Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Culling (The Lark Council)

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. Huddled together as one clan, as we had been on the outside, only now so many fewer.

I scratched absently at the stubble growing in on my head. My one vanity, my thick and shiny auburn hair, had been shaved off and thrown in the trash.

Along with Vera’s unborn baby; she had been deemed unfit to carry.  A dreamy odd thought had drifted through my mind as I watched them drop handful after handful of my locks into the can, that the baby girl lying in there would at least be surrounded by something warm and soft. She deserved at least that little courtesy, in a world so cruel some might think she was better off. Vera was inconsolable. I saw them take her, dragging her from the room.

The Lark Council had begun the culling within a few days of stomping down their gangway towards us, all wide eyed benevolence; they came bearing relief, they said, from the drought and the hunger that plagued our remote town. Our Elders had been so relieved at the thought of rescue that they hadn’t looked past the friendly words to see into the hard eyes that never changed. We saw through them, we saw and we whispered amongst ourselves. It happened so quickly though, we thought that we would have more time to speak our piece, to keep our own peace. Not so.

In their crisp and clean uniforms, the Council first culled out all of those who had been touched by the Roiling, and those who had nursed them. These unfortunates, with their scars that looked like melted wax dripped over and into their flesh, their sad and crazy eyes that spoke of untold pain, were corralled into our church. The doors were barred, guards were posted, and that was that. Those who resisted were shot without warning; those who protested were given one.

Next came the pregnant women, Vera shuffling in the middle of the herd, hands covering her swollen belly as she was jostled forward. I never heard what the Lark’s criteria were for choosing who was allowed to carry a child; there didn’t seem to be a connecting thread to the women who came back to us with gratitude and fear fighting for control of their face. They were named Inviolate. There would be no other procreation without permission. Any infractions would be cause for the execution of both parents and any existing children, immediately.

The worst part of all of this, the most insidiously terrifying thing, was that we had no idea why. We didn’t know what the Lark Council’s purpose was, we didn’t know what they wanted. Sometimes a seemingly random soldier would step forward with a proclamation, some rule or other we were expected to follow without hesitation upon penalty of death. They wouldn’t answer questions, they wouldn’t address anyone directly, and I saw Jaim take a loaded thruster stock to the temple for attempting to step in front of a grizzled man that was trying to leave the building.

As they locked us into the gymnasium night after night, a slow burn fired in my belly. It was obvious that there was no rescue or relief for us, but our town was falling into disrepair as well. The soldiers on the ground didn’t bother digging jacks and the smell was quickly becoming overpowering. They let their garbage fall where it would, bonfires that had been kept burning without fail for months were pissed on and kicked over.

If they weren’t taking care of the town it was because they weren’t planning on staying. They wouldn’t bother turning us into a matched and malleable set of players if they were going to leave us here to rot. This meant that they plan on leaving. They plan on taking us with them. Somehow I don’t think that we will have pride of place within this regime.

I fear that they mean to enslave.

******************************

the chosen winner of last weeks Master Class entries was the cringe inducing creepy tale Weightless (http://www.angelaamman.com/2013/01/the-master-class-3-weightless.html).  Angela chose Margret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ for this weeks prompt:  We slept in what had once been the gymnasium

i introduced the Lark Council in the very first Master Class, and visited it once after that, and now this one makes three.  it’s not a cohesive continuation yet, just snippets that pop into my head.  one day i’ll figure out how to link and tab and all that fun stuff so i can make it easy for anyone who wanted to maybe go back and read other stuff…one day…. 🙂Storch-Badge-Master

Categories: Fiction, The Lark Council | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

The Song of the Specter

the mandolin player

although my soul is no longer bound to this plane,

the musical strain

tethers me to earth

as i wander and seek my love amongst the bones,

the plucking of strings carries through

and guides me from home

the blood bloomed on my robes like a blossoming rose

slippered feet whispered as i ran,

and snatched my mandolin

and sidled through the door

my sight is not second but nor am i blind

all that i can see

is what i had to leave behind

so i play my haunting song sadly,

a lilting sound by your ear

i pray to the gods that i curse,

that either by chapter or verse,

you may hear

*******

SAM (http://frommywriteside.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/be-inspired/) threw people a little inspirational bone with the picture shown up top, asking us to write what it brought to us and link up with her blog in the comments.  For the first time in a really long time, I felt inspired to write a poem.  Hopefully, it’s a little better than what I churned out in high school 🙂

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Five Means Alive

Storch-Badge-MasterToday I’m five. I don’t wanna get out of my bed, though, ‘cause as soon as I swing my legs over the side the monsters under the bed can grab my feet. Can’t even let a toe peek out of the covers, ‘cause they can bite it.

The light fairies are sneaking in, sweeping the dark away from the corners, but the inbetweeners who live in the shadowy places are still there. I can hear them, ‘cause they laugh as soon as they know I’m awake. They know I know they’re there, and they don’t even care. They know Mom and Dad don’t listen to me when I try to tell them. Mom and Dad don’t believe there are little things that look like spiders but with people eyes that look red in the dark, even though I’ve seen them. I see them every night.

I don’t know what lives under my bed. I can’t look, even in the day time when I know it’s sleeping, ‘cause I’m too scared. I know it’s bigger than the little spider people, and I know it wants to eat me all up, feet first til nothing is left but my head, ‘cause it’s too big for it to swallow but it’ll keep it around anyway. Maybe it has a whole wall full of little girl heads with bloody bitten necks, like trophies, so it can remember every single one it got to eat up. I bet their moms and dads didn’t listen to them either.

Today I’m five and that means tomorrow they can’t come back anymore, so they want me to get out of bed, right now, so they can drag me under and no one will ever know what happened to me. I don’t want people to be sad I disappeared. They should’ve listened to me though, I’m not a baby, I know what I see when they turn the lights off.

Dad got tired the other night when he turned on my nightlight and I begged him to leave the door open and the hallway light on. “Don’t be a baby, Sally,” he said. That hurt my feelings so bad I didn’t even say good night, and he just walked away. They came out then, right away, as soon as he closed the door. They laughed. They whispered at me, “Baby baby baby baby”, until I threw my pillow at the corner and screamed at them to go away. Daddy came back and yelled at me, and I cried myself to sleep. I’m not a baby. Just because I don’t wanna get eaten up doesn’t mean I’m a baby.

The light fairies fight the shadowy people. They whisper to me sometimes too, when they come with their little sparkly brooms to sweep the dark away. Their whispers sound like bells, they tinkle and tickle my ears ‘cause they sit right on them when they whisper, they’re so tiny. They say that five means alive, that if I can be okay til five on the day I turn five I get to stay alive. The darkens can only take you when you’re little and five is too big. They can’t fight five year olds ‘cause they’re too chicken.

Right now my light up clock says it’s four-thirty, in the morning. No one else is up yet, but it doesn’t matter ‘cause they couldn’t help me anyway. One more half hour and I’m safe and sound and I can sleep in the summer time without a blanket ‘cause it won’t matter if my feet hang off the side of the bed. Even though I could do that, I don’t think I wanna. I don’t think I can sleep with my feet off the bed ever. What if there are just different monsters that come when you’re older? Just ‘cause these ones have to go away doesn’t mean others won’t come.

The light fairies are lining up on the windowsill now and their brooms aren’t sparkly, ‘cause they can’t sweep up the dark yet, it’s still too early. I know they want me to make it, which is nice, to have someone on your side.

I’m starting to get a little more scared ‘cause if the monsters are running out of time I think that’ll make them fight harder to get me. I’m gonna sit in a tiny little ball, the smallest tiniest little ball I can make, right in the middle of my bed. Those kids who cover their heads with the blankets are crazy because I don’t want bad guy teeth or claws or tentacles or anything to grab me by surprise. I think they would win, if they surprised me, ‘cause I wouldn’t be ready to fight or be smart, I’d just be screaming and crying and gone.

Four forty-seven. I keep sniffling ‘cause I feel like I’m gonna cry, but it’s not because I’m a baby. I think a grown up would cry too, if they knew something wanted to eat them, ‘cause it would be scary and sad, to not wake up and get to be five, or twenty-five. That would always be scary and sad, it doesn’t matter if you’re a kid. That wouldn’t make you a baby.

They’re starting to creep out of the shadows. I can see them, like stupid bugs on skitter legs, they’re smiling with their big teeth and their dumb scary red eyes aren’t blinking, ‘cause they don’t wanna lose me if I try to sneak away. Something is moving under my bed and it sounds like snakes, and I can’t help it if I scream a little.

The fairies are all standing up now, they’re holding their brooms like swords and they’re making noises. I think they’re trying to yell, trying to help me scare away the scary, but they’re so small it just sounds like mice when they squeak. It’s nice, though, that they’re trying. There’s an arm but it’s like a shadow, coming from under my bed, and it’s reaching up and trying to find me in the middle. One of the fairies jumps out of line, it flitters at the shadow, and it swings its broom right through it. There’s a growl and my bed shakes and the shadow poofs away into ribbons. The fairy’s already back in line and they all look alike, so I smile at all of them and whisper thank you. I don’t wanna give away where I am if the shadow thing comes back.

The clock says four fifty-nine. It feels like my whole room is holding its breath and I am too. There’s bubbles in the darkness, like when Dad didn’t let the paint dry on the bathroom wall all the way and Mom said the steam got into it when he took a shower. They keep popping and spilling more dark but even while it’s spreading, the light is growing brighter. The fairies brooms are sparking like fireworks and they start flying in circles around my head, and now I can laugh because the clock says five o’clock!

I throw off my blankets and jump out of bed. I jump as far away from it as I can ‘cause even though they’re gone I still don’t wanna be anywhere near the underneath part. “Today I’m five!”

*******************************************

Does anyone else remember how terrifying your bedroom in the dark could be when you were five, or is that just me?

The always engaging Eric Storch’s brainchild Master Class (http://sinistralscribblings.com/2013/01/15/room-master-class-2013-2/) was prompted this week by the first line from Room by Emma Donoghue, chosen by last weeks winner

Marian from Runaway Sentence (http://www.runawaysentence.com/2013/01/a-nest-is-nest.html) – she writes some really fantastic poetry, by the by…

Written to the soundtrack of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who sometimes sounds as if he is the scary thing hiding under your bed…

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

Fab Four Fables – Dying to See You, Part Duex

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Hazel conscientiously parallel parked her efficient little Jetta, with an almost perfect two feet of space in front and behind. She pulled down the visor to verify no lipstick had transferred to her teeth, gave her straight cut brown hair a little fluff with her fingertips. She could feel herself slipping into her new role, her new life, already. She was going to meet her true love for lunch, sweep in the door, prepared for that first electric moment when their eyes would meet across the room and rival the love that launched a thousand ships.

She turned the ringer off on her phone and slid it into its zippered pocket in her purse. Keys, compact, lipstick, wallet, breath mints, check. As she slid out of the car, her sweater snagged on the seat belt harness. “Damn it,” she cursed under her breath. “Not now.” She pulled at the snag, tugged on it until an entire thread came out and left a noticeable hole. “Shitshitshit…” As Hazel pulled her arms out of the sweater, no help for it now, she knocked her purse to the pavement. Though she would have sworn that she had already closed it all up it popped open, spilling nearly everything in it onto the street.

Her patience was wearing thin. She dropped the sweater onto the seat behind her, straightening the sleeves of her light brown cap sleeved shirt. As she bent over to gather her belongings, the heel of her left shoe turned, scraping it against the ground and leaving a scuff mark that looked to her a mile wide.

With a strangled oath she plunked herself back on the car seat to just breathe for a moment. “Some of the best things in life require struggles and sacrifice. This is just a minor setback, he’s not going to care that you have a scuff mark on your damn shoe, Hazel, but he will care if you are late. You don’t want him to think you stood him up, do you? Now get yourself together girl, and go get your destiny.”

Fortified, albeit a little wild eyed, Hazel stood and gathered her composure around her like a cloak as she hurried towards the entrance to the diner. A handsome man stood under the awning, smoking a cigarette directly under the No Smoking sign. Couldn’t be him, there was no way he would have a habit as common and smelly as smoking. The man eyed Hazel sideways as she scurried past him to reach for the door, stifling a laugh at the disheveled woman who probably didn’t know that she had some kind of stain on the knee of her pants.

As her fingers closed around the old timey wrought iron handle, a sudden gust of wind blew so strongly that the cherry of the man’s hand rolled cigarette blew right off the end and hit Hazel’s hand. It jumped away from the door handle and she spun around indignantly to tell the man just what she thought of his nasty habit, but he was gone. Startled, Hazel looked down the street but he was already half a block away. She shook off the moment and reached to open the door again, barely jumping out of the way as a couple too tipsy for early afternoon came barreling out of it. They giggled to each other and nodded a greeting to Hazel as they weaved away.

With grim determination Hazel gripped the side of the door before it could swing shut again and stepped into the diner. Marching forward, all thought of a gliding entrance forgotten, she stopped short at the hostess podium.

“May I help you?” asked the woman with lovely raven colored hair behind it.

Nonplussed, Hazel just stared for a moment. “Um…I have a lunch date. Today, at noon. I’m supposed to meet him here. At noon.”

The woman kept her eyes averted so Hazel wouldn’t catch the amusement in them. “Name?”

“Oh. Um. I’m not sure, I couldn’t read his letter.” She thought for a moment. “He’s dying to see me, though,” she added, with a winsome smile.

Now the hostess kept her eyes averted to hide the pity mixed in with the amusement. “I’m sure he is. Since you haven’t met him yet, I assume that you don’t know what he looks like?” Hazel shook her head, no. “Does he know what you look like?”

Hazel’s mounting panic was interrupted by a polite cough behind her, followed by a voice as mellow as aged scotch. “Excuse me, are you Hazel?” For a moment, Hazel watched the reaction on the raven haired woman’s beautiful face. Her eyes widened and warmed with surprise and appreciation, her lips parted as she let out a soft breath. Oh my.

Hazel turned into the hand that cupped her elbow gently, and her gaze travelled up to the face of the man who stood less than a foot behind her. He was dark where she had expected light, but her fantasy did an immediate re-write to include deep eyes that glittered like obsidian chips under straight strong brows, full dark pink lips currently curved into a hesitant smile over a cleft chin, and thick almost black hair that fell rakishly to his shoulders.

“Yes, yes, I’m Hazel. You must be…”she faltered as she realized she had no name for him. As his smile widened, for just a moment, something flickered in those shining eyes, something that felt cold, sepulchral and cold. A trick of the light, she admonished her racing heart. Her mind tried to quietly point out all the strange happenings that seemed almost contrived to keep her out of this diner. There are warning bells clanging somewhere in here, her mind said, if you would just stop and listen for a moment.

“You’re everything that I thought you would be Hazel,” he claimed. Taking her hand in both of his, his bent to touch his lips lightly to her knuckles. “I’ve been dying to meet you.”

**********

The Fab Four Fable was started as a colloboration between some of the original members of Sinistral Scribbling’s Master Class writing meme. SAM from My Write Side wrote the first part of this go round and tagged me to write the second. For the third part, I’m tagging David Wiley at Scholarly Scribe, which will leave Eric at Sinistral Scribblings to finish it off. Really? It’s so much fun….

The rules for the Fab Four Fables are as follows:

THE RULES:

1. No one will be privy to the story until it is posted.

2.The next person won’t know who they are until they are tagged, when the post goes live.

3. The person publishing the most recent part must adhere to the following:

  • choose the next person to write the story
  • keep the title and stay within the genre provided
  • provide an image of their choice at the top of their post that relates to their piece
  • the story must continue as a whole and not combined with any other prompt or meme

4. There is no word count or time limit.

David, it’s all on you kid 🙂

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Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

The Third Go Round – Master Class

Storch-Badge-Masteri write this sitting in the kitchen sink.  mother thinks it’s just aDORable the way my ‘ickle chubby legs’ splash about.  very condescending, i must say.  for as much attention as she pays to me, i admit i find it surprising that she has left me in here unattended.  it is nice to have these moments to myself.  this is my third go round on Earth, and someone made a whopper of a mistake this time around, as i have retained both my memories and my motor skills.  i am sure that this was unintended and presents me with an interesting conundrum, behaving as a baby should behave in a tiny uncoordinated body.  i can hear that confounded woman clattering her way back here now.

**********

nap time.  mother is convinced that she has birthed the perfect baby.  i don’t take sick and i rarely cry, unless i’m hungry or i need my diaper changed.  i am not particularly amused by these necessities.  if i was just a little bit taller i could pull myself up on to the toilet and not have to shit myself in these little cloth scraps she insists on calling nappies.  i cannot count how many times i catch myself beginning to speak in complete sentences, even though my under-developed vocal cords would probably garble the sounds into incomprehension.  mostly i stop myself from saying things like ‘how about we put that jar of disgusting sweet potato mash back on the shelf and get me some more of those damn bananas’.  i am starting to get a little sleepy.  perhaps a nap would not be out of the question.

**********

so far i am six months into this iteration of self.  the last time i was sent back as a cat, so i suppose that means my character grew enough that i am being given another shot at improving upon my humanity.  where is that woman with my sweet potatos?!  i may have to give this crying thing more credit.  oh.  apparently i also need my nappy changed.  how did i not notice that?  mommy?

**********

i fear that someone has noticed their mistake and is taking steps to rectify it.  my thoughts are easily distracted by the colorful animals that dance in a circle over my head and my letters are getting clumsier even as i write this.  this infernal pacifier she keeps shoving in my mouth is so oddly comforting i find myself drifting off in the most unlikely places.  i hope we can take doggy for a walk today.  i like doggy.  i’m hungry.  i’m wet.

**********

i want my mommy.  want blankie.  hungry.

**********

The Master Class Spring Semester is in full swing.  Eric at Sinistral Scribblings.com has once again taken up his post as Headmaster of a bunch of unruly bloggers, to let us have at the first line of a published work with our own spin.  Newcomer to Master Class Kir (from www.thekircorner.com) was given the honor of choosing the first line this round and went with Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”.

All I could see when I read that was a baby being given a bath, and from there I just had to make sure that my voice didn’t sound too much like Stewie Griffin 🙂

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 17 Comments

Fab Four Fables: The Frozen Threshold

What now? There are always choices. So what are mine?

My breath returns to normal and I wander the room, touching things at random. The myriad scrapes and scratches accumulated in my headlong rush sting with my sweat.

As amber light glows against warm wood, I studiously avoid glancing towards the windows. In every one, her face reflected. Eyes, so blue, piercing me with silent condemnation. I didn’t mean to do it.

I dash an exhausted and angry tear from my cheek. Go back through the door, to the patio, to the haunted and haunting forest.

The mist has collected around the underside of my little tree house. Tendrils creep upwards, questing, fall back unsatisfied. It seems as if it is thwarted. For the moment. I am unsettled, but I am safe. Are these my choices, then? To be safe or to be free?

I didn’t mean to do it.

“I didn’t mean to do it!” It explodes in a ragged and jagged scream from my throat but doesn’t split the silence of the air. It’s muffled around the edges, blurred, doesn’t make a ruffle. A sound that isn’t a sound, in a place that offers succor and taunt in equal measure. Here you can be safe, it says, but never ever free.

Never free. Have I been free since my past was my present? Suddenly I feel as if this mist has been chasing me for longer than I care to think about, that its tattered lace limbs have been looking for a way in. Poking along, searching for a chink, waiting for its moment.

What had I done, what weakness had I betrayed within myself that allowed an opening? I didn’t mean to do it.

The mist begins to whisper to me, to offer answers to my questions, and I scurry back towards the door, scrambling and stumbling in my haste. I do not want these answers.

Back inside. The quality of light hasn’t changed, time isn’t passing. Time is awaiting my choice.

Wandering, fingers running over rough surfaces, unfinished shelving that lay empty nailed to the unpainted wall. Is it waiting for me? As the thought surfaces, a clock appears on the shelf. It is my clock, a glass and metal doodad picked up because it looked interesting, not ticking. Sitting on the shelf. My shelf, now.

Stop avoiding the issues. I didn’t mean to do it. But I did. I did do it.

My aimless journey has brought me to a back door that I would swear was not there a minute before. The top of the door is made of bubbled thick glass panes, distorting. I open it without thought.

A different forest. Snow crusted, gorgeous, crystalline and pristine in the light that isn’t really light, a luminescence. Cold, icy cold, instantly freezing my breath in my lungs. A path. A set of footprints breaking the crust wavers in and out of existence. A path available but not yet chosen. I shut the door again.

Choices.

I want to lay this mantle down, sleep. I want to forget. I raise my weary head and lock eyes with her reflection. “I didn’t mean to do it.”

Her face changes, elongates, turns angry and confused, lips part and form watery looking shapes, yelling out. This, this is not she; this is a revenant of the she. There is only one way out. I have made my choice. I cannot live if I am not free.

I step towards the back door, one foot in front of the other. The windows rattle in their panes, angry and insistent. The susurrations of the mist begin afresh, assault me as I twist the knob once again. Step out onto the ledge. Another hemp rope hangs over the edge.

“I didn’t mean to do it. I’m sorry.” Hand over hand, fingers numbed, I slide painfully down the last few feet and fall into the snow. Staggering now, I try to send my feet to the path that I had seen, but the freezing cold has already made me clumsy.

The mist cannot touch me on this path, but it can touch the snow. It seeps under it, animates it, breathes life into otherworldly creatures. Snow snakes coil in my front of me, lash out and send me bumbling around them. I do not stop.

Snow wraiths, shrieking and shaking, chase me until I run, cannot help but be terrified, falling face first into the crust of ice. Cannot help but cower. Snow cats, no species I know, prowling and rawring in a circle around me. I swear that I can feel their breath on the nape of my neck.

I want to weep. “I cannot deserve this! It was not my fault!” The puff of air from these last words fades and with little poofs so do the snow creatures. A light to my left, down the path that I had tried to stay on, pulses gently brighter, bluer. It floats towards me.

The insistent cold lets up, enough for me to force frozen hands into the snow and push myself to my knees. It is she, she in the floating light, the light that is the same blue as her eyes. Her face is not terrified, or angry; she smiles. She smiles at me. She knows that it was not my fault. She knows that I didn’t mean to.

A hand, made of marble, made of hardened wax, slips into mine and tugs me to my feet. She has forgiven. The snow melts before her, reveals a barren sleeping ground beneath. A boulder splits open into a yawning maw and she leads me forward, stepping into a place where time waits on no man’s choice.

At the threshold, the light turns, she turns, looks to me. “Make your choice.”

I meant to do it.

************************************************************************************

The Fab Four Fables has begun. The four bloggers from Master Class have taken turns writing a piece of this story, without knowing what was coming until the previous writer had posted their bit, and these silly people trusted me to handle the ending 🙂 I can only hope that I have done them proud and that they feel that I have done justice to the excellent lead in I was given by them all. Go read them. A bunch of their stuff. Cos they’re awesome.

In order:

Part one: In the Way of Dreams by Eric, at Sinistral Scribblings (http://sinistralscribblings.com/2012/12/12/in-the-way-of-dreams/)

 

Part two: Sinister Shadows by SAM, at My Write Side (http://frommywriteside.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/fab-four-fables-sinister-shadows/)

Part three: Embracing the Darkness by David, at Scholarly Scribe (http://scholarlyscribe.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/fab-four-fables-embracing-the-darkness/)

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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