Friday, January 31, 2014

Terribleminds Flash Fiction: A Drink With A Story Challenge





Sam stepped out of the cab. The rain was still holding off for the moment. He looked around for Kev but there was no sign of him.

Where the hell is he?

They were supposed to meet for a couple of cocktails, before Kev took off for his new out-of-state job. He hadn’t gone out in a couple of years. Felt like he might be too old for the club scene but Kev insisted.

He checked his phone for the time.

Good ol’ Kev. Always late.

Sam looked around for the club. There wasn’t much in this part of town. Mostly this was the abandoned area of the city. The remains. The ruins. The majority of the buildings were boarded up and tagged with graffiti. There was a smell of must and piss that hung in the air.

He said 12th and Grove didn’t he?

Sam dialed Kev’s number but it went straight to voicemail.

Great Kev, just great.

He started to walk a few blocks, looking from empty store front to empty store front. The area really had gone to shit. There was still nothing even close to resembling a bar or club around. He was about to give up and call the cab back when he saw a young couple stumbling down an alley. They were laughing at something.

He watched them with curious eyes, standing just inside the shadows of the streetlights. The couple knocked on an unmarked door, still laughing uncontrollably. The door opened, pouring out a rainbow of lights and the faint sound of music.

Sam smiled.

This has got to be the place. Not exactly 12th and Grove, but whatever.

He walked to the unmarked door and checked his phone once more, still nothing from Kev. He contemplated calling again but decided he would just wait inside.

The door looked thick and solid. He balled up his fist and knocked hard three times then stood back trying not to look as old as he felt.

When the door swung open a thick, bald dude stood over him. He was wearing all black, except the over-sized gold chain around his neck. Lights sprayed from all around him, strobe and rainbow. The music was loud and thumping. It was a dance club alright.

“I.D.” the dude said and held out an open hand.

        Sam scrambled to get his wallet out. He passed his driver’s license to the bouncer and smiled sheepishly.

        The guy smirked when he saw the date of birth, then handed the license back.

“Have fun,” he replied and moved out of the doorway so Sam could get by.

Inside was crowded and hot. The air was stale and smoky. Everyone was young, too young and half naked. He was immediately second-thinking his decision to enter but then spotted the bar. There was an open stool at the end, he made it his hideout.

Right away he dialed up Kev, but once again there was no answer.

“What’ll it be?”

Sam looked up at the bartender. She looked half his age, with a pierced septum, dolphin bites, and three studs coming out of both cheeks. Her hair was in sloppy dreads and appeared to be neon green in the club lighting.

“Is there another club nearby, I think I’m lost,” he said to her.

“Not that I’m aware of,” she replied. “You gonna take up one of my bar stools just to fiddle with that phone or you gonna order a drink?”

“Oh, uh, a Bud’s fine.”

She started laughing. The studs in her cheeks were shaking.

“You really are lost aren’t you,” she said. “We don’t serve shit like that here.”

“Any beer is fine,” Sam spoke, still looking at his phone.

“How about something a little stronger? We don’t do beer in this club.”

Sam looked up at her and then along the bar at everyone else’s drinks. They were all glasses filled with an array of different colors. Bright reds, glowing blues, and exotic yellows spread across the bar top like a festival of alcohol.

“Um…”

“How about I fix you up something special?” the bartender said with a sly look in her eyes.

It made Sam uncomfortable the way she said it. He watched her make the drink carefully, paranoid she might try to serve him dishwater and charge twenty bucks for it.

The bartender pulled out a tall glass, scooped in a handful of ice and then reached for the Absinthe. She poured in about two ounces before spinning the bottle in her hand and setting back down. Next, she squeezed in a splash of lemon juice and then a spoonful of what looked like sugar. Finally she pulled out a bottle of white liquid. It had a murky, cloudiness to it. She topped off the glass with it. Then stirred it with a black straw and slid it in front of him.

       “What’s this?” he asked.

       “They call it The Phantom Fairy,” she explained. “You’ll like it.”

       “What was the white stuff?”

       “That’s what she said,” the bartender jabbed.

       “What?” He wasn’t sure if he had actually heard her say that or if the loud thumping music was making him hear things wrong.

       “Imported, northern Europe or something,” she spoke. “They call it ghost blood.”

       Sam looked at the glass. He stirred it with the straw a few times, watching the murky cloud spread throughout the drink.

       “Just try it,” the bartender insisted. “It’s on the house.” She smiled that sly, mischievous way again and then walked to the other end of the bar.

       The music died down for a second and then blasted right back into a trance beat that sent a throb straight into Sam’s head. He looked back into the crowd, all young, sweaty goths with half-naked bodies grinding together. This wasn’t his place. He needed to leave.

       He glanced back at the drink once more.

       The Phantom Fairy.

       “What the hell,” he said softly as he picked up the glass and threw it back, chugging the whole thing.

       Right away he felt it. A burn going down. A fogginess going up. It was beyond strong. It was like nothing he had ever drunk before.

       What the fuck was in that? Ghost blood?

       He was ready to leave, but his head began to swim a little. He felt like he was standing on a boat, swaying from side to side. His eyes were blurry, teary. Across the room, young bodies were bouncing in slow motion to a beat that was slowly being muted out to just a quiet thumper. In the far corner something caught his eye.

A bright spot among the dark. A girl.

She wore all white. A sparkling, white dress, long-sleeved and down to the floor. Her hair was also white, but it looked healthy and shiny. Thick curls fell down into her pale face.

She stared at him, smiling, alluring. He smiled back and then she was gone. Disappeared into the sea of patrons. He strained his neck, up and down, left and right, trying to locate her.

There. She had moved about ten feet to her left, still starting, still smiling. Sam jumped to his feet and headed in that direction. As he fell into the crowd he lost sight of her amongst the arms reaching for the ceiling. It was so congested that he could barely move. He had to twist and weave through any crack of bodies he could find. Once he got through and closer to where he had last seen her she was already gone.

Where’d you go?

Then again he spotted her. She was in a back hall, standing just far enough in the darkness that he could see her. He made eye-contact and she greeted him with a wave, mouthing the words “come on.” It was all the motivation he needed. Quickly Sam pushed his way through the people over to her. The girl backed her way down the hall, staring at him with those eyes that bore into his soul. He wanted her. He wanted her now.

The girl stopped with her back against a door and two seconds later Sam was on her. Arms wrapped around bodies, lips locked together like life depended upon it. His hips knocked into hers causing the door to open and them to fall inside. He landed on her but managed to keep most of his weight on his knees and an extended arm. The floor was hard, and cold, probably soaked in piss, but he didn’t care. His mind was in one place and one place only.

Once the door closed behind them the room was in complete darkness. He couldn’t see her anymore, but that didn’t stop him from touching. His arms were all over her, tugging and pulling. Soon their kissing and grouping had turned into a full on sexual encounter. It was like he couldn’t think of anything else but having her. Any drifting thoughts were caught and turned back toward this sparkling, white girl. He didn’t last long and soon after he felt his eyes getting heavy. He couldn’t keep them open, couldn’t seem to do much besides lay there beside her, exhausted.

The next thing he knew he was opening his eyes. It was morning. He could see faint sunlight peeking in through a few slits of boarded-up windows. His head was throbbing, the echoing sounds of terrible music bounced in his head. As he tried to sit up he nearly puked.

Why are my pants down?

His jeans and underwear were bunched up around his ankles. He had slept half-naked.

Suddenly the image of the girl came back to him. He looked around the room for any sign of her but there was nothing. No note or card or phone number.

Hey, my first one night stand.

Sam pulled his jeans up and got to his feet. The room had a tilt to it and the slightest bit of a spin. He walked over to the door he remembered led to a hall way. When he opened it he expected to see the leftover mess of the crowded dance club, instead he saw an empty room. Completely empty. All the windows were boarded-up, all the shelves empty and covered in dust. Half the bar stools were knocked to the ground and broken. The bar top was clothed in a thick dust covering. There was no sign that there had been anyone there last night. It looked as if it had been years since anyone had been in there.

Sam found the door and had to pry it open. Someone had nailed it shut in hopes to keep people out. The sunlight outside was blinding. He turned back to the empty, dark club.

Did I imagine the whole thing?

His head was still spinning and his stomach was on the edge of sickness.

There’s no way. No way.

Right before he turned to leave something caught his eye. A bright spot amongst the darkness.

The sparkling, white girl stood on the opposite side of the room, laughing and fading away into nothing.

              The End.
 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Terribleminds Flash Fiction: Fairy Tales, Remixed

 
 




        Mom was at it again. Her drinking had been out of control for a few years now, but lately it had gotten beyond out of control. It had become disastrous. It had become violent and abusive. It had become unbearable.

        Sarah was a year younger than me and I did my best to protect her like an older brother should. Nights like tonight it was difficult.

        She was screaming, making it nearly impossible to do homework. Not that I cared much. School had become just another part of my life I was forced to tolerate. I was counting down the days until it was over. Sarah had given up on her studying hours ago. We both knew what kind of night it would be and it was easier to just get out of the way than deal with her.

         We could hear her screaming arguments through the bedroom door. On the phone with some jackass boyfriend, I assumed. She had already killed off a bottle of Vodka by the time we got home from school. That was hours ago.

         “I can’t deal with this again. I’m going for a walk,” Sarah said, standing up and grabbing her jacket.

         “Wait, wait, I’ll come too,” I replied.

         We sneaked out the window and down the fire escape. The city was half shadows in the fading sun.

         Outside I felt free, like I could do anything. The city was so big and full of life. Endless possibilities. When we were out of the house we weren't abused and neglected kids. We could be anyone.

         We walked to the edge of the park and sat on a bench near the entrance. One of our favorite pastimes was to people-watch. So many different lives going on at once. We liked to make-up stories about the interesting ones.

         Sarah always picked women with nice clothes and explained how they were traveling the world.

         “New York today, Paris tomorrow,” she said.

         Mine were always a bit more on the grim side.

         “Keep dreaming, she lives in a tiny apartment, struggling to pay off her credit cards, trying desperately to stay fashionable in hopes that a good-looking rich dude will sweep her off her feet so she can free-load for the rest of her life.”

         “Yeah right, Nicky” Sarah replied. “I don’t think so! Look at those shoes! She has money. She doesn’t need a guy!”

         “It's all a fa├žade.”

         “What?”

         “Never mind.”

         We went through a few more people and their make-believe stories before I noticed something just inside the park. There was a grassy area near two dead trees where a sewer grate sat. It was there that I saw something catch my eye. A movement from down inside.

         “Did you see that?” I asked Sarah, pointing out the area.

         “What about it?”

         “I thought I saw something. An arm reaching out,” I told her.

         “From the sewer? Oooh, let’s go check it out!” she said excitedly, and then jumped to her feet.

         “Sarah wait!”

         I jogged after her, catching up just as she reached the grate.

         We both peered into it but saw nothing but pitch black, darkness. I scooted closer, leaning my body over the grate, but still saw nothing.

         “I guess it was my eyes playing tricks on me,” I said.

         “Maybe,” Sarah replied.

         She brushed past me and jumped on the iron grate, bouncing on it like it was a trampoline.

         “What are doing? Get off that before you fall in,” I spoke.

         But she ignored me and continued to bounce until the grate made a creaking sound. She stopped, staring at me with fearful eyes.

         “Get off!” I shouted, reaching a hand to her.

         Then, before either one of us could do a thing, the grate broke open. Sarah fell in, grabbing my arm and pulling me down with her. We landed in water, only waist deep, but enough to keep us from getting hurt.

         I stood up, spitting out the worst tasting water that had ever brushed across my lips, before I helped Sarah to her feet. We were both soaked from head to toe, feeling like toilet-flushed sewer rats. I rubbed my eyes, hoping to get a clear look around, but stopped when I saw Sarah staring hard at something like she’d seen a ghost.

         Following her eyes I saw what had her so startled. I thought it was a naked woman at first. Old and skinny, covered in filth. But there’s something not-human about her. It was only slight things, elongated fingers tipped with black nails, teeth too long and sharp, green tint to her liver-spotted slimy skin, but it’s enough for me to realize. I jumped in response to the sight, instantly feeling like we were in danger.

         The woman-like creature smiled at us and said, “Now that you have intruded into my home you shall work for me. You shall work hard for me or never leave.”

         Before I could even think to move she had both Sarah and I by the necks, dragging us with an unnatural strength. She took us to an area where the sewer expanded into a larger corridor and up out of the water, tossing us into a corner.

         “You my pretty will fill this bucket with water and return it here,” the creature spoke to Sarah handing her an old, wooden pale with a large hole in the bottom.

         She then looked to me and pulled out an old, dull ax. I reached for it, careful not to touch her black rotted fingernails.   “You will chop this root in half for me.”

         I see a large tree root that has broken through the concrete floor and wall. It looked solid and thick. Even with a sharp ax I knew it would take me hours to get through it.

         “What if we don’t?” Sarah belted out.

         “If you do not, then I will kill your brother. If he does not, then I will kill you,” she said then began cackling so loud it echoed throughout the sewer corridor.

         Sarah shot me a glance, unsure of what to do.

         “Just do it,” I said and walked over to the large root.

         My first swing bounced back at me hard with a loud thud. The ax was so dull there was barely an impression in the root. I swung again with all of my might, determined to make a cut, but the root looked like it hadn’t even been touched.

         Behind me Sarah had made it over to the water, scooping the bucket full only to watch it all drain out the hole in the bottom.

         “This is impossible,” she complained. “I will never get it back over there full.”

         The woman-creature laughed harder, all of her sagging, nude parts shaking in unison. “Then you will never leave.”

         It went on for hours, maybe even days. Sarah filling the bucket with water and watching it spill out before she could make it back, me hacking away at a root that showed no sign of trauma. All the while the strange woman-creature sat in the corner brushing her hair and looking into a small hand-held mirror.

         Finally, after what felt like a lifetime the woman left us alone.

         She slumped out of the corridor and down a tunnel until we couldn’t hear her anymore. Both Sarah and I stopped working. We dropped the bucket and an ax and ran to each other.

         “We have to escape,” I said to her.

         “How?”

         I looked around the room, searching for anything that might help us. I saw that she has left the hairbrush and mirror and walked over picking them up.

         “What are we going to do with that?” Sarah asked me.

         “I don’t know, but feel this. There is something weird about these.”

         Sarah grabbed the mirror from my hand and looked into it.

         “It looks like a normal mirror but it does feel strange,” she said, “like enchanted or something.”

         Suddenly we hear the woman returning down the tunnel.

         “Run! Run!” I shouted, nearly pushing Sarah to move.

         “Don’t touch that! Put those down!” the woman screamed as she ran towards us reaching out a black-clawed hand.

         Sarah turned and led the way down an opposite tunnel, the creature just feet behind us.

         “She’s catching up!”

         I wasn’t sure where the idea came from, but I didn’t hesitate once it was there.

         The hairbrush. It’s magic.

         I threw the brush down to the tunnel floor behind us and instantly felt the enchantments beginning to work. The floor started shaking and rumbling like there was an earthquake. I looked back and saw the brush growing, expanding into a block of a thousand of spikes. The woman-creature stopped in front of it and for a second I thought we’d done it. We’d escaped.

         But she pushed her way through the spikes, darting in-between them until she was on our side and past them.

         “The mirror,” I called out to Sarah.

         She slowed down until I was even with her.

         “Throw it!” I shouted.

         She looked at it once more and then tossed it on the tunnel floor just in front of the creature. Instantly it grew in size, creating a large mirror blocking the tunnel completely.

         “It’s working,” Sarah cried out.

         The woman slammed her hands against it, banging on it hard, but the mirror held.

         “You have stopped me but for a minute,” she calmly stated. “I shall return with a sharp ax and break through this mirror. Then you will be mine forever.”

         Sarah and I didn’t wait around to watch . As soon as she was out of view, we ran until we found a ladder leading to the surface.

         Outside the park was quiet. It was late. Unknown things were lurking in the darkness beyond the streetlights.

         We didn’t care. We were free. We had escaped.

         After that night Sarah and I were closer than ever, keeping the secret of our time in the sewer to ourselves. And never laying another foot in the park or a sewer ever again.




         The End


Monday, January 20, 2014

Terribleminds Flash Fiction: The Who, The Where, The Uh-oh Challenge

 
 
 
 




My head is pounding.

Feels like I’m the pavement in New York City’s rush hour, a rapid thudding of business people and tourists stepping down without the slightest bit of consideration.

I don’t want to open my eyes. I want to enjoy the darkness a bit longer. It’s the calm before the storm or whatever that saying is. Once I open them I know the routine. Renee coming in with the jabs that quickly turns into the screaming match.

Can’t we just skip that part and get to the make-up sex?

I go on and open them, expecting her there with that expression, the one that plainly states that I’m a fucking loser and she is about to leave me. But she never does, ‘cause if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s talking her into staying.

Instead of our closet-of-a-bedroom, I see the sky.

Early morning I think.

Where the hell am I?

I feel grass on my neck and arms, suddenly pricking and itching, morning dew dampening the backside of my clothes. I sit up. It does a number on my pounding head. I don’t remember ordering the early morning jackhammer.

I’m in a field, about twenty feet from route 5. The road is empty, too early for morning commuters.
I don’t see my truck.

How the fuck did I get out here? 

I try to push through the pounding and remember last night.

Billy’s Tavern. I had only planned on getting one to cap off the long day. Maybe two. Okay, I knew at least two but I wasn’t planning on getting smashed. I can picture a shot glass. Empty. Drops of spilled whiskey on the bar. Fucking Garth Brooks blasting way too loud. Everything is hazy, I can’t remember much more.

Why do I do this to myself?

I stand up and start to walk home. It’s a few miles but the movement seems to help my headache die down a little.

The sun is peeking through the trees as I approach the trailer park. The sky lights up with streaks of pink and purple. Reflections of the light bounce off the aluminum roofs making it almost look nice.

Home sweet home, a single-wide in Leighbriar Trailer Park.

My truck isn’t here either. I probably left it at Billy’s. I will have to get Renee to drop me off later.

I walk up to the door and find it open. Not unusual for us during the day, but its early still. Everything looks the same, dishes stacked in the sink, clothes piles on the floor, the over-sized Zenith tube that you couldn’t pay someone to steal.

“Renee,” I call out.

There is no reply. I get concerned and run back to the bedroom.

She’s there, sitting on the bed. Relief washes over me.

“Baby, I’m so sorry,” I begin.

I see black tears streaming down her face. Smeared mascara. I can tell she’s been at it for a while.

“Look, I didn’t mean to. I love you.”

She breaks into a full on fit, shoulders shuddering up and down, a loud wail escapes her mouth.

“I’m serious. It’ll never happen again,” I say as I move forward to her.

Renee quickly sits up and storms into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. I hear her crying turning into a gagging sound and then she is puking. I really hurt her this time. I feel awful. The guilt makes me think of drinking. I know that’s the last thing I need right now. I need to fix this.

The bedroom fills with sounds of electronic pop music. Renee’s phone is lying on the bed. I lean over it and see my best friend Paul’s name.

Paul. Why would Paul be calling her?

She runs out of the bathroom and brushes passed me as she snatches up the phone.

“Paul!” she says, her voice full of emotion.

I can hear his voice but can’t tell what he’s saying.
“Yeah, hanging in there… Sure, that would great… Okay, come as soon as you can,” she tells him and clicks off the phone.

“Renee, what the hell is going on? What did he want?”

She’s still not answering me. Instead she goes to the mirror and cleans up her face. She slips on a new shirt and then gurgles some mouth wash. I’m following her like a lost puppy.

“Renee!”

She bulls passed me again, barely missing my shoulder, and then she’s out the door. I watch as she hops into Paul’s just arriving pick-up.

“Renee!”

They drive away leaving me alone in the trailer. My first reaction is to chase after her, but I know that won’t help. She needs time, I guess.

Fucking Paul. He knows I love her. What the hell is he up to?

I sit on the steps just outside the front door. Nothing seems to add up. I start pleading with my brain to give up more memories of last night. Trying to flip through flash cards of mental images stuffed way back in the memory file cabinet.

Hannah the bartender hands me another shot. “Stop being a pussy,” she says. “That ol’ lady of yours sure has got you whipped!” I throw the shot back. Then another. I’ve lost count now.

Inside the trailer the house phone rings. It startles me from my mental search and I debate answering it. Finally giving in to the slight possibility that it could be Renee, I stand and go inside. The phone stops just before I reach it. The answering machine clicks on.

It’s not Renee.

A male voice leaves a message about everything being ready. His voice sounds like a strained solemn. He’s clearly fake-caring. I check the caller ID and see Andrew’s Funeral Home. Then I spot the date. It says Monday.

Monday! It should be Saturday. I went out last night after work. How is it Monday? The machine must be screwed up, that’s all it is.

I walk back to the bedroom. I want to lie down. My head is spinning with crazed notions, none of them giving me comfort.

Just before I get to the bed I see my wallet and keys sitting on the bedside table. My cell phone is next to them, the screen is shattered, the casing cracked and scratched like it had been dragged behind a runaway stallion. I immediately feel around my jeans, sliding my hand across the pockets. No phone. No keys. No wallet.

Remember. Remember. You have to remember. 

My head is doing cartwheels now. I knock my fists against the sides, trying to knock something loose.

What time is it?” I ask Hannah. She points to the clock above her head. It’s late. Very late. Like I needed to be home hours ago late. I give her a few twenties and nod goodnight. Walking is like a punishment, I think as I stumble out the door. Just make it home and everything will be alright. 
 
My head hits the pillow. My eyelids feel heavy but I fight shutting them, unsure of what will happen when I open them again. I look to the walls, the pictures hanging around the room and on the dressers. Pictures of Renee and I overpopulate the few others of family members.

She’s so beautiful. Why do I treat her like this? 

I see her photos like it’s the first time I’m seeing her. She’s just as pretty as the first day we moved in here. Still so full of life and optimism, no matter how many times I shit on our life.

I’m suddenly longing for her harder than I can ever remember. I need her. I need her touch and her smell. I want to hold her. The longing is so strong I hear her voice.

“Thanks Paul,” she says.

Renee!

I sit up and go into the front room. She’s there hugging Paul.

You backstabbing motherfucker! Get your hands off of her!

They act like they can’t hear me, not even acknowledging me standing there. I fill with rage. I want to break something.
 
Preferably Paul.

I kick the coffee table onto its side. It gets their attention and they end the hug. Both turn and look at the table like it’s a wild animal.

“What was that?” Paul asked her.

“I don’t know, but we can worry about that later. Let me get dressed and then we can go,” she says.

I watch her maneuver past the overturned coffee table and into the bedroom, still avoiding looking at me. The door shuts behind her, leaving Paul and I alone together.

“So how long has this been going on?” I ask.

He walks into the kitchen and grabs a glass, filling it with water. The sound triggers something in my head and I see images. Memory flash cards.

I pull my keys out and drop them immediately. Taking a deep breath I bend down like I’m going under water, I guess an instinct to keep from puking. There are three sets of keys on the ground, all of them moving in circles. I guess wrong twice before I find the real one and pick it up, exhaling all the way to a standing position. The world is suddenly a carnival ride that I’ve been on way too long. Somehow I get the door to my truck open and the right key into the ignition. Dumb luck I suppose. 

Renee swings the door open just as Paul places the glass in the sink with the other dirty dishes. He turns to her. She's wearing a black dress, black shoes, not her usual style.

“Ready,” he says.

“No. But I know we have to,” she replies.

They walk to the door, about to leave me again without a single word. I can’t let her go. Not without talking to her, explaining everything.

They are out the door before I know and I have to chase them to catch up. As I dart down the steps, Paul’s truck starts up. I barely have time to dive into the truck’s bed before he is driving.

“Renee! Renee! Please let me explain!"

I have no idea what I’m going to say. I’m still not even sure what’s going on.

Paul is driving too fast for me to get a good balance. Every time I get to my feet I end up nearly falling out. I try to crawl up to the back window.

The road is doubling, then tripling, then doubling again. I shake my head, begging my eyes to focus on the right road. You've done it before, you can do it again, I tell myself. Then I notice my speed. I'm going too fast. I check the speedometer, but I can't figure out exactly where the red arrow is pointing to.

Paul parks his pick-up around the back of the church. He and Renee are out and walking before I can stand to my feet.

What's going on? What are they doing here?

I hop out and follow them.

“Renee!"

The door closes behind them without even a look back.

Inside its dark. It takes my eyes a second to adjust. There is someone playing the organ. It's a familiar song, but I can't place it. As I round the corner to the nave I see Renee. She is standing alone. Looking down at something. Someone. It's a casket.

I move in closer and recognize the clothes.

I look up to the road just in time to see the ditch. I yank the wheel hard left. Over-correct. Hard right. Next thing I know I see grass, then sky. I think I'm flipping. My head slams the roof. I never put on the seat belt. Why didn't I buckle my belt? The bridge of my nose slams the steering wheel. All I can hear is smashing. Metal and glass breaking. It feels like slow motion. Then I feel like I'm flying. I am flying. Ejected from the truck. Total blackness.

I died.” The words fall from my mouth like vomit.

Renee is looking down at my corpse. She is crying again. I walk up next to her, try to put my arm around her. I'm suddenly transparent. My arm moves right through her.

I'm such a fuck up. I'm so sorry baby. I love you so much,” I say.

I love you,” she replies.




THE END.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To Playlist or Not To Playlist

I know that a lot of writers have very differentiating opinions on this subject.  Some people prefer to write in silence, some like atmospheric sounds in the background, some like to have music without lyrics, while others like to have a playlist that represents the story playing while they write. 

I fall somewhat in the latter.  I enjoy having a playlist while I write.

However, my playlists aren't made up of songs that remind me of the story or characters, at least not lyrically.  Most of the songs I prefer to listen to are ones that put me in the mood of the story.  Something about each one of these songs, whether it is the lyrics or music or both make me feel something that connects me to my work but doesn't necessarily represent the work itself.

Right now I am nearly finished writing my first draft of The Bone Carousel and thought I would share my playlist.

Keep in mind I have a very large range of musical tastes spanning many different genres. 

In no particular order...


Placebo - A Million Little Pieces
Blaqk Audio - Bliss
Aphex Twin - Flim
The Birthday Massacre - Remember Me
Ashlee Simpson - Bat For A Heart
Empire Of The Sun - Awakening
Katatonia - The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here
Julien-K - Nights Of Future Past
Antihoney - Dove
Halou - Dog Dreams
Mike Shinoda, Feat. Chino Moreno - Razors Out
Lana Del Rey - Born To Die
Sleep Party People - I'm Not Human At All
The Presets - Girl And The Sea
Morgan Page - Fight For You
Skrillex - Summit
Marilyn Manson - The Last Day On Earth




Sunday, January 12, 2014

Terribleminds Flash Fiction: Roll For Title Challenge




“Fuck!”

My fingers are getting numb already. God damn, cheap ass snowmobile. I can already hear my wife laying it on, hey, you get what you pay for. She can be a real bitch sometimes.

Of course she’s right. What was I thinking buying a decade old snowmobile from a fucking, rust bucket pawn shop in the buttcrack of nowhere?

I was thinking I needed something fun in my pathetic, cookie-cutter life. Some kind of a break. Something new. Something exciting. I bought a used, barely running snowmobile.

I try to push the sleeve of my coat back to check how long I’ve been out, but my gloves are so damp that I can’t get a good hold of it. I keep trying to convince myself that the tingling in my fingertips is just them falling asleep not the early stages of frostbite. Finally I lift my sleeve up to my mouth and bite the cuff, pulling it back enough to see my watch.

4:48 Shit. It will be getting dark soon.

I’ve been walking for over an hour already and there is nothing in sight but white. White snow-covered ground. White snow-falling sky. This is what I get for taking the wife and kid on a winter vacation. Who the hell goes on a winter vacation?

We are summer people. We go to the beach. We walk on the god damn hot sand and burn our feet. We get sun tans that resemble red, blistering soon-to-be-cancer burns. We don’t go to a mountain cabin in three feet of snow. We don’t try to reconnect with the land by buying a fucking cheap snowmobile and getting deserted in the middle of nowhere with zero go damn cell service.

The snow fall is picking up. I can barely see now, squinting to keep the flakes from landing in my eyes. They land on my lashes and sit for a second before melting and dripping down my face. If it was any colder I know they’d freeze and I’d be in some real shit.

It’s getting harder to walk. My boots feel like they are sinking deeper into the snow than they should be.

Is it really getting that deep?

In my estimation I should be about a mile from the cabin. Not too bad. I might be able to do it in thirty minutes if I stay in the right direction.

I feel the ground slope beneath my boots. I sink in. The snow is above the knee now and falling rapidly.

Then I hear it.

A crack.

It’s barely audible but deafening.

I freeze in place. A new kind of terror runs through me. This is something I've never felt before. This is a real life and death fear.

Is this what I was dreaming about back at the safety of my office cubical? Is this the break in the monotony that I was yearning for?

No, this was a different kind of break. This was an oh-shit-something-is-breaking-under-me-and-I’m-about-to-fall-in kind of break. This was bad.

A second crack.

This one was even louder.

My heartbeat was like an engine on overdrive. It felt like it would launch itself right out of my chest and skip across the snow leaving a bloody trail.

I didn’t know if I was about to fall into a icy pond, an old well, a shitty septic tank or what it was, but my mind was running through a list of all the worst places.

Then it happened.

A loud barrage of cracking followed by me falling between the cracks. My life story.

Only I didn’t fall into an icy pond and become an instant ice cube or land in a pile of a year’s worth of shit and urine. Instead I fell about twelve/fifteen feet, staying upright the whole way down, stopping in what appeared at first to be a cavern but I quickly realized this wasn’t a cave.

This was a burial vault. A tomb.

Even though I knew I should be focusing on climbing out, all I could think about was exploring. There was eight caskets inserted in the walls of stone, each one had a marker with a name across it.

Angela O’Brien, Stephen Kook, Barry Graves… Barry… Graves… ok, that is classic.

There didn’t seem to be any correlation between them. I couldn’t find a common family name anywhere. Even more bizarre was the dates on the individual makers. They were barely a handful of years old. The oldest date I could find was Mr. Graves who passed away just six years ago.

Towards the back of the tomb there was what looked like an altar of some sorts. It was made of bone and stone with a fully intact human skull sitting in the center. Candles aligned the sides, half-burned with black wicks and dried wax puddles around their base. The sight of it sent a chill down my back but it was too intriguing to not approach.

As I scoot closer, the lighting started getting worse. I could barely see my boots. I need a light. Of course I didn’t pack a flash light, why would I.

My phone.

It still works, even though it gets no signal, I could use it to see with. I tried to maneuver it out of my pocket but the combo of wet gloves, tight pants, and numbing fingers wasn’t helping. I pull off the gloves and the cold hit them like stabs of a thousand vampire needles aching for a taste of blood.

Quickly I slide my hand into my pocket and pull out the phone, then jam my hand back inside the glove.

How long does it take for frostbite to set in?

I point the light at the altar and watch as the candles surrounding the skull send shadows on the wall like tall guardians. I inch closer, all the way to the edge of the altar and stare into the eyeless sockets of the skull.

“We’ve been expecting you.”

What the hell? Did that skull just speak to me? No fucking way. I didn’t see his jaws moving so it couldn’t have been…

“The last casket can finally be filled.”

Who the fuck… ok, ok, I am definitely hearing some crazy shit right now. Probably hallucinating from the cold. Is that a symptom of frostbite?

There was a rumbling to my left and then I spot it. A casket is sliding out from the wall. It stops just short of falling to the floor and then opens. It’s empty inside.

I turn the light to glance at the name marker and see my name.

Ok, this is a fucked up hallucination.

I rub my eyes and check again but it’s still there, staring at me like it’s common knowledge and I’m the dumb fuck for not knowing it’s there.

“I can finally be released from this prison.”

God damnit I can’t believe I’m doing this but…

“Who are you?” I ask towards the lifeless skull.

“That is not important. Just know that you have been destined to be in this spot for longer than you can imagine.”

“I don’t understand,” I say. “How is that possible?”

“There are always things in this world that cannot be explained,” the voice spoke to me.

“So what, you just expect me to hop right in that casket and give up on life just because my name is written on a piece of fucking slate.”

“It is destined to be so.”

“Well, I hate to break it to you buddy. That ain’t fucking happening,” I curse and begin to back away.

I don’t wait for a response. I’m quickly back at the hole entrance and trying to climb. I search for a handhold, suddenly realizing the walls aren’t dirt but stone. Slick, flat stone. I can’t find anything to grab onto.

It’s too high to jump… there’s no way out.

I turn and go back to the altar. The skull is still there, unmoving but scaring the living shit out of me. My instinct is to smash the hell out of it.

Can’t fuck with me if you’re a pile of dust motherfucker!

I lead with a kick and knock the skull and half the candles off the altar. I follow that with clumsy fist crashing down on top of the bone table.

Where are you at? You can’t hide from me bitch!

I look for the skull. I want to smash it into tiny dust particles so small it will be like it never even existed.

There. Hiding below the bone table I spot the little fucker. I take a step back to get a better stomping angle and feel my heel land on something. It moves under my foot.

A candle.

One of those god damn guardian candles is under my foot and I’m losing my balance. I feel my weight shift.

Fuck!

“Shhhhiiiittt!!”

It’s the only word that falls from my mouth as I start to flail around, desperate to stay upright. It’s a losing battle as my weight is already shifted too much in the wrong direction. I go crashing down backwards, falling blindly.

Of course, I land in the god damned open casket. Where the fuck else would I land?

The lid slams shut and I realize after a few pushes and punches that the lid is locked tight. I’m not getting out.

Total blackout. I can't see anything.

Breathe… Don’t panic…

My phone.

Try your phone again. Where is your phone?

I check everywhere. Left pocket. Right pocket. Jeans. Coat.

It’s not here. I feel around the casket.

Nothing.

I must have dropped it when I was attacking the altar.

So that’s then… this is how you die… buried alive?

I breathing hard, gasping for air now. Full on panic is setting. I scratch at the lining of the casket. The last resort.

Calm down… you’re using up all the oxygen…

I start to feel light-headed. I can’t seem to get a full breath of air. Everything inside is a about to pop out. It’s overwhelming.

Get a hold of yourself… breathe… breathe… bre..

 
The End.