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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest 95: Freak Show - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jun 6, 2011.

    Short Story Contest 95
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Freak Show"


    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Freak Show" (courtesy of member K.S.A.). Any interpretation valid. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.
    Wordlimit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Monday 20th June 2011 10.00 am (UK local)


    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    The next contest will be themed "The Ghost That Never Was" (Trilby); the one after that "Searching For Real Parents" (Trilby); the one after that "Strange Pet" (Islander). Please feel free to prepare an entry in advance for any or all of these contests, but do not submit an entry to these contests until instructed to do so.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permissable.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.

    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. TheTomStrange
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    TheTomStrange Member

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    A Freakish murder

    I couldn’t resist. The show had been cancelled, and I had to know why. Rumour had it the freaks had been hidden in a nearby hotel, and it wasn’t hard to sneak in. Cautiously, I put my ear to the first door.

    ‘Hey, you know what would go well with this sex? A nice spot of cocaine.’

    ‘Harry, you told me you quit the happy powder!’

    ‘Hey I also told you I was wearing a condom.’

    I sighed and tried the next door.

    ‘Please Charles, I want to go dancing!’

    ‘Hell Claire, how many times? Not until I finish my Sudoku!’

    ‘You’ve been working on that thing for six hours! What happened to the man I fell in love with? The man who would jig till dawn, and never cared for maths puzzles? Mother was right; I should never have married a snake man!’

    A chill ran down my spine. I was among freaks alright.

    ‘You SHUT the HELL UP.’

    A gasp.

    ‘Charles! How dare you speak to me like that!’

    ‘Damnit woman!’

    A cracking sound. A woman’s scream.

    ‘Charles! How dare you break my legs!’

    ‘No more dancing for you.’

    ‘My God you’re right. Pass me a Sudoku.’

    I heard him pass her one. I moved on to the next door.

    ‘Darling where’s the bacon?’

    ‘Hmm?’

    ‘The bacon darling, where is it?’

    ‘Hmm?’

    ‘Where. Is. The. BACON?’

    ‘Huh?’

    ‘Don’t you EVER USE THAT WORD IN FRONT OF ME!’

    The sound of several sharp slaps and a face sizzling in a frying pan persuaded me to move on.

    ‘I’m telling you Lin it WAS DISGUSTING.’

    ‘Calm down Liam.’

    ‘JACKING OFF! Right behind the desk!’

    ‘Who was Liam?’

    ‘Some faggot kid, wearing a frilly dress, jacking off behind the desk in that hostel we stayed at. Gives me a big wink as he does it, right arm thrashing away, the other spinning a cowboy hat above his head! And people call me a MONSTER for snapping his twisted little neck!’

    So it was true. One of the freaks had murdered somebody. My heart stopped, fear overpowered me, urine steadily started filling my shoes.

    ‘Oh dear Liam.’

    ‘Damn right! I’m off drinking!’

    ‘Don’t go Liam.’

    ‘My names Gary you schlep! What kind of wife are you?’

    ‘I’m sorry Liam.’

    ‘Oh FORGET IT.’ Cried Gary storming out of the room and, unfortunately, storming straight into me, eavesdropping. I screamed at Gary’s appearance. His face was purple and furious, with a large monobrow frowning over angry demented eyes, but it was his second head, growing out of his left shoulder, that really gave me the shivers. A woman’s head, looking quite bored, occasionally using the arm it was growing out of to flick back its sparkling red hair.

    ‘Are you absolutely KIDDING ME!?!’ roared Gary, pointing an accusing finger at me.

    ‘S-s-sir’ I stuttered. ‘There’s a perfectly innocent explanation for this!’

    ‘Oh’ said Gary. ‘My apologies. Good day to you.’

    Gary saluted me and left. Dazed, I stumbled into his room.

    ‘Back already Liam?’

    ‘I’m not- WHAA?!?’

    My scream was justified, and you would have agreed had you seen this woman. Beautiful, the breasts the legs, the figure, perfection. If it weren’t for her head, and the awkwardly noticeable fact that she didn’t have one, she would have been the most beautiful woman in the world.

    ‘You alright Liam?’ a voice said from the woman’s neck stump.

    ‘I’m – I’m not Liam.’

    ‘So silly Liam.’

    ‘No seriously, I’m not-‘

    ‘Screw me Liam.’

    I shut the hell up and got on top of her. God it was awful, but I wasn’t the type to turn down a woman, head or no. After nine deeply unpleasant humps, the door burst open.

    ‘I forgot to comb my moustache… Oh HELL NO!!!’

    Mother always did warn me to stay away from people who used three exclamation marks. Gary ripped me out of her and slammed me into the wall.

    ‘Well ya little punk! There better be a perfectly innocent explanation for this!’

    ‘There isn’t one’ I fessed up.

    Gary took out a saxophone and beat all my teeth out of me with it. He then laid me neatly on the floor and raised his leg.

    RISE crunch - Shatters my nose instantly - but the iron boot goes back up - RISE crunch - I beg for mercy - RISE crunch - I cough up a sea of blood - RISE crunch - I beg Gary to let me live - He allows this request - Rise CRUNCH.

    TWO WEEKS LATER

    ‘Ladies and gentlemen are first freak tonight. Gasp in horror at the amazing faceless boy!’

    The curtain fell, and I sat humiliated in my cage as the audience gasped, cried, laughed, and threw soft drinks. They say curiosity killed the cat. I say if you hear rumours about a freak murdering somebody, just go home and mind your own business.
     
  3. AxleMAshcraft
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    AxleMAshcraft Member

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    Ash (540 words)

    She was ten when her daddy fell. But that’s ok, she didn’t like him much anyway.
    She didn’t like it much here.
    She didn’t like the Big Top much. Garish colors, bright lights, overly exuberant voices, the passion.
    No, she didn’t like it much here.
    No, not Ashlyn, no ma’am, not a respectable name.
    Ash, yes ma’am, Ash. Like after fires? Yes, yes ma’am.
    No, no ma’am, that is my real name.
    No, it isn’t shortened for anything.
    In a place where everyone’s a freak, no one is.
    That makes Ash a relatively normal name. And that makes Ash’s life a relatively normal one.
    She didn’t remember where she was born really. They moved around a lot. Today, Santa Fe, California, the next Santa Fe, New Mexico. One day, Hollywood Beach, California, the next Hollywood Beach, Florida. Plainfield, Illinois, then Plainfield, New Jersey, Plainfield, Indiana. Nashville: Tennessee, Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. Guilford: Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New York, Vermont, North Carolina.
    Probably the one thing that she did like was her high wire. Probably—
    Toes on the edge, looking down at the thousands of people. Their faces, looking up at her with eyes so wide and wonder-filled with not only excitement but fear. Fear. She loved how they would always gape at her. She loved when she would climb after her act, and the little children would stare at her for a moment before turning and nudging their mothers.
    She loved getting as close to normal feeling as possible.
    Maybe it wasn’t so much the big top that she hated, more what it stood for.
    But then again, most of the time she questioned whether this was love at all…
    Of course, that was also how her daddy fell. But that didn’t stop her.
    So in this crowd of freaks, what made her normal to them and obscure to the rest of the world? What was it, really, that set her apart from the clowns and the comedy acts, the magic tricks and the sideshows and the rigged games, the wild animals and contortionists?
    Yes, she was light on her feet. Yes, she was slight and flexible, so much so she was used in multiple vanishing acts. And yes, she was pretty enough to help out with the magic routine. Yes, she had good balance for the high wire.
    But no, that’s not what made her a freak:
    She felt no fear. She really felt—nothing.
    And when you think about it, there wasn’t a whole lot she did feel.
    She could act, like any other actress of the stage might act. But was it sincere?
    So haul her up to the high wire and make her walk it. She didn’t flinch. Put her in the cage with the lions. She didn’t flinch. Balance her on the trunk of an elephant. She didn’t flinch. Wedge her into the cannon and launch her across the big top. She didn’t flinch.
    The Big Top had no idea that among their group of freaks, they had a sociopath.
    It was pretty handy really. Pretty damn useful.
    At least until Phoenix Hanfield stepped into her life and faced her with one problem. He professed his love to her and she didn’t even flinch.
     
  4. Omega14
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    Omega14 Member

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    Regents Park

    (1440 words)

    Through the bars Helen could see the scarred faces of a few 'survivors', the victims of the Eddington Necrosis Virus. Named after its discoverer, Dwight Eddington, and nicknamed the Doomsday Virus after its manifestation on the twenty-first of December 2012 – coincidentally the date of the Mayan doomsday prophecy – the plague had reached pandemic proportions after just five months, killing billions worldwide and leaving the survivors permanently disfigured.

    The former London Zoo – the animals long since dead from neglect after the keepers had died – now bore a passing resemblance to a Victorian freak show. Human specimens now occupied the cages and enclosures that had once housed a rich variety of species. Conditions were better than back in the 1800s, admittedly. Some twenty-first century values had been preserved. The exhibits were comparatively well fed and clothed. Their quarters were relatively comfortable, with blankets and pillows, and as far as possible were kept scrupulously clean. Nobody wanted to risk infection on the scale of the Doomsday Virus again.

    Walking with a slight limp, a man approached the bars and fixed his gaze on Helen's face.

    "Alright, my pretty?" he said, leering at her with a single eye which peered out from beneath a malformed lid. The skin covering his other socket was criss-crossed with ragged scars. The three fingers of his good arm were gnarled and they curled around one of the bars possessively. One digit unfurled towards Helen, as if to stroke her. Shuddering, Helen withdrew a couple of paces and her nose wrinkled. The stench of decay never really left a survivor.

    Eighty-seven percent of the human population had contracted the virus. Over five billion had died.

    Victims had developed within hours a high fever, followed by a vesicular rash, similar to that of smallpox. The vesicles would turn necrotic as the underlying tissue was gradually eaten away. The virus had been highly contagious and transmissible by contact and ingestion. Rotting flesh dropping away from infected people had led to contamination of water sources, and some scientists had also speculated airborne transmission from the mass graves that had been a necessity.

    Helen took a deep breath. The air was clearer now. For months the smell of death had filled the air, but as the population had diminished, so had the virus's means of propagation. The odour of the dead had been replaced with the cloying fug of thick smoke as cremation had become the method of choice for disposal of the bodies. But that too had faded in time to leave the sweet smell of fresh air. Even the London smog had lifted with no traffic or industry to churn out their choking pollutants.

    A scream echoed from an enclosure nearby, the howl almost inhuman – wolf-like, even, although the wolves were long gone from this place. Helen barely flinched at the sound. The wails of the dying, and of those mourning, had filled her ears for so long that a single cry no longer registered in her mind.

    Death had not been easy or pretty. Some victims suffered massive blood loss from a large number of suppurating wounds. Others succumbed to septicaemia as the virus invaded their bloodstream. The pain of the necrosis and the horror of being slowly eaten alive simply caused many to go into multi-organ failure and shock. With no treatment, and healthcare systems overwhelmed, survival rates had been dismal. Only nine percent of sufferers made a recovery. These were the ones for whom the spread of infection had been slow enough that physical removal of the lesions had stemmed the onslaught of the disease to the extent that the immune system was able to kick in. In the absence of any effective treatment, the only hope of survival had been amputation. Those who lived lost arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyes ears, and noses, and multiple amputations were not uncommon. Faces, chests and backs were permanently scarred, either from crude surgery to remove infected tissue, or from the signature pockmarks of the disease.

    Helen held up her hand in front of her face. Her eyes traced the blue veins running beneath pale skin that was smooth and unblemished, in stark contrast to that of the poor souls on the other side of the bars. She was one of the minority who had natural immunity. Her own family had largely perished: her husband, her son and daughter, her parents, her sisters. Only her brother, Edward, had also been spared the disease, but he had later been killed in the riots and looting that had followed the collapse of civilised society.

    The sky overhead was a clear blue and Helen shielded her eyes from the dazzling light of the sun. Spring was welcome. Winter had been difficult. The lack of power and heating had taken its toll. Of those that had survived the Doomsday Virus, thousands more had perished from starvation and cold.

    The threat of the virus was gone, but the western world would take decades to rebuild. It could be done, and would be, in time. The information was preserved, but there simply was not the manpower yet.

    Half past twelve, or thereabouts, was feeding time. A man appeared pushing a trolley loaded with a few plates of food. Helen eyed what looked like chicken and a few drab boiled vegetables. Chicken was a staple food. The birds were easy to keep and provided eggs as well as meat. Many people had found chickens simple to farm in the early days after the plague.

    The faint smell of the smoke from the open fire used to cook the meat tinged Helen's nostrils. She cast a glance at the man proffering the plate. His face was relatively clear of pockmarks, but his fingers were twisted. He fumbled with the keys hanging from his belt but eventually managed to find the one he was looking for. Unlocking a padlock, he opened a hatch and pushed a plate of the food into the enclosure.

    "Grub's up, my lovelies," he shouted. Then, pushing his trolley on down the path towards the next pen, he waddled away, hips rolling as he walked on feet that were so swollen as to barely fit inside shoes that were already split from trying to contain them.

    The survivors would have called Helen one of 'the lucky ones'. Helen disagreed. She would have welcomed the comforting embrace of death rather than bear witness to this post-apocalyptic world. She was alive, but she was not living: merely existing. Her family was gone, leaving a gnawing emptiness inside. But at the age of thirty-two, Helen still had the potential to have children, would be able to be a mother again. Females who had contracted the disease were invariably left infertile, their ovaries and wombs ravaged by the internal battle played out between the flesh-eating organism and their own bodies' immune systems.

    And this was the underlying reason why Helen was here. The freaks of nature, the ones who possessed natural immunity to the Doomsday Virus were a sought-after commodity. They were the ones who could keep the human race going. The healthy females had been rounded up and incarcerated in zoos, prisons and secure hospitals. Males – a few healthy, but mostly survivors, those that still possessed functional genitalia, at least – would congregate at these institutions on market days where the chance to mate with one of the exhibits would be sold off to the highest bidder.

    Helen's ears pricked to the sound of a crowd approaching as she picked at the chicken. Shuffling footsteps, punctuated with the dull thuds of wooden legs, echoed on the concrete. A group of nineteen individuals stood in front of her enclosure. All were survivors. Twenty-seven eyes appraised her smooth skin, her rounded bosom and the curve of her hips: a healthy specimen.

    A large man, missing one arm below the elbow, stepped to one side of the crowd. His mouth was dragged upwards in a half smile as a result of part of his cheek having been carved away and crudely sewn back together. His name was Conrad Bertram, and he was the governor of the newly named Regents Park Human Perpetuation Facility.

    "Now, gentlemen," he began. His voice carried a slight lisp because of the lack of control he had over the left side of his mouth, and a drop of spittle formed at the corner of his half lip. "Here we have Helen. Thirty-two years old. Brought here a few weeks back. Rather skinny when she arrived, but we've taken care of that and now she's a fine young woman in full health. So who will start the bidding?"
     
  5. groovybananas
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    groovybananas Member

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    Story of My Life

    (1336)

    She was four years older than me, yet, most of the time, I seemed older. Always sitting under the bridge I would pass by her every day after school. It was silly, but it got to the point when I wondered whether she ever moved out from under that bridge.
    One day, out of no particular motivation at all, I decided to go down there. She looked up at me with passive eyes as if she really didn’t see me.
    “What are you doing?”
    The sound of my voice made her flinch, her pupils focused in on me at once.
    “Who are you?”
    “What’s it to you?”
    “Nothing.”
    I sat down ten feet away from her pulling up the grass around me, my fingernails caking with mud.
    “Hey, Ta-kun?”
    My head snapped up, she remembered?
    “What?” I tried to sound uninterested.
    “What are you doing?”
    “Nothing.” I stood up and started to walk away. I paused, “Hey, Mimi?”
    “Hm?”
    “I’ll be back tomorrow. “
    And I did come back the next day, and the next, and the next. Soon it was routine. Every day after school I would stop by the bridge and stay there until dusk. We didn’t talk much, but we didn’t need to. Soon she would start to touch me, I knew it wasn’t normal, but I also knew that she didn’t mean any harm by it.
    She would tug on my earlobe with her teeth and slide her hand down my shirt and suck on my neck. Did I like it? No. It felt good, sure, but I knew why she did what she was doing to me.
    But I loved her.
    So I let her do it.
    Before I went home, we always stopped at the vending machine nearby. She always got the sour drinks. She would chug it half of it down and then hand it to me.
    “I don’t like the sour drinks.”
    She would walk away as if she didn’t hear me.
    I would throw the drink aside, the cool crystal soda sparkling out onto the pavement, colored orange and pink from the setting sun.
    But one day it was really hot. I use that as an excuse because really, I don’t know why I did it.
    She handed me the drink and started walk away as usual. I looked down at it, some of her spit still clung to the side, the slight weight of the half drunk drink, the perspiration cooling my hand. I raised it to my lips and chugged the rest of it.
    When I opened my eyes I saw her staring at me.
    “Ta-kun, you just. . . “
    I wiped my mouth on my sleeve and threw the empty can down.
    My nose twitched into a grimace as the sourness pricked at my taste buds.
    I slung my hands into my pockets and walked past her, “What? I was thirsty.”
    She grabbed my wrist. I looked over at her; she was smiling reminding me of a cat. She tugged me along back down to under the bridge.
    I lost my virginity just as the sun turned it’s orangest before it disappeared.
    People would see us holding hands and walking around town. They would call us freaks. We did look pretty freakish. Her high school uniforms were never clean and her hair was permanently tinged magenta from all the times she had dyed it.
    Being four years younger than her I was shorter. I always wore a long sleeve shirt under a short sleeve shirt, even in the summer weather.
    People would whisper and point.
    We didn’t care. Why should we?
    Mimi traced a boney finger in circles around my shoulder blade, the shadow of the bridge covering me, while she stayed in the heat of the sun.
    “Mimi?”
    “Hm?”
    “You know, one day I’ll grow taller.”
    “I hope so.”
    “And my voice will be deeper. “
    “I plan on it.”
    “That is what you want right?”
    “It’s the closest I can get. . . . “ She didn’t finish her sentence and she didn’t need to, I knew what she meant.
    ~10 years later~
    I went to college. Mimi stayed home. She worked as a waitress, or at any job she could keep. Every night we talked on the phone, most of the time we were just breathing.
    After I graduated, I didn’t go back home for another year. By then I had become exactly what I wanted to be. Not that it made my parents happy. But it made me happy. It gave me the identity that I always wanted.
    It was the opposite identity of my brother’s. My brother is five years older than me. At 16 he was picked up as an upcoming baseball star. He moved away that year and never came back. He was rich and clean and successful. He didn’t even send Christmas cards, but my parents were in love with their famous athlete son.
    I didn’t tell anybody, but I joined a band. A punk rock band. I dyed my hair black and bleached the edges blond. I made sure it hung shaggily over my eyes. I pierced my lips and ears and nose and eyebrows. I tattooed my arms and neck and chest and ankles. I painted dark circles around my eyes and taught myself guitar. I was a natural vocalist and soon our band rose through the ranks.
    I was famous and I was the opposite of my brother. But my hometown didn’t know it was me.
    When I stepped off the bus in my heavy leather boots and skinny jeans with rattling chains, I heard people whisper “freak”. But I was used to it.
    The local club was all too happy to host us, it attracted a large crowd of young people who had heard of our band. Everybody wondered why we had decided to come here, but they didn’t care. Some loved us, some hated us. We didn’t care. I didn’t care.
    At the end of our concert we had accumulated lots of fans, money, and gifts, as usual. We piled into the bus, but I stayed behind.
    I walked to the bridge.
    “Freak.”
    “Oh my god!!!!!!!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeeek! I love your band. “
    “Don’t look at him.”
    “Isn’t he a hottie?”
    She was sitting there, feet in the water, cigarette hanging loosely from her lips.
    “What are you doing?”
    The cigarette fell into the river. But she didn’t turn her head.
    “Who are you?”
    “What’s it to you?”
    . . . .
    “Everything. “
    She looked over at me. Her eyes widened and tears fell fat down her cheeks.
    “Ta-kun. . .” she breathed heavily. “What did you do?” She was horrified as her eyes registered my new look.
    “I’m taller.”
    No response.
    “My voice is deeper. “
    No response.
    “But this isn’t what you wanted, is it?”
    She shook her head.
    “My brother is never coming back, Mimi. I am not his replacement!”
    Her nose started to run and her cheeks were cherry red.
    “How much do you love him? Do you still love him now! He left you, and you still love him?!”
    She wasn’t looking at me anymore, her eyes looked into the past.
    “You looked just like him, you were just like him, you grew up looking like him, you looked. . . “
    “Mimi!”
    “Takumi. . . “
    “MIMI!”
    “Takumi. . . “
    “THAT ISN’T MY NAME!”
    I turned around and left.
    I hated it all. The way she called me Ta-kun, even though that is what she used to call my brother. She called me that for ten years, and I let her. I let her do whatever she wanted because I had loved her.
    Past tense.
    “Freak. “
    And never came back.
    I could have stayed, cut my hair, taken out the piercings, learned to play baseball, and lived happily with the woman I had loved. We could be normal.
    But if that’s what love had become. . . I’d rather be a freak.
     
  6. Mardy_Bum
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    Mardy_Bum New Member

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    The Freak Show (814 words)

    Last night I went to a freak show.

    I was opposed to the idea from the outset, not only because I thought it to be slightly immoral, but also because I didn't consider spending an hour or two staring open-mouthed at a "freak" to be entertainment. I wouldn't have gone anywhere near if it wasn't for Sophie.

    She was the kind of girl that most people would do anything for, and I was no exception. We were walking home together when she suggested, batting her eyelids in a way that made me swoon, that we go to the show. I didn't give it a second thought, telling her that I "couldn't wait", but, after she had grinned at me and rushed off down the dirty back alley leading onto her road, her charm soon began to wear off. My regret grew with every step I took, and by the time I reached my front door I was heavy with anxiety. I didn't even notice that I'd stepped in dog dirt.

    For the rest of the evening I could concentrate on nothing for more than a few seconds, my mind constantly drifting back to the freak show. I looked at the ticket. I sighed. There would be no hiding from the show; Sophie had gone all out and got front row seats. I could imagine the show now. How much would I squirm as an old man walked onto the stage, his face sprouting tentacles? Could I bare it if we were introduced to a girl with no eyes, only gaping holes where they should have been? Would there be a bearded lady? (That doesn't sound too bad, but I didn't want Sophie getting any ideas). Every act I imagined was more grotesque than the last, until soon I could take no more. What I was about to do went against every instinct I had. I rang Sophie:

    "Hi, Sophie? Yeah it's me, Tom."

    "Oh hi Tom! Are you ready for tonight? It's going to be great! I went last year and they had this amazing bearded lady, and there was this spider at least twice, no three times as big as me, and I swear that that girl had no eyes, it was freaky!"

    "Well yeah, that was kind of what I was ringing about. Listen, I... I need a lift there, I can't get my parents to take me"

    "Ok, I'll be there in half an hour. See you then"

    "Yeah, see you."

    I had bottled it. I had a shower, gelled my hair, and kissed goodbye to my soul.




    It wasn't as bad as I had imagined it. It was worse. When we arrived at the show, staged in an inconspicuous tent in a park that looked like no one had been there for months, it was already getting dark. Not dark enough for me to miss the hypodermic syringe we passed by as we entered, but dark. Sophie still looked beautiful, but there was something unsettling in her eyes, something dark and twisted hiding inside her. She smiled at me, using that same bright toothy grin that had captivated me so much previously. I felt nothing. I was still looking at her eyes. She gave her tickets to a tall, hooded man, who led us over to our seats, and we sat down and waited for the show to begin. For Sophie those ten minutes must have seemed like an eternity. For me they weren't nearly enough. The lights dimmed, and a lone spotlight appeared on the stage, highlighting the same hooded man who had ushered us to our seats. He welcomed us to his show, and then introduced the first act.

    It was horrible. It was against every moral fibre in my body. Yet there was a theatre full of people, staring at her as she limped slowly onto the stage. It looked to me as if her hair was matted with blood, and I noticed a dark red mark down the side of her face. It looked as though she had been whipped. No one else noticed that, of course, they were too busy staring at her third leg, sprouting at a weird angle from the pelvis. It dangled limply to one side as she stood there, her face a mask for the humiliation she must feel as hundreds of eyes pinned her down from every angle. I glanced at Sophie. She was no longer beautiful to me. Her face was twisted and ugly, every bit as deformed as the poor lady on the stage right now. I couldn't take it any more; Sophie was the reason I was here, and she held no charm over me anymore. I stood up, shot a disgusted glare at the girl I onced adored, and left.

    It was obvious to me that the freaks weren't the ones on the stage.
     
  7. Alexander Wallis
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    Alexander Wallis Member

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    Puppet *1450 words*

    Staring into the crowd my heart began to beat expeditiously, but it felt good. I gazed into each one of their eyes, all of them sparkling, waiting...waiting for entertainment of epic proportion. My throat seemed to close up but I had done this before, showtime! "Welcome ladies and "gentle"men. You have come tonight to be shocked and awed by unique and odd performances. I am Clive..you're master for this evening.

    Prepare to be...amazed!" A smile spread across my face as I took a sideways bow and stayed bent to leave the stage. I heard a faint sound of claps and applause, what else could I expect from a hundred or so red necks. As I began to walk backstage I passed the Man of A Thousand Holes, if you had a weak perverted mind then you might chuckle, but his talent was quite odd. He could pierce his body thousands of times with needles and anything that had a sharp end. He took the stage and I heard faint laughter as he announced his name.

    I placed my hand on face, forcing shadow to cast on half of my face and the light from several candles lit the other half. I hated people like this, they didn't appreciate what we do. I motioned for the Wonder Woman, she asked the audience for male volunteers and she could beat them using one hand, that was all she had, she smiled at me. I felt warm with her smile casting at me, I straightened the back of my midnight black trench cloak and sat down. Placing my cane beside me and resting my top hat on top of it. As I stared off into the space my mind began to wonder and memories of the past began to attack the front of my brain.

    "Harold, please do come here. It's raining outside, and you have to practice your Lute." Mother called from the doorway. I immediately looked up from the dirt that I was using to create a castle, and began to run for the door. I stopped in the middle of the door, and looked back at my half-finished castle. The rain started heavily crashing down onto the castle and washed away the remnants of my empire. As soon as I turned away from the sandy remains the smell of..blueberry pie wafted into my nostrils. I couldn't help a smile rip across my face, and I started to drool. I quickly wiped my mouth and stepped into the house, my father called, "Boy, get here. Go teh town and be bringing me some mead!" He paused and fixed his eyes directly into mine, "I swear boy, if my mead don't be gettin' here soon..I'll skin ye!" Spit flew at my face, as I just walked off back out into the rain. As I closed the door behind me I heard my mother yelling at my father, "It's raining outside, Harold is only a little boy! He could get sick!" I only heard muffling when my father spoke, but I heard a smack and a cry. I hurried off in the direction of town, tears streaming down of my face.

    "Clive! What are you doing?!" I shook my face and looked up, there was Mr. Magic. He barely got into the Troupe, only because his sister was Wonder Woman... I didn't want to argue with her. "Hello chap." I spoke politely but still had my face fixed off in the distance. I could see his face crinkle up out of the corner of my eye, "I have a wonderous joke to tell you, it may take a while." I just nodded, half listening to him.

    As I walked into town there was hardly anyone outside, just me in the rain. I spotted the Town Grocery right in front of me, but I heard a small crowd of Ohh's and Aww's. I turned the corner to see a Traveler. They sold all sorts of things from their travels, and in a small town like this they would surely get customers. I saw him try to hype 'magical' things, and people fought and clawed for it. This whole thing went on for an hour, and I was amazed just by the townpeople's stupidity. Finally he had finished and everyone began to disperse, I decided I wanted to have a peak. I approached his wagon, he saw me and smiled. "Hello young master, see anything you like?" I didn't look back at him, I just started rummaging through his stuff. He obviously didn't care that I ignored him, so he kept talking "Ohh that's a wonderful piece, quite a bit of history" As I picked up a comb that was missing the handle. Just as I finished looking I started to walk away, he jumped down and grabbed my shoulder, "Young man, I can see in your eyes that something is troubling you." This time his smile was actually comforting. I returned his look, "My dad, he...I can't...My mom." The proper words escaped my thought. The man's smile never faded, "I know the face, and I have just the thing." He went back to his wagon and pulled out something that was wrapped up. "Here, for only two copps." I hesitantly handed over my two copper coins, and grabbed the object. He took my money, "Now don't open it until you get home." He gave me a wink. I ran off into the rain, and hurried home as fast as I could. After several minutes I returned home, I stared at the door. All of the fear began to rise up in me.

    "Do you get it?" The fat man chuckled, I looked back at him, I hadn't heard one word but I faked a smile. "Oh yes, haven't heard that one before." I heard applause and I gestured to him, "Better go out there" A smile filling my face, ear to ear. His eyes told me that he was kind of scared by me. I shrugged, and began to fade back into my memories.

    The door opened slower now, probably because of me. I slowly took a step in the house, my mother was in the kitchen and my father at the table. I came in and walked slowly into the kitchen, my mother turned to me. I hid my gasp, the whole right side of her face was purple and black. "Hello dear, you hungry?" I shook my head, unable to speak. I rolled the package onto the table, and my father looked up at it. "The **** is dis' den?" He picked it up roughly, he unwrapped it. I had to fight down my excitement, as he opened it my face frowned. A puppet? "****" I said under my breath. My father's face turned red, "You liddle ****!" He threw the puppet at me, and I shockingly fell out of my chair. The puppet easily fit in my arms, I turned it over and there was a needle in it's back. Before I could get it out I felt a hard kick in my ribs and I slid across the floor. I grudgingly pulled out the needle and looked at my father, I stabbed the face of the puppet and I felt blood fall on my skin. I looked up and saw my father standing over me holding his face as blood rushed out of his face. My mother screamed and my father collapsed. She ran over to him, I just smiled.

    My mother kicked me out of the house, and I was an orphan. I lived on the street, not for long mind you. I decided I hated my name...So I changed it. I came upon this large wagon, and many smiles greeted me. They were a traveling troupe, they all looked freaky, but still they smiled. "Ello little one." I looked down on myself, and realized why they were kind, I looked like ****. "What's your name then, son?" I looked up at him, "Clive"

    I heard applause, and I quickly snapped out of my trance. I got up and ran out onto to stage. "Thank you all for coming tonight, I hope you enjoyed our show. Please come aga.." Then someone yelled out, "Dis is ****! That was no magic! You all suck!" My emotions grew furious, but my face calm. "Sir, please allow me to make up for this. I have one more trick." I slowly reached into my pocket, and pulled my puppet out. A smile ripped across my face
     
  8. AwesomeTingle
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    AwesomeTingle Member

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    Ms. Fields and the Psychiatrist (975 words)

    Case: Ms. Fields
    6-1-05
    Ms. Fields is my first case this June. They believe she is suffering from a form of PTSD, and I'm to confirm it. She is 42, and was married with no children. While driving on the freeway Ms. Fields swerved and rolled her car. Her husband, who was in the passenger seat, was killed. She spent most of our session describing the car during the crash, over and over again. The description seemed to get more graphic and more painful each time she said it. She left the session shuddering. Not once the whole meeting did she look me in the eye!
    6-8-05
    Today is my second meeting with Ms. Fields. I decided to start off with the subject of Mr. Fields. But when I mentioned his name, she started to guffaw. I asked her what was so funny, and for a moment she was silent. Then she told me that he said to turn right, but she turned left. At the end of that statement, she burst out laughing. I couldn't get another word out of her that session, she wouldn't stop laughing... and once more, she didn’t look me in the eye.
    6-15-05
    Ms. Fields came in today staring at the ground. I asked her how she was, she grumbled back that she was fine. I then asked her to look me in the eye, to see what her reaction might be. She did something unexpected. She slowly raised her head. Then she stared, as if she saw my soul. I couldn't look away. I noticed her skin had gotten paler from our 1st session. She probably hasn't gotten out since the accident. She was so cold and expressionless... we stared at each other for what seemed like hours, and finally looked back down to the floor. I later noticed it was really just fifteen minutes.
    6-22-05
    Obviously Ms. Fields is hiding something, but it didn't seem very serious till today. She still refuses to look me in the eye. While I was trying to converse with her about Mr. Fields, she brought up something questionable. Here is a strip of our dialogue:
    'How did you and Mr. Fields meet?'
    'We met... at a pier.'
    'I see. What did you two have in common?'
    'Oh, all sorts of things.'
    'Like what?'
    ‘...’
    'Okay, well-'
    'He didn't want it though.'
    '... What?'
    'He didn't want it.'
    'Want what?'
    ‘...’
    She was silent the rest of the hour. What could this be? A credit card? A will? What wouldn’t he want?
    6-29-05
    Ms. Fields came in today wanting something. Here's a strip of our dialogue:
    'How are you today, Ms. Fie-'
    (frantically) 'Where is it?!?'
    She began tearing apart my office. I tried to calm her down.
    'Settle down Ms. Fields!! What are you looking for?'
    'The key.'
    'The key to what?'
    'The little blue box of course!'
    'And what is inside this box?'
    'Oh, nothing.'
    'Ms. Fields, what is inside the box?'
    (exasperated) 'Just some old memories...'
    'I see. Where is this box?'
    'In the back...'
    'Alright Ms. Fields, I'm going to have some men go and open that box for you.'
    'NO! You can't do that!'
    'But I must. I'm sorry.'
    She fell down to the floor, and grabbed my leg, pleading for me not to do this thing. But I had to. What ever was in this box, was most likely the thing her husband didn't want. I told the police my data, and what I expected them to find. They got right on it. I sent Ms. Fields to a hotel, so she couldn't remove this box.
    6-30-05
    Well, solved this case within the month. They dug up her back yard, and did find a little box, 19 inches long, with blue paint chipping off the sides. A rusty old lock hung in the front. They broke it off, and open up the box. What they found was what I expected. A baby boy (Why the box was blue). Or what is left of one. They later found that the baby died from trauma to the head.
    Here’s what I believe happened:
    After being married a few years, the Fields were enjoying life. Till one day they discovered that Mrs. Fields was pregnant. Mr. Fields didn’t want the child, and wanted her to take an abortion. She refused. Mr. Fields must have decided not to help her along the nine months that followed. Finally, labor came, but Mr. Fields wouldn’t do anything. That baby was born in their house, which is why it hadn’t a birth certificate.
    Well, soon after the birth, while Mrs. Fields was too weak to stop him, Mr. Fields hit the child on the head, killing it instantly. Either feeling guilty or trying to hide this from the police, Mr. Fields built a little blue coffin for the child, and buried him in the backyard. Mrs. Fields was devastated. She had to get revenge on Mr. Fields, but she didn’t know how to do it unknowingly. So after a good amount of years, she purposely gets in a car crash, and kills him. This is why she was laughing, at her turning right instead of left. She did it on purpose to kill him.
    There was one other thing I had to clear up before I closed this case. I asked the lab if the could find out what color the child’s eyes were. Right away I got my response. The baby’s eye color was green. My eyes are green. Ms. Fields couldn’t stand to look me in the eye, because every time she did, it was a painful trip down memory road. Is suffering from PTSD, it would’ve been from long ago. She has just gone through some very tough times. I’m happy this case is over. That was a real freakshow.
     
  9. NikkiNoodle
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    NikkiNoodle Active Member

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    Who Are We

    (1572)
    WARNING:
    Violence and derogatory language


    Forty-two to zip. It was a loss the Westfield Tigers wouldn’t forget. We were still riding the high of victory, sitting in first place at the end of the season.

    “James! That tackle was sick, bro!” somebody yelled from the parking lot as we stepped out of the locker-room doors. James waved in recognition and got punched in the shoulder for it. I know because whoever hit him punched hard enough that he bumped into me and both of us nearly landed in a puddle of soda and popcorn. I elbowed him off and he laughed with hands raised.

    “Hey, it wasn’t my fault!”

    “Mark, are you finally gonna get some tonight?”

    It was Todd asking, and I was glad for the darkness because my ears felt like they were on fire. The guys had been ribbing me about Leslie for the last two weeks and it was getting harder to admit that we weren’t having sex. If it was anyone but Todd asking I would have just told them to shut up. The thing was, you didn’t talk to Todd like he was just anybody.

    “I don’t know man,” I admitted, “She’s been kind of a tease.”

    That was a lie. Leslie had all but climbed in my pants. The truth was I just wasn’t ready yet but I could never say that in front the guys.
    Todd laughed and waggled his eyebrows.

    “It didn’t take me a month, brother,” he said in a whisper loud enough to be overheard, “all it took was a couple of beers.”

    The guys laughed and I muttered something like, “Yeah, I’ll have to try that,” but I mostly kept my head down and followed everybody else towards the parking lot. I didn’t need to be reminded that Todd and Leslie dated at the beginning of the year, but Todd brought it up every chance he got.

    Even though the game had been over for about an hour the parking lot in front of the school was still pretty crowded. A couple was making out on the bench under the street light, like they wanted everybody to see, and there were still groups of kids standing out by their cars talking about the game or tonight’s party or whatever.

    “What the hell is he doing here?”

    I pulled my eyes off the parking lot and searched for the object of Todd’s wrath. When I finally saw who the guys were talking about my stomach twisted. Fifteen yards away stood that kid whose picture had gone through every cell phone in the school like wildfire. Somebody, no one even knew who, had caught him kissing some other dude and snapped the picture. It was still on my phone.

    The guys began to grumble, James shaking his head and Eric making crude gesture with his hands. Todd seemed to eat that stuff and I could see his jaw clenching in the moonlight.
    Run kid, I thought but I didn’t say anything out loud.

    Todd started walking and the guys followed. I could feel the eagerness around me and my heart started thumping. I wanted to just plant my feet and head for my truck but we were tied together, like Todd was some kind of rope around our necks. When I felt the rope tighten I didn’t have any choice but to follow.
    Oh man, he doesn’t even hear us coming, I thought, he doesn’t have a chance.

    “What are you doin’ here, homo?”

    The shove Todd aimed at the kids back made him stumble forward into the light of another street lamp but he didn’t fall. He spun around, eyes wide, arms out to his sides to steady himself. Under the light the kids pale skin looked sick.

    “I was just watching the game, man,” he said in a way that reminded me of a mail man telling some pit bull “good doggie.”

    “We told you not to hang around here,” Eric spat as he moved around to the kids back. The kid was starting to realize what was going to happen and his eyes got even wider, if that was possible. His head swiveled around on his skinny neck as he tried to see all of us and light caught on his earring. Damn, he was small.

    “Hey, I’ll just go,” he started to say but he was cut off by another shove from behind and I didn’t see who pushed him. He did trip this time, his knees smacked against the pavement and I flinched. There was blood on his jeans when he stood up.

    “Maybe the fag is deaf too,” one of the guys sneered, it sounded like Dustin, “Can’t you hear? We don’t want your kind around here!”

    Blood was thudding in my ears so loudly that I almost couldn’t hear the laughing. Something was going to happen soon. Somebody had to stop this. I opened my mouth but no sound came out. Some random kids had stopped whatever they were doing to watch but nobody said anything, nobody stepped forward, and the kid looked so small, like a bird in a cat’s paw with his eyes like saucers and his bony chest heaving.

    Todd looked across the circle of light at James and nodded. That seemed to snap the kid out of it and he tried to take off but he wasn’t fast enough. James grabbed the kid’s arms from behind and locked him in a full nelson. The kid twisted but James was big and the kid’s feet barely touched the ground.
    Todd stalked into the lamp light, a smile splitting his face. All the girls thought Todd was god’s gift. I thought I was going to puke.

    “We’re gonna make it real clear to you, fag-boy,” he said in a low voice, pausing between words. He lifted his hand up to the kids head.

    “Don’t,” he fingered the kid’s earring, “Ever,” he grasped the hoop and pulled just a little, “come around here again. You got it?”

    The kid whimpered, too afraid to shake his head because his earlobe was pulled so tight I could see through the hole.

    “I asked you a question!” Todd roared. The kid flinched and winced at the pain but bobbed his head jerkily. The circle of guys drew closer together, their breath rising up in a ring under the light, everybody silent. I yelled a hundred things in my head, screaming for somebody to say something, to stop Todd, for the kid to lift his leg and kick Todd in the junk, something! But they were like a pack of hungry dogs and nobodies eyes moved but mine.

    The sound was like making a small tear in paper. Todd held the earring up like a championship trophy and the kid screamed. I felt my stomach heave and I turned away, trying to breathe through my teeth and not to puke all over the sidewalk. Kids were chattering excitedly and pointing but nobody said anything. A meaty thud had me spinning around just in time to see Todd aiming a kick at the kid who was now on the ground curled into a ball.

    “Hey!” I shouted. The sound of my own voice surprised me and choked off whatever else I was going to say.

    Todd spun on me, his eyes lit up and a sick grin on his face.

    “What? You want a turn, Markey?”

    I opened my mouth but I didn’t have the balls to say anything. Todd’s eyes were flat and dangerous as he faced me. My hands started to shake.

    “What? You wanna defend this freak-show? You got somethin’ to say? Maybe Markey likes the little homo?”

    I felt every eye turn on me. I wanted to say something, to hit Todd or yell for someone to call the cops. He took a step toward me and cold sweat trickled down my back. I shook my head dumbly. Todd must have taken that as a ‘no’ because he turned around and aimed a few more hard kicks into the kid’s stomach. The kid grunted and curled into himself.
    Todd was breathing hard when he finally stopped.

    “Don’t ever come back here. That was your last warning, freak-show.”

    James aimed a kick at the kids back as he followed Todd towards the parking lot. A couple of guys snickered and pushed each other but my ears were ringing and I couldn’t hear what they said. The kid lay there, a dark spot in the light. I took a step towards him and stopped. He pushed himself painfully to a sitting position. His left earlobe was torn and his right eye swollen shut. Blood was mixed with tears on his face.

    “Come on, Mark, Leslie won’t wait,” Eric called.

    I felt the rope begin to tighten.

    The kid looked up at me, his brown eye full of pain and something else. Contempt? Pity?

    “Let’s go!”

    The rope was so tight now that I couldn’t breathe. My feet began to move automatically, loosening the tension on the rope. The kid pulled up the corner of his t-shirt to wipe the blood off his cheek. Nobody came over to help him. I tore my eyes off his battered face and turned to walk away leaving the kid on the ground, a dark spot in the light, and followed to rope toward the group of letterman jackets in the parking lot wondering just who the freak-show really was.
     
  10. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    Freaks Watching Freaks [1811 words]


    It’s one of them confusing scenarios where something seems one way but also the other. Schrodinger’s cat. How can something be alive and dead at the same time? Many people, including me, try to think about such things but they don’t have the intelligence to comprehend the implications. I feel alive, that’s the thing, but I also feel like I’m dying, some part of me deep inside, something that once gone, can never be brought back. That’s the fear anyway. Somebody once said to me thinking about these things will destroy you in the long run. I think maybe I might even have said it to myself but I can’t remember exactly.

    A person also once said to me there’s no time like the present for manning up, but when you’re that bit unstable it’s like trying to play football with no legs. A man’s not supposed to be feeling this way, is he? He must be some kind of weird entity, something rarely seen, a kind of freak. ‘There has to be something wrong with him, there just has to be’ I remember overhearing someone say. I might even have said this myself but I just can’t quite remember.

    There were strong implications that I was weird, that I was like a freak in the way that I behaved. And then I thought to myself, maybe I am a freak, but what is a freak? Who’s to say so? It’s just another one of them convenient labels applied to someone who doesn’t fit the bill, someone a bit eccentric, a bit different. And anyway, I’ve found that people who like to think of themselves as eccentric in the first place are just trying too hard. People who apply labels to themselves want to be that label as opposed to actually being it.

    In the end it matters little what part I play personally in deciding who I become for when the judgement of others strikes, it comes with such a finality it sticks like tar to a feather. So whether or not I like the label or I agree with it, I still have to deal with it regardless. I suppose if there’s any positive that can be taken out of it I’ll come across a bit edgy because in this day and age it’s cool to be edgy.

    But I should push these things out of my head. Maybe it would be best if I concentrated in on this TV show. It’s the perfect diversionary tactic that ensures people point their critical eye in the opposite direction from themselves so they don’t come under scrutiny. This is why I always imagined film critics to be the most boring people because they’re always looking and commenting on the lives of others. If you constantly avoid what is real you might neglect the things that are important.

    This way my situation likens to a double-edged sword, damned if I do, damned if I don’t. So I bury my head in the sand for so long the lines between reality and fantasy become blurred. Eventually I rise to the surface and take stock, but what happens is that it does more damage than good. The upside is that I acknowledge reality. It’s a bit of a conundrum really, which requires balance and good decision-making but for the most part it’s good the TV is there for me, because I don’t know what I’d do without it.

    So I’m watching Jeremy Kyle, who is the UK’s answer to Jerry Springer, and there’s this man decked in a tracksuit getting lambasted because he’s apparently going out with his wife’s sister and her mother at the same time. I’m immediately feeling better about myself as the show has a reliable tendency to do, constantly massaging my prejudices by showing me people in a much worse-off position than myself. And the irony is never lost on me, what with me being a prime candidate for the next star of the show. It’s the type of programme that absolutely loves people who are self-obsessed and who think the world should revolve around them.

    I’m that selfish I forgot to mention the people who are actually with me watching this show, imagine that? My friends, my acquaintances, the people without whom I would be alone with the TV and my thoughts and am therefore thankful for gracing me with their presence. They’re a lot like me you see, horrible freaks and frowns shunned by society and ignored as if we didn’t exist. Not that we care, mind.


    If anybody was looking in on us they’d see a bunch of freaks watching other freaks on TV. Jeremy Kyle is getting apoplectic at someone who didn’t use contraception and he’s screaming ‘WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU PUT SOMETHING ON THE END OF IT!?’ and I’m kind of laughing as that’s one of his favourite things to say. It makes such great TV. It’s kind of like a human circus, where the viewers are the spectators and Jeremy Kyle is the delightful ringmaster.

    If I had shown a bit of initiative I could have made it onto the show and been one of them people spewing out my life’s problems for the entertainment of others. The only difference between them and me is that they’re in the spotlight. I’m hidden away in this corner where some might contend I belong. I’m not sure I even want to come out in the first place. Freaks are not meant for the mainstream. That’s probably why the most mysterious deep-sea creatures have never even been properly discovered as people would never understand them.

    The biggest mistake you can make, someone once said to me, is to delude yourself into thinking you’re unique. For the life of me I can’t remember who it was exactly who said it. For all I know it might even have been me who suggested it. I think he said it was primarily one of the biggest factors that makes freaks well, freaks. It’s a simple refusal to accept that you’re normal and that, in itself, is what makes you abnormal. You can cry all you want about conforming and being normal, but the mere questioning of your normality makes you not normal.

    These people sitting on the TV here are most certainly not normal by satisfied standards. There’s even a new guy on here who has failed a lie detector test that says he cheated on his new partner. And he’s still denying it, too, which is hilarious ‘cos there’s guilt ridden all over his face. It makes such great TV. Jeremy Kyle is saying to him with raised eyebrows, ‘You were lying, weren’t you?’ and the guy is stuttering indignant cries that the test is wrong. The audience starts to boo him and I’m absurdly feeling a bit sorry for him even though I like the fact that he’s getting a grilling.

    I bet he doesn’t realise the kind of freak that he is. He most certainly doesn’t know that he and I have as much in common that our roles could be reversed and no one would know any different. He could be sitting in this living room laughing and I could be sitting on the stage on the wrong end of the host’s self-righteous diatribes. Essentially we’re both freaks, but he’s now an exposed freak whereas I’m hidden well away.

    It’s inevitable I compare the situations. Most of the time, the people in the spotlight are worse off than I am, but then that just says to me there are different levels of freaks and I merely sit in between the echelons of high and low. I’m still a freak nonetheless. But then I reassure myself that this, this state of affairs is only temporary. In the end I reckon it’s okay ‘cos I’ll miraculously turn it around when the game seems lost. It’s only a cunning game of brinkmanship that I’m playing. For now I’m happy to just watch the show for its main purpose, which is to laugh at the constant stream of morons passing through.


    This is my third day in this room practically, save for short and quick trips to the bathroom. I have all I need right here. My TV show, my company, my drink and a bit of that other stuff. You know the stuff that’s simultaneously keeping me alive and killing me, that tangible thing that you can hold in your hand and say ‘look, here is the stuff that makes freaks of people’, the stuff that drags good men down that dreaded avenue of illegality thus making them freaks and scumbags. Then when you think about these things and all its incumbent heaviness, you push it out the back of your mind so you don’t have to process it; as God forbid, it might prevent you from watching your TV show. The trick is to keep your head clear so you are able to watch it, unhindered. This is what I try to do, and this is what I’m doing now. Ah, Jeremy Kyle.

    Thing is, you watch it totally engaged until it reaches the point when you feel deflated. Or the starting point of deflation. This is the ugly head of sobriety trying to jostle for pole position in your vulnerable head. At this point, like now, the time is ripe to take another hit and I duly oblige. I’ve learned that once the tiniest smidgeon of paranoia creeps into your psyche it’s time to just completely blot it out. It’s not worth the hassle.

    I can feel that buzz coming on now anyway, and I’m very thankful all for it. It’s such a magnificent feeling that never disappoints me. It washes away everything to the point that I can’t even remember what I was talking about beforehand. I know it was something about freaks or other, but I just can’t quite pinpoint what it was exactly I was talking about. I get like that sometimes. Sometimes I think I could talk for Ireland but then at other times I just can’t think of the words which can best articulate what I want to say.

    Now I’m watching this TV show but I can’t quite hone in on the subject which they are discussing. I’m looking at the TV, I’m looking at the screen and I’m looking around the screen. It just seems like an object to me with no real substance. It’s difficult, to be honest, to discern anything at the moment with any real certainty. I might remember it all again when I could be bothered, but you can never be sure. A wise man once told me, but I can’t quite remember who it was exactly who said it, if you don’t have something useful to say, don’t say anything at all.
     
  11. Night Slayer
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    Night Slayer New Member

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    The Visit (1700 words)

    Julia shivered as she approached the vast building. She hated this place. It reminded her of a haunted house: big, gloomy, draughty and old. It probably was haunted, people died here every year. Within these walls, unknown memories that would never be told. If these walls could talk, Julia thought with a chuckle.

    The spring flowers and birds that had been evident just a few seconds ago were now nowhere to be seen or heard. This fact made her shiver again as she rung the ancient doorbell. All around the world continued, cars drove by, the wind rustled through the trees. Around the building, everything seemed dead. Detached from the world, much like the occupants.

    Julia didn’t recognise the woman who opened the door. Not surprising, as she tended to avoid the staff as much as possible. They in return left her alone for the hour or two she spent here every week. Julia walked down the draughty hallway to the common room where a familiar sight awaited her. Zombie like geriatrics lined the walls, all sat in cushioned hard backed chairs, all staring inanely into space. It was both scary and depressing at the same time. All of these zombies had once been full of life, just like she was now.

    She spotted her grandma in her usual seat by one of the three televisions, showing reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’ that no one watched. Quickly walking over to her, Julia kept her eyes averted from the other room occupants. She wondered as always why she came every week, grandma wouldn’t notice if she missed a week. She knew the answer of course. She loved her grandma deeply. She had practically raised Julia while her parents worked. She’d always been there for her through her childhood, difficult adolescence and subsequent years. It was only fair that she was here for grandma now, when the whole world had left her behind.

    Julia blamed herself for grandma ending up here. She thought if she had taken better care, visited her more, then the dementia wouldn’t have set in. In reality, grandma was almost 106 and had only endured both the illness and this hellhole for two years. It was down to Julia’s frequent visits that she was still alive. Julia didn’t accept this fact. She blamed her parents more than herself for putting grandma here. They hadn’t even visited the place before organising for her to become a resident. They had only visited twice in two years. They lived twenty miles away.

    “Serena,” grandma cooed, her pale grey eyes lighting up. She had long ago forgotten who Julia was, or that her daughter Serena had a daughter, or was married. Julia didn’t mind, grandma could call her whatever, as long as she was happy to see her.

    Julia pecked her on the forehead, smiling brightly she said, “Hello mum.”

    She carefully hooked her arms under grandma’s armpits and helped her up. She would take her out to the visiting room, where it was lighter and they could have some privacy. This was likely to be her last visit here, it was important everything was right.

    Julia had only recently managed to finish going through all the things she’d salvaged from her grandma’s house when her parents had put it up for sale. Amongst the things she had found the half crown that grandma accredited for bringing her and grandpa together. Grandma had smiled when Julia mentioned finding it and had muttered that she wanted it back. Julia had a suspicion that it was what she had been waiting for before passing away.

    Sat comfortably on the pink sofa, grandma started asking ‘Serena’ how school had been and fretting about what time grandpa would be home for tea.

    Grandma’s eyes suddenly seemed to clear and focus. “Julia, did you bring it? You said you’d bring it. I must see him.”

    Julia looked at her puzzled, who did she think she’d brought with her? It was also strange that she’d called her by her name and that she recalled being told about the coin last week.

    “Grandma, I’ve brought the coin like I said I would. I haven’t brought anyone else with me. It’s just me grandma, like always.”

    Grandma looked into her face and smiled serenely, “Silly sausage, your grandpa, he’s in the coin.”

    Julia smiled, not finding her words odd. It just went to show how much of a freak she’d become visiting here weekly. “Oh, okay.” She reached into her side jeans pocket and pulled out the delicately wrapped, tissue-covered coin.

    “Dearest.” Grandma whispered delightfully, reaching her frail hand out to take it from Julia. “Thank you.”

    Julia expected her to launch into the story behind it, but instead she cradled the coin by her cheek, kissed it and then closed her eyes. Julia watched as her grandma’s hands dropped into her lap and her head lolled backwards. Initially shocked that she’d just witnessed her dear grandma pass away, Julia relaxed when she heard the light purr of grandma’s snores. Not knowing what to do, Julia got up and wandered around the room. She walked to the window and looked out onto the seemingly endless grounds. She shuddered as she noticed a dark shadow thrown across the grass and flowerbeds. It was nothing except the shadow the vast building cast with the sun behind it, but it still unnerved her.

    A loud bang from somewhere unnerved her further. She quietly slipped over to the door and peered out into the hallway. There was a man pushing a trolley towards the kitchen. It must have been him, Julia rationalised. She was just about to return to grandma when something fell out from the side of the trolley. Julia involuntarily gasped. To her it looked like a shrivelled arm, and the trolley, a gurney. Julia ducked back inside the room, fearing she had been seen, or at least heard.

    Frazzled, she decided to get out of there while she could. However, grandma chose then to wake from her nap.

    “Serena?”

    “Yes, mum.” Julia quickly, considerately sat next to grandma and put a hand over her frail knee.

    “Do you remember the story of how your father and I met?” she enquired, opening her palm to gaze at the half crown lovingly.

    “Yes, mum. It was very sweet and romantic.” She kept one eye on the door as she spoke.

    “He was from a poor family, same as I, he thought me the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen.”

    Julia could tell from the look on her face, that grandma had been transported back to that time. She gave up hope of escape. “Tell me the story mum.”

    He had seen her around, had tried to pluck up the courage to approach her with no success until his mother gave him the coin. She called it an alderman, as did Julia’s great grandmother. Grandpa had dropped it on the street after grandma had walked past and asked if she had dropped it. At first she had been wary of him but something about his face made her approach and gaze upon the coin. She had told him how she wished she was lucky enough to have an alderman, and then he had placed it in her palm and closed her hand around it. They talked for what felt like hours and then arranged to meet again the next day, then the next until they were engaged and moved in with his family until their spring wedding.

    While grandma told the story, Julia thought back to what she thought she had seen. The lighting in the hallways was substandard, and she had been thinking how spooky the place was. Had her overactive imagination conjured up the perceived sight? It must be that, she reasoned, this is not some Stephen King book, every bump doesn’t disguise an impending horror. Julia listened to the noises she could hear coming from the kitchen. They’re preparing lunch like they always do, nothing sinister is happening, she told herself confidently.

    “It sounds very romantic mum, I wish I had been there.”

    “Silly girl, why are you calling me mum? I’m your nana.” Grandma said sternly, her pale grey eyes looking silver and clear once more.

    Julia apologised kissing her cheek fondly, “Sorry, you’ve always been more of a mum to me.”

    “Hmm, Serena was never meant to be a mother I don’t think.” Grandma leant forward and passed the coin to Julia. “Anyway, be a dear and put it in my jewellery box in my room and then you can be off. Dinner’s almost ready.”

    “Okay, shall I help you into the dining hall?” Julia asked, getting to her feet.

    “No dear, the staff don’t like visitors in the dining hall or kitchen. They’re very funny, but they do look after us.”

    “That’s good, I’ll see you next week.” Julia kissed grandma on the forehead. “Love you.”

    Julia could still hear noises coming from the kitchen as she left grandma on the sofa. She quickened her step and was out of breath when she arrived at grandma’s room. Once the coin was safely rewrapped in tissue and placed in grandma’s jewellery box, she breathed a sigh of relief. She was getting out of here, and she hoped – as bad as it was to have such thoughts – that grandma would die before the next visit.

    “Goodbye.”

    Julia mumbled a reply to the woman who had opened the door just an hour ago as she left. She hurried down the path, back into the light and safety. She was back in the real world; her fears vanished. She glanced back as she stepped onto the pavement, bumping into someone. She mumbled an apology.

    “Give me your purse.”

    Julia looked puzzled at the young man, before stumbling back aghast. Julia didn’t feel anything as the knife slid seamlessly through her red top, past her ribcage, and into her heart.

    She collapsed onto the pavement, blood pooling around her still form. The man scooped up her purse and fled. Her eyes widen with disbelief as reality set in and she drew her last breath.

    Grandma wasn’t next after all.

    And it had been her last visit.

    The End.
     
  12. Ubrechor
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    Ubrechor Active Member

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    Freak Show

    (1,892 words)

    The little blade dripped dark blood. The droplets fell through the empty air and splashed in silence onto the marble tiles.

    I was completely paralysed with alarm. The terror came at me in a rush, infecting my body and spreading a horrifying coldness through my insides. My thoughts had fled, leaving my mind barren.

    And then the man lifted his chin from his chest and looked at me – such a mild, relaxed expression on his face. Entirely untroubled, and utterly serene. Now there was terror and confusion battling for supremacy within me. I wanted to run, to flee and not look back, but I was as frozen as a corpse.

    We just looked at each other like that for awhile. I, rigid with shock and horror; he, unsurprised and unperturbed by my reaction. Then, suddenly, I couldn’t look at that face anymore. That expression was wrong. Freakish. A flash of reason had returned to my mind – though not enough to let me think clearly – enough to realise that he couldn’t just be standing there, as if what he had done was completely normal. My eyes skipped away from him like a pebble on water, and rooted before I could stop them on the deep, dark gash that ran from one side of his stomach to the other, like a grotesque clown’s smile.

    It was dripping with the same dark crimson blood as the scalpel, trickling its way down his belly as if the grisly clown was drooling. And then the smell suddenly invaded my nose so that my eyes watered at the claggy stench of salt and rust. I’d never been good around blood. I’m sure I would have thrown up, had my insides not been frozen solid. I told myself to look away; I couldn’t. The reality of what was happening locked me within my limbs, unable to escape its horror.

    But then I noticed something was happening to the wound. Something was halting the flow of blood; it no longer ran freely, but instead seemed unable to escape the opening. It was as if there were an invisible layer of skin stemming the flow.

    Then, before my disbelieving eyes, the sides of the cut began to push together, closing up the wound a little bit at a time. The man was still gazing at me with mild curiosity. His expression was still blank, but his shadowy eyes pierced me through with the intensity of his gaze. My mouth was as wide as my eyes as I watched the cut heal over, leaving not even a line behind.

    If I had been scared before, that was nothing to how I felt at that moment. I felt all the blood drain from my face. My mind was trying to make sense of what I’d just seen. But it couldn’t have –

    Philip moved first. He turned lithely but unhurriedly and strode up to the sink at the wall. I couldn’t look away from the point where he had been standing, but knew he was washing the blood from the blade. I heard the splashing of the water from the tap. I tried to concentrate on that sound, the sound of something normal. The coldness was seeping slowly away, but it left behind a strange nothingness that I didn’t like and couldn’t understand. The memory of him cutting himself was on repeat in my head; every time the blade made contact with his skin it sent a jolt of horror rocking down my small frame.

    The sound of the running water ceased, and I heard the plinking of his footsteps on the smooth marble floor. A moment later he was within my vision again, this time with a cloth in his hand that he used to mop up the blood on the floor. He was bent down for half a minute. Not one thought crossed my mind in that time.

    Eventually, he straightened up and threw the cloth onto the surface by the sink. He then turned back to me; his expression had turned to concern.
    He walked steadily towards me, scrutinising my face. I was a sculpture, silent and still. Though I doubt any sculpture in the world could convey the amount of shock that was on my face.

    Philip stopped next to me. He bent his knees slightly so that his eyes were level with mine.

    “Annie?”

    I gasped and yelled in alarm, jumped backwards at my softly spoken name, gazing at his face in panic. Neither one of us had expected that kind of reaction; he was very taken aback. I was suddenly very aware of everything – my heavy, labouring breaths; the slight echo that my hurried footsteps had made – and the smell of the blood. I hesitantly looked down at his bare stomach and saw the dried blood on his smooth skin. And I suddenly found myself turning away. My knees hit the ground with a muted thud and I was sick.

    The retching sounds were poisonous to my ears, and the smell was even worse than before. Philip had his hand on my back and I could hear him talking to me, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I was still waiting for everything to make sense again. Waiting to abruptly find myself curled up in bed after another bad dream. But nothing happened.

    I didn’t know how long I had been kneeling there on the floor when I found the urge to speak. I couldn’t stay silent any longer.

    The words struggled out of my bitter-tasting mouth:

    “What – did you – do?”

    Philip’s voice was a mixture of emotions that I could quite pick up on. “Don’t worry about it, Annie. I’m completely fine. I’m sorry for scaring you.” His bassy cadence sounded fluent and perfect next to my stuttering croaks.

    My limbs felt weak and tight – nevertheless, I stood up quickly, trying to put some distance between us. It didn’t work, as I was so unbalanced that he jumped forwards quickly to steady me. His eyes were unfathomable when I tried to look into them. I stumbled away, over to the nearest wall and propped myself up against it. He seemed to know better than to stand close to me again.

    I tried to organise my thoughts into some form of sense. It was difficult – my thoughts seemed to be making up for their absence a few moments ago. Now they swirled about my mind, vying for priority but unable to catch. I still didn’t know whether to stay or run screaming out of the room. I was trying to figure that one out when Philip spoke with forced evenness.

    “I can heal, Annie. I needed to show you. I’ve known it for as long as I can remember.” He was trying to calm me down, but his words made no sense to me. It wasn’t possible.

    “No – I can’t believe it,” I said slowly, almost to myself. My voice was braking horrendously.

    “Annie, please believe me,” Philip pleaded. “You have to believe me. I need you to understand!” He was beginning to sound desperate; he looked like he wanted to move about. His agitation was obvious. I found it strange how different this behaviour was compared to the blank calmness when he had cut himself. I flinched as the memory once again played itself back to me. Trying to control my breathing, I looked into his beseeching eyes. And I knew that he could only be telling the truth. So my next question was different:

    “How?”

    He looked immensely relieved that I was taking him seriously. How could I not be? That was the most serious thing I had ever seen.

    “I don’t know,” he answered, quietly. “A few years ago I started testing this – ability. I jumped off a building; I shot myself, hanged myself, cut myself many times. I used to stay in my room for hours at a time, endlessly slicing my skin open and watching it sew itself back together. It makes for a very macabre lifestyle,” he added, smiling feebly.

    I realised my mouth had dropped open again. I shut it, but it dropped open again. What he was saying couldn’t be true. It couldn’t. And yet I’d seen the evidence. It was too real to be a trick. Far too real.

    I looked again at the place where the incision had been only a few minutes ago. That was a mistake. The blood was still there and I grimaced, furiously fighting the urge to retch again, though I had nothing more to bring up. Philip looked down at his stomach and cursed. He quickly strode back over to the sink and grabbed the cloth. While he washed himself I tested my balance, not trusting myself to walk away from the wall. I seemed to be calming down a little bit, so I risked sidling away from the metallic-smelling bile on the floor. I kept looking at my feet, trying to keep in control of myself and my body. But every time I thought of what I had seen Philip do to himself...

    I heard his footsteps coming closer again, and looked up. He had put on a white, sleeveless shirt. I was thankful that I could no longer see the place where it had been.

    His expression had changed – or maybe I was just becoming composed enough to read his emotions better. Now, harsh bitterness was etched across his face, in stark contrast to the serenity I had seen on it before. His mouth seemed permanently pulled downwards, and his dark eyes were anguished.

    “I shouldn’t have done this, should I?” It wasn’t a question I was supposed to answer.

    “Phil...” I began.

    “Don’t, please, Annie. I know what you’re going to say.” He was shaking his head as he spoke. His posture was stiff with frustration and I could see cords in his neck. “It was a big mistake showing you this.” He gestured to himself, scowling as he did so. I couldn’t get my head around the sudden, astonishing change in his attitude. But all I knew was that the fear was disappearing, replaced by pity and sadness for my closest friend.

    “I’m sorry,” I whispered.

    He laughed, and the sound was bitter and callous. “Sorry! I don’t know what I was thinking, showing anyone else about this! What did I expect; that it would all be easier once everything was out in the open?” He was talking to himself – I knew better than to interrupt, although it was torturous for me to see him running his hands through his hair and make tight fists of his hands. “Why did I do this to myself? As if things weren’t hard enough already! And now you know about me! And of course you’ll just run away and I’ll have lost a friend because of this stupid thing!” He gestured to himself again, almost shouting.

    I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to wake up, but I knew this was no dream. My mind couldn’t make up such horrifyingly realistic scenes. Philip looked at me with those dark eyes, and there was not a trace of my friend in them anymore. I suddenly got the feeling that he knew exactly what I was thinking.

    “What a freak show I am, eh?” he said, baring his teeth at me.
     
  13. ink_slinger
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    ink_slinger Member

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    Behold, the Freak

    (302 words)

    They came to see her in a line, coming from all over the country to swear fealty, leaving as soon as they were done gawking. Everyone wanted to greet this sudden queen, the wife of a dead man, the mother of a tiny ruler. She wore black, but no one seemed to remember that she was mourning, least of all herself. It was a new world.

    There were no bars, no locks. Nonetheless, she was trapped. The crown on her head made for a heavy chain, binding her, now and for the rest of her life, to a red velvet chair and an ermine cloak. She wasn't a person anymore. She was a Queen. The Queen. The only one in the whole of the country. A lonesome freak.

    Somehow, she did not mind.

    For the rest of her life, the People would gawk. They would cheer as she passed in a carriage, or when she stood on the balcony and waved. They would stammer when they met her, unsure how to address her, what name to give her, how to act around her.

    Men would resent her because of her power. Women would envy her because of it. They would look at her, thinking of how unfair it was, how one person, only one, could hold the hearts of an entire kingdom.

    It was silly, when one thought about it. Silly that a person in a cage could control so many people, silly that she would be that person, silly that so many were happy to see her, trussed up and imprisoned, the smiling captive. They wanted to tell the most famous prisoner in the country that they would be loyal, as long as she stayed in her cage.

    “Yes, you have me,” she would think. “But I've got you.”
     
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