Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 190 (November 21st-28th). Stories. Topic: *See quotes

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message 1: by Ryan (last edited Nov 21, 2013 02:18AM) (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments You have until November 28th to post a story and on November 29th and 30th we'll vote for which one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don't use a story previously used in this group.

Your story should be ONLY 300-3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is NOT a scene. It MUST have a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END.

The topic this week is:

Choose a quote from below to guide your pens and imaginations.

1. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." - Dr Seuss

2. "Without music, life would be a mistake." - Friedrich Nietzsche

3. "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." - Oscar Wilde

4. "There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment." - Sarah Dessen

5. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." - J.K. Rowling

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject. I do not care, but it must relate to the story somehow.

Have fun!

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you, Ryan :)

message 3: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments After going to Random.org and using their number generator, I've decided which story from my queue I'm going to write. It's called "Rabbit Tricks" and it goes like this:


Rabbit Tricks, Ninja Bunny
Calvin Byron, Casino Tycoon
Roger Myles, Calvin’s Bodyguard

FAMOUS QUOTE: “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Rabbit and Calvin can both be accused of being up to no good.

SYNOPSIS: Calvin’s casino has been bilking people out of their life savings for years. When he gets a death threat from an anti-corporate assassin named Rabbit Tricks, he has two choices: surrender to the police or fight back and die. Calvin thinks he has everything figured out and instead opts for a third choice: escape.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol! How many stories do you have from your queue? :)

message 5: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments My pleasure, Leslie :)

Garrison, what a fantastic method to use. Oh, if only I had a 'queue' of stories to choose from ;) Great synopsis, I can't wait.

message 6: by Keith (new)

Keith Allen New to this, so can you tell me where I write/upload my story?

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Keith! You can post your story directly in this thread :)

message 8: by Keith (new)

Keith Allen k thanks! Does the writing section of goodreads translate to this group? Also, where do I read other stories?

message 9: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments If you guys want, I can post the synopses to all the story ideas in my queue. I just need a place to do it since this particular thread doesn't seem appropriate.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Keith, yes. You can read the stories of the previous topics here :)

Garrison, if you want, you can create your own thread under Your Writing Folder and post all your story ideas there :)

message 11: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments That would be great. Thanks for the suggestion, Leslie. :)

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Willkommen! :)

message 13: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Does the story have to use the quote?

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

It doesn't have to, but the story must relate to any (or all) of the quotes somehow.

message 15: by Tristan (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) So many different options this week. Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with!

message 16: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Rabbit Tricks
RATING: PG-13 for martial arts violence and infrequent language.

“Mr. Calvin H. Byron: you’ve never seen me before. But after tonight, everyone will know the name of Rabbit Tricks. He’ll be the same guy who shuts your casino down for good. Maybe he’ll shut you down as well. Maybe he’ll take one of his katana blades and draw it across that big fat neck of yours. Either way, your days of living comfortably off of scamming people out of their money are over. No more poolside parties with champagne and scantily-clad women while your customers are trying to keep from being homeless. I’m going to put an end to that tonight. There are two ways this night is going to play out. One, you can try to resist me and a lot of people will get hurt. Or two, you can turn yourself in to the police and you won’t have to worry about the violence that will befall your casino. What’s it going to be, Mr. Byron? Whatever you choose, make sure you know what you want by the time eight o’clock comes around tonight. If you can’t choose, I’ll choose for you. Signed, Rabbit Tricks.”

After reading that threatening email in his casino office, Calvin Byron looked at his gigantic bodyguard Roger Myles and the two of them laughed so hard that their ribs were aching. Despite the sarcastic reaction to Rabbit Tricks’ email, Calvin managed to compose himself long enough to type a reply.

He said, “Dear Rabbit Tricks: if you want people to take your death threats seriously, then you might want to reconsider your penname. Instead of making me shart in my underwear, you made me hungry for fruity cereal. In fact, I think I’m going to hit the buffet after my security detail fills you full of bullets. There’s nothing like a meaty steak and some fluffy mashed potatoes after a long day of beating your ass into powder. Come back to my casino when you’re ready to grow a pair of testicles. Signed, Calvin H. Byron.”

After clicking the send button, Calvin turned around and high-fived his bodyguard, but not without gripping his hand in pain afterwards due to Roger having gigantic hands of stone. Calvin also had large hands, but his were as flabby and awkward as the rest of his overweight body. Once he shook the pain out of his hand, he looked up at the clock and saw that the hour hand was quickly approaching eight.

Roger pulled a walky-talky from his suit pocket and said through a square jaw and clinched teeth, “Security, take the front entrance. And after you’re done with this Rabbit Tricks moron, make sure there’s a janitor down there to clean up the mess.” Calvin laughed heartily at Roger’s attempt at dark humor. “That’s a good one, Roger!” he said as he slapped his flabby legs.

The clock struck eight and Calvin and Roger were looking out the office window at the casino below. The two of them marveled at the idea of so many people playing the slot machines, roulette wheels, and poker tables and basically handing their money over to Calvin’s over-inflated bank account. More importantly, they marveled at how huge the five black-clad security guards were along with their equally massive machineguns. This was going to be a slaughter for sure.

As the five security guards approached the front entrance, they saw a silhouette of a man in ninja gear with swords hanging from his belt and a pair of rabbit ears sticking up like a TV antenna. No question about it: it was definitely Rabbit Tricks. Instead of warning the deadly assassin ahead of time, the security guards nodded at each other and opened fire. The casino patrons ducked down and clutched their ears as the machinegun fire was ripping their eardrums and Rabbit Tricks to pieces. By the time the security detail emptied their clips, Rabbit Tricks shattered into meaty pieces.

Or so they thought. Instead of blood pouring out of the ninja rabbit, the security guards could only make out pieces of cotton and straw. One of the guards confirmed these suspicions as he slowly walked up to what turned out to be a dummy rather than the real thing. Next thing that guard knew, he was getting a pair of booted feet in his face that sent him rolling and flopping backwards into a nearby slot machine. The impact was so devastating that the machine broke open with money and the patrons were scrambling around to collect their lost earnings.

Instead of taking the time to reload their heavy machineguns, the remaining four security guards tossed them aside and entered the fray, where the real Rabbit Tricks was waiting with his arms folded. One security guard kept throwing wild haymakers at the swift ninja, but not one of them landed. Rabbit took the guard’s arm and spun him around several times before tossing him into another security guard. The two of them were knocked into a blackjack table unconscious while the other two guards put up a more adequate fight.

The remaining guards threw much faster punches and kicks at Rabbit, but just like their predecessors, they did more damage to the air than to their intended target. To avoid two meat hook punches coming his way, Rabbit Tricks did to the splits and quickly pulled out a pair of Chinese finger cuffs to bind the two guards’ fingers together. The two beefcakes pulled on the trap as hard as they could, but that only made the bindings tighter. Rabbit grabbed both of them by their hair and slammed their heads together repeatedly before grabbing the finger trap and rolling them down the isle like bowling balls.

The impact of the guards’ path of destruction was enough to knock over more slot machines and empty them of greenbacks and coins alike. Once again, the patrons saw an opportunity and rushed over to these slot machines to take back what was rightfully theirs, even if they had to trample and hair-pull each other to get there.

Up in his office, Calvin Byron was livid. He kept pounding his computer desk and screaming random curse words while Roger Myles tried to calm him down. The furious anger was so intense that Calvin clutched his chest in pain in anticipation of a heart attack. He sat back down and took deep breaths while Roger said, “We’ve got a chopper on the roof. If we hurry, we can get out of here.”

message 17: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments (Rabbit Tricks continued)

Calvin took his time in catching his breath and waiting for the chest pains to subside. “I think I’m okay now. Let me just look out the window and see what’s going on. I need to know where this fucker is.” He got up and looked through the blinds once more and saw that even more chaos was ensuing. More beefy security guards were charging at Rabbit Tricks and the ninja bunny was spin kicking and superman punching each and every one of them into unconsciousness. More slot machines were being busted open as a result of this violence and more patrons trampled each other in route to looting them. Calvin yelled, “You son of a bitch! How dare you do this to my casino! This is a place of business! You’re ruining everything!”

Roger couldn’t stand to watch his boss flip out like that and hoisted the big man on his muscular shoulders to get him away from the deadly scene. Calvin kept pounding on Roger’s steel-like back and swearing, but the stoic juggernaut continued to do his job of protecting his boss as he took him through the back exit and up several flights of stairs to the helicopter.

By the time Roger and Calvin got to the rooftop, the exhausted casino boss got down from his bodyguard’s shoulders and ran his flabby body toward the massive helicopter. He didn’t care if all this stress was making him tired, he continued running anyways. Once he opened the side door, he saw something that made him scream like a lady. Rabbit Tricks was at the pilot’s seat and he sarcastically said, “Buckle up, Calvin!”

The walrus-like Calvin turned heel and ran back into the hulking arms of his bodyguard Roger Myles. “Help me, Roger! Get him out of that helicopter!” Roger said, “You got it, boss. One rabbit stew coming right up!” The massive beast tossed his boss to the side and power-walked his way toward the helicopter. Once he got to the door, Rabbit Tricks began throwing every weapon he had in his belt at the seven-foot monster. He threw swords, ninja stars, poisonous potions, and darts only to have Roger swat them away like annoying little flies.

The hulking monster reached inside the helicopter and gripped Rabbit Tricks around his throat, squeezing the life out of him and reddening his otherwise mysterious face. Just when it looked like the crafty ninja was ready to black out, he reached underneath the control panel for a flare gun and blasted Roger right in his testicles. The fiery sensation was enough to make the juggernaut release his chokehold and dance around in pain all over the rooftop. The boogaloo of pain guided Roger to the edge of the roof and he eventually fell over, creating a loud crunching noise in his wake that left Calvin’s imagination spinning with creepy thoughts.

The fat scam artist could do nothing but kneel down and cry as everything Rabbit Tricks prophesized came true. After his neck decompressed back to normal size, Rabbit got out of the helicopter and walked up to the blubbering Calvin Byron with more prophetic words. He said, “Look at you, Calvin. Just look at you. You’re pathetic. Here you are crying like a little baby when so many people you’ve robbed felt like doing the same thing. Let me ask you something, Calvin: did you ever consider the fact that I might feel like crying as well?”

Calvin’s tears dried up momentarily as he looked up at his assailant, who upon further inspection actually had a rabbit’s face. Rabbit Tricks wasn’t just a fancy name. It was an indicator of his anthropomorphic species. Rabbit said, “That’s right, Calvin. I actually am a fucking rabbit. Your animal testing lab made sure of that. You weren’t just testing out tobacco smoke to see if your clients could tolerate it in the casino. You were performing experiments that would gag Dr. Frankenstein. What you did to those animals was inexcusable. Even Michael Vick would have a heart attack if he saw what was going on in there.”

Speaking of heart attacks, Calvin Byron was having more chest pains as the stress level was getting too much for him. To put him at ease, Rabbit knelt down beside him and put a hand on his shoulder before saying, “Shut down the laboratory, shut down the casino, and turn yourself in to the police. If you do those things, I’ll spare your life.” Calvin thought about it for a moment. This would have been the easiest decision of his life. Jail would have been a bitch, but at least he wouldn’t have to die as horribly as his security detail and head bodyguard did.

When Calvin appeared ready to make his decision, he said, “You son of a bitch!” and pulled out a handgun from his suit pocket. The trigger was pulled and blood was spilled all over the rooftop. Rabbit Tricks’ eyes shot up in horror as the bullet tore through his victim. But he wasn’t the victim. Instead of facing life in prison or death in someone else’s hands, Calvin Byron took his own life when he blasted himself in the stomach. His flabby body bounced off the rooftop pavement as he fell over to his death. Rabbit stood back up and began walking away when police sirens were sounding off in the distance.

Rabbit Tricks’ lifelong goal of assassinating the man who made him into this hideous creature had come to fruition. But what now? Where would he go from here? Who was going to hire a man who looked like a rabbit and only knew how to kill people? What woman would date a man who was made this way? How many friends would he gain by his presence alone?

No matter how many people he got vengeance on, Rabbit Tricks would always be a monster in his own mind. Nothing could reverse the damage done to his body and nobody would give him a chance at a social life. Instead of facing the consequences of loneliness and knowing he achieved nothing by getting revenge, Rabbit picked up Calvin’s gun, put the barrel in his mouth, and made his final decision on the matter.

message 18: by Vee (new)

Vee Bumstead (lifeisshortsoread) "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." - Dr Seuss
Word Count: 458
Short story written by Vee Bumstead.

Selfish Wishes
I sit slouched on the living room sofa, silent tears streaming down my face. Two days ago I found out devastating news; my best friend, Claudia May, was in a terrible car accident. She didn't make it. Mom’s on a business trip, so she isn't here to comfort me, which, as strange as it may seem, comforts me. I wipe a stray tear on the tip of my nose, and allow a loud sob to escape me.
“Don’t be an idiot, Nelly!” I yell at myself, “She’s gone and there’s nothing you can do about it!” Another loud sob fills the room.
I stop myself from crying, hurting my throat in the process, choking on sobs.
I plod over to my computer and turn it on. The screen flashes on, and I type in the same password that I would any other day. I click on Google Chrome and type Facebook into the search bar, click enter and then log in. Thirty messages and three notifications await me. I decide to read the messages first. The first message is from a boy named Sam that read:

You’re majorly pathetic. U don’t come 2 school ova some stupid BFF dying. Focus on your grades. Lol

My lip twitches, but I continue to the second message:

Ha-ha I’m glad she’s gone. What a waste of space. Lol hope you join her.

A single tear runs down my face, which I angrily wipe away. I skip about ten messages and open a random one from someone named John:

Please die. It should have been you, not Claudia!

With that I picked up my computer and threw it at the wall. I burst into tears, not because of the two-thousand dollar computer that I just destroyed, but because I am pathetic. I’m useless, ugly, a waste of space. John is right; it should have been me, not Claudia. Not my Claudia. Running into my mother’s room I tear open her top drawer and pull out piles of underwear to reveal a shotgun. I slide down the wall, until the tears stop, but no tears certainly doesn't mean no sadness. I sit there thinking about the day Mom, Claudia and I lay under the stars together. I smile at the memory, rather than cry because it’s over. I miss Claudia, but I’m selfish enough to let go of all the happiness because of a little sadness. That’s just who I am. But all the same, I smile because it happened.
I lift the shotgun to my temple with what I assume would look like a blank expression on my face. “I’m sorry Mom, I love you.” I whisper into the empty room, and pull the trigger.
The world fades away, and I smile.

message 19: by Angie (last edited Nov 26, 2013 03:45PM) (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Title: Trance's Diamonds
Author: Angie Duenas
Word count: 700
Feedback welcomed and desired!

Trance was a strange rat. The others scurried between sewer grates with their noses down to sniff out bits of food that had been abandoned throughout the day; Trance wandered about in a daze, looking up at the stars overhead. If he stumbled across an edible morsel, he would happily nibble on it but he did not strive to gorge himself as the others did.

As a result, he was much skinnier and smaller than all the other rats in the gutter. They pushed him aside scornfully to get to their destinations, but he paid them no heed. He was too bewitched by the twinkling lights overhead.

Sometimes, Trance could almost forget that he lived in the gutter, in the sewers, and sometimes in the garbage bins. If he just looked long enough, the world would fade away until all that was left was the endless expanse of diamonds woven into the sky’s nighttime cloak.

Then, one night, the diamonds began to fall. When it happened, Trance began to run in the direction of the first fallen star. He had to see it.

But after a few seconds, the first star faded and he could no longer see it. He paused and headed for the direction of the next falling star. Again and again, he chased the stars. But no matter how hard he tried, he could never reach them before they faded from sight.

Trance grew tired and gave up. He set his hindquarters down, settling in a spot to watch the sparkles plummet from the atmosphere. He was so consumed in the sight that he did not register the presence of the new arrival. By the time he did, a hand had reached down to pluck him out from the gutter.

Human, his rodent mind screamed. Run!!! He cursed himself for being stupid enough to have been caught out in the open. He squirmed, fighting for his freedom. The hand held firm and his panic escalated. He tried to nip at the hand when it drew near to his head, but his nose stopped him.

Is that…? Could it be…?

It was. He sniffed the hunk of cheese repeatedly to make sure that his nose was not playing tricks on him. Then he sniffed it for arsenic. It was clean.
Trance scraped off slivers of the cheese, savoring the rich flavors of the soft Camembert. He tilted his head inquisitively up at his captor. It was a younger human with fur on its head the color of wet cardboard. Its eyes were the same shade as the fungi that grew along the sewer walls, a light green.

The human spoke and stroked his head. “You’re not like the others, are you little guy? I’ve never seen such a thoughtful little rat. Why are you looking at the stars? What do you see?” Trance knew better than to respond so he merely continued to enjoy his cheese. “Here, I’ll take you somewhere you can see them better. The gutter isn’t a very convenient place to watch from.”

Trance fought the urge to struggle against the human’s hand, forcing himself to enjoy the food. But all of his rodent instincts were screaming at him: Danger!!! Danger!!! Escape!!! It did not help when the sky disappeared and the human carried him inside a building and the sky disappeared.

He did not feel better until the cheese wheel reappeared in the blackness overhead. One day, I’m going to have some of that cheese, he thought to himself. How delicious it must be, to be displayed in the sky almost every night. Trance did not know any other kind of cheese that floated and glowed like the sky’s wheel. He wanted it.

The human placed him on roof’s railing. “How’s that? It’s a lot better now, isn’t it? All of those buildings aren’t blocking your view anymore. Be careful not to fall off.” The human gave Trance some more Camembert and stayed on the roof with him. Together, man and rodent watched as heaven lost a few of its gems.

For a few hours, Trance could forget the gutter that awaited him below. All that existed were the twinkling lights above him.

message 20: by Tristan (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Silent Beauty
3,064 (feedback appreciated.)

Movement and life without sound. The sun rose gracefully and streamed through the half open window, enveloping the room with its presence. Colors of yellow and white were cast as reflections onto the ceiling, while small pieces of dust waltzing in the air were revealed with its crisp, golden light.

The sight of the sun, the caress of the breeze, and the smell of the food downstairs, they all came together and delicately painted the picture of morning in the room of Edmund S. Williams. He sat upright in bed and turned his tired gaze to the upright piano in the corner of his room. Black notes dotted endless sheets of paper that were lying both on top of the piano as well as scattered across the floor. His eyes turned to the ground, downcast, and he gave a smile of regret. The sight of birds chirping and tiny wings flapping outside his window drew his attention outside. Standing to his feet and pulling aside the dark, red curtains, he viewed the street below. For so long it had been unchanging, every morning the same sight, but today it was different. Broken windows and black burn marks scarred the buildings below. Craters indented the cobblestone road and furniture lay scattered about. Men were working below to fill up the craters with dirt while women, bundled in scarfs and tattered coats, turned furniture upright and picked up the trash that flew about amongst the rubble. Pained by the sight, he turned away and strode to the small desk that lay near his bed. Sitting down he began writing. The ink flowed from the pen, leaving black traces in the leather-skinned, black notebook.

“September, 1940:
My beautiful city. Once untouched by the war that raged on in the rest of the world, has now been cut by the blade of destruction. The bombs, they fell like fire. Screeching through the sky and screaming on impact. The fires have been put out and much work has been made to repair the city. Although the bombing was almost an entire week ago, the city still lies in ruins and the people in shock. The other day I was walking down along the sidewalk when a little girl came up to me. Dirt smudged her cheeks and purple coat, but her eyes were only of youth and innocence. She pulled at my finger. Her mouth spoke, but--” He paused his writing for a moment and then continued, “Because of the accident, I could not hear her voice. I took her hand and walked through the city until we found friends of her family. War seems to unite even the young and the old. I feel confused. With the war my life has changed so drastically, I’m unaware of what to--”

He was startled by the touch of a hand on his shoulder and smeared the next line. It was his cook. The middle aged servant did not speak, for he knew that Edmund would not hear, but instead motioned for him to come downstairs, Edmund presumed for breakfast. The table was set neatly with one pair of plated food, forks, knives, and glasses of water. The cook handed him a note, bowed, and walked back to his kitchen. Edmund carefully unfolded the note and smoothed out the thin creases so that he could read the words. “Eliza said that she wanted to stop by and see you for breakfast. I have the table set. If you need me for anything else, I’ll be in the kitchen.” Edmund sat down at the head of the table, and waited for Eliza.

The cook, a rough old gentlemen by the name of Mr. Garrison was quickly putting away dishes and wiping down stained countertops in the kitchen. When he was done with his work he went to the door. Putting his hand on the knob, but not yet turning it, he quickly peered around the wall and glanced at the clock. It was about nine in the morning. He suspected the grocer would be around in a minute or so to deliver the fruit and vegetables for the day. He stepped lightly outside and rubbed his hands together, blowing his warm breath into his palms. As Mr. Garrison expected, the familiar food truck of the grocer was backing into the alley. The tarp that usually covered the food was gone though, and there were only a few damaged boxes of food in the back of the truck.

He walked down the back steps. Boldy and importantly approaching the grocer’s truck while swearing under his breath at the cold weather. The grocer, an old man with an even older cap partially covering his grey hair stepped out of the truck and gave a faint smile to his friend.
“You look well my friend?” Mr. Garrison said, almost questioning. “Why does that silly fool always where that same thin cap even when it is freezing outside?” he thought to himself.
“Things could be better I suppose,” the grocer said blankly as he began unloading the truck. Either Mr. Garrison did not notice the small signs that the old man was straining his back or he did not care, for he instead jumped straight into conversation. Remarking in a uncaring tone, “Did you hear what happened to the master, Mr. Wallace?”
“No, why? Is he feeling ill? I know he’s only a little younger than I am,” the grocer said, chuckling at his own fate of old age.
“Mr. Wallace was out on the night of the bombing raid and lost his hearing from a blast. They almost took him for dead. The man had rubble and dirt all over his body.”
“Really?” the grocer asked in disbelief, stopping his work, “Well how’s the poor man doing now? Is it permanent?”
“Oh yeah, the doctor said he won’t even be able to hear a fire engine going down the block now.”
“What a bloody shame.” the grocer remarked sadly.
“Yeah. Well it’s like they say, war is hell.” Mr. Garrison said bluntly, flicking a cigarette he had lit during his storytelling, up against the truck. The sound of classical music reached him from nearby. “God, why don’t those fools shut up with their playing? They’re probably on some lone street corner thinking their playing will brighten the mood. That it will lessen the pain.”
“I think it’s quite nice.” the grocer replied confidently.”
“Ha, you would. Wouldn’t you?” the cook replied sarcastically. After a pause he added, changing the subject, “His daughter is coming by for breakfast to check on him. She told me she’s worried about him. You know Mr. Wallace used to be an avid player of music. And I’ll admit it, he was pretty gifted, he spent years practicing. What a waste of a lifetime, eh?”
“Yes, I guess so.” the grocer said gravely, his thoughts obviously somewhere else.
“Anyways, just stack the crates up against the wall. I’ll take em’ inside a little later,” he said walking back to the house. Leaving the grocer to the dry cold of mid September.

Edmund still sat at the end of the table. Lost in thought and awaiting his daughter, Eliza to join him for breakfast. Dear Eliza. A beautiful and strong girl who he had seen become a woman with the struggle of the war. It seems that pain is sometimes the only thing that can mold us into who we truly are. Edmund saw her mother in her. She had her mother in her eyes. He pulled back his sleeve to reveal his skinny, pale forearm. The hair stood on end from the cold and his watch was beginning to become slightly damaged. After watching the two hands pass beat by beat through the lines, like a metronome to life’s music. He pushed back his chair and stood up. Taking one glance out the window to be sure she wasn’t coming around the corner that very moment, he retreated back upstairs to his room. His hands felt stiff and he decided he might as well have some gloves. He was sure he must have at least one pair left in his drawer.
The hollow sound of his shoes walking up the staircase did not reach his ears. The creaky board at the top, once an agonizing sound, did not reach him any longer. The once un-oiled doorknob was now smooth. The little rhythms and clicks of life that we sometimes label as bothersome, were now each pressed keys of their own, pulled strings with their own sound. A sound that he was missing. Finding no pair of gloves in his drawer he was about to leave his room until the piano caught his eye. He stopped. Carefully picking up the sheets of music that were chaotically scattered about the room, he recognized them. Some from composers he enjoyed and others his own compositions. His eyes carefully reading the notes, it had become like a second language to him. He knew what it would sound like, but he would never hear it again. Music. Placing his chilled, stiff hands on the keyboard, he pressed down lightly. His mind still remembered what notes to play. The rests, the beats, the pedals, everything was there. But the music was gone. “What am I now?” he thought desperately. “I’m not a soldier. I have no trade. I’m no longer even a husband!” Tears dropped down silently and unheard upon the keys of the piano. “My life was music. Every second of my life was its own composition in and of itself. Moving to the conductor’s hand, beating to my own compositions, swaying to the emotion. The emotion’s gone. War has killed the passion. We have traded the humanity for politics and armies, for guns, tanks and bombs. We have sacrificed our beauty, for the darkness that lies within us. We have lost beauty in the name of cruelty. (continued)

message 21: by Tristan (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Silent Beauty (continued)

Eliza carefully stepped off into the road in an attempt to avoid the rubble and broken glass that was scattered about the sidewalk. Her dark red coat came up and enveloped her pale neck. A light wind went up her sleeves and into her ears. She walked past each building, on the way to her father’s house. Young children sat perplexed at the destruction that lay before them, while the old were doing all they could to repair the viewable damage that had been brought upon them. She was old enough to realize the faults of the world, but never before had she seen it’s destruction played so vividly before her, the people she loved, and the city she lived. She breathed a heavy sigh, sending a thin smoky breath of air up to the roofs above. She thought about her father, and worried for him. In his old age he had lost much in life, but music had always been there for him. Her mind flashed back to memories of when she was a child. Holidays where the room was filled the love of family and friends, the fireplace warmed the room, and a rich decor added an elegance to the scene. At the time she wasn’t old enough to help in the kitchen so she would share the piano bench with her father and he would teach her Christmas songs. She would play a few simple notes, but he would play an accompaniment, creating a sound that everyone would laugh, eat, and talk to. She was worried, he hadn’t’ quite been the same since he had lost his hearing. His smiles were not genuine, and his comforting embrace only revealed the pain that was within him. Almost to the corner where she would turn she stopped in her tracks. And instead decided to take a detour and pick up something at the bakery. Hopefully the shop would still be running a little bit. She reached the building, the wooden sign now had faded colors and hung down above the doorway so that she had to bend down on the way in. No food was at the counter and the front room was almost completely empty except for dust and trash that was lying around the black and white tile. From the next room she heard quiet sobbing. Going down the hall she saw through the open door in front of her an elderly woman, whom she recognized as the shop owner. Her old face was in her hands while her white hair came down and lay disheveled over her hands. From the hallway the room seemed to have only the old woman and the chair she sat on. But coming into the doorway she turned her head and screamed. Bodies. Children and adults, young and old. Lay piled up upon each other in the corner. Burns and mutilated body parts scarred many of them. While dark blood lay dried on the floor in a pool. Eliza covered her mouth in shock and ran out of the shop, coughing and tears coming down her face. She had barely recognized some of the bodies as family of the old woman. She sat on the curb, forgetting about the visit with her father and trying to forget the scene in the bakery. In the distance she heard the piercing sound of sirens, the same sirens that had screamed a week ago. It was another bombing raid.

Edmund still sat in his room, looking out the window he saw people dropping their tools and the work they had been doing and running down the street in panic. He wondered why? Going down the stairs to see what had gone wrong he was met by the cook who grabbed his arm and pulled him away downstairs. Edmund sensed the danger and guessed it was another raid as they were stepping down into the cellar which had served as shelter only a week ago. Mr. Garrison held a candle that illuminated the dark steps. They couldn’t see much more than the step that was directly in front of them. Leaving the rest of the room in blind darkness. In panic, although Edmund could not hear himself, he managed to yell, “Eliza! Where’s Eliza?” He broke free from the cook’s grasp and ran out the door to the outside street. “Go ahead and risk your life you old fool!” Mr. Garrison called out to him, but Edmund heard nothing more and ran down street alleys in a desperate attempt to find his daughter. In the distance he saw house swallow itself and a cloud of dust rise to meet the white clouds above. The bombs were falling.

Eliza ran down broken cobblestone streets while the bombs screamed from above and the earth answered with sound of buildings collapsing, metal bending, and glass breaking. She hid in a nearby house, running down into the basement below. She hid herself from the war, but the war still went on. The orchestra of chaos, the sound of death, yelled in her ear. The terror coming close and baring its teeth in her face. Yelling in her ear, destruction. But then the voice died away, and nothing more was left than silence. The raid was over. Eliza mounted the steps and walked out of the basement. One side of the house was now gone and through the hole she saw the fires flaming on rooftops. Buildings lit like candles, sending billowing black smoke to the thin white clouds above. The flames cracked and roared alone until the clear sound of music began playing. The violin did not cry, it whispered. It whispered hope. She turned the corners and saw a woman and a few men playing on a street corner. The backdrop of the burning city, the result of man’s cruelty mixed with the beauty. Changing the scene like cold water being sent from the heavens above, it seemed to repair buildings, extinguish fires, and bring the dead to life. The players, the instruments, and each note whispered. Hope.

Edmund had not taken shelter during the bombing raid but had continued to search desperately for his daughter. The raid seemed to be over, but he knew that the war wasn’t. Turning street corners he did not find what he searched for. Each turn brought pain. Burning buildings, burning bodies, burning lives, burning beauty. He hopelessly turned the last street and saw a music group playing and at their feet was kneeled a woman. He approached them quietly, unable to hear the music, but none the less drawn toward them. As he came closer his steps brought Eliza’s attention toward him. She turned her tear stained face and looked up at her father. She smiled and so did he. A real, genuine smile. Edmund looked at his daughter and saw her mother portrayed in those tear filled eyes. He turned his gaze up to the young woman playing the violin. Her eyes were closed and her lips slightly open. Her arm moved the bow and her delicate fingers pulled on the strings. Moving an emotion out of the instrument and a passion to the scene before him. One tear slipped down her cheek and touched her red lips which contrasted starkly with her thin, pale face. She opened her eyes and looked at him. Brown eyes shielded by tears, that looked at him and smiled. Broken glass lay at her feet from the building behind her. Smoke and flames were coming from inside the building, but the players ignored it and continued playing. Edmund looked at his daughter and then turned to look at the town. The place he had grown up in, consumed by flame and war. “Mankind is cruel,” he thought. But then turning back to face the players, he said, “Yet, beauty still remains.”

It was then that he realized. Music never dies, for it isn’t merely the playing of strings and the pressing of keys. It is the passion and emotion that lives on inside us. The sound is just the conveying of the beauty that lies within each and everyone of us. And no, maybe I shall not hear that sound again, but I will always know and hear the music he thought. He looked at the woman playing the violin. Even in the midst of cruelty, the humanity still remains. I will always hear the music. I will always see the beauty.

message 22: by M (last edited Nov 26, 2013 03:52PM) (new)

M | 11075 comments Colonel Monmouth’s Daughters
by M (About 3,350 words.)

Revised into a narrative, this is a scene from a long dialogue I posted in the “Get to Know Your Character” thread a couple of years ago. Here’s a summary of the background:

A pale moon hangs over Orchard Bay in a never-ending late afternoon whose slanting light casts long shadows on an autumnal landscape. It was here that Professor Waring had come, with his daughter Tavy, to hide. Beyond the seashore and the dunes are marshes and wooded hills, among whose shadows live vampires.

Tavy, the teen-aged granddaughter of a witch, can transform herself into a cat. She can also put thoughts and irresistable urges into people’s minds. Since a warlord’s men came for her father, Tavy’s been living alone, with only Ursula the bear for company, but there arrive at her door three wanderers cast up from dead-end stories or from over-with lives.

Spades is a dungeon explorer who can summon a fireball. General George Patton has been reincarnated as a fox squirrel, a disillusioned henchman of the evil warlord whose storm troopers had dragged away Tavy’s father. Penelope is a cloud of swamp gas with a mind of its own, telepathic and possessed of terrifying electrical powers. In a former life she had been an actress in silent films, and has assumed the beguiling form she once had.

As this scene opens, the four have returned to the cottage and are resting after a dangerous and unsuccessful trek inland to a great, walled orchard to try to find out what had become of Tavy’s father. On the way back, they had been pursued by vampires.


Penelope’s eyes opened. She lay on the sofa in the cottage among the dunes. Squirrel slept on his cushion before the fireplace. On his cot, Spades mumbled something in his sleep.

Tavy’s cot was empty. Looking up, Penelope saw bare feet on the rungs of the post, among the trusses, and she wondered what Tavy could see from up there. The inside shutters of the front window had been closed, but evening light from the glazed cupola filled the room.

Thinking back on the dream she had awakened from, Penelope wondered what had brought about her deliverance from the swamp, and what had become of Ambrose.

Moments later, Tavy climbed down. Seeing that Penelope was awake, she went to the couch.

Penelope sat up and made a place for her. “Anything interesting?”

Tavy shook her head. “All’s quiet. A couple of bears are having fish for dinner.”

She leaned her head against Penelope, who put her arm around her, and soon Tavy was asleep. The ship’s clock on the wall to the left of the door ticked faintly, its hands pointing at 5:17. Penelope’s gaze came to rest on Spades, and after a while she fell back to sleep.

Spades was torn from dreams by the faraway sound of a woman’s cries for help. Before he had entirely awakened, he found himself on his feet beside the cot, pulling on khakis, shirt, and Topsiders.

Tavy’s blue eyes opened. Her head in Penelope’s lap, she watched Spades for a moment, then she became aware of the distant cries. With the lithe, quiet movements of a cat, she sat up, her expression clouding, and in a low voice said, “It’s Orchil.”

Penelope stirred but didn’t awaken.

Spades tapped Squirrel, who with a squeak started from sleep and did a backflip onto the hearth.

Tavy went to the chair where her jeans and shirt were draped. She put them on and slipped on moccasins.

Spades buttoned his shirt. Then he walked over to the couch and wakened Penelope, who looked around sleepily and muttered, “What’s going on?”

Spades shook his head. “I don’t know. Orchil’s trying to get our attention.”

Squirrel rubbed his eyes and pulled his Parker pen out from under the cushion he had been sleeping on. Tavy climbed the ladder for a view through the cupola.

Penelope looked blearily at Spades. “Baby, my boots are soaking wet.”

Outside, on a clothesline near the cottage, Penelope’s motoring coat hung to dry. Like her boots, it was soaked from her dash into the surf a few hours before, when she and the others had fled the vampire girls.

“It might be a good idea to have someone to stay here and guard the house,” Spades suggested.

“I can’t see what’s going on,” Tavy’s voice came from the cupola. “Whatever it is, it’s down the beach, where the trees block the view.”

They heard the wild screams of a woman. Spades headed for the door, Squirrel at his heels.

After watching for a moment, Tavy descended the rungs quickly. “That’s Mrs. Muir. She lives in the little village down the cove.”

Spades opened the door. On the wooden steps he almost tripped over Penelope’s boots, which she had left there to dry. Almost at once he felt strange, as though he had taken a drug.

Squirrel followed, then Tavy. Though no one was in sight among the dunes, they proceeded warily. Almost masked by the unceasing, muffled roar of the surf was a chilling, eerie sound.

Tavy seized Spades’ arm. “Wait!”

She turned and dashed back to the cottage, returning moments later. “Here.” She handed Spades two small globs of soft wax. “Put these in your ears. Stuff them in tight.”

Taking them, Spades gave her a perplexed glance.

“The vampires are getting bolder.” Tavy looked around. “I wonder where Ursula is.”

Spades realized what the unearthly, hypnotic sound was. “What about you?”

Tavy shook her head. “I’m not affected by them.”

She gave some wax to Squirrel, who picked off little chunks and used them to plug his ears. Spades pushed wax into his ears until he could no longer hear the surf or the weird singing. As the trio emerged onto the beach, Squirrel climbed a dune and stationed himself in the tall grass on top.

A ways down the beach, a heavy-set woman in an old-fashioned dress was running, waving her arms frantically, the onshore breeze carrying her terrified voice. “Christabel! Christabel!”

Tavy dashed toward her. Though Spades was a good runner, he had a hard time keeping up with Tavy, who was fleet.

Out in the waves, a beautiful mermaid with long, reddish-brown hair motioned. “Don’t let them get the little girl!”

As they approached, Spades noticed that the woman, her chest heaving from the exertion of running, had become disoriented and was walking erratically. Where the beach sloped gently upward toward the woods, a child with blonde hair wandered toward the trees.

Tavy uttered, “Oh, dear God!” She sprinted toward the child, followed by Spades.

Among the trees lurked Colonel Monmouth’s daughters, who had hoped to make a meal of Spades, Tavy, Penelope, and Squirrel a few hours before. Singing their siren song, they were swaying, waving to the little girl, enticing her, making eerie twittering noises.

From his perch atop the dune, Squirrel extended his pen into a miniature telescope and adjusted it, mumbling anxiously to himself. “I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

In the cottage, Penelope sat down on the sofa. Using her telepathic powers, she tried to get a sense of what was taking place, but the exhaustion from their trip to the apple orchard soon left her in the clutches of sleep.

“Christabel!” Tavy shouted.

With all the concentration she could muster, Tavy put into the child’s mind an irresistable urge to go into the waves.

The little girl hesitated, took another step toward the shadows of the woods, then turned and ran toward the shore, laughing. “I want to play in the water!”

Death-pale, with black hair, a vampire darted from the trees to prevent the child’s escape but was intercepted by Tavy. The vampire emitted a chilling, high-pitched sound as Tavy struggled with it, tumbling on the sand and rock.

Amid the breaking waves, as near to shore as she could get, Orchil cried, “Spades, watch out!”

Spades was unable to hear her, however. The two remaining vampires leapt from the woods and were on him almost instantly. He slugged one in the face and tried to wrench himself free of the other, who was quickly all over him, her nails digging into him, her fetid breath in his face as her fangs sought his throat.

The creature released him suddenly and leapt backward when there appeared in Spades’ hand a fireball, like a little, molten planet that gave off plumes of black smoke and a pungent smell of pine resin and naphtha.

At point-blank range, he splattered the vampire with it. The other backed away as bloodcurdling screams come from the girl who was burning, her clothes and hair in flames, her skin crinkling like parchment.

Christabel’s feet splashed in the water, her blonde hair whipping in the sea breeze. “I want to play with the mermaids!”

Tavy seemed to have vanished. The vampire with long, black hair now had ragged claw scratches on her face. She got to her feet, confused, then caught sight of the burning girl.

Another ball of fire appeared in Spades’ hand. The vampire he had slugged backed away and turned to flee, but in moments she was in flames, tearing at her clothes, her hair, collapsing finally onto the sand in a writhing, smoking heap.

Orchil put her arms out for Christabel. “Come to me, honey.”

Christabel waded into the cold surf up to her waist. She was patting the surface with palms of her hands, when a breaking wave knocked her down. Orchil swam to her and took the spluttering child in her arms.

Christabel regarded the mermaid bashfully. “Hi, Orchil!”

Squirrel collapsed his little telescope and hastened down from the dune. “Where there’s smoke, there’s a roasting vampire.”

(Continued in the next post.)

message 23: by M (last edited Nov 25, 2013 01:57PM) (new)

M | 11075 comments (“Colonel Monmouth’s Daughters” continued.)

Mrs. Muir looked about her wildly, her senses returning. “Belle?” Surveying the scene, she saw the little girl in Orchil’s arms. Then she ventured hurriedly out into the waves. “Belle?”

A few yards from the raven-haired vampire, a black cat with amber eyes hissed, its back arched, its hair standing on end. As if out of nowhere, Tavy appeared, furious and quivering.

The vampire whimpered, her fangs flashing, her hands before her, her fingers ready to be used as claws. She looked about her wildly, trapped between the water and Spades, who had summoned another fireball.

Tavy fingered an ugly gash in her neck. “Burn her!”

Spades hesitated. There was something beautiful about the vampire girl, something hypnotic about her eyes, with their long lashes. He wanted to know about her, not destroy her. Then he heard Tavy’s voice in his mind, a voice calm and deliberate, almost like a memory from another lifetime: “Burn her, Spades.”

He hurled the fireball. Flames enveloped the stricken girl, who, shrieking, attempted to run but soon collapsed on the beach, fire crackling through her hair.

Out of the corner of his eye, Spades saw that a squirrel was headed their way as fast as if a terrier were on its tail. Squirrel skidded to a stop on the sand and rock. Panting, he whipped out his Parker pen.

Amid the waves, Orchil, Mrs. Muir, and Christabel observed the goings on. Mrs. Muir, stunned and relieved, held the little girl.

Christabel pointed in glee. “Look, Maw-maw. It’s a squirrel!”

Spades pulled the wax out of his ears. Suddenly the surf seemed loud. He wrenched his gaze from the figure that still twisted in agony on the beach, her clothes burned away, her skin blackened and shrivelled and peeling up like scorched paper.

“That’s the end of General Monmouth’s daughters,” Orchil remarked.

Mrs. Muir heaved a shuddering sigh. “But is it the end of a plague?”

Tavy approached Spades and he took her in his arms. She was shaking.

He pushed her hair back and looked with dismay at the place where a fang had gouged her skin. “We need to get back to the cabin and put something on that wound.” The skin around the cut had already become inflamed. Blood had run down her neck and stained the collar and shoulder of her shirt.

She pulled herself close to him.

“Maw-maw, who are those people?” asked Christabel.

Mrs. Muir replied, “They live in Professor Waring’s cottage, dear.”

Christabel’s eyes grew wide. “Who are those people who are lying on the ground, who have been burned?”

“They’re--were--” Mrs. Muir cleared her throat, “the daughters of an Englishman who lived in a manor house that’s up in the hills.”

Christabel gazed up at her, fear in her eyes. “The place they call the Moat?”

Looking warily about him, Squirrel quickly took the plugs of wax out of his ears. He scampered about the beach, flicking his tail, taking a good look at what was left of the charred bodies. Scanning the shadowy woods, he muttered, “I missed all the action.”

Spades and Tavy began the walk back to the cottage.

Mrs. Muir, pulling Christabel along by the hand, approached them. “I don’t know how--” she began, her voice quavering, her face streaked with tears.

Spades shook his head. “There’s no need.”

The woman’s face clouded with concern when she saw the wound on Tavy’s neck.

Tavy instinctively tried to hide it with her hair. “Mrs. Muir, this is Spades.”

Spades smiled cordially. “I’m very glad to meet you, ma’am.”

“Thank you for saving my little granddaughter.” Mrs. Muir’s hand moved fondly over Christabel’s tangled hair. “I don’t know who you are, but I’m thankful you’re here.” She regarded Tavy with alarm. “Child, you’re hurt!”

“I’ll be all right, Mrs. Muir.” Tavy smiled weakly. “We’ve got medicine and bandages at the cottage.”

The woman’s eyes wandered nervously to the smoking remains. “I’ll get the priest and some men out here to dispose of what’s left of those horrible creatures.”

Christabel backed suddenly against Mrs. Muir, pointing. “Look! It’s the squirrel.”

Standing upright, Squirrel bowed gallantly. “At your service, young lady.”

“Maw-maw,” gasped Christabel, “it talks!”

Making their way along the shore, they waved to Orchil, who waved back. Even at a distance, Spades could read the mermaid’s troubled expression. They watched as she swam through the breakers, kicking up spray with her tail. Then she disappeared into the bay.

The sound of footsteps on boards and the clink of the door latch awakened Penelope. Tavy, her face pale, her shirt blood-soaked, was holding on to Spades, who helped her to her cot.

“The medicine chest is in the trunk,” Tavy said weakly.

Penelope leapt to her feet. “What happened?”

“She got bit,” replied Spades.

Tavy lay down on her cot. From the wall by the settee, Spades dragged out a heavy, brass-bound trunk that looked like a pirate’s chest, and raised the lid.

“There should be some antibiotic salve in a vial in the tray,” Tavy directed.

Penelope helped Tavy remove her moccasins, then pulled a blanket up. “You’re shivering.” She lay her hand on Tavy’s forehead.

“Found it,” Spades reported. He handed the vial to Penelope, who carefully fingered ointment onto the wound. Then Spades handed her a bandage.

“Her name was Celia,” related Tavy, “the girl who bit me. I seem to have come away from the encounter with some of her memory.”

“I don’t like the looks of this,” Penelope admitted.

As Penelope applied the bandage and tape, Tavy squeezed her eyes shut. “It could have been worse and almost was.”

“Do you want some water?” Spades asked.

Tavy nodded, her eyes meeting his. Then she looked beyond him to the wall. The Cold Room door appeared.

Spades gave her a wry look. “You read my mind.”

Tavy smiled faintly. “I did.”

Spades got up and went to the narrow door beside the cupboard. He opened it and stepped into frigid darkness. Once he was inside, however, he could see the shelves and coolers, in the pallor cast by the couple of old-style light bulbs.

A bucket had been left upside down on top of a small, wooden chest, the lid of which he opened. He dug the bucket into a cache of ice cubes. Then he closed the chest and rejoined the others.

One of the shutters of the window above the little desk had been folded back. From the sill, Squirrel surveyed the dunes attentively. He turned. “Is that a bucket of ice?”

Spades set the galvanized bucket on the cutting board and took three glasses and from the cupboard. “It’s cocktail hour.” He put ice in a glass, held it under the pump, then took it to Tavy.

She accepted it gratefully, her hand trembling badly. “Thank you.”

Spades helped her hold the glass while she drank.

Penelope sat by the cot, concerned. “What can I do?”

Spades glanced wistfully at the checkered cloth on the big cutting board and the potatoes on the table. “I’ll bet those steaks are thawed out by now.”

“How do you feel?” Penelope asked Tavy.

“Cold,” Tavy replied.

Spades pulled a spare blanket from a shelf and spread it over Tavy, who pulled it up to her chin and said, “I’m worried about Ursula.”

“We didn’t see her, did we?” Spades admitted.

Penelope went to the butcher-block table and uncovered the steaks. She took the knife sharpener from its hook and waved it over the pot-bellied stove, then opened the little door. The coals had magically begun glowing.

“Sometimes she wanders off, though,” Tavy said, “and is gone for days. I think she gets tired of fish.” She smiled wanly. “She goes over to the village and scavenges and comes back stinking of garbage bins.”

From hooks on the wall behind the stove, Penelope took two small, cast-iron racks. She put the steaks on one, then wrapped the potatoes in foil and put them on the other.

Tavy handed Spades the glass, which he set on the map chest.

“Who were the vampires that attacked us?” he asked.

“Two of them were the daughters of Gregory Forst,” Tavy replied, “who, for complicated reasons, was called Colonel Monmouth. The other was Baron Zollern’s daughter Lucinda, who had been staying at the Moat during an epidemic.”

“When was that?” Spades felt her fingers interlace with his.

She gazed up at him. “They got sick and died in 1892 or 1893.”

“They died?” It wasn’t an answer he had expected.

Tavy nodded. “Etta died first, then Lucy, then Monmouth, then me.”

Spades was puzzled. “Then how did they become vampires?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you know when?”

“No,” Tavy answered. “There’s no sense of time when you’re one of them, but clothes don’t last forever. They ransacked the wardrobes at the schloss.”

Penelope filled the other glasses with ice and took a bottle of scotch from the cabinet.

Spades, disquieted, looked toward the window. “I think I’ll sleep more soundly when I’ve reassured myself that those bodies on the beach are nothing but charred bones.”

Tavy looked at him from under eyelids that had grown heavy. “They can’t come back.”

Penelope poured a couple of fingers of scotch into the each glass and filled the jigger, which she had put an ice cube in. Then she held the glasses under the pump.

Tavy’s fingers moved against Spades’. “Fire purifies.” Her eyes closed. Her breathing became slow and regular.

Penelope asked, “Drinks anyone?”

Squirrel collapsed the miniature telescope he had been looking through. He scampered down and went to the table. Penelope set out the olives and some cheese and couple of hors d’oeuvre forks.

With a sense of reluctance, Spades disengaged his hand from Tavy’s. He got up and went to the table.

“How is she?” Penelope asked.

Spades gave her a grateful look as he picked up a glass. “She’s asleep.”

The cast-iron stove drove away the slight chill in the air. Penelope opened the little door and slid racks loaded with steaks and potatoes onto the rails. Her eyes, clouded with worry, wandered across the room to Tavy, who seemed to have fallen into a deep sleep.

Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (christa-ronpaul2012) | 1365 comments Angie wrote: "Title: Trance's Diamonds
Author: Angie Duenas
Word count: 701
Feedback welcomed and desired!

Trance was a strange rat. The others scurried between sewer grates with their noses down to sniff out ..."

Angie I really liked your story. Told from the view of the rat it struck me a little child like, in the best way! Innocent. A happy little tale about one day in the life of a rat when someone showed him kindness. I loved it!

message 25: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Thank you. I just thought that this thread needed a happy story after the two suicide stories, just to balance things out a little. But that was just me.

message 26: by Tristan (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Angie: Yes! The two stories before yours were great, but I have to say it was very refreshing to not have the main character put a bullet to their head in the end. Nice job! Creative and simply written story :)

message 27: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Yes. I loved the stories before me too, but I can only handle so much sadness at one time.

I'm also a very literal person and rats were the closest I could get to something that was literally in a gutter. Except trash of course, but I couldn't figure out how to personify litter.

message 28: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments My beautiful city. Once untouched by the war that raged on in the rest of the world, has now been cut by the blade of destruction. The bombs, they fell like fire. Screeching through the sky and screaming on impact. The fires have been put out and much work has been made to repair the city. Although the bombing was almost an entire week ago, the city still lies in ruins and the people in shock. The other day I was walking down along the sidewalk when a little girl came up to me. Dirt smudged her cheeks and purple coat, but her eyes were only of youth and innocence.

So beautiful and heartbreaking.

This little monologue was my favorite:

My life was music. Every second of my life was its own composition in and of itself. Moving to the conductor’s hand, beating to my own compositions, swaying to the emotion. The emotion’s gone. War has killed the passion. We have traded the humanity for politics and armies, for guns, tanks and bombs. We have sacrificed our beauty, for the darkness that lies within us. We have lost beauty in the name of cruelty.

Tristan: It was a beautiful and deep story. It had so much meaning. But I do have a few suggestions to make.

The first is that the large blocks of unbroken text were a bit hard to swallow and are kind of imposing. I would suggest splitting some of the larger paragraphs to make it easier to read and follow.

The second is that you might want to be more careful of your use of pronouns and the way you place them in a sentence. "She had her mother in her eyes" is the best example I can give you.

I can figure out which her you are referring to each time, but you could have made the sentence clearer and easier to understand by changing that sentence. Such as:

Edmund saw her mother in her; Eliza had her in her eyes.

There are better ways to structure this than the example I gave, but do you sort of understand what I'm trying to say? The three consecutive hers were a bit awkward.

Lastly, though the scene with Mr. Garrison and the grocer was good for background and was very nicely written, I couldn't find its significance. I think that it detracts from the overall piece and that there are more effective ways of providing background to the story.

But all in all, I loved your story. It was beautiful, elegant, tragic, and hopeful all at the same time. Well done.

message 29: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments Angie wrote: "

I'm also a very literal person and rats were the closest I could get to something that was literally in ..."

That is gold, Angie -I am (literally) in stitches :)

message 30: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Thank you :)

message 31: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments Sorry, that was confusing - I meant your comment was so very funny. I haven't had a chance to read the stories yet, hopefully sitting down to that shortly (once I stop laughing!) :)

message 32: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments It's ok. I know what you meant

Christa - Ron Paul 2016 (christa-ronpaul2012) | 1365 comments Ryan wrote: "Angie wrote: "

I'm also a very literal person and rats were the closest I could get to something that was literally in ..."

That is gold, Angie -I am (literally) in stitches :)"

I agree, personify trash? :D HAHAHaha!

message 34: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments *says with exaggerated seriousness* You shouldn't make fun of trash. They have to make some pretty heavy life decisions: landfill, incinerator, or recycle, etc.

Tsk, tsk. So inconsiderate. Trash has feelings too ;)

message 35: by Garrison (last edited Nov 25, 2013 08:58PM) (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments You guys are a lot of fun to be around! :)

message 36: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments I'm flattered *touches my heart*

message 37: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Aww! ^_^

message 38: by Tristan (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Hahahaha! Angie, you're hilarious XD
Thanks for the feedback by the way. I love finding ways to improve but sometimes things slip past me. It's great to come on here and have a second opinion. I appreciate it!

message 39: by Beansoda (new)

Beansoda AUTHOR: Beansoda
TITLE: The Culture Wars
RATING: PG-13 for mild sexuality, implied drug use and Top-40 radio.
FEEDBACK: Welcome.

A famous guy named Frederick Neet-cha once said something along the lines of, “Without music, life would be a mistake."

I hate music.

I first started working in radio when things were good. We made decent money. We got into all the coolest rock shows for free. Most importantly, we got laid.

Radio stations have downsized, firing people and letting the remaining soldiers pick up the slack. It got to the point where if you wanted a job in radio you’d have to do a thousand different tasks, for less money than you’d make managing overnights at McArby’s.

Also, music sucks now. And I almost never have sex.

Occasionally I’d still venture out to a local music venue (sometimes a bar … most times a bar) and try to enjoy an act. Loud music just isn’t as much fun when you’re not wearing a VIP sticker and high on free drugs that some lady gave you.

Actually listening to these bands with a clear head is excruciating. What is this joker singing about?



The difficulties of growing up in suburbia.

Seriously, was rock always this angry? What is it about growing up with a swimming pool in your backyard that makes you so whiny?

When I couldn’t take any more bouncing from radio job to radio job, I decided to go into business for myself. I realized that while there is a shortage of quality jobs in radio, there is actually a niche for someone with a nice voice and the ability to read.

Ding ding!

I paid some local college kid to set up a website for me and I was off and running. Discount voiceovers. Let me voice your advertising copy. I’ll even write the thing for you. Or maybe I’ll give your company’s voicemail the deep, thrusting voice it deserves.
I sat back and waited for the calls to come in.

The calls didn’t come in.

I did some local advertising in some of the shadier web classifieds (you know the ones) and started getting a few bites. My first real client was a Russian grocer who didn’t want to sound Russian on his voicemail.

“This Vlad-e-meer. Need voice-meil.”

I told him my fee and he accepted without hesitation. That’s rarely a good sign, but I was eating again. He e-mailed me the first script and his voicemail number and passcode.

“Hello. You’ve reached the voicemail of Vladimir Antonov. Please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Peaches.”

He wanted me to say peaches at the end there. I didn’t know why. I thought it was the translation of some American idiom gone awry. Regardless, Vladimir sent me a check and a new voicemail script to read every Tuesday.

“Hello. You’ve reached Vladimir. You know what to do. Peaches.” Cha-ching.

“Hello. Vladimir is not here. Leave a message. Peaches.” Ding ding.

“Hello! ... peaches.” Cha-cha-cha-ching.

By now it is a joke between me and my friends at the bar to end random sentences with the word “peaches,” pronounced in a heavy Russian accent. Try it sometime, maybe with a little shoulder shrug as you say it.


A few weeks passed and I was doing well financially. After grabbing a to-go hot dog from O’Flannery’s, I stumbled to my car where I found a white 3x5 card beneath my windshield wiper.

Extremely neat handwriting told me to “drive north on Boulevard and then go to the third stoplight past West Grace Street and park by the mailbox and wait.”

On the other side of the card was a zoomed-in photo of me eating a hot dog outside O’Flannery’s Pub. I was being spied on! In the photo I noticed a stain on my shirt.

I called 911 as I dabbed at my shirt with a wet tissue.

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

“Hello, I think I’m being stalked. I found a note on my car that said to go somewhere, or else, and there were pictures of me and stuff.”

“Please hold.”

After some painfully awful hold music, I heard “Hello, this is Detective Jenkins. I’ve been waiting for your call, Mr. Rockinsteen--since we won’t be meeting by the mailbox, I’ll just come pick you up.”

“... wha?”

“See, you’re the telephone voice of a major crime syndicate here in town and I’d like to fill you in on some things. And I’d like your help. We’d appreciate it if you came in for a chat. How’s this afternoon sound?”

“Isn’t it afternoon now?”

“I’ll come get you now.”

I've seen a lot of tv shows about the mob. I can't recall any of the characters having the job of “guy on the voicemail.” But here I was. I hope they get somebody sexy to play me in the series. Unfortunately, people with great voices are rarely sexy. Dang.

I arrived at the police station for my chat with Detective Jenkins. He was quite friendly and looked more like a high-end car salesman or maybe a local sports news anchor. He had nice hair.

“Look, we think they’re using voicemails to communicate. All we want is for you to look out for some kind of code word. Something that maybe seems out of place.”

“It’s peaches,” I said.


“It’s always peaches. That’s it. That’s the secret codeword. Can I go now?”

I regretted not asking more about Vladimir's operation. What were they up to? Was it really the Russian mob? I'd eventually learn that it was something much bigger ... much more sinister.

I walked the thirteen blocks from the station to my car. I felt like I’d betrayed my only employer. What harm could it do, really, telling someone about the peaches thing? All this peaches nonsense was getting me hungry so I stopped at the corner bodega and purchased a nice ripe peach.

“Fifty dreed cent,” the cashier said in a thick Russian accent. It wasn’t Vladimir, I was pretty sure, but the accent was enough to make me uneasy.

I stepped around the back of the bodega as I slurped on my peach. It’s impossible to eat a peach quietly. I noticed some dangerous looking men unloading crates. I tried to make quieter slurping noises.

The crates were all stenciled with the word “PEACHES” in block lettering. I waited nonchalantly and waited for the men to go inside.

I approached a crate.

The lid was loose.

It became more loose as I pulled up on it. My hands were sticky from the peach. I hate that. The lid groaned and creaked, probably from a nail or two still attempting to hold on. I could hear arguing in Russian from inside the bodega. With one final yank I got the lid up.

Inside the crate were peaches, but I was already sick of those. As I rummaged for something else, I noticed there were also several small metal rectangles, packed in bubble wrap. They looked like little silver and black boxes, almost. I picked one up.

Sirens blared.

“Freeze!” I heard from behind.

I didn’t move except to pop some of that sweet bubble wrap.

“Put down the hard drive! Do it! Now!”

I slowly dropped it back into the crate and turned around. Detective Jenkins was there, holding a large gun. He freed one hand to adjust his hair. Damn, he was smooth. Several large men in police SWAT uniforms were swarming around and shouting things into headsets.

"We got them sir. The hard drives," one officer said. Detective Jenkins was weeping beautiful tears.

"It's over. It's finally over."

I could hear helicopters. I sucked on my fingers.

* * *

A week later, I was awarded the Key to the City by the mayor. The President of the United States gave me some kind of medal for valor. I met several astronauts. The President’s speech was declared a success by both the right- and left-wing press.

[Excerpt from the President’s speech]

“... have been importing dangerous, infectious music and television programming into the United States for years in an attempt to infiltrate not only our communication industries, but our cultural identity as Americans. As they bought up unprofitable radio stations, they moved on to television stations and cable channels, and then on to social media platforms and websites.

“In order for the Russians to destroy America with military might, they had to first destroy us culturally, and mentally, from within. They nearly succeeded. After years and years of exposure to manufactured boy and girl pop, rock, r&b and reality television, we’d weep at the beauty of a babushka playing an accordion while drinking beet vodka.”

[President visibly shudders]

“I’m not sure we could have endured many more album releases from Kings of Leon or Coldplay or God forbid,” he swallowed audibly, “Nickleback ... Nor could the mighty beacon of freedom that is the United States of America have withstood another barrage of television shows about fat Southerners and their family businesses and hobbies. No offense to Senator Nelson.”

[Audience laughter and clapping.]

“Let us usher in a new cultural era for the United States. A red, white and blue renaissance, if you will. It will not be easy. But no worthwhile endeavour ever is. Godspeed to all of us, and may God bless the United States of America.

“Also, per a previous contract, we have agreed to provide unlimited backstage passes and cocaine for our new nationally syndicated Disc Jockey-laureate: The Honorable Rocky Rockinsteen!”

The crowd roared.

I liked music again.

message 40: by Tristan (last edited Nov 26, 2013 12:09PM) (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Beansoda: Hahaha, nice job! Your story was an enjoyable read. I especially liked the knocks at the "modern rock" scene, since I personally dislike it.

"Seriously, was rock always this angry? What is it about growing up with a swimming pool in your backyard that makes you so whiny?"

That cracked me up because it's so true!

message 41: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Beansoda:

I loved your story. It had me laughing the entire time. It was a very refreshing perspective and your narrator was incredibly amusing.

But most of all: Thank you. My OCD brain is incredibly happy about your word count. Exactly 1,500!!!

message 42: by Tristan (last edited Nov 26, 2013 05:20PM) (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Angie: But did you count to make sure?

message 43: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments *looks suspiciously and double checks*

message 44: by Angie (last edited Nov 26, 2013 05:27PM) (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Aww.... 1,590... Alas! I've been deceived with false hope!

You just broke my heart Tristan!

message 45: by Tristan (new)

Tristan (tristanlamaya) Wow, way to ruin my day with guilt Angie!
Here's some glue for your broken heart and a get well soon card.

message 46: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments It's ok. At least my story has a round number. ;)

message 47: by Beansoda (new)

Beansoda BWA HAW HAW HAW HAW! (dances off maniacally)

message 48: by Paul (new)

Paul | 61 comments By Paul word count 1412. Ages since ive written anything so sorry!

Night of the storm.

Harry pulled the covers of his duvet round his neck, in hope of escaping the howling wind from outside. His eyes were wide with fear as he watched the shadows slinking across the darkened room as a pearl of thunder reverberated followed by a flash of intense lightening. Outside, the rain lashed against the window in a torrent of anger and desperation.
As he buried his head in the comfort of his pillow he heard the first whispers.
They were gentle at first, almost beyond the range of hearing. "Are you there? Are you there?" It sounded like a breathless kiss on a summer breeze. Outside the storm was still raging, the wind rattling the wooden frame of the window.
In the distance Harry could hear the muted television downstairs and the clink of a glass as his dad drunk his whiskey slowly and alone in the darkness.
Harry slunk deeper into the folds of the duvet as the whispering turned more intense, "Please, can I be your friend?"
Harry decided he must be dreaming, after all nobody wanted to be his friend. Ever since he'd lost his mum in the tradegy that his Dad refused to talk about things had been different.
They had to move faraway from the memories, only the past didn't want to be lay hidden. Instead, he found himself an outcast in a school of blank faces and names he couldn't remember. He was trapped in this rambling house that his Dad was doing up, as it was a project that was good for his soul.
As his eyes adjusted to the gloom he was sure the curtains were swaying. Even in this poor light he could see the faded red tulips that adored the curtain moving every so gently.
"Open the curtains and look at me friend." The voice whispered with a commanding intensity.
"I haven't any friends. Nobody loves me," he cried, the tears cascading down his cheeks. "Go away! Or I will go and get my Dad, then your be sorry!" He shouted.
As if in answer the room shook as the thunder rumbled in torment. After the lightening hit a few seconds later, in the afterglow Harry gasped in fear as the huge tree outside his window scrapped the glass in a vain attempt to escape the storm outside.
Branches, some as long as his arm slid along the glass, searching for a way in. Then the room was plunged once more into darkness and shadow.
"Please help me," the voice said, with a sadness that made Harry's heart weep. Gingerly he climbed out of his bed, the springs creaking in protest as the boys frame mavovered his feet onto the cold wooden flooring. For a second he stayed like this, his bare feet swinging in tandem as sat on the bed adjusted to the freezing room temperature. He clutched his striped pyjamas to his chest to try and keep his body heat in.
Then taking the plunge he hoisted himself off the bed as he slowly made his way over to the pulled curtains.
Through the pale luminance of the material he stood transfixed as he watched the branches twitching and scraping across the glass in a silhouette of ballet.
Then in a surge of bravery he grabbed both sets of curtains and flicked them back with such force that the wooden rail shook, scattering dust in its wake. For a moment all he could see was the pitch black of the night.
Then a flash of lightening lit up the room with crystal clarity, and in that moment he was sure a face was looking back at him.
It was buried deep in the bark of the tree.
Amongst the dirt and grime, hidden in the gnarled and twisted wood and leaves an ancient face peered back at him. This he saw in the afterglow of the flash in the blink of an eye. It happened so quickly for a second he thought his eyes had deceived him.
Surely the tree outside his window wasn't alive, was it? Was he dreaming? Or was he actually crazy? After all the things and the stress of the last few months, perhaps it was all catching up with him.
Grabbing his torch he shined the narrow beam of light toward the tree swaying beyond the glass. Past the reflection of a scared little boy he could actually make out a face sculpted out of the bark. But was his imagination playing games, what with the storm raging? Surely you could see shapes and even faces in everything if you looked closely.
Then it spoke to him. A deep throaty growl of a voice. "Please, I'm scared of the storm."
"But your just a tree; trees don't speak, and they certainly don't have faces," he said, his voice lacking conviction. "I must be having a weird dream, or I'm losing the plot," he said, whispering to himself.
"I only want to be your friend, after all it's so lonely out here day after day. What's your name young boy?"
This is crazy thought Harry as he answered back his name.
"Harry, why are you so sad? I can see a despair etched in your face like the grooves of this gnarled bark."
And so against the backdrop of a raging storm, with rain lashing down Harry poured his heart out to the tree that stood guard outside his window like a advocate sentry.
He told him of the grieve he felt for his mother, of how he missed her every second of every day. He explained how he couldn't mix with the other kids, of how he desperately wanted a friend to share his life.
"And now you've got a friend, and already you feel better." Harry was sure that the trunk actually smiled. "And it helps me and comforts me through the storm to hear another voice. I was so afraid before we become friends."
Harry actually smiled at the thought of someone actually being his friend.
"We're always be friends, you and me," the tree said, with a wry chuckle.
Harry was just going to ask the tree what his name was when the flash of lightened exploded across the room, causing him to fall backwards with the force of its intensity.
Shaking himself back to reality he heard the scream of the tree as if in pain. Rushing across the room he flew open the window, the glass shattering as the frame was thrown backward in the full force of the wind.
"Are you alright?" He shouted above the din of the raging wind. But all he could hear was the scream of pain coming from down below.
Looking down he could see the flames flickering around the trunk of his newly found friend. He had been struck by lightening. Bolting from his room Harry flew down the stairs his legs pumping with adrenaline as he took the steps two at a time. In bare feet he raced round the front of the house in a bid to try to rescue his friend.
But he was to late, because as he skidded to a halt in the wet grass he could only watch as the almighty oak tree that had stood for years almost lazily fell, it's branches grazing Harry's head in its downward route knocking him to the ground.
Dazed, the tears flowed down his face, mingling with the incessant pouring rain. He could only watch as the tree finally came to rest on the wet lawn, it's almighty trunk a mere inches from his face.
As he slowly drifted off, losing conscious due to the blow to his skull he was sure he heard the deathly whisper of the tree say, "I've finally found a friendship. Don't cry it's over, smile that it happened."
Harry was woken after what seemed an age, but it couldn't have been long because the night was still black and the rain was still lashing. In the distance he could hear the clamour of a fire engine and the shrill screaming of his Dad. Somebody was shaking him and dragging his body away from the dead weight of the tree. It was a boy, a little older than himself. "Who are you?" He croaked
"Don't worry friend. My names James Oak, I've just moved in next door. Lucky I saw you fall under this beast or your be a gonna."
"James Oak?"
Was it his imagination or did James have knotted kind of skin for a teenager.

message 49: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Paul, it may have been ages since you've written, but judging from the story, you didn't get rusty at all. This is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Friendship is a powerful thing no matter who it comes from.

message 50: by Saira (last edited Nov 28, 2013 07:39AM) (new)

Saira (herumouni) | 667 comments If they go tomorrow? Why are they up today? I was trying to get mine in after you said that...

Edit: yeah, someone definitely put them up too early. As today is the deadline not yesterday.

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