Tag Archives: fiction

A Mistake to Run

Happy Halloween, folks!
This is a snippet that came to me a while back as I considered part-one of my WIP. Whether or not it will appear in the finished work, who knows! I changed the names because, well, I’m not sure, yet, whether or not I want this blog linked to the work itself. I am rather of a mind to finish my work, try and get it published, then be hands-off. But that is just how I feel now. Who knows how I will feel when, and if, the time comes?
Anyway, here it is!

Source unknown. If you know where it is from, please inform me.

Source unknown. If you know where it is from, please inform me.

The crickets were singing. Aubry lay awake, enjoying their rise and fall as if he would not hear it again for months. So late in the season, there was no telling when the first frost would cut them short.

One trilled in the corner of the cabin. A “thump” below told Aubry that ma or pa had thrown something at it. The inside-cricket was silent for a short time, then he started up again.

Aubry sighed. It was cozy under the thick quilt with his newly-adopted brother, Egan, curled up like a squirrel at his back. The small loft window stood open, letting a trickle of cool air move over his face.

Since the death of his last sister, years  back, he had forgotten what it was like to have a bedfellow. The extra warmth, the sound of soft breathing, and the occasional elbow or cold foot jabbed into his side were, at least for now, welcome things.

Sleep came smoothly, and dreaming too, like changes in the sky where gray becomes salmon and gold, then purple, then a luminous dark blue, and blue-black, swift yet gradual.

A chill crept into Aubry’s back, near his shoulder. He shifted, and felt something round and hard against him, cold, like a stoneware jug from the springhouse. He rolled away and turned to look.

What lay on the pallet beside him, where Egan should have been, was a gray, greasy-looking skeleton, still bound with shriveled strands of flesh. With a nearly silent, strangled cry, Aubry shuffled backwards until he was against the wall, next to the ladder. As he started to climb down, the corpse moved, rubbing at the remains of its face as if to wipe away sleep. It made a dull sound of bone on bone.

Aubry froze as it sat up, empty sockets turned to him. Moonlight from the window outlined the angles of its wagging jaw. He slid down the ladder and pulled it away from the loft before the thing could try and follow. His parents’ bed was empty.

At the door, he glanced back to the loft and saw the skeleton kneeling at the edge.

How lonesome.

The thought stung him unexpectedly, like the time he found Lily crying and realized that his teasing, along with the others, was the cause. But little Lily was pretty, when you really looked at her, and alive. The skeleton was cold and filthy, something that should be buried deep, or burned.

There had been a price to pay, learning to see Lily. He had gained a friend and a heartache, and found himself distanced from several of his oldest companions.

The skeleton clacked its jaws.

What’s the cost of this? To let it kill me?

     It had no tongue, or throat, or eyes for expression. Just a blank grin. Only the tilt of its skull and it’s shriveled hands gripping the edge of the loft gave it character. Was it saying “I want to get down and kill you” or “Are you going to leave me here alone?”

“What d’you want!” Aubry squeaked.

The corpse dropped down onto its creaking ribcage and reached out the remains of its hands.

Aubry stared at it, then fumbled for the door behind him and, opening it, ran out into the night.

The fort was as silent as a picture, full of gray and nothing. No wind, no crickets.

“Bear!” He called his dog, but nothing shuffled under the porch. Behind the closed door came a creaking, scraping sound.

With a groan, Aubry leaped off the porch and ran down the common.  Even his footfalls were swallowed into silence as he ran, but the scraping at his cabin door echoed out behind him.  He was scarce strong enough to open the main gate, even with the winch, so he made for the eastern one.

When he reached it, he paused to listen. There was nothing, no creak or clatter, just thick, congealed quiet.

In the dark, he fumbled for the latch and found it locked. He wrestled with it, fighting like a raccoon in a cage. The lock gave way and he burst through the gate into gray, silent fields.

He ran, and ran, past the pine grove, past Dorwich farm, down to the ford at High-bend creek.  There, at last, was sound, but it murmured defeat. The creek was up, too high to cross.

For the first and last time, he turned to look back.

There was nothing in sight.

Trees swayed, but did not rustle, grass moved in soft waves, but he could not hear the wind.

He realized, as he watched the empty fields, that running had been a mistake. The thing could now be anywhere, doing anything. He might live his whole life looking over his shoulder, wondering.

“Where’re you?! Come on out!”

Nothing. He backed away from the nearest tree, sat as close to the creek-bank as he dared, and tried to watch in all directions.

Then something grabbed and shook him. He lashed out, and someone caught his arm and smacked him across the face.

He startled awake. The waning moon was up and the shutters of the loft window were still open. He could see Egan kneeling beside him, holding his arm.

Aubry sat up, shivering, and rubbed his hands over his face. He looked over to see Egan’s crooked little smile.

“I get nightmares, too. Mostly that I’m still dyin in the shack and yall’re jus a dream.” He leaned towards the window and closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath. “If that happens t’ be so, I’d rather die dreamin.”

“I…” the fright was too near for Aubry to put it into words. He managed only “I dreamed you’as dead.”  That’s right, ain’t it? It was Egan. It was Egan, and I ran from ‘im ‘stead of tryin to help. Some brother that makes me.

Egan blinked at him.

“Boys?” Pa rumbled from down below. “Hush and get sleepin.”

“Yessir,” said Aubry. He patted Egan’s bony shoulder and lay down. Egan curled up and rested his shaved head against Aubry’s back. It was round and solid, but warm.

As Aubry drifted off to sleep, a chill moved over him, and brought him full awake. It was just a passing feeling, perhaps a  final shred of that horrible dream.



If you want more, or something different, here is my favorite spooky poem: https://jubilare.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/the-listeners/
and a spooky poem that I actually wrote: https://jubilare.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/gothic-galatea/

And, for fun, this is “Lily,” once she’s all grown up and sich: https://jubilare.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/voice-week-day-3/
One of the characters involved in this story eventually picks up a nightstick: https://jubilare.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/mystifying/
And this story is neither mine, nor is it related to any of the above, but I think it is awesome and everyone ought to read it: http://bekindrewrite.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/flash-fiction-the-mysterious-case-of-the-marshmallow-mushroom-forest/
Enjoy!

Errant Star

An short for BeKindRewrite’s InMon challenge. One of my darker characters decided to philosophize a bit. I should probably preface this with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer, so here it goes: The views and opinions in this snippet are those of the character and do not necessarily represent those of the author.

Personally, I know very little of astrology and so far as I am aware, there is no star of Melinoe, much less an errant star (planet). Melinoe is, however, a minor figure in Greek mythology, a nymph of the underworld associated with ghosts, nightmares, the moon, and madness. Cheery stuff.

 

I was born under an errant star. So are many great men, their restlessness driving them to fame. But it is said that men born under the ascendancy of Melinoe’s star are destined for great madness, or for the bringing of death, or both together

I have heard it said that there is no fate, that we make ourselves. It may be so, for as I look back, every step I have taken was a choice made freely. Every time I took a life I had clear reason, a purpose. If I knew nothing of star-wheels and prophecies I would never think twice. And yet, I was born beneath the influence of Melinoe’s wandering light.

Which begs the question: Am I an unwitting slave to cosmic patterns? If so, the blood on my hands is blood on the stars. They are the murderers and I am but their tool. Is that why some stars are tinged with red?

If not, if I have done these things of my own will, have the stars, since before my birth, been following me?


An Exercise in Eccentricity

In my last post, I asked some questions and promised to give my own answers in my next post. This is that post.

The questions remain open to be answered, though. I really do need some outside input to help break me out of my usual creative patterns.

So, if you intend to answer these questions, please do so BEFORE READING THIS POST! I don’t want to influence your answers.

That said, here goes nothin:

1. Make up a constellation and a brief story for it.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… there was a great wolf spirit and a great serpent spirit roaming over a primordial world, and they were brother and sister. They were sent to shape the world for creatures who would come after them. 

Now, the wolf was an orderly creature who liked patterns and measures, while his sister serpent loved all things unpredictable and chaotic. For a time, they worked harmoniously, each one seeing the beauty in the other’s plans, but after a while their ideas came more and more into conflict. Unwilling to compromise, they parted ways, each one traveling over the surface of the world and shaping it according to their own desires.

When the siblings had covered the world, they began to run across and change eachother’s designs. As time went on, it seemed as if they would completely undo their own work and leave the world as formless as when they had begun. And so the Great Spirit reached down and scooped them up to release them in the sky where they would have more space to shape and form and would not interfere with the creatures that were to come.

The eye of the wolf is the fixed polar star, ever reliable. The serpent runs through the chaotic band of many stars, and her eye is red and inconstant.

2. What is your favorite holiday (excluding Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter) and  why?

 4th of July.  I absolutely love fireworks, and New Years is too insane. The 4th is, at least around here, a laid-back holiday filled with grilled food, family, and explosions. Sparklers, and elaborate fireworks displays never fail to fascinate and awe me. Thank you, Chinese inventors! I am also fond of my home nation and like to have a set time to celebrate its existence.

3. Name an object you would like to see featured in a story

 I want to read a story that involves a magical lint brush. Why? Because the non-magical kind don’t work nearly well enough to solve my cat-hair issues.

4. make up a name for a spell and tell me what it does

Brightsnap: brightsnap is an alchemical transmutation creating silvery beads that explode on sharp impact, exuding a blinding light for as long as a minute. Because honest uses of brightsnap are rare, it has been outlawed and knowledge of the ingredients and process have been suppressed. On the black market, the beads now fetch a high price. 

5. Choose a plant and make up a symbolic meaning for it

I’ve been doing this one for a while, so I will pick one I haven’t yet added to my list. 

Trillium: a meeting of ways/convergence

6. What is your favorite ghost/folk/scary story (can be humorous or not)

This is a tough one for me. You already have my favorite ghost poem, so I must think of something else. I am very fond of several E. A. Poe stories and of some of the folk-tales I have come across. Poe’s work is pretty well-known, though, so perhaps I should highlight the latter. I have little tangible reason as to which folktales and ghost stories speak to me, and which don’t. Here are two very different ghost-stories, both with roots reaching far back into human history.  The first one is a vengeful ghost tale, and the second is a sad one.


Voice Week Day 5

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Empty House, the Final Chapter! This is my fifth and last installment for Voice Week.  Again, thank you, BeKindReWrite for inventing and hosting this event!

 The world is full of smells and, if you pay attention, your nose will tell you more than your eyes and ears combined. If you have a nose like mine, it will tell you practically everything, but you will never enjoy pepper again.
Anyway, when I came up to the cabin, I knew it was empty. No need to fear a crossbow that night. I climbed the porch and pulled myself up to look in the window. If anything, it looked too orderly and neat. There was no fresh blood, nor trace of fear. This was a mystery, but probably not of the gruesome-murder sort.
~

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


Voice Week Day 4

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Voice Week Day IV! The Empty House Comes for You!

Or not. In all honesty, it probably just sits there. Go read what the others are writing as well. Shoo!

A slip, a trip on leaves and I was down. A bad fall. Panic, freezing me one moment, had me on my feet the next. No stopping!

Skirt, wet, wrapped around my legs. Too slow, no hope. But then I saw a house! I tried to shout, but a sob came. Better shot for a trespasser than hunted in the dark. I ran to the porch, hammered the door.

I would cry! Beg! Let me in! But the door fell open. One deep breath had me inside.

Nobody home, but what did that matter? I turned and barred the door.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 5


Voice Week Day 3

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The Empty House rides again! Or somesuch nonsense sequel name. My third installment for Voice Week! If you are enjoying this, you can read more if you click the above link, or even participate in it yourself!

Not even a dog came t’ answer my shout. Takin a chance, I walked on to the porch. Nobody s’much as looked out the winder. My knock weren’t answered, neither, so I made the cust’mary shout, again, then went on to talkin.

“Sir? Ma’m? I been sent up here t’ check on you. Seems you ain’t been to town in a while.”

Nothin. I knocked again, then pushed, and the door ground open. Not good. I raised my lantern. Inside looked for all the world like they’d tidied up after supper, then turned to smoke.  Nothin missin but the folks and a fire in the grate.

~


Voice Week Day 2

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And it is time for another installment of the Empty House saga for Voice Week! All mystery and no answers! Don’t forget to check out the other participants!

So, I tossed a meatbone by the porch and waited. Nothing happened, so I snuck up-side the place and checked a window. It was so damned dark that I couldn’t case the inside, but it had an empty feeling, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, since no dog came for the bone or my ankles, I went round and checked the chimney. It was dead cold, and I just knew my luck was in.

I was right, too. The door wasn’t even locked, which did worry me a little, but it was worth risking. I opened up my lantern and  set to work.

~


Voice Week Day 1

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This year, I am participating in Voice Week, a writing contest invented by BeKindReWrite. This contest involves writing about the same situation from the perspectives of five different characters (or narrators/perspectives) and posting one a day from November 4th to November 8th. Each piece can only be around 100 words long, and in that space I am supposed to establish a unique voice that tells you something about the character. I have a hard time adapting my vocabulary to voices, so this ought to be a good stretch for me.  Also, you can go to the main page linked above to read and comment on the work of others who are also participating.

The scene or situation which I took on was an empty house. I hope you find it entertaining!

They give me assignments no one wants, and this seemed no different. I shouted at the edge of the yard, according to local custom, and no one shot me, but no one answered, either.

Cautiously, I mounted the porch and shouted again, identifying myself. There was no answer. By this time, I was actually curious. I knocked, and then slowly opened the door.

Once out of the moonlight, my eyes adjusted to their native dark and I saw an empty, but orderly room. I thought that finally there might be something interesting going on. They gave me the assignment, they were not going to take it from me.

~

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5


Phoenix

Be-kind-rewrite’s Inspiration Monday nudged my muse in a terribly melodramatic way. Apologies in advance for the levels of angst, but the prompt was “can’t stop crying” so it was bound to be either angsty or filled with onions.

In the Center is a thing that weeps. In the darkness surrounding her now, her feathers and her tears are light. Her children return when their fires burn out. It’s over their corpses she weeps, folding them beneath her wings like eggs.
And there, against the mother flame, their life returns only for them to leave again; flying off into the void, bringing heat and light, but leaving her in the Center with her tears.
We have light and life because she can’t stop crying. Yet I have to wonder if one day we will learn the meaning of life without pain.
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Sympathy

You can blame my muse, or BeKindRewrite for this. Both have a share in it. This is just a sketch related to some brainstorming I have been doing on a story of mine. It won’t be in the story, I don’t think. Not in this form, anyway. This is the first draft, with a few revisions made as I wrote it. Input would be very welcome.
The prompt I took from BeKind’s Inspiration Monday was “This is how it starts.”
.
This is how it starts. 
 
Sympathy for the Devil. 
 
I never expected it from him. Should I? We had our differences, but never one this deep. 
 
If I could just believe him a victim it’d be a comfort. If I knew he was manipulated, controlled, deceived, then I’d know what to do.
 
But I’ve been watchin him. The change was gradual, but obvious. If only I’d known what it meant. We coulda talked. He needed the voice of Reason. He needed somethin to stop the corruption.
 
Would he’ve listened? Would he have listened to me. How long’s it been since our last heart-to-heart?
 
He let the monster out of its cage. I want t doubt it, but I can’t. Did I know he’d become capable of that? God have mercy, did I know? If I did, what should I’ave done?
 
Even if I stopped the action, I couldn’t stop the intent. His heart’s lost.
 
We hunted monsters together. Now he’s one of the monsters. My brother’s become the Devil. If I have sympathy for him, where’ll this end?
 
 
This is how it starts.
 
Sympathy for the Devil.
 
Only the Good God knows where it’ll end.
 
I wonder if I’ve crossed it yet; that point of no return.
 
They say the road to perdition’s an easy one. If so, it ain’t the road I’m on. Nothin about this’s easy. In a way, that’s a comfort.
 
Not much comfort, though. I don’t think I ever hated him more’n when I opened that cell door. But I thought of him on the gallows.
 
He has his share to answer for, but they’ll make him pay for someone else.
 
So here I am, holdin the broken law in my hand and wonderin what that makes me. God, have mercy. What right’ve I got to break the law? To decide I’m right and t’hell with the rest?
 
All this for a man I can’t stand; ’cause I’m arrogant enough to think I know better’n the court. I guess that makes me weak, but it feels like a struggle I won.
 
I don’t know, anymore. The cage’s open and man or monster, he’s loose. Guess I’ll know soon how badly I’ve sinned, or if God’s smilin t’spite everything.
 
I just hope my brother can forgive me.  
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