Posts Tagged With: short fiction

Granny’s Graveyard Stew

The old woman heard the mutters and the lightly placed footsteps creeping up the gravel path; her gnarled knuckles tightened around the ladle as she continued to stir her pot, switching to widdershins while thin lips twisted into a sardonic smile. Always they came, and always they left, running with their screams trailing behind them, the speed of sound not able to keep up with the speed of terrified feet. She never could figure why, what with how smart they certainly seemed to think they were, that they never figured out that there was no way to quietly sneak down a gravel road, and that it was well nigh impossible to sneak up on a witch.

She blinked a few times and a glamour settled over the former rectory like a set dressing. Fat black candles became slim, white tapers, dark grimoires became cookbooks, and the broom that leaned against the back wall became, well, it stayed a broom, but it stopped vibrating as it normally did while waiting to be ridden at midnight. As the dingy rune covered window-shades morphed into filmy pink curtains covered with pictures of kittens, the front door was shoved open hard enough to hit the opposite wall with a bang so loud it even surprised the man who had done the shoving.

“Conjurer!” he screamed, pointing a finger so accusatory she felt it like a poke in the back from across the room and had to fight to keep the smile on her face as she turned to face this latest mob. A motley crew it was, too, she thought to herself as she got a good look. Either the village was inbreeding all courage and manliness from its population, or there just weren’t many left who hadn’t already visited her. They never did return for seconds.

The four men behind him bumbled and stumbled into his back when he froze, just inside the doorway, gaping in slack-jawed disbelief at the homey, and pink, décor. This went against all that he had learned of witches and enchantresses at his Mam’s knee. While the woman herself fit his imagination with her warts and craggy brown teeth (in reality, she was quite a lovely older woman, with gently waving grey hair and only fine lines bracketing the corners of her eyes; the illusion was just an extra bit of good fun for her), her surroundings were disconcertingly saccharine.

“Gentlemen,” she called out gaily. “You’ve arrived just in time for lunch! Oh, I’m so happy to have you here. I’m afraid that having lunch with the same people all the time rather deadens the conversational possibilities! You five look like a fine, lively bunch!” She gestured with her ladle, waving them in and towards the table, grinning inwardly at her clever wordplay. “I’ve got a wonderful pot of stew here I’ve just finished stirring, I insist you sit at once and have a bowl. The rest of my guests should be here any moment, but we needn’t wait on them. Sit, sit!”

Raised to be polite and say things like yes ma’am, thank you ma’am, the men were awkwardly shuffling forward and towards the table before they’d really begun to process whether or not this was a great idea and how had they gone from decrying a Satanist to eating stew with her in a scant few seconds. Before the fifth man’s ass had even hit his chair, the old woman was swooping in with almost over-filled wooden bowls of fragrant stew to place in front of them, chattering all the while, distracting them from the parade of zombies making their way down the gently sloping hill towards the always open back door.

“Rrrnnnggghhhh,” said the first one in. She’d long since stopped trying to do exact translations of their grunts and groans, but guessed closely enough that he was saying something along the lines of, mmmm that smells good. Or maybe it was who the hell is in my chair, how in the hell was she supposed to know? The other zombies bounced gently off of his back in a slow motion parody of what the accusers had done upon their entrance. Eventually they broke around him in a wave of rotting flesh and ambled towards the table.

She turned back towards the villagers with a fierce and pointed smile. “Granny’s Graveyard Stew, m’boys. Smells good enough to wake the dead.”

*****

FINALLY! I got something written in time to meet the Deadline, and this time I’ll remember the cutoff for the voting! Goodness me, but life can make zombies out of all of us upon occasion….

The above picture (which is really, really cool by the way) and the (noun) word stew were our prompts for this week’s Grammar Ghoul Press Mutant 750 Challenge. Go here and read awesome stuff 🙂 http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-18/

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Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Daughters

Cloaks slid off with a synchronicity of movement that bespoke a ritual oft practiced. Skyclad, bowls of flame at their feet, curvy and slim, tall and short, light and dark, the Daughters raise their hands to the sky.

The First tips her head, parting lips and opening her throat to sing out a high, clear note, held longer than should humanly be possible. The others follow suit to the last, a girl, whose voice creaks out like a rusty saw until she gathers her courage around her like the cloak she has just shed and forces the note to smoothness.

The offering bowls are gathered and carried with ceremony, placed around the feet of the girl; those who would become her sisters step back. She stifles a tide of hysteria, and not just a little terror, at the power she feels growing with each careful and studied placement. She sways on her feet as the song changes, tone and tempo evolving, pulsing, layering questing tendrils, crackling live wires of noise borne only upon their own strength.

In the midst of this growing maelstrom, only the First remains static. Her wide eyes drink in the moonlight and reflect it back from pools of black onyx, gaze fixed on the one this night is dedicated to, the last Daughter. Without lowering her lancet stare, she bends and places her hands, one each, on the two blades that lay in the grass at her feet. One offers acceptance and does not allow violence, but the other offers itself only in the cause of sacrifice. Of their own accord her limbs begin to move as the song worms into muscle to straighten her, crawls in her ears to bring the chosen knife behind her, and electrifies her skin to clasp her hands behind her and begin the walk of the sacred path to the Initiate.

From the blackness comes a drum, thumping, through the soles of her feet, echoing her heart’s steady beat. Crossing the center point of the circle, quiet descends like a blanket gently laid over a sleeping child and, swirling their arms in sinuous, circular motions, her Daughters fall in behind her, a sphere of flesh that dances yet, to the memory of music.

She stops inches from the girls face, brings up the blade she holds so that it hovers at the exact point between the Initiates eyes. The distinctive, scythe-like shape comes into focus, and the handle to tremble in time with the girls knees.

“Wicked,” whispers the First. “This blade names you. You have been found wanting of the purity that this family requires.” An inadvertent gasp escapes from her Daughters. She could not warn them that she had dreamed this outcome, and for that she was truly sorry. They had come with joy in their hearts, to welcome a sister, with love. Now, as their Mother demanded, they were required to offer her instead, with condemnation. Judgment is law, no appeals to be made.

Her arms were grasped, pulled behind her back, pushing her chest forward. They gather her hair in their hands and hold her, a wall of implacable limbs that does not seek to hurt but offers no succor.

The blade’s point pierces just below the collarbone, and as the First begins to drag it downwards, her Daughters chant. “Wicked. Wicked. Wicked.”

Blood wells, expertly carving a half moon around the areola, completing the symbol of the bolline, upside-down, as befits a Betrayer. The First cut as shallowly as she dared, and the blood that seeped out was thin. She does not desire to harm. The Daughters release the Initiate and the girl is held rooted in place by a power not of herself.

The fires at her feet began to dim, and as they go out, one after another, the flames begin to simmer behind her eyes. A whimper escapes her lips, and with it, fire dances. She is engulfed, from the inside out, tongues of fire darting from her nostrils, licking out from her ears, bursting her eyes from her skull with a sickening, melting pop.

And then she was no more. All that remains is a single, blackened blade of grass that is plucked to be tucked away.

The First turns, gathers them into a sphere of comforting arms. No tears, they are not permitted for one that has been denied, and so they must hide their desire to shed them.

“Remember, Daughters. It does not pay, to be wicked.”

***

Editing this story down to 750 words was truly a feat for me, slicing and dicing away, much like the First. This is my submission for Challenge #5 over at Grammar Ghoul Press – our word prompt was wicked, which I decided to make a lot of use of, and our visual prompt this week was the gloriously bizarre video for Spectrum, by Florence + the Machine. As her voice is one of my favorites to listen to when I’m writing, that added an element of fun for me.

Check out the Grammar Ghouls here: (DO IT): http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-5-open/

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Rowan’s Journal (Part 9)

He waited for an hour; Rolly tried not to be the kind of listener who just waited for their turn to speak, but the longer Rowan had gone on, the more the incredulity had loosened his tongue, til it was flapping about his mouth like a trout out of water and he could barely keep silent.

When Rowan stopped to take a couple deep breaths, Rolly shot his hand up in the air, quick as a pouncing cat. “Wait wait wait,” he said. “Before you go on, and I really want you to and I’m really sorry for interrupting you, but I have to ask you a question.” He took his own couple of deep breaths and glanced at Mara, who was looking at him with bemused encouragement, reaching her hand out to fold over his. “Did you keep a journal? I mean, like, a journal about all this stuff that was happening to you? Did you have your own Dreamer’s Chronicle!” The last question bulleted out like an accusation and Mara’s comforting hand squeezed his tightly in reproof.

Rufus beamed, his tutored pupil got the right answer on a pop quiz, and Rowan frowned at Rolly like an over-taxed older sister. “Jesus, what the hell are you yelling at me for? Yes, I did, in fact, keep a journal about the Nightscape. I was a regular old Martha fucking Stewart about it. If everyone already thought I was crazy, I can’t imagine what they would have thought if they had seen my construction paper nightmare collages.” She snickered at the thought, finding the discomfiture of others highly amusing as a general rule. “It was sort of like I had to. I couldn’t very well walk around with my nightmares running around my brain all day. The weird thing, well, like the eighth weird thing, was that after I would paste the freaky little bastards into my book, I never saw them again in my dreams. I mean, there were still, like, a gazillion monsters every time I had nightmares, but the ones I put in my journal never came back.”

She shrugged, her favorite default gesture. “I’d show it to you and we could all have a giggle down memory lane, but I lost it.” She thought for a moment, worrying her lower lip with her teeth. “Actually, I didn’t lose it, the damn thing disappeared one night.” Her shrug this time resembled more of a shudder. “It was really bad that night. It was, like, a monster council meeting or something. Some of scariest shit I’d ever seen. I’d never seen them look even remotely organized before, and here they were, standing around in a circle, talking to each other. They sure as hell weren’t speaking English, so I couldn’t understand their actual words, but somehow I knew it was about me. They’d noticed me, no matter how much I’d tried to stay hidden, and my nightmares were meeting to discuss me.” Her hollow eyes were aimed at Rolly. “You can understand why this was way more frightening than watching them rip each other to bloody pieces.”

He nodded mutely. Yes, he most certainly could understand that, very well.

“So I bit my tongue and pinched myself and dug my fingernails into my palms until I woke up. I was sweating something fierce, shaking all over, but I was determined to get out of bed and get as many of these dirty bastards pasted into my journal as I could, and hope I could make at least some of them disappear. Disband their council, and they can’t very well plan a war, right? It wasn’t there, though. My journal. I always kept it under my pillow, and it was just…gone. I don’t think I’d ever felt such disappointment as I did at that moment, my groping hand finding nothing but cool sheets. I gave up, I gave up and I gave in, and I cried until I sobbed and sobbed until I choked and choked until I threw up. My only weapon against my nightmares was gone.”

Rowan trailed off and sat back. Mara blinked back the tears pricking her own eyes, seeing the lost child with no hope left to cling to, shaking alone on her bedroom floor.

Rufus made an incongruous throat-clearing sound, and while it didn’t seem like much, Rowan zeroed in with a laser stare. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, Rufus. Did you take my damn journal?”

* * *
I think that this works, at least in part, as a stand-alone bit of a story, however – The Nightscape is the place where our demons and nightmares live. Rowan and Rufus are a part of it, on the outskirts, as no longer quite human. Rolly and Mara are a human couple that were pulled into it with no explanation, thusfar…

The Speakeasy is back in business after their summer hiatus, and I found that I very much wanted to get back in on the fun. This week we had a sentence prompt to use as our first line “He waited for an hour” and a photo reference: school-supplies-300x187

Click the badge and check out the other writers, or become one of the other writers yourself 🙂

Categories: Fiction, The Dreamer's Chronicle | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Shenanigans

grain by atom by sub-atomic particle,
a slow flood became an avalanche once spotted;
wormed an unconscious declaration, didn’t you,
as love overcame annoyance, at your feet,
on my side of the bed

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

This, Week 113 at the esteemed http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com, we found ourselves asked for 33 words exactly that included the word
Worm, using it’s third definition: 3 : to obtain or extract by artful or insidious questioning or by pleading, asking, or persuading —usually used with out of

So, here’s 33 words about when I realized that I really was gone daddy gone over my guy 🙂

Trifecta

Categories: Non-Fiction Nonsense, Poetry | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

The Shadow Knights

Hero was judged Champion and set forth across the Shadow Bridge, to dance through light like a ghost and slay the monsters infecting the realm. Under The Bed was safe once more.

Trifecta

Um, 33 word fairy tales are not easy to write. Who knew?? Link up and read, these short challenges bring the best out of a lot of writers 🙂 http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com

20130823-175532.jpg

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 20 Comments

The Dead Can Dream

this is an installment in Mort’s Graveyard Tours. If, perchance, you find it entertaining, feel free to check out the others- just click on the link for ’em over to your left…

Sneed rocked down onto his haunches amidst the roots of Mort’s tree. He quietly watched twilight paint bleeding colors onto the scrim of the horizon; plum blended into smoky grey and patchy pearly leavings of light. He fingered the brim of his hat. “Now, it’s not that we need sleep as such. There’s some as prefer a lie down of an evening anyway.”

Mort was standing at his graveside, studying the pretty calligraphy that spelled out Mortimer Ramsey. He felt thin; the required concentration for holding his particles together in this form was waning.

“Do we dream?” he asked quietly. “Do the dead dream, Sneed?” He found that he felt rather anxious about the answer either way.

Sneed reached up a hand and scratched at the bashed in ruin of his face, fingers mixing right in with the foggy apparition of his skull. “Yeah, sure, sometimes. Ah, it usually takes a while though. You have to, ah, be sort of relaxed into the finality of the whole thing, ya know?” Sneed’s smile was both ghastly and oddly reassuring. “I don’t think you’ll drop deep enough just yet.”

Mort crossed one foot in front of the other and sank onto the freshly turned earth mounded over his grave. He skimmed his palms across the grass to either side, imagined that he felt the tickle and bend of individual blades against skin that no longer breathed. He looked up. “I feel like I’m trying to have a séance with myself.” His grin was real, but tired. “It feels like it’s all a dream now anyway. But I’d rather rest without them tonight, I think.”

Sneed’s where-his-heart-would-be twinged as the grin faded from Mort’s face. “Then you will,” he said. He clapped his hands together, a disconcerting sight without the expected accompaniment of sound, and his tone slid from jovial to gentle. “Just rest up now, boy. It’s sorry I am to have met you here and now, but I’m glad of it all the same.” The bowlegged man bandied his way over to his carriage and climbed in. With a noise that sounded half chuckle and half cluck he sent his horse trotting away, around a bend and gone, leaving Mort alone.

Leaving Mort, he thought, mortally alone. He sighed. He was well and truly as alone as it was ever likely possible to be. A phantom burning rose where his tear ducts used to be, and he pushed phantom fingers into his phantom face to make it stop. It was like a cousin to grief, once removed – he felt that he was sad, but he didn’t feel sad. He decided to lay his head down and curl up under his tree, holding tight to Sneed’s memory and hope for tomorrow. A leaf fell, slowly drifting down and through his cheek to the ground beneath, a good night kiss. Comforted, he slept.

*****

The dream wasn’t so much a dream as a memory. A gift straight from Father Time, who remembered past present and future like they had already happened somewhere within infinity. A present of the past, if you’d like a bit of cleverness.

Mort sat at his dining room table, in his customary chair, across from his mother and to his father’s right. “He’s called you his right hand man since the day you were born, you know,” Patty Ramsey used to say to Mort, brushing his hair behind his ears before kissing his cheeks good night.

Dream Mort’s feet dangled above the hardwood floor, and he guessed that he was about six. “Dad,” he said. “Hi!”

His dad laughed. “Hi yourself, weirdo. How was soccer practice today?” He steepled his fingers under his chin and opened his eyes wide to stare at his son. The fingers waggled. “Was MA-deline there?” he asked with exaggerated interest.

Mort’s grin widened. “Yup,” he confirmed. “She ran down the field faster than anyone, and then when she got the ball guess what she did? Guess, Dad!” Without waiting for an answer he rushed on. “She passed it to ME and I got to score the goal!”

“Well, no kidding? So when’s the wedding?”

Mort threw a pea at him. “That’s not funny,” he said seriously, and then burst into an embarrassed fit of giggles. “Shut up.”

Throughout the encounter, Milly sat, quietly eating and smiling, listening and watching. These were some of her favorite moments; the byplay between her two strange and wonderful guys, good food at a comfortable table. Flying peas. At times like this she was more than happy to remain an observer, grateful to have been given admittance to this club that was her family. She kissed Mort on the top of the head as she walked behind him into the kitchen to refill her water glass.

*****

The ghost of Mortimer Ramsey opened his eyes.

Categories: Fiction, Mort's Graveyard Tales | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Party Crasher

Trifecta

 

 

 

 

 

 

His cocky attitude sauntered away and hid from the assault of her incredulity.

“So just because little Miss Crazy Pants McGee thinks you’re cute your dick throws your common sense out the window?”

Ah…shit.  If she already knows she’s right do I still have to answer her, he wondered.

She drilled a finger into his chest.  “This stupid ‘club’ was your idea, and the whole safety in secrecy thing doesn’t work if you DON’T.  KEEP IT.  SECRET!”  Her voice rose with every syllable until she was shouting at the top of her considerable lungs.

His ego tried to get its footing back and was squeaking out witty responses in the back of his head; thankfully common sense skulked back in through the window to muffle them.

She let loose something disconcertingly close to a growl and started to turn away.  She stopped, mid-pivot, and arched a brow at something over his shoulder. “You idiot.  I believe that you may be the first Van Helsing to ever actually invite the vampire that crashed the party.”

Ah….shit.  The night erupted into screams.

 

****

a little story for this weeks Trifecta challenge that made me laugh to write 🙂

CLUB 1a : a heavy usually tapering staff especially of wood wielded as a weapon  b : a stick or bat used to hit a ball in any of various games  c : something resembling a club 2a : a playing card marked with a stylized figure of a black clover   b : plural but sing or plural in constr : the suit comprising cards marked with clubs 3a : an association of persons for some common object usually jointly supported and meeting periodically; also : a group identified by some common characteristic <nations in the nuclear club>  

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 21 Comments

No Photographs, Please

“No, don’t take my picture!’  She batted his phone away, giggling but serious.  “I’m like Dorian Gray.”

 

He stopped trying to hold her still and stared.  “What?”

 

“Dorian Gray.  He’s an Oscar Wilde character,” she began before he interrupted her.

 

“I know who Dorian Gray is, asshole.  I meant what, like what the hell do you mean you’re like him.”

 

“Oh.  Ha.  Um, I mean that the camera doesn’t really give a shit about the details behind the details and it just shows your ugly bits.  Like, it’s all haha look at those wrinkles, but it doesn’t know if they’re from laughing or smiling or scowling.  It has no idea the circles under my eyes are from being up the past three nights with a pukey kid.  It just says, hey, freeze frame this moment so she can forever remember the giant zit on the middle of her nose.  Plus, I look like a dude in pictures.”

 

He laughed so hard at that he had to curl on his side.  “What,” he gasped, “are you talking about?  You don’t look anything like a dude.”

 

She punched him in the arm.  “I do too,” she insisted.  “Strong jawline, strong nose, big forehead.”  She flexed her muscles.  “Like a dude.”

 

“You’re so stupid.  Also, you’re starting to make me uncomfortable.”

 

She heaved out a heavy sigh and flopped back onto the pillows.  “What’s your problem now?”

 

She sat back up and gave him the hairy eyeball.  “What makes you think I have a problem?”

 

“Your body language.”

 

“Oh yeah?”  She grinned, flipping her arm behind her head and hunching over, bent at an odd angle.  “What does my body language say now?”

 

He grinned back at her.  “That you can be flexible and deflective at the same time.”

 

It felt good to laugh along with him, so she did.  “Seriously, though.  Don’t take my picture.”

 

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

I told my kid the other night that I was giving him the hairy eyeball because he kept ignoring my directive to wash the damn dishes, already.  This prompted much too much thought about this weird saying and having it stick in my head, so I stuck it in here instead.

Oh, and while trying to look up the origin of the saying, I found out there apparently is a condition that actually causes HAIRY EYEBALLS.  There’s pictures….http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2256639/Hairy-eyeball-Rare-limbal-dermoid-causes-Iranian-man-sprout-hairs-eye.html

 

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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