Posts Tagged With: writing prompt

The Frayed String Snaps

The spotlight turns toward her, aged metal hinges creaking unintentional atmosphere into the performance. Her feet splay in bow-legged display, arms held out to her sides, head bent forward in repentance for an as yet unnamed sin. The audience cannot see the flakes in the rouge spots on her cheeks peeling off, cannot hear the skritch of her wooden joints as the strings, the fraying strings, pull her gently across the stage, a broken doll flung aside in slow motion.

They, the they whose human faces she has never seen except in shadow, work their levers and turn their wheels and make their adjustments with soft grunts and sometimes not so soft curses from behind the heavy curtains, equipment no longer up to snuff for the demands that they make of it.

There she is now, in place at center stage, fully steeped in the spotlight’s beam. She can feel them starting to lift her head, to force her eyes once more into the glare of the floodlights, to make her look out upon an audience who does not understand that she doesn’t want to be their entertainment any longer. They do not see the splinters escaping from under her painted eyelashes, little tears that look like tears; they would only add to the sad ambience of her painted face could anyone see the detail.

She does not want to be on the stage any longer. She had been the pinnacle, not the penultimate, but the zenith at the time of her creation. She was given no direction to go but down. How could every show, then, not be more of a disappointment than the last? The sighs and gasps and applause are a saw blade drawn against violin strings to her psyche, leaving her more and more an empty shell. She does not want to dance any more, having already been forced to reap more than she had ever hoped for simply by catching the eye of someone who thought that they came bearing a gift.

Her middle pulls taut as all the strings are tugged at once, a crescendo of agony behind the rictus of a smile, and they pirouette her across the boards, a blur of ragged beauty through steps that have not been altered in a hundred years. She yearns for silence, she prays for release, even as she drips joy across the horizon of bodies that sit in rapt attention at her stocking feet.

The man whose job it is to tighten all knots and inspect all ropes, to adjust wardrobe and touch up wig, has taken it upon himself to become lackadaisical.

Her weight is being raised from the floor, she is on her tippy toes, they are in the air, and all of her is now suspended in an airborne arabesque, to the delight of the squealers. Her left arm is beginning to droop noticeably lower than the right, her side is canting, and she imagines she hears, layer by layer, the already frayed rope coming apart above her, over the voices of the men as they scramble and over correct.

She begins to jerk a bit, from side to side, corps de ballet de grotesquerie.

An infinite glee comes with the sudden snap. Her prison is collapsing around her and for the first time since she looked out from behind the dead material of the face she had been forced into, she re-awakens to bliss. A broken ragdoll of disjointed bits is all she is now, sprawled in an untidy heap upon a dirty floor, legs and arms akimbo, soul winging up through the rafters and into the ether.

The audience is stunned into silence at this unexpected ending, this abrupt departure from the tawdry bows and curtsies that tend to follow such performances as these, but then shake free and welcome the new and rise to their feet, a hootenanny of hollers and cries for an encore that can never come.

The maestro, the magician, the darkness that had encapsulated her soul, cries quietly behind the scenes as his queen, his triumph, arcs towards the heavens and leaves him, alone, ever more.

*****

So, I was listening to Lindsey Stirling and this story popped up….

Okay, so here’s a crazy thing…the erudite and awesome Suzanne, whose blog I have followed since I first found her through the now defunct Trifecta Writing Challenge (go read her here, both her fiction and non-fiction posts will either have you thinking or laughing or learning, sometimes all at once http://lucidedit.wordpress.com/ ) recently announced that she was launching her own writing challenge DUN DUN DUN here: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-2-open/ and that got me excited because she attracts other writers as talented as she and I love the word ghoul. I just happened to write this story for the hell of it this morning while I was supposed to be working, and then just now realized that, by adding a single sentence to incorporate the word prompt REAP, that it fits the word and picture prompt.

I’m rambling like a crazy person. I’ll shoot for extra coherence later. No guarantees.

Read, write, love, sleep,
Shannon

Advertisements
Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

A Sedimentary Lifestyle

“It’s too much.” Harv wheezed theatrically, not as over-dramatic as he pretended.

Helen pooh-poohed him with a derogatory arch of brows, herding him up the incline. “You’re not that out of shape. Look, it flattens out a bit ahead.”

“I’ve been living a sedimentary life since I retired. You didn’t give me a chance to shake shit up first. My joints are very confused about what’s happening to them right now.”

Stifling the laugh over his hatchet job on ‘sedentary’ she took a deep breath. “If you start settling towards your bottom, I promise I’ll help you up.”

***

Linking up again with Light and Shade Challenge
http://lightandshadechallenge.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/light-and-shade-challenge-friday-5th.html

The photo reference is the picture above (image courtesy of cheva and taken from the Wikipedia Commons), and the quote reference is: Shake well before opening – instructions on a milkshake bottle

Seriously, keeping these to 100 words or less is a hell of a lot harder than I would have imagined….

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , | 7 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

The Bone Brigade (part 2)

Without a word, she dropped to the ground. Loo laughed, imagining that the doctor had thought himself quite clever to have nestled in such a forested area. Apparently he hadn’t realized that the same trees that sheltered him from prying eyes could also shelter spying ones.

As she rubbed dirt and bark from the palms of her calloused hands, she thought about the last time she had climbed a tree. It seemed a pastime prone to revelation. The last time she had monkeyed up a tree trunk, the day after her tenth birthday, she had discovered something unusual about herself. This time, she’d uncovered something unusual about her psychologist.

Unusual.

Holy shit.

As the she truly began to comprehend what she had just seen, Loo folded her legs and collapsed gracelessly to sit on the grass.

Dr. Brown flew away. He flew away. He flew. Away. No matter how she framed the words in her head, the concept didn’t make any more sense. No wings. No jet pack. No cape wrapped around himself as he bellowed up, up and away. He just…flew away.

The place in Loo’s head that had occupied her thoughts while she was supposed to be in session was still sloshing around the corners of her mind. When he had drawn her back to herself, her surroundings had seemed subtly different, muted colors, an echo to every other syllable; something about time felt a half beat off. The doc, too, had seemed different. Maybe just preoccupied, but just maybe there was a shiny little glint in his eyes that had alerted her subconscious. Enough so that upon leaving, she decided without thought to stick around, to hide, and to watch.

Good catch, brain, she congratulated herself. Home. Home was the place to mull over the possibilities. And food. God, she was suddenly starving. With a hand pressed against her rumbling belly she started towards her car.

*~*~*

Setting a bowl of spaghetti and an entire loaf of garlic bread on the scarred end table, Loo took a moment to appreciate her own couch. When you snuggled deep into the corner it was like being welcomed home.

She tore off a hunk of garlic bread, swirled it through the noodles and sauce, chewing as she tried to list any reason she could think of that Dr. Brown could fly. Vampire. Norse god. Demi-god. Sorcerer. Mutant. Superhero. Oh, maybe a super villain? Maybe freaking leprechauns can fly, who the hell knows.

She closed her eyes as she dipped and chewed and swallowed, the entire loaf of bread gone before she even picked up her fork for the pasta. Her eyes darted back and forth behind her lids, watching a slide show of images from the afternoon.

He’d walked out the back door into the parking lot like any regular human. No furtive glances, no worries at all. Stopped in the middle of the parking lot, adjusted his grip on his bag, looked up to the sky, and poof, he was up in it, lost to sight in seconds.

She was unconsciously rubbing her cheekbones, rhythmically, back and forth. When she realized what she was doing, her eyes popped open and she pulled her hands from her face and tucked them under her thighs.

‘Bony thighs,’ she muttered with a shaky laugh. ‘Stop it. I don’t want or need your help.’ She turned on the television and gave her full attention to polishing off the heaping helping of spaghetti going cold.

– : – : – : –

( Hopefully a stand alone story, but is also a direct continuation from https://thesqueakywheelblog.com/2014/03/31/the-bone-brigade/ )

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

The Council

When the renegades caved, sent the transmission requesting aid, the Council seemed receptive in an immediate reply beaming erratically through the broken bricks of the building where they holed up.

Holly, or Holy as they called her in grinning whispers, claimed that the Council was displaying the Divine Grace of Forgiveness, both for the renegades insubordination in refusing to leave the planet in the first place, and for their appropriation of the technology that was left behind.

When tentacles began slithering from the opening hatches of the so-called relief ships hovering over their hideout, she was the first to run.

* * *

So this guy Chris over at Chris White Writes ( http://chriswhitewrites.com/2014/03/28/scifriday-2/ ) started a really cool game called SciFriday – he posts a sweet picture and you write ~100 word sci fi tale and link it up. It seemed like too much fun not to play…

* UPDATE: I just realized that I forgot the picture DERP *

*UPDATE 2: I also forgot to mention that I first found his blog from a series of Monsters A-Z stories that he wrote about lesser known legendary and mythological monsters that were really great.

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Atmosphere

Storch-Badge-Master

I had just come to expect that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.

The day was overcast, but more gilded than washed out, a huge cloud cover with a visible ending that allowed a tiny yellow yoke drop of the sun to peek out from underneath it. That there is enough heat and solar flair in such a small sliver of sun, the size of the bottom of a child’s version of a cartoon boat, makes the fundamental into the fantastic.

There was static in the air, a tingly dance that sent my arm hairs to attention and made the back of my neck itch like the phantom of a former love was breathing heavily beside my ear. I turned the radio up and tried to funnel the energy into my lungs instead of my fingers because they were shaking as I tried to hit my cigarette and it was weird to watch and I worried I would shake out of my skin. I sang along to every damn song that played, I belted and bellowed and wiggled my ass against the seat, musically inclined primal scream therapy. It helped a little bit, except that it made my vocal volume control knobs a little wonky for the rest of the morning and I had to watch or I’d holler instead of talk and bark in lieu of laughter.

I found myself in a Wonderland of humanity as I walked through the garishly lit aisles of the supreme superstore, harsh fluorescent lighting that usually makes everyone seem like a sallow-skin covered rattly skeleton jerking along on broken strings, somehow illuminated them instead. From the inside out burst this shocking white glare that should’ve had me covering my eyes and ducking from the mushroom cloud, but instead I was basking in the brilliance and smiling into strangers faces.

The mundane had transformed into the miraculous, enlivened enlightened invigorated and energized. Follicles became individuals and the individuals a whole.

***

This is my free flow re-entry into the Master Class prompt. I was reading a favorite passage in On the Road and figured I would pull an amateurish Kerouac- write till I had to think about it, then I, this, was done. So it’s done 🙂

Hop over and join the Master Class, and/or go read the other entries linked up. It’s quality writing by quality people, and it’s always interesting. This week’s challenge was to use the line chosen by last week’s winner as the first line of your story.
http://www.frommywriteside.wordpress.com

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

Some Fight Left In Me

It was only a duck pond, at the back of the farm.

There was no significance to it, no dedicated bench with a quote about nature and intransient life burned into the wood-work. No special memory bank sparked to life in the mind of myself or my abductor; it was only a duck pond, at the end of a lane, far-winding behind an abandoned farm; it was nowhere, just a thing that existed.

I watched the uncut grass wave as we drove through, heard the soft scraping against the door of the truck as the rutted road curled around the property.

I quietly and insistently continued to flex and slide my wrists and forearms together, gently trying to release the tacky inside of the duct tape from my skin, even if the bondage of it still held strong.

I was making better headway with the cuff around my ankles. About a half an hour earlier I’d made it known that my bladder was at full capacity, so it wasn’t out of character to be squirming around, trying to cross and uncross my legs.

He’d made two mistakes so far, to my way of thinking. First, he’d bound my hands in front of me instead of behind, leaving me a far greater range of motion to inflict some kind of damage. Second, he’d neglected to remove my socks before wrapping my ankles. The littlest bottom edge of the tape had adhered to cotton fibers instead of skin and so was already loosening up.

So the squirming was allowed, and I think was even offering a modicum of amusement to the smelly lanky stranger a few feet away from me on the bench seat of the old pick up. I didn’t mouth off any more. That got me nothing but a back hand that hurt like a sonuvabitch and had my left eye swelling almost shut. I decided being able to see would be more beneficial than being an asshole, although not nearly as satisfying.

‘So, hopefully you can already see what your problem is,’ he stated, apropos of nothing, conversational, as if we’d been in polite debate this whole time.

‘The light of your desire to live just isn’t as strong as the light of my desire to kill you. You’re just sitting there, trying not to piss in your pretty pants. A couple smacks to the face and hope fled your eyes like drowning rats bailing on a sinking ship.’ He shrugged, slanted a sideways glance at me without turning his head, the smirk in them a palpable thing, parasites crawling over my puffy skin and trying to smarm their way into my brain.

Coldly, efficiently, my mind dismissed and repelled. This creature isn’t even human and has no place in the grand scheme of my life.

He curled the wheel to the left as we reached the sandy bank of the pond, little poofs of grit and dirt spraying up as he tapped the brakes and nudged the gearshift to park. He tipped an imaginary hat at me, all gentleman courtesy.

‘Now ma’am,’ an exaggerated drawl, the third such accented affectation he’d put on so far, ‘I reckon I’m just gonna come around and open your door for you, slide you right on out. Don’t look like you’ve got much fight left in you, but I don’t think I need remind you what happens if you try anything.’

He reached over and, grinning, tapped me right on the bridge of the nose I figured might be broken. Pain zinged through my face, but I kept it locked in a blank stare, nothing to see here folks, this girl is gone daddy gone.

As soon as he opened his door and swung around to get out, I pointed my toes down like a ballet dancer and scissored my legs, a swimmer striving for the far away surface and a deep breath. I caught a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror as he rounded the truck bed. I strained and tugged and dug for every connected muscle in my thighs and hips to stretch my legs as far apart as they would go. A denim jacket clad arm was reaching for the door handle when I jerked up with one last vicious screaming effort, and my right foot pulled free and shot up with enough force to almost smash my knee into my chin.

I cocked the leg back and pistoned it forward, into the car door that was just starting to open, catching Mr. Tex Mex Murderface full on in the chest and face. I laughed wildly as he flailed and stumbled backwards, launching myself out of the car with no thought but to disarm and disable, systematically stomping my heel onto kneecap, groin, throat.

I stood a moment to catch my breath. I wasn’t really winded, but he was. He lay there, awkwardly scrabbling to crabwalk, gasping and choking, mumbling curses. His eyes fired with a combustible mixture of hatred and rage, a controlled fury looking for an opening, wanting to hurt me, to break me and finish his nasty business his way. What I didn’t see, yet, was the silverfish of fear swimming upstream. So I smiled, stretched the feral grin of the lion in the arena facing the unarmed slave across my face, assured victory.

‘Resourceful little bitch,’ he wheezed. Still mostly assuming he’d pull the Hail Mary for the win, but a touch of false bravado was sneaking in around the strained edges.

I skipped forward a step and brought my heel down again, once, twice, three times on his left kneecap. I felt it shift under my foot on the last shot in a way that shouldn’t be possible and felt comfortable that he wasn’t going anywhere on two legs. There was an animal snuffling escaping through his fleshy lips now, along with frothy little bubbles of spit. I leaned over until my face was right in front of his, til his heated and confused gaze locked on mine.

‘You were looking for the wrong light, Hoss,’ I told him, tapping my temple. ‘I wasn’t looking for hope. I was looking for opportunity.’

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.