't remain here."
Aunt Cecilia turned her gaze into the sun, and I was afraid that she would burn her eyes out in its glow. "It would be a nice story to tell, in time."
At that time, I didn't know what she was talking about.
I blinked. I had not put chili in my chocolate. That was--
"Hello, Michelle." It was Aunt Cecilia's voice, as somber and melodious as the last time I heard it.
"Auntie?" I realized I had been standing up. Since when? I looked down and jumped. My body was sleeping soundly on the table, my left hand still clutching my cup of choco with delicate fingers.
"Calm down, Michelle. This is the only way I could talk to you," Aunt Cecilia said. Her ghostly form funneled out of the pot like a djinn. Her lips moved out of sync with her voice, as if her "body" couldn't keep up.
Aunt Cecilia shook her head. "Because your mother would never agree to such a thing. It would be easier for her if it came from you."
"I don't get along with Mom either. I don't think anyone ever does. Why did you really leave, Auntie?"
The world swirled, and we were at the gazebo again. Aunt Cecilia hovered beside me, looking down on three persons. A young man and woman sat together, obviously lovers, facing another young woman. The lone woman's somber demeanor pegged her to be a younger version of my Aunt Cecilia.
"This choco has chili in it," the young man said, his smile infectious. I had seen that smile in photographs in my mother's house.
"Do you not like it?" young Aunt Cecilia said.
"I do like it! I just wasn't expecting it."
"My sister's always liked that stuff," the other woman chimed in.
"Would you like some more?" Aunt Cecilia reached for the pot. Her hand slipped, and she scrambled to hold on to the pot.
"Careful," my father said, steadying the errant pot. At the touch of his hand Aunt Cecilia pulled away, blushing. My father turned his gaze away.
My mother wrapped her arm around my father's. "Now, now, you ought to be a little more careful, sister."
Aunt Cecilia masked her embarrassment with a smile. "I didn't do that on purpose, if that's what you're thinking."
The memory slipped away.
I returned to my room. "That's it? You were in love with my father?"
"I feared your father felt the same, too. Emily never forgave me for it. You have to understand, she wasn't always like... the person you know. We used to be close."
"You could've been my mother," I said, half-meaning it.
"It wouldn't be you, otherwise," Aunt Cecilia said. "But even so, I'm a little happy."
"I wish I saw you before you... you know."
"You wouldn't like how I had looked." She stifled a laugh. "I spoke to your father. He says hello. And for Emily..."
I returned to my body, after exhausting all the things I could say to my dead relatives. Maybe the afterlife isn't so bad. But until then, I had something I had to do.
I dove at my bed, snatched my phone, and called my mother.
"Did you find anything?" Mom asked, without any preamble.
If only she could see my smile. "I found the secret ingredient."
"Ehh... what is it?"
"What kind of cheesy bullcrap is that?"
"It's why she left us. You're a sore loser, and she didn't want to win. You know that she was in love with Dad, didn't you?" I told her about the pot, Aunt Cecilia's memories, relayed words from Dad, not letting her get a word in edgewise, because the MomSnark™ would kill my train of thought. When I finished, she didn't speak, she was so silent, I thought she had stopped breathing, so I called out to her.
My mother started to laugh. She would never do so, unless to hide something. "She was always the mature one. Maybe she should've married him instead."
"Then I wouldn't be me," I said. "You're all I have left, Mom."
We laughed and laughed until our tears went dry.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 02:59|
That's all folks
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:00|
So this turned out to be a thing.
"Oh God, this is it, isn't it? He's carrying us off to his nest, no doubt to satiate the hunger of his ravenous young."
"I have no young."
"Careful Caiman! He's also a persuasive public speaker!"
For the thirteen time in twenty minutes, seventeen years since the downfall of Western civilization as he’d known it, Ottway checked his grandfather's watch. The watch was old and scratched and broken. It hadn't measured one second of one day since that fateful morning the world had been consumed in smoke and fire, the glory of America reduced to an ashtray some 3,000 miles in diameter. Not that any of that mattered to Ottway. Holding the watch soothed his nerves. Always had. Then he dropped it, watched it disappear into the endless, arid expanse beneath his dangling feet, and remembered he was several hundred feet in the air, held in grip of an uncommonly handsome angel. He bit his lip.
Caiman, for his part, hung in there with his usual stoicism. He turned the page of his book, a crumpled paperback he'd salvaged from the ruins of a respected airport. Caiman had come to own five hundred such books across the years, each cataloged and kept in one of half-a-dozen different steamer trunks according to genre, thickness, and whether or not they included intimate romantic interludes interspersed with brief episodes of gruesome violence. The cover, author's forward, and entire first chapter to the edition he held in his hands had been lost, torn out, though he found he didn’t mind. The romance had been adequate. The violence was painfully by the numbers.
The book concerned the future. It was a science-fiction novel. He turned another page.
“This is it. This is the end. We’re all going to die,” said Ottway.
“Some peace and quiet then,” said Caiman.
“Everyone dies eventually,” said the angel. Ottway found little comfort in his words.
It had been a simple enough job. Bring down an angel. No problem. The skies were full of them these days. Who’d miss one or two? Prior to their arrival, Ottway had even considered himself something of an expert on the subject. He still considered himself an expert on the subject, though he’d needed time to alter his definitions. In his head, they had always been small, child-like beings with short, curly hair and rosy cheeks. They played harps, and only occasionally electric jazz. They wore modest tunics. They lived in the clouds.
He’d been right about the clouds, at least. The angel took them higher. In the distance lay a city, brilliant in the light. Ottway pulled his sunglasses down over his eyes. Caiman turned another page.
Who wanted an angel dead and for what reason had been a mystery. They’d been rich though, and really, that was what counted in this dark and dismal century. Ottway speculated their aim was the revitalization of the pillow stuffing industry. Caiman didn’t care as long as they got paid. They’d been given a jeep with a full tank, ten days, and an anti-material sniper rifle. Caiman drove the jeep. Ottway turned out to be a terrible shot when he was scared out of his mind.
The angel had appeared before them bathed in sunlight, long flowing hair and a fifty-foot wingspan. He had the body of an Olympian. He wore a loincloth cut from someone’s drapes that really brought out his eyes.
“Come with me,” he had said.
“…Sure,” said Caiman.
Ottway had been too confounded to speak.
The city loomed ever closer. Its streets and towers glistened, but Ottway saw no people.
“It’s must be a mirage. An empty sound stage. The moon landing.”
“Looks more like a suburb.” Caiman turned another page.
Ottway struggled in the angel’s grip. Loosening himself, he hung from his fingertips.
“If you drop now, you’ll die for sure.”
“I’d rather trust a sure thing,” said Ottway. The angel let him fall.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:00|
Uh I'll add my picture below since I have to find it and it's like the deadline right now.
For Love of a Mountain
Mountain, daughter of Moon, loved Teshia, daughter of the foothills.
At first, Mountain was content to watch the girl. Teshia and her brothers would shepherd the sheep, milk the cows, and empty the stables.
When the work was done, Teshia would slip away from the pastures, down into the rolling carpet of forest that settled around Mountain’s roots like a green ball gown gathered around a sitting lady, where streams of snowmelt ran cold and clear almost year round.
Mountain would tremble deep in her center to see Teshia, soft and smooth and flushed from the whip-sharp cold of the snow-fed creek.
Teshia, daughter of the foothills, did not know that she was loved by Mountain, Daughter of Moon.
Teshia of the foothills loved Javar, son of of the city. She would pine for him in the winter months, let the cold harden her heart so that Javar could come with the summer trade and melt it again.
Mountain saw what Teshia could not, however. One early spring day, as the trade caravan wound its way through the foothills, Javar was approached by a lovely girl from a hamlet not far from Teshia’s. Torrential rain rolled in, and the Caravan leader called a halt until the weather abated.
Mountain watched Javar go into the lovely girl’s cottage and did not see him again until the next morning, when the rains had gone. The rest of the caravan spent a wet night in their tents and bedrolls, and ribbed Javar goodnaturedly in the morning when he stepped out of the cottage dry as a bone and tousled as used bedsheets.
The caravan set off once more, this time to Teshia’s village.
The sun was at its zenith when Teshia heard the tell-tale sounds of hoof and carriage. She burst from her cottage, the frost on her heart already melting and running like tears of joy.
Mountain saw Javar take Teshia in his arms, saw him bend down to whisper love into her ears. And now Mountain was trembling so hard that she shook the snow off of her crown, sending a roaring wall of white down her sides.
Javar said, “look, Teshia; my love for you melts the winter away.”
Mountain let out a moan, but the children of foothill and city only heard the sound of falling stone.
The caravan was three days in Tesha’s village, and on the third day, when spring’s blooms perfumed the air and decorated Mountain’s slopes, Javar led Teshia out to the edge of the pastures, knelt down, and presented her with a bracelet made of opalescent agate stone.
“Wait for me ‘til next summer and I swear, I will be yours forever,” Javar said, slipping it over Teshia’s wrist.
“I will,” Teshia promised, and sent a silent prayer of gratitude, which drifted up on thermal currents to Mountain’s ears.
And now Mountain’s shaking and moaning became a fire on her insides. Teshia of the foothills deserved not the love of a capricious man, but the devotion of a mountain, who could make her name immortal in rock strata and tell her the secrets of the birds.
Soon it was time for Javar and the caravan to depart. He held Teshia in a fierce embrace in the village square. The rest of the caravan averted their eyes and said nothing.
The fire inside of Mountain had pushed up and out, filling parts of her that she hadn’t felt for eons.
As Javar and his caravan wound their way through the lowlands between foothills, back to the hamlet of Javar’s other pining love, Mountain erupted. She roared grief and jealousy in the language of magma and hot ash. Molten stone ejected from her crown and ran down her sides, down ancient channels that led straight to the lowlands.
The caravan’s horses balked and panicked and the noise. Carriages tipped. The earth shook, sending small rock slides down onto the panicked merchants.
The nights were lit orange by rivers of lava for three days after. Villages and hamlets that had been isolated before were totally cut off; many shepherds lost animals to blind, stampeding panic.
When at last Mountain’s fires cooled and the earth stopped shaking in sympathy, the basins and valleys between the foothills were an ocean of bleakness surrounding islands of bewildered and bereft villagers.
There was much to do. Fences to repair, cattle to track down, dead lifestock to butcher and preserve. But Teshia knew Javar’s caravan’s route, knew that they would have been in the devastated lowlands when Mountain loosed her flame.
Teshia left her brothers to the grim work, walked for a whole day in what she hoped was the footsteps of the caravan. Perhaps they had made it up to the safety of a ridge. Perhaps a neighboring village had taken in the survivors.
When she came upon the charred, ashy humps on the road, Teshia almost passed by without pause, thinking them stones or tree stumps and nothing more. But then she saw an upturned wheel here, the yellow-grey of bone there, and she knew then the fate of her beloved Javar of the city.
Mountain looked on, hope rising in her core like an echo of the fire she’d released three days before. She took a deep breath and puffed out a gentle wind, pushing the scent of mountain meadows and wildflowers down to Teshia, who stood motionless over the remains of the caravan.
Teshia, daughter of the foothills, looked up at Mountain, daughter of Moon, and smiled a sad smile. Then she started back toward her own village, twisting the agate bracelet around on her wrist.
Instead of going home, however, Teshia went down into the valley. Mountain’s verdant green skirts were all ash, her secret streams and rivulets exposed and muddy. The daughter of the foothills passed these by, went right up to Mountain’s roots, and started to climb.
Mountain was in ecstasy. She pushed away every sensation: Sun, wind, water, even the slow heartbeat of the earth beneath her. She felt only Teshia’s tiny hands on her flesh, heard only the small wind of Teshia’s labored breath.
Soon the daughter of the foothills was in Mountain’s crown, rare and beautiful as a gemstone. Mountain summoned warm winds to stroke Teshia’s cheeks, and blew the clouds away so that they wouldn’t obstruct the view of the rolling foothills below.
Mountain had dreamed of this moment for years: Teshia in her crown, the two of them looking and loving together at blanket of the world that spread out from Mountain’s roots.
Teshia went to the very edge of one of Mountain’s tall, impressive cliffs. The shining agate bracelet glistened in the cloudless sky as she twisted it around her delicate wrist.
Mountain could start or stop the winds on a wim. She could send forth fire out of angst. But she did not have hands to hold Teshia, nor lips with which to tell Teshia that she was still cherished and beloved, and so when Teshia stepped out into the air, off of Mountain’s crown, Mountain, ancient daughter of Moon, could only watch as Teshia plummeted down, down, down, back to the foothills of her birth.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:00|
And here's my picture.
If I am DQed in spite of posting at 8:00 on the dot, I will be mildly cross.
edit: although maybe it would be better that way, TBH
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:03|
Sitting Here and Bad Seafood. You could not have submitted with less time to spare. You two are good. But goddamn.
So for real this time
Submissions are closed
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:08 on Jun 9, 2014
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:04|
Oh man, I hosed up my time zones. I could have had like two extra hours!
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:07|
Uh, sorry if those indents I did make it lovely to wade through when lobbing critiques or whatever. I thought it would make it look nice, but didn't really think about how it would be to quote
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:08|
The Bodies in the Dumpster
This city is mine in the hour before daybreak, from the smell of fresh graffiti on the walls to the light from headlights dancing past my eyes. I stroll casually down the street, just a mild-mannered man in a suit and hat, no tie. A few rips and wear here and there, but otherwise respectable. My name is Black Vengeance.
I suppose this ain’t much of a costume, but that poo poo is for people with money. Plus, with the governor cracking down on vigilantes, running around in a rubber suit gets you a SWAT team up the rear end. More inconspicuous, anyways. My calling card is my dagger; may seem a little outdated, but it works against most of those motherfuckers out there. And when those motherfuckers show up with guns, I’ve got a Colt on me that I ain’t got a concealed carry for.
Around 5:30, I start making my last rounds, my feet aching. Around here, the sleepy workers are busy getting the shops ready for the day. I’m thinking of stopping at the restaurant two doors down to see if I can get a lemonade, when I hear a scream and a loud thump. I take off running through the alley down the west side, and find Sherri, hands over her mouth and breathing rapidly near the dumpster, trash bag lying in a puddle a few feet away.
“Ray!” she shouts. From the doorway, I see two or three heads peeping out, but she shoos them back inside. “Thank the Lord you’re here!”
I scowl. “Woman, I’ve told you a million times to call me Black Vengeance when I’m making my rounds.” Sherri rolls her eyes. “You want people going after my family? Now, what happened?”
“I was taking out the trash and I found a body in the dumpster,” Sherri said in a hushed tone. I pull my gloves out of my pocket and raise the lid. Inside is a Mexican woman with a newspaper on her chest. I poke around her and the paper gently. Bruises around her neck but no wounds, and the paper doesn’t have any blood on it. I look at the date. September 7, 1988. Nothing suspicious in the headlines.
I drop the lid. This is the third one this month. “Call the police,” I say.
Sherri nods. “Thanks.” I’m walking off when she whispers “Ray?” I turn around. “Toni wanted to know if you’re coming to her party tonight.”
“Nope,” I say, holding up my hand for a goodbye. Behind me, I hear her scoff. Never get involved with your sister’s friends; I had to learn that the hard way.
I’m off work today, so after getting some sleep, I head to the library. I look it up, but nothing comes up for that date. I go watch the kids play soccer for a while and then head out for our hideout. White Lightning is already there, looking at something on his laptop. “BV!” he says, as we clasp hands.
“WL, my man!” I say. He don’t know my name and I don’t know his, and that’s how we like it. I drop onto the dirty old couch, trying to avoid the part where the spring pokes through. As always, the place is freezing. “Another body this morning, poo poo.”
“poo poo,” White Lightning says in sympathy. “What was the date this time?”
“September 7, 1988. Mexican lady.”
“Hmm.” He starts typing away on his laptop. “So now we’ve got May 12, 1992, October 27, 1962, and September 7, 1988. African-American man, African-American woman, Hispanic woman, three in 23 days.” He types for a little while before looking up and saying “Nothing in common so far.”
“poo poo.” I run my hand over my hair. “Ok, let’s make sure to cover the west part of town real thoroughly the next few days.” White Lightning nods and picks which part he’ll cover tonight. He’s a good man, even if he wears some ugly-rear end clothes. I had to get him to lose the glasses and cover his tats when he started, as he stood out way too much, but he’s improved a lot since then.
The weeks go by and more bodies show up—always strangled, always a newspaper, always in a dumpster. It gets on the news and people start freaking out, which makes it harder to investigate. I can hear the sirens getting louder while I’m quickly trying to get a picture of the newest body, when I notice a grey streak on its shoulder where its sweater is torn. I hold up my flashlight and it looks like some sort of silver paint. I snap my picture and get out.
I call White Lightning on my burner phone and show him the picture when he arrives at the hide-out. “Something’s not right,” I say, pacing around. Something about this case had become an itch that no amount of scratching had helped. Tonight, it itched worse than either. “Something’s off . . . it’s too—too—“
“Yes! Too clean. Ten bodies and none of them got mistakes on them till tonight. And no connection between none of the victims, the dates, the locations, no similarities, nothing. What kind of loving serial killer does that poo poo?”
White Lightning sits for a minute, head in his hands. “Maybe it’s not a serial killer. Maybe it’s someone pretending to be one. . . . But if so, what do they want?”
A few days later, I’m at work when my burner phone rings. “Turn on the news,” says White Lighting and hangs up. I unmute the TV in the restaurant area and turn it up.
The governor is onscreen, standing next to two assholes dressed up in superhero costumes, masks, capes, and all. I tilt my head back and sigh up at the ceiling. “My fellow citizens,” the governor oozes, “I’ve brought aboard two of the finest superheroes available to help us catch the killer that’s been terrorizing the city for the last two months. These are Captain Justice and his sidekick, Talon. Let’s make them feel welcome. I have no doubt that they will soon catch the killer and the city will soon sleep peacefully again.” After the cameras take their pictures, he continues, “I want to add that these gentlemen are professionals, and any vigilantes trying to copy them will face the same penalties as before.” Great. That’s all I need, more useless dicks to get in my way. Two more bodies show up over the next week and I can’t do poo poo with them thanks to these rear end-clowns.
The next week, I’m working with White Lightning on a case where the owner of a Mexican grocery got shot in front of his store, when we hear the familiar clang of a dumpster lid. We bolt off and locate the sound as coming from behind a Wal-mart. We run in and Captain Justice and Talon are already there, examining the body before the cops even get there. Captain Justice looks up at us, confused. “The hell are you?” he says.
I tilt my hat down. “Black Vengeance,” I say.
The two of them smirk. “Look at the vigilantes here, tough guys,” crows Talon. He looks over at White Lightning. “What are you, Reparations Boy?” I smile and punch him in the face. Next to me, White Lightning joins in, while I jump on the Captain, who’s come in swinging too.
We do that Batman poo poo until Captain Justice grabs me in a chokehold. I scrabble through my pockets until I find my dagger. A bit hard to do, but I slash at him until he lets go, clutching at the cut on his arm. “You little bitch!” he says. The beginning shrieks of a siren are heard and we all freeze for a second. White Lightning and I take that as an excuse to run like hell.
“You ok, man?” asks White Lightning.
My suit jacket is ripped, so I take it off. White Lightning’s eyes widen. “Holy poo poo!” he says. “Look at that!”
I look on the jacket shoulder and there, clear as day, is a streak of silver, same as with that one body. “Some of the paint must’ve sweated off his glove when we were fighting,” I say. “They planted those bodies,” I continued. “The governor has got to be behind this. He needed an excuse to bring them in, for people to be scared.”
“They’re here to protect him from . . . well, us.”
Three days later, a man named Vasu Khadampar is arrested for the murders. Wonder what they paid him. The newspaper dates all relate to events in his life, our new heroes exclaim proudly. The governor says they’re here to stay, to clean up this city.
Yeah, I’m sure they’ll come running when a black man gets shot in the projects. I’ll have work to do, always. She is my city, even when she hates me.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:13|
Grizzled Patriarch and Paladinus, you ed but did not submit. You have 40 minutes and change before that gets called in.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:18|
Wait, what? I probably should've checked the deadline, usually there's like 5 more hours left. Might write something crappy in a bit anyway.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:18|
You don't need to do this.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:18|
Wait, what? I probably should've checked the deadline, usually there's like 5 more hours left. Might write something crappy in a bit anyway.
Same here, just got off the job.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:27|
Seriously, you didn't even take my title suggestion of GOOD poo poo? Shame.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:41|
Hello I'm back and here is your INTERPROMPT
I'm joining some writer's residency within the month and this extract taken as is was in the email invitation (punctuation theirs):
You will need to bring all of the usual things you’ll need for a getaway, along with anything you require to do some “writing.” You’ll need some of that creative inspiration too.
Your prompt - interpret this above paragraph as a fictional piece in WHATSOEVER WAY YOU THINK FIT in 150-500 words.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 03:55|
‘Georgiy, I have to complement you on your pronunciation. It’s like I’ve never left Britain.’
Two men, both dressed like London dandies, were enjoying their sherry near the fireplace decorated with an Italian fireguard in shape of a fan.
‘Thank you, sir, and please, call me George. Care for a cup of real Russian tea, Edward? It’s from Ceylon.’
Georgiy made a gesture to a woman in a French servant’s dress. She dropped into a quick curtsey and went to the kitchen.
‘Well, what do you think so far, milord? I take it you didn’t expect to see all this in Russia, did you?’ asked Georgiy trying hard to duplicate Edward’s accent.
‘Georgiy… George, listen. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m astounded for all the wrong reasons. You wanted me to write an article on Russia’s unique way of living, yet I find here even less Russian national flavour than I saw in Finland just yesterday.’
Georgiy frowned, but managed to change his expression from that of an offended host to that of a friendly gentleman from a country club without Edward even noticing.
‘Remember, Finns have no class, Edward. Don’t even compare Russians to those Chuhna. If you want to see real Russia, milord, I’m much obliged to show it to you. But I am not quite sure you’ll be able to handle the sheer magnificence of Russian ambeance,’ said Georgiy and stormed out of the hall. ‘Follow me, milord, and don’t say a word.’
Edward decided to play along in anticipation of all kinds of pastoral scenes that always are popular among readers. In complete silence the host and the guest climbed a hill, passed a small river and entered a thick birchwood.
Pink and black from setting sun, the forest greeted them with the nightingale’s trills. Somewhere in the distance a lone lumberman was chopping a tree in the rhythm of the birds’ singing. A warm evening breeze was shaking trees and rustling of their crowns almost drowned all other noises. A babbling brook added a soothiing background to that symphony of tender, yet unconquered nature. Edward stood unmoved, as if paralised by this vision of primeval beauty.
‘I see you’re stunned, Edward. Yes, that’s what Russia is all about. I may wear your clothes and speak your language like a bleeding parrot, but whenever I come here, there’s no doubt in me about where I belong,’ said Georgiy and wiped a single tear with a lace handkerchief.
‘Oh, I am stunned, George. In fact those birches look exactly like the ones near my house in Birkshire where I grew up. Truly, I have no words.’
In a moment Georgiy lost his posture, loudly spat on the ground near Edward’s boots and gave him two fingers.
‘Except your birches are probably shite compared to Russian ones, aren’t they?’
Edward calmly unsheathed his sword and said to Georgiy in the friendliest tone he could manage, ‘Pray tell, George, how do you conduct duels in Russia? I think we’re onto something here.’
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 04:00|
Paladinus: just under the wire.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 04:04|
I thought I had an extra hour. Terribly sorry. I'll write something for interprompt to atone for my sins.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 04:06|
"Writing" (36 words)
I'm going to do
some "writing" now.
Ignore the plangent cries.
The red that stains
my writerly sweater
I'm going to do
some "writing" now.
If anyone calls just say
I'm very, very occupied
in a writerly
sort of way.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 04:20|
Grizzled Patriarch and Paladinus, you ed but did not submit. You have 40 minutes and change before that gets called in.
I beg your mercy, I just moved to a new time zone and I'm all screwed up. I'll have my story up in the next ten minutes.
The Apple Tree
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 23:55 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 05:17|
Forgot my picture:
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 05:30|
Hello I'm back and here is your INTERPROMPT
‘Mr. Fletcher, before we transport you to the island we have to make sure you are ready to spent those two week alone working on your choice of literary form. ’
‘Do you have at least two litres of water, three days worth of preserved food and medicaments not covered in form 3.1 that ate essential for your normal everyday life?’
‘Yes, except I don’t take any medications.’
‘Good. Do you have your flare gun with three rockets and a water-proof bag?’
‘It’s all here, yes.’
‘Did you pack enough clothes for your trip as per contract?’
‘Do you have all required means of personal hygiene not provided by our company?’
‘I have my aroma soap, yes.’
‘Do you have enough life experience to write a comprehensive literary work?’
‘Do you carry sorrows and regrets in your heart?’
‘Do you wear your heart on your sleeve, Mr. Fletcher? Do you live a life full of wonder that could inspire you to share this joy with others? Are you on a spiritual journey? Do you have a fantastic sense of humour?’
‘No, I don’t think so, no.’
‘I’m terribly sorry, Mr. Fletcher. Please, refer to section 7 of our contract that describes your obligations as a client. Normally our operators would have rejected your admission earlier, so we’ll have to investigate this case and will gladly reimburse fifty percent of your travel expenses if you mail us checks confirming your expenses within a week. Sorry for your wasted time and good luck with your endevours.’
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 14:03|
You don't need to do this.
Don't apologize? I'm Canadian, good ser, I have no choice, sorry.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 14:16|
Thanks for the crits, good folks, they really help.
Obviously it's too late to enter this week's challenge, but Lord knows I need the practice:
This was my pic:
"I want blueberry pie! I'm too old for it to kill me," Tanya could hear her mother's high pitched whine all the way down the stairs and through her closed bedroom door.
Tanya picked up the dark brown hunk of meat she had drawn, and admired it. The marbling was appetizing, she had gone to painstaking care to draw tender creases in the meat which would no doubt improve the flavor. But her mother wouldn't notice that, her mother would only notice that it wasn't rare.
Tanya opened her door and yelled, "I told you, mom, we can't afford any blue. Too expensive." Tanya stepped lightly up the stairs, into her mother's converted attic room, and dropped the paper into the bed-ridden woman's lap.
"I used all our green for your asparagus yesterday. I haven't even had a vegetable in weeks. Plus you don't even eat the parsley."
"Still," said her mother, then sighed haughtily as if she had proven a point. Tanya's mother ripped the steak out of its white paper background and shoved it in her mouth. "Tastes dry."
Before Tanya could retort, there was a knock at the door.
"poo poo, is it 7:30, already?" Tanya looked down at her hastily-drawn white T-shirt and pajama bottoms, "poo poo, poo poo, poo poo!" She ran downstairs and back into her bedroom.
Tanya had wanted to take her time with her afternoon outfit, really show Blake that she was a designer worthy of his palette. But she only had a moment to draw two red triangles and fasten them around her waist and shoulders before there was a second, louder knock at the door.
"Coming!" Tanya ran to the door and flung it open. There stood Blake, a six-foot-mess of a man. Tanya's jealousy made her bite her lip. All that color, and her chose to use it on a dumb baseball cap and button-up.
"Tanya!" Blake said, and tried to enter. Tanya moved her lithe body in his way.
"This isn't a social call or a date, Blake. Did you bring the colors I need?" Tanya knew her demeanor was not the sweetest way to get what she wanted, but if he came in and made a move she knew she couldn't say know. For the colors, of course.
"I brought them," Blake flashed a box of pens that made Tanya salivate, a lush forest green, delicious lemon, even royal blue. She would have enough to design the dress and feed her mother all the parsley she wanted for weeks. She reached out her hand and Blake pulled them away.
"First, you have to give me something." said Blake.
"What?" said Tanya, not liking the way Blake was looking her up and down.
"The house on the hill," Blake nodded toward the old manor a block away, "I helped the crazy geezer move in. He's got something in his basement, covered with a sheet. Bring it to me."
"Get it yourself."
"Everybody knows you've got the skill to draw your way in and out of their stealthier than a fox. I can barely make my door fit that jamb."
Tanya sighed, "then I get the whole box?"
"The whole thing if you bring it to me. Otherwise I'll just loan it to you for an hour."
Tanya sighed and nodded, then slipped inside to grab her pencil box. She looked at the shades: poo poo brown, charcoal, off-white, high yellow. It was a veritable ethnic rainbow, but it did her no good designing an outfit that would wow the single men at the upcoming ball. Swallowing her fear with a painful gulp, she headed out for the aging house set on top of the grassy knoll.
No one had lived there since Tanya and her mother moved here, years ago. As she got closer, she could see why: The house was sinking into its foundation at the northeast corner. Why anyone would want to move in, now, was beyond her, and she really didn't even care. She wanted to go in and out as fast as possible. Breaking and entering really wasn't second nature to the girl who finished tops in her class at the institute of culinary drawing and design.
Making a loop around the house in the dark, Tanya didn't spot a single lit window. Walking to the side of the house, she was finally glad for the charcoal pencil. Tanya pulled it our and drew a large rectangle in the side of the house, just large enough for her to slip through. As her eyes adjusted, she saw moving boxes piled high and furniture covered in white sheets, but now staircase leading down. She was sad to do such destruction to someone else's home, as she had no idea how to get rid of her drawings. Still, her mother had taken care of her for 30 years, and deserved more in the final months of her life than brown meat hunks, sans veggies. Tanya stepped back to get perspective, then quickly sketched a square hole in the floor and brown stairs leading down.
Climbing down the stairs, she found herself in pitch black. When her eyes failed to adjust, Tanya whipped out her yellow pencil and drew a light bulb in the ceiling. As she adjusted to the now blinding light source, she could make out a large sheet in the middle of the otherwise bare room. Striding towards it, she pulled back the sheet to reveal... What the hell was it?
It was small, about the size of a pack of gum... and pink. The rectangular object sat upon an otherwise empty table. Tanya picked it up to study it, but still could not discern what it was.
"Who are you!" the old man's croak made her jump back. Tanya wheeled around to see the decrepit old man at the staircase. His frown scared her, but what really made her shake was when it turned into a menacing grin.
"A burglar, eh? Let's have a little fun." With a litheness that betrayed his form, the old man stepped into the room and grabbed the pink object. Tanya opened her mouth to scream, but the old man swiped the pink rectangle over her face and she was unable.
Putting a hand to her head, Tanya realized she no longer had a mouth.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 17:09|
Nova - 712 words
I felt so proud driving my new car around. Gassing it up to 100 on the highway made me feel excited. Honking the horn at red lights made me laugh. I didn’t give a drat about what that car cost me.
Yeah, I had to sleep in bed with dad for half a year to get the Nova. After mom died, Dad had no luck dating. We met a few of his first dates: friendly, cool women. After each date he’d return to the house and tell us about how he hosed up by admitting something negative about himself or by talking about how lonely he was. Dad wanted women that were way out of his league, even with his money, and we all knew it. Him included.
He never paid much attention to my sister, I guess she was too fat for him. But me, he always liked me. Around the time I entered middle school he would grab my hips and pull me towards him, lining us up. “This is how you were born!” he’d say, making no sense.
Date after date after date, and never a second meeting. He blew it with every nice woman in town. Every once in a while he’d go out with someone that liked him, but afterwards at home he’d tell us about all of her flaws and why it wouldn’t work. Then, after my sister went to bed, he’d come into my room wearing a speedo and try to hug me.
After awhile he became bold and declared his scheme: if I slept in bed with him every night for 6 months, he’d buy me a used Pontiac Nova. He didn’t specify what year, but I had to think about it for a whole five minutes before I agreed.
In the beginning I was pretty grossed out by all the chip crumbs in bed and such. Mom was in charge of getting Dad new underwear, and since her death he had never replenished the stash. Stains were rampant and undeniably wrong.
Every night he would spoon me. Sometimes he’d pulse a bit, breathing hard, nibbling at my ear. Other times he’d fall asleep with a hand on my shoulder. Whatever it was, I counted the days until my car. I’d be free.
Finally the day came. He had a couple friends down at the dealership, two brothers, and they showed us to a late-model Nova. Did I expect better? Yeah. Was I disappointed? Not really. I didn’t say one word to either brother, but after a bunch of back-slapping and guffaws father and I were leaving the lot in separate vehicles. This was it.
Later that night, as I was about to leave to pick up Megan for the first-ever ride, I could hear a noise coming from Dad’s room. He was crying. Prying the door open, he noticed me. “You’re never gonna sleep with me again, son.” I looked at my watch and then stared at his back. He was sniffling like a baby. “Since mom’s gone you don’t need me any more.” I didn’t know what to do, but I had to get out of there to pick up Megan soon. “Why… why don’t you come down to Jamingo’s Pizzeria with us, dad? It’ll be cool.”
He turned around, bottle of whiskey in hand, with a huge smile on his face. “Do ya mean it??” he asked. When I answered in the affirmative, he scooped up his waist size 44 pants and dashed over to me with a huge alcohol-laden hug. I got in the driver’s seat while he took up most of the back of the car.
After picking up Megan, who was definitely more than a little disappointed upon discovering the identity of my first passenger, we were making our way to Jamingo’s at last. On Nutler street the lights shot up behind me and I knew I was being pulled over.
Dad was farting and belching rapid-fire in the back seat. The policeman shined his light and saw dad’s crack and immediately drew his pistol. It was all over.
Years later, I think about what that car cost me. If I could get rid of the Nova and have my dad back, I’d do it in a second.
(USER WAS PUT ON PROBATION FOR THIS POST)
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 22:44|
THUNDERDOME XCVI RESULTS
There were thirty-nine sign ups this week. Thirty-loving-nine. But thanks to a record number of you chucklefucks being completely incapable of putting pen to page this turned out to be a pretty decent week to judge. None of us wanted to claw out our eyes and that very well may be a first.
My low pile was delightfully small this time around and, honestly, it was a bit of a struggle to come up with a straight up loser. But somebody has to lose and this week's loser is D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. Whatever ideas you had in your brain got too muddled up as you wrote them out. Sorry, friend. Better luck next prompt.
Blade_of_tyshalle, what were you trying to write this week? If this was supposed to be some kind of commentary on the treatment of homosexuality it wasn't a very good one. If this was an elaborate gay joke it wasn't a funny one. You get a dishonorable mention. Welcome to Thunderdome.
You snuck in at literally the last possible second, Sitting Here, and it paid off with an honorable mention. Thanks for writing something we all enjoyed.
But there was only one writer who took his book cover and crafted something we all loved. We salute you, docbeard! The throne is yours!
crits to follow
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 22:54|
Dad was farting and belching rapid-fire in the back seat. The policeman shined his light and saw dad’s crack and immediately drew his pistol. It was all over.
|# ? Jun 9, 2014 23:01|
oh poo poo wait
THUNDERDOME XCVII: Neither Tarnished Nor Afraid
Raymond Chandler posted:
In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.
This week you are going to ruin one of my favorite quotes for me.
Let me rephrase that.
This week you are not repeat not going to ruin one of my favorite quotes for me.
I want stories about good people in a time or place or world that isn't kind to good people. Your protagonist need not be a saint, but there should be something tangible to admire about them. Likewise, your world need not be a nightmarish dystopia, but there must be something about your setting that makes it difficult to be that specific sort of admirable person. Make me believe that your protagonist is struggling for something, that the deck is stacked completely against them, and that what they're trying to achieve is worth achieving.
Within those constraints, any genre is fine; don't feel the need to write a noirish detective story just because it's a Raymond Chandler quote. (I mean, you can, but it's not necessary, and not necessarily encouraged.)
As per usual, no fanfic, no porn. Above all else, don't bore me. Make me give a drat.
Flash rules are available to the unwary.
Word Limit: 1,250 words
Signup Deadline: Friday, June 13, 11:00 PM CST
Submission Deadline: Sunday, June 15, 11:00 PM CST
V for Vegas
God Over Djinn
docbeard fucked around with this message at 03:59 on Jun 14, 2014
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 01:10|
Also I still owe a couple people crits. These will happen soon.
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 01:16|
Stout of heart and IN.
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 01:17|
In the corner, an ancient typewriter gathers dust.
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 01:17|
In with a for not submitting last week.
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 01:28|
I am a virtuous man who happens to be signing up for a writing competition.
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 01:42|
|# ? Dec 4, 2022 01:18|
|# ? Jun 10, 2014 03:43|