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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!

 

 

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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!

Apartment 12B

 

It was a week later that Apartment 12B swayed. Guttural whispers fell against the wooden door padlocked with a series of golden chain locks and a single metal bar as thick as a baseball bat. An ewer from St. Peter’s Basilica rattled across the floor, splattering holy water over the wooden panels, only for the liquid to evaporate in dark tendrils.

Beyond the apartment, harsh pebbles of rain lashed the transom window. The horizontal venetian blinds quivered against the glass, filling the dim room with incessant tapping.  Within the stark room stood a beige second-hand couch, bought from the ancient auburn head owner of Elise’s Pawn Shoppe on the corner of Marshall and Green. A rickety mahogany table, from the same place, angled away from the couch. Dirty coffee cups left stained rings on the wood where a heavy, leather bound King James lay haphazardly open to Matthew 3. Verse two highlighted with the red squiggly circles of madness.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

*

Elise Chambers was an aberrant old hag originating from one of the obscure Scandinavian countries. A refugee turned citizen, she’d set up Elise’s Pawn Shoppe in August 1972 with the help of her now departed husband Nathaniel Chambers. While many had found her flaming auburn hair puzzling, the beauty and presence she radiated left all who met her charmed.

Many who entered the establishment were both surprised and pleased by the quality and value of the items she sold at bargain prices. In fact, rumours once circulated that her husband was merely an accountant by day and an infamous antique embezzler by night. Though these rumours fell away quickly and replaced with darker, ominous whispers. Those that Elise Chambers was secretly a witch. Now in her old age, the constant stoop to her gait and the odd mumblings she spewed every once in a while, seemed to substantiate this ancient rumour.

Josiah Coleman had moved from Lower Parkhurst to Langdon following a prospective job offer. Previously a store clerk at Jay Jay’s department store, a new branch in Langdon promised the possibility of promotion to General Manager.

His long-time girlfriend and hopeful fiancé, Alyssa Walker, followed him to Langdon with devoted attachment.

Green Street hummed with quiet foot traffic and an odd car every few minutes. Garden Court, Waverley Heights, and Sunset Pines rose up along the street in brick and glass and painted walls.

Josiah and Alyssa entered Kamilah Court’s recently paved walkway hand in hand.  Giggles flitted between them like high school lovers in the early stages of their relationship. A selection of vehicles were parked in the lot, particularly a blood red Land Rover with Hamilton Real Estate painted on its sides. They’d been together three years that warm March morning, four in another six months where Josiah hoped to propose. The bricked building rose eight storeys high. Railed balconies stuck out at every odd window like stubs of grated tongues.

They entered the wooden double doors with budding excitement, taking in the drab white painted walls and plain single seater leather seats. There was nothing unique about the place yet the prospect of starting anew sparked something in them.

Esther Washington, their real estate agent, met them at the hallway with a wide smile. She was a tall glass of water. A rich, thick afro glistened under the fluorescent lighting. Her tight fitting bright red dress suit fit her snugly like a second skin.

“Mr. Coleman?”

“Josiah, please.” His voice seemed clogged in his throat. Then, remembering the woman clinging to him, “And this is uh Alyssa.”

Esther Washington shook both their hands then gestured towards the front desk. A bald, portly man looked up at them from the top of his wireframe glasses. They reflected an ongoing game of solitaire.

“Looking good today Esther.” His eyes barely passed over the couple. They drank in the real estate agent with a hint of desire.

“Thanks Joey. We heading up to 12B, that okay?”

“No problemo. Remember the elevator is broken. Gonna have ter take the stairs.”

She sighed irritably.

“We’ll be a’right.”

He nodded at her slowly and turned back to his game.

“That’s Joey. He’s one of the security guards in the building. Anything you need he can help you get. And sorry about the long walk.”

Josiah nodded slowly. Alyssa held on to Josiah’s arm tighter. She didn’t like the way he looked at Esther.

They stepped through the door into a cool aquamarine spiralling staircase. Alyssa gazed up through the oblong coiling stairs that reminded her of the Fibonacci spiral, only in the shape of a square. It ended in looked like a sunroof as she could see the blue of the sky from beyond. She turned to Josiah to tell him and found that he was staring at Esther as she climbed the stairs. Her hips swaying with each step.

She followed quietly though her thoughts were anything but quiet.

*

Following the quick look around the apartment, and Josiah and Alyssa establishing that it might be more expensive than anticipated, Josiah surprisingly agreed to the price anyway. Esther promised to bring the papers the next day and suggested the couple look at Elise’s Pawn Shoppe for cheap but aesthetic furnishing for the place.

So it was an hour later, walking down towards the end of Green Street that Alyssa raised her concern,

“I thought we couldn’t afford the place.” It was a statement not a question.

“Yeah but its real close to work and there’s a kindergarten too where you can find work.” He did his little playful grin but the look on Alyssa’s face told him it was time for that.

“Taken a real shine to Esther huh?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Josiah brushed the comment off. Bad idea.

“Right.” And that was it. But anyone knows that when a woman raises that kind of concern and then brushes it off, it’s not over. Not even close.

 

The pawn shop was a homely little place directly on the corner of Green and Marshall, looking out towards a quiet intersection. Surprisingly there were no hawkers on the street, not that either of them noticed. The large front windows revealed an array of lamps, vases and gleaming vanity sets. While the furniture looked old, they carried an air of newness to them. Like they had been freshly cleaned not moments before.

They entered the store with a jingle from a hanging bell. Immediately they were struck with a waft of nostalgia. Josiah remembered Granny Dorothy’s living room. Of floor polish and freshly washed linen. Of Granny Dorothy knitting a sweater as she sunk into her floral armchair. Alyssa remembered the lime kitchen walls of Mewa Betty as she cleaned counter tops with rigorous flaps of her arm while Sunday lunch cooked in what seemed like an endless series of pots. Of the underlying aroma of something archaic obscured by wafts of fresh pine.

“Ah a budding couple on the cusps of mov’n in togeda yas?” Elise Chambers hobbled from seemingly out of nowhere and approached the parted couple.

“Ah yes.” Josiah replied. He scratched his head out of nervous habit. Alyssa cast an annoyed glance at him.

“Seems like ders trouble in paradise ‘dou.”

Alyssa, in her quiet fury, left the two and moved to a different section. She noticed a glass ewer that was apparently from St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with holy water blessed by the pope himself.

“Just a little squabble.” Josiah eventually replied, “We were recommended here by Esther Washington…”

“Ah yes. Tall woman shaped like a coke bottle yes yes she recommend people all da time. I know what you need.”

Josiah followed the old woman through the shop.

Elise led him past a section of brass instruments gleaming like the sun itself. Music systems both ancient and modern, with speakers and amplifiers lined together on triple layered metal shelves. Near the back end of the store was the furniture section and immediately a beige, polyester couch stood out to Josiah.

“How much for this?” He asked, turning to face her. For a moment he saw Elise as a young woman with fiery red hair and smouldering grey-blue eyes,

“How much would it be worth to you?” Her voice slithered across the back of his head. Warm as an embrace. Refreshing as a breeze.

“Alyssa Walker for Esther Washington.” He breathed.

Her lips curled up into a mischievous smile as she approached him slowly. A sultry tigress about to devour her prey. Josiah’s heart pulsated suddenly and wholly. Heat spreading across his forehead. She pushed him backwards against the couch and he was falling. Falling. Falling. He’d already forgotten the price he’d been willing to pay.

*

It was a week later that Apartment 12B swayed. Guttural whispers fell against the locked wooden door.

Josiah Coleman gripped the couch. Droplets of sweat cascaded down his large furrowed brows, staining the soft polyester seats. His eyes, almost black as coal, stared at the ceiling unseeing. The white boards fluctuating in and out of focus with the wavering apartment. His thick lips mumbled scripture into the air, quivering

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.”

But heaven was deafened to his words and only the rasping whispers beyond the wooden portal heard his words. And replied.

-God can’t hear you now-

-Repentance is futile-

-The roaring lion seeks to devour you-

-The serpent awaits-

“No!”

Josiah bolted upright and grabbed the holy tome from the table, a page tearing out between his trembling hands. And another. And another. They fluttered about him like gargantuan moths.

From across the room, the body of Alyssa Walker gawped at the door. Abyssal apertures gaped where her eyes and mouth should have been. A ragged breath crawled from her throat as a bulbous black insect ruptured its way out of the pink of her tongue in obsidian bubbles. The wings beat once.

Chain locks quietly slid across their respective golden tracks and rattled against the door frame. The metal bar screeched its way open and the door burst open with the fury of a hurricane. Josiah leapt to his feet facing the door.

“Time to pay the price Josiah Coleman.” Esther Washington entered the apartment with a grin. Her dark afro writhed as though it were made of bugs threatening to crawl down her face. The face that shimmered with Elise Chamber’s features.

“Please!” Josiah wheezed. Warmth quickly radiated into glacial surges of fear filling his head, chest and back. A warmth trickled down his pant leg.

“It is already done.”

Alyssa groaned from behind and Josiah spun around to face the woman he loved. The gaping holes in her face were quickly teeming with more of the bugs, wings oscillating to life with the growing swarm covering her body. She quivered to life and rose on her heels like a puppet pulled forward. Arms outstretched. She coughed and hacked and heaved, her body bending forward at an impossible 90 degrees.

A wet, slithering sound filled the room as one last hack coughed up Alyssa’s writhing black heart. It squelched on the floor and burst into a thousands of black shiny bugs that immediately rushed at Josiah. He shrieked. He ran straight into Elise/Esther who burst apart like scattered flies. When he turned back she was in her normal form. But her head was on backwards.

“Dear God!” Josiah screamed.

He didn’t notice the metal railing until the top half of his body was already leaning over. He was falling. The spiral stairs grew smaller with each passing second.

Like a cubical Fibonacci sequence.

Apartment

 

 

The weekend crept by too slowly. Wednesday was the hardest as the real estate agent called to inform me the tenants had moved out of the apartment on 7th Street. I was free to move in when I was ready. As a young man of twenty four, I was ready for a life of independence.

Warren from sales walked up to my desk Thursday afternoon with that lanky sluggish gait, like a two-legged giraffe.

“You ready for the weekend sesh bro?” He asked. A toothy smile stretched across his long face.

“Weekend sesh? What weekend sesh?”

“Dude it’s my party on Friday right through to Sunday. Did you forget already?”

I had.

“Uhhh gee. I don’t know. I’m supposed to move in to my new place on Saturday.”

“It’s cool bro, we’ll party up Friday and then Saturday I’ll help you move. Don’t ditch me.” He pleaded with slumped shoulders.

I shrugged.

“Can I let you know?”

“No you can’t… you always say that before a no.”

“Ugh… fine.” He grinned madly,

“Sweet! Don’t ditch me bro.”

“Yeah yeah.” I smiled. While I wasn’t close with Warren, we got along better than most of the people at the company. I’d known him for almost two years now and had partied often enough with him. I was sure it would be great.

It was.

*

Friday after work I decided to take some of the lighter stuff to the apartment. It was a one bedroom bachelor flat with a sitting room and kitchenette. White tiles throughout the place. There were two wide windows, one in the sitting room and the other in my bedroom. Both looked out into apartments across the road and a quiet street below.

I set up the coffee table and a beanbag. In the kitchen I put in the cutlery and crockery. The bedroom I left last to see how much space I had for the bed and my computer. I looked around pleased with this new step into adulthood before changing into party clothes and heading out to Warren’s place.

Warren’s party was lit. There were perhaps thirty people in total. Booze was flowing and his ping-pong table had been set up for beer pong. Music blared through the house, his parent’s house. Girls and guys were dancing everywhere. We partied hard until 2AM.

It was lit.

*

I woke up Saturday morning with a soft pounding across the left side of my head. Everything felt sluggish, like I was moving through water. My phone bleeped with a message. It was the real estate agent asking if I needed help with the move. I replied with a no then decided to check my phone gallery.

I swiped through the memories. A quiet chuckle every few moments from the craziness of it. Then I stopped.

A tremble swept through my hand.

The next couple of images were not of the party but of my apartment. Specifically of me in my apartment. Most were blurry but there were a few clear images. For a moment I wondered who had taken them. Then it hit me. I had been alone the entire time.

I rushed to Warren’s bedroom to wake him up. He lay on top of the bed as though he’d passed out in the middle of undressing.

“Warren. Warren!” I shook him hard. His eyes blinked open slowly and he mumbled something before passing out again. By now a weight was pressing against my chest. I hurried out to find my keys and let myself out of the house.

I sped my way to the apartment.

*

The apartment was as bare as I had left it. Morning sunlight lit a patch on the floor from the window. I had yet to put up curtains.

I pulled out my phone to see the images again, checking the vantage of each of them. Many of the images were from the apartment door and I figured someone had maybe found my phone and took the pictures. Someone trying to freak me out. A neighbour who doesn’t want a new tenant. Some weirdo pulling a prank. Relief was threatening to take over only the other images were of me in the bedroom.

I moved through the entire place, checking the walls for holes or cameras or something. Anything to make sense of the craziness. Nothing. I checked my phone again with panic easing in. There was a new image.

And another.

And another.

Goosebumps broke across my skin. My pounding headache seemed to blare harder as I fought the tremble sweeping through me.

“Who is here!?”

My voice was strong. Confident. The opposite of how I felt. I sped through the apartment, checking everything and everywhere.

“Who is here!” I screamed this time. No reply.

It’s nothing, I told my self, attempting to control my breathing. I looked at my phone with trembling hands. Hoping I was imaging it all. Hoping it was a prank of some sort and a camera crew would pop out of the ceiling and tell me, “You’ve been pranked!” or something.

A new image appeared in the gallery. The photo was of my back exactly where I stood. My shoulders immediately tingled with cold static that crawled down my spine. Whatever it was, was behind me. I wanted to look back. Had to look back. Had to face whatever it was but every part of me was frozen with fear.

That was when a hand grabbed my shoulder with an icy grip, and a cold breath blew against my ear,

“You’re mine now.”


Has anything freaky ever happened to you? Any “true life” ghost stories to share? I would love to know.

Friday Fiction: Frank

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Marshal’s Sidekick Setting: Dodge City Genre: Horror


Frank Reynolds, Marshal of Dodge City, died with an arrow to the eye. The same arrow pinned to my pillow where turning my head had brought it to my attention. I immediately rolled off the bed and hauled the rifle from under the bed onto my shoulder with the speed of a viper.

Nothing stirred.

Bella was not in bed and it churned my gut like butter. How had I not heard the intruder enter nor Bella leave? I rose quickly, assessing the wooden shaft lodged within the feathered padding. The arrow was adorned in intricate gold and emerald fletching from our Indian neighbours. I recognized the design like I would Ma’s face. I, Frank’s second-man, was the one who drew the bow after all.

A screech resounded from the front room. I dashed out to a feverish Isabella standing under the streaming sunlight cascading her shimmering, tilted silhouette. Her frock was in disarray, bonnet clutched to fluttering bosom as she gazed at the floor. Her bare feet stood in a viscous pool of yolk-hued liquid.

“Bella, what’s going on?”

“Frank?”

Her voice gurgled as though under water.

“Bella? It’s me, William.”

I stepped closer, avoiding the spillage. Iced pins prickled my chest. I fought the thrum rattling my bones – smoothed the aroused hairs along my nape with trembling hand.

“William?”

She began a slow swivel, golden rays refining her locks to dazzling white tresses. The first thing the glare revealed was the braided tongue-like cord, and the dangling pulped egg that was her eye.  My gut lurched with the stench wafting from the gaping abyss that was the rest of her cragged, hollowed face.

“He’s coming Will.” a greyed tongue languidly dripped yolk rivulets to the floor. The muck broiled, a single eye floating to the surface. Frank.

Friday Fiction: Birth of a Villain

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: Sarcastic Butler Setting: Skyscraper Genre: Memoir


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The staples in his abdomen had ripped out again, this time purposefully. Master “Gestirn” Goldstein barely flinched as he removed blood drenched, clear plastic bags from his bulging gut. The carpeted floor of the penthouse loft was covered in vital fluids. Schneider Skyscrapers were going to need a good clean-up crew. As a butler, I cringed.

“Pass me the tray.” He wheezed.

I of course obliged, manoeuvring past dead FBI agents strewn about the sparse room to the tray angled awkwardly in one man’s skull.

“Will you be serving me then, for once?”

Master Goldstein merely smiled, and watched amused as I struggled to remove the tray. It was difficult with all the blood. It was also lodged quite deep.

“I didn’t know you took drugs, Kristoff.”

“Only when you’re around, Sir. I may need some after this.”

“You’ll get used to it eventually.” Master Goldstein stood then, skin flapping over the spandex pants he wore – the only item of clothing on him. He had no intestines.

“Well yes, when you were a caped crusader for justice. Who are you now, Robbing Hood?”

He laughed as he casually removed the tray from the man’s skull. His laugh was a breathy, whistling sound from the constrictions in his body; an internal scar and his arch nemesis’ greatest achievement.

“I’ve found other ways to make a living now. A new body with a new function. I’ve been brought back to life.”

“Well that’s good for you Master Franken-Stein.”

Master Goldstein placed the bags on the tray, crushed powder in some, pills in others.

“Franken-Stein. I like it.” He swept a gnarled hand through what was left of his golden mane. The charred scars of his face made him look like the monster he was becoming – or perhaps, had already become.


I may have missed the memoir part. *laughs nervously

Friday Fiction: Confessional

Today’s Friday Fiction is courtesy of microcosmsfic.com. 300 word short story using the following elements.

Character: I’ve Always Been Crazy Setting: Village Genre: Crime


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“It’s getting worse Father.”

Francois knelt within the narrow confines of the confessional. Sweat trickled down his temples but his clasped hands shivered uncontrollably.

“The Lord knows our struggles. He sees all and knows all. He will never give you more than you can handle.” The voice replied from beyond the wooden grating separating confessor from absolution.

“I understand that Father but… I literally felt as though my hands were wrapped around her neck and…  and I was squeezing. Squeezing. Squeezing! Her neck…” Francois’s whole body began to shiver. Sweat continued to trail down into his collar, while a hollowness suffused his chest and clutched at his heart.

“It was merely a dream my child, perhaps manifestations of impure thoughts you harbour towards her or her sinful occupation?”

“I don’t even know her.”

“And yet you recall her with clarity? The Lord said, if you hate your brother in your heart then you have similarly committed murder. Do you hate her?”

“No Father! I… may have seen her once? Maybe?”

“Are you certain my child? You are safe in the house of the Lord.”

“I…” Francois searched his memories and could recall nothing concrete. A flash of someone but it was hazy. Fragmented. “Perhaps I’ve always been crazy Father.”

“Ephesians tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the forces of darkness.” A sombre silence filled the air. “Pray ten Hail Mary’s. Tonight, I will visit again for special communion.”

The priest’s door clicked open and suddenly a familiar scent filled Francois’ nose. He looked out the glass portal of the confessional and watched the priest slip a tattered blouse into his vestments. A familiar blouse. He shook his head and turned back to prayer, the suspicion overshadowed by his guilt. He soon forgot about the blouse.

Read, Sav, Read.

| B.A. in English. | Writer. | Lover of books. | 2017 Book Count: 61. | Currently Reading: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon. |

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