1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Contest Winner! Geezus92 for "Flowering, On Fire, and Back Again" - Short Story Contest #145 - Exquisite

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Dec 16, 2013.

    Congratulations Geezus92 for your second win this month! And thanks again to all the authors that entered and forum members that voted.

    Flowering, On Fire, and Back Again
    [2,979 words]

    Michael fiddled with a silvery gum wrapper folded small into an oblong pentagram as he lay in his bed. The wrapper was wrinkly, as was the crushed carton he had retrieved it from, battered like in the pocket of someone fleeing a natural disaster. He slowly unfolded the wrapper, careful to keep the creased side up so as not to spill any of the contents. Inside, a beige off-white powder settled in a small clump near the bottom, barely visible, but obviously there.

    “You’re breakfast is on the table young man, you better scoot down here,” his mom said from downstairs, her voice shrill like a washed up opera singer. Michael scurried the package back together, putting the wadded wrapper back into its crumpled gum box and stowed it into one of the cupboards at the head of his bed. He sighed as he lay in bed, too comfortable to be bothered with getting dressed. His clock read seven o’clock, an hour before school started. His mom always rushed him, when in the end it took him only twenty minutes to wash, dress, eat, and be out the door.

    He turned onto his side in a fetal position and looked at his room. His TV was an old boob tube, barely compatible with his Xbox 360 which were dirty at the edges, in the narrow gap that ran around it, filled with miscellaneous filth. His walls were patched with faded rectangles, areas where he had put up posters of supermodels, rock stars, and rappers. His mother just discovered them, after two years of being oblivious to his room, and insisted that she rip them down for him. Sixteen year old boys should not have half naked women and druggies on their walls, she had said. The only thing left to stare at was a single piece of kitsch art his mom found at an estate sale at dead Mrs. Callahan’s, putting it up as consolation.

    It was as wide as the flat top of his dresser, big enough to attract someone’s attention for a moment until they realized it was motel art and found something else to do. The painting was of an abandoned garden arbor by a lake. Flowers grew in the forefront, hogging attention from the background. The arbor was the only man made structure in sight, vines growing up the poles, some flowering as they climbed. Tall grass attempted to hide the vast lake which dropped far into the back of the painting, touching at distant rocks which barricaded a mountain. Michael did not see this; all he saw was a boring painting. He would rather it have been the poster of Mila Kunis in the panties and cowboy hat, something he could masturbate to. One of his eyebrows rose up like an idea light bulb.

    He grabbed his cell phone from the bottom of his bed detaching from the charger. His finger flicked on it quickly as he shuffled the rest of his body under his covers, sticking his free hand down into the darkness as his sheets tented and pulsed. A quick knock on the door and the hints of opening jolted Michael to a halt.

    “Son, you mom said- what were you doing?” said Michael’s dad, eyebrows furrowed.

    “God, nothing dad. I’ll be down in a second,” Michael said tersely, his heart pounding with fright. Michael’s dad just looked on in a hazy stupefied state.

    “Alright,” his dad said with an elongated tone, “Its Friday morning omelets. Hurry up before they’re cold.” He left, closing the door tightly behind him. Michael propped his head back, looking up at the white speckles of his ceiling and sighed.

    * * *

    The table was set with the omelets, his father already seated, reading the paper, as he always did, as his mother worked on some food or home making work or something as she always did. Michael ate his omelet watching at his family talk about the sixty three degree whether it would be outside, about the president’s continuing mistakes on the news, about the garbage man, continually leaving the bag of yard debris and his father’s attempts to reprimand him about it.

    “He really needs to stop. I swear next time I’m calling the company and filing a complaint,” he said, drinking his coffee, black, as it always was.

    “You should, dear. I mean we do pay for a service and if we aren’t getting it, it is our right to complain,” his mother said, continuing to rearrange plastic flowers in a new vase she had bought from a yard sale. Michael unconsciously tuned out of the conversation, his mind filling with static, almost feeling numb at the topics of microscopic importance his parents discussed. Every day was like this, the only thing keeping Michael from knowing today was any different was the always Friday morning omelets. He left.

    Michael walked to school, looking at the houses as he did. They were all designed the same: one door garage, flowers up to the door, and mailboxes on the front right corner of the driveway. All the shingles were from Harry’s Roofing, the only company in town which offered one design in two colors: gray and brown. Michael sighed, shaking his head, feeling the weight of just another day like all other days hang on his back. A hand smacked down, gripping his shoulder.

    “Mikey-boy, what up?” Mike turned around to see the smiling face of his friend Nick G. “Did you try it yet?” he asked eagerly.

    “Nope,” Michael replied.

    “Why not?” Nick G replied, whining out the last word.

    “I don’t know man.”

    “Know what? It’s awesome.”

    “Where’d you get it from again?”

    “My brother brought it back from his trip in New York. It works. I tried it, trust me,” Nick G said with his smile, ripping across his face with honesty. Nick G was different than most other kids in Michael’s school. His parents were always out of town, very rich, and were generally neglectful. Whereas some kids would consider this abuse, Nick G took advantage by testing life through alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. He would always pressure Michael, seeing that maybe he needed a change in his life. “C’mon man, that’s one of the best presents I gave anyone for a birthday, and you’re wasting it.” Michael thought about taking it, about all the consequences that would come if he got caught, all the damage he could do to his body, all the damage he could cause while on it, scared of the what could happen, unsure of what would. Michael had his head down, the corner of his eye catching the long side smile of Nick G, watching him as he thought.

    “I don’t know Nick,” Michael said.

    “Hey man,” Nick G said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this shit town and all the shitty people who live in it.”

    * * *

    That night Michael went to his room, his stomach full of Friday’s Meatloaf. He slumped in his bed, wondering whether or not to surf Facebook for the umpteenth time or beat annoying kids on his 360. He looked at his options: the dull white of his game station and the worn left mouse key at his computer desk where little translucent spots shown as ghost of his jacking off sessions. Michael looked at these and cringed.

    He lay back, staring at his white ceiling, counting and shaping the small bumps and ridges that speckled it. Michael sighed. He flipped onto his belly, opened the cupboard and took out the gum box. He opened the silvery wrapper again and stared at the yellowish powder. He pulled out his phone and searched “mescaline”.

    Michael just wanted an idea of what could possibly happen to him. From what Wikipedia said, he would experience things unlike anything he ever had before: geometrical shapes, images, hallucinations, inspirational ideas. Apparently, Indian tribes used the cactus this drug came from to perform spiritual rituals, passages into manhood, finding destiny and self-understanding. Michael didn’t give a shit. He was tired of everything. His stomach ached with each scheduled meal, each predictably tickled taste bud. His eyes blurred every morning he woke to see nothing but the same bland rooms, the same gray sky. If this shit doesn’t change anything, nothing will, Michael thought.

    He licked at the powder. It tasted like ground plastic, but he lapped up every speck. He sat and waited.

    Michael was playing video games, shooting cars and rocks and trees. It had been an hour since he took the mescaline and had yet to feel anything, but a small twinge in the back of his mind.I am Michael, I took mescaline, I’m not feeling anything yet, he chanted in his mind. He didn’t want to be placebo affected, not being like many poser kids who end up taking something they never had, realizing only later that it was sugar.

    Another hour passed and the twinge grew stronger, like the back of his mind was pulling his rational thoughts into a cell. The game he played was nothing anymore but him walking in circles, punching fences and shooting the ground. He turned it off and laid back down in bed, a strange energy both siphoning away his vitality but imbuing him with something more. He stared again at the ridges and dots that freckled his popcorn ceiling, and suddenly, a shift. It was barely recognizable, but Michael was sure there was something. And another shift, like the dots rearranged themselves. Woah, Jesus, thought Michael.

    The effect came so naturally that Michael did not even notice when this constant shifting continued at a semi-regular pace. It was simple, not so overwhelming, but so noticeable and amazing at the same time. The specks danced across the ridges, the dots dropped down, shifted over, back again, and around one another. It was like an eagle view of a ballroom, watching as the dancers spun and twirled, never stopping always moving: right, left, diagonal, and back to starting position. Michael began to smile.

    Out of the brink of his vision, something caught his attention. He first thought he had left the TV on but there was no glow, only moving pictures. It was the kitsch motel art his mom had put up of the field in the arbor. The grass now swayed to and fro, beckoning and laughing as the water laughed at the sky and the vines hugged the poles of the arbor, slithering up the stakes like a lover’s leg coiling against her partner. The orchids and lilies waved their petals, clapping each side like giving a soundless round of applause. They opened and closed like a woman’s lips mouthing the lyrics to a song. Shrinking, growing, they began to light on fire, burning with a heat that gave off no illumination only denoted by the red brush strokes that assimilated and sparked in the paining. The flowers burned burned burned and down they went into the earth where a rich dark ash lay only to be parted by sprouts which burst into flowers again.

    Michael’s mouth gaped wide.

    “Oh my god,” Michael whispered to himself in the dark, eyes twitching, twirling in his skull, his arms folded across his chest, hugging himself tightly, “Jesus Christ, this is fantastic, brilliant, god I wish people could see this, oh and that one there, my god, this is the most beautiful thing I ever saw.” He was struck with inspiration: this needs music. He quickly found his headphones, plugged them into his computer and looked through brief playlist as one song popped out of the screen, seeming to be jumping for his attention: “We’re All Going to Die,” by the Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony.

    The piano keys splashed down like a wave as the intro began. Michael continued to watch the painting which seemed to react to the song like ripples of a tossed stone into a pond. The lyrics vocalized slow and methodical: I can’t believe what I’m seeing here. We should be running for our lives… The song continued into its melody, the flowers in the painting began to match their reincarnate process with the flow of the song, the grass beginning to sway and cross hatch with one another as the guitar riffs clashed mightily against one another. The crescendo grew louder and hard and the whole painting began to jump, cross like beautiful havoc on one another. The drums puttered on like a march as the song rose and fell, the lyrics seemingly holding a new kind of meaning, a depth that is indescribable and foreboding.

    Michael began to cry, tears began to flow and his nose began to stuff. Everything was in sync. The outside world barely existed to Michael now, as he watched the painting continue to dance for him. He felt like a resurrection just occurred in his soul, that he had transcended any mortal capability, the laws of nature now bowed to him, revealing to him secrets that only a chosen few would ever see. His tears flowed harder from delight, from fear, from sorrow, from the entire spectrum of emotion. He could barely tell anymore. All the muscles in his body tensed. He looked down at his arms, slightly shifting like everything else he saw, and noticed that he had dug his nails into his forearms, red lines slashed down them like a feral beast. He did not care. He smiled, he cried and smiled, his teeth clenching so far down on one another he was sure they would shatter. His mouth’s smile expanded so wide he was sure the corners of his lips split into his cheeks, but he kept smiling as the song reached its climax and finale, as the painting began to sway softly: The refinery looks beautiful at night… the song continued.

    After its finish, Michael checked the clock: two in the morning. He had been on mescaline for at least two hours, maybe more. The drug assimilated into him so seamlessly, he couldn’t tell anymore. The effects weren’t diminishing at all, with or without music, everything he saw continued to shift. A wave of fright struck him, What if I never see anything normal again he thought. He took two deep breaths, calmed himself, and thought rationally, that like everything, the effects would end. But what if I don’t want it to? he thought again.

    It was true: he had never seen anything like this, this loveliness. Nothing in the real world had ever brought him to tears like this had. He didn’t want to think of this feeling ever leaving him. He looked at his computer screen: his wallpaper was a painting called “The Wanderer,” a man who looked on a mountain into a foggy nothingness. The fog drifted back and forth and the few visible peaks rose through the crags.Beautiful, Michael thought.

    He started to Wikipedia artists, all of them, seeing the hidden secrets in all of them. They talked some, without words, but their mouths would move. Dual images arose, and secrets in most painting walked about in plain sight. Michael had entered a new world, where everything was revealed to him. Whether it was fearful or delightful, he saw it all, like a private gift each artist and painting gave to him.

    Michael stopped on Van Gogh. The swirling strokes, the colors and lines, they span and met one another and were more beautiful than anything imaginable. He stopped on a painting, a field of crows. The crows flapped ineffectively, trying to venture towards a distant moon in the vast dark sky. A field of wheat pushed itself front and back swatting at the fleeing crows. A dirt path half etched into the very canvas itself zigzagged through the field into nothingness. Next to this image, a self-portrait of Van Gogh sat nearby, an expression of lingering and growing resentment hardening on his face. It was then Michael knew. He could tell already that the mescaline was wearing down: already the beautiful paintings sitting in hundreds of tabs in the browser window began to lose their luster. The secrets that so prominently danced before him began to hide away, sneak to the ends of the world and disappear.

    Michael looked up and saw the picture hanging in his room still moving, still clinging to life. He quickly grabbed a piece of notebook paper, scribbling down feverishly, ferociously, glancing every other second toward the painting on the wall and the one of Van Gogh on the computer with his sad deep eyes. It took ten minutes. The clock blinded its glinting numbers: seven in the morning.

    He wheeled his desk chair under his ceiling fan. He grabbed the video game controller from near his console, checking it for length and durability. Michael looped one part of the cord over the ceiling fan base and fit it snug against the bulk of it, tugging to check its tightness. He began to knot, much he learned from boy scouts, others from the internet. He held a loop in his hand, looking through to the painting and looped it over his neck. He pushed the chair away. It nudged the desk where he left the note which flew down to the floor underneath his hanging feet.

    Everyone,

    I witnessed the most amazing things anyone will ever se,e save for just a handful. Such beauty being withheld from anyone is a shame. I couldn’t live thinking I might never see it again, or that no one else would ever understand. Which is why I had to do this. Van Gogh died killing himself. I think it is for the same reason. It was all too much. It was all too beautiful.

    With love,

    Michael Kuklinski
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, sir. I do like it! [​IMG] Congrats! :D
     
  3. L.T.
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    L.T. Member

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    Nice job Geezus92. Two for two.

    There were some great stories this week, but I especially liked yours and Exquisite Loss.
     
  4. Major Powers
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    Major Powers New Member

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    :)
     
  5. Geezus92
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    Geezus92 New Member

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    Thanks everyone. And thanks Major Powers lol. Jam it out with that low-fi symphony
     

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