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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Short Story Contest 85: Step Into A Picture - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jan 17, 2011.

    Short Story Contest 85
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Step Into A Picture"​

    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: "Step Into A Picture" (courtesy of member Tessie91). 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 31st January 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.

    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.

    The next contest will be themed "Beyond The Surface" (courtesy of member The End), and the one after that "Reincarnation" (courtesy of member Manav). Be free to prepare an entry in advance for either of these contests, but do not submit an entry for them until instructed to do so.

    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 please.

    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

    TheTomStrange Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Art (381)

    ‘Isn’t art great?’ said Roy’s girlfriend.

    No, art is **** and anyone who likes it is a stupid **** who ought to have their legs ripped off and forced into their ears, then they should be dressed as a chicken and forced to work at a bank, and then set on fire-

    ‘Yes’ said Roy. ‘I love art’.

    Roy’s girlfriend smiled, took his hand, and dragged him towards the next bloody painting.

    It was a watercolour. A watercolour of a Nazi being sick in the large hadron collider.

    ‘Wow… That is so deep’.

    ‘Yeah’ said Roy, wishing he was dead.

    ‘You can really see what France was trying to say with this picture’


    ‘You haven’t heard of France Je Brouche? The most famous artist in Britain?’

    ‘Obviously I haven’t’

    She frowned.

    ‘Don’t be mean Roy. I’ve always wanted to meet a famous artist’.

    I’ve always wanted to punch one.

    ‘I’m going to ask about the painting. Stay here. Take it in’

    She walked off. Roy looked at the painting.

    If I urinated on it, it might be an improvement.

    Roy looked around. His girlfriend was out of sight. He was all alone.

    Slowly, he undid his fly.

    This is bad. This is really bad.

    Most of Roy’s urine wasn’t hitting the painting. A lot of it was dripping off the frame and forming a warm yellow puddle on the floor.




    Roy quickly zipped up his jeans. What the hell was he doing? He couldn’t just piss on everything he didn’t like. That’s how he’d lost that job in the library. He had to wipe it up with something. Fast.

    Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.


    She was coming. Roy had seconds to mop up the piss. Maybe if he wiped it up with his trainers…

    Roy slipped, falling roughly backwards. His back hit the floor, and his left leg went straight through the painting.

    Roy’s girlfriend turned the corner. She saw her boyfriend lying in his own urine, his leg straight through the Nazi’s face, destroying the most valuable piece of modern art in Europe.

    I just need one sentence. One thing that I can say which will make this all Ok, and so she will instantly forgive me.

    ‘At least I wasn’t masturbating’.

    She didn’t laugh.
  3. -oz

    -oz Active Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Likes Received:
    The Great Sandy Waste
    Colorant [487]

    The first thing I can recall is swirling around with my other companions, all swishing and swimming about in this sea of blue. We were all having a good time while it lasted, but the tilt-a-whirl we were in only lasted a minute or two. The next couple hours were excruciatingly boring.

    It wasn't very boring once the Intruder violated our home a few hours later. It plunged into our home, sticking a few of my companions with its barbs and bristles and lifting itself out, heedless to their screams of torture and fear. Shocked, I swam closer to the top, trying to figure this enigma out.

    I didn't have to wait for very long. It returned, a few of my nervous friends still clinging to it for dear life. I started to swim back down, but the current shoved me backwards, right towards the Intruder! I coalesced with a few of my companions, and we began to move again, still stuck to the Intruder.

    If I wasn't terrified for my life, I would have probably enjoyed the ride. It was an amazing feeling, flying through the air, like swimming, but without the company of the continuous sea of friends around you. The ride ended as abruptly as almost everything else did that day. I was scraped off of the Intruder onto a rough plate, right on the edge of my companions and the vast emptiness that was space. We were suddenly a long way from home.

    I began to curse the Intruder, my luck, my fearful companions, and the stupid tilt-a-whirl that started the day off. I had quite the profane mind when it got all spun up. All of this changed with the Finger of God.

    This particular Finger of God was gigantic, like the Intruder, but did not have the bristles that had formerly attacked us. Instead, it was a smooth, rounded surface. On it was the most beautiful color I had ever seen.

    She was yellow, a natural, gorgeous match. I instantly fell in love. How could a blue guy like me possibly get her attention? Thankfully, the Finger of God did the matchmaking for us. With a little swirl, we coalesced and became one. Being attacked by the Intruder again made little difference to us, flying through the air again only enhanced our private flight.

    Now, we are drying on a canvas. One of our neighbors commended us for being the perfect shade for grass in a park, something about being in a picture-perfect painting. I personally believe he's green with envy, being stuck in the shade of a tree while we're in the sunlight. I'd rather be mixed with her, my yellow bride, and drying, than left in the sea of blue I came from. The two of us must make up the very best, because the saying came true: Only the good dry young.
  4. Cre8ive

    Cre8ive New Member

    Jan 21, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Photo-realistic (1185)

    Step into a picture theme:


    The painting hung there gathering dust as people wandered around the mansion looking for odds and ends to take off of the walls and doors. They were the architectural scavengers who grab bits and pieces and sell their haul at local auctions. There was always some buyer's agent or someone who was a hired set of eyes for an anonymous millionaire who wanted to see the painting to see if they would see something that the others had missed. They hoped to see some indication that the painting was a missing masterpiece by a famous artist. Each time the hopeful light in their eyes was followed by a deep sigh of resignation and an occasional shrug when none was found. No one ever came back to look again after the inspection. There were never gatherings of people, chattering excitedly over someone's find, in front of it.

    The painting wasn't of a definable style nor was it an example of an artistic era. It could have been an attempt at cashing in on a trend; copied by an aspiring artist who, long ago, gave up on a personal style. There is nothing exceptional about the painting in this frame, but every night the figures seem to take on a bit more definition, the ocean's blues seem to more clearly reflect the sky....barely perceptible changes occur. No one lives there to see and appreciate the changes anymore.

    As time goes by, another group is brought to the building. A charity group has been brought by as a grand gesture by the real estate company. The charity has been granted open access to the aging mansion, to pick the bones left behind by the professionals as unsellable or undesirable. The charity board members see bits and pieces that are eccentric or are novelties and, not knowing their value or lack thereof, scoop them up in vain hopes of reselling them. A small girl gets loose from the group and goes to look at the painting. She hears her name being called but she looks into the picture because she sees something vaguely familiar. Maybe the ball that's rolling towards the is sort of like Anna's. The hat that the lady in the blue dress is holding onto has flowers on it like Grandma has growing in her garden. The picture isn't hers and isn't a picture of anyone she knows but all of the elements are familiar and reflect some part of her life.

    She reaches for the surface of the painting, hoping to see if she could feel the sand and see if it was warm. The picture shimmers slightly and she suddenly hears the call of a seagull in the distance. She hears it, but it came from above her. She looks up, but the old ceiling was still there and seagull, no sun. Her attention is drawn back to the painting and the figure with the hat is smiling at her. She unconsciously smiles back and reaches for the ball. She didn't catch it before it rolled into the waves so her hand felt the warm rubbery surface become cooler and wet on one side. She tried to grab it away from the waves by reflex and it popped out of her grasp. She looked down and saw the sand around her feet, it was dry. She had some more time to go chase the ball before the waves would get up to this part of the beach and get her pretty new dress wet. Mom would have a fit if she made this new dress all sandy. She looked up again to find the ball and the lady in the blue dress was beside her, smiling down to her. The lady wordlessly asked her if it was her wasn't, it was Anna's, the little girl thought to herself. The lady smiled and nodded and silently called over her shoulder.

    A little figure came over the sand dune wearing a brightly colored sun dress with matching hat and white sandals. It was Anna! Her heart leaped at the sight of her best friend. She was smiling! She didn't have any more tubes in her arms! Most importantly, Anna was alive again. She ran to hug her friend and tell her everything Anna had missed, but she couldn't. She found out she had no voice in this world.

    As they stood there hugging, another figure appear on the horizon. It was another little kid about their age. This time it was a little boy with a kite flying in the air. He was smiling and it looked like he was laughing, but still no sound. He ran up to the girls and held the string to his kite out to them. He clearly wanted them to hold the string and fly it with him. She wanted to answer but she remembered that she couldn't communicate out loud in this world. Instead, she smiled and shook her head and the boy smiled back and nodded. He seemed to understand. He handed the kite string to Anna, who smiled , taking the kite. Anna looked at her friend and quickly hugged her, then she and the boy ran off together.

    The lady was standing next to her again, also smiling at the two who ran off and looked down at her. The little girl reached instinctively for the lady's hand and the lady took it. They walked towards where the ball had been. It still sat on the beach, pushed around by the edges of the waves.

    They stopped at the point where the little girl remembered trying to catch the ball and she found out that her footprints were still there. She put her feet in the prints again and looked up to the lady. The lady had faded back to where she was when this all began. The little girl heard the seagull cry again. Once again, above her head was a faded, crumbling plaster ceiling of no particular color.

    Her mother broke from the pack of chattering people and called to her...

    "Miranda, dear, this place is condemned and unsafe to wander away from the corded off areas. Please...stay with me. I don't want to lose you...." Scooping Miranda up in her arms, she goes back to where everybody's gathered.

    "Mommy? What happened to Anna? Did she really die?" Miranda asks as they walk towards the group.

    "Beloved, she did die. What brings this up now?"

    Miranda pulls away from her mother's shoulder so she can look into her face, "I know where heaven is. They let you visit, but you can't play there until you're done here."Her mother smiled as she ran her fingers through Miranda's short, bristly hair, pulling her tightly to herself.

    Miranda looked back at the picture again from over her mother's comforting shoulder, and saw nothing, just dust and a fading gilt frame. She closed her eyes and held on to her mother tightly while she said a quick prayer for her best friend, Anna and the little boy she met.
  5. kablooblab

    kablooblab New Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Likes Received:
    at home
    Alexa walked through a house, the house she grew up in. The house her family has lived in for generations. The house was old and falling apart, the floor creaking with every step and the ceiling looking as if it could collapse at any moment. She was about to sell the house to a company that would renovate it and make it seem new. Alexa couldn't stand the sight of it anymore, the house reminded her of her dead mother Lisa and she needed money to help pay for college. Alexa walked through the house to say goodbye.

    When she looked up and saw a string hanging down from the wall, the string that pulled the ladder to the attic down. She was always scared to go in there as a little kid, but now that she was older and this was the last time she would see the house, she wanted to look inside.

    Alexa pulled down the string and the ladder came down. She cautiously looked up into the dark attic remembering the fear that she had as a kid,climbed up. Alexa looked around the attic and tried on the light, nothing happened. She slowly walked trying to dodge the spiderwebs on the ceiling and the holes in the floor as she explored the attic. When she came across a dusty picture of a little girl playing on the sidewalk with a woman. She brushed off the picture and a light flashed in her hands.

    Alexa's eyes burned from the transition of dark to light. She was standing on a sidewalk and looked to the left and saw her house only it didn't look so torn apart. The car in the driveway looked as if it was fifty years old. Alexa looked onto the porch and saw her grandmother painting a picture. Alexa realized that she was in the picture she had just touched. She wanted to run over and say hi to her grandmother but she couldn't. Alexa stood there looking at the house when a little girl walked up to her.

    "Hello" says Alexa as she bends down to her knees to be eye level with the little girl.
    "want to play a game?"
    "Sure, What do you want to play?"
    "Lets play pattycake"
    "You just clap your hands and then each others hands like this" The little girl shows her what to do.
    "And you say pattycake pattycake bakers man bake me a cake as fast as you can roooolllll it pat it mark it with a B and put it in the oven for the baby and me"

    Alexa smiles as she plays the game that she used to play with her mother when she was a little girl. Then they finish playing.

    "That was fun" the girl giggles
    "Whats your name" asks the little girl
    "My name is Alexa"
    "I like that name, if I ever have a daughter I'm gonna name her Alexa just like you."
    Alexa smiles"Thats nice and whats your name?"
    "my name is Lisa nice to meet you" Lisa says cutely as she holds out a hand for a handshake
    Alexa's face goes pale and she tries to hold back the tears.
    "Wanna meet my mommy?"
    "No Lisa, It's OK" Alexa starts crying and hugs Lisa
    Then another light flashes and she was gone.

    Alexa looked around the room and room and was back in the attic she looked at the picture and realized that the picture was of her playing with her mother on the sidewalk. Alexa cried and tried to go back into the picture but couldn't
  6. nettkkr

    nettkkr New Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Aberdeen, SD
    The Moment of Creation [638 words]

    As I look up upon the copula of the Sistine Chapel, I see God reaching out toward Adam, giving him a life of paradise. I cannot help but to awe at the hands, separated by merely an inch. What is it that man is receiving at this point? Clearly, Adam had been created, but is this the moment in which God gives himself as the reason to live?

    Suddenly I feel as though some unseen force lifts me as my clothes are evaporating from my body in a mist. I look around, trying to see if anyone has noticed. However, the others moved around, pointing at other portraits painted to the walls. I close my eyes in hopes that I might be hallucinating, but when I open them, there before me—his hand an inch from mine—is God.

    He pulls his hand even further away, almost in distrust. The children angels surrounding him stare at me with wide eyes. What have I done to deserve this?

    Behind me, I feel the hands of another, wrapping them around my shoulders and lightly kissing me on my neck.

    “I have something to show you,” she says, grabbing my hand and bringing me to my feet.

    I take one last glance back to the power that had created us, but he and his throng have gone, like a cloud that dissipates before your eyes. As I follow her, I notice how lush and soft the grass is beneath my bare feet. It’s as if a fine carpet had been laid throughout the landscape.

    Before us stands a luscious garden, filled with every fruit imaginable—some that are small, still holding to vines, green and dark purple; others up high upon trees, bright orange against the shallow green of the leaves. Had I named all these fruits? A caw from above made me look above, seeing the beauty of a black bird hovering in the sky.

    “Don’t be fooled, Adam. There’s more to this world you need to know.”

    “What more do we need to know? We have everything we need: food; water and a loving father who has given it all to us!”

    Eve led me to a tree filled with apples. I had to stumble over the roots and undergrowth just to stand beneath the tree.

    “I have been told that this fruit will give us all the things He won’t tell us.”

    I wait for some sign from our father that this is all part of his plan. Nothing but my instincts tells me to stay away. “Who told you this?”

    “It does not matter who,” she says as she pulls an apple from the tree. “But now we will know the truth.” She takes a bite of the apple, almost relishing too much in its taste.

    “I know now what makes us human, and now you will to,” she says, handing me the half-eaten apple.

    I take a moment, and consider my placement. Would it be so bad to know more than what He has told us? I look up to the sky and ask for forgiveness before biting down on the fruit of knowledge. I see within my mind the wrath of a vengeful God, throwing down his might upon the world. As the angel fell from heaven, down to the pit they call hell, I fell to my knees, feeling the burn of His deceit. I close my eyes once again, knowing what sin was: hatred, anger, murder. The pain crippled my thoughts.

    When I open my eyes, I look up at the copula of the Sistine Chapel, and see Gods hand only an inch from Adam’s. I know now the reason they are separated. It is not that God had given him life—it is that Adam had taken that life away from God.
  7. Miss Jade

    Miss Jade New Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Picture Walker

    (1095 words)

    The first thing he had noticed about the room was the dead fish. Floating pathetically upside down in the murky water, Detective Garret had never been fond of fish - poor thing hadn’t stood a chance. The place was spartan, white walls, pieces of IKEA furniture spattered around the apartment. The whole place consisted of three rooms, and the picture Garret was looking at had been taken facing the living space. A ceiling fan that cast a yellow hue over everything made it all slightly more dingy. The kitchen was jammed into the far right hand corner; it was slightly dirty – from a mixture of disuse and indolence. A kettle sat on the stove a quarter full of water. Rotten milk, a half a dozen eggs or so, packets of jam from diners and a half empty bottle of No-Name mustard sat in the fridge. A cactus was on the windowsill above the sink, where the dish soap bottle was missing its cap and on its side. On the opposite wall a man’s denim jacket and a camouflage green JanSport backpack had been tossed over the arm of a black futon. The fish tank sat on a microwave stand, sans microwave, next to the slightly ajar balcony door. On the wooden coffee table sat a three day old newspaper turned to the crossword and a rocks glass that had smelled sickly sweet. The pen lay on the parquet floor. The lab reports said it was rum and coke and the saliva had been identified as belonging to a Bernard Clanahan – A.K.A. the deceased. In the photograph Garret could make out the slight indent in the futon where Clanahan had sat not four hours before his body had been found ten stories below on the sidewalk.

    The trouble with this case was that it was just too damned easy. The evidence was all there but that was exactly what detective Russ Garret didn’t trust. Never trust an orgy of evidence. It is seductive but erroneous. Garret was sitting in One-Eyed Jacks, a local watering-hole three doors down from his high-rise condo. He had three pictures laid out in front of him and the facts of the case swirling around in his brain. Something was eating away at the back of his mind, he was angry at himself for not getting it. He clenched his teeth in silent rage, took a deep breath, a swig and brushed his hand through his hair. Okay, he thought, let’s relax. Consciously overcoming tip-of-the-mind syndrome was doublethink... or was it cognitive dissonance? He just had to relax and do what he did best – detect. But detect what?

    Bernard Clanahan had jumped to his death. He had drunk almost a half litre of rum, opened the balcony door and leapt over the ledge. No one saw him leap, there were three people who saw him land. You can imagine how witness interrogation had gone. So what was it? The crossword was three days old. Why? The goldfish was dead but Clanahan had only been dead for four hours...something just didn’t add up. These two items were merely circumstantial, it easily could have been that Clanahan had picked up a paper at a coffee shop or on the transit three days earlier and was still working on the crossword, which got him so upset that he threw himself to his death. Perhaps Clanahan had a habit of buying a single goldfish and allowing it to slowly starve to death. Something was just fishy about the whole thing. Hah.

    Then there was what Clanahan was wearing. Slacks, a dress shirt and a tie – didn’t exactly match the denim jacket and camo bag, and Clanahan had lived alone.

    “C’mon Garret!” the detective muttered aloud. The bartender, Hank, came over in response to what he thought had been a call for round three.

    “You look stressed tonight.” It wasn’t a question. Hank didn’t invite conversation easily. “Can I pour another for you?”

    Garret nodded and Hank refilled his glass, a little more than a shot. The detective sank back into the picture. Clanahan was murdered and the who and why were in these pictures. Besides the picture of the living space of the apartment, there was a picture of the coffee table where the crossword and glass sat, and a picture of the balcony from inside the apartment. Detecting a crime was like forgetting something important, just retrace the steps. Garret closed his eyes tightly, then opened them and focussed on the crossword.

    10 across: Subtle “over here!”

    “Psst,” Garret said out loud in his mind. He looked up from the crossword and straight into the kitchen. The kettle was on, but there was no tea. He took a sip of his rum and coke but he wasn’t enjoying the taste, he was worried, he was nervous – why? The ceiling fan whirred overhead, the tassels clinking against the bulbs. He looked back down at the crossword and over to the pen that lay on the floor. How had it gotten there? He looked over to the fish tank, the fish was floating upside down – poor thing, it never stood a chance. Then he looked at the door to the balcony. It was slightly ajar.

    Garret switched to the third picture and stepped in. He walked towards the door, past the fish, Garret’s reflection looking back at him. He opened the door a little more and stepped out onto the balcony. It was a little four by four concrete slab with protective railing. It was windy that night. He turned around and began to shut the balcony door when he was startled to see, through the glass door, Clanahan sitting at the futon, pen in hand bent over the crossword.

    “Psst!” Garret whispered, hinting at the answer to 10 across. Clanahan looked up into the kitchen where the kettle was now whistling. The fan was still clinking. He put the pen down on the table and stood up. When he turned to the balcony the two men locked eyes. The wind blew past Garret and whistled through the door, rolling the pen off the paper and onto the parquet floor. It fell so slowly hitting its tip, its end, its tip, its end and finally settling on a resting place about two feet from the coffee table.

    Garret pulled away from the picture and took a deep breath. He swallowed the rest of his rum and coke, grabbed his JanSport camouflage bag and pulled out two twenties from his denim jacket. “G’night Hank.”

    “See ya tomorrow Bern.”
  8. Reggie

    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

    Nov 10, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Picture a Relationship

    (514 word count)

    The loud music is growing loud, and the room is full of papers that no one can seem to pick up. Smoke fills the room as sparks of electricity sounds, appears from the radio which stops the music.

    He sits down on the sofa and eats the bowl of oatmeal without bothering to see what is going on. He tosses the bowl carelessly into the sink, where he is always advised to take his time. He walks into the living room and trips over a hot wheel car and slides across the living room pass the furniture until he hits the wall. Falling down, the lights is out without him switching the switch. He sighs, "Oh well," leaves the house, slams the door, and rips the door knob off the door.

    He enters the office to take a seat, where the landlord places a piece of paper of the eviction notice on the table.

    "Sir, you have until seven days to move out." He said, sighing.

    "And you're a terrible landlord anyway," Peter replied, glancing at the floor.

    "Like I said, it will take the burdens off my back if you just hurry up and leave already." The landlord says sarcastically, turning his back against him.

    Peter snatches the paper from the table and rips it into pieces. "You never give me the bill for the rent, and I bet you turned the lights off too! You just can't wait until I move out, can you?"

    "And what's your point?" he asks, crossing his arms around himself.

    "Oh, I forgot to tell you that the house is ****ed up anyway."

    Peter takes a watch out of his pocket and shows it to the landlord. Its chain hanging down from it indicates that the landlord has lost it and could never find it.

    How precious this watch is? The diamond around the sides are real. He opens the watch that had his daughter's picture on it. How cute. Her black hair almost covering her eyes. The cute-looking, white cheeks reminds him of that incident she went through in a fire tragic.

    "Where did you find it?" The landord asked, astonished, getting up slowly from his seat. "I was looking for that watch!"

    "I found it under the sink."

    "C'mon, please give that back to me. I paid a fortune on it." He bows down on one knee. "That's my only daughter. She's dead though and it's the only picture I have of her."

    "Why would I give it away? Besides, you don't deserve to have a daughter anyway. And besides, finders keepers!"

    "Look, how about if you give me that watch, I'll buy you a house instead?"

    "Really? But we don't even get alone."

    "I know," the landlord replies.

    He hands the watch to him and they shake hands hugging for a long time. Meanwhile, Peter insists the landlord on getting up, going to the house. The
    landlord stares at the broken door, pushes it in and observes the house. He gapes.

  9. TroyH

    TroyH New Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I Took Him On (891 words)

    My name is Maria, and to this day, I still cannot believe what happened that fateful day when I innocently stopped for a cup of coffee.

    I was riding the bus home from work. I must have been tired, because I got off at the wrong stop. Before I realized what happened, the bus was gone, leaving only the remnants of natural gas exhaust and the memory of the old lady holding a cat who smelled of doughnuts. The next bus wouldn’t come for another 45 minutes, so I decided to step into a quaint coffee shop across the street from the bus stop. The white translucent curtains in the windows were inviting, as was the simple sign in the window advertising “Ice Cold Milk.” I didn’t want milk, but it seemed like a quiet enough place to grab a cup of coffee while I waited for the bus.

    An older woman brought me my coffee. As I relaxed and enjoyed it, I began flipping through an old comic book somebody had left on the table. It was somewhat amusing, telling the story of a motorcycle race. Two guys with pipe wrenches chased after the protagonist, Morten.

    I took a sip of coffee, and then something weird happened. It almost looked as if one of the frames changed. I thought it might have been the caffeine. I turned the page. The next frame showed Morten staring at me. Then, it got even stranger. He winked.

    I stared at the picture. It couldn’t be happening. Suddenly, I jumped back. His hand came out of the comic strip and beckoned me to join him. I looked around. A young man in a red and black plaid jacket enjoyed a steak with his father. A woman sat entranced in conversation with her husband. A man in a green jacket casually walked towards the restroom. Nobody noticed the pencil-drawn arm sticking out of the comic book.

    I paused and hesitantly grabbed his hand. I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I was in the picture. Morten was holding me in his arms. I gazed into his eyes. He grabbed my hand and began showing me around his strange world. Everything was in black and white. Faint lines moved slowly along the walls. Even I looked like I had been drawn in pencil. Morten stepped behind a window and changed from a comic book man to a real man. I wanted to touch him, but could only touch the window. We began to dance, imagining a pop-perfect synth song playing in the background.

    Just when things seemed perfect, the men who had been chasing him ran up to us. One of them yelled, "A-ha!" as he smashed the window with a pipe wrench. I screamed. One of the men grabbed me. Morten began fighting. He threw a right hook directly into the face of one of the man who was holding me, knocking him backward. I broke free. We ran, both men chasing us. One of them screamed, “Harket, you’re dead!”

    We ran down a hall, I felt like the world was closing in around us. The walls began crumpling like paper thrown into a wastebasket. I looked back. One of the men was grabbing his nose. He was hurt, but wasn’t going to give up that easily. The hall was getting narrower and narrower. I felt like we would be crushed like a spider who made the mistake of coming in from the rain. We turned a corner and ran down another hall. It seemed like the halls were never going to end.

    Just then, the halls ended. We were cornered like a democrat at the RNC. The two men stopped and stared. They began slowly walking towards us. They smirked as they raised their pipe wrenches. Morten and I looked at each other. He gave me a look like, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

    He reached for the wall and began peeling it apart. The wall was tissue at a wedding in his hands. He made a small hole. I pleaded with him to come with me, but he just shook his head and pulled out a pipe wrench of his own.

    I emerged back in the coffee shop. I was behind the counter, next to the wastebasket. Everyone in the shop had gathered around and was staring down at me. I felt like a million eyes were glaring at me, piercing my skin. I didn’t care. I grabbed the comic book and ran. I didn’t worry about the bus. I had to get home. I ran ten blocks and rushed through my door. I had to know.

    I straightened out the comic and turned to the last page. Morten lay unconscious. I began to cry. He didn’t make it.

    Then, I heard a noise at the door. I turned, and Morten was there. He was quickly alternating between comic man and real man. He threw himself against the walls, willing himself to become real. Sweat dripped down his forehead. He made it. He was real. I had found my Prince Charming. I found the man I would spend the rest of my life with. We could start a family and grow old together.

    Two weeks later, I realized that I just wasn’t ready for a commitment, so I dumped him.
    1 person likes this.
  10. Gorycory

    Gorycory New Member

    Jan 24, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Life for a year (1009)

    Life for a year (1009)

    A camera was my weapon of choice, I could steal someone's soul or at least that's what I maintained. My friend's showed up sloshed to my apartment. Which wasn't completely unusual since we all were brooding artist and such. "Tonight is the big art exhibit?" one of the more dim-witted ones spoke up. "Yes, I am hoping to get a good response I found a lot of inspirations from these photos" I had said this many of times but, it still felt like I meant it. Sitting in my reclining chair I watched as 3 of my close friends stumbled into my living room, most likely just getting back from their favorite bar. El Chupacabre, I had no need to go to bars for I thought it was a waste of time.

    "Are you all attending tonight" my question was rhetorical because I knew they were coming, maybe I asked as if to humor myself in some strange way. "Of course" everyone murmured as they plopped their drunken asses on my couch. "It starts in an hour, I'm pretty tired from all the preperations so if you guys don't mind i'm going to hit the hay" stepping into my bedroom I fell into my bed just like the Downy commercials.
    My eyes opened out of my slumber, the door closed, the four walls in my bedroom seemed smaller than normal. "Hello?" I yelled abruptly to signal my friends outside. I arose from my bed when I heard no response, "Hello?" I tried again, but to no avail it seemed they weren't there. I look over at the clock which read 3:00 A.M. My stomache dropped into my pelvis as I was under the impression I had slept all too long. Standing up I looked over at my computer chair, which was strangely whipped around to face the bed. My camera was sitting on it opened and ready to shoot. "What the hell?" I said to myself as any normal person may.

    A flash went off leaving me blind, trying to maintain a focus on the camera I ambled my way towards it. Another flash, at this point my vision was too blurry and I slammed into the wall next to the camera. Eerily the chair swung towards me flashing 3 more times in rapid succession. Finally, I ran my hand across the camera and picked it up. Still seeing dots I hurrily cycled through the pictures. Photos of myself trying to avoid the flash looking sickly at best. I walked over to the door with camera still in hand. Hastily yanking on the door knob in an attempts to get out. Yet, the door knob evaoprated under my grasp and I was left with nothing but the door. A door without a door knob I thought to myself, an absurd notion almost as absurd as a camera without a photographer.
    A ring startled me as my eyes opened. A dream, a dream, a dream I chanted to myself for several minutes. Sweat had poured down my brow into my eyes but I kept chanting. Arising from my bed I quickly dressed and opened the door to find my friends passed out. I decided very quickly they will be better off if I just leave them to their stupor. I ran down the stairs of my apartment complex and out the front door to my car. Flipping it into drive I raced towards the galla for my show. Luckily, I found myself there a bit early.
    The exhibit was huge, pictures I had taken of my surroundings for an entire year. I wanted to be able to reflect on my year. All alone in the big art hall this was a perfect time to feel my own art. Each picture showed where I had been or who I had been with while there. It was an amazing feeling, I really felt my entire year as I scanned the walls, thousands of pictures fluttered when the wind rolled under them.

    A massive photo of myself covered the entire ceiling. It seemed creepy to me since it almost portrayed me as a narcisist. But, I knew the reason for this photo because otherwise the art critics that showed up probably wouldn't even know who I was. I checked my cell phone, I only had 5 minutes to meditate before everyone showed up. I walked to the locker in the back and pulled out a fluffy rug and candles. Lighting 6 adjacently to each other I took a seat, legs crossed and ready I closed my eyes and began breathing steadily. My mind slipped away as I cleared myself of wordly concerns . A solitude washed over me as I floated away, completely free I felt a sense of revelation.

    Hearing a door open I stood up without thinking and put my meditation supplies away. "Hello!" I smiled and greeted the first critic, he immediately began walking down the path set out for him. Before I even realized it a 100 or so more people had crowded into the exhibit, slowly scanning the walls taking in every once of my year to its fullest. I smiled in recognition of this as I also walked behind them. A claim to a life I had lived myself, even though it felt foreign to me as if I wasn't actually the one behind the camera. Which I told myself constantly is the reason I became a photographer. To feel disconnected from the world, for it is much easier to tell yourself your surroundings aren't real if you're looking through a lens.

    As I walked I felt a great sense of envy for who ever had taken the time to shoot an entire year of their lives. I had no speech to give, no hands to shake, nor did I want to do such things. My pursuits for that of my own and that of my own is what I got. I sneekily slipped out the back door and headed for my car. An anonymous show somehow felt as though it was right.
  11. Solar

    Solar Contributor Contributor

    Jan 27, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Just Be Natural (2487)

    Following a rowdy night out with the lads, I awoke in my parents back garden. To be more precise, it was in their shed.

    I’d long since moved out, gone to university, got a job and a flat, and I was only in my hometown catching up with the old lot, some of whom I hadn’t seen for years. These were my original booze buddies, from lazy teenage days spent in local parks, binge drinking cheap cider from plastic bottles.
    Though, I’d calmed down somewhat. But being back in my old hunting ground brought it out of me. I slipped into the old way. Which was: Get as smashed as you can. I remember drinking whiskey shots, lager, snake n black, vodka, and then someone pulled out a bottle of Absinth, right in the middle of the pub. That’s the last thing I remember.

    But, not only did I awake next to dad’s flymo, gasping for liquid, I also found that I’d somehow lost my jeans and trainers. So, half naked, I huddled by the lawnmower. A fork and spade hung from the wall, precariously above my head. How I came to be in that position will remain a mystery, a deep black hole in which part of my life is infinitely lost; a missing moment, and instinctively one knows it ought to remain a missing moment.

    The pungent tang of creosote and grass trim stirred me from my drunken slumber. I dragged myself up, too groggy to be startled; I just wanted water, that’s all I could think about: ice cold water, orange juice, anything thirst quenching. I emerged from the shed, barely able to open my eyes in the glare of the sun. I made my way down the path and tried the back door, but it was locked. I started to worry. All the windows were shut. The curtains were drawn. They were obviously out.

    As that thought dawned on me, my brain caught up with events and I remembered, ‘of course they’re out, they’re on holiday, as per usual for august.’

    The prospect of having to walk down the street in just shirt and boxers made me tremble. But my brain caught up once more. I didn’t need to worry, I knew where they hid the spare key for the back door. But then, as I stooped for the key hidden under a plant pot, i realised: Ah, but this’ll only work if they haven’t bolted it from the inside. It’s fifty fifty, given dads track record for always forgetting to bolt the back door. If dad was in charge of locking up before they left, then you’re home and hosed, but if it was mum, oh no, you ain’t gotta chance, you’ll be doing the walk of shame alright.

    Fortunately for me, it wasn’t bolted. I slipped in through the back door with a sense of joyous relief. I guzzled water and passed out on my parents double bed, bathing in the glory of comfort. The happiness from avoiding the dreaded walk of shame overshadowed the other problems of missing jeans and stinking hangover. Having replenished myself, I wanted sleep.

    It was when I woke up later that I realised – before - when I was fumbling for the key, I was still pissed out of my skull, and it’s only in this moment that I begin to sober and the real hangover starts to weigh heavy. Where are my trainers? My keys? Oh Christ, this has gotta be a nightmare.

    Of course, I panicked, grabbed dad’s blue dressing gown, ran down the stairs even though my head was thumping and went to the garden. I saw my keys in the flowerbed. A glint of the sun on metal caught my eye. This was important, at least I could get back into my flat without having to call a locksmith. But, there was no sign of my jeans or footwear.

    I wasn’t too bothered at the time; the main thing was I had my wallet (which had been in the breast pocket of my shirt), and I had my keys. I hadn’t lost my credit cards, oyster card and Riley’s membership token.

    It was obviously embarrassing and irksome, but it could have been worse, at least I left my mobile at home; and I consoled myself with that thought. I made fresh coffee, and slumped in front of afternoon television with beams of sun piercing the curtain crack like outstretched arms touching my bare knees. For the time being, everything was alright; though, a feeling nagged me, there was something, something I had to worry about, but the nagging was a dim voice and I was in a dim mood, my senses temporarily blunted.

    Then at about 4p.m, with a rush of adrenaline, it hit me: I have a date with a very good looking chick in three hours. How could I forget Melissa? What a stupid plum!
    You stupid plum! You stupid plum! I repeated over and over again as I leapt up and into action. I needed to get back to mine, but I needed a pair of trousers. I scrambled up the stairs, you stupid plum! you stupid plum!

    My dad would blatantly have a pair of trousers. I could just whip those on, be on my way, and be home with enough time to get ready.

    Unfortunately, as I was bounding up the stairs, I didn’t take into consideration the fact of dad being on holiday, so when I opened up his drawers, I was sorely disappointed. All of his good trousers were gone, presumably with him on holiday. All that was left was an odd looking pair of brown corduroys, and they were so out of fashion, they seemed almost offensive. I cursed him. I practically gobbed nails condemning his eccentricities: why the hell does he need so many trousers for the Costa Del Sol? It’s not normal. I felt betrayed! Of course, I looked everywhere for something more suitable. I found nothing. I was tempted to look in the loft, but time was ticking. If I wanted to make this date, I had to get a move on. I had no choice but to wear the tight fitting corduroys.

    For me, this was a painful decision. I was extremely self-conscious back in those days, to the point of having to gel my hair just to get a packet of cigarettes. So the prospect of having to wear such horrible trousers filled me with immeasurable anxiety.

    They were mud brown things that didn’t quite fit my lanky legs. They made me look like an oddball. I feared looking like a train-spotter or one of them strange people you sometimes see hanging around bus stops, the kind of people who strike up random conversations, which turn out to be the social highlight of their year. I was very much governed by what others thought and how they perceived me. When young, I quickly learnt that there are two main types of people: Those who are liked and those who are ridiculed. My life consisted of the struggle to avoid being cast in the latter type. I crafted my appearance and behaviour to avoid social disaster. Though, one cannot prepare for every possible circumstance, and there I was, squeezing into dad’s brown corduroys, about to risk a trip on the london underground while done up like a dork - all because I wanted to get laid that evening.

    I agonised, I um’d and ah’d, I almost buckled under the weight of anxiety, imagining the funny looks from people, perhaps even sniggers. I couldn’t bear the thought of them drawing conclusions about me from this freak appearance, from which they would forever associate me with disgusting brown corduroys. But then there was Melissa. It took me ages to pluck up the courage and ask her out for a drink. I badly wanted that date, I wanted a hot chick, I wanted something to boast about. I rationalised in favour of the hot chick. The potential rewards were too much to miss out on, and it was only twenty five minutes back to mine. A bit of mild embarrassment was a small price to pay.

    I had to reconsider that notion as I went to leave, I realised I didn’t have any foot wear. And all I could find around the house was a pair of flip-flops. Toe curling flip-flops and dirt coloured corduroys! I convinced myself Melissa was well worth it, I told myself it would be ok, no-one will ever notice, and soon it’ll be forgotten about. I should be quick: to the station, on the train, keep my head down, then back to mine as if nothing’s happened. I told myself things like ‘blend in and no one will see how ridiculous you look’.

    With that in mind, I stepped out onto the street and began to march up the road toward Station Hill. I kept my gaze fixed on the pavement in front of me, avoiding eye contact at all costs. I imagined people staring at me as the flip-flops slapped against the hard ground, I could almost feel their derisory looks on the back of my neck. I didn’t check to see if it was just paranoia or not; instead, I counted the pavement cracks as a kind of distraction from the intense spotlight I imagined around me.

    I prayed for a modest miracle as I approached the corner. I just wanted to hit the station at one of those quiet times. I needed luck. But, as I turned the corner, up the hill where the station was, I could see all manner of commotion - men with bulky things on their shoulders and further down was a woman holding a sign, which read: ‘Film Shoot participation – would passers by please refrain from looking directly into the camera. Look natural! Blend in! Your participation is very much appreciated!’

    Just my dreadful luck! At that point, I wondered if someone had put a hex on me, or perhaps I’m still out for the count, curled up with the flymo and all this is just a crazy nightmare. It was all too real, and I couldn’t avoid the cameras. They were filming people going in and out of the station!

    I had three options: 1) go back to my parents and chill for the weekend 2) take a bus instead, but that was seriously out of the question 3) just go for it, head for the station, keep my head down and it’ll be over in no time. I went with the third option, trying to be tough. But I was soaked in anxious sweat before I’d even made it to the railings where the director stood with his clipboard, frowning and gesticulating to the various cameramen.

    I only dared a quick glimpse. I kept my gaze locked firmly on the ground, telling myself to be natural, blend in like the sign said. I hadn’t a clue what they were doing, for all I knew, they were conducting some kind of televised experiment, and the last thing I wanted was to have my face caught on camera when I was done up like a dork. All kinds of wild assumptions ran through my head: they could be looking for the people who disobey the sign. That would’ve been horrendous! Being caught on live t.v.! I had to keep my gaze down.

    The speed with which I walked was hampered by the flip-flops. I was wary of tripping over in front of the cameras and ending up in some out-takes montage. But, I swiftly made it through, and with a confident swipe of the oyster card, I was on the other side of the barrier.

    I made it back without bumping into anyone I know, and made it back with plenty of time to polish myself up. The date with Melissa didn’t quite go as expected, she arrived at the pub with her boyfriend and all her mates. I was truly gutted. I’m resilient though, and I soon forgot about my jinxed weekend as the days, weeks and months rolled by.

    About a year or so later, I took a girl to the cinema to see the latest Brit-flick. There was plenty of buzz surrounding it, plenty of pundits talking about a ‘rejuvenated British film industry.’ It involved the plight of two coke sniffing, cockney wideboy-jack-the-lads who were on the run from gangster thugs.

    I sat in the Odeon, confidently eating popcorn, certain I would get lucky with this chick. I felt quite complacent, because she was gorgeous and seemed to really dig my jazz. Life seemed easy, no more struggling to keep myself on the right end of the social spectrum. With an inflated ego I munched chocolate peanuts and buttered popcorn, eyes glued to the big screen, as the scenes flipped and switched from action to witty dialogue, and back to action. A scene with the protagonists running up a hill evoked memories in me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It seemed familiar, like de ja veuz.

    They were running toward a train station. I knew it well. But I still hadn’t cottoned on. When the scene switched to outside the station, I realised exactly what was happening, and before I could even form the words Brown Corduroys, I was looking at myself traipsing into the station with the rest of the crowd, my face shiny with sweat. I cringed at those bright green flip flops, and the weird beige stains on the back of the corduroys that I hadn’t noticed prior to donning them. I sank into the chair until I could sink no more. Impulsively, I cupped my hand over my brow in such a way as to blinker my eyes.

    The confidence drained into the floor. I could feel my cheeks burning and the sweat rolling down my torso. I wanted to up and leave right then. The sight of seeing myself - in the worst possible condition - on the silver screen, made me want to hide. It was like a grim head popping out of the hull of a sunken ship at a point when I was least expecting it.

    I sat through the rest of the film, unable to feel comfortable, and as we got up to leave at the end, I overheard an old man talking to his wife. ‘Dear, you know that bit with the train station, did you see the man with the flip flops?’ he asked.

    ‘yes dear, terrible costume if you ask me,’ she replied.

    The old man nodded in agreement and said ‘Don’t you think he looked a bit like a snooker cue?’
  12. jaywriting

    jaywriting New Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Step Into A Picture: (412 words)

    "You! Yes you with the broom. Get the hell off my set."
    I jump in my skin, murmur an apology and shuffle back the way I've come with as much dignity as I can muster. Laughter and scornful words issue from the location of the directors box.
    "What a prick" I think to myself. "I may be a nobody but he doesn't have to be like that."
    Allison is glaring at me from the wings. She looks angry.
    "I told you to clean around the edges, not charge into the middle of filming like some buffoon."
    "Sorry" I reply. "It needed sweeping, I didn't realise they were shooting, he was so quiet."
    I nod towards Russell, dressed in his britches and ridiculous powdered wig.
    "That’s because he's agonising over the cruel vicissitudes of love, life the universe and everything. Besides, you’re hardly going to impress Her with your champion sweeping skills."
    I glance over to Kate, chatting casually with one of the producers. She's beautiful, I can't take my eyes off her. When I heard she'd be starring, I pulled every trick I knew to land a job here. Well actually, I just begged Allison. Ha, I bet she's regretting it now.
    Allison sighs. "Go find Dave and see if he needs some help. And stay out of trouble!"

    I duly locate Dave lurking in one of the workshops. I fetch some cables for him and we rig some lighting together. It’s good honest, physical work. Keeps the mind occupied.
    From my vantage point I spy Kate below, her elaborate evening gown accentuating her magnificent figure.
    “I wonder if she likes flowers” I muse, half to myself.
    "Forget it mate" says Dave "You can dream, sure, but we are like a different species to them. Unless you plan on winning the lottery her kind ain't never gonna notice you."
    I shrug, I nod, I get back to work.

    By eight o'clock the director has satisfied his quota of strutting around and barking orders, and we are all released for the day.
    "Couple of jars at the Ram?" enquires Dave.
    "Why not" I reply.
    As we leave the studio, I glimpse Kate. Our eyes meet, she smiles, and I swear I am looking at some goddess of the sun. I blink and she is gone, whisked away in an expensive car.
    "It isn't real, you know" Dave assures me and shakes his head.
    "C'mon I'll get the first round."
  13. Tessie

    Tessie Contributor Contributor

    Aug 8, 2010
    Likes Received:
    More Than Realistic

    (2988 words)

    The most curious thing about that secluded room was that Brody had never been inside of it. On many days his mom would retreat into its quiet confines only to come out again hours later, but never had his eyes been fortunate to glimpse the secret of that room: its color. This was, in fact, a continually debated point among himself, and his brother and sister.

    “It is beige. A neutral color.” Gordon insisted.

    “No, blue. Her favorite is blue!” Tara argued, coming out of her seat at the breakfast table.

    Brody held his chin up with his palm and quietly gazed out the kitchen window, contemplating what color he thought the room was. Outside a rainstorm was coming down. They would be cooped up in the house for the entire day. And of course there was nothing to do. Brody’s thoughts shifted back to the studio. The color of it had to be cheery and bright. The color was most likely something sunny. Raindrops pelted the glass and danced upon the sill. His mom loafed the rain and she was probably hating the rain just as much as he was that Saturday morning. Gordon and Tara, on the other hand, were still bickering.

    “Beige is neither dark nor white. That’s why it’s the color of the studio!”

    “But, beige is so boring. Mom isn’t boring!”

    “It has to be a bright color. Something that makes her smile every time she paints,” Brody said at last, turning to face them.

    Gordon made a snort. “At least she is happy in there, The rest of the time we are left alone.”

    “That isn’t nice. You know she makes a lot of money from her reproductions.”

    Gordon was glaring at him. Their locked gaze was broken by Tara. Her orange juice spilled into the plates of waffles and toast. “Oopsy. Gordon, help please.”

    “Oh, not again!” he sighed, reaching for a roll of paper towels on the countertop. He began to sop up the mess and said, “Brody, you’re not about to go off and play video games. We have chores to do. Brody!”

    Brody continued for the hallway undaunted. “Mom’s gone to the store for more paint brushes. I’m going to see once and for all what it looks like.”

    Tara gasped and came running up behind him. “I’m coming too.”

    Gordon was bringing up the rear. “No, no, no, no!” He flung himself in front of the studio’s door. “Don‘t, Brody. You’re gonna get in big--”

    Brody pushed him aside and turned the door knob. They fell through the doorway and onto the studio's floor in a wrestle. Brody smacked Gordon in the face but then sustained a sock to the gut.

    Tara clapped with delight. “Oh, it’s so pretty!” She twirled around. “Look!”

    They stopped and glanced up. It was white. A creamy, pearly white. The most beautiful coat of paint. If Brody could rest on a bed of clouds, that is what he imagined it would look like. On the wall opposite there were two large windows, and amid the downpour, cheerful light flooded in. Between the windows was their mom’s painting materials. Gordon had walked over and was now inspecting the paint tubes and brushes that laid on a clean sheet beneath a large easel. Some of the brushes were shaped like fans, while other were round and blunted, and still others were pointed and elongated.

    Their mom did masterful reproductions. They knew that. But what Brody saw next confounded him. It was a massive landscape-style painting. The colors bouncing from the weave of the canvas were vibrant and striking. Within a world of fresh, spring green and crisp, sky-ward blue two rigid rows of scarlet-coated soldiers stood frozen in their marching pose. Dressed in full uniform, they wore black boots and stocky, furry black hats that went up to a point. Their firearms, so firmly clutched to their shoulders, flashed in an afternoon’s sunshine. Bayonets, Brody thought. He recognized the attachments. He had learned about these soldiers in history class and also of their formidable steel weapon of choice. How exciting it looked. He only wished he knew what battle it was.

    Someone tugged his arm.

    “We have to get out of here.” Gordon’s expression was uneasy.

    “Are you joking? This is the first time we’ve gotten in.”

    He made a sour face. “You idiot. We’re both going to get in trouble for this. But, oh, don’t let me stop you!” He stomped away, pushing Tara out the door.

    “But, I wanna stay,” Brody heard her pout as the door closed.

    The smell of the oil paints and the amazing image in his mind called to him again. It was too much to resist. A little nervous, he waited and watched for what he couldn’t be sure, but there was something too realistic about the painting. In the background a flag was fixed in its motion. Intricate ripples could be seen in its satin-like material, and on its solid navy background were two alternating white and red crosses, revealing the nationality of the flag bearer as British.

    Brody stared closer. Something wasn’t right. The flag began to bob, dip, then wave. And suddenly it snapped into full motion, flapping confidently in a breeze. He blinked as the awesome scene unfolded before him. A pistol fired, sending a sluggish blast of flame across the canvas. Then the smell of smoke mingled with the odor of the oil paints. There was a collection of faint shouts. A distant rumble pricked his ears. And an unseen explosion shook the whole landscape. By now the boots of the soldiers were moving in quick repetition. They strode across the pleasant field and headed for a destination in the left edge of the canvas. A clear note from a flute stirred the air. A trilling song began to play. Then, starting slowly before quickly gaining a loud momentum, Brody heard the rattle-tattle of drums.

    The painting now looked like a live TV screen complete with moving pictures. It seemed as if he could touch the green grass. Gingerly he laid his hand on the painting’s surface. His mind screamed for him to stop, since it would probably smudge the still undried paint, but he felt so inclined to do it. And before he could blink another time, he was being transported. He gazed back in bewilderment, seeing his mom’s studio shrink away from sight. Before him the scene of the painting grew larger and larger until his sneakers stood on that pleasant green field. He was in the painting. Overheard a crisp, blue sky stretched out. The sun was high and bright. It bristled hot and relentlessly. Looking behind himself, Brody saw the studio through a perfect square cut-out that hovered in the air. He could see the sheet and paint brushes spread on the floor and also the walls and door beyond them. If Gordon could just see him now. But he had not desire to go back just then to tell him. He had to explore first.

    The red-coated soldiers continued across the field, while their guns lowered to display the bayonets. And it was then that he noticed their destination. It was a quaint town not too distant, and as they reached the outskirts, the files broke and soldiers flooded the empty streets. Then they suddenly stopped short. Their heads moved left and right and then left again in search of something.

    Brody hurried through the field, bounding through the tall grass. He was curious. It appeared as if the town was deserted. There should have been horses and wagons and people around, especially during that time of day. What were the soldiers looking for?

    A gunshot pierced the air. A thin cry of astonishment erupted from the soldiers. “Fall back!” was the word in every mouth. Some of soldiers rushed back into the field as more shots rang out. Two soldiers lay on the cobblestone street.

    Brody stopped. He sensed his stomach turn.

    The wounded were removed from further exposure and dragged away into the tall, concealing grass of the field. The redcoats shot off a sporadic reply. Their muskets belched intermittently, but did no damage. Their foe was still in hiding within the maze of empty houses. The soldiers muddled about in a circle of turmoil as officers tried to maintain some order. After a speedy and stressful reload, they fired again into the town. This discharge was more like a continuous thunderclap, and when the smoke cleared, they charged deeper into the town with bayonets jabbing the air in search of their tormentors.

    As Brody hurried through the grass, keeping low to be undetected, he wondered who had fired at the redcoats from in the town. If only he knew what battle this was. And then he made a fatal mistake. As he reached the first house, nearest the field, he decided to cross the street to another building. He thought the soldiers were already far away, but his timing couldn’t have been more off. A minority of the redcoats saw him, and, with an excited shout, gave chase.

    “Ho! There’s one!” a soldier exclaimed.

    “After him!”

    “Halt there, you rebel! You damned rebel!”

    Breathless, Brody ran down the street, flew around a corner, and then flung himself behind a water pump. He crouched low, burying his head into the dirt, and silently listened.

    “Where’d that rebel go?” griped a soldier, approaching fairly close.

    “Gentlemen, you are all mistaken. It was a young boy.” informed a deeper voice.

    “Probably a good--for--nothing yankee boy,” added a third man.

    Brody felt his ears turn hot. He stared at the ground lividly. Who where these men? What the heck was their problem?

    The deeper voice continued, “Come, men, we are wasting time. General Howe has asked for the greatest expediency. Once we rout the rebels from Charles Town then we are continue for the redoubt further up the hill.”

    The tread of their boots drifted away, and Brody stood up, dusting himself. He hurried to the closest barn and stepped through the open, inviting doorway. Then he planted his nose on a pane of wavy glass in the window beside the door, watching as the redcoats marched on, their boots making that resonating trudge on the cobblestones that bounced off the facades of the passing buildings and homes.

    “They gone, boy?” asked a hollow voice.

    Brody gasped and turned, staring into the room. There were no electric lamps. In contrast to the brightness of the outside street, the inside of the barn was cool and shaded. Gradually, a figure appeared from the dark. He was a grubby man with rolled-up shirtsleeves. His trousers, or whatever they were, went to below his knees. And even in that stifling hear, he wore socks and leather shoes.

    Mildly panting, he wiped his arm across his forehead, then shifted the musket slung over his shoulder. His face was black with gunpowder, and the collecting perspiration worsened the dirtiness of his appearance. “They gone, boy?” he repeated. He stood beside Brody at the window and looked out. The echoes and grumblings of the marching redcoats were too distant to perceive now.

    “Y-yes,” Brody managed to say and then rudely, “Who are you?”

    The man turned to him with surprise and then demanded the same. “And who be you?” His eyes held a sternness that seemed forbidding, but just as quickly, his face moved into a broad smile. He gave Brody a reassuring pat on the head. “Be not dismayed. You are safe with us.” He then beckoned another figure into the light. “Mr. Frost, this stout lad has come to join us.”

    Mr. Frost slowly stepped out from the shade, and Brody noticed he was a slight and younger man. He wasn’t as sooty, but just as sweaty, and his strides carried more caution. He reached the window and sheepishly peered out. “You sure they’re gone, Captain? I hate them bloody-backs, and I don’t think much of our business this day on Breed’s Hill.” He squinted at the street and said, “Captain Walker, how on earth are we to keep them occupied? Colonel Prescott is up there on the hill. But here in Charles Town what, pray you, is our capacity?”

    The Captain waved him off. “You possess far too much nerve, Jacob. We fight with tactics and the soundness of our minda. The Lord alone is our side. And with him as our shepherd, rest assured, we shall never go astray.” He offered a grin as encouragement.

    Mr. Frost had a placid expression. He squinted against the sizzling heat and exhaled quietly, “As always, Ben, you are quite right.”

    “Not always. But, aye, most of the time.” He gave Mr. Frost a firm slap on the shoulder, readjusted him firearm, and then brought their attention to an object outside the window farther up the street. He pointed to a sharply sloping hill beyond the town’s outer-most reaches, and then stopped his finger on a sturdy fortification that stood atop the lofty, green rise. “See there? Up in the redoubt? Colonel Prescott and the others require all the assistance we can muster for them. The enemy wishes to take that hill, we must see to that they don’t set a foot upon it.”

    Brody heard a strange, whirling noise. It began quietly at first but gradually got louder to an almost unbearable pitch. Suddenly a cannon ball screamed and smashed through the upper story of the barn. It shook the air so violently, Brody was afraid it would tear him in half.

    “To the floor! To the floor!” The Captain fell over him, shielding him from the shrapnel of the crippling, crumbling roof, which forced Brody into a face-plant. Another massive explosion shook the house next door. Brody heard it splinter and crash. He could taste dirt and smell manure. When the Captain released him, he sat up and spat compulsively. What a terrible mistake he had made. He didn’t want to be in the painting anymore. He wanted to go home to the rain and to the chores. To his sister and to Gordon.

    More balls rained down upon the town. Brody lay on the floor, whimpering, curling his arms around his head.

    “God help us!” cried Mr. Frost. “Carcass! They’re firing carcass!”

    As Brody was to soon find out, carcass were hollow cannon balls filled with burning pitch, which spread the flames in the worst possible manner. He quickly glanced up and saw tongues of fire beginning to form around the gaping hole in the roof. Burning splinters of wood fell down like a mist.

    “What are we to do now?” Mr. Frost said.

    The Captain waved him off bitterly. “Fight, sir! No time to dawdle!” He exited the barn and into the street.

    Houses began to smolder. Smaller, more unfortunate dwellings were already blazing. The heat of the day did nothing to abate the mounting inferno. Mr. Frost turned his face skyward while flames and smoke filled the air. He shook with anguish and choked, “What evil is this? Homes and livelihoods -- reduced to utter ruin. And all this inflicted upon fellow subjects to the Crown.”

    “There is nothing new under the sun,” said the Captain, his face stern and blunt.

    Flames licked the rooftops, and crackling sounds grew more distinct. In a moment, the carcass ceased, and then Brody heard the all too familiar tread of boots on cobblestones. Quickly scanning his surroundings, he saw the redcoats approaching. Volleys of bullets swept down the streets, sending more American rebels fleeing from their hiding spots in the empty buildings. Bayonets opened into a shinning, gaping maw. Blood flowed. Curses and oaths broke through the sound of the roaring conflagration. Now, Brody saw the Captain’s friends. He saw them run like foxes.

    “No! Form a line! Stop! Present arms!” he was barking.

    But it was chaos now. What men who came and stood with the Captain and Mr. Frost were forced to give way. The redcoats were closing in on every side. The town could not be defended. The fire was all together forgotten.

    A redcoat leapt out from behind a corner. With a grim smirk, he raised his gun at the Captain. Mr. Frost fired, sending the redcoat sprawling to the ground. Appalled by his own deed, Mr. Frost stood motionless. His face twitched as the soldier lay dying on the ground. The Captain then he seized Brody by the arm, quickly carrying him to another house, where Mr. Frost fired again as the Captain reloaded.

    “We are all that’s left in the town, Ben. We must retreat to the hill. We’ve done our all here,” Mr. Frost gently coaxed.

    The Captain rammed his bullet down the barrel. He sighed and relented, “I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. War, I mean. But if that be the Almighty’s will, then so be it. May we never go astray.”

    “Amen and amen.”

    Brody was too happy to see the pleasant field again. Captain Walker and Mr. Frost ran all the way from Charles Town to the base of Breed’s Hill. From there they continued up. Brody stopped following when they didn’t notice. He was standing in front of the square cut-out as they scurried up the slope to join their fellow comrades.

    Brody heaved himself through the opening and landed on the floor of the studio with a thud. As he lay there panting, he was startled by a knock on the door. The doorknob jiggled.

    “Brody, come out of there! Mom’s on her way home!”

    He opened the door and looked Gordon in the face. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you before. Please forgive me for punching you?”

    Gordon looked at his dirty clothes and sweaty appearance. A warm smile lighted on his face and he laughed, “Boy, is mom going to be angry. Look at your clothes!”
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  14. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England
    Thanks for all the entries. Voting and the new contest will be launched soon. Gannon
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