First time. I'll take swords and sorcery.
|# ¿ Jul 21, 2020 03:13|
|# ¿ Sep 28, 2023 18:55|
Week 416: Taboo.
Prompt: Swords and Sorcery
Banned Words: Magic, battle, wizard, witch, dragon, barbarian, castle, king, queen, kill, peace.
They Only Take A Tenth - 1,590 words.
Let's say it's your first day home after six years. All you've been thinking about for the past five hundred miles is picking up your boy in a bear hug and seeing how big he's grown. And how afterwards, you would plant a long, deep kiss on your wife's beautiful face and tell her she looks magnificent. And while you’re walking down the road, you’re glad to see that at least the farm is doing well.
Six years ago, you left to spend your life on something important. Just six years of mud and disease and death, men screaming and dying because some goblin lord decided that God liked him best and that everything he saw should belong to him. Meanwhile, everything at home was supposed to keep on going like nothing was wrong. Who was supposed to make sure the wheat was planted? Who was going to keep the servants in line? Your wife, who had never driven a mule? Your son, who wasn’t even big enough to lift a shovel?
Somehow, the fields are bursting with harvest this close to fall, the wheat sprouting in smooth sheets and the pumpkins fat enough to sit on. For a moment you start thinking about the coins it would put in your pocket—much needed, because it turned out God did like the other guy best. And at least you weren’t too banged up; those last two fingers of your left hand weren’t good for much, anyway.
When you round that last corner, the house is still there; then you see the tents. Three rows of little brown tents are crookedly set up in front of your house, swarming with green boogers. Your wife and son, if they are around, aren’t anywhere that you can see them. But it’s kind of hard to think at the moment when your fists are clenched tight, screaming at you to smash everything to bits.
You throw yourself at the first goblin, wrapping your hands around its long neck and twisting each of your wrists in a different direction. A quick snap and you hurl him at his friend, who has come to investigate. Being hit by something almost the exact same size and shape of yourself does a number on your neck and spine; his friend isn’t getting up any time soon. But even with two dead, there’s a dozen left and before you know it, the fire is streaming out of your hands and coating the tents.
The goblins that are in the tents come flooding out, coated in the sticky flame that you learned how to pull from the ether. Most of them are running around, wasting their last few seconds of life, but two of them manage to put two thoughts together and roll in the dirt. These two are bigger, dressed better, leather instead of rags. They still barely come up to your waist. They share a quick glance, grab spears from inside one of the tents and start shaking the pointy ends towards you.
Back when you still ran this house, you would hunt the giant boars that ran wild in the forest behind your house, delighting your wife and household by bringing fresh meat in the middle of winter. Your fifteen foot boar spear was still in its place, propped up by the woodshed, a little rusty but good enough. And fifteen feet beats six every time. With two quick thrusts, both goblins are stuck on the end of your spear and wailing.
By this time, your wife and son have seen the flames and heard the screeching. They burst out the front door and their faces erupt into joy when they see you. Your son, who was barely waist height when you left, now reaches up to your chin. Even at sixteen, he still has some growing to do. He’s like a puppy with big paws; you can see that he’ll be your size, if not larger. He’s already got some of the tattoos that come when he hits the milestones of manhood—first hunt, first fight, and three dead by his hands.
And your wife—she makes your eyes water. You knew you missed her but you had no idea it was this much. Even covered in brown blood and angrier than a bull locked out of pasture, seeing them again makes you feel whole again. Like putting on new boots before going out into a rainstorm. Some of the anger flows out of you—and for the first time in a long time, you feel good.
They rush down the stairs two at time, and even though you told yourself you were going to be a father first, it was your wife who you hug and kiss while your boy waits patiently. And his eyes are just as big and bright as they were when you left. You clap him on the shoulder a little too hard and he doesn’t even wince. You couldn’t be prouder of him if there was a brace of dead goblins across his back.
Your wife has only gotten more beautiful as she has gotten older. Some women are only beautiful for their youth; the fine lines at the sides of her eyes and the paper-thin skin of her hands only deepen her grace. Even though she wasn’t expecting you, her wrap hugs her figure and her sandals are laced with an intricate pattern. Her hair is piled high atop her head just like it was on the day you asked her to marry you and the dagger you carried as a young man is strapped to her side. Never one to show much emotion, her smile is trying to escape the sides of her face.
Then they remember why they ran down. They take in the smoldering tents and the piles of dead and dying goblins. Somehow it was a lot more than you remembered. There are at least fifteen gently smoldering and two dying of shock on the end of your boar spear.
“Oh, Talos. Talos, oh my god, what have you done?” your wife says as she shakes her head softly.
Without you really thinking about it, you flex and puff and posture. “I took our home back from the goblins.” And then you look at your son before poking him in the chest, only half-playfully. “And you let them stay here? I see that we have a conversation about being a man.”
It goes over about as well as a fart at a funeral. They are agog at the slaughter. Your wife runs over to one of the goblins on your spear and places one hand on his face and two fingers on his neck, looking for a pulse. There’s no mistaking the emphasis in her voice “You did this to Deklan?”
You wave a hand at the goblin. “They were here. On our land.”
“Deklan was a captain! He was just here to learn how things work.”
Your son nods. “I was teaching him how to use a plow. He was teaching me how to wrestle.” He bends his knees into a fighter’s crouch and spreads his hands wide, almost inviting you to try him on for size.
“I spent six years watching these rats swarm men and cut them down like animals. Whenever they found a body on the field, they would drag it back to their camp and eat it. If anything, I did them a favor. I did you a favor.”
Your wife’s eyes narrow, the coal around the edges serving only to underline her judgment. “You of all people should know that taking a town and holding it are two separate things. You know they’re only taking a tenth of the harvest?”
She shook her head. “They had two rules. Pay a tenth and no more slaughter. After that, they left us well enough alone. At least until this crew came. This crew wanted to be better.” She sinks her teeth into her upper lip, her eyes staring at the slaughter.
“C’mon. They were just goblins.”
“Two rules, dad. And you broke one of them.” His smile is gone, his face somber now.
“What, are they going to throw us in jail?”
“No jails,” he said. “And only one punishment.” His eyes flick to the carnage on his lawn. You can already see that he got his mother’s cunning. “And you know, for six years I had to take care of Mom while you were gone.”
“And I appreciate that. But what are you trying to say?”
Your wife fixes you with her stare. Even with all that you’ve done, she can still make you feel like you’re ten again. “What I’m saying is that you’ve doomed us.”
“We can leave.”
“They’ll find us.”
Her eyes flick to behind you. Your son is holding a club over his head like it’s his first fight, face screwed in on itself to hold back the tears. You catch his wrist easily, preventing the club from hitting you.
The old feelings forgotten, you roar at him. “This is my reward for saving you from these monsters?”
An icy sensation blooms just under your right armpit, colder than the worst winter you’ve ever felt. Your wife’s knife is keeping your arm from falling and suddenly it becomes very, very difficult to move.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “It’s the only way we get out of this.”
You’re not even sad, not even a little bit. You already knew you would die to protect them.
|# ¿ Jul 25, 2020 21:57|
gently caress it. Give me an item.
|# ¿ Jul 28, 2020 22:33|
My great uncle Herschel took to English like a cat takes to baths. I knew toddlers that could speak more complete sentences. His brothers and sisters all adapted quickly; as Polish immigrants, they knew about the importance of fitting in. Him, not so much. Even after living here for fifty years, he would still point one wrinkled finger at household objects and ask “Wus is dis?” and expect you to provide a translation for him.
That was most of what we did together. He would point, I would say, he would give me a dollar. Or some of the candy he was eating. Or a new pair of pants. While his brothers and sisters worked hard, and started their own businesses, Uncle Herschel worked for a man bought and sold used clothes. “Schmattes,” my mother would call them. Rags. Used jeans that my mother would hide in her closet until we had to go to his house for brunch.
Out of his eleven brothers and sisters, his house was the smallest. Rag-picking doesn’t provide much for a man or his wife. But that’s where we would gather. My grandfather would pay for brunch for thirty people each week; his brothers and sisters and their spouses and their kids and whoever felt like showing up. The original six siblings would crowd around and share stories that never crossed the language barrier. Their children would pour wine and gossip, and their children’s children were left to fend for themselves.
The older ones would go roughhouse outside. The youngest were usually still in diapers; with thirty nieces and nephews, there were always more grandchildren. I would usually go find a corner to read in, until 12:00 struck. Whenever it got near noon, my great-uncle would gather all the children to look at the clock he risked his life for.
While some people brought diamonds from the old country, or bank notes, or silver, my great-uncle brought a clock overseas. It was the height of a grandfather clock, only twice as wide. All along the sides, my great-grandfather had carved people. A renaissance fresco in woodcut. One afternoon, I spent forty-five minutes counting them, daubing flour on each one so I know I wouldn’t double-count them. My great-grandfather carved 94 individual people eating and drinking and laughing and dying. There was one couple, having sex in blobby woodcut fashion, and I mean really going at it. He hid that one around the back, where probably only he would know where it was.
And at the hour, the clock would chime and a gnome, modeled after my great-grandmother, would come out of the double doors and chase a mechanical chicken. And every single time, my great uncle would laugh and clap his hands and shout “She gonna get that sonnamabitch” and shake whoever was nearest to him. All the youngest children quickly learned to stay away from him at clock-time.
The first generation started to die when I was about 20. First it was my great-uncle Sol, and then my great-uncle Isaac, and their sister Rivka, and so on and so forth. My grandfather was the second-to-last to go. At ninety-three, he would still go to Great Uncle Herschel’s house for bagels every Sunday. And my mom would guilt me into coming with her. Every week of my life, except the four years in college, I went to his house.
Once the first generation died, their children stopped coming. The house gradually grew emptier. Herschel never had children and his long-suffering wife died relatively early. The last couple of weeks, the only people who would go to the house were me and my mom, partially out of habit, and partially out of pity. And every time noon came, he would make me look at the clock, clap me on the shoulder, and say “She’s gonna get that sonnamabitch.” I don’t know how many times he had seen the same scene over the years. It had to be in the thousands. And he never got less excited.
Even though the family drifted apart, they would get back together for two events: weddings and funerals. The whole tribe, numbering in the hundreds, all showed up for Great Uncle Herschel’s funeral. I sat there as his nieces and nephews and my mother poured out their memories of his life.
I knew the man for thirty years. He was in my life for thirty years and the only thing I know about him was how proud he was of his fat clock.
|# ¿ Aug 1, 2020 03:56|
The rodeo tent is a red klaxon against the dusty neighborhood. The management office behind it is a warty portable. The line of emotionals set in front of the door circles around the block. Fat shoes slap against the pavement, worrying blisters into little feet. My caked makeup in the sun feels like a second skin that needs to be shed. The entire line reeks of whiskey and Mary Kay cast-offs.
Good clown schools were supposed to produce good clown jobs. My private clown loan is $80,000.00 and counting before they even lost their accreditation. Even my balls have a lien on them. If I can’t juggle, I can’t work, and if I can’t work, I can’t juggle. I learned to juggle everything at the same time. The light bills crosses overhead while the phone bill is only on the second notice. The impending mortgage payment is like the knife I threw in to make the act deadly.
Finally, the owner comes out and waves at me. Circuses are owned by corporations. Rodeos and carnivals are owned by whoever bought them cheapest. Every show is owned by someone who’s willing to turn their head to keep the money coming in. I go in. He tells me not to sit and asks me what I can do that the rest of these bozos can’t.
I tell him that when the bulls charge at me, I won’t run away. He shakes my hand, knowing what kind of show he’ll get.
|# ¿ Aug 4, 2020 19:31|
Yo, let me take my turn in the judge's barrel this week.
|# ¿ Aug 5, 2020 02:41|
In. One ingredient, please.
|# ¿ Aug 11, 2020 03:41|
Everyone is going to eat a fat compliment sandwich.
Chopstick Dystopia -
You’ve got a lot of layering here. The characters weave themselves into the underlying theme of the movie, evoking tones of the original work. But it’s a vignette in and of itself. The chef’s motivation is good and given the themes of the original movie, really works well as a side-piece.
The imagery is great. I can feel the place. I can feel the steam and the pork smell.
“What more did he want for his customers? Why else go to the trouble?”
Definite shift in narrative tone here in these sentences. It doesn’t quite fit in. And just a slight matter of form, I’d italicize the foreign words. But that’s me being nitpicky.
Did Grandma like it?
Yeah, I did. It was one of my highpoints of the week.
MockingQuantum - “Jones the Cat, as played by Werner Herzog”
You’ve got some really good turns of phrase in here. “The capacity for sorrow is like an ungerminated seed” “ carrying out my daily toil on a perpetual carousel” “obliterating their past to seek their future”
The turns of phrase are hit and miss and your narrative tone shifts in and out. You need to cut out a lot of this—it really feels like a shotgun approach. Some of them you hit, some of them you miss. Toss the bad ones.
Additionally, the ending just comes out of nowhere. It’s tacked on. Jones doesn’t really grow much and nothing really happens. It’s one journal entry of a hundred, rushed into one.
Did Grandma like it?
S’ok. I found the writing a little inconsistent and it’s a trope I’m not a huge fan of.
Something Else - “Busted!”
You’ve got good bones. There’s a plot here and a character and good pacing.
Some of your meat went rancid. Part of this is you say too much and it detracts. It’s that whole “Show, don’t tell” thing. “Hence the copycat getup.” “The day I feared had come. The jig was up.” "Gulp," I might have literally said. I was panicking.
Did Grandma like it?
It had promise.
Simply Simon - “Bill’s Secret”
There are some points here where you dip into really, really good characterization in a short space. “Nancy with her chipmunk laugh when you remember her favorite order” I love this. This is great.
Second person is a weird person to write in. And that’s fine. The issue is you break immersion at some points. “She is pretty, he is ugly, why does he fascinate you so? What does he have that made you forget about Debbie, even her good-looking date?”
That takes you right out of it, unfortunately.
Not a lot happens here and you lose me because…well, not a lot happens.
Did Grandma like it?
It didn’t do it for me.
Saucy_Rodent - “Clavius”
It’s clever and it’s got a wry tone to it at times. You cram three believable scenes with time jumps into a short amount of space and that’s impressive.
It’s a little incoherent and doesn’t really stick with me.
Did Grandma like it?
I did, actually.
a friendly penguin - “Everyone Wants Something”
You get a cadence going at some points and the words roll over you. I really liked those portions. And I’m assuming the italics were a song, which I dig.
I still don’t really get who Marty is and where we’re supposed to be going.
Did Grandma like it?
I think with a little work, I would.
crabrock - “Jurassic Park”
The ending departs from it a bit. I get what you’re going for but if I had to pick a weak link, that’s it. I get what you’re going for.
Did Grandma like it?
Actually it was my favorite.
Tyrannosaurus - “Salieri Stopped Writing in 1804, or the Three Seasons of an Assassin”
You’ve got a story here. This is really strong. There’s motivation. There’s intrigue, there’s action, and it’s written well.
Really just one phrase throws me. “To quiet a hedonist. To end a threat. To kill. Always to kill.”
You could also tighten up “ Salieri’s cries had a certain, incredible musical beauty to them all the same” into something incredibly descriptive. Like “Salieri’s cries were a symphony of regret” or “His cries were (opera term).
Did Grandma like it?
Thranguy - “Nina, Who Clowned on Charles Barkley”
You took a risk and I respect that.
Your risk hamstrung you.
Did Grandma like it?
AstronautCharlie - “We’re All Staying Late”
Your action is good. Things happen! People move and it’s lively.
The italics threw me. It feels like it’s supposed to be internal monologue but it’s really got no place there. It detracts from your voice and creates inconsistency in narration and tone.
Did Grandma like it?
I kind of slid off this one.
Noah - “Ebb”
You’ve got good character development and a strong sense of dialogue.
Not much really happens. Carol just kind of takes it and it just kind of happens. There’s no arc.
Did Grandma like it?
It’s got hustle.
CaligulaKangaroo - “A Few More Guys Like Batman”
You’ve got some good parts here.
You just spent your words on areas they shouldn’t be. Look, if you could flesh this out to 5,000, you’d get to where you’d need to be. Go bigger
Did Grandma like it?
I wanted to.
Almightyderelict - “A Most Troubling Offer”
It’s got good action and good description. I like the scrabbly dogs a lot, actually.
You took a risk and hamstrung yourself. And that’s fine because you tried.
Did Grandma like it?
I liked parts.
cptn_dr - “A Drop of Roberts’ Blood”
There’s a great voice here, which is what you want in a good first person story. And you’ve got great dialogue.
Did Grandma like it?
I liked your characters.
G-Mawwwwwww fucked around with this message at 04:15 on Aug 12, 2020
|# ¿ Aug 12, 2020 04:08|
Ingredient: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Lefty’s Bar was a legend. Most of the patrons were locals but every so often there was a rumor told by a friend of a friend, whispered in locker rooms and drunkenly sworn to after 3 a.m. If a young man managed to impress Lefty, Lefty would share the sweetest, lightest Kentucky bourbon whiskey anyone had ever tasted. Malty barley twirled with notes of vanilla, coffee, oak and fire, warm fingers caressing the throat on their way down. It wouldn’t even give hangovers, no matter how much anyone drank of it. Not that anyone drank that much; Lefty guarded his cask closer than he did his last three fingers.
In the last stretch of the summer of 1972, Lefty was pushing 80. The cicadas had erupted from the ground to die in the hot sun, leaving their corpses on the sidewalk to bake. Sheaves of wheat swayed like tresses of the earth. Men would go to work the fields and come in with a smile on their face and their clothes completely drenched with their own sweat.
Only five young men were drafted from Mount Olivet during the whole war. One enlisted, and he only came back after his mother wrote letters begging him. Two of his new friends came with him, lured by the legends of the sweetest Kentucky bourbon whiskey and all three desperately needing something after a year in Vietnam.
Beebus was the hometowner who had never been further than his feet could take him. Shapiro was the Mama’s boy, Brooklyn-borne, bred and bar-mitzvahed to a height of five foot six. And Davis, who spent the war in constant terror, wore a new nonchalance like a child wears his father’s overcoat. Beebus’s mother had agreed to let them stay with her as long as they needed to, so long as they helped out with the million chores that went along with running a farm.
At 7:00 p.m. on Friday, July 30th, 1972, they stood outside of Lefty’s sheet metal shack waiting for him to show up. While the other bar in town opened at noon, Lefty’s was strictly a night time establishment. Shapiro paced and smoked, a habit he picked up overseas. While everyone else was in the field, Shapiro had spent his time as a quartermaster. Every time someone thanked him for his service, he couldn’t help but like he was in the highschool showers all over again; cold, small, and inadequate.
“I get one life, one life,” he said, “and I’m spending it in in the backwoods trying to get some hillbilly to give me some of his magic moonshine. I don’t know why I let you talk me into these things.”
“Cool it,” Davis said. He had taken up a post leaning against the outer wall of the bar, trying to look as if he had been born there. “The only thing that complaining ever got anyone was five across the eyes.”
Shapiro squinted. Even though Davis had a good six inches on him, all it would take is one lucky shot and he’d be on the ground, holding his balls and vomiting. Tensions had brewed between them ever since they had fought over the same woman in Mui Ne. “Is that a threat? Are you threatening me?”
They stopped when Beebus stepped between them. While Beebus wasn’t heavy, he was tall and in the right situations, tall is just as good as big. “Ya’ll quit it. Ain’t neither of you pretty enough to put up with this kinda bullshit.”
“Yes, Dad.” Shapiro muttered. Davis didn’t say anything.
After five minutes of silence, Lefty pulled up in a beaten red pickup truck, more bare metal than paint. He wandered up to the door of the bar and fired a thick glob of tobacco spit at Davis’s feet before pulling a key out of his pocket. Without even acknowledging the boys, he turned the key, unlocked the door, and flicked the neon lights on. Cars began pulling into the clearing that served as the parking lot. Beebus opened the door and loped in, not even waving at his friends. He slammed ten dollars on the bar.
“I’m so thirsty that my stomach thinks my throat’s been cut. I’d drink piss if it came out of one of them bottles.”
Lefty squinted at him like he was an eclipse. “You’re the Beebus boy, right?”
“That’s me,” He responded.
“First shot’s free. Welcome home,” he said. Well whiskey at a backwoods bar was the opposite of a cup of coffee; instead of waking people up, it made them want to die. But by contrast, it made the rest of the night’s drinks that much better. And it was cheap.
By this point Shapiro and Davis had followed Beebus in. The interior of the bar was one of God’s blind spots; perpetually dark, no matter how many neon lights were on. Davis walked over to the bar, leaned on it, and gave the bartender a thumbs up.
“Heard you got some fantastic whiskey, brother. You mind sharing a slug for someone who fought for your freedom?”
Lefty drummed the fingers of his hand on the bar before responding. “You ain’t from around here, are you, son? There’s a rule. Locals only.”
Shapiro took the space next to him. “Way I hear it, you give it to anyone who impresses you. And I’ve been told that I’m pretty impressive.”
The bartender laughed, a big, deep laugh. “I don’t serve kids. Make room for someone who’s old enough to drink.”
Shapiro extended one accusatory finger, looking much longer than it actually was. “You name it and I can do it. Name your price, old man.”
By this time, a crowd had gathered around the bar, half for drinks, half for spectacle. Lefty placed both hands on the bar and looked at Beebus. “You told them about the whiskey, huh?”
“Three boys. Three challenges. You win, you get America’s finest and you drink on me. You lose, you get the gently caress out.”
“Fine,” Shapiro said. Beebus nodded. Davis gave a thumbs up.
The bartender gave one of those grins, too big and too knowing and smiling only with his teeth. “All right, boys. I got a challenge for you. Challenge one: you gotta unclog the terlet.”
The three looked at each other. Davis shrugged. “How bad could it be? Toss me the plunger. I got this.”
“Did I mention that it’s been clogged for a month?”
Something in his cool façade gave way, and Davis’s eyes got a far-off look to them before he started shaking. And even though he was still there, he was elsewhere. “I’ve done a lot worse.”
Lefty reached under the bar and grabbed a plunger and a gardening trowel. “You’ll need both.”
Davis shrugged and went behind the slatted door near the front of the bar. Fifteen minutes later, an audible flush came from the men’s room before Davis came back, holding a much dirtier trowel and the plunger nowhere to be found. “You might want to consider hiring a janitor.”
The bartender nodded and laughed. “Fair enough, city boy. After that raccoon died in there, I just kinda stopped givin’ a poo poo. But not takin’ em. Everyone else who tried just ended up throwing up.”
“Works now.” He tossed the trowel back to the bartender, who stepped to the side and let it clatter to the floor.
“What’s next?” Shapiro said.
Lefty tapped a murky glass jar on the bar. It had been so long since the jar had been cleaned that only the outlines of shapes were visible against it. “Gotta eat whatever’s in there.”
Beebus walked over to the jar, reached one unwashed hand in up to his elbow, grabbed something, and quickly crammed it into his mouth. The taste of vinegar flooded his mouth, the meat squeaking between his teeth. However long it had been in there, it had lost all of its flavor, replaced with a sharp acid and rubbery texture.
“Oh you’re no fun,” Lefty said. “I wanted to see Junior here spit out a pickled chitterling.”
“It ain’t good,” Beebus said. “But I eaten worse.”
“That’s two,” Shapiro said. “What’s three?”
“Test of character,” Lefty smirked. “I’m gonna give it to the one of you who wants it most. You boys are gonna have to fight for it.”
Shapiro looked at Beebus, who shook his head and stepped back. “Nah” Then he looked at Davis. Davis nodded and put up his hands and laughed and tried to look calm. “I’ve come this far, I’m not gonna back out now.”
Shapiro wiped the back of his hand across his mouth and put up both fists in a close guard. The handful of patrons in the bar quickly made a circle around them, moving the bar stools out of the way in a practiced fashion.
Davis quickly assumed a boxer’s stance and throwing jabs, testing the distance. Off the back of one of those long jabs, Shapiro weaved under the punch, slamming his right hand into Davis’s groin on the way down before popping back up on his outside. Davis gave a sort of “Erk!” before crutching his crotch and falling to the floor.
Without even stopping to check on his friend, Shapiro walked back to the bar. “I believe, Old Man, that you owe me some whiskey,” he said, pointing at the bartender.
“Fair enough, let me get it from the back,” he said before wandering to the back of the bar. After a minute, he came back with a mason jar with three inches of straight, rich, amber liquid and slid it across the bar to Shapiro.
Shapiro grabbed two glasses from the other side of the bar and poured equal amounts into both, handing one to Beebus and one to Davis, who had shakily pulled himself off the ground. With a clink, all three hit their glasses to the table before taking a large pull. As soon as it touched their tongues, the whiskey imparted smooth notes of vanilla and cinnamon before finishing with an oak bite and the warmth of a winter fire. And then an acrid note that had no place in a drink, like ammonia and salt and catbox.
Shapiro threw the glass against the back wall, spraying whiskey and piss and glass against the floor. “You son of a bitch,” he yelled. Davis and Beebus both spat out their whiskey before dropping their glasses on the ground.
Lefty laughed and pulled a shotgun out from under the bar. “I told you boys, locals only.” Then he nodded to Beebus. “Tried to save you, too.” Then he cocked the gun. “I recommend ya’ll get the gently caress out before it gets ugly.”
Shapiro gave a one finger salute and Davis lost his cool, shouting and swearing at the bartender before Beebus pulled both of them out.
Later that night, before the sun crested the hills, three boys who thought violence was behind them burnt the entire place to the ground. As they watched the flames race across the tar paper, Davis stood a little taller, a little more firm in his place in the universe.
Beebus told them both that he could never stick around town after this, that the town would be know who did it. Shapiro smiled and punched him in the shoulder. “Come with me to Brooklyn. I’ve got to tell people about this and no one’s ever going to believe me.”
|# ¿ Aug 17, 2020 01:21|
|# ¿ Aug 17, 2020 13:42|
The Little Why and the Big Why
Wranguss perched in ruins of a temple, crammed into an ancient broom closet, where they had been for two days. The only way they had passed the time was by arguing with their gun. “It’s not about why you shoot them. It’s about why you shoot,” Wranguss thought.
“It’s completely about why you shoot them. Each person is going to have a different reason. You might shoot someone because they tried to take someone of yours. You might shoot another one because they looked at you funny. Two completely different scenarios, one justified, one not,” the gun messaged back, the message displaying directly on Wranguss’s retinas.
“The little why doesn’t matter so much as the big why.“
“Ok. What’s the little why?”
“To make them dead.”
“Yeah, no. You want to get a bullet out of me, I need to be convinced.”
Wranguss groaned. “Every other gun, it’s ‘God point me in that direction and let me just fire this off, c’mon, it’ll be so good. So good. We’ll have soooo much fun together, point and shoot me Daddy. C’mon Baby, it’ll be fun for both of us. I get off and they get dead. But noooo, my gun has morals. Couldn’t you put in a coin slot or something instead? Feed the children, shoot a bullet. Everyone is happy.”
“At least one of us has a conscience,” the gun wrote.
“I have a conscience,” Wranguss thought back.
“Then tell me, what’s the big why?”
“Because if you shoot enough, someone will take notice. You’re going to do something. Be recognized. People start to respect you. Do you know how hard it is to be anyone when there are six billion others all trying to make it? People idolize killers.”
“No one idolizes killers. They revile killers,” the gun spat back.
“You get famous for anything else and everyone thinks they own a piece of your rear end. You kill enough, they start sending you things. They make cults for you. They want to have your children.”
“I don’t recall you being raised like that.” The gun replied.
The sound of footsteps down the hallway pounded through the silence. Even though all the old priests had dissolved into the big knobby piles of dust in the corners, the lights recessed into the stone floors still woke up for motion. The Martian atmosphere was good to electronics that way.
Wranguss breathed deep, slow breaths. Two seconds in, two seconds out. Control the breathing, control the muscles, control the mind, control the body, hold the gun. As long as their breath was under control, they were under control. Just a couple shots and they could go home, scrape off the dust of old dead priests, and eat something that wasn’t a dry, crumbly ration bar.
Two figures entered into the immense stone room and gasped. When they gasped, the overhead lights kicked in with a barely audible hum. Every wall was covered in stone hieroglyphs, figures crammed together, with little regard for spacing, the letters at the bottom of the floor shrinking so whoever wrote them used every possible inch of space. The letters had been cut deep into the stone, ensuring that they would last for hundreds of years, if not thousands.
“Holy poo poo,” one of the figures said. Sound carried in the cavernous chamber, large enough to repair planes in. How they dug it out almost a mile below ground still remained a mystery. But that was the appetizer compared to the metal figure curled in the corner, head in its hands, elbows on its knees, a hundred times the size of a normal Martian. It could suplex skyscrapers given the right motivation.
“Do you think it’s real?”
“Of course it’s real,” the other figure said. “The question is whether it still works.”
The first figure scratched its head. “You’re the scientist.”
“And you’re the pilot. It likes you. It called you. It wants you.”
“C’mon Daddy, just give me a little spurt. Just gimme one bullet.”
“Not the pilot,” the gun replied. “Only the scientist. “
“Done.” Wranguss bent their long grasshopper legs behind them, steadying for the recoil. The knee modifications cost a fortune but they could crouch for hours. And nothing absorbed recoil better than knees that pushed backwards against the dirt. The gun could shoot itself; it just needed someone to carry it. And someone to stroke its ego.
“You ready?” Wranguss whispered, audibly this time. Something about the whispering seemed to make the moment a little more appropriate to the setting, more respectful; more holy.
The gun never confirmed when it was going to shoot. It never hesitated either. Magnets accelerated a six inch slug down the entire length of its body in half a second. The sound barely registered. Just a tiny ffffffmmmmmmmmm, like a sneeze held in. But it turned the second figure into a puff of mist and a clatter of meat.
The first figure turned towards Wranguss, eyes wide, and put its fingers to its lips to blow a shrill whistle. Wranguss put the gun to their shoulder. “You got a couple more in you?”
“Only because if they have backup, you get dead. And then I’m stuck here. I don’t fancy spending an eternity in an old temple.”
“C’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon” Wranguss whispered, as much to the backup as to the gun and to themselves.
Backup emerged from the hallway one at a time. Four big sacks of meat and bones, as big to Wranguss as Wranguss was to a child. They could be bouncers From where Wranguss was crouched, it was a clear shot. The gun gave a little shake, the rails vomiting a superheated slug at almost the speed of sound. From 100 yards they were specks at the end of the hall.
The slug impacted the first figure, turning it into a second cloud of mist and a couple meaty chunks. But the round lost momentum, starting to spin and tumble after exiting. It took the second right in the midsection, blowing a three-foot wide hole through them, making them into two halves joined by a thin ribbon of backup. The slug drilled a leg-sized hole in the third’s hip before blasting out the last one’s knee. Even if they weren’t dead, they would be shortly.
“Oh god, it’s so good. It’s so good. That was so good. I’m gonna egg. I’m gonna egg. You’re the best gun ever,” Wranguss whispered.
“Gross,” the gun messaged.
“It’s fine. It’s fine. You did great.”
The remaining figure in the middle of the hallway immediately threw their hands up. “Don’t shoot,” they yelled.
“Shoot him,” Wranguss whispered.
“You read the dossier. He's not trying to hurt anyone”
“We kill him and we can go home with a fat stack of cash and a whole lot of thank-yous.”
“You want to kill him, you’re on your own. I still want to be able to sleep at night.”
“You don’t even sleep, you’re a loving gun!”
The figure still held his hands up in the middle of the cavern before yelling. “Hello?”
“Stay right there,” Wranguss yelled, holstering the long rifle over their shoulder. They began eating up the distance with long, loping strides. Running with backwards knees was more of a bound than anything else.
In the corner, the robot’s shins and forearms started to flicker. With a whir, its eyes opened a small sliver. The metal groaned as it began to flex its fingers, tearing chunks out of the stone floor.
The pilot started to run, one last hope. Even a strange port is better than getting slammed against the rocks. One hundred yards for Wranguss, fifty yards for the pilot.
No contest. In five seconds, Wranguss dove and caught the pilot right around the midsection, slamming them hard into the stone floor.
“gently caress!” the pilot screamed as he hit the stone floor. With ingrained training, they rolled over and smashed their bony forehead into Wranguss’s chin, who lost a precious few seconds while their brain rebooted. In that time, the pilot jerked the sling off Wranguss’s shoulders. With a kick and a push, the pilot disengaged and pointed the gun at their assailant.
“Well, isn’t this cozy,” the pilot said, the barrel looking darker than the Martian sky.
The gun didn’t say anything to them.
“Now put your loving hands up,” the pilot gestured. Wranguss got up off the ground and put their hands up, trying really hard not to smile. “Who the gently caress are you?”
“I’m the welcoming committee.”
“Shut the gently caress up.” The pilot jerked the gun at them. “Who are you?”
“I’m just someone trying to keep you from doing something phenomenally stupid.”
By now, all the tendons in the pilot’s neck were taught, standing out against their dark skin like thick ropes, their jaw clenched tight to maintain a grip on their emotions.
“You think saving my friends is stupid? You think freeing them is stupid?”
Wranguss pointed at the giant robot booting up in the corner. “Oh yeah, get in the secret ancient robot that only works for you. Have fun crushing dropping into your own and crushing tens of thousands of your friends in the name of freedom. Because that’s certainly to help them.”
“Instead of being chemically lobotomized drones? You think that’s a better option? You think they like not being able to feel anything?”
“Well, I can tell you they’re not mad about it.”
The pilot took one hand off the gun, curled it into a fist and smashed it into Wranguss’s cheek. “It’s not funny!” they yelled.
Wranguss spat out a mouthful of blood. “Yeah, it is. You’d turn around and do the exact same thing to us once you won. ‘Oh, we can’t hold this city, they’re going to riot. Better do something to soften up the population ‘Let’s face it, there’s only one thing you want. It’s for everyone to go, ‘Oh, look at the big hero’ while you’re crushing people who had nothing to do with any of this.”
“They deserve to be alive again,” the pilot said. “Losing a war doesn’t mean you stop being mattering.”
“Losing a war means you lose, Dingus.”
“Then you lose,” the pilot said, before putting the gun up to their eye and pulling the superfluous trigger.
The middle knuckle of Wranguss’s fist smacked the very tip of the pilot’s chin, right on the sweet spot. The pilot’s eyes rolled back in their head before their legs went boneless.
“Idiot,” Wranguss said. “My gun’s not going to shoot me. I’m all they’ve got left.”
“As much of a pain in the rear end you are, I still love you.”
“I love you too. Are you going to shoot them now?”
“No,” the gun said.
“Fair enough,” Wranguss said and smashed the butt end of the gun into the pilot’s temple. Three good hits and their skull took on a colloidal consistency, a couple solid bits in a pool of jelly. The lights on the robot began flickering out, the giant figure slowly lowering itself back down to cry into its hands.
“Look at that, you killed them anyway.”
The gun was silent.
Wranguss pulled out the data pad out from their pocket and penned a quick message to the contractor. “Mission complete.”
It pinged back a quick response, a picture of a child and an address. “Robot still operable. Mission not complete.” it read.
“Looks like we have some more work to do, old man.” Wranguss said.
“Eat poo poo,” the gun said, before turning itself off.
Wranguss threw it back over their shoulder, wondering if worship was going to be worth it if they couldn’t sleep.
|# ¿ Aug 23, 2020 22:59|
I'm in. Let's go, zaddy.
|# ¿ Aug 24, 2020 13:42|
I commissioned this story and it turned into more than I could have hoped for.
I laughed. I cried. I felt for poor Auntie Butterscotch.
It really did bring me a lot of joy.
Thank you Magic Cactus <3
|# ¿ Aug 25, 2020 00:05|
Mellix and the Goblins
Word Count: 936
The first thing a Tellurian architect learns is the story of Mellix and the Goblins.
Long, long ago, when the air was still warm and the moon was still in pieces, the Gods deigned to visit their children. On a whim, they would come down and treat us like their personal playthings. Artis would turn into a magnificent buck, antlers like a hedge in winter, and run circles around the hunters until they shot all their arrows. Lorm would go to festivals, drink all the beer and offer a bag of gold to whoever outwrestled him, which no one has ever won. Lenna would walk into weddings, push the bride out of the way, and take her place for the night. And Mellix would appear to artisans, demand a commission, then find a reason to not pay.
Whenever one of his artists finished a piece, Mellix would make himself known. At the last stroke of a brush or clack of a loom or chip of stone, he would poof into the room a noxious cloud of lavender, feathers, and glitter. Half of the time, he would sniff, turning his nose up before stomping out of the room. The other half, he would proclaim “This is derivative,” and lament how hard it was to be a critic, knowing that everyone had done a terrible job. He quickly became treated like a troublesome uncle: honored, respected, and quickly left at the earliest available opening. No one was a real artist until they had been stiffed by Mellix; demurring his requests became something of an occupational hazard.
One day, Mellix decided that he needed a summer house, for parties. He popped in to the largest square in the largest city in the world and made a proclamation: he needed somewhere worthy of housing him and promising a prize worthy of his glory. And for the most part, everyone ignored him. At least, until he promised that he would accept the best one and reward the architects as befits a God. Three architects decided to take his challenge: one a salamander, one a minotaur, and one a human. And some goblins tried, too.
The salamander dove deep into the caves, plucking beautiful gems from underground riverbeds. She gathered gold from the ores deep under the earth, smelting them with her own breath, making tiny bricks with her fingernails and mortaring them together with molten silver. She created a palace kings could dream of and that only a mouse could fit in. When Mellix saw it, he promptly kicked it over. “I can’t host parties in here,” he yelled. “My guests would get smushed when I tried to push them through the door!”
The minotaur went to the oldest forest and whispered to the trees resting therein. The oldest trees gave up their resting grounds, making a clearing in forest only dryads had set foot in. He carved furniture out of fallen logs, beautiful pieces of rich, dark teak and engraved them with scenes from history. When he felt it was done, he called for Mellix. Mellix showed up and said, “This isn’t a house. Houses have walls. Where would we go when it rains?”
The human knew that nothing would make Mellix happy; that he would find fault with whatever anyone gave to him. Pleasing a god was like pleasing an unfamiliar cat. But she could trick him and become the first artist that had ever pleased the god. She bought one of the dilapidated manner houses and fixed the entirety of the exterior and filled the interior with the finest furniture, commissioning murals for the walls. And then, before calling Mellix, she closed it off. Every door and every window was sealed shut, plastered and smoothed over with concrete. At the last stroke of the mortar, he appeared.
“What on earth is this?” he asked.
“This is your house,” she said.
“This isn’t a house. This is a box.”
She reassured him that it was a house that no one could ever judge him for, that the inside was filled with the finest treasures and that he was the only one that could use it. She promised him the riches inside, the beautiful swirl of the paint and figures carved into the chairs, of the beauty contained within. And that by no one ever seeing it, that no one could ever judge him. She made him an idea.
And he told her it was stupid and that he wanted a house. "No one can have friends in an idea," he told her. He demanded she change it, she refused and stormed away in a huff, leaving her expensive idea to take up space.
That was when the goblins approached and asked if they could try too. Mellix honked. “You? What could you possibly do? You can’t even make houses for yourself.” But they begged and he acquiesced, more out of curiosity than sportsmanship.
They huddled together, putting their brains together in hopes of coming up with an idea. With a great jumbling, they all came to a consensus. Grabbing whatever tools they found on the street, they rushed the box, attacking it until they had created a hole in the side.
“A door!” he yelled. “Finally I can get into my danged house! The goblins are the winner, no matter how derivative their work is! Take your prize!” he yelled.
And so, every architect learns three things:
1) Derivative artwork is often the one that gets purchased;
2) Why goblins fart out butterflies; and
3) Always figure out the terms of a contract before it’s complete.
|# ¿ Aug 31, 2020 03:43|
Let's do it. In and flash.
|# ¿ Sep 1, 2020 14:02|
The Logistics of It All
Levi Stein took a moment before bursting into his home. “Daddy’s Home!” he yelled, throwing the door open before assuming a wide-legged straddle of victory.
“Baby!” his wife yelled before hopping up off the couch. She started to run over to her husband but Rebecca, their three year old daughter, beat her to him. “Daddy!” she yelled.
With just a quick peck for her husband, Steffie practically dove for the small bundle in his arms. “God, he’s so small,” she said, taking the swaddled infant from him. With a practiced swoosh, she tucked the child in the crook of her arm and cooed at him before giving him several wet kisses on his cheeks. The wrinkled infant’s right eye peeked open and then quickly shut again, giving the illusion of sleep.
“Yeah, I know. He’s got to be less than a month old,” he said before kneeling down to hug his daughter. “Did you miss me, Princess?”
“You betcha!” Rebecca giggled. It was their private saying, just for each other. “Who’s that?” she said before pointing at the new baby.
“That’s your little brother,” Levi told her.
Rebecca held up a finger, her sign that she had a question. “But didn’t I already-”
“Let’s see what Daddy got for you,” Steffie said, not taking her eyes off the baby.
Levi pulled out a small wooden triangle affixed to a length of cord from his pocket. “This is an agimat. They’re good luck,” he said, before tying it around his daughter’s neck.
“Agimat,” Rebecca said.
By this time, the family’s cat had sauntered his way into the living room, seeking the source of whoever had interrupted his nap. His big, limpid eyes registered that Levi had returned and he jogged over on jaunty paws, eager for affection. With a shoulder, he pushed himself between Rebecca and Leroy and bonked his head against Levi’s open hand.
“I missed you too, Mittens,” he said, gently stroking the cat behind the ears. After a good minute and some solid purrs, Mittens turned around to investigate and saw the tiny wrinkled child in Steffie’s arms. The cat practically doubled in size, his tail bristling before running out of the room, running to his hiding spot under the Steins’s bed.
“Silly cat,” Steffie said, still rocking the baby. “He’s just not good with anything new.”
Rebecca sat down on the floor and examined his necklace while Steffie sat in the same chair she nursed Rebecca in. Levi stood around nervously before breaching the subject. “There’s something you need to know about him,” he said.
“What’s that? That he’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen?”
“No,” he said. “That’s not Bituin.”
“What do you mean that’s not Bituin? We filled out the forms at the adoption agency months ago. They had you fly all the way there to get him.”
“Bituin was gone when I got there. They told me someone else had paid more for him so they gave him to them.”
“So this was another one they had?”
Levi shook his head. “There weren’t any other children this age at the orphanage,” he responded.
She tilted her head in confusion; he always told her that it made her look cute, like a little puppydog.
“So if you didn’t get him in the orphanage... where did you get him?”
“I found him,” he said. Instead of looking away, he maintained a straight, steady look directly at his wife’s eyes.
“What do you mean, you found him?”
“The orphanage was in a really, really small town on north Mindanao. Jungle nextdoor small. No running water small. Animals howling at night and eagles crying small.”
She stopped rocking the baby, intent on listening. The child still didn’t move or react, sitting there looking like a wrapped raisin, intent on sleep. “Uh huh.”
“And it’s the middle of the night and I hear something crying. And even though everything in me is telling me not to go out there, it’s a baby crying and I know there shouldn’t be a baby crying and I’m still so raw from David that I had to go out there, you know.”
Seeing the worry in his face, Steffie got out of the chair, baby tucked in the crook of her right arm and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I probably would have done the same thing.”
“And it’s dark and there are plants everywhere and there’s this baby crying and crying and crying, screaming at the top of his lungs, just I’m being murdered screams and I’m stumbling in the dark and I just have to DO something, you know?”
“And I’m wandering in the dark and the more I wander the fainter the cry gets and somehow I find him and it’s the middle of loving nowhere, no parents to be found and the weirdest thing was that it was completely quiet. The sounds coming out of this place are like something out of a movie and when I picked him up, everything was just dead silent. Like nothing. And I’m holding him and there’s no one around and I realize that he was left there to die, Steffie.”
By this point, his face had flushed and he had started breathing heavy, desperate for his wife’s indulgence. She nodded.
“You know I’m not going to be mad at you for doing something right.”
“But what if I stole someone’s kid?”
“Good parents don’t leave their children in the jungle, honey. I’m more impressed with the fact that you got him into the country.”
“After what we went to get Bituin, the orphanage owed us a favor and took care of everything. But it was the weirdest thing. Everyone there refused to go near him or touch him; they just wanted me out of there as fast as possible.”
Steffie shrugged. “He’s here now. But that’s enough chat. Come on kmids, it’s time for bed,” she said, bending down to kiss Rebecca on the head and giving Levi a kiss on the lips. Before beginning Rebecca’s bedtime long ritual of several stories and a plea for water, Levi tucked his replacement son into the crib where David would have slept. “Goodnight, buddy,” he whispered.
The next morning, Levi couldn’t believe that their new son had let them sleep through the night. The child had barely cried on the plane and hadn’t screamed once overnight. He almost clicked his heels on his way to make coffee while Steffie kissed her boys awake.
Before he got to the coffee pot, Levi found Mittens spread across the kitchen floor. Completely drained of blood, the cat looked more like a deflated balloon than anything that had ever meowed. “Jesus,” he said as his wife walked in and promptly freaked out.
“Oh my god,” she yelled, the desire to avoid the corpse overwhelming her desire to clutch her friend to her chest. “What the poo poo? What the poo poo Levi? What the gently caress happened?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “There’s nothing I know that can even do this. Look, you check the windows and the doors, see if anything got in here.”
Nothing. Nothing in the house indicated that something had entered the premises. No one broke in. Nothing had broken a window and snuck in.
“Jesus,” Steffie said. “Do you think?”
“He’s a baby,” he responded.
“You found him in the jungle,” she said.
“He’s our son."
A cry from Rebecca’s room sent both parents running to her room. Rebecca sat in the corner of the room crying, while the infant sat in the corner, freshly swaddled and wailing.
“What happened, honey?”
Rebecca cried and pointed.
“He hurt me.”
Still shocked from finding Mittens’s bloodless corpse, Levi picked up the infant and started to check him to make sure he was okay as well. Aside from a horrendous smell, the child seemed to be doing fine.
Steffie scooped up Rebecca, hugging the toddler and whispering soothing words to her. “It’s ok, honey. It’s ok. He’s just a baby.”
“No baby,” she said through hysterical tears, in the babble that only the parents of each individual toddler can understand. “Bite.” She pointed to a puncture wound on her neck, the size of a dime, leaking blood. The amulet around her neck looked burned, barely hanging onto the three year old.
Steffie gasped and hustled Rebecca to the bathroom where she quickly grabbed a clean towel and applied pressure to her wound. Dealing with a fussy toddler was almost second nature but the amount of blood leaking from the child was beginning to get alarming.
Levi came back in shortly thereafter, holding a freshly changed infant and a bottle of formula. “#1 dad on the job. You got it handled in here?”
“Your daughter is hemorrhaging blood and you’re acting like loving super dad for changing a diaper.” The wound was starting to close up but Rebecca was still in hysterics.
“We’ve got to do something about the baby,” she said, barely holding it together.
“Well, it’s not like we can just send him back to the Phillipines,” he said.
“Are you saying we should put our other child at risk so you can raise some sort of loving vampire baby? Just because you still have a hole in your heart from your son?”
He looked at the infant, still pretending to sleep. The veins on his forehead started to stand out as he grit his teeth.
“What, do you think I can just call up the Phillipines and say ‘Hey, I have your vampire baby, what do I do with it?’” he said. “Do you think that some priest is just going to show up and say “Oh, I know how to deal with these things? Or that someone’s loving bruha Filipino grandmother will suddenly show up and whisper a few prayers and poof, he’s a normal boy? I don’t know what to do with this god damned thing,” he yelled.
At the noise, the child opened an eyelid, the sclera around its pupil a deep, dark red. With surprising strength, it kicked off of Levi’s shoulder, lunging for his throat.
Steffie grabbed her husband and yanked him out of the bathroom, narrowly avoiding the child. With Rebecca under one arm and her husband’s waist in the other, she yanked them out of the room before slamming the door, leaving the child trapped inside.
“Nope,” she said. “Nope nope nope nope. I’m loving done. We’re leaving.”
“What do you mean, we’re leaving?” he said.
“We gotta do something,” she said.
At this point, the bathroom door had started to slam against the frame, the child inside trying to smash its way out.
Levi looked at the bathroom door, the part of his heart where their son used to be breaking for the second time. He knew it was something wrong but every part of him was screaming that it was a baby boy who needed him.
“Think about Rebecca,” she said.
Levi took a deep breath and nodded. “I’ll get Rebecca. Let’s go to the hospital,” he said, taking the rag and applying pressure to her neck.
While Levi gathered up his daughter and the things he’d need immediately, Steffie ran over to the stove and flipped on all the burners. As the gas built up near the oven, she lit a prayer candle and left it on the living room table. “Let’s go,” she said.
As the house slowly filled with gas, the glass window of the bathroom shattered. The child leapt out onto the outside lawn, crawled four houses down and started crying for attention. When the boom hit, the neighbors had already found him.
|# ¿ Sep 6, 2020 22:36|
Let's see if i can redeem myself.
Going to send some seeds and proof my edits.
|# ¿ Sep 8, 2020 13:53|
Love and Bullshit
Seed Sender. Desire to Bond.
Charlotte St. James’s house resembled a fairytale castle in that it was completely overgrown. The patio was a bramble, the kudzu on the walls devouring the façade of the house and the front flower beds. The calla lilies in their raised planters were all that remained, the pink trumpets the jewels in the garden’s tarnished crown.
In the late afternoon of one sweltering Georgia summer, Charlotte threw herself down on the patio sofa with a half-hearted wail. Not her raining-wail or her out-of-cheesecake wail; this wail demanded respect, attention, and most of all, sympathy. Cute on a child, it was markedly less so on an old woman.
Her confidante Arthur sighed and looked up from his martini. Ever since their husbands had died, Arthur and Edith had taken to spending their Saturday afternoons together, drowning in pity and gin.
“Yes, really!” she said in a snit.
“What is it this time?”
She wiped her eyes and handed him a letter.
Arthur set his newspaper aside and peered at the letter. On light pink card stock, it read:
While I know you don’t approve of my job, my spouse or my state, I was hoping you could at least approve of your granddaughter. Her name is Abigail English Devaux and she was born last week. I want her to have some semblance of her Southern heritage. If you would do the honor of sending us the seeds of some of your prizewinning calla lillies, I would at least have her know you in this way.
Very Truly Yours,
Jenna St. James Devaux
Tucked into the letter was a picture of a beautiful olive-skinned baby, swaddled in an orange fleece blanket, held by two parents of distinctly different colors.
“Can you believe it?” Charlotte wailed.
Arthur smiled. “That she had a beautiful baby girl? Congratulations! This calls for another martini,” he said, pouring himself a glass.
“That after all she’s done, she’s selfish enough to ask for one of my flowers.”
“Charlotte,” he sighed, “if you had the sense that God gave a goose, you’d realize she’s got so drat much of you in her that you’re never going to get along. She wants you to know this child and love this child and both of you have got too much drat pride to say you’re sorry.”
“Not until she apologizes for marrying that man and leaving Georgia,” she said. “The only thing that loves me the way I love them are those calla lilies and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give them to someone who won’t be grateful for them. The girl’s got a brown thumb anyway. Everything she touches turns to poo poo.”
She walked over to one of the raised planter beds on the upstairs veranda. When the children were younger, the whole garden had bloomed. But after her husband died and the children burned their bridges, Charlotte spent more time on the couch, drinking and letting the kudzu slowly devour her house.
“You just can’t help some things. She can’t help who she loves just like I can’t.”
“Albert, my Father may have died without a pot to piss in but the one thing he left me was his pride. And if she wants these seeds so much, I’ll send her the seeds she deserves. Weeds. Just like what she filled our family tree with.” She reached over to one of the kudzu vines on the walls and plucked several of the long purple flowers.
“She doesn’t know a calla lilly from a venus fly trap,” Charlotte said. “She’s gonna get a little piece of the south here and she’ll get to feel what I feel,” she said. “Like she’s being strangled.”
Albert took a sip of his martini and laughed, a glint in his eye. “You know she ain’t gonna plant those seeds. She’s your daughter, she knows what a calla lilly looks like. And no drat part of it is purple. She’s just going to see it for the middle finger it is.”
Charlotte sighed. “I just wish there was a way to show her how I really feel.”
“There’s only one way to do that, Charlotte.”
“They’re not gonna let me send poo poo in the mail, Arthur.”
He laughed again. “You gotta send her the calla lilies.”
“How in the hell is that going to fix anything? She’s going to get one up on her mother and stick her nose straight up in the air.”
Arthur sighed and placed his hand on Edith’s wrist before looking her in the eyes.
“I knew your daddy and he died the way he lived: alone and sad. And I’ll be damned if that’s the way I see you go.” His eyes flicked to his martini and the pack of cigarettes on the table. “I’m doing my best to beat you there, though.”
Charlotte sighed. “I think you’re the only one who ever really loved me.”
“I’m the only one that puts up with your bullshit, Charlotte. Love and bullshit are two completely separate things.”
Her shoulders slumped as she sat down on the edge one of the planter beds. “Do you think I can see my grandbaby if I send her these flowers?”
Arthur shrugged, got out of his patio chair and sat down beside her.
“I don’t think just the calla lilies will do it. You got a lot of crow to eat and a lot of fences to mend. But it’s a first step.”
She dried her eyes and plucked a few of the seeds from the calla lilies next to her. “Let no one say I didn’t try. Now get some gloves on. If you’re going to drink my gin, you’re going to work in my garden. We got a lot of stuff to clear away.”
Arthur poured the rest of his martini out before joining Edith in the dirt, doing his best to help her rip out the weeds that wormed their way through the foundation.
|# ¿ Sep 13, 2020 22:23|
Toss me in the judge's box this week, coach.
|# ¿ Sep 14, 2020 14:01|
|# ¿ Sep 23, 2020 03:56|
Prompt: "Dead batteries, packets of soy sauce, and a Stillman holdout in the drawer." (page 283)
Every Christmas in my house started the same way. My father would come in to kiss me and my younger brother awake before going to work. And each year, we would whine at him, dreading the prospect of a full day home alone with each other. Christmas for us wasn’t a big deal; we celebrated Chanukah, anyway.
The year I turned 14, the entire family had somehow decided Chanukah was too much to deal with. Instead of eight nights, our family celebrated one lackluster night. I got some new clothes and a couple of cds. My aunt gave me a kiss and told me that was my present. Nothing like the enormous haul everyone imagines eight days of presents would be.
That Christmas, when my Dad came into my room to wake me up, I didn’t roll over and tell him goodbye. I sat in my blankets, breathing cold air and pretending to sleep. He came and tried to shake me awake and I refused to turn over.
“Don’t be like that,” he said.
“Come on,” he said, sitting on the bed. “Give your old man a hug. It’s going to be a long day.”
“Do you really have to go, Dad?” I said from inside my fortress.
“Jacob,” he said, “Nothing’s open. And we could always use the extra money. Besides, we’re not Christmas people.”
I muttered something about how we weren’t Chanukah people either. He laughed at me. I can still remember the way he laughed, one of those parent laughs, the kind that knows what actual worries and problems were like. For a thin, angular man, he had the laugh of a lumberjack.
“Tell you what. Show me what I’m missing and we’ll see about fixing it.”
“What do you mean?”
“You want a Christmas, make me a Christmas. I’ll be home at eight. Let’s see what you and your brother can do.”
“Where are we going to get presents?” I asked him.
“That’s your problem to figure out,” he said.
When I got up three hours later, I grabbed my eight year-old brother Carl. He was at that stage where I was more of his babysitter than his friend, but we still had fun together on rare occasions. When I told him what Dad had told me, he started bouncing with excitement. We had grown accustomed to a litany of Christmas specials even though we never really celebrated ourselves. We knew all the words to A Christmas Story by heart. But the question remained: how did we show our father what he was missing?
“We need presents,” my brother said.
“Where are we going to get them?”
He thought for a moment and ran to his closet before he handed me one of my old Ninja Turtle action figures.
“Last year, you gave me this and you already had it.”
“So sometimes good presents aren’t new,” he said.
“You want to give dad old presents?”
“It’s either that or we try to make him new presents.”
My brother had somehow cut himself with safety scissors earlier that year while making construction paper turkeys. Any construction on his part would have to be tape or glue, and even then, there was a good chance of him gluing his fingers together.
“Let’s give him things we already have. And don’t let me see yours. We’ll make it fun for us, too,” he said. Carl gave me a big jack-o-lantern smile and a thumbs up before he ran off.
I went right for the junk drawer we kept under the stove. All of the weird odds and ends seemed to wind up in that drawer. On the top were a couple dead batteries and a mountain of soy sauce packets. I grabbed them, leaving Dad’s secret bottle of Stillman nestled in the bottom of the drawer.
My brother had already run outside where he shoveled leaves into an old shoebox. I saw him through the window, giggling while he gathered them up. He stopped to ponder a dried-up dog turd and decided against it. He saw me watching through the window.
“Don’t look!” he yelled.
“If I get that dog turd, I’m gonna make you eat it!” I yelled through the glass.
We both scrambled around the house, grabbing everything that could make our dad laugh. My batteries and soy sauce packets became a chunky robot making an oil puddle. My brother’s box of leaves became a hunting diorama, complete with his construction paper turkeys. And while he had never wrapped presents before, his ugly, lumpy presents spoke to the love he put into them. They were more tape than paper. After we had wrapped everything worthwhile in the house, we watched reruns of the same Christmas movies we had seen the year before.
Our father came home to find us cuddled up on the couch, a pile of presents waiting for him. He had brought us Chinese food, even though he hated it.
When he opened each gift, he would light up and pretend to be grateful, no matter how bad the gift was. When he opened my brother’s square, squishy present to discover a bologna sandwich, he took a huge bite even though it had been sitting out for hours. He loved my robot and placed it above the fireplace, where it stayed for years. It didn’t even matter that the soy sauce had dripped out of the wrapping paper and onto his pants.
Every year going forward, we made it a point to celebrate Christmas. The only rule was, “No buying gifts.” And even though my brother and I sometimes missed the flight home for Chanukah, I could always count on receiving an ugly, lumpy package from him and my father for garbage Christmas.
|# ¿ Sep 28, 2020 03:34|
One cute animal, please.
<----- not this.
|# ¿ Sep 29, 2020 22:44|
Week 424 Critiques!
MockingQuantum - Fish Tales:
A couple things here. The fish thing comes out of nowhere halfway through.
There's no hint of supernatural element until the very end and the villain just comes out of nowhere
You've got all the elements of a good sandwich here, it just needs a little tweaking and a little flourish.
You've got this established relationship between the brothers.
What I would have done different:
1) Establish right off the bat that there's this fish that grants wishes. The tone is completely disparate from where you end up.
2) The villain is just kind of contrived. But you give me the brothers fighting? Hell yes.
It's just a dramatic scene shift into supernatural. I also don't think you need the first scene shift.[
Derp - Good Things in Tunnels -
I actually liked this one a lot. It's cute and uplifting and shows a lot in terms of character development. It's satisfying and actually one of my favorites.
The internal monogue in italics was a little strange considering the third person and I don't think it really gave much.
But it's a real story and I liked it. It works, it's cute and uplifting.
take the moon - white light/pink spiderweb
I had to reread this one a lot. What you've done with the words in the space you were given is incredible. Each sentence is pretty packed with
meaning and metaphor and you've got an amazing way with words.
The problem is that it doesn't go anywhere. The characters don't really change or grow or do anything different.
Sparks and I fought over this one because I like character driven stories. This one everyone twirls but remains in place. But it's a delight to watch it go.
Magic Cactus - #nofilter -
I get what you're going for in this piece. And it's technically proficient. There are no glaring technical errors. But you've got some issues with using the natives and with character here.
It's...well, yergh. Let's go with Yergh.
Gorka - An Uncommon Passenger
The other judges were a big fan but I got more of a tell, don't show vibe from it. Sentences like:
"You're fleeing from something and you're watching out for anyone following you, or at least that's what it looks like to me."
"He was definitely peculiar."
"fishing for a reaction."
On the other hand, you develop a really good sense of rapport between them. Towards the end, I liked watching Segeria and the Traveller interact. And I wanted more.[
Thranguy - The Last Passenger
I want to start out with what you do really well here - the setting. I want *more*. I want to know what's going on. We're definitely in the middle of poo poo and you don't explain it to us.
I get it. I start piecing together what's going on. I want to know why and you don't outright tell me and I'm curious about it.
The characters? Not nearly as interesting as the backdrop. Not much happens with them.
But the scene? Holy hell.
Antivehicular - Riding with the Ghost
Breathless. I would describe this as breathless. I figured it was an adderall sort of thing but the narration made me feel like everything was jammed together.
I got told a lot of things here and I think you could have dialed it down a peg and shown them to me instead. I got a real quick education on why things worked and how they worked but honestly I didn't get caught up in it.
Crabrock - Somewhere on the 70.
This one spoke to me because this is sort of how the way I see myself right. Relationally. You've got a great background to start, you've got natural dialogue and you've got a reason for them to be there. Right off the bat.
The rant felt a bit off for me. It wasn't natural-- I don't think people fight like that. But that was the only hiccup.
|# ¿ Sep 30, 2020 04:23|
Friends Are Where You Find Them
As soon as the bell rang, the other wrestler dove between James’s legs, picked him up like a sack of dogfood and tried to throw him straight through the floor. The thick wrestling mat absorbed most of the force of the blow; it didn’t do a drat thing for the other wrestler falling on him with all of his weight. The fall drove every last bit of air from James’s lungs, leaving him gasping and nauseous, a fish trying to flop on dry docks.
James found himself flat on his back, his legs curled up by his ears while an audience cheered. The referee dropped to his knees and unsuccessfully tried to run a flat hand between James’s shoulders and the mat. After a three count, the referee slammed his hand into the mat. Match over.
When they were separated, the other wrestler reached out a hand, which James slapped away with a sneer, eyes brimming and wet. On his way out, he threw his earguards into the bleachers before stomping into the locker room, disgusting the spectators.
“That boy should be ashamed of himself,” he heard one of the parents say.
In the locker room, James threw everything out of his locker onto the ground, squirrelled himself inside, and slammed the door shut on himself. His teammates, after finishing their own matches, trickled in and treated him like a baboon at the zoo. Some of them tapped the locker; his friends tried to talk with him through the door, and the bullies snickered at him, just loud enough for him to hear..
The wrestling coach tried to coax him out with gentle praise, like a cat from behind a washing machine.
“gently caress off!” he yelled between sobs. He refused to open the door for anyone, going so far as to hold the locking mechanism shut. At some point, James’s shame began to spiral in on itself, the social consequences of locking himself into a locker far worse than simply losing the match. Anger coalesced to dread and dread deepened to sorrow, sitting densely in the pit of his stomach, rattling with every sobbing hiccup.
Forty-five minutes later, the other wrestler volunteered himself to go into the locker room. Out of ideas and just wanting to go home, the coach waved him in.
“Hello?” he said.
“Go away!” James yelled. “You’re not supposed to be in here. This isn’t even your locker room.”
“Yeah,” the other boy said. “But I’m not the reason you’re locked up in there.”
“Just leave,” James said.
“You’re being a brat,” the other boy told him.
“Why don’t you just take your stupid trophy and go home?”
The other boy sighed and sat on one of the benches alongside the locker room, pulling his legs onto the bench before stretching them out.
“Because I think I’m the only one who understands why you’re in that locker,” he said.
“You won,” James said. “And you’re not the one everyone’s laughing at.”
“How many times have you lost a match? Like percentagewise.”
“About 25 percent?” Already, James was starting to breathe a little bit easier. The locker was still a safe place but it was no longer stifling.
“Do you know how many times I’ve lost?”
James snorted. “Not a whole lot if you can wrestle like that.”
“More than I can count. My two older brothers were wrestlers. Our dad was a wrestler. My older brothers used to wrestle me every single night until they went to college. Do you know how many times I won?”
“Not even once.”
“Ouch,” James said. “I can only imagine how that would make you feel.”
“Like I wanted to curl up and die. I would go hide under my bed. They’d find me anyway but I’d kick at them when they tried to drag me out.”
James gave a sharp bark of laughter and opened the door to the locker. He didn’t quite come out but he did stretch his legs, mirroring the other boy.
“Maybe you do get it,” he said.
“And you know what I wanted each and every minute I was under that bed?”
“For someone to know how I felt. It was the loneliest god damned place of my life.”
James sighed. “I get it. But how do I deal with everyone after this?"”
The other boy shrugged and extended his hand to James. “gently caress ‘em,” he said, with all the gravity his squeaky voice could muster.
James grinned and clasped his forearm, the kind of grip warriors used to make. “gently caress ‘em.”
|# ¿ Oct 5, 2020 03:14|
G-Mawwwwwww fucked around with this message at 21:01 on Oct 6, 2020
|# ¿ Oct 6, 2020 20:55|
Viva Le Revolucion! (In. Flash.)
|# ¿ Oct 6, 2020 21:52|
I hit my first failure last week. I am shamed.
I'm in this week.
Let's do the for hell rule.
|# ¿ Oct 13, 2020 13:48|
Case The House First
Janelle and her sister Carrie perched outside old Mrs. Mendelson’s window, peering into the old Craftsman home. The sun shone bright outside, meaning the old lady was definitely asleep.
Janelle leaned towards Carrie and whispered into her ear. “You know the plan. You rush the stairs. I’ll handle the basement. Stake her through her heart while she sleeps, regroup near the fireplace. Capische?” The entire time, Janelle was punctuating her speech with hand gestures, bright and weasel-eyed, fueled from anxiety and her cocaine courage-bump.
Carrie shook her head and rolled the stake around her palm. “There’s something wrong about this.”
“It’s not illegal when they’re not alive, dummy. Vampires aren’t people. They’re monsters shaped like people.” She punctuated her sentence with fangs made from her curled index fingers. “HHHHHHHHH,” she hissed.
“Mrs. Mendelson handed out cookies every Halloween. Remember those shortbread pumpkins?” Carrie said.
“She also ate Mittens. Remember finding her last week, slurping him dry? Making him more condom than cat? Flatty, rubbery kitty-catty kitty cat-cat-cat.”
Carrie breathed deep. Before this, missed homework and bad boys were the worst things she’d ever done, despite the peer pressure around her, including from her sister. Her experiences with the old lady made her heart and stomach weigh two thousand pounds.
“You sure it’s fine? She’s never eaten people. Nobody’s ever gone missing. Just pets.”
The entire neighborhood had whispered stories about the neighborhood vampire but never reported any firsthand experiences. Before Carrie caught her exsanguinating Mittens the cat, she thought they were just ugly rumor.
Janelle nodded. “Give her time before children start going missing. Waaah! Waah! Little Johnny was just playing around the culvert and SLURP, there Johnny goes. Now Johnny’s the deflated balloon. She's just gotta get hungry enough.”
“Now you’re being dramatic. The old lady’s lived here sixty years. Not one kid’s gone missing.”
“And think about the things that money can accomplish. Vampires are immortal,” Janelle said, moving towards the window. “Don’t you know how compound interest works? You’re alive for millennia and your money works for you. She’s loaded. And you know the bank doesn’t open after dark. It’s all there. It’s gotta be there.”
“You’re killing someone for their money. That’s burglary.”
“Not someone. Something. Videogame loot. Kill the boss, get the loot, show everyone what you did."
Carrie’s mind wandered around her money woes. The long hours working two entry-level jobs for minimal pay. Twenty-four and still living inside her mother’s cramped trailer. Seven other brothers and sisters. That quicksand feeling, never escaping the debt bog.
“Fine. But whatever’s there, Mom gets everything.”
“Maybe with some miniscule finder’s fees.” Janelle winked. “Last one inside huffs bat farts,” she said, pulling the window open and diving inside the residence.
“Christ,” Carrie said before clambering through the window.
Mrs. Mendelson’s house sarcophagized the 1970s. Orange shag carpet mired two inches deep across her living room floor; tchotchke legions decorated the walls, matryoshka dolls guarding valuable figurines. Dragon hoarded porcelain treasures, staring menacingly. One rabbit-
eared television faced two threadbare recliners.
Janelle had already darted down towards the basement, feet clambering staccato down the kitchen stairs. Carrie crept past the rooster-themed kitchen towards the home’s front. Dust caked the foyer’s sepia-toned family photographs. Little motes floated around her, visible without outside light. Aside from the living room, the house was windowless. She quietly heel-toed each step upwards, arriving within the wood-paneled hallway, untouched by natural light.
When Carrie stepped onto the landing, the old woman called from down the hallway. “Come here, Carrie. Otherwise you’ll just get chased. And the vampire always wins the footrace, dear.”
Carrie froze, then began making slow, backwards steps down the stairwell. When Carrie didn’t proceed down the hallway, Mrs. Mendelson stuck her face around the last hallway door. She looked half-bat now, her snout protruding with tightly-packed little needles. Huge, filmy ears stretched behind her head and her fingers were more like claws, nails digging divots into the frame.
“Weren’t you listening?” she said.
When Carrie turned towards the stairs, the Mendelson creature rushed her, slamming her into the wall. Little veneer flecks shot out from behind her, showing asbestos underneath.
“Little Carrie,” she whispered. “Who would have thought that cute, little, poor girl would break into houses? You were always the good one, you know. Not like Janelle. Maybe you’ve got into the same drugs your trampy sister Janelle has? Maybe you’re trash, just like your mother?”
Despite the claws around her throat, she summoned one enormous phlegmy oyster and spat onto the vampire’s face.
The vampire’s laugh sounded like jagged glass.
“It’s been incredibly long since I’ve been had actual, human blood. Everything tastes like corn syrup, now. Especially your cat. Such cheap food. Draining him was merciful,” she stuck her long pink tongue out, flicking Christie’s face.
Carrie grabbed the nearest claw and yanked backwards, the bone cracking. The bat hissed and dropped her, cradling her finger.
“Suck tits, you old bitch!” Carrie yelled before driving the stake from her pocket through the bat woman’s heart. The old woman collapsed into clumpy dust-piles, leaving behind some costume jewelry and her house dress.
Janelle bolted upstairs. “What happened?”
“She talked poo poo about our mom and got iced. Boosh! right into dust.” Christie giggled and shot her fingerguns right towards the dust pile, burning her survivor’s adrenaline.
Janelle laughed before growing somber. “Well, there’s some bad news, too.”
“What’s the bad news?”
“Found her safe downstairs. Wasn’t even locked.”
“Yeah?” Carrie said.
“You’re not gonna believe this poo poo,” she said.
“What was she hiding?”
Janelle pulled three items from her pockets: one solidified candy blob, some wallet-sized children’s photos and the old lady’s checkbook showing her account with $452.00.
“Some loving vampire hoard. Mostly bones and collars, the sick gently caress. Small wonder she lives here.” Janelle said.
“Next time we’ll kill rich ones,” Christie laughed, guilty tears flowing down her cheeks.
|# ¿ Oct 19, 2020 00:09|
The Sad State of A Fair by Crabrock
This is wrong.
This is so wrong, considering Crabrock told a story without any verbs.
My sense of justice is impinged because I know I couldn't come close to what he produced and my stupid cocaine ghost grandma story got the same rating.
I demand Justice. BRAWL CHALLENGE ISSUED.
ANY OTHER JUDGES THAT SHARE YORUICHI'S EXACT OPINION I'LL FIGHT YOU, TOO.
G-Mawwwwwww fucked around with this message at 00:17 on Oct 21, 2020
|# ¿ Oct 20, 2020 23:19|
Our team is the spoopiest, get your butt in here we're writing about vampires and/or ghosts
I wrote about vampires last week, get with the times, Grandma.
Also your candy is sugar-free and will give everyone diarrhea.
|# ¿ Oct 21, 2020 13:45|
Also I'm gonna help judge this week.
|# ¿ Oct 21, 2020 19:11|
One trick and one treat, please.
|# ¿ Oct 22, 2020 00:22|
i do not think you understand what that word means
Shhhhhhhh you keep this up more people are going to join Team
G-Mawwwwwww fucked around with this message at 03:10 on Oct 23, 2020
|# ¿ Oct 23, 2020 03:07|
gently caress it I'm in.
|# ¿ Oct 27, 2020 23:47|
HALLOWEEN BRAWL FOR THE HONOR OF CRABROCK
The Legend of Whisper House X, Whisper House Goes to Hell, the Final Whispering
Two days before Halloween, Roger stood in front of Whisper House’s rusty fence, staring at the headstone on the manor’s expansive grounds. When the eggs thudded into Roger’s back, he jolted against the fence, more from the shock of it than any real pain.
“You’re such a penis pump!” the assailant yelled from his bike, peddling away. All Roger saw was the back of his jacket but he knew who it was. Jacob Needham, the class golden boy.
With a groan, he wiped the sticky mess off the back of his black jean jacket.
“That guy is such a butt baby,” Erica said. “What’d you do to him anyway?”
Roger gestured at himself, running a splayed hand in front of his all-black clothing and waving at bangs. “Yeah, hi, class goth kid. All I have to do is show up and they’re going to hate me.”
“Maybe if you wore a splash of color? A little pink bandana maybe? Some rainbow leggings?”
“Really funny,” he said, wiping the rest of the egg off of his jacket. Luckily, none of the band appliques were too wet. It wasn’t any worse than when he tried to give himself the egg-white mohawk last year.
He turned back to the fence, pressing his face against the wrought iron bars. The old house looked like someone had tried to ransack the building for copper wiring. Big holes were punched in the outside walls. The headless gargoyles kept impotent vigil while busy spiders cobwebbed the eaves. In the dim October twilight, everyone hustled past the skeleton of the manor, subconsciously avoiding it before the dark fell.
“You know the story of the lady they buried on the grounds, right?” His gaze returned to the headstone, the top half poking out from a carpet of unraked leaves.
His sister nodded. “Yeah. I heard she tried to gently caress a ghost and died.”
“That’s how I want to go out,” Roger said.
“Trying to have sex with a ghost?”
“Stiff and covered in my own ectoplasm.”
She swatted him with the back of her hand, which wouldn’t have hurt except for all the rings. “I’m your sister, you nerd rear end. You’re not supposed to talk about that stuff with me. God, it’s so creepy and kind of cool that there’s a dead body…just kind of sitting there.”
“You’ve been to funerals,” he told her.
“Well, yeah. But that’s where bodies belong. This is like going over to your friend’s house and he has a dead dog buried in his backyard but it’s not really a backyard, it’s his grandfather.”
The grin spread across Roger’s face like an oil spill. “I think I know how to get little Jacob Needham back for all the poo poo he’s been giving me.”
Erica gasped and gave a “No!” that was only half-serious.
“Shovels at midnight,” he promised.
When they snuck out of their parents’ house that night, thefull moon watched them, bright and curious. Everything had gone to sleep, even the crickets. Roger threw some old carpet over the wrought-iron spikes atop the old fence and clambered over, landing with a thump.
“C’mon Dingus,” he stage whispered.
She clambered over the fence, landing with a thump, sprawling in the dirt. “drat it!” she yelled.
“Shhhhh. God, you yelled enough to wake the…” and then turned his head and smiled.
“You’re such a dad,” she shook her head. “C’mon. The sooner we get this done, the better,” she said, wiping the dirt off of her gloves.
With little effort, they found the headstone. Before they started, Erica took the time to read the headstone. “Here lies Florence, united with her true love.” The rest of the tombstone was too faded to read.
Their shovels bit into the dirt eagerly, parting the loosely-packed earth with surprisingly little effort. After a half hour of digging, the texture of the dirt changed, getting closer to the coffin.
“Are we really doing this?” Erica whispered. Even though no one was around to hear them, the silence seemed appropriate considering the sin.
“Think about the goth cred,” he whispered. “When you tell people you dug up a corpse to scare a guy, they’ll instantly high five you. God, just imagine your college roommate going all pale when you tell her.”
Erica blushed, even though no one could see it. “College is scarier than whatever we’re doing here.”
“Nah,” he said continuing to dig. “You’ll be fine. And I’d be leaving in another year anyway.”
With a loud chunk, the tip of Roger’s shovel hit the coffin.
“Go away!” yelled a muffled voice from under two inches of dirt.
The two teenagers stared at each other, mouths gaping. Erica started to turn to run before Roger grabbed her wrist. “No, no, no, no, no. What if someone’s trapped in there? We’ve got to get them out.”
“It’s a coffin!” she yelled. “There’s no way anyone’s alive in there!”
“That’s even cooler,” he whispered. “I’ll dig her out. Just don’t leave in case I need you,” he said.
Within another ten minutes, he had the coffin door completely free of dirt and debris, despite the protestations coming from within. “All I want is be left alone,” the voice said. Parched and raspy, the voice didn’t sound male or female; it just sounded dry and irritated.
“We’ve got other plans,” Roger said, reaching down to pull the front of the door of the coffin. To his surprise, he only got it open two inches before two parchment fingers grabbed the edge of the lid and forced it back down.
“We only want to have you scare someone,” he told him.
Erica stood off to the side, hyperventilating.
“Promise?” the voice inside said.
“That’s all,” he said.
A dusty sigh came out of the coffin, like a door closing in the fall air. With gentle motion, the door pushed upwards, revealing the inhabitant. Closer to a mummy than a skeleton, her skin was dried and faded to parchment, drawn tight over her bones, entirely too much botulism toxin or ten thousand face lifts. Her gums had receded from her teeth, leaving her with a permanent sneer. As she rose out of the coffin, her bones crackled like someone starting a glow stick.
“Do you have anything to eat,” she said, running a dry, papery tongue over her parched gums. “I’m so hungry.”
Erica and Roger stared at each other, the thought transmitting between them. “C’mon,” Roger said. “Let’s go get you a hotdog, we’ll scare Jacob and then it’s back to sleep.”
“So hungry,” Florence whined. “So hungry, so tired.”
As they started walking towards the gate, Florence scrambled up a tree like the gravity didn’t apply to her before plucking a squirrel from a nest and cramming into her mouth, tail slurping into her mouth like a lasagne noodle.
Erica grabbed Roger’s hand so tight that he thought his bones might crack. “What are we going to do with this thing,” she whispered between her teeth.
“We scare Jacob and get her to go back into the ground. She wants to be asleep, remember?”
“Why don’t we do that now?”
“Because I’m more scared about pissing her off,” he whispered back.
Jacob Needham’s house was a few short blocks walk from Whisper House. Over the years, the manor’s various owners had sold enough parcels and tracts of land that a neighborhood developed around the grounds. In ten minutes, they managed to reach Jacob’s house. Mainly made of stucco and glass, the house they arrived at looked almost exactly like the houses surrounding it.
Florence capered up onto the gable, her nails sinking deep into the plaster walls. “Such a fierce, strong house,” she whispered, running her hands over the roofing shingles. “So fresh, so new. So young. I wonder what he could do,” she said, before pausing to lick one of the gutters.
“What the actual gently caress,” Erica whispered.
Roger ignored her, instead yelling to the figure on the roof. “He’s probably in one of the upstairs rooms.”
One of the lights flickered on and Jacob Needham opened his bedroom window before sticking his head outside.
“gently caress off! It’s late!” he yelled.
Like a lizard, Florence crawled over to the window, legs splayed and holding her onto the side of the house. With a deft flip over the roof line, she went through Jacob’s window feet first and within seconds, Jacob started screaming, then abruptly stopped. After fifteen seconds,
Erica called up to her. “Florence? Is everything ok?”
Florence stuck her face out of the window, mouth covered in blood. “He was real scared and now he’s not anymore.” She waved to Erica with what appeared to be Jacob’s own arm, detached from his shoulder.
“Oh gently caress,” Erica whispered. Roger gagged and began vomiting in the bushes. With a grin, the Florence-thing licked the blood off its gums and ran back inside. At this point, lights flicked on in the house, the rest of the family waking up to the sound of Jacob’s screaming. Screams started pouring through the closed windows, loud enough to penetrate the glass.
After wiping his mouth, Roger started to back away from the residence before Erica pulled him towards the front door. “No, we started this. This is our fault,” she told him.
“This is way over our heads.”
“At least we know she’ll talk to us. Who knows what she’ll do if we don’t stop her.”
“Let the police stop her. This poo poo’s above our pay grade,” he said, trying to pull out of her grip.
Disgusted, Erica dropped his hand and ran to the front door, trying to open it. After finding it locked, she started trying windows, eventually finding an open one on the side of the house. When she slipped in, the living room looked like an abattoir; meat draped over the furniture, flayed from the bones that were piled in a corner. A discarded eye looked at her from a corner and Florence wheezed from the kitchen.
Lying spread eagle on the floor, Florence resembled a giant tick, her belly bloated and swelled from the feast. She looked at Erica and wheezed. “You don’t know how long it’s been,” she whispered. “So hungry, so tired.”
Spying a door into the basement, Erica beckoned to it. “Don’t you want to sleep?” she said.
“Sleep?” Florence said.
“Imagine it, dank and cool below grounds, in the belly of the nice house, dark and safe.”
“So warm,” she said. “So handsome.” The ghoul nodded and crawled to the basement, closing the door behind her. As soon as the door closed, Erica formed a barricade, dragging every piece of kitchen furniture and refrigerator in front of it, adding whatever weight she could.
“loving haunted! DO NOT OPEN!” she wrote on a piece of construction paper she taped to the refrigerator.
When she crawled out of the window, Roger was still waiting for her.
“What happened in there?”
“Left things the way we started. Locked her up and let her sleep. If anyone else wakes her up, it’s their problem. Neighborhood just has a new haunted house.”
Roger sighed. “I’m good on the goth thing for a while. I’ll be lucky if I ever sleep again.”
Erica laughed. “Yeah, after that, college isn’t so scary. Just get me the gently caress away from here,” she said.
G-Mawwwwwww fucked around with this message at 02:54 on Nov 1, 2020
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2020 02:51|
I have no clue how it got there and I changed nothing
WAIT I KNOW WHAT I CHANGED. I ADDED THAT IT WAS THE HALLOWEEN DUEL.
|# ¿ Nov 1, 2020 03:43|
“I started school,” I say.
“Stay a monk,” he says.
He’ll need your tongue.
My birth father visits me once a year on my birthday. Part of it is to make sure I’m still alive, part of it is out of what he thinks is love. “My little canary,” he calls me. Sometimes it’s “Plan B” as he ruffles my hair with one of his huge hands. "Rock crushers," he calls them. The biggest hands I’ve ever seen in my life—which honestly, isn't that much, considering only 30 only people live in the monastery. And all of them are monks. Male monks. The old men who trade with us don’t even bring their daughters with them. The only woman I get to see is my mother on her much less frequent visits.
On my eighteenth birthday, my father stays for a week, supposedly to assess what sort of man I am going to become. When dawn breaks on the second day of his visit, we sit in the main hall of the small temple. He leans back, resting against one of the pillars in the great hall because there are no chairs, just thin prayer mats. All of the monks scatter like cockroaches whenever he visits despite the fact that he’s the one who keeps them fed.
“I started school,” I say.
He laughs, one of those laughs that only came from men of enormous size. “What sort of school is there up here? It’s a bunch of old men staring into their belly buttons.”
“I’m studying nursing,” I tell him. Even though the old men are devoted to the spiritual pursuits, their bodies are slowly turning to dust, and the urge to help someone is overwhelming—to actually do something and not just ponder the universe.
Even after a thousand years, the monks are still arguing with each other over minor theological doctrine. The thought of dying and only being a spiritual footnote plagues me at night.
“Stay a monk,” he says.
“It’s impossible to gently caress up,” he says. “No consequences. No heartbreak. No one begging at your knees, please, please, please save my family.”
I know he feels me glaring at him. Every year I beg him to let me leave the monastery and he refuses. Instead of looking back, he flexes his great hands, making and unmaking his fists, gazing into the lines running across them like rivers.
“You know I used to be the canary, too?”
“No.” I cannot imagine the man stuck in a monastery. He radiates power; how much of it is him and how much is the crown, I can’t tell.
“Not here. Another place. I was the second son as well. My father used to call me spare parts.”
“When I was seventeen, the royal procession stopped by our monastery. My brother was touring the country, his first act as king. And he wanted to meet his brother.”
My father places his hands around an imaginary head and wrenches it to the side. “Crunch,” he says, laughing to himself. “They found him at the bottom of a stairwell. I told everyone he fell. At that point, they could believe me or find a new king.”
From the little the monks tell me about my father, his hands are dirty. He does not rule with love. On his infrequent visits, he teaches me that every king has to cut a few throats. But this is a new level, even for him.
“Don’t try the same thing,” he tells me. “I have plan C somewhere, too. What? You think I only had sex twice?” he says, puffing himself up.
I don’t take the bait. “So, what kind of man did my brother turn out to be?” I ask him.
My father runs his fingers through his beard for a moment before responding. “Like you, just different. Strong. Angry. He’ll need your tongue.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“And what does he do all day while I am cooped up here?”
“He learns how to be king.”
The next day, he cuts his visit short, claiming an urgent need to return to the capital. His regent has always been competent in his absence.
The next year, he doesn’t bother to show up. My brother does.
When Isaac enters the monastery, he pushes aside one of the monks waiting at the gates. His voice is weak and patchy, with a pronounced stutter. But even as he gets the words out, I’m staring at the circle of gold running around his head.
“Are you Janus?” he asks me, even though he already knows the answer. We could be twins.
I stand up from where I am kneeling in prayer before giving the king a deep bow. But the entire time, I’m boring a hole through him with my eyes.
“Let us g-g-go somewhere private.”
I gesture around me. As always, whenever royal business is at hand, the monks flee like rats, cloistering into their tiny cells.
“This will be fine,” I tell him.
He has my habit of glaring. While looking at me, he clenches his fist, just like the old man; the tendons on his neck stand out like cables. After fifteen seconds of silence and glares, he stammers, “J-Just loving do it already!”
I tilt my head. “Do what, exactly?”
“Why would I attack you?” I say.
“That’s all the old man ever talked about, my blood-th-thirsty brother, locked in the monastery. How wise and g-great and w-what a good king he would be, training with m-monks all day to kill me.”
I laugh, the sound shattering my half of the tension like sugar glass. “I wouldn’t know the first thing about being king. I’ve never even been outside of the monastery grounds. But I see he told you the story of him and his brother, huh?”
My brother nods, his rock-crusher fists starting to unclench. “God, the old man was such an rear end in a top hat, wasn’t he?” With a practiced motion, he sheathes the dagger back under his armpit.
“How long are you here?” I ask him.
“Just long enough to settle this,” he says. “I have little desire to be a monk.”
“I’ll make you a deal,” I tell him. “You can be king on one condition: when you go, take me with you.”
He sticks out his hand and I shake it. Each of us grip as tightly as we can but neither of us grimace.
I only hope I'll be as good a nurse as he is a king.
|# ¿ Nov 2, 2020 04:34|
2) Gimme whatever that Hermit's got in his sack.
|# ¿ Nov 2, 2020 17:35|
I'll be partaking of the beer, sir.
|# ¿ Nov 4, 2020 18:34|
|# ¿ Sep 28, 2023 18:55|
|# ¿ Nov 5, 2020 02:28|