Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 316 (June 21-27). Stories. Topic: The Final Curtain.

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

You have until the 27th of June to post a story and on June 28-July 1, 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. Only one submission per person is allowed.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: The Final Curtain

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Have fun!


message 2: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments What a wonderful topic Leslie! I'm going to take a short break from writing to go camping these next two weeks, but I'll definitely try to read the stories in between my two trips. Can't wait to see what you guys come up with :)


message 3: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago I think this fits the brief.

Comments and feedback humbly requested.

MISTER SMITH

By Jane

We opened our campsite in 1973 in a steep valley leading down to the sea, with its own wide shingle beach that catches the Atlantic swell and is ideal for surfers. We terraced the slopes, put in electric points, and hoped to make some money before the bank got too impatient. The Smiths were among our first visitors. At first the family came together; Mr and Mrs Smith and their two teenage sons. They pitched a huge old-fashioned tent with great precision, then Mum and Dad sat on the beach in all weathers while the boys rode the surf from dawn to dusk. Mr Smith's scruffy mongrel dog sat on a blanket and watched proceedings. We became fond of the family, who were polite, helpful, and good-humoured. We looked forward to their visits, and our chats in the small bar we built in the second year after we opened the site.

Time moved on, and the Smith boys grew up and flew the nest. Mr and Mrs Smith bought a small caravan instead of the huge tent, and continued to visit us several times a year, accompanied by a succession of small undistinguished mongrel dogs. They remained among our favourite guests, and Mr Smith's gentle humour defused many an argument among his fellow campers.

About three years ago Mrs Smith started to look poorly to us, and my wife ventured to ask about her health. After she had seen the couple to their favourite pitch, I found her in the office with her head on the desk. It seemed that Mrs Smith was terminally ill, but she and her husband were determined to carry on with their lives and enjoy camping together for as long as they could. They bought rather a smart motorhome, so that Mrs Smith would be spared the upheaval of setting up a caravan, but other than that they seemed to carry on much as usual.

The last time we saw Mrs Smith alive was Easter of last year, when she looked so frail that a puff of wind could have taken her away, but she still smiled and came for her evening glass of sherry without fail. In August, Mr Smith telephoned to confirm his usual pitch for the Bank Holiday weekend, but he had an unusual request. His wife, he said, had died in June, and he wanted to bury her ashes in the little belt of trees we planted at the head of the valley on the landward side of the campsite. He would quite understand, he said, if we preferred not to give permission, but his dear Rosemary had had the happiest times of her life on our campsite and it had been her wish to be laid to rest under the trees where she could smell the sea. I didn't know what to say, but my own wife took the telephone firmly out of my fingers and said there would be absolutely no problem. After she hung up I thought of a dozen reasons why this wasn't a good idea, but the tears in her eyes were enough reason to forget my misgivings.

As it turned out, those misgivings were unfounded. On the Bank Holiday weekend my wife had a quiet word with all the other guests as they arrived, and nobody had any objection. Far from it. Most knew the Smiths, and when the motorhome drew up on its accustomed pitch on Friday afternoon, Mr Smith had a steady stream of visitors. He came to the office late in the day with a bemused smile on his face. It seemed that his fellow campers wished to join him in remembering his gentle wife, and he wondered if we had any objection to a small ceremony in the wood. He said he had thought to bury the urn quietly and secretly, so as not to disturb others, and was much touched to find out how many wished to offer their support. Of course, we agreed, and the next morning we found ourselves in a group of about twenty people, many of whom carried flowers, as the old man dug a hole in the soft loam with his bare hands, and laid his wife to rest under a rowan tree.

In the following months, Mrs Smith's last resting place became something of a phenomenon. One regular visitor turned up a week after the Bank Holiday with a teak bench strapped to the roof of his car. He said it was an unwanted present, and he thought it would be nice for people to be able to sit down in the wood. Then another family brought a bag of flower bulbs. Someone else turned up with a flowering shrub. And so it went on... By the end of that year the little coppice had become perhaps the prettiest place in the whole valley and was somewhere all our regular campers loved. Mr Smith himself, and his little dog, Rags, were regular visitors, and the old man's pleasure in that quiet spot was something in which we took great pride.

Mr Smith and his dog spent Christmas and the New Year with us, and seemed content in each other's company. Last thing every night, they walked around the campsite, then went to say goodnight to Mrs Smith, an old man and an old dog, with a smile and a polite greeting for everyone.

In August, we had a sad telephone call from the eldest Smith son. His father, he said had been very poorly, and, to make matters worse, Rags had died. The old man, it seemed, was fretting about Rags' ashes. He had wanted to scatter them near where Mrs Smith rested, but his health was so poor it seemed unlikely he would be able to get here to do it. I volunteered to scatter Rags' ashes myself feeling it was the least I could do for our old friend. Smith junior almost cried with relief, and a few days later the postman delivered a strongly packed parcel. That night, my wife and I secretly scattered the ashes among the trees and shrubs. I'll admit that a few tears were shed, and as we walked back to our house, we were both almost certain we would never see Mr Smith again.

But we were wrong...

We have a single static caravan, sited on the edge of the courtyard by the bar and lounge. It is principally for the benefit of our own increasingly large tribe of children and grandchildren, but also available for hire to a few selected customers. We don't usually let it out for Christmas and the New Year, as it tends to be be in family use, but this year, all our tribe were to head overseas for the festive season, and it looked as if the caravan would be empty. Then we got a call out of the blue from Mr Smith. He was now much better, he said, but no longer able to drive, and he was wondering if the caravan would be available for Christmas. If we agreed, his younger son and his family would bring him down and spend Christmas with him. They would have to return to work on December 28, he explained, but his elder son could pick him up directly after the New Year. He sounded so much like his usual self that it was hard to believe he had been ill, and we agreed with alacrity.

Christmas week came, and the Smiths filled our caravan to overflowing. The old man himself looked much as he had always looked, if a little thinner than we would have liked. It seemed sad to see him without his dog, but he soon acquired a canine companion in the shape of a half-trained spaniel belonging to a young family called Richardson. He spent hours in the dog field, with the family and the spaniel, training both canine and humans with patience and humour. December 28 arrived and his family drove away in their chunky four-wheel drive, leaving the old man alone. I dropped in an hour or two after they had gone to find the Richardsons and their dog had got there before me. Mrs Richardson was cooking, Mr Richardson was hoovering, the children were playing cards with Mr Smith, and the dog slept quietly on a blanket.

I effaced myself, glad to see our old friend was far from lonely. Mr Richardson followed me out. 'I'm grateful and glad' I said 'that you have befriended the old boy'. 'Not as glad as I am' he replied. 'Mr Smith is amazing. In a few short days he has transformed our dog from a hooligan into an estimable family pet. In addition to which, this is the first holiday we've had in three years where the kids have emerged from behind their computers to do more than eat. No, it's us who should be grateful.'

In the next couple of days, Mr Smith became absorbed into the Richardson family, and together they seemed a very happy unit, even hosting a party for their fellow campers on the eve of New Years Eve.

The great night rolled around and our little bar and lounge were buzzing, filled with campers and friends from the village. My wife had put on a splendid buffet, and I was kept on my toes filling glasses. Just before midnight, I had a moment of leisure to look around me. I spotted our old friend in a comfortable chair in the corner with the youngest Richardson fast asleep on his lap. He looked a contented man, and I felt glad for him.

After the singing of Auld Lang Syne the crowd thinned somewhat, and I closed the bar. The Richardsons took their sleepy babies home to bed, but Mr Smith remained in his seat, and was joined by a couple of older men, one of whom was waving a bottle of single malt whisky. It looked as if we were all in for a long night.

We didn't clear everybody out until around three o'clock, and I sent my wife off to bed, saying I'd lock up and be with her shortly. I locked the bar, checked the gates, locked the office and climbed wearily up the stairs. When I got into our bedroom, I found my wife had crashed face-down on the bed. I removed her shoes and pulled the duvet over her.

Before falling into bed myself, I wandered out onto the balcony to breathe the cool night air and clear the whisky fumes from my head. I was surprised to see two people wandering along the roadway leading from the back of the site to the beach. I couldn't see their faces, but there was something familiar about the tall figure of the man and his slender companion. As I watched them, I heard the woman call 'Rags, Rags', and a small dog bulleted out of nowhere to join the couple. I banged my head with the heel of my hand, I had to be dreaming. I must have had too much of that single malt. It was just that old Mr Smith had been so much in my mind. I closed my eyes for an instant, and when I opened them again, there was nobody to be seen. I turned away from the frosty night, and, closing the doors, fell into bed and, almost instantly, into a deep, exhausted sleep.

Morning came, and I forgot all about my odd moonlight experience in the flurry of day-to-day tasks. I had mucked out the bar and was just sitting down to a much-needed cup of coffee, when Mr Richardson came into the office looking worried. It seemed that Mr Smith was due to go out to lunch with the family, but they couldn't raise him. Mrs Richardson had taken the children back to their own caravan, and he had come to find me in the hope I had some spare keys. I collected the spares and, with Mr Richardson at my heels, walked across the courtyard to the caravan. Halfway there, my early morning vision came back to me with startling clarity. My heart sank.

I unlocked the door and we went in together. All was tidy and calm, and Mr Smith sat at the end of the settee. For a moment I thought he was only sleeping, but as I got closer I realised this was his last sleep. His eyes were closed, and he looked both serene and happy. The caravan smelled like my wife's herb garden on a summer afternoon and I realised that the old man held a sprig of rosemary in full flower in his right hand. His left hand, however, was outstretched, and laid caressingly on a circular dent in the cushion next to him where a trail of tiny muddy paw prints came to an end...


message 4: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments -----
Great topic, Leslie!

It makes me think of the great Poirot! His last story was Curtain which I will one day read cuz Christie's the boss, lol!

Hope everyone posts their best!
---


message 5: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments It's been a while since I've posted a modern day drama story, but this is the only one in my archives that fits the prompt. It's called "Zion Heart" and it goes like this:

CHARACTERS:

Eleanor Paris, Student Guitarist
Jeremy Land, History Teacher
Gary Weinberg, Jewish Principal

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Eleanor’s “offensive” performance could lead to the final curtain of the talent show.

SYNOPSIS: A year-end talent show is taking place at Central River High School and the final act of the day is Eleanor playing “To Kill the Child” by Roger Waters on her acoustic guitar. Halfway through the song, her microphone is cut off by Principal Weinberg, who sees Roger Waters as anti-Semitic since the former Pink Floyd bassist supports Palestine instead of Israel. Just when Eleanor is about to leave the stage in tears, Mr. Land stands up for her while demonizing Weinberg. Jeremy goes on to say that rock and roll is about artistic freedom and by censoring Eleanor, the Principal is proving Roger Waters right.


message 6: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments CJ wrote: "-----
Great topic, Leslie!

It makes me think of the great Poirot! His last story was Curtain which I will one day read cuz Christie's the boss, lol!

Hope everyone posts their best!
---"


Too right! I've been going through her books in publication order - only 40-odd to go.


message 7: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments Edward wrote: "CJ wrote: "-----
Great topic, Leslie!

It makes me think of the great........."


Too right! I've been going through her books in publication order... "


I have been in an Agatha Christie book club here on GR for about two years. I shocked myself when I had then read about 20 books. I forget the number I could be unintentionally lying, haha! But I had outdone a previous personal most read author I used to with a lot of works, Stephen King. You should join that group it's great. It needs more enlivening in the discussions though. I have failed doing so myself because I get lost reading other books and by the time I finish hers I forget the questions I wanted to discuss later, haha!


message 8: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Stephen King is still up there for me with 86 books read (including short stories, so that's something of a cheat). Terry Pratchett is close with 68, but once I'm done with Ms Christie, I think it'll be around 80. I've got most of them sat on a bookshelf, waiting to be read. One day I think Franklin W Dixon might bypass Mr King - he would have already if I actually listed all the books I've actually read of The Hardy Boys, but I'm reading them fresh and listing as I go along! Started Christie #33 today. :D


message 9: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah (erie) | 27 comments That was such a gentle and quiet ghost story, Jane; it was lovely. Your mood and dialogue were so strong that I had no problem getting lost in the words. Definitely one of the best short stories I've read in ages.


message 10: by Joy (new)

Joy Crain | 41 comments Title: His Way Home
Word Count: 1340

Comments are appreciated.


Finally, after all these years.

St. Daniel Cunningham saluted his fellow soldiers as he flung his pack over his shoulder and hoisted it onto his back. After three years of being stationed in France, he was finally coming home to America. And if he hurried he would be able to surprise his daughter by showing up at her sixth grade dance recital. The thought of seeing her dancing across the stage in a her pink tutu brought at tear to his eye. He could only imagine the look on her face when she saw him in the crowd. Her daddy.

With one final wave to his battalion, Daniel stepped onto the helicopter and shifted to a comfortable position, his pack now resting across his lap. Another minute and the pilot was ready, mumbling into his helmet and starting the engines. The blades above Daniel started to whirl and he leaned back in exhaustion.

"You alright back there?" the pilot yelled above the sounds.

"Yeah!" Daniel yelled back. "Just, can't wait to get home!"

"To that lovely wife and daughter of yours!"

Daniel's heart warmed at being able to see his family again. Three years abroad with only a couple weeks leave was weighing heavy on his soul. But no more. Once he was home, he would be announcing that he was there to stay and watch his little girl grow.
He had been in contact with his wife Leah for several months now and had the whole thing arranged. His brother Mike was to pick him up at the airport four days from now and drive him directly to the grade school where the performance was to take place. And the whole thing was to be a surprise to little Maddie.
Daniel's rested his head against the back of his seat, watching the view from the open helicopter doors.

I'm going home.

I'm going home.

A few moments had he found himself drifting off to sleep but soon was awoken by a blaring sound. He jerked upright and started straightforward, listening to the pilot shout into his headset.

"Mayday, Mayday, engines failing to respond! We are going down, I repeat! Going DOWN!"

Fear gripped at Daniel's heart and he steadied himself in the shaking helicopter. "What's going on?" Daniel shouted.

The pilot was viciously tearing at the various controls and buttons on the console, trying everything he could to find a solution to the problem. "The engines won't respond," he called back. "We have to make an emergency landing."

Daniel heaved a breath. Emergency landing. He hadn't said "crash landing." There was a difference, right? The view outside was spinning and Daniel felt sick to his stomach, clutching the handlebar above the door and hanging on for dear life.

His eyes shut, trying to drown out the sounds around him and focus on his daughter's laugh. Little Maddie! The plane jerked but Daniel managed to stay in one place.

"We're going down! We're going down!"

Daniel wished the pilot would say something else.

This can't be happening! After all these years.

His eyes cast heavenward.

Please, let me see my daughter again.

Seconds later the helicopter made contact with the ground and that last thing Daniel heard was the pilot's screams before everything went black.
....................................................................................
Opening night.

Little Maddie bounced wildly on her heels, anticipating the night. "Maddie, hold still, I have to fix your make up!"

Maddie stopped. "Sorry, Mommy, I'm just excited."

"You're not nervous?"

"No."

Leah patted Maddie's face with the soft brush, applying a faint blush to her daughter's cheeks. Maddie watched her mother's face. It looked sad and unsure. A second later, the look disappeared and a broad smile replaced it.

"All set!" she exclaimed, before reaching into her pocket and pulling her phone out for the hundredth time that day.

"Mommy, who are on the phone with?" Maddie took her mother's hand and curiously tried to peek across the screen.

"Your Uncle Mike," Leah replied.

"Ohhhhh, is he coming tonight?"

Leah nodded and wrapped an arm around her daughter. "Of course he is, you know he wouldn't miss this for the whole world." He smiled and pushed a curl out Maddie's face. "Now why don't you go and find your friends."

Maddie squealed with delight and excitement and ran off. Leah's heart dropped as she re-read the text message, hoping that the words had changed since the first time, but no. They were still the same.

He didn't show up at the airport!
...............................................................................
Ten minutes.

Maddie giggled as she pulled back part of the curtain to reveal the audience. Her eyes found her mother leaning over her aunt and talking to grandma and grandpa. Uncle Mike was fiddling with his video camera, ready to record the whole thing. Everyone was here...except.

Maddie bit her quivering lower lip. Her daddy wasn't here on the biggest night of her sixth grade life. He was off fighting for what was right. Even though she knew that her daddy had to go away, it didn't make things easier for her. She wanted him here to see her.

"Maddie," her teacher called. "Come on and get in line."

Maddie let the curtain drop as ran on stage, giggling with the other girls as they took their positions. The teacher gave the group an encouraging smile as she tapped her clipboard. "You guys are going to be great tonight."

Maddie took in a deep breath and stared straight at the curtain, waiting for it to lift and reveal her and the class. The curtain finally rose and the class was welcomed with a loud applause from the crowd of parents.

Maddie found her mother but her mother wasn't looking at her. Instead she had her face buried into a man's chest, tears streaming down her face. The man cradling her looked up at the stage and found Maddie's. Maddie's heart hitched in her chest and found her own eyes prick with tears.

Her daddy. He was here. Her mother pulled back from her father and they both waved. Maddie resisted the urge to wave back but flashed them the biggest smile her mouth could manage.
The music started and Maddie positioned herself behind Eliza Tupper and raised her arms above her head. She had to dance her best for her daddy.
............................................................................................
The recital went off without a hitch and Daniel found himself in tears by the time the final curtain fell, blocking his view of his daughter. The rows of parents started to disperse and Daniel arms were aching to get his hands on his daughter.

When it was there turn to leave, he linked his fingers with Leah's and pulled her through the crowd and behind stage. "Maddie," he called. "Maddie."

His eyes scanned each girl in her tutu, desperate to find his daughter. "Daddy!" Daniel whirled around just in time to see his daughter slam into his legs, gripping them tightly. His heart burst.
"Daddy! You're here! Did you see me, Daddy? Was I good?"

Daniel choked back his tears as he hoisted Maddie into his arms. "I saw you, Princess, and you were amazing."

Maddie felt his face with her hands. "You have cuts on your face, Daddy, are you okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, Maddie, Daddy's okay," he reassured. "Daddy just got a little hurt trying to come home."

Maddie's smile suddenly dropped. "How long are you home this time, Daddy, before you have to back."

This time it was Daniel's time to smile. "Never!" Maddie threw her arms around her father at the news and squealed in delight. "I'm never going to leave ever again," he assured her, hugging her tightly. "Never again."

He was home to stay. Maybe one day he would tell her of the helicopter crash that had left him stunned but unharmed and the emergency response team showing up right on time and managed to get him home just in time to see his daughter perform.

He was home to his family and he was never going to leave again.


message 11: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments Edward wrote: "Stephen King is still up there for me with 86 books read (including short stories, so that's something of a cheat). Terry Pratchett is close with 68, but once I'm done with Ms Christie, I think it'..."

Wow, but I have according to GR have only read about 14 books by King. But it might be more, I don't know. And apparently I haven't caught on to much more than 18 of Christie's.

Which of hers Edward are your favorites?


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Hidden Misery by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 895 words
Feedback Welcome!

She sat on the stoop wringing her hands. What was she going to do? Why had he been acting this way? Was there anything she could do? She sighed as the stray cat rubbed against her arm.

Oh, there was that gossipy Lauren Kyle, pushing her ugly baby in that hideous jogging stroller. Hopefully she hadn’t heard the news.

“Well, hello there Mrs. Cooke. How are things today?” Lauren jiggled the handle on the stroller, trying to comfort her wailing daughter. “Sshh, Ssshhh, Delilah, we’ll be home soon.”

Tara Cooke forced a smile and peeked inside. Yep, as ugly as ever. Even worse when crying.

“Okay.”

“Now, come on, Tara, that’s not what I heard.”

She squeezed her eyes shut. What had Lauren heard and who’d she hear it from?

“Oh?”

“I heard your boy’s gotten himself in trouble again.” Lauren smirked, reveling in Tara’s hidden misery.

“No, he’s not in trouble. He’s just high-strung is all.”

“High-strung enough to be expelled for a month. I heard he busted out some windows, set the girls’ bathroom on fire and tried to attack a teacher.”

“He was just having a bad day.”

“It’s only nine a.m., Tara.”

“Don’t.” Tara’s eyes flashed red as she stared into Lauren’s own. “Devon’s a good kid. He’s just going through a rough patch.”

Lauren took a step backward, dragging the stroller with her. “Face it, Tara. Devon’s only fourteen; if you don’t get that kid some help he’s just going to get worse.”

Standing, steadying herself, Tara placed a beefy hand on her ample hip. “Devon is my baby, Lauren. Devon’s attitude can get better but your baby,” she pointed, “can’t get, well, non-ugly.”

Gathering Delilah into her arms, Lauren shrieked. “You said she was beautiful.”

“I lied.”

Tara watched a laugh under her breath as Lauren Kyle retreated down the sidewalk.



Slipping back inside her home, Tara admitted she had been lying to herself about her youngest son. Devon had always seemed to have some problem or another. Anger issues. Talking to himself. Imaginary friends beyond the normal age for such things. He was an odd child. Nothing like his brother and sister.

Where had she gone wrong with him? Had the divorce really hit him that hard? She didn’t think so but it could be a possibility. There had to be something more.

Slogging her way to Devon’s bedroom, Tara questioned her thoughts. Did it really matter why her son was acting out? Did it really matter why he was being violent? All that mattered was that the actions ceased. Right?

Sitting on the edge of the teenager’s unkempt bed, she opened the drawer to his end table. She had prided herself on being a Mom who didn’t snoop; who allowed her children freedoms she didn’t have as a kid. Time had changed. Changes called for snooping. Right? Tara took a deep breath. Guilt caught in her throat. “It’s a necessary evil,” she said to the rock band-postered walls.

Shoving her fingers into the drawer, she extracted a leather notebook. A journal of sorts. The first few pages consisted of pencil drawings. Sketches. A sunset. A beautiful horse with a flowing mane. A mountain scene. Tara was amazed at Devon’s talent.

How could someone so troubled create such loveliness?

Flipping the pages, she read poetry about country fences, warm hugs and the stages of caterpillar. She wiped a tear from her eye.

Sliding the journal back into its hiding place, Tara gently shut the drawer. Picking up his teddy bear, the one with the faded, patched overalls, she laughed. “Nothing’s wrong with our Devon, is there, Teddy? He’s just a sensitive, soft-hearted boy.” Black, button eyes gazed back at her.


The front door slammed. He was home. Thank God!

“You’re home earlier than usual.” Tara stated the obvious.

“Yeah.” Devon rubbed at the deep purple crescent beneath his left eye and proceeded to pass his mother in the hallway.

“Your jacket’s ripped.”

He shrugged.

“Well, you be a good boy. Make sure to get your chores done. Do your homework and tend to your own supper.” She patted her son on the cheek. “Mommy’s going to take a nap.”

Devon watched his mother weave down the hallway and shut the door.


Tara Cooke pulled the heavy sea green curtains together, plunging the room into darkness, unaware it would be the final time.


Stepping over and around empty liquor bottles and crushed beer cans, Devon looked down at his mother’s unconscious form. She was drunk. Again. He shook his head. And wept.

He cried for his older brother and sister who had moved out early. Escaped was more like it. He cried for himself. He had endured teasing and taunting from his so-called friends. He had survived on frozen dinners and stale pizza. He had lived through numerous arguments and physical fights. He had withdrawn and kept secrets.

Most of all, he cried for her; the woman he called Mom. He cried for the woman who once cared for him; the woman who was a hopeless alcoholic. He cried for the woman who lived in a hidden darkness, behind closed curtains.

Devon Cooke clutched the bottle in his trembling fingers and cried for the woman he called Mom; the woman who was now dead behind blood-splattered curtains.


message 13: by Sofia (last edited Jul 02, 2016 07:59PM) (new)

Sofia | 15 comments A Box of Shattered Glass
By Sofia Spencer
Feedback welcome!

The world is full of common and cliché questions, and since Benjamin’s death, I find myself answering each one: what is the meaning of life, why am I here, and most importantly, should I continue to persevere. Benjamin would have laughed at me, he hated those ridiculous philosophical questions. But he would’ve hated what I’m considering more, at least the old Benjamin would have. Yet, so much like the New Benjamin, I am not resisting my inevitable and tragic destiny. After all, we were invincible, once upon a time. It is only natural that we shatter the same way. But even though my story is the cliché of clichés, I need to defend myself. Please try to understand why I broke apart; please try to see how you would be tempted to do the same.

The day we started to grow apart he was white, pale, and tottering on two feet. His eyes were glazed with contention, concealing his illuminious twinkle and slowly draining his spark. He was skinny too, his gray sweatpants swimming off of his figure, with a red sweatshirt leaving everything but his despair to the imagination. There was nothing of the person I knew, I did not recognize my best friend.

Benjamin was my one confidant, though I was one of his many, and I didn’t care in the slightest. I told him everything. We spent night after night passionately yelling about the greatest wonders of the world and the most mundane of affairs. Before I met him, I was lamenting in my loneliness, spiraling like a dizzying rocket as I whirled out of control. I am the type of person who always looks happy, while I fall apart internally. Benjamin always pulls me out, has been pulling me out since the age of 10. He has days where his eyes light up, where his legs move with such strife, and I struggle to follow behind, much less to lead. But more often, he has days where the world feels too harsh, days where he wants to dive underground and ignore the effects of reality. Days where I do my best to bring him out, until he disappears into a white fog, hidden from my saving scrutiny.

He staggered through the aisles of Target, moving like a drunk through a shallow stream. It was as if the world was a dream he couldn’t quite believe. In reality he was high on pain pills, trying to soothe the roiling waves crashing inside him. I trusted him. I knew his addictive personality thrived from euphoria and a sense of purpose, since, until then, he took no pleasure in numbness. So it was difficult for my naïve self to imagine the dullness of the pills corrupting him. Years later, I remember this with a cynical smirk and a sheen of tears. A drug far more potent ruined Benjamin, one I knew far too well.

Benjamin always playfully teased me for being afraid, and he was completely justified in doing so. I was too timid, anxious of everything, too scared to live my life. I was the type of person who parked in the back of the lot to avoid pedestrians, who never tried new things, who never ventured outside of my box because I was so afraid of the consequences. He realized how scared I was, while attempting to change my perception. We were opposites, as I thrived in numbness to escape the constant fear. So I never changed and, because of me, Benjamin was unable to revert back to who he was meant to be.

The night Benjamin staggered out of that Target, I left his house early. He was trying to wean himself off of the pain pills. We were thinking of baking a cake, and the anticipation was exciting. For it was a symbol more than anything else, he was teaching me the ways of Julia Child. Showing me that he reveled in the orderliness of the recipe-it organized his addled emotions. At the same time, he wanted me to learn about the world so that I could forget my fear of it. He was going to teach me how to control my anxiety, step by step, ingredient by ingredient. Yet I’m still scared of the world, and the cake remains a figment of our imagination.

He was a bird, in finger and in air, until his wings were clipped. It started with the pain pills and then digressed into something more, something heartier; I still don’t know what. Benjamin has always been a bottler; he traps his emotions until they explode in a fit that rivals my fear in intensity. I could tell he was tired of ignoring his pain, tired of the bottle’s stress fractures burning away into sand. Life was too hard for the vessel that felt too much. So like a diet coke mixed with Mentos, he exploded, as he craved to feel nothing. He will never feel again.

I drove him home in near silence that night, my piano music playing softly in the background, while he looked at WebMD’s symptoms of withdrawal. I drove on, hoping for him to make fun of the music choice, hoping for a sign of life or personality. But he just sat there: his black flip-flops perched on the dashboard, sweatpants fraying as the moments passed. I was trying to bring him home, figuratively rather than literally. I thought I could achieve the first by accomplishing the latter, I was wrong.

Benjamin wanted to heal his cracks and avoid the darkness of his mind, yet, he was unable to stem the tide before the pills swallowed him whole. I should have known that night; autism does not require such strong pills. But my fear won out. And I lost him in every way possible.

Benjamin died last September; I was by his bedside until the very end. I was trying to bring him back from the pit of despair, trying to find him amidst the broken glass strewn in his conscience, trying to come upon his spirit still vying for the spotlight, but hoping to see him in the shadows. After all, a shadow is easily dispelled with the light. But Benjamin feared the shadows the way I feared the spotlight. His mind was addled in the dark, so he embraced the light. Yet, in his quest to stay whole, he was melted by the glare. I was terrified of the world and he was terrified of the emotions tricking his brain. I couldn’t save him. The only question remaining is if I can save myself, as I hold the last of Benjamin’s pills in my hands. But I don’t know if I should let the final curtain fall, or try my hand at glassblowing.


message 14: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Zion Heart
GENRE: Educational Drama
WORD COUNT: 1,560
RATING: PG for swearing, political references, and mild violence



“Ladies and gentlemen, our next act for the Central River High year-end talent show is a classic rock acoustic guitar piece. Please put your hands together for Miss Eleanor Paris!”

From behind the curtain, hearing Mr. Jeremy Land’s voice on the microphone accompanied by applauding hands sent chills through Eleanor’s body. She thought back to all of the times older kids shoved her against lockers and called her sexist names. She thought back to all of the teachers who doubted her guitar-playing abilities. And now here they all were to see what she was made of.

The redheaded, beige dress-wearing Eleanor took a deep breath to calm her nerves and treaded through the curtain to take her seat on the stool. She took a moment to survey the crowd before her. Some of the boys were chuckling silently and pointing at her. Some of the girls put on their best bitch faces with their arms folded. Another deep breath later and it was show time.

She rested her acoustic guitar on her lap and adjusted the microphone to her height before she started strumming away. She was gentle with every chord, almost putting her worst critics in a siren’s trance. And when she sang her lines, she had a voice of pure angelic gold.

“The child lay in the starlit night. Safe in the glow of his Donald Duck light. How strange to choose to end a life. How strange to choose to kill a child. Hoover, Blaupunkt, Nissan Jeep, Nike, Addidas, Lacoste and cheaper brands. Cadillac, Amtrak, gasoline, diesel. Our standard of living, could this be a reason…that we would choose to kill the child? That we would choose to kill the child?”

Those dark and heartbreaking lyrics put thoughtful frowns on the faces of her audience. No more were they giggling and pointing. Eleanor had these dopey teenagers at full attention. She strummed her chords with even more passion than before only to find her microphone silenced as she sang the second verse. She patted the microphone head a few times and then pounded it with her fist to try to get it working again. The once doubtful students were now in shock.

“I assure you, Miss Paris, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your microphone.” There was nothing wrong with Principal Gary Weinberg’s microphone either as he sat in the back of the auditorium with a disgusted look on his pudgy face.

“However!” he said with a booming voice in his Jewish accent. “There is something wrong with that song you’re singing! For all of our younger students who didn’t live with this kind of music, that song was written by former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters! His recent comments in the news about the Jewish people reek of racism and hatred! This school prides itself on its anti-discrimination policies! Because you, Miss Paris, have played a song by a raging bigot with the intent to incite trouble, you by proxy are in violation of those rules! Get off the stage! As a matter of fact, get out of my school!”

The student audience went silent as Eleanor ducked her head in shame and shed silent tears. She didn’t want to appear weak in front of the same people who put her down so many times. She wanted to get up from her stool and hide in a corner somewhere, but her legs were shaking with anxiety.

The dark haired, purple dress shirt and jeans-wearing Mr. Land approached the stage and gave Eleanor a gentle hug to try and comfort her. All it did was make the tears pour like a flooding rainstorm. “It’s okay, Eleanor. It’s okay. I’m here for you.”

Mr. Land pounded the microphone until it started working again. With a stern look on his face and his finger pointed at Principal Weinberg, he ripped into him with, “As a history and political science teacher, I thought I should correct you on something. If you actually paid attention to Roger Waters’ comments, he was attacking the Israeli government for their treatment of the Palestinians. It had nothing to do with Jewish people in general and certainly had nothing to do with little old you, Principal Weinberg! And quite frankly, I agree with what Roger Waters has said!”

Principal Weinberg laughed in jest and said, “Oh, this is rich. You’re actually debating me on this. You think you know more about my culture than I do.” Gary’s face turned serious when he said, “The fact that you’re even arguing this with me is hysterical. Actually, there’s nothing funny about it. It’s disgusting. It’s disgraceful. It’s unbecoming of someone like you, Mr. Land, who’s supposed to have an intricate knowledge about worldwide cultures!”

Eleanor held her hand up like she would if she wanted to be called on in class. She weakly said, “Um, excuse me, Mr. Weinberg, but this isn’t about…”

“Shut up, Miss Paris!” yelled the Jewish Principal as he stood up and pointed a commanding finger at her. “I’ve said pretty much everything I wanted to say to you! Now take your guitar and play that vile racist crap somewhere else!”

“Don’t you talk to her like that!” shouted Jeremy. “You never talk to your students that way! And by the way, if you’ve actually paid attention to anything Roger Waters has done over the course of his life, you’d know that you’re reminding everyone of how depressing your school system has become! Do you know why he says, ‘We don’t need no education?’ It’s because people like you make school a dangerous place to go! These students depend on you for guidance and wisdom! They don’t want to be talked down to by a power hungry, bottom feeding snake in the grass!”

That last line got a round of applause by the student audience while Gary Weinberg smiled sarcastically and shook his head. “You guys like that?” The audience cheered louder. “You want him to keep going?” They cheered even louder. “Well, he’s not going to do that! You’re fired, Jeremy!” The audience went silent and formed frowns on their faces. “As the Principal of this school, it’s my job to keep order around here! Are you surprised by the fact that I fired an insubordinate employee? You kids are lucky that the worst that happens to you is detention! In the real world, if you don’t conform to the rules, you sleep on the corner! Get out of here, Jeremy! Out right now!”

Mr. Land, seething with hot rage, threw down his microphone and broke it in two before marching his way down the aisle and through the exit. Before making his departure, he said, “You can take the microphone replacement out of my severance package!” He slammed the door with a thunderous thud.

Eleanor Paris remained sitting on the stage with tears in her eyes, snot in her nose, and a contorted frown on her face. She knew she was next on Weinberg’s shit list, but didn’t have the strength in her convulsing legs to get up and go. The Principal encouraged her with, “Well, what are you waiting for, Miss Paris? Get going! The final curtain has dropped on this talent show! Move it!”

She stood up and staggered off the stage, tripping many times in her high-heeled shoes. There were times when she just crawled across the floor with the helpless audience watching in pity. This demeaning scenario put her mind back to those dark places. This crippling anxiety was what she felt whenever another student physically or verbally assaulted her. It was what she felt when she doubted her own guitar playing abilities. It was amazing she could hold onto her guitar at all with her shaky fear as she took the walk of shame.

Eleanor Paris was ready to give up the fight against a corrupt system and walk out of the door with tears dominating her beautiful visage. She held onto the door handle for support and took one last sorrowful look at Principal Gary Weinberg’s jowl-covered face. This man had just fired his best teacher, expelled his best student, and silenced an entire crowd of students before turning them into conformist, putty-faced zombies. Come to think of it, what did she have left to lose? Who the hell did this guy think he was? What the fuck was she going to do about it?

She turned to face her tormentor with a different reason for trembling. It wasn’t anxiety; it was anger. Pure, white hot, volcanic anger for the authoritative bullshit that served as Roger Waters’ creative fuel. Eleanor steadied her lips and asked, “What was that thing you said about kids only getting detention for punishment? Well, seeing as how detention and expulsion are really just vacations in disguise and summertime is already here…”

An evil, quivering, rage-induced grin spread across Eleanor Paris’ face as she raised her guitar in the air and smashed it over Gary Weinberg’s head, knocking him to the ground and giving him a reason to abuse a bottle of Advil the next morning. The students and teachers alike gasped in shock while Eleanor shrugged her shoulders and said, “Do we really need an education from a guy who just lost fifty IQ points?” The student audience burst into raucous cheers while the teachers were frozen with fear.


message 15: by Sofia (new)

Sofia | 15 comments Melissa wrote: "Hidden Misery by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 895 words
Feedback Welcome!

She sat on the stoop wringing her hands. What was she going to do? Why had he been acting this way? Was there anything sh..."

I really love your prose, and the flow is fantastic! My only suggestion is to add more foreshadowing to Tara's condition to keep up your great flow and show the signs of breaking, the same for Devon, I'm assuming he kills her with a beer bottle, so maybe add a line with him standing over her body or something. Overall, great job!


message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Jane wrote: "I think this fits the brief.

Comments and feedback humbly requested.

MISTER SMITH

By Jane

We opened our campsite in 1973 in a steep valley leading down to the sea, with its own wide shingle bea..."


What a delightfully sweet, touching story, beautifully portrayed. I enjoyed every word. It felt like a true-life event instead of fiction.


message 17: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Joy wrote: "Title: His Way Home
Word Count: 1340

Comments are appreciated.


Finally, after all these years.

St. Daniel Cunningham saluted his fellow soldiers as he flung his pack over his shoulder and hoist..."

This was a story so many people could relate to and of course, not all of them end as well as yours did. Nicely done.


message 18: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Melissa wrote: "Hidden Misery by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 895 words
Feedback Welcome!

She sat on the stoop wringing her hands. What was she going to do? Why had he been acting this way? Was there anything sh..."


Melissa, this was such a painfully poignant story. Excellent job showing both points of view to help us emphathize with both Devon & his mom. People do have their blind spots, don't they? Well done.


message 19: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments Jane wrote: "I think this fits the brief.

Comments and feedback humbly requested.

MISTER SMITH

By Jane

We opened our campsite in 1973 in a steep valley leading down to the sea, with its own wide shingle bea..."


What a nice story Jane! I enjoyed reading it and the ending was very touching. I always like those kind of stories, where there is a pleasant story combined with a slight ghostly/supernatural element done in a happy way that leaves you feeling good at the end. Thanks for sharing the story with us!


message 20: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Hey, everybody. I’m writing tonight to announce that I’m going to take a one-week break from the WSS starting at the time of the next contest. I plan on using that one-week vacation to catch up on creative projects that have been sitting on the backburner indefinitely. I still have eighteen short stories to edit from the first installment of Poison Tongue Tales. I still have to catch up on NCIS: Los Angeles episodes (yes, I consider that to be a creative project too). I still have to build a Lego set that I got for my 31st birthday earlier this month. Last but not least, I have to continue beta reading for a fellow author on Deviant Art. The last one on this list is especially important since I’ve been putting it off for the longest time in favor of other projects. It’s not fair to that author that he has to wait so long for my input. I’ll definitely miss participating in next week’s contest and getting lovely feedback from you guys, but if I don’t take this small vacation, those backburner projects will never get done. Thanks for understanding!


message 21: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments Garrison wrote: "Hey, everybody. I’m writing tonight to announce that I’m going to take a one-week break from the WSS starting at the time of the next contest. I plan on using that one-week vacation to catch up on ..."


Okay, it's good to take a much-needed break. Hope you have a nice relaxing week, Garrison! :)

Take care, buddy.


message 22: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (last edited Jun 26, 2016 11:11AM) (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments _________
Note to self and out loud: I hope to finish this story tonight because I have critical time on my hands. I don't plan to stay up to write this like I've done countless times before... so, here goes nothing!

Story so far is less than 70 percent done, I think.
_________


message 23: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments CJ wrote: "Okay, it's good to take a much-needed break. Hope you have a nice relaxing week, Garrison! :)

Take care, buddy."


I will, CJ. Thanks! :)


message 24: by Gashbeen (new)

Gashbeen | 167 comments Peace

By Gashbeen Saeed

Plants seemed to wither as he passed by, cowering away from the poisonous aura that surrounded him. As he stepped into the open clearing, the blinding light that bathed it seemed to grow dim, casting warped shadows. The birds grew quiet, their jubilant songs still echoing in the empty silence that trailed behind him. He paused at the forest's edge, uncertain of what lay ahead. After a moment, he stepped outside the forest.

He gazed up at the towering apartment buildings that seemed to pierce the blue heavens. A police car drove by the parking lot, and the cop inside surveyed the playing children that milled about the cars. Adults spoke softly to one another in the doorways, keeping a close eye on their children. A strange sense of familiarity washed over him as his heart swelled with yearning.

He had finally returned.

He hadn't been in this place for nearly ten years. At least, he thought it to be ten years. He wasn't entirely sure. For all he knew, it could have been 100 years. Time had no effect on him, and so he did not notice the passing of time.

He gazed up at the sky, surprised to see that it was stained with the colors of the setting sun. The day had gone by so quickly. It left him numb.

His gaze slid down to the watch wrapped around his wrist, the light glinting harshly off of it. He glanced at the time.

2:30 PM, December 21, 2000

His hand hovered over it hesitantly. Should I press it? After a few tense moments, his hand slammed down on the button.

He stood before a fair child outside the apartment buildings. His hands reached out and grasped the child's shoulders. He knelt down before him, ignoring the awe that shone in the boy's eyes.

"How are you, my boy?" He smiled at the child, who quivered with excitement.

"Uncle Jack! I'm great! Can you take me wherever you go next time?" The child held Uncle Jack still with his pleading gaze. Uncle Jack sighed and shook his head, ignoring the look on the boy's face.

"Where I go, Luke, is not a fun place. You wouldn't like it there." Luke pouted, his brown eyes filling with tears.

"Where do you go, Uncle Jack? What do you do there?" A strange look passed over Uncle Jack's face, a look of dread and excitement.

"I go to a place where people wait, Luke. I wait and wait for something amazingly terrible. Listen, Luke. I have something for you. You must read the entire thing, my boy, for it is the difference between life and death." Luke's eyes widened as Uncle Jack shoved a stack of papers into his small hands. Luke gazed down at the papers with concern as his uncle got to his feet.

"Are you leaving again, Uncle Jack? Will you come back?" As the tears streamed down Luke's small face, Uncle Jack pressed the button and promptly vanished.

Uncle Jack sat on a rocking chair where the parking lot would be in 7 years. It was a large clearing in which stood a house that would be abandoned. The wind whistled in his ears, piercing the eerie silence. The earth seemed to reject his very presence.

No matter. Uncle Jack would be gone soon.

He took a folded piece of paper from his pocket. He unfolded it, his elderly hands shaking. There was a single name on the paper.

Luke.

Uncle Jack had been Luke once upon a time. He had grown in the same apartment building, and his Uncle Jack had vanished on December 21, 2000 at 2:30 PM. Now it was 5:30 PM on April 19, 1993.

He gazed down fondly at the watch. He had inherited it from his Uncle Jack. At the time, he had not known how to properly use the time traveling device.

He had sped through time recklessly, eager to see his past lives. He had even seen the first of his reincarnations, an islander who had lost his twin and become the Destroyer of Worlds.

He had not liked what he had seen. He had been a soldier, the leader of a savage tribe, an alien, a pirate . . . He could have been so much more, but in each life he had been reduced to a bloodthirsty monster bent on revenge.

This time, as Luke, he would bring this endless cycle to an end. He had not become the monster expected of him.

He had become so much more than that.

He had become a role model, a figure that a child admired and would forever miss. He had impacted someone's life in a good way. That was more than his past lives had ever accomplished.

He closed his eyes, satisfied. The wind seemed to blow his soul towards a bright light, and the loneliness that had plagued him throughout the countless years of time travel seemed to fade away. Memories crowded his mind, the remnants of his past lives.

He had been Kyrilu, known to history as Dragomir. No hero had come to end him. He had been his own hero, taking his own life. His addiction to killing led to the death of the woman he loved, and this truly terrified him. Love killed him in the end.

Angelica had come next, a neglected girl who had become a savage in the end. She sought superiority, for she felt inferior at all times. The adults had found them on the island, and they had mistaken her for a terrible beast. They brutally slaughtered her, ending her savage reign. She had become what she had always thought she was - a beast, less than human.

The Destroyer of Worlds, a terrifying alien beauty, had no name. She had been the most monstrous out of them all, killing for the sake of it. She had eventually died of starvation after realizing that she was just as weak as those she had killed. She had been deprived of the one thing that had kept her going - the illusion of strength.

James had been a lonely boy, abused by his father. His father had died at the hands of pirates, leading him to idolize them and become their king. He never got past his father, who haunted him at every turn. He became the Dollmaker, cleansing the world of those his father had seen as scum. He drowned himself in the end. He had cleansed the world, but not himself. He had fallen victim to his father's ideology.

Last was Uncle Jack, who had been orphaned as a baby. All had mocked him, but his uncle had loved him. This love helped him fight through it all. He had raised his younger self, and he had become more than the others. He had become a good person, despite the loneliness that had plagued him. He had moved past the pain that had plagued him.

These tragic tales, seeming so far apart, were the same. In them all, he could see the young islander who could not let go of the past. Kyrilu's anger and sorrow was reflected in them all.

It was time to bring peace to his cursed soul.

He was no longer Uncle Jack. He was not Dragomir. He was Kyrilu, the young boy with a fragile conch held in his hands. Kyrilu gazed down at it, his hands trembling.

"Kyrilu?" His head snapped up, and his eyes widened. When he ran forward to the figure before him, the figure ran to him and held him tight.

"Mstislav! Twin brother!" Their tears mingled as they stood still, clutching each other so tightly that their bones should have cracked.

The brother who had killed had been trapped by his inability to let go of the past. The brother who had watched it all happen had been trapped by his shame to help his twin brother.

They are no longer held back by these human limitations. They have moved past them, freeing themselves from the agony.

They have reached the end, the final curtain, beyond which lies the peace they have sought for so long.


message 25: by Gashbeen (new)

Gashbeen | 167 comments I've decided to explain my story to everyone, since I can see how it can be confusing.

"Uncle Jack" is Luke in the future. He came back to raise his younger self, in order to change who he's become into someone better. It's an alternative version of his younger self, and he wants the alternative version of himself to be a good person.

He can travel through time using a watch. He had grown really old and dies in this story.

The story I wrote last week was about the very first of the reincarnations of the Destroyer of the Worlds, Dragomir (or Kyrilu). I'm still working on his childhood. Anyways, he had a twin brother that died after he lost his mother. His fear of being alone had come true, and then he met the little girl. She died, and that changed him into a monster. He eventually fell in love but ended up killing her. Horrified, he commits suicide. He's the villain that appears in one of the very first stories I wrote for this group.

After him was Angelica, the girl who leads a savage tribe of children. She hadn't reached her full potential yet. Anyways, she had been neglected by her mother, and when she's stranded on the island with her brother, she takes charge. She felt inferior, less than human, and she eventually becomes exactly that. Adults come to rescue them and thinks she's a monster and kill her.

Then there was the alien who destroyed multiple worlds. She had no name, but she loved killing. She eventually realized that she was just as weak as those she killed, and this realization leads to her not eating food. She dies of starvation.

Then the Dollmaker (James) came along. He was abused by his alcoholic father. When pirates killed his father, he idolized them. He eventually became a pirate, but he couldn't escape his deceased father's influence. As his father had beat into his brain those who are inferior and detrimental to the human race, he ends up killing them off. After cleansing the world, he realizes that he's detrimental to humanity. He drowns himself in order to cleanse himself.

Then the original reincarnation comes to terms with his past and his deceased twin, and they move on.

This is essentially a story about learning how to move on from the crap that happens in your life. If you can't conquer your demons, then you may become your demons. Uncle Jack conquered his demons, allowing the Destroyer of Worlds to finally find peace and move on to whatever there is in the afterlife.

Hope this clears up any questions you may have.


message 26: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments Title: See You Soon

Author: CJ

Word Length: Over 4000 (sorry! but plz check it out!)

______

See you soon.


Those were the last words I had said to Janie about an hour before she died. It was awful to know later that she really was gone. I could not see her again because of the cruel game of life.


I wished I had spent more time with my twin sister. It was true that identicals dually share a special connection. It was awful to know after she had snuck out of the house that I got up, stirred like I was having night terrors as I was screaming. My mother had never heard her biological children shout like that in years! She had rushed in later telling the police she thought the house was being broken into, the panic she felt as I, her newly lone twin daughter was shrieking into that night.


("Oh Mommy, something's wrong!!??? It’s Janie...!!")



The crying out echoed again and again still knowing she was gone in my mind. Since that day never having her coming back was fresh in me as I sat feeling half-dead on the couch. It had been just ten months prior to the day, a coming but cruel first-year anniversary.


But yet I, Susie, felt like it had happened just a day behind me.


My mom got me back to the real world when she shouted. “Susie… don’t slouch!”


I then noted to myself she also had a clumsy little anchor who kept clinging to her ankle. As usual she was trying to get stuck to her “mommy” but missed and bounced repeatedly onto her leg again and again. She was our tiny adopted part of the family Teagan and was six years old.


Teagan looked up at me in wonderment. But in her mean nature she then smiled, strangely satisfied that I was possibly in trouble again.


I walked to the little child and gave her a scary face. “Rowwwrr!”


The child gasped: “Mom...!!!” She then had run off charging into the kitchen then out went out the back door.


My mother was flabbergasted. “Susie… are you serious? Why, Teagan has been ours for just a little while and you’re already sending her to therapy!”



I laughed to myself feeling indifferent to that. “Meh. Therapy’s not too bad. Been there, done that...”

“But therapy’s only good if you stick with it.”

“I didn’t need it. The doc told me everything I already knew!”




“Yeah, but all people sometimes need a reminder…”

I couldn’t help but notice when I went to the patio doors the little drama queen just outside. The tiny tyke had been obviously unfazed, swinging on the tire swing a few feet out from our backyard.


I gave my mom a trip. “Okay… I am sorry I’m not as good as Janie.”

“Now I never said that...!”

“Sure, you didn’t.” I paused for dramatic effect. “Sure.”


Though people didn’t flat out say it, I always thought that my now deceased twin was the “good” one. It was Janie who had kept straight A’s, held onto track and field, and even wished to write for the yearbook. She even mostly stayed out of trouble (I still don’t believe the word about where she went the last time I talked to her. She wouldn’t ever do that...!).


Though I was also sixteen I didn’t like to be outgoing so I just stayed in. Being familiar was the good way to get by in life I felt.


But maybe it was a little more than that like I had done some of this stuff just to be “different,” more distinguished versus my exact sis. I didn’t like being typecast that twins were the same dern two people all the time.


But then at that moment I just wanted to see someone like Janie again. I wished she had been there to talk to, ask advice, for just to be there for anything.


I would do anything in return if I would speak to Janie right at that moment.


Apparently I had been at the doorway near the kitchen, swaying back and forth.


My mother made me jump again as she almost screamed again. “Don’t get lost in your dreams again…”

I couldn’t believe her. “Mom!” I then tore off and ran upstairs because I was hurt.


I had just lost a sister but mom acted like I was just being childish. Was it wrong to have these feelings? I couldn’t stand her sometimes!


My mom acted above and beyond the authority. If only my dad had stayed in our lives then maybe things would be a lot different.


I was in my room spending the rest of that afternoon crying till I felt sick.


----


It was dinnertime. My mom heated the same old tv dinners that she bought most weeks; my mother was an amazing “chef!”


“Come down, Susie… it’s ready.”



I scoffed and made comments to myself. I’d rather eat it up in the attic… I had thought, but that then gave me an idea.


It was barely six-thirty my mom usually did her ‘dinner-ly’ earlier which I expected. I decided that would be my quiet personal excuse for the brief absence.


I went to the rope in the hallway of our second floor. Grabbing it I brought down the stairs and chugged right up them as if a happy soldier.


I was also mad my mom thought taking away my sis’s vanity mirror would help me cope. When was taking a deceased person’s belongings away a good idea? Did she think that it would make me feel better, that she was gone and I could move on with my life like she never existed?


Just what was her game? I know she probably meant well but it was another thing with her I just couldn’t stand.


I stared at the drape over it. As I slowly pulled it I felt it was like a curtain revealing a stage. The opening act, my sis’s appearance! I looked at the glass. I wished that underneath the cloth was really her yet it was just my own face. It made me sad again.


I didn’t know what to feel as I looked at the pained visage. Could I try therapy again? My mom offered to get me back into it. I thought she just felt I was crazy and unbearable though and had made a big fuss after she said so. But I did want someone to talk to and I know that guy who I spoke to last was kind and even seemed a good listener.


My eyes travelled around the room. I found a stack of old newspapers. For some reason I grabbed them desiring to read them in my room.


I found books and stuff interesting and I knew this was some good stuff! At least it was something with history like a purpose, a point in time. Again something significant just how my sister was.


When I finished crying to her memory I grabbed the stack and dragged it down the stairs, being wary to not trip and break something.


I hid my treasure away then ran down to eat. It was cold. I pushed it around and then went to bed.


---


In the morning I looked out the window. I couldn’t help but notice again my strange neighbor handing pamphlets to people outside, usually to pedestrians on the block and later trounce back into her house.


Was she a little bonkers? Because it had always seemed she only handed stuff to strangers. Sometimes they read it, I could witness, but just what was her idea behind these papers? Just what was her deal?


I could see through the window the woman’s blonde, slightly graying hair that had many years of experience.


For some reason I felt compelled that one day I felt like I should talk to her. Maybe to hear a voice that didn’t feel like I was oppressing or yelling to stop “daydreaming” like one individual.


It wasn’t like I had no time on my hands anyway.


---


After school I was in a daze thinking of my sis again. My own mother believed that word, I saw it in her eyes, but I didn’t at all. I knew my sis before she died just moments later was going out with “friends.” I was shocked that it turned out according to the police to be just three guy friends. What were they doing heading to a far rented out location? With beers? My sis wasn’t usually into stuff like that. But was she wanting to do what I thought? Or was she ever “bad” like one of the naughty girls at school?


No girl was like my sis at all. My sis was almost perfect! I couldn’t even live up to her, I thought.


Suddenly I felt a paper get placed between my thumb and fingers. I was a little surprised though not scared and the neighbor, Gloria I heard she was called, stared at me with gentle eyes.


“Oh, hi. I didn’t realize it was you. Hello Susie.”

I was a little uncomfortable since I barely even spoke to her. “Uhh.. hi?”

Then I headed to my house. I was not realizing until that moment I had walked to the wrong place. I wasn’t sure if I could ever talk to her again.


Not until I was upstairs and looked through my mom’s old newspapers.


Why my mom loved collecting them I never knew! But I was glad that day because I saw a familiar face that would give me answers about Janie I was looking for.


I lost the pamphlet she had put into my hands.


But in the stack I knew at the image in the yellowed local paper that the woman featured on it was the person that gave me it, only she was about twenty years younger by the date on the front page. An ad.


Are you looking to contact loved ones? Need spiritual guidance? Search and find with MADAME THE MYSTIC. Phone Number….


It also contained her old address which was in a town I only had vaguely heard of. Yet I had become excited.


Could this woman help me contact dead Janie? Every fiber in my being wanted to know!


She never had told me she was a medium, a true psychic and nothing like that “Cleo” woman who went to jail for fraud and I thought that was great. A true person I needed to contact my sis for me and she lived right across the street from me.


What an opportunity!


---


After rushing through my chores and ignoring my homework I ran over to her house. Knocking on her door she opened it and greeted me with a smile.


“Hello, friend. Glad to see you. Are you here about the pamphlet?”

“What no. I never read it.”

Her smile was a little relaxed now. She waited to see what I would say next. I held up her image from the past.


“Can you help me contact my late twin sister Janie…?”

And just like that, her smile vanished like a mist that seemed almost as if it never was. She was not thrilled at my idea. I also noticed she had what looked like a new chain around her neck and a cross swinging back and forth from it.


“You have the wrong place. I don’t do that anymore...”


She was about to close the door but I pushed myself in. I was shocked as she made a noise like she was frightened like for a moment thought I was breaking in but she quickly knew it was not a scheme.


“I know now that you used to do this stuff… so, why did you quit?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“You can tell me.”

“I don’t want to get into it. I am not like that anymore.”

“Well why? Was it just not that interesting...?”

“No people should ever get into mediums! It is against God’s will.”

She then started talking about a guy named Saul who tried to contact a guy named Jeremiah who was dead but I wasn’t listening. She used the keyword “bible” during the tale and I zoned out.


“Uh huh. But . . . but please. I miss my sister so much.”

“From what I have heard she was a sweet sister. You are kind for being so concerned of her.”

“Yeah, really… uh. But I want to know if I can at least speak to her. Can you do a seance?”

“That is no longer a ritual with me. I was wrong that I did it. No one should get into it. It is so dangerous. You should not get into any of that, I warn you!”


“But I …”

“It is not good. It is evil. I am going to tell you with every part of me that is now changed by something I hope you will learn about some day. Do not get into this. Please! You have a family that loves and cares for you. Concern yourself with them.”

“But... my sister---”

“Your sister as far as I can figure is in heaven. Please. She is at peace and I hope you are at peace about that. So don’t try any of this stuff. You will not find her as I believe you will find something else. Do not concern to the bad ways of spirituality... the devil likes stuff like that.”


message 27: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments Title: See You Soon, continued

Her saying that spooked me just a little, but I guessed it was only not from a part of me. A moment later I figured that the person mentioned was little more than a character used to spook children and people toward behaving themselves.


“But I made a promise. I told her I would see her again. Please help me achieve this!”

She looked at me now with sympathy. She hugged me and then it seemed she then cried a little seeing my deep grief.


“Talk to me anytime. Know that your sister is safe and be done with that thought. Now, you go and let your family take care of you...”



I headed off a little spooked but as I came through the door after I was home my mom was irritated at me. “Susie!!? Where did you go, huh? What are you trying to do, give me an ulcer?”


“Mom, sorry. I was at the neighbors. I know you were worried…”

“You weren’t near those weird boys, were you?”

“No mom! Why are you so…?”

“Just tell me if they were trying anything!”

“No... I just was with Gloria.”

After a while she nodded. “Okay.”

“I was talking to her.”

“Well, I’m here. Why don’t you talk to me?”

My mom’s jealousy cut into me like a knife. “Because talking to someone else is… different.”

“Why?”

“It just is! I guess it’s like talking to a shrink...”

“Okay, so this woman helps you like a shrink...”

“Mom, stop making me sound crazy!” Now I was mad at her again. Sure, I wanted to talk to someone but not a person that made me feel like they were ready to order me a straight jacket in just my size and color of choice.


I noticed my mom had looked worn. “I … Susie. What do you want?”

“What do you mean?”

“I try and try and you are just fighting me at every second…”

I felt tired. Probably emotionally. This was why I didn’t like to talk to her. I always felt accused, a person that was never doing enough in her eyes. I turned and tears welled up in my eyes. “I just want to go to bed.”


“But don’t you want dinner in a couple of hours? Or when do you want it?”

“No, just let me be. Bye.” I said bye with a choked voice. I began crying as I headed upstairs. In my room Teagan popped in while I was laying on my bed.


“Hi. Hi.”


“Hello, kid.”

She started to play with my hair. “My sister.”

I smiled. “Yes. That’s true!”


I played with her then after a while she left. As I lay in bed wondering, not tired, Gloria’s words echoed into my mind.


Do not concern with bad ways of spirituality. The Devil likes stuff like that.

Then I closed my eyes. I felt a pull of loneliness that my sister was really gone.


After a seeming long stretch of time I fell asleep. Dreamlessly.


---


The next morning I couldn’t help but notice my mom was outside talking to a familiar sound. A voice. It was Gloria.


My mom was telling her to go off her territory as she said she didn’t mind she was religious but to not try to take that stuff into her house.


The woman seemed to sound like she was crying again. Why was she so concerned about me? Surely she had been showing a good heart but for what ultimate purpose? We all would end up dead in the ground, it’s what we could do today that mattered!


Then when my mom wasn’t looking I tore through her box of Christmas decorations and stole three red candles. If that seance wasn’t happening tonight it would surely be some day.


I would make it be a night and no one could stop me.


---


A month in I had been doing a lot of research at the library. It was amusing how the so-called “spiritual” stuff had so many rules. The most interesting one was a satanist makes crazy things done on their birthday, like an anniversary. Hmm.


Then I saw videos of people doing strange stuff, it causing scary things as the comments said: “This is bull. Never happened.” “That looks kind of fake.” And a number of dislikes on the vid that nearly matched the likes.


It had officially become the month of May and my sis died in June. I thought it would be neat if I would do the one thing maybe on the night before she died. It would be appropriate and if it could happen (maybe) I could talk to my sis, maybe even more.


Hey, even that crazy lady said some dude in the bible did spoke to the deceased according to the story. I should try it just for that!



I went upstairs to Janie’s mirror again. I stared into it. Smiled. If only the mirror didn’t do just the same. It would have been noticeable even if my sis had tried to imitate me in some way.


I made a scary face. My sis Janie was too sweet sometimes. She never wanted to scare people but comfort. She also forgave even when the kids were the meanest to her. Yet it was still gone to do that with those guys just two days after finishing a year of high school last year.


But that couldn’t have been her motive? Did she really go off to do that with those guys? Couldn’t have been.


She remembered the jerk reporter that spoke about it. Spelled it all out even though the family, my family, did not want them to spill the details of the autopsy. She told everyone my sister was too drunk when she was walking down that heavy lane full of trees on both sides. The road had barriers on both sides too so she had no way to go. A section word for word went like this:


The freak accident was jarring to the family. They were torn that her blood alcohol level was just under levels that possibly made her unable to react to the jeep going sixty miles per hour fast enough. She was struck and killed instantly. The family was sad that their straight A daughter would go and be out of character in secret when her life ironically had held such positive even religious attitude. She left behind a loving family wondering why someone like her do such a thing, a mystery now to the entire town of...


The insensitive report ended with the writer’s many accolades as if the dog was expecting a Pulitzer from such a self-praising article. The story and Janie’s details were not known until the reporter put it out for everyone on display, me and my mother in effect became strangers in our own land.


I remember fishing it out of the garbage because my mother was too heartbroken when she had read it herself. Then when I was done I put it back where it had belonged.

“Janie I don’t care what you did before you died, I still love you. Please talk to me.”

I spoke to the mirror as if it had her soul. I hoped fully that it did. Maybe a spell would put something inside it, I then wished that with all my heart.


That was a terrible mistake.


---


message 28: by C. J., Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei" (new)

C. J. Scurria (goodreadscomcj_scurria) | 4214 comments See You Soon (Final Part!)

The other one happened eight days before the anniversary. I shouted to my mom who I felt was wanting me get help but acting like everything was alright as if she were crazy!

“Okay, mom, I can’t say this in front of Teagan but--”

“Then don’t.”

“No, I mean what Janie did was not appropriate but it makes sense.”

“What? What are you trying to say...?”

“Mom, we need you. Wait… I mean.

“We both needed you but we needed Dad just as much. You never made the connection that she went off about six months after dad left us?”


My mother was quiet. She was surprisingly silent. For once it seemed she was wrong about assumptions. She felt she would forcibly fix us all as if she were two people. Now it dawned she needed him too.


“Dad and you are only kind of separated. You guys can make it work.”

“Don’t you ever give me advice!”


Then I just got up shoved the chair and it fell behind me. I was now not sure what to think anymore. “When I come back, we’ll be a better family…”


I just said that in hopes that it would be true. Maybe because I thought I myself would work things, force them in my own power or….


I wanted to say things that were on my mind in the attic. I lit the candles. Then I said things I regretted later. I shouted a phrase over and over, hoping at the least I could die if she would return from the grave. “Give me so that she return, give me so that she return… give ME so that she return!”



I stopped not because I chose to or that I could only say it thrice. I froze in place because there was a hot presense upstairs. In the room. With me.


I wished Teagan at the least would come up but I knew I was too afraid to even squeak from my own throat. I was stuck up there with whatever the hell it was with me.


Soon it made me so afraid I woke up the next morning by my mother. She was upstairs with me, cradling me in her arms as if I was gone too.


“What is wrong, Susie, honey?? Talk to me baby.”


“Nothing. I’m alright.” Wow, emotions are totally not the best things to depend on, I can assure!


She knew I wasn’t alright. “Please baby, what is this stuff? It almost started a fire.”

“Mom why did you put Janie’s stuff up here. I missed her and you took away everything like you wanted her to be forgotten.”

“No I didn’t want that. I only did that with the idea of… never mind. I’m sorry. Can you come down and have lunch with me at least?”


It felt like I was on my last legs. Little did I realize my last moments were going to be the times I should’ve listened. Everyone around me had advice and I ignored it.


I even went outside and Gloria chatted with me one last time. “My friend, my beautiful neighbor, please don’t keep up this stuff. You know if you get into this stuff it lies to you. It will deceive you. Believe not this but of truth.”


“Uh huh.” I was barely eating. Some people thought I was losing it but no one thought of taking me to the hospital. I only said no to that because I was afraid of being 302’d.


“Take me, I want her to be here, please. Whoever can hear me, I want her to be here, now.”


My mom was far from earshot but I could tell she quivered with fear. If she didn’t believe in anything before I think that in that moment she believed in something, one would tell that.


I hoped things would get better for my family.


As I sat in front of the mirror, I heard a noise. I was a little startled, maybe more so. It seemed in the very low corner, there was a crack. Hadn’t noticed that before. Was that Janie breaking through? I hoped so!


I wanted to shout for her to come out but something halted me. Now it was a new fear. Wasn’t sure of what then as events are foggy but somehow I was standing.


I thought I was standing in front of the mirror I looked at the image and smiled. It looked like Janie was on the other side. I smiled, she made a silly loving face. It seemed like that was the expression anyway. I was so happy I finally got to see her.


But then I looked around me, where was I? Why was everything around me so dark. I stared and turned looking at what moments ago was the attic, I was no longer there. I was in what seemed to be an abyss, afraid to move away from the “mirror” in fear I take a couple of steps and fall into it. I was slightly cold. This was not a normal type of cold. The cold felt somehow kind of lonely too.


When I turned back to the opening that was as hard as the mirror I expected to make a smile to see if she’d respond. I was surprised the image really did see me. It recognized me.


I smiled about to say its name but it smiled back.


Something quivered hard deep into my bones. The smile was NOT Janie. It was something else. It was a smile of I got you. A taunting stretch of a smile, something not human underneath that skin.


I pounded on the “glass.” “What are you??! You’re not Janie. You promised me. What ARE you???!!!!!!”


My family showed up in the attic. They were being hugged by it. It responded borderline fake to everyone giving a strange sheepish voice then I heard something that haunted me.


“You know, we can move on. Janie is gone but we can go on and be a great family together. When we’re ready we can put the cloth over the mirror, there is no reason to forget her but we don’t have to be reminded of things that are sad.”


They thought it was a good idea. Later that night I shouted relentlessly until my voice was hoarse. Still stuck, I don’t think I was meant to get out to the other side. I also think the human people, my real family could not even see me.


Like a final curtain the cloth was finally draped over the mirror, effectively also me. I decided too late I would quit acting and guilt tripping just to get attention. I was too late.


message 29: by Edward (last edited Jun 26, 2016 05:21PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments I've had a very busy week so I had to rush this one, which is why it is shorter than I'd have liked. Feedback welcome.

Title : My Way
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1421
Rating : PG13

The headaches were coming back, and Rita couldn’t stand them any longer. She was unable to wait for the last bell of the day to sound before she excused herself from class.

Gripping the handles of her backpack which was slung across one shoulder, Rita trudged through the playground, her face a mask of pain as she felt the headache getting worse. There seemed to be a pounding in her head, like someone was in there trying to break out, and every step she took led to an increase in the pain.

Reaching the gates, she walked to the curb and stopped, putting down her backpack to grip the sides of her head which were pounding painfully. Tears stung her eyes as she clenched them shut, and when she opened them she saw a car had pulled up in front of her.

“Hey there,” the driver said as Rita blinked to clear her vision, “my dad sent me to give you a lift home. Hop in, I’ll drive you there.”

Rita couldn’t think straight so, picking up her bag, she climbed into the passenger seat and buckled herself in.

“I’m Bill,” the driver smiled at Rita, “I’m your new neighbour.”

“Rita,” Rita replied through grit teeth as she tried to contain the scream that the headaches were inevitably going to force out of her.

Bill turned to face the front, driving with extreme care down the road. Rita rubbed her temples, every so often glancing out of the passenger window. She frowned as she recognised the park they were passing.

“This isn’t the way home,” Rita said, a little worriedly.

“Isn’t it?” Bill said without taking his eyes off the road.

“No,” Rita said, trying to fight off her headache, “I don’t pass the park on the way home.”

Bill started fumbling in the glove box, steering with one hand, “That’s funny,” he said, “I always pass the park when I come to this part of town.”

“You said you’re our new neighbour,” Rita said, then asked, “so how far exactly from our house do you live?”

Bill smiled, “Well, aren’t we all everyone’s neighbour, when you really get down to it?” he asked, removing his hand from the glove box. Rita felt something jab in her neck, then turned to Bill, whose expression had changed to one of pure evil. She felt her eyelids getting heavy, then everything seemed to fall sideways as she passed out.

*

When Rita finally woke up, she was in a darkened room that smelled of damp. Her arms were tied to her sides, and she was lying on what felt to her like a medical bed. She tried to look around the room, but it was too dark and her headache still hadn’t gone away so it hurt to move her head. What little movement she could make only lead to her seeing Bill, sat beside the bed in an old plastic chair.

“So, you’re awake, at last,” he smirked as Rita strained against her restraints, “I’m glad. Sometimes that anaesthetic has... unfortunate side effects.”

Rita glared at the man, her head still pounding, “You’ve done this before?” she growled, “What are you going to do, kill me?”

Bill smiled, “Not at first,” he said evilly, “I have other plans for you first. Now, how about some music?”

Bill walked across the room to an old fashioned record player, moving the needle until it connected with the record that began to spin. Music started to fill the darkened room, and Rita recognised the word from Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’.

“And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain...”


“This is my favourite song, you know,” Bill smiled, almost dancing in his chair, “it can mean so much to so many.”

Rita continued to struggle at her restraints as the man who called himself Bill got up out of his chair and moved across the room to a table which looked like it was covered in medical instruments. This is some sort of crazy operating theatre, Rita thought to herself, and Bill is the doctor.

Her headache grew worse as she saw Bill picking up instruments from the table one by one, holding them up to admire them in the dim light. The sound of Sinatra continued as Rita started to panic.

““...Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention...”


“You can’t do this,” Rita shouted, and Bill stopped examining his tools of torture, “you’ll get caught.”

Bill turned to Rita and smiled, “I won’t get caught,” he grinned, “no-one’s caught me so far, anyway.”

Rita really started to panic now. She could feel the sweat running down her face as the skin on her wrists began to tear where she’d been struggling against her restraints. Her headache got worse as she felt tears welling in her eyes, the sudden realisation that she may never get out of this place alive slowly dawning on her.

As Bill approached the table, a lethal looking scalpel in one hand, Rita felt her headache reach its worst stage ever. Her head felt like it was going to split open as she squeezed her eyes tightly closed against the pain. Then, just as suddenly as the terrible pain had reached its crescendo, it just as suddenly stopped.

Rita opened her eyes, finally feeling some release from her headache, and looked over at Bill. His expression had changed from one of sinister victory to one of sheer terror. Rita frowned, then looked up above her head.

Something was swirling in the air above her, something blue, misty, and ethereal, something not quite there, and it was growling in the direction of Bill.

“What... what is that?” Bill asked, stammering a little as he took a step away from Rita.

Rita tried to get a better look. Whatever the thing was, it appeared to swirling out from the direction of her head, as if it had been spat out by her brain in order to ease her headache. Rita swallowed nervously, but didn’t respond to Bill’s question. All that filled the silence of the room was the growling noise and the sound of Mr Sinatra on the record player.

““...Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew...”


The swirling mass started to form into a more corporeal shape as Rita arched her neck to get a better look. She had no idea what it was but, whatever it was, it seemed to be trying to protect her.

“Make it stop,” Bill said, a warning tone in his cracking voice as he held the scalpel out in front of him for protection, “make it stop. Make it go away.”

Rita finally found her voice again, “I can’t,” she said, “I don’t know how.”

Bill slashed at the air as the ghostly mist took form, producing a face that would make the demons of hell cringe in fear. As the face formed, a mouth slowly opened, creating a maw that felt like it could swallow the entire room. Bill screamed, giving one last slash with his scalpel before the jaws of the monstrous spirit closed around his head, clamping down and chewing off the face of the evil abductor.

Rita’s breathing quickened as she watched the malignant spirit chowing down on Bill’s face, and it slowly moved on to the rest of him. Frank Sinatra continued to play in the background, giving the whole scene an odd yet someone suitable soundtrack.

““...I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing...”


Rita chuckled for a moment before the beast turned to face her. Now what was it going to do? Would she be next?

The spirit looked Rita directly in the eye, then gave her a knowing nod before dissipating into the air, forming a blue cloud which whirled and whirled before streaking towards Rita and zooming back inside her head.

Rita gasped as she felt the sprit in her head but, now that it had been fed, her headache had completely gone away.

Rita smiled. Perhaps the next time she has a stinking headache she should seek out someone the law has missed; someone her inner demon can feed on and relieve her stress.

But, for now, all she had to worry about was how she was going to get out of those restraints...

““...The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.”


message 30: by Angie (new)

Angie Pangan | 4795 comments Just got back from the Grand Canyon :) After I finish cleaning up my stuff tomorrow, I hope I can start reading through these stories.


message 31: by J.L. (new)

J.L. Vaughan (jlvaughan) Title - Watching
Author - J.L Vaughan
Word Count - 1675
(first post)

Mark looked down at his watch. “Fifteen minutes,” he mumbled. The show was almost over, and the quicker it came the better. It had been nearly fifteen years since he had stepped foot into a theatre like this. His ex-wife had dragged him to more shows that he could count, and until today he had assumed it was the memories of her constant fidgeting with his tie and complaining about his old suit that had kept him from returning.

On the stage below the men in the rat and toy soldier costumes had since gone and the woman dressed in the fluffy white dress was now tiptoeing around the stage, dancing with a man in flashy white spandex. Mark sighed. He knew he should have some appreciation for what these performers were doing but all he could think about was the large dark curtains at the edge of the stage and when they were finally going to pull closed. Sitting alone in the balcony, Mark’s eyes began to wander about the building. The small theatre was very ornate, white stone pillars were set in the walls with flowing trim where each met the ceiling. Between each pillar a stain glassed window showed ancient scenes: a man bowing before a pack of lions, a glowing white lamb wearing a crown or a dove ascending above a man being washed at the bank of a river. He guessed the building had started its life as a church but had since been stripped of all religious symbolism—all except for those windows.

The music from the orchestra sped up and Mark looked down to see three new people at center stage surrounded on all side by pink and white colored ballet dancers. The three dancers at the center were dressed like old English royalty: a man wearing a white wig, two formally dressed women on either side.

“Will this never end?” Mark voiced out in a restrained tone. At least he was by himself in the balcony; no one was around for him to offend. Once again he gave up and continued his survey of the building. Three columns away three quarters of the way up the wall he saw a small statue. It was a creature, a gargoyle of some kind. Not more than two feet tall its feet and right hand clung to the column. Its stub nosed face was set as if it was looking down at the stage. Its large eyes glowed pink with the light of the show below. If it was carved out of the same rock as the column he couldn’t tell. Each individual claw, four on each hand and foot, seemed to be digging into the column. Mark leaned forward, trying to get a better look. He had seen pictures of them, but never seen one of these statues in person. While it had been over ten years since he himself had last set foot in a church, he thought those kind of statues were more of a Medieval European thing, and not something that would have made it into a church in his little American town.

Mark looked down to the stage. The woman in the fluffy white dress was back, this time dancing by herself. “Almost done.” He reassured himself, then looked back up at the columns. He stopped. It wasn’t there. The creature, the gargoyle. It was gone. Had it fallen? He looked down to the lower level. The people below were engrossed in the performance. Even being two feet tall it would have weighed more than a hundred pounds. They would have heard the crash of it falling; had it not landed on them and killed them first. Mark closed his eyes and looked up. Again, he found the same. The statue was gone. Was he losing his mind?

He looked down at his hands in an attempt to try and center himself. He took a couple of deep breaths. He looked up again. Still the same. He leaned forward studying the column closer. He had seen it, hadn’t he? He felt a hollowness in the pit of his stomach. Then he saw it and the hollowness opened wide. It was lower now, clinging to the wall near the stained glass. Like before, its face was locked on the stage below, its hands and feet clung to the large bricks that framed the window. Mark looked behind him, to the empty seats, then to the lit staircase leading below. He was alone, he had no one else to talk to…to verify his reality. How had it moved?

Again he looked. In his peripheral vision he could see the ballerina below dance from one side of the stage to the other, and he saw the creature’s head follow her movement. He forced himself to breath. It can’t be. What was it? He was either losing his mind or that thing clinging to the wall was real. He wanted to stand up and yell—to point it out to all the people below—but he knew no one would hear him over the music.

As the theatre grew darker Mark saw the creature move again. With its clawed hand, it lifted a louver on the window that opened up to the world outside. On stage below, the dancers were gone; replaced by a woman sleeping in a bed against the sound of lullabies. Those final curtains were soon to close and somehow the creature knew this. As it squeezed between the blue glass above the descending dove Mark ran for the stairs. On the main floor he sprinted past two ushers, threw open the front door and rounded the building. He had to know; had to find out what this thing was.

Nearing the same window Mark saw a small shadow duck into an alley across the street. Not wanting the creature to hear him, he slowed to a fast walked as he crossed. He wasn’t sure what he was doing. He couldn’t take a picture, he had left his phone in his car behind the theatre, but he had to know what this was—to see it one more time. Reaching the alley he slowly peaked around the corner. He could hear something near a dumpster. He waited, he listened. He heard a crunching noise, the sound of rattling bags. Then, the creature was silent. Locked against an old brick building Mark listened. He heard the pattering of claws. The shadow moved into center of the road and stopped. Mark wished for a street light, something that would let him get a better look.

A noise came from it, “Ollow ollow.” It was low and raspy.

Were those words? The creature stood at the center of the alley. Mark felt an urge to move closer but knew he couldn’t, not without it seeing him.

Again came the voice “Ollow ollow.”

What was this thing? Mark wanted to talk to it but something inside him told him that would be a bad decision. He kept himself hidden in the shadows. The creature moved back toward the dumpster and Mark slipped into the alley, sliding along the edge of the brick building at his right. He could hear it moving, he heard its claws ring against metal, then muffled steps that he lost in the distance. Passing by the dumpster Mark saw where the crunching noise was from. A bag of chips was ripped open, crumbs scatter all around. Was it hungry?

Mark slowly pushed open a large cast iron gate that opened into a courtyard. In front of him was a small maple tree, behind it a wood staircase leading to the three different stories of the old office building.

“Ollow ollow.” It came from the stairway above and Mark saw something move from the third floor landing up to the roof. It didn’t look too far. Mark thought that if he could get up on the railing he should be able to look up on the roof. Slowly, quietly he ascended the side of the empty building. Reaching the third floor he kept his eyes locked above. He heard nothing but the sounds of the city around him. Both hands locked on the rough brick wall, Mark stepped up onto the rail. He reached up taking hold of the roof’s edge.

“All, all!”

A sharp object dug into his hand. Something struck the side of his face. He tried to steady himself. It hit his head again. Mark’s feet shifted; he fell away from the rail. One hand caught a window ledge and he clung to it for his life. Fighting the pain in his hand he pulled himself up. The window was open. He started to crawl up into it. His chin raised up to the window, he stopped. He heard the tap of claws on the rail beside him. Slowly he turned to see it looking at him. Its head twisted sideways like an owl, the creature studied him from its perch on the rail. After a long awkward moment it looked toward the ground and Mark turned back to the window.

“All, all!” The creature screamed and struck him again. He lost his grip but his hands managed to grab the thick curtains inside the window stopping his fall. The creature leapt to the window ledge and began striking at his hands.

“All, all!” it cried, barring its teeth. Blood running down his arms, Mark’s fingers began to slip.

“All…f-all!” The creature’s snarled and Mark’s fingers let loose. His foot caught a lower window spinning him end over end before he felt his face impact asphalt.

He couldn’t move. He strained to open his eyes. He could hear it moving on the ground. The click of its claws as it took each step. Slowly it drew closer. It stopped beside him. Quietly it examined his contorted body. Through the haze Mark felt it cautiously poking at his legs. In the distance he heard the sound of more clawed feet approaching as it climbed up onto his back. He felt the searing pain as it bit into his neck.


message 32: by J.L. (new)

J.L. Vaughan (jlvaughan) ...oh...and I'd say Watching is PG-13


message 33: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Jane wrote: "I think this fits the brief.

Comments and feedback humbly requested.

MISTER SMITH

By Jane

We opened our campsite in 1973 in a steep valley leading down to the sea, with its own wide shingle bea..."


Such a sad and well-observed story. I like the touches with the little dog, they worked so well.


message 34: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Joy wrote: "Title: His Way Home
Word Count: 1340

Comments are appreciated.

Finally, after all these years.

St. Daniel Cunningham saluted his fellow soldiers as he flung his pack over his shoulder and hoist..."


This story brought a smile to my face, even though I was very confused at the beginning, not realising that the main character wasn't named St. Daniel but was actually Sgt. Daniel. :-D There are some confusing sentences in this, but nothing a quick read-through wouldn't pick up.


message 35: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Melissa wrote: "Hidden Misery by: Melissa Andres
Approximately 895 words
Feedback Welcome!

She sat on the stoop wringing her hands. What was she going to do? Why had he been acting this way? Was there anything sh..."


Such a sinister ending, and I'm still not sure if Devon killed her or if she killed herself. Sneaky sneaky.


message 36: by Edward (last edited Jun 29, 2016 04:09PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Sofia wrote: "A Box of Shattered Glass
By Sofia Spencer
Feedback welcome!

The world is full of common and cliché questions, and since Benjamin’s death, I find myself answering all of them: what is the meaning o..."


This was so sad, I hope someone writes an upbeat comedy in the WSS soon...


message 37: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Zion Heart
GENRE: Educational Drama
WORD COUNT: 1,560
RATING: PG for swearing, political references, and mild violence

“Ladies and gentlemen, our next act for the C..."


Yay Eleanor! You go girl! Poignant tale with a little humour, very nice G-Man! And try to leave feedback even if you're not entering next week - I always love reading it in detail!


message 38: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments You want feedback, Edward? You've got it. Thanks for yours, by the way. I was initially worried my story would be offensive on some level and your awesome notes told me otherwise. You're one of a kind. :)


message 39: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Gashbeen wrote: "Peace

By Gashbeen Saeed

Plants seemed to wither as he passed by, cowering away from the poisonous aura that surrounded him. As he stepped into the open clearing, the blinding light that bathed it..."


This felt like a conclusion to your Destroyer of Worlds series. I liked the way "Uncle Jack" looked back on all his decisions, and I honestly didn't think it needed explaining, at least not to the regulars. ;-)


message 40: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "You want feedback, Edward? You've got it. Thanks for yours, by the way. I was initially worried my story would be offensive on some level and your awesome notes told me otherwise. You're one of a k..."

I think from reading all your shorts I've become deadened to controversy. :D


message 41: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Your comment made me laugh, Edward. You're awesome, buddy. :)


message 42: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "I've had a very busy week so I had to rush this one, which is why it is shorter than I'd have liked. Feedback welcome.

Title : My Way
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1421
Rating : PG13

The he..."


I can't say enough about this. Awesome story. I was a little leery about the direction you were going with this (I was afraid it would be too much violence for me), but I like the way you handled it. Once I realized a third party was involved, I couldn't read through fast enough.
I especially love the way you wove in Frank's lyrics -- that fit your story so perfectly! (a song I love and finally a reference to something I actually know! -- meaning everyone is so much more knowledgeable about songs, movies, books, poetry, etc.)
Seems this girl has a future as a vigilante and will find a way to do things "her way"!


message 43: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments CJ wrote: "See You Soon (Final Part!)

The other one happened eight days before the anniversary. I shouted to my mom who I felt was wanting me get help but acting like everything was alright as if she were cr..."


Though this could do with an edit, it is a classic horror story with a clever ending and some not obvious red herrings throughout. Nicely done, CJ, and hopefully you won't be disqualified for going over the word limit. ;-)


message 44: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Anne wrote: "Edward wrote: "I've had a very busy week so I had to rush this one, which is why it is shorter than I'd have liked. Feedback welcome.

Title : My Way
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1421
Rating..."


Glad you liked it. I wish I'd had more time to clean it up, and I missed out a bit that would have made the story make more sense. I might add a few sentences near the beginning to fix that.


message 45: by Joy (new)

Joy Crain | 41 comments Opps I made a little mistake. I'll do better next time


message 46: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments J.L. wrote: "Title - Watching
Author - J.L Vaughan
Word Count - 1675
(first post)

Mark looked down at his watch. “Fifteen minutes,” he mumbled. The show was almost over, and the quicker it came the better. It ..."


Welcome to the group! I enjoyed how this started off feeling like it was going to a light hearted comedy tale, then quickly devolved into horror and mayhem. I look forward to more of the same in the weeks to come.


message 47: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Edward wrote: "I've had a very busy week so I had to rush this one, which is why it is shorter than I'd have liked. Feedback welcome.

Title : My Way
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1421
Rating : PG13

The he..."


Edward, I guess they won’t need to put up one of those creepy gray Amber Alert screens after all! Bill got exactly what he deserved when the spirit bit his head off. As for Rita’s head, I thought her headache was actually going to be intense enough to split her head open like an egg as the monster was released. You did a great job of building up the pain until the last moment when the monster saved Rita. Imagine having that bad of a headache while being strapped down to a table with a pervert looking over you. That to me seems like eternal torment. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I also liked your “Game of Thrones” poem. Great job, buddy!


message 48: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Cheers buddy. Hey, I noticed today you didn't enter a story for the monthly competition which, by my reckoning, I've won by default. :D Is that because you won last month with Gashbeen?


message 49: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Yes, Edward, that's the reason. Congratulations, buddy! You're the winner! You're also the runner-up, the second runner-up, and the third runner-up. :)


message 50: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Hardly a victory - we need more monthly entries! Come on, people!


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