Friday, November 25, 2011

The Killing Thing

For Day 25 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  Based on the following image.

by kat Folland

Vincent woke to the quiet but distinct sound of floatships, electric whirs and hums, only a few hundred kilometers away at the most.  Sun was in his eyes, shining through the open spaces between the wooden boards; he had overslept.  Outside the rocky sand was hot underneath his feet and he stumbled a bit through the rough brush growing around the shack – his shack, his responsibility, but it’d been driving him mad, every sound now a cause for alarm, a cause to jump to his feet from whatever little piddling amount of sleep he could have – with his head feeling as though bits of boulders were inside jostling, cutting up the fleshy insides.  How long had it been since his last drink of water?  How long had it been since the last rainfall?  Long enough that, he reckoned, the large, bleached and picked-clean skeleton of the grazing roumper, sitting in the dust, down the slope, a few meters from where he was standing, had been inside an animal that was alive and well the last time water fell onto the parched desert land.  Too damn long.

Could be only transports, he thought, maybe a trade caravan cutting through the desert to get to Ceres.  Never, they were heading straight for the shack, fast too, be there within the hour.  Vincent sat down, trying to calm the horrendous throbbing.  Sleep would be beyond wonderful.  No, stay up, keep the eyes open.  He decided that he better put on some manner of dress, best not to meet the visitors wearing rags and dusty nudity. On shaky legs he stood, listening to the wind, the unnatural sounds of machinery growing louder.  

Inside, in the glow-spotted darkness, Vincent pulled on beaten trousers and a long, blood-stained jacket.  For a moment he lost his balance, falling over to bang his leg against heavy metal.  “Ow” he said though it hardly hurt, hardly registered as anything more than a tingling sensation up his muscle, simply a reflex pulled from the memory of an ancient life.  The thing, what was wanted, old technology, a killing thing, what they always wanted, things to make killing easier.  And they would come and kill for it, or try.  Try and fail.  Button up the jacket tight, spots of skin peeking from every slash and ragged hole.   It’s nice in the dark, he thought; it’d be nice to just stay here for the day and sleep.  But the noise was unmistakable, no merchant transport was that fast, he stood silent and did his best to discern how many there were and how heavily armed they would be.

How did they know?  There wasn’t much time left.  Vincent looked for a good spot to sit, somewhere comfortable.  Maybe they’d fly over, maybe they got their directions wrong, after all he was only a dirty vagabond enjoying the beautiful day outside his shanty.  He figured there were at least four floatships, heavily-modded civilian models outfitted with armor plating and high-powered mag cannons.  Mercenaries no doubt, paid by whom Vincent couldn’t guess or care.  Only a few minutes away now, they were separating, flanking him, were going to try and approach it from four separate angles.  How could anyone have found out? 

The ships were slowing, nearly five clicks out, fanned out in formation.  Vincent heard the first cannon ready itself a half second before shot fired, shifting his weight just enough so that the small metal slug passed harmlessly past his head and through the wood planks of the shack behind him.  Only an anti-personal round?   They believed him only to be a man obviously, a mere mortal.  The day would not be exciting as he had hoped.  At least, he thought, smiling, he’d have the chance to catch a few more winks of sleep soon.

A volley of artillery rounds rose high into the air, singing as they went, fiery shells converging on his sitting spot, small explosives carefully aimed away from the precious contents of the flimsy wood structure.  The rounds only made contact with empty hard ground, kicking up chunks of dirt and more dust, most likely all the men in the first floatship could see through their scopes before Vincent reached them, shrinking the long distance within a few seconds of his bounding sprint.  

* * *

With bloodied arms, Vincent crouched solemn in the wreckage of the third floatship.  The fourth was already speeding back to civilization, not so fast that it couldn’t be caught, but it would take Vincent too far away from the shack and the deep buried thing hiding its uncovered head beneath the wood.   Dark liquid – blood, his own – poured first and then soon dripped like sludge from a large wound, a block of flesh taken out of his abdomen side; caught by an anti-armor round, only at the end had they learned to be smart, figured out what he was.  There’d be more now for sure now, smarter, stronger, and more numerous. 

Only thing for him to do was to go back to sitting and waiting, healing up as best he could before they returned.  Sleeping would help that, yes indeed.  He’d have a few hours at least until word got out that they – whoever they were – would need a sizeable, well-equipped, and well-trained army if they hoped to pry the killing thing from him.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Distant Blue

Okay, so I've slacked off a bit.  I'm nothing if not inconsistent.  Anyway, this is for Day 22 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  Based off the following image. 

by Brenda Stumpf

From far away it glimmered as a blue sparkling mass.  On a canvas of pure black, that spot was the only source of light and color across her bobbing vision.  Under she went again, mouth and nose full of ice, blackness all around so it seemed that nothing including her existed.  Up again, she gasped for air.

“Will you marry me, Jennifer?”

Never, or maybe, marriage seemed less terrible than floating over oblivion.  Cold water seeped into hers skin, numbing her, if she had arms she only knew it because she saw them hanging white and dead just beneath the invisible surface.  Jennifer’s teeth pounded against themselves, her jaw uncontrollable, it would have been so easy to just slip away into the freezing black.

“Please don’t look at me like that.”

He was so charming, rich too, an older man, as old as her father maybe, but he looked  good, very handsome.  When he touched her, he made Jennifer feel as if she were again a young teenager, girlish, as they kissed and groped behind the shops on the pier, just out of sight of the crowds.  His breath smelled of sweet cigar smoke and whiskey, his suit of woodsy-smelling cologne, like fine sawdust mixed with male sex-must, a bottle more expensive than her dress no doubt.  His rough face tickled and scratch at her chin and she laughed, coming away red-faced, feeling her face and her loins hot and warming like they hadn’t been for so long.

“Let me take you away from everything.”

Martin, he said, no Mr. Ruis, tonight I am just a man and you are just a woman.  He said it with that accent of his, Spanish maybe, Jennifer thought.  It gave a slant to his words.  They curved into her ear as he spoke in that soft low way of his.  Let me take you on my boat, he said, no commanded, how could she refuse?   A boat, he had a boat, of course he did, and it was beautiful, a large and sleek yacht, bigger than her apartment but she didn’t say that.  With a smile, devilish, wide swath of teeth, he led her on board by the hand, the night would no doubt be magical, she thought.

“You need me Jennifer, and I need you.  We can’t survive without one another, can’t you see?”

Once the pier and the city became only a collection of lights on the distant shoreline, he turned to her and held her tight, electric yellow lights of the yacht reflecting in his gaze.   From out of the darkness he produced a bottle of champagne and two glasses, pouring seamlessly with grace the golden liquid.  Let us drink to a beautiful night, he said softly, only to her.  From somewhere else unseen, he produced a velvet lined box, opened to a diamond ring so brilliantly capturing every drop of moonlight.  She couldn’t possibly accept though, no, how could she?  She barely knew Mr. Ruis, it was just far too fast.

“It’s just me and you against infinite emptiness.”

His grip hurt, fingers digging into her shoulders, nails pinching against bare skin, she gasped in pain and he kissed her.  No, stop.  Martin wouldn’t listen, he pressed his mouth against hers, biting lips, squeezing, it hurt her and she felt as if she couldn’t breathe.  Out there on the dark deck, Jennifer was undressed, rough hands undoing straps.  I’ve wanted this for a very long time, he whispered.  No, please no, I can’t.  Jennifer pushed him, light at first and he kept grabbing, pulling, exposed skin cold against the whipping ocean winds.  Again she pushed, harder, knocking him back against the rail so that he cried out and stumbled. 

“I am so much stronger than you, don’t you see?”

Cursing through gritted teeth – goddamn whore – the man rushed Jennifer, took hold of her and forced her screaming into the cabin below.  There was no one to hear, the lights of the nearest boat on the night only a twinkling speck, she screamed all the same.  Raking nails across his neck and drawing blood, she broke free of her grip, tattered cloth hanging about her, naked feet slapping fast on metal.    She didn’t know where she was running to but suddenly a hand was pushing her, shoving, and her body went airborne against those hard and cold rails.  The world spun to empty darkness, then the vision of a distant yellow moon, and all at once, all around her the instant feel of wet, overwhelming suffocation filled her lungs and eyes.

“Every woman needs a man as strong as I in their lives.”

And now the boat was no more than a choppy path in the colorless waters, waves and foam disappearing among the relative calm of the ocean.  The distant perfect-round mounds of blue-lit glass and steel seemed to grow closer, larger.  Jennifer went under again, using all her strength to pull again above the water, kicking with swiftly disappearing feet.  Though she could no longer use her arms enough to pull against the flow, she leaned forward towards the shining and blurred blue, hoping the waves would soon dash her up against its beauty.

“Don’t you want me to make you feel beautiful?”

Monday, November 14, 2011

Search Party

For Day 14 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  While this story can stand on its own, I did tie it in with yesterday's flash. Based on the following image.

by Donna Earnhardt

Come over here kid, that’s what they say when they call me, not boy or girl, just kid because they don’t know which.  That’s fine by me, don’t care really, people can think what they want.  Mom wants me to start wearing dresses.  She says I’m too old to be running around in overalls with the boys, getting dirty and coming home looking like a pig after a long hot day in the mud.  I don’t care, that’s the best part about there being no school to go to, getting outside and getting dirty. But she don’t see it that way at, can’t understand why I’d spend all my time running and getting sweaty, rather I stay at home and learn to sew or cook or maybe even how to grow flowers “if you’re so set on getting dirty Helen” as she says.

But that’s not for me, and I told her that and she got real upset, crying, her tears coming down all black from that gunk she spreads on her eyes.  Made me feel bad, what’s wrong with it?  Mom told me just to go, get out, “run with the boys and see where that gets you” she told me, still crying.  So I left, mad, might’ve called my mother dumb, I don’t know, I was mad, just put on my hat (she hates that hat) and slammed the screen door back behind me. 

No one’s out today though, town’s still sleeping it seems even though the sun is almost as high up as its gonna get.  Rode my bike to Joe’s and waiting on him now to wake up, sitting on that nice rocking swing they got on their front porch.  Rung the doorbell but no one answered, I know his mom works all day out at the truck stop on route two but he should be awake by now.  Knock on the door real loud, to wake him up, hear his stupid little dog start to bark, little white fluff ball, nasty little thing will bite at your legs if you don’t watch out.  I just kick it but Joe’s mom gets mad at me when I do it.  Where are you Joe, damn, it’s gonna be a boring day if no one comes out.

Back to sitting, chewing on a piece of hay I found lying on the step, gonna wait a little bit more before going off on my own.  We had a plan, we were gonna go off exploring out past the woods east of town.  Were gonna do it yesterday but I said I couldn’t, had to go to the stupid dentist, found six cavities he said.   Both Mom and Dad weren’t happy about that, took away all the sweets out of the house, outta my room but they missed my secret candy box.  They’ll never find it.  

Mailman comes driving by in his truck, smiling at me, nods and I nod back, like adults do that don’t want to talk.   Puts the mail in the box and shuts it then gets a strange look on his face, calls out to me: “Hey, you ain’t waiting for little Joey Gunter, are you?”  I yell back that I am and what’s it to him.  “Well didn’t you hear?  He went missing last night, never came home, him and another boy, Evan Belstra, police out looking for them right now.”

Well that just figures, two dummies got themselves lost without me.  Figure Evan’s dead, got eaten by coyotes or bunnies most likely, scaredy boy jumping every time a tree branch cracks, thinking it’s some monster coming out to get him.  But Joe’s alright, probably just lost because he don’t pay attention, too busy staring at stuff on the ground before he knows where he’s going.  Police won’t find him, they don’t know our places.  Guess I gotta do it.

Jump off that swing and step down, little dog still yapping like a squeaking rat from inside.  Mad because Joe went off without me, probably went where we’d said we’d go together.  Now it’s just me, one-girl search party.  That’s just fine, I like going alone, more fun with another but no one to slow me down if I go out exploring alone.  

I bike all the way to the edge of town, my Stetson almost flying off my head while I ride so fast down the big hill in the road but I hold onto it good.  Go past the last houses on the last street and ride straight into the trees, see the tire marks we’d worn into the dirt over the last two summers.  Their bikes are still in the hiding spot, Joe’s and Evan’s, far enough from the houses that they couldn’t be seen no more through the woods, stuck behind a dead branch hanging off the big tree, hide my bike there too with theirs.

Put my finger in my mouth to get spit on it, hold it up to the wind to feel where the breeze is going like you see in the movies.  Don’t know why I do it but it makes me feel cool, like some old-time adventurer on a journey.  I got two dumb lost boys to find and a whole forest they could be hiding in.  Footprints in the mud tell where they went and I follow, walking crouched down like a trapper, a hunter, I’ll find those boys and bring them home to their mommies.  I’ll be the town hero, they’ll make a parade and a statue for me in the park that I’ll drag my mom to and she can see, then she can see, that running around in the dirt got me plenty.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Buried Room

For Day 13 of the Flash Fiction Project as talked about here.  Based on the following image.

“What you think it is?” asked Joe.  He kicked at the brick of it, hoping it was so weak that it would crumble.  The wall was solid though and his sneaker toe bounced off it.

“Think its maybe like a tomb or something.” said Evan, standing far back from where his friend stood, as if the structure might rise up at any moment to crush them.

“Nah, a tomb gots angels and things all over it, bigger an’ prettier too.”


“Like a little fancy house for dead people.  Plus, we ain’t anywhere near the cemetery.  This thing’s just sitting a long ways from anything other than cows.”

“It does kinda look like a house though, don’t it?”

“Like the top of one maybe, like the roof and a little bit under sticking up, though it’s all crooked.”

Even took a few more steps back, hands dug deep into the pockets of his shorts.  He walked a few steps to his left, curving around the short brick wall.  Two other walls jutted out from the behind it, forming square corners.  But these slanted and quickly disappeared under the rolling field of grass cut short by grazing cows.  Above the wall there was indeed something that looked like it could have once been a roof, old shingles beaten down by years of rain and ready to fall. 

“Wish there was a way to get inside it,” said Joe, crouching down and placing his face close to the brick, looking for a hole to press his eye against.

“Inside?  Don’t even know if there is one, and wouldn’t be anything in except for dirt, or a dead body maybe.”

Maybe, maybe not, either way, Joe wanted to know what the thing was, who put it there and why it seemed so neglected.  He looked over to Evan, staring up at the sky and the gathering storm clouds.  He knew that the other boy was becoming bored, that he’d soon come up with some excuse to head on home.  Evan kicked at a lump of loose dirt, sending it flying straight at him, a smug smirk on his face when it fell just short of smacking Joe on the forehead.

“Gonna rain soon, Joe.”

So what, thought Joe, there were more important things than not getting wet.   He started to walk around the structure again, seeing if there was a way in that he had missed.  Joe thought he might be able to see more if he climbed up onto the wall where it was the shortest, up onto the tilted tile roof of the thing to see if any holes existed big enough to climb through.

At its shortest, Joe could simply walk onto the roof of the building from the ground though he felt uneasy about standing on it.  From the other side, Joe could hear Evan calling on him to stop climbing, but the boy’s voice sounded far off, blown distant by the oncoming winds.  With a few cautious and timid steps, Joe had planted both his feet firmly on the roof of the strange building.

Indeed there was something like an opening in the middle of the slant and it was at least ten feet up the slope from where Joe stood.  Evans calls were becoming more incessant, louder over the rushing air, but Joe was determined to get a peak, just a peak, before he had to call it quits and make that long walk back to town.  Carefully, he began his crawl towards the spot of cracked ceramic.

Distant thunder stomped off as Joe’s fingers found the edges of the hole, his entire body lying flat against the roof now.  Just a few more inches were all he needed.  Joe pulled himself slowly and carefully, eyes peering just over the darkness of the small gap.  Nothing at first, too dark to make out shape, but his eyes adjusted and the forms of broken wooden furniture and shattered glass appeared.   Something moved, quick and invisible save for the shifting of shapes, the sound of rustling.   What was it?

“Joe! Joe! Joe!” 

Evan was screaming, loud as he could.  Joe lost his grip and slid down the incline, rubbing rough against the hard tile.  Crashing hard back to the grassy ground, Joe lay dazed for a few moments, the air punched out of his lungs to leave him gasping.  Somewhere above his head, Joe could hear the feet running across the ground, the sound getting louder, until it was above him, the sound of shoes swishing through the field right next to his ear.

“Get up” he whispered it, raspy,” Get up, Joe!”

Hands under his arms were pulling Joe now, dragging his body back around to the side of the wall.  Evan crouched over him, breathing heavy, his eyes wide.  “Don’t talk.” Evan’s voice was hardly audible, hardly recognizable.  Then Joe heard the thing that had so terrified his friend, from somewhere on the opposite side of the sunken building came the sound of deep, throaty gurgling.

“What is it?” asked Joe, his voice strained from wheezing.  He was answered only with shushing, a small, sweaty hand placed over his mouth.

For several minutes after, the two boys listened to the strange gurgling sounds, the occasional hollow noise of something thumping swiftly back and forth across the ground.  Suddenly it seemed to move very quickly away from the wall, the sound of its feet disappearing into the breeze, towards that far-off hill.  The two boys continued waiting without a muscle twitch or a too-loud exhaled breath.   After many more minutes and the first drops of rain, the gurgling thing seemed to be gone.

“It was something…a beast.  Strange and black, tall-like, taller than a man and wearing raggy clothes, had a face like something I’d never seen.”

Evan helped Joe up and they both quietly made their way against the wall, pressing close.  Joe knew they should have run home, but he needed to see the spot the thing, this beast, had stood on.  Evan couldn’t move any closer to where the beast had been, he lost his nerve and began to sprint in the direction of the highway, different from the way they had come but also different from the way the creature seemed to have gone.  Still, Joe had to look, at least once.

What he saw was a hole in the ground, small but not so small that he couldn’t have slipped in himself.  Walking up to it, he looked inside to see a cramped tunnel that led straight back into the buried building.   From far off, Joe heard a high-pitched scream.  Turning his head to where he had last seen the shrinking form of Evan running, Joe instead saw the beast bending over in the distance, body bend straight down at the middle in a sharp angle, long dangling arms held tight against its torso as its head nearly touched the ground.  Joe thought he saw something fleshy and small lying on the ground beneath it but turned away, not wanting to see.

Hearing the beast now running full speed across the field, Joe quickly slid head first down the hole, clawing at the dirt with his fingers.  At least, he thought to himself as his belly scraped across hard-packed earth, he would finally be able to see the brick-walled building from the inside.

Nano Fail

Some might call it fate (at least I will) but I have pulled out of the National Novel Writing Month contest as of a week ago.  As it happened in the past, as I ramped-up the quantity of my writing, I noticed a sharp decline in its quality.  Now it's true that the whole point of NaNoWriMo is to write as much as you can without looking back until you reach that 50,000 word finish line and worry about making the words great later, however, I have always, always, found it difficult to operate like that.  

One of the main reasons my writer's block is so persistent is because I am an annoyingly huge perfectionist.  At least when it comes to my writing.  It's bad, I know it is. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Block Demolished?

Not quite.


It has been exactly a year now since I first started my blogging adventure here at Blogger.  I can honestly say that I came away with much more than I expected.  A new world of blogging friends and creative contacts opened up to me and I couldn't be more grateful to those who gave me encouragement and inspiration along the way.  You all should know who you are. :)

Unfortunately, as some may have noticed, I have not been blogging much in the last month or so.  This has been a symptom of school and outside life taking a larger chunk of my time as of late.  A lame excuse, I know, but I do want to get back to this.  I also know I have not been reading up on the blogs I follow as much as I should be so I hope to rectify that as well.

My goal with this next year of blogging, in addition to finishing off my broken-up writer's block, is to actually and really complete a novel from start to finish.  Seriously.

Perhaps NaNoWriMo will help to get me there...more on that next post.  Stay tuned, please?