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New Inspiration: Steampunk Johannesburg

I’ve made a new observation: I’m not observant enough. I spend at least two hours in traffic and apart from the massive billboards vying from my attention, I don’t really look around much. Or I may look at a car but never really my surroundings.

As one who loves nature, I’m far more fascinated with drives down to Durban or Drakensberg, where the concrete towers and varying high walls and buzz of incessant traffic give way to sprawling greenery against a backdrop of harsh, grey mountain dipping its feet in deep-blue tranquil waters. I can watch that all day. How I love that scene. That image.

image of Drakensberg mountain

Image courtesy of: Go Self-Drive Tours

It was only quite recently, following a trip back to the city from nature’s beauty, that I became aware of landscapes around my home-city too. Then during the walk through the Joburg Central Business District (CBD), I started to notice the little things about it. The varying trees growing within the city. The modern buildings directly across their older, derelict kin. The repaired roads running parallel to the new public transport lane of the Rea-Vaya and its co-joined Bus lane. The uneven, mud-caked site populated by squatters and hawkers right beside the refurbished pavement leading towards the Mandela Bridge.

I noticed the cluttered, and varying shops with displays just outside their glass facades, with the door man calling out to us passing by. The street vendors cooking seemingly shady meat on equally-shady grills. Then I noticed the people. Like really noticed the people. All shapes and colours and fashions and styles. A marriage of cultures, languages, people, nations. Truly a rainbow nation.

image: Johannesburg CBD, Mandela Bridge

Johannesburg CBD and the Mandela Bridge

 

Same City. But Different: Egoli – City of Gold

So this new idea I’m rolling with (amongst others, I know, I know) came to me as a series of intermingled thoughts finding connections I hadn’t seen before. They are:

  1. Johannesburg is nicknamed, the City of Gold by miners who worked in the gold mines. e’Goli – where there is gold. I spend a lot of time in these streets. In a car, but… still.
  2. Many of you know I have a love for all things Steampunk. I even started a steampunk tumblr account at one point and I’m still (still) working on my steampunk novel Junk Yard Angel – 5 years strong.
  3. Worldbuilding is one of my favourite activities while I’m driving. Spending too much time in my head thinking of different scenarios. Concepts as trivial as what my first speech will be when I publish my book, to creating whole worlds where the species is telepathic which means we would not be able to hide our thoughts and someone just created a device that stops that from happening and its implications. You know. The usual drivel.

Then came that truly mind-blowing thought: Steampunk Johannesburg made with real gold buildings and political leaders broadcasting their campaigns on airships crossing the city skyline. The air has a constant buzz, not only from the passing pedestrians of every ethnicity, but from the gears that run the city, and the continuing mines constantly searching for the precious metal. Yes. I can see it now.

It’s so beautiful.

image: Johannesburg skyline sunrise

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Submitting the Perfect Story

The year begins with a bang and there’s been much afoot since the clock turned the calendar over from 2017 to 2018. I’ll be meeting Nicky of Chasing Dreams Publishing this Saturday to work on getting my own novella published. What I hope to be a psychological thriller horror based on a short story I’m working on.

This particular short story is an idea I want to submit to FlashBack Fiction by the end of this week. The foundation for what is to come. The problem is that I keep running into the same wall every time I get to that 500 word limit; I find the story… boring.


The Perfect Story

I sit at my desk and let the mind begin its usual marathon run through visuals and ideas until it latches upon a man in a high collar shirt, white, and sleeves rolled to the elbows. Perfectly tousled hair whips in the soft breeze as he walks through a bustling street filled with dames in flouncing dress and lace parasols. The men tip hats, lips curling up with their carefully trimmed mustaches. Others ride by nonchalant on bicycles with empty baskets leading the way. Many park against intermittent trees lining the paved walkways where cafes and curious shops have opened for the morning. Woven chairs are arranged around square tables draped in cloth, adorned with cutlery and obscure vases from the local artisans. Coffee. Bacon. Toast. Their scents fill the warm air. Accompanying the scent is the rustle of leaves from the nearby trees. The crinkle of newspaper as a man in a bowler hat turns his copy of Die Zeit. Tranquil. Peaceful. Happy.

It contrasts the thoughts swirling through my protagonist who watches with a careful smile hiding his darkest thoughts. The satchel at his waist portrays him as an artisan though none know of his particular work. Of the “museum” that awaits him in the bricked apartments right above the supposed serenity the scene in front of him plays. He knows behind the coiffed styles of both the men and woman, behind their rosy cheeks and wide smiles and oiled beards lie secrets. Fears. Worries. Dark thoughts. They aren’t that much different from him. Not much at all.

And this is where I begin my story. The above description is a cut scene from my mind and now we step into the protagonist’s shoes as the writing begins.

Only from here, as I try to slip the darkness into the serenity, I find the pacing too slow or too fast. The transition too drastic or not drastic enough. I’m failing to find the balance between writing style and effect. To add that gut-wrenching punch drawing breath from lungs as you wail “No!” in horror and squirm where you sit, glancing behind you as paranoia sweeps along your spine in cold tendrils.

That. That is what my perfect story would be. But I’m struggling here. Anyway let me get to writing the new draft and see if I can craft the perfect story so I can submit it. *Sighs

Blogger Prompt Chain

I was tagged by my good friend, and fellow writer/blogger/gamer (and all round awesome) Rachel Poli to do a Blogger Prompt Chain. It was created by A.J. Alexander – you should visit her blog too. The idea is to create a “chain” of stories written by writers and bloggers across the blog-o-sphere.

Since I didn’t have a post for today, and Rachel so kindly invited me to participate, I thought, why not.

But first…
Hipster Ariel I Don't Do Challenges

The Rules:

  1. Pick one of the five given writing prompts (picked from Rachel’s blog – link above)
  2. Set up the Blogger Prompt Chain banner and publish your story under the banner.
  3. After your story, continue the chain by forwarding an invitation to five bloggers or writers. (In case a writer doesn’t have a blog, guest posts can be offered)
  4. Don’t forget to link the writers to your blog and back to the one who invited you.
  5. Publish the five writing prompts and rules!

The Prompts

The End of The Bucket List
Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.

Get Out of the Car With Your Hands Up
You’re driving to your favorite city when you’re stopped by a police officer. Sure, you were going a few miles over the speed limit, so you’re not overly surprised. But you are surprised when the police officer gets to your car and screams, “Get out of your car with your hands up!” This leads to an unexpected night for you. Write this scene.

Hiring a New Villain
Your old villain quit over creative differences, so you’ve put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.

At The End of The Rainbow
You and a friend have decided to try and follow a rainbow to see if the end holds a pot of gold. But when you finally reach the end, you find something much more valuable than a pot of gold—and it changes your life. Write this scene.

The Letter All Writers Should Write
Write a letter to a person who supported your writing career, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher (even one that supported you at a very young age before you knew that it would blossom into a writing career), an author you’ve never met but have been inspired by his or her writing. Do you thank them? Do you blame them? Take the letter in any direction you want.

My Choice: At The End of The Rainbow

“You know, scientifically, we can never reach the end of a rainbow. You know this right? Right.” Chae says, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“No science today buddy, only faith.” I reply. Chae shakes his head.  Dried grass crunches under our feet, the sun a welcome sight parting what little clouds remain. A rainbow, clear as day and completely translucent, arches perfectly ahead of us.

“I’m all sweaty. Not even five minutes and it’s searing hot.” Chae says. “That humidity.”

“It will be worth it. Trust me.” I say. In my pocket is a piece of concrete slab. Etched into it hours before, as the rain poured down around me, is an ancient symbol. One that grants access to a rainbow. A perfectly arched rainbow.

“I do trust you. That’s the problem.” Chae says, squinting against the sun. The rainbow seems to recede with every step we take.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this. Faith won’t fail me today.” I say, running my fingers along the sharpened grooves.

“Faith isn’t going to solidify a rainbohmygosh.”

The rainbow, which was seemingly far, and fading quickly, is suddenly a solid, hued path dropping right at our feet from nothing. It expands forward ahead of us in a path wide enough for a car.

“Impossible!” Chae says, taking off his glasses to wipe them. As though the smudges and dust creates the vision before us. Only we both know its real.

“Faith my friend.” I say, feeling a smile tug at my lips, “Let’s see where the rainbow-brick road leads.”

We step onto the path and immediately a cold shiver runs through me. I turn to Chae to find he has paled considerably.

“No.” Chae whispers, “No. No. No. No. Somethings wrong. Something is very wrong!” His voice screeches.

“No man, it’s perfectly okay.” I say although the pounding in my chest says otherwise. I know it’s not okay at all. However, if we have reached the end of the rainbow then there must be some nugget of truth to the whole pot of gold myth. If only the sudden menacing presence around us wasn’t so strong.

“Do you notice something weird?” Chae asks. His eyes cast about the veld that stretches out around us. I notice it then.

“The world looks transparent.”

“I think we should turn back. I really think we should turn back.”

Chae begins to whirl around but something glints just ahead of us. I grab his arm and whirl him around.

“Look!”

“We cannot continue along this… this fantasy!” He yells without looking ahead.

“We found it Chae!” He stops long enough to look, then he runs.”

“Dude! Wait what if…” But he’s already reaching whatever it is ahead of us. I go after him, seeing that it’s not a pot of gold after all.

“It’s…”

“A book?”

Chae lifts it up. The cover is pure gold, yet bends and flexes easily. He casually turns the blank pages.

“Well that was a waste of time.” He says, shutting the book with a snap.

“Maybe if we write in it, whatever we write will come to life.”

“That’s just stupid.” He adjusts his glasses, dusts his pants before pulling out a tiny clutch pencil from his back pocket.

“I thought it was stupid.” I say with a grin.

Chae shrugs,

“So is finding a gold-bound book at the end of a rainbow.”

We put it down and I take the pencil from Chae.

“Don’t write anything stupid.”

“Shut up.” I laugh. Thinking. Then I have an idea,

We turn around and there’s a pot of gold.

“That’s really stupid.” Chae says, but he turns around. “Oh no…”

I look up from the page and follow his gaze. There’s a pot of gold alright. A pot made of gold. I sigh.

“I guess we need to be more specific.”

“I wasn’t “oh no-ing” about the pot…” Chae says. I look beyond the path and feel my stomach drop. Shadows rise up around us in coils of smoke. They block the path back but worse than that, they each hold similar books. They begin to shamble towards us. Chae clutches his chest like he’s having a heart-attack. I look at the book in my hand, at Chae and at the shadows. An idea pops up.

“As the figures draw closer, they part long enough for us to run through. We escape unscathed.”

Only the words begin to twist on the page, and words vanish and reform.

“As the figures draw closer, Chae sacrifices himself, parting them long enough for me to run through. I escape unscathed.”

“Wait no!” I scream at the book.

“Run!” Chae says. I look up to find him launching himself at the closest shadows, who part long enough to create a path. My feet suddenly move on their own.

“No!” I scream as my body jolts itself forward and runs. My arms reach for Chae but he’s too far.

“Chae!!”

But the figures clutch him tightly and I am propelled off the rainbow-path and into the heat. I turn around, only to find the rainbow has faded into the distance.

“Chae!”


I Invite:

  1. Carin Marais
  2. Nicky – Chasing Dreams
  3. Jen – Fictional Jenn (Where’s your site JEN!)
  4. Kelly Griffiths
  5. Tyron “Odly Otter” Armstrong

You don’t want to participate but it would be amazing if you did. If you do, please leave a link to your story!

 

 

Friday Fiction: The Faithful in Fairland

Cliche #1:

A priest who has lost his faith and now must face a supernatural evil that will lead him back to his faith.


He walks with a slight lilt. His black vestments usually hide the limp but today he wears a plain black shirt and jeans. The clerical collar makes its usual appearance and so does his dazzling white teeth smile. The congregation has gathered outside his house as a silent mob. They hold no torches or pitchforks, but their eyes are daggers and their pursed lips contain venom waiting to be unleashed.

Nonetheless he spreads his arms out in a welcome gesture, a token to his past life as pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“Well this is a warm welcome.” He says to the sea of faces. The community of Fairland were always a close-knit family, and today the family is more united than ever.

“Have you truly abandoned your faith, father?” A woman says, stepping forward from the parting crowd like a biblical figure. In her hands she clutches a bible to her flowery dress.

“I have no idea what you mean?”

“Oh you know exactly what you mean.” Her knuckles turn white as she clutches the book tighter. “We know about Claire. Father.”

If the priest shows any concern it does not break on his lined face. Not even a twitch of his white-whiskered mouth.

“Claire? Claire is dead my good people. Did you come disturb me over my dead wife?”

“Oh she’s most definitely not dead.” Emily says. The crowd murmurs in agreement but keep their voices to themselves. Only the appointed speaks now.

“Emily, you were at her funeral as many of you were too.” His eyes flit to familiar faces. They do not look away but keep a steady, silent watch over him. They do not notice the tremble in his hands as he moves them behind him.

“We buried her body, you’re right pastor, but not her spirit.”

The priest’s smile widens before he barks a loud laugh. The crowd stirs uneasily.

“My, that is unexpected. As the Word of God states, absent from the body present with the Lord.” he says. Emily raises the bible like a weapon, the leather bending between her fingers.

“You dare mock the word of God!” She takes a step forward. The crowd simultaneously follow.

“You who once did the work of the Lord until drink took over your soul and tainted your words!” Emily takes a step. The crowd takes a step. The priest steps back twice until he’s in the gloom of the house.

“You who baptised our children in the holy water while you yourself baptised your soul with the blood of Satan!” By now Emily is on the porch step. The crowd funnels in behind her. As she takes a step forward, the priest shuts the door quickly. But it is too late as Emily’s foot works to jam the door. Only the door does shut with a resounding bang. He looks down at the severed foot as blood begins to gush onto his shoes.

“Oh dear Lord.” He mutters, shuffling back with his hand clutching his heart. As he whirls about he finds Emily standing before him, a stump of a foot dragging blood with it as she steps forward.

“Where has your faith gone!” She screeches. The priests quickly widening eyes now shut completely. He shuffles back, almost slipping on the blood before the door holds him up.

“Where is your faith!”

Behind him, through the door he hears the crowd chant.

“Faith. Faith. Faith.” It is monotonous. Buzzing against his ears. “Faith. Faith. Faith.”

He opens his eyes and sees Emily in her true form. The same one he buried so many years ago. Scalp caved in at the left temple where blood oozes with the wriggling form of thick white maggots. Her skin bloats against her bones, garish green over portions of porcelain white skin. She shuffles forward, the bible still clutched between the bones of her decayed hands.

When she throws the book at him, he realises it is not a bible at all. It bangs against the door beside his head and flops onto the floor open. A picture slides from the pages and lands at the man’s feet. He looks up and Emily nods her head to it. Her face no longer pulls taught but slacks downward as though forlorn. The priest bends down and lifts the image,

“Oh lord no.” He says, the image shaking between his fingers. In it is the community of Fairland, familiar faces he’d nodded to outside. He stands in front of an altar before their bodies, all of them lying haphazardly across the pews of the church. A dark shadow stands behind him, hands on his shoulder like a proud father.

“How… when…” he falls to the ground.

“After Claire died, you changed. You let it in.” Emily says. He looks to her to find her jaw hanging agape. Black liquid pours down her chin.

“Restore us before we are taken into the bowels of Sheol.” Emily whispers. Then her rotting body falls to the floor face first. As it hits with a wet smack, a rosary rolls across the floor to his feet.

“Where is my faith…” he whispers to the now empty house.


Okay it sure could use a little more work, first draft after all, but you get the gist of it yeah? And what about that silent mob? Reminds me of a scene in R.L. Stine where the kids move in to a new neighbourhood only to find all their neighbours are ghosts. *Shivers

Did I do the cliché justice? Have you read/watched anything familiar? I would love to know.

 

Friday Fiction: The Playground


The four fundamental elements I spoke about in Genre Writing: Horror Fundamentals are: Atmosphere. Fear Factor. Character Flaw. Plot Twist.

The sunlit jungle gyms and slides were half obscured by uniformed, screaming children. They scampered about like mice, eyes alive, front teeth missing, dirt and dust over their shorts and skirts and shirts and knee length socks. One of them, on his way down the scorching, silver pole leading to the graveled floor, looked across the playground. Three of the fourth graders were leading a second grader towards Big School. They weren’t allowed there during school hours. Not at all.

He slid down quickly and started to follow,

“Where you going Ted?” Leena asked. Ted shot her a dark look, index finger rising to his lips,

“I’m coming now.” Ted whispered, turning to see the other kids slip through the side gate.

Ted ran as quickly and quietly as he could. Were they trying to get the second grader in trouble, his mind asked. Was the kid in trouble? Why was he following them at all?

As he peeked around the corner, he felt the hairs on the nape of his neck rise. They weren’t going to the Big School after all. They were heading to the disused toilets in the back corner of the old classrooms. A bricked wall separated the two halves of the school, which had cut off the toilets from being seen. Since no one used it, there were no lights inside, and to enter you had to walk through a small corridor. All in total darkness.

Ted shivered.

Sometimes, he and his friends would dare each other to run past. Once he’d dared his friend Johnny to knock on the door. Johnny did. A moment later he’d ran out crying, claiming he’d seen massive red eyes staring at him. They never did go back.

Ted wouldn’t have followed these kids today. Not since that day with Johnny. In fact, not ever. But what if the kid was going to get fed to that red-eyed thing Johnny saw. What if the fourth graders didn’t know? What if they did know?

He thought about calling a teacher but it was already too late. They were approaching the corridor and he could hear the older boy’s snicker. The other kid was crying. But what could he really do? He didn’t know but when all the kids stepped into the corridor, Ted hurried after them.

The entrance was dark. Just a rectangular wall of black. Ted had never seen the sun shine on this side of the building. From inside he could hear whispers, and the younger boy’s sobbing. Someone told him to shut up or they’d leave him inside. Then it went eerily quiet. As though all sound had been cut off from inside.

Ted waited at edge of the corridor, leaning in to hear better. He thought he could hear shuffling. Or maybe mumbling. He wasn’t sure.

Then someone screamed and all the blood drained from his veins and filled up with liquid ice. He stood frozen. Another scream jerked him backwards against the wall. He couldn’t see or feel the shivers that took over his body. He stared at the darkness and he felt it stare back at him.

Then two red eyes blinked open. Ted screamed. His body came back to life and he pushed away from the wall to run. A warm hand gripped his calf. He screamed again.

“Ted! Ted!” He turned around and it was the second grader. He was okay. Ted fought to calm down but then he saw the streaks of red on the kid’s arm.

“What… what happened?”

The kid smiled, revealing more of the red on his teeth.

“Well… we won’t be having a bullying problem anymore.”

Did you pick up the four elements inside the story? What basics do you use to craft your story?

Friday Fiction: Hope

Earlier this week in my new segment, Genre Writing, I touched on two fundamental elements I use when writing a story. Today you get to read a short story based on these two elements. They are: Emotion, and Idea. Read the blog post to get the full explanation yeah? For those who have already, (or skipped reading it, it’s cool don’t worry) enjoy!

*

Fundamentals: Idea – Image Prompt. Emotion – Sadness

Words: 385

None can fathom the depth of his sadness. Below the expanse of heaven, his people move about with self-righteous nonchalance. They harvest from fields with praise only to their hands and tools. They forget that the rain they depend on comes not from their efforts. The soil they churn has been there before them. The seeds they plant borne from the land they did not create. They craft their own god and call him science, technology, human advancement and other names. Had they forgotten him so quickly?

He descends from his throne to an unknown island where he dons the garb of a simple fisherman. Here his creations thrive. Two gargantuan trees, capped by thick foliage, lilt towards the dark waters like tired sentries. Their smaller brethren once sprouted across the land. Now bricked buildings stand in their way and a different breed thrives.

“Good evening sir.” A silhouette says. It’s attire is as dark as the sky. Crisp. Clean. Over the heart is a golden pin that reads Greg – Manager.

“Good evening to you.” He says to Greg the Manager.

“I didn’t know the fishermen were still working tonight.” Greg says. His eyes turn towards the waters where there are lights in the distance. No boats bob between.

“I was merely visiting.” He says. Greg smiles.

“No worries. Do you need a place to stay for the evening? We’re fully booked but I’m sure I can find a place for you just for the night.”

“I am a mere fisherman. I cannot afford this place.”

“Don’t worry about that sir. Also, I noticed there aren’t any boats left. How are you going to head home?”

The man turns towards the waters, then back at Greg.

“Are you sure?”

Greg turns to the water and sure enough a dinghy sits against the shore.

“What in heaven’s name…”

“Anyway Greg, thank you for your kindness this evening. You have given me some hope yet.”

“Hope for what?”

“Humanity.” Greg is still staring at the dinghy but when he turns to the man, he is no longer a fisherman. His robes glow gold and flow to the floor.

The man points to the sky. The clouds flare with light the colour of dusk, as flames of jagged lightning break across the sky. Then he is gone.


Hope you enjoyed this little tale. May you have a grand weekend ahead!

 

 

Friday Fiction: Regrets

 

“There is no black and white when it comes to stalking. You’re either doing it or not doing it.” Haley said. She leaned over my shoulder. Her scent filled the air.

“It’s Instagram though.”

“Right. Legalized stalking but it’s still stalking.”

I swiped through the images then stopped. The image was of my stalkee – Jordan Washington. She’d tilted her head just enough to let the black braids hang down one side of her face onto the picnic table. Sunlight dulled against her face enough that it made her skin almost golden brown. And she had a pretty face.

“You see that don’t you?” I asked Haley. I could hear the grin in her voice,

“She’s definitely pretty.”

I pinched my fingers together against the screen and slowly pulled them apart. Zooming in past her shoulder to the tree in the distance. I kept my fingers from shaking and ignored the hairs on my nape rising.

“You see that though?”

“No I… oh…” Haley’s hand gripped my shoulder tight. “Dude!”

“I know. Hold on check.” I swiped through a couple more images, zooming into key areas just beyond Jordan’s smiling face. One of these was in her bedroom and the mirror behind her reflected the open window.

“Tyrone.”

“Yeah?”

“That’s you isn’t it?”

“Yes and no. Either I have an evil twin brother, an evil clone… or someone out there is pretending to be me.”

Haley’s hand gripped tighter.

“Or some-thing.”

*

Jordan Washington. That’s where it begins. That’s. Where. It. Begins. Begins. Ends. There is no… there is no time and there is all the time. All. The. Time.

I am. I am not ready to lose her. Not again. Not when I must. I must…  Must find. Must find Jordan. Must. Save. Her.

*

Jordan lay under the covers with her phone shaking between her hands. She hadn’t logged in to Instagram in months yet new photos kept posting themselves on her feed. Each of them with his figure in the back. The wooden floorboards creaked. An invisible weight pushing against her chest, squeezing her lungs together. Her breath came out short and shallow and she fought to keep it quiet. From beyond the blanket she sensed a shadow. Like cold hands pressing down her shoulders, grazing her spine from neck to lower back. A single harried breath echoed across her room, freezing her on the spot. Her hands were shaking so bad the phone fell out and hit the bed.

“GET OUT TYRONE!” She screamed, throwing the blankets off and sitting up quickly. The room was empty. Silent. She swiveled her head around thinking she might see him and hoping she wouldn’t. Nothing.

“I need to get out of here.” She whispered into the air, hands running through her hair. She’d already bought her train ticket and couldn’t wait for morning. Whatever game Tyrone was playing she couldn’t take it anymore. She slipped under the cover and picked up the phone to see the time.

Her breath caught in her throat for a second before a scream escaped her lips. The screen was filled with Tyrone’s face, haggard and drooping. Two words were emblazoned across the image.

“I’m. Coming.”

*

Fog sat across the horizon like a blanket, cloaking the street enough that we could barely see what was ahead of us.

“Put on the fog lights.” Haley said.

“I did. It’s not working.”

“Well then drive faster! Or… do something!” She sat forward on the passenger seat. Her hand angled away from her lips as teeth chewed through fingernails. She’d been like this since I picked her up five minutes ago. Outside, the morning fog continued its endless descent.

“If we get into an accident then it will all be for naught.”

Haley shook her head,

“If we don’t get there quickly it may be too late.”

I sat closer to the steering wheel and peered through the fog. I knew the road well enough but even in that fog it was difficult to anticipate anything. Eventually we saw the off-ramp we had to take, and the green sign above us.

Lincoln Station

It was still early enough that we had ample parking space, but there was still some life. A woman hauling out a large travel bag. Business men in suits chatting on phones. Children clinging to parents. All of them swaddled in heavy clothing. It was unceremoniously cold.

“Dude just park anywhere.”

“Chill!”

“I can’t chill! You saw that last post this morning right? That Tyrone-Clone keeps getting closer with each pic and this time it was literally standing over her. By her bed!”

“Why can’t she see it though? Or feel him? Or something!”

Haley shrugged, then chewed another nail, gazing off towards the train tracks in the distance.

“Maybe she does.”

I found a space and we jumped out of the car, racing towards the open platform where a small group had already formed. I could see the faces of those around us watching with raised brows, upturned lips or rolling eyes.

“I can’t see her.” Haley called from the other side of the crowd. I walked to the edge of the platform to see better. I would have thought in such a small group she would be easy to see. The sound of the train approaching rumbled the tracks. I turned towards it, squinting through the fog.

I saw her. On the platform ahead of us. Just a dark silhouette walking slowly away but it was her alright.

“Found her!” I shouted but Haley didn’t respond. Maybe she’d gone into the building to find her. It didn’t matter. I rushed towards her, past the little white barriers that looked like tombstones. The fog was dissipating enough that I could make out the roofs of houses from across the tracks.

“Jordan!” I screamed. The figure didn’t turn around. I ran towards it quickly, feelings my fingers and toes growing numb in the cold. My breath puffed out in clouds.

“Jordan!” She whirled about quickly to face me, her eyes wide and mouth agape.

“No!” She ran. I chased.

“He’s coming!” I screamed at her, following.

“Get away!”

The tracks grumbled louder. A horn blared. A headlight cut through the fog.

“Jordan!”

She tripped. The world seemed to slow down as I watched her arms waving in an effort to balance herself. Her foot twisted. She leaned a little too close to the edge. Then she was falling. Onto the tracks. A screeching sound resounded as the train attempted to brake.

“JORDAN!”

*

The fog swirled around me like a cold hand. A silhouette appeared from it. Tall. Dark. Eyes like egg-yolks and yellowing teeth as sharp as knives.

“You messed up again Tyron. Man. How many times do you gotta do this?”

“Jordan.” The words escaped in a sigh. Everything turned blurry as tears filled my eyes.

“Yeah, yeah. Jordan this. Jordan that. You wanna save her? Again?”

My head shot up and I gazed at this…person.

“Yes.” I said.

“Good. This is going to hurt… again.”

*

“There is no black and white when it comes to stalking. You’re either doing it or not doing it.” Haley said. She leaned over my shoulder. Her scent filled the air.

“It’s Instagram though.”

“Right. Legalized stalking but it’s still stalking.”

 

Friday Fiction: Puddles

Image courtesy of Michael Gaida – Pixabay

Puddles. They form around us slowly with little to no regard to them. After all we are too focused on their initial form pelting us from above while at our feet they swarm together. Coalesce.

“I don’t understand why you have to leave so often.” Her umbrella is a burst of sunshine on an otherwise rainy Tuesday morning. She drapes it over her shoulder so that it fans around her slick hair like a halo. As stressed as I am, and as upset as she is, I cannot help but marvel at her.

“I explained it to you already Aly.” I say. Rather, I plead. Cold droplets sink into my skull like ice.

“The boss needs me is not a suitable excuse Jer.”

“Yeah I know but…”

“But nothing.” She tucks black strands behind her ear. For a moment the spider tattoo flashes on her dark skin then it’s gone.

“I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

She sighs. Both hands clutch the handle of the umbrella and her body twists at an angle. It’s her ‘I’m thinking’ posture. It’s her ‘I haven’t decided’ posture. It’s one she never has on the field. Not that she knows I know.

“Emiliano’s. Seven PM sharp. Or we’re done.” She says. I smile. Her lips twitch but she holds it in.

“Emiliano’s it is. I’m really sorry babe.”

Her lips pout but the dark eyes are smiling. With a whirl she’s slipped through the droplets and for a moment only a shape in the suspended raindrops is evidence of her existence. Then they crash to the floor and become part of the growing puddle.

*

The agency is a maze of business suits, college frat boys in plaid shirts and short shorts, and the sloppy rag-tag team of programmers donning comfort-style attire. One of the Slops is shuffling beside me with his rooted iPhone running an Android OS.

“Alyssa is gonna get you killed Jer.”

“If she doesn’t kill me first.”

“She could. She’s an…” the Slop leans his head towards me, “An Aranea.”

“Tell the whole world why don’t you.”

“Aw man the whole agency knows. You know they know. Don’t understand the secret.”

I turn to the Slop. He’s blonde hair is cut like one of those famous boy bands from the 90’s but his semi-beard ages him to guitar playing bard. Like that guy from Passenger.

“It’s not so much a secret as a taboo-subject. Like how we all suspect the fries of a particular fast-food franchise but never mention it.” Slop from Passenger nods his head sagely.

“I hear she’s on your recon list. That’s some taboo betrayal right there.”

For a moment there’s a surge of cold that hits my chest. And then it’s gone.

“Her ability is unique.” And so is her face I muse, “If we can pass that on to our future kids, it won’t matter that she’s Aranea. Because family always wins.”

“Just gotta watch the TV to know that.”

“Totally.”

*

It’s 6 PM when I arrive at Emiliano’s. A velvet rope separate the chumps from the high-end chumps. For tonight, I’m a high-paying chump. The rain has abated but fine sheets of it plonk down gently. Caressing the quiet lamp-lit streets and passing pedestrians.

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”

Alyssa is beside me as though she’s always been there. Only the dryness of her trench coat gives it away. Her head is cast down to a reflection of our murky silhouettes on the street. There is no shape to the puddle.

“Then we’re both reflections with that kind of logic.” I slide up next to her. The umbrella hangs at her side unopened. She doesn’t need it.

“That’s so like you.” She says softly, “Missing the depth. Quick to try sussing out the logic.”

“Well I…”

“Sometimes I wish I were the reflection, you know.” I realise then she hasn’t looked at me. I step to her and she’s suddenly facing the opposite direction. “Reflections never have to feel.”

When she turns to me, her eyes are puddles. They do not seep. Or flood. They merely… coalesce.

“Tell the agency I said hi.”

And then she was gone. Her silhouette shaped the air for a moment. Even her tears. Then they washed my feet in a cold splash, forming puddles.


Happy Friday all! Hope you enjoyed my  story. Good luck on your writing fellow authors and hope you have a great weekend!

Eleanor and Park – Review

Title: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult Romance

Book procurement: Received a copy from the author for an honest review. Currently available on Amazon.

Synopsis:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Review:

First Thoughts

Oh man, this book makes me want to fall in love and experience all the gushy, mushy feelings of finding that one person who just gets you on a whole different level.

Every time I listen to Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – this book and its characters come to mind and my chest just fills up with incredible warmth. That’s how much I loved this book.

Writing

It is written with so much passion and realism and heartfelt emotion, I could imagine Eleanor and Park and Tina and Beeby and DeNice and Steven as real people. Tangible. As though I could go to that location and meet them in person.

Not only that, but to be able to experience the emotions of the characters without it feeling forced or cliche or anything of the sort – well that’s real talent. That’s what books are supposed to do. Suspended disbelief literally had my heart aflutter for a while.

It’s more than just a story about a girl in a difficult life and world experiencing the joy’s of meeting someone who takes her breath away. It’s more than just a story about a guy who meets a girl who just completes a hole he didn’t know he had. It’s not just another typical boy meets girl/girl meets boy kind of story. It’s richer. It’s stronger. It’s real.

Final Thoughts

It’s just an amazing book and I can’t fault it. I went through the ups and downs. I wanted to slap a few characters. I wanted to hug a few characters. I was completely enthralled by Rainbow Rowell’s writing style.

As a fan of horror and sci-fi, this romance was a breath of fresh air. With the right hint of humour, geeky knowledge trivia and music I actually listen to. Fantastic book. Fantastic read.

Rating: An amazing 5 out of 5

The Dead Tell No Tales

Like leaves, green in morning spring,

Decayed flesh rises from watery ring,

The early bird catching the worm,

Maggots in eyes wriggle and squirm.

*

The dead tell no tales,

The Devil in the details,

Slashed throats tell no lies,

The Saint in the widow’s cries.

*

As darkness descends, it stalks the night,

Stars illuminating the victims plight,

Winter’s cold breath with gleaming steel,

Plunging through skin with religious zeal.


Been discovering and reading interesting horrors from authors Ramsey Campbell and Tom Piccirilli among others. Have you read something that inspired your writing?

 

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