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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
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    Manchester, England

    Short Story Contest 99: Puppet Master - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Aug 1, 2011.

    Short Story Contest 99
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Puppet Master"​

    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: "Puppet Master" (courtesy of member Islander). 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 15th August 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 "Unknown Pre-written Character - You write a story using him/her". This character will be determined shortly. The contest after that will be themed "Eavesdropping" (courtesy of member Pythonforger), and the one after that "Unknown Pre-written Scenario - You write a story using it". This scenario will be decided before the contest is launched. The contest after that will be themeed "Amnesia" (courtesy of member Ubrechor). Be 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.

    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. AxleMAshcraft

    AxleMAshcraft New Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    Likes Received:
    In my Head (USA)
    "Pretty Liar"

    [Pretty Liar , Approx. 690 words]
    She glanced slowly to her left, feeling her heart beat high up in her chest and her abs slowly squeeze together as she tried to take a breath. If anyone were to ask her, she would say ‘No, I’m not nervous’, but that would have been a lie. Not that she had any real issue with telling lies, lies was what she did best. She pulled her knees against her chest, waiting, counting slowly in her head and matching her breathing to that, trying to be as quiet as possible.
    If she were to say that she didn’t really know what she was doing here, what made her end up in this place, she would again be lying. Because she knew exactly how she got here, she knew exactly what made her end up in this place and she knew exactly what would happen if she failed to do what was set in front of her.
    They would be angry.
    All this was they’re fault.
    Partially her fault, but mostly theirs.
    She had gotten caught. They had caught her.
    She had remained silent. They beat her, they held her violent hand.
    She ripped her hands and arms away, but ended up having the pen in her hand. They had made her sign her name along the line.
    She had tried to not let the wounds hurt her; she tried not to let it show. They left her sitting there alone, to clean up herself.
    But that had little to do with now, because she was here and they made her.

    ‘Fifteen time cat burglar, with a three year streak was finally apprehended today. Where police, the F.B.I., and news crews, expected to find a vicious robber, they instead found a sixteen year old female. Police hadn’t considered her a suspect until early this morning, when she broke into a house of one of the officers as he was returning home. Her death toll is now at one, as the officer was victim to the gunfire.’

    Victim, victim, who was the victim here? Her? A girl who had a tough start with a tough family with a tough amount of fighting and violence and people thinking that she cut herself. Who was the victim? Someone who had been taught to get what you need and not let anyone find out or else the consequences would be deadly? Was she the victim?

    ‘With several other officers wounded, we are uncertain as to call this a gain or a loss on the behalf of the police and F.B.I.. The suspect, whose name will not be given to our news teams, is local, from the area, hunting through houses even on her block. The F.B.I. were baffled by her…’

    It went on, and on, and on. Every newspaper, every T.V. channel, every girl and boy and man and woman.
    And now she was here, stealing from the most prestigious man in the state, with the highest security alarm system given to civilians, with the most to lose. But she didn’t feel the thrill this time, she felt cold and hollow, like her arms and legs were moving around her but she wasn’t in charge of them. She could try to control them, to fight against imaginary strings that hauled her lifeless body around, but every time it failed.
    “Agent 7-0-9-4-0-0…” The deep male voice buzzed in her ear. She knew that voice, at one time she thought he might be able to help…but that had been another dead end in her suburbia of cul-de-sacs. “Bleu…”
    Something about how he said her name made her cringe, but she knew, deep down, that he wasn’t in-charge. He wasn’t the one pulling her strings and making her dance. He was the voice of another man, higher up above him, with layer after layer of blue-print paper with plans scribbled on it to be carried out by his minions.
    A gunshot rattled out over the quiet night, the space in which she had sat, just moments before, now laid unoccupied, on the ground was the earpiece, tossed like trash as the voice echoed one simple word:
  3. Leah

    Leah Member

    Aug 2, 2011
    Likes Received:
    The great white north..

    (Approx 1228 words)

    J glanced at the dance floor below, sitting high in his office, floor to ceiling mirrored windows shadowing his presence and smiled. It was an evil, crooked smile.

    Friday nights were the busiest night for the club in this small godforsaken town, and J knew he had it good. Throngs of patrons flocked here, standing for hours in line to get in, bargaining their entrance with the well paid and well built door staff, dressing to the nines, buying only the premium drinks, filling all the nooks and crannies of the tiny building, desperately trying to see and be seen. Club TripleV was indeed the hotbed for anyone under 30.

    From his secluded office, J liked to watch. A controlling, egotistical man, J saw the fools below as dollar signs, nothing more. They meant nothing to him, in fact, few people in the world meant anything to him, except money. And in this town, J was in control.

    What very few people knew, was that J’s reach was far wider than anyone would have guessed. His grubby hands rubbed together as he thought of the recent deal he had managed to pull off, securing his place at the top of the pack. He was the one who could have anyone he chose arrested, roughed up, or released from jail for that matter. The police were his. The mayor was his. Permits and planning were a breeze. The drug lords in town were his. Every tablet of ecstasy, line of cocaine, pill, joint and vial of heroin were in his direct control.

    The people of this town despised J. He was feared for the power that he held and the things he knew. Owning the law of the town, he was virtually untouchable. He employed the best bodyguards and security personnel. He knew what was happening, when it was happening. Sometimes he knew before those involved. J was someone you did not want to cross, or to have him catch you doing something you shouldn’t have been. There would be a price to pay.

    And with J, that price was certainly almost always money.

    For not only did he control the power players in town, he was working on controlling the little people as well. When you had the power over the big players, you had access to things like security cameras, red light cameras and private files. Installing your own cameras (from the only security company in town, which you just happened to own) didn’t hurt either. Those cameras were his window into the world below. In alley ways, shopping malls, dressing rooms, staff change rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, he had an eye virtually everywhere.

    And these people did not disappoint.

    With every clandestine affair, junkie shooting up between shifts, cocaine snorting housewife and shoplifting, graffiti marking teenagers, he was one step closer to owning them all. Undesirable information was truly a man’s best friend. From his tower above he watched, and waited for the right times to strike. Keeping meticulous notes, he bided his time.

    From his view up high, he watched. Those fools, he thought to himself. Look at them, pathetic, getting drunk, dancing, laughing, making out like the vial pigs they were, trying to score drugs in the back alley then get lucky in the bathroom – they truly had no clue that every penny they spent, every move they made belonged to him.

    And the thought of that made his pulse race. The power. The control. The money. The fear. It was his life.

    The more you had, the more you wanted. The more you wanted, the more desperate you became. The more desperate you were, the more withdrawn and secretive you became. The more secretive you were the more paranoid you became. The more paranoid you were, the more secluded you became.

    This is how J came to be, living alone in his tower in the sky watching the world. Wall to wall monitors, plastered with security camera live feed, bulletin boards full of notes and snapshots, linking one person to another. He had details on all the big wigs in the town, their banking information, names of their spouses, children, their places of employment and schools, along with all email and phone access to follow them and get what he needed. And he was not a man afraid to use it.

    His latest deal (blackmail was such an ugly word, he thought) was with the High School coach. Now, the coach had been naughty, sneaking some peeks into the girls locker room. Tsk tsk thought J. Those girls were not worth it, did he not realize that? Carnal pleasures did nothing for J. Well, almost nothing, he chuckled. They made him money, and lots of it.

    After the coach he had hit up the senior’s residence. J had found a way to persuade the orderly with the drug problem to see that the only way to avoid discovery and loss of his university scholarship was to relieve the habitants of their money, jewelry and possessions. It was a perfect plan. If he got caught, the blame would fall squarely on the junkie’s shoulders and J would be safe and sound.

    J had big plans for the people of this town. The lonely housewife who had been seen allowing many servicemen into her home, and bedroom, while her husband was away working in the coal mine, or her neighbor the recluse who was attempting to frame her for money. Silly man. Only J had the right and the power to the money, legal or otherwise in this town and he would soon realize that.

    J saw himself as a fair and just man, though most would beg to differ. He was providing a service. To restore the morality of the small insignificant people he was forced to live amongst. And as his power grew, so did his appetite for bigger and better. His private home had become a fortress. Keeping him in and safe from any attempts from angry commoners. He had recently acquired more advanced firearms to keep himself safe, and if they happened to be required to gently persuade someone to see his way, well, that was just the way it goes. His staff had grown, all brawn and little brains, just the way he liked them. They would be loyal and take a shot for him any day.

    Not that anyone in this putrid little town had the nerve to try and do something so foolish, he laughed to himself as he closed up shop and walked down the back stairwell to the exit. Everyone here was weak and pathetic and he simply came in and cleaned up, in more ways than one. He smiled at the thought of the money that was made in the club tonight. It was a particularly busy night and the profits should be plentiful.

    In the back alleyway his private car and driver were waiting for him. It had started to storm and he cursed. He hated being in the rain. He ran from the back door to the open car door when a bolt of lightning lit up the sky, a cracking sound deafening him as he saw the telephone pole along the building come loose, lit up with sparks and come crashing down where he stood.

    The storm passed and the town was silent.
  4. crossrobertj

    crossrobertj New Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Likes Received:
    San Diego, CA
    The Dream Demon (896 Words)

    I haven't slept right in two and a half years, and there was sweat and exhaustion seeping out of my every pore. Sleep was one of my favorite things not so long ago. I would dream such wonderful things, like being rich or traveling the world. Until I met her, then I dreamt of horrible things. Death, suffering, pain, hatred. I no longer had control.

    We met while I was working as a Maintenance Man at a local Mall. I was driving my cart through the parking lot, when I heard loud and incredibly bass filled music. I looked and saw her dancing near her car. Almost instantly, I fell in love.

    I had not known at the time, but she too had been watching out for me. A week after I'd seen her dancing, she approached me and asked if I'd like to escort her to a local theatre. I offered instead for her to come home with me and watch a film that we'd both enjoyed. She loved the idea and the night went off without a hitch.

    We soon became inseparable, making love all night and holding each other as the sun rose. In this time, I slept sporadically through the weeks, only because I'd become accustom to late nights. I asked for her hand in marriage soon after we began seeing each other. She accepted and we couldn't wait to be Husband and Wife.

    The day I put the ring on her finger was quite memorable, but not as memorable as the night. Blood, limbs, gore, death, all spewing through my dream that night. A hellish display of violence that made me wake up screaming at the top of my lungs. As I awoke to an empty bed, she came through the bedroom door to embrace me. I asked where she'd been, she told me that her Mother had called for her in the living room. As she apologized for her absence, I told her she was forgiven and went out to greet her Mother.

    Her Mother was a bit on the "wacky" side to say the least, she practiced Wicca and studied the Occult. As she sat watching TV, I sat next to her and asked her to interpret my dream. As she listened, she took notes and began digging through old and dusty books. She looked surprised and clasped her mouth shut with her hand.

    "What is it?", I asked.

    "This book says that you might be being visited by a demon that eats good dreams and replaces them with bad ones."

    "Whoa, whoa, whoa, a Dream Demon?", I said .

    "In so many words."

    "I can't say that I believe in demons."

    "Usually, you don't have to believe in things that believe in you.", she said smiling.

    I wasn't prepared to hear that and I wondered what my new bride had to say about it. After a few days I told her what her Mother had said about the demon.

    "You're going to believe what my crazy Mom says?", she laughed.

    "What's your explanation of it?"

    "I don't know, maybe you should stop eating junk food before you go to bed?"

    "I don't know why you can't grasp that this is a serious problem!", I yelled.

    We fought day in and day out for months about it, all the while my sleeping and dreaming weren't getting any better. After we moved out of her Mother's house and into a place of our own, it got so much worse. The demon followed me and pecked at my will, dream by merciless dream.

    One night, after a particularly violent nightmare, I awoke crying, my nose bleeding. I looked across the room and saw my Wife naked and cackling in an armchair adorned with skulls and iron. I rushed out of bed and immediately began falling, I was in another dream. As I awoke for real this time, my Wife slept peacefully beside me. I didn't wake her, I simply stayed awake and watched her sleep.

    I pondered what that particular dream meant, it was pretty horrifying and whenever I felt I would have a bloody nose, I got chills. I tried over-the-counter and prescribed medication to no avail, sometimes it made things worse. As I was trying to fight the demon in my head, things between my Wife and I were strained. The fighting led to me spending a night in jail because of my anger.

    Months later, after a very verbal fight between us, she called to tell me she wanted a divorce. I was shocked, we had fought many times, but I loved her more than anything in the world and I had believed she felt the same. When I asked why, she simply said:

    "I've been seeing someone from work behind your back for the last few months and his dreams are so much more fulfilling than yours."

    I hung up, grabbed my things, and took off.

    So, here I am now, without her and even more miserable. Every time I think of her, the dreams begin anew. I've tried drugs and alcohol to calm this inescapable demon, but nothing quenches it's thirst. It is out for blood and soon I may have to give in to it's demands and make the ultimate sacrifice. Oh, how I miss sleep, I pray it eternal.
  5. ThePublishr

    ThePublishr New Member

    Aug 2, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Losing Faith

    Losing faith

    Hearing Grace stirring LJ woke during the night.
    “Are you alright Gracie?”
    “I’ve been having a little pain sweetie” She tried to hide the searing pain she felt tearing into her stomach and smiled tightly as beads of sweat fell down in thick, fast streams down the sides of her face. She clutched her stomach tightly.
    “Regularly?” he asked sleepily through half – closed eyes.
    “No, not really” she lied
    “If you have them regularly we’ll go hospital ok…” he yawned feeling his eyes drop like boulders and his head sinking into the pillow. He sank into a deep sleep.
    A little while later he felt rubbing to his right shoulder.
    “Maybe you better ring the hospital” Grace said “I think maybe this is it”.
    He looked to her stomach and smiled with excitement not noticing how grey her face had become or that the sheets were stained slightly with blood.
    He sprang up immediately and called the doctor. “How often are the contractions?” he asked.
    “How often are they coming Gracie?”
    “About every twelve minutes” she whispered through gritted teeth. She felt the blood coming faster but didn’t say a word.
    “You should go to the hospital then” the doctor said. “I will dress and meet you there Mr Jackson”
    LJ put down the phone and called for a cab. No one answered the phone for what felt like forever. Finally someone answered and promised to come at once. Grace was still dressing. Her bag was packed with the things needed for the hospital as well as baby things. He smiled fondly at the bear she had gone crazy over for the baby when they saw it in the window at Bloomingdales. She was so happy. Outside on the kerb they waited for the cab to arrive. The night was cold and Grace shivered a little. He turned to her and put his coat over her shoulders. She smiled and moved closer as he softly kissed the top of her head. “I can’t believe it’s started, in a couple of hours we’ll be seeing our little girl” LJ muffled through her hair, he was hugging her so tightly and so wantingly she felt secure and safe. She never ever wanted him to let go. But he did.
    “Taxi’s here” he whispered picking up her bag as the headlights shone brightly from the distance down the street. It turned into the curb before them and LJ helped put Grace in before bundling the bag in the boot.
    “Drive to the hospital” he said to the driver as Grace squeezed the chair tightly as another pain shot up her spine. She avoided LJ’s stare by looking out of the window.

    Once in her room, Grace had changed into a gown. The midwife had insisted that LJ leave the room for some minutes. He didn’t understand why but left anyway. He didn’t want to cause a fuss now. Somehow something didn’t seem right. The midwife looked a little tense and Grace was quieter than usual. He was assured by the doctor that he could stay for the delivery. Why did he have to leave? Out in the hall he paced worriedly. It was bare and smelled like hospital. The last time he had been in a hospital was when his mother had… he pushed that thought to the back of his mind and sat back down in the chair outside of Grace’s room, staring at the ground, praying for Grace.
    “You can come in” the nurse said. He went in.
    "“Hi sweetheart"” Gracie smiled
    "“How is it”?" he squeezed her hand tightly and looked at the hair matted to her temple with sweat
    “"They’'re coming pretty often now".” Her face suddenly scrunched up then relaxed. “"That was a real one. Do you want to stroke my back a little Ms Roman?”"
    “"If it helps you darlin'"’” she smiled softly. Grace returned her smile.
    “"You go away sweetheart”" Grace managed through tears she fought to hold back in his presence. LJ had not realized her eyes were bloodshot not because of lack of sleep but from crying. “"Go out and get something to eat I think I’m gonna be like this for a while"” She smiled tensely
    The nurse looked at her oddly. Catching a look from Grace she smiled to LJ,
    "“Uhm, yeah… the first labour" is usually protracted…”
    “"Please go out and… get something to eat, I’'m cool, really”"
    Her voice sounded oddly highly pitched. Something was not right he told himself,
    “"I’ll stay awhile”" he said squeezing her hand even tighter.
    “"No!"…” she pulled her hand back as her face tightened, "“Please go, seriously… I won’t miss you" Ms Roman is great”
    “"You have plently of time for breakfast"” Ms Roman smiled
    “"I'’ll go then. Bye baby"”
    "“Bye"” she wheezed.
    As soon as she left the room she let out a wail and clutched the oxygen mask for dear life and sucked in hungrily. The nurse turned up the dial, shut the door and hoped the doctor would be here soon.

    Outside it was getting light. He walked down the dusty street to a café. Stepping in he stood at the bar and an old man with greasy hair swept across his shiny bald head served him coffee and a bagel. The bagel was yesterday’s.
    "“What are you doing here at this time son?”" His vest had holes, his breath smelt of nicotine and one of his teeth at the front was missing. LJ smiled,
    “"My wife is in labour”"
    “"Congratulations!”" and he reached a sweaty palm to LJ who shook it.
    “"Do you have any more coffee?”"
    He poured it from the pot slopping it out of the cup some so it ran down the counter and dripped in steady drops to the floor.
    “"Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?”" He asked LJ, slapping a towel over his left shoulder as he leant one chubby arm on the table.
    "“A girl… I had a little girl once… she’d be bout seven now"…” he said almost to himself as he looked out of the window where the sun was slightly hidden behind the clouds.
    “"What happened?"” he blurted out
    The man smiled sadly returning his gaze to LJ’s and replied,
    "“Life my friend, life"” and began to wipe down the table top. Puzzled LJ finished off his coffee, paid and went out and walked back to the hospital.

    Going upstairs to Grace’s room he walked down the hall to her room and then knocked on the door. No answer. Opening the door the room he found was empty except for Grace'’s bag on the chair and a gown soaked in blood on the bed. He went out down the hall to look for somebody. He found a nurse.
    “"Where is Mrs Robinson?”"
    "“A lady just go down to delivery room”" the Romanian nurse answered
    "“Where is it?”"
    “"I show you. Come"” She said motioning to him.
    She took him to the end of the hall. The door of the room was partly open. He could see Grace lying on a table covered with a sheet. The nurse was on one side and the doctor on the other. As LJ stepped in closer he noticed the worried look on the nurse’s face as she held Grace’s hand and the mask the doctor held which was linked to a big cylinder.
    "“I give you gown and you go?"” The nurse who had taken him there asked. "“Come"” She put a gown on him and then said “You go now?” and then he went into the room.
    "“Sweetheart,… back so soon?”" She said in a strained voice. Her voice went up on the word “soon”. She looked paler than usual. He nodded and quickly turned to the doctor,
    “"How is everything doctor?”"
    "“Everything’s going well"” the doctor replied, "“You’ve got yourself a great lady there”"
    "“I want it now” Grace" said reaching a sweaty, tremoring hand for the mask in the doctor’s hand. He put it over her face and turned a dial and LJ watched Grace breathe in deeply as though her life depended on it. He heard her moan slightly. When she opened her eyes and found LJ watching her she looked slightly embarrassed and smiled,
    “"Don’t worry sweetheart. You go. Go and get something more to eat.”
    “I’ll stay”" He replied.

    Five hours later Grace was still in the delivery room. She looked exhausted and breathless. He stroked her head lightly and watched her reach for the mask again as the doctor turned the dial. It lasted just a short time.
    “It didn’t hurt” she smiled after taking a glance at LJ, "“I just love this stuff so much” she laughed a little drunk from the gas". Her voice was tight with strain.
    "“I'’ll have to get you some for home"” he smiled
    After a while the doctor looked at his watch and nodded to the nurse who returned it with an even graver one as she turned to look at Grace and then to LJ.
    “"LJ, would you like to step out of the room for a moment or two so I can make an examination”"
    LJ tensed.
    "“He just wants to see how far I am sweetheart… you can come back after… right Dr?"” Grace said
    “"Of course",” the doctor replied

    Sitting in the hallway was agonizing. They were the longest thirty two and a half minutes of his life. A doctor suddenly ran into the room followed by two nurses, one tubby with red hair and the other shorter with black hair. His mind began to race. Before he knew what was what Grace was pushed out of the door on a stretcher and wheeled down the hall.
    “"Please doctor give me something…”". She whimpered weakly. “"Please I can’t take anymore”"
    One of the doctors put a mask over her face. LJ found himself behind the doors of the delivery room as they slammed shut before his face. He watched them transfer her on the bed.
    “"You can go in"” he heard a voice say behind him
    “"I'’ll stay outside”", he replied. He was afraid to go in so he stood and watched them operate on her from the door of the delivery room. They were doing a caesarean. A doctor who looked about fourteen hurried excitedly into the room saying to LJ ecstatically,
    “"They’re doing a caesarean, we are so lucky!”" He had mistaken him for a medical student. LJ didn’t take his eyes off Grace but looked on silently as the student gave him a dirty look before letting the doors slam LJ in the face.

    Suddenly a doctor came out followed by a nurse. He held something in his two hands that looked like a skinned baby turkey. He was hurrying with it to a room next door. He followed the doctor instinctively and silently watched the doctor doing things to a new born baby. There was no crying.
    “"Is she alright?",” he heard himself whisper
    "“She’s excellent! Seven pounds”". The doctor avoided eye contact and looked sideward at the nurse who with eyebrows furrowed returned the doctor’s stare.
    LJ felt numb. He couldn’t see the baby move or hear her cry. The nurses motioned for him to come where they were. The doctor was still busy with the baby. He stepped back and shook his head. He had seen enough from where he was.

    He walked slowly back to the delivery room where Grace was. They were sewing her up. After she was taken back to her room. He followed at a distance behind. He could hear her moaning. When they had sat her up in bed he sat at the foot of her bed in a chair. The room was very dark. “
    "LJ?",” her voice was drained and faint.
    "“Hi baby".” He exhaustedly walked over.
    “"What was the baby like?”"
    "“Shhh.. you need to rest"” said the nurse on her other side
    “"A girl. She’s seven pounds,”"
    "“Is she alright?”"
    "“Yeah. She’s doin' great”"
    He glanced at the nurse who looked at him with disgust.
    “"What does she look like?"” she asked wearily
    "“She looks like that turkey we tried to cook for thanksgiving last year… remember we forgot to turn on the oven?”"
    She giggled and then grimaced
    The nurse immediately ushered him out, "“Mrs Robinson needs her rest. You must go now”"
    "“I'’ll be just out here.. ok"” he called from the doorway as the nurse was shutting it. He blew her a kiss and she smiled. She looked grey and exhausted and sleepy.
    Moments later the nurse came out looking weary. “"Uh …nurse... what’s wrong with my baby?"” LJ asked her.
    She took his arm and they walked away from the door and down the hall.

    The journey was long and silent.
    “"I thought you knew"” she said quietly
    “"Knew what?"” he asked not wanting to know but needing to hear it
    "“She wasn’t alive”"
    “"She was dead?”"
    “"She came out not breathing, the umbilical cord had strangled her. She had been dead for some time Mr…”"
    "“So she’s dead"” he interrupted.
    “"Yes. Such a shame she had beautiful eyes"” His eyes turned towards the floor and his mind was a blank. “"You should go back to your wife. She needs you”"
    He sat down with a heavy clump on the chair outside her room. And thought. He looked out of the window opposite him. Outside it was dark and it rained. So that was it. Baby Faith was dead. How was he gonna tell Grace?
    Suddenly another nurse rushed into the room followed by a doctor. Something dropped inside him.
    “"What’s wrong?”" he yelled bundling through the door
    “"Mrs Robinson has had another haemorrage”", the doctor yelled over his shoulder as he started doing things to his wife.
    "“What does that mean? Is it dangerous?”"
    "“Very”" He wiped sweat from his brow when he came up from the stirrups and said to the nurse "“Take Mr Robinson to get some coffee”"
    The nurse knew what that meant and looked sadly at LJ.
    "“Mr Jackson wants to stay!"” LJ yelled defiantly. The nurse took him by his arm and patted his back guiding him out quietly. She shut the door behind her. He sat outside in the hall where it was dark and watched the nurse shake her head as she returned to the room. Everything was gone. He could not think anymore. It was cold and he wanted to die. She was going to die.
    “Please don’t let her die too” he whispered over and over again. “Oh God, please not yet please, not yet. I’ll do anything just please, please, please, please…”
    The nurse opened the door and motioned him in. Grace didn’t look up like she usually did. When he approached the bed she lifted a weak hand and he grabbed it before it fell back to the bed. He started to cry.
    “"Don’t cry",” she whispered
    “"You’ll be alright, you’re going to be fine”", he said stroking her sweat soaked hair.
    “"I promise I’'ll come back to you",” she muttered wearily. He kissed her hand and pressed it to his cheeks.
    “"You are talking too much",” the doctor said quietly. "“You musn’t talk. Mr Robinson has to leave now. He'’ll come later, you'’ll not die…”"
    She said something else but it was too faint for LJ to hear. It was getting harder for her to talk. She winked and put on her best smile for him.
    He waited outside in the hall for a long time.

    A dark shadow suddenly loomed over him and he realized the doctor was standing over him. There was a stony silence before the doctor crouched by LJ’'s side and began with those words he had been dreading to hear again,
    "“I’m sorry Mr Robinson..."

    It seems she had one haemorrage after the other. Somehow they couldn’t stop her from bleeding to death. It did not take her long to die and her suffering was not great, the doctor informed.

    “"I know there is nothing I can say"…” the doctor began, "“I cannot tell you how so…”..."
    But LJ was far away. Everything was dead to him now. Or was it that he was dead to everything. He could hear the doctor going on in the distance,
    “… "... it was the only thing we could do. The operation was a success but due to unforeseen circumst…”..."
    "“I do not want to talk about it”", he replied coldly.
    “"Can I get you something?"…” the doctor asked worried slightly at his silence
    “"No thank you"”
    He went down the hall. LJ went into the room.
    "“You can’t come in here Mr"…” the short nurse waved a hand before him covering the blood soaked body of Grace with hers
    “"You get out”" he said, "“All of you" They looked whimsically at each other and began to attempt to usher him out but were stopped when he yelled “"NOW!!! All of you out right now!!"” He shut the door and turned off the light. But it didn’t do any good. He felt like he was saying goodbye to a statue not Gracie. After a while he went out. His legs led him down the corridor. He left the hospital and walked back to his car in the rain.
  6. Hope2321

    Hope2321 New Member

    Aug 9, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Better than this

    (aprox 1'321 words)
    What the hell?... nothing made sense no matter how you looked at it... that is if someone you know you shouldn’t like always keeps living in your life one way or the other.

    That stupid name that echoes on every fibre of my being... sometimes I prayed to God he'd quit with the humour and throw me someone else.
    Everywhere I go that name is; work, church, social life, online and even in my everyday dedication which was martial arts.
    Why was god or the goddess doing this to me? Is there a divine reason this name keeps Popping up?
    Brushing off the dust on my sky-blue PJ’s then look around on my dressing table for a comb, I observe I have a small figure… from what I remembered I was always short, around 5 feet?(I never kept track of my height)
    Shaking my head in annoyance around as I ruffled my short raven hair trying to relax and looked in the mirror, my deep brown eyes revealed that a lot had been on my mind the last couple of months.

    As much as I wanted to it wouldn’t do me any good to figure out a solution to his namesake…

    Adam... that was the name that was in my mind for what seemed a few years now, how I wish the other side or what other spiritual force stopped mentioning that name everywhere I go.
    The moment I sit down my phone rings... my mouth relaxes then smiles when I look down at the dial screen, the restaurant work for was calling… maybe for an extra shift?

    "Hi Hope? This is Manager Adam... would you like to cover a shift for us tonight?"
    I roll my eyes then answer a yes politely... while my mind rolls elsewhere. After I hung up I look up to my clock; 9am.

    That gave me until five o'clock to spend time on my own! Which for once I’m so relived to do! Me being a girl you'd think I'd be out shopping in malls and buying the usual anime, well not me... not today. My hands reach for the book as I flipped a few pages then sighed. Even my usual reading didn’t help forget the name...Adam.

    Ok yeah I’ll get to the point... for my minds sanity and yours... Adam was a guy I met 7 years ago through a really good friend of mine in High school, he was 25 and I was like 18. Now both of us are five years older since then.
    After a few months I’ve had a crush on him, a major crush on him. It was only three years later that I had realised that I liked him… and apart of this really annoyed me because "Mr popular" was always going on and on about how most girls had liked him and I'd always feel the right second guess whether he would treat me well.

    Because I’d have to choose one He said.

    Tch not to mention Adam and I had trained in martial arts and he was an expert… for a red belt anyway.

    I stood up then went out to the kitchen for a glass of sprite and grabbed myself a bite, on the first bite I notice one thing, on the fridge says

    Adam Internet at cheap prices

    I mean... who the hell names an internet company over a commonly religious name? Oh and fair enough the name "Adam" is popular but in my case hearing the name over and over gets annoying.

    He sounded like such a jerk when he talked about the many women who supposedly "used" him in his ex-relationships so why the heck, why have I fallen for an idiot who possibly flirts with every girl?

    I must admit, I am jealous but I do have a brain: I don’t ever jump to conclusions unless I’ve done my research. In which case is often!

    I try to remember why I remotely like him in the first place, for him and this "light" that shines... that always shows when he smiles. He always asks how I am, not in the "hey want to flirt?" way but as an equal. With no qualms or even disrespect.

    Perhaps he was having fun being single?

    I mean who was pulling the strings? I sure wasn’t... at least not intentionally.

    Because no matter what I did, even if I ignored him and even turn my back on him, one way or the other that name pops up everywhere. I even reason with myself there’s no point to the guy, I mean I hate guys with games, I’ve been there already... I’m done with that. What is one more guy going to improve in my life that I can’t do myself?

    After a few hours, many activities I’ve done(which includes chores, Facebook and the mundane things) I realised I'd best be getting ready for work. Taking 30 minutes I dress into my red uniform for work, then pull my socks up ready.

    Walking outside I breathe in relieved for the fresh air. It always helped me relax my mind when I was overthinking a situation most would reason not to. Most would probably call me a nut!

    My feet stopped as I walked outside a mini shopping centre as I look across the street. My heart pounds as he looks my way.


    My mind was in whirls at that point, a part of me wanted to walk with him to work and talk with him... like we usually do and secretly answer my questions of why "Adam" pops up everywhere, let’s not forget I do need to know him better.

    I shrug nervously then walk across the road with an awkward smile on my face... then change it to something natural so that Adam didn’t think I was desperate... but from the look on his face you could already guess he can see how nervous I am… meh what the heck.

    "Hey Adam... how are you?"
    Adam raises his eyebrows like he usually does, an expression that makes me grin every time.
    "Where bouts you going?"
    "Headin to work... so what you up to?"
    Adam shrugs
    "Not much... had a busy day, I’m heading to training. Want me to walk you?"

    My face lit up as he said it as we walked up a highway to my workplace... I tried to act as normal as possible, but whenever I tried to talk normally I would end up stuttering.
    I looked at Adam closely as I asked myself why I liked him.

    Fair enough he was good looking... but it wasn’t the looks that got my attention, perhaps it was the way he helped others in life? Perhaps the way he smiles lights up my world?

    Realising we had almost reached my workplace I started to sigh ... I glanced down sadly just as Adam turned to leave. My heart felt like strings, my mind feeling numb as I looked at him.
    "Well, thank you for walking me here... I'll see you when I see you?"
    Adam shook hands with me as he turned to leave. Then he surprised me by hugging me! Which I assure you is NOT his thing! Usually Adam would seemingly hug the "hot chicks." I mean what would Mr Popular see in me?

    "See ya see ya. Have faith in yourself and other people more often... it’s not easy but people can change... for the better and don’t get into trouble!"
    I watch as Adam unwraps his arms then walks off slowly... I half smile but my eyes fill up with tears.

    Perhaps my judgements and thinking have been overthought... and I’ve rushed to conclusions. Whatever the reason for knowing this man, whatever the reason his name pops up everywhere, I know for a fact that he'll always be a good friend or boyfriend.
    Just not yet, not while strings are attached in our lives right now. String are like connections... some can be broken but nether less the ones that don’t break are the ones worth keeping, whatever the lesson behind it.
  7. Zieki

    Zieki New Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Pulling Strings - 2925

    He was silent as he worked. The knife slid smoothly under the surface, peeling back the skin as it curled, and thinned, and fell. A face swam up at him – a dark complexion veined in red and auburn, a hooked nose with only sockets in place of eyes.

    The floor was scattered with wood shavings, the rich chocolate rosewood from his latest project matting the lighter oak and maple chips underneath. The wooden carpet was growing again, perhaps three inches by now; a sea of brown and beige, as shifting as the blue-greens of the ocean. He couldn’t remember when last he’d swept. A strong, sweet smell permeated the basement and swept the metallic tang from his tongue. He breathed deeply. As he exhaled dust swirled in the slanting rays of sunlight that crept through the windows.

    He laid the puppet down, arms crossed over its chest, and smiled as he turned to set down his whittling knife. Its place was on the rack, next to the other knife. Where the whittling knife was perhaps the length of his thumb, the other was larger, a foot perhaps. Each tool for its task. He climbed the stairs to the soft sound of dripping.

    The dripping echoed in his ears long after he had closed the door to the basement, long after, even, he had turned off the shower, picked out the perfect navy suit, splendid red tie, new brown leather shoes and closed the door to the house. It continued until it was chased from his head as he closed the car door and his cell phone rang.

    “Psycho killer, q’est que cai; fa fa fa fa fa fa fa far better run run run run run away…” the Talking Heads serenaded him. He blinked and saw the rich chocolate face in front of him, veins running red, dripping. He blinked again and pulled out of the driveway.


    “Good morning Mr. Steele, it’s Todd. How are you today?

    “Fine. What’s the word?”

    “Well, sir, I just talked to them both, Mr. Norton and Granville, they won’t give in to the each other. I tried what you said, but it’s just not going to work.”

    “Yes, Todd, thank you. Set up a meeting with Jerry Tillman. 11:30 at the Café Main.”

    “What? Oh, yes, Mr. Steele. Right away. But, what about Mr. Norton and…”

    “Don’t worry about that. Just Mr. Tillman.”

    “Right, sir. I’m on it.”

    His office was locked and empty. Shadows crept across the room in bars, the shades not fully drawn. The lights flicked on as he entered. There was a wooden paperweight sitting on the wire frame of his incoming mail, also empty. It was a beautifully carved ash head, detailed right down to the slight break in the man’s nose. My first.

    Mr. Steele set his briefcase down on the chair and poked ten numbers into his phone. The head watched him as he made his way around the desk to hang his jacket in the corner, greet an incoming colleague and return as another man answered his call.

    “Hey Rick, how’s it going? Early morning, huh? Sending that little gofer of yours after me, trying to get me to drop out for Granville. You’ve gotta be kidding me. That hippie is going to bring us back to farming our own food by hand. Whole Foods is fine for me. He wants to turn Weston Pond into some sort of communist youth camp or something…” a honking sound came from the other end of the line. “… SCREW YOU. Damnit, Rick, people can’t drive these days. Where was I?”

    “Russ, Granville isn’t a hippie, nor is he a communist.”

    “Oh, ya, freaking Granville. What’s that kid’s name? The one you sent to me to get me to drop out? Terry? No, Tom, is it?”


    “Todd, right. Ol’ Toddo is coming up to me telling me that I need to drop out. ‘Granville’s going to get the vote anyways,’ he says. ‘If you vote with him, you’ll have some say in what gets done,’ he tells me. If this town votes for Granville, well, I might as well be on my way anyways. I’ll have my say, ‘cause I’m winning this damn election. Weston Pond is ripe for development, Rick, for business, trust me on that. Granville just can’t do the job.”

    “You’re right. He can’t.”

    That seemed to surprise him. After a short silence, Russ recovered, “Right, well… yeah, you’re right. So… well, so why did you send your kid over here this morning to get me to drop out?”

    “Appearances, Russ. I can’t make it seem like I favor one over the other.”

    “Oh, of course, of course. So you sent the boy to me too, so Granville wouldn’t suspect a thing.”

    Rick Steele didn’t answer. He had found in his many years that silence had a way of making people uncomfortable. Silence was his solace, but not so for the likes of Russ Norton, who was, for lack of other words, a hot-head and motor-mouth. Rick waited.

    “Right, okay. So, you’re behind me then?”

    “Russ, Granville isn’t the right man.”

    “Yes, okay. We both know that. So, let’s go ahead and beat him…”

    “But neither are you.”

    “… If you put your weight behind me… wait what? Rick, don’t joke with me. I’m not the right man? C’mon, if not me then who?”

    “If there was someone who wasn’t a, what’d you call it? A hippie, communist. Someone who would build, support business, support growth, but keep some protected land, some of the parks, could you back them?”

    Again, Russ went silent for a while. Rick moved his briefcase to the floor and sat down, sipping a small cup of water as he waited. “Well, yes. Yes, I suppose I could. But this ‘someone,’ Rick, believe me, this ‘someone’ better be experienced. He better know what he’s doing.”

    “He does.”

    “Yeah, yeah. And just so both of us understand, I’d be better. We both know I would. No one better for this community.”

    “No, no one better Russ.”

    “Alright, Rick. I trust you, don’t make me regret it. I’ll see you tonight.”


    Todd walked in a half hour later. A short man, already balding at twenty-four, he walked with a bobbing gait that made him look like a turkey, ready-stuffed for Thanksgiving dinner.

    “Mr. Steele, sir. Good morning.” His head also bobbed as he spoke. Rick waited for the main to squawk at any second. “Mr. Tillman says 11:30 is perfect.”

    Rick nodded. Silence, the quietest of dismissals, shooed Todd out the door.

    He slipped on his jacket as he locked his office. The November air was crisp, clean. It smelled pure. The sidewalk had been swept, but its untainted surface had already been marred by the leaves that fell slowly around him. A few still hung, writhing, on the branches above. The red ones seemed to hit the ground with a soft dripping sound. He shook his head and glanced quickly at his watch.

    Blossom was a ten minute walk from the town center, surrounded by half naked trees and hydrangeas that had lost their paint. The door handles were shaped like branches twined with tomatoes vines and ivy, but they were cold to the touch. Autumn might have a beautiful, colorful beginning, but its end was inevitably grey and dead.

    “Good morning, sir, welcome to Blossom. What can I do for you?”

    “I’m meeting someone here,” he waved the hostess away. The inside of the restaurant was dimly light, but light streamed in through the big bay windows that overlooked a small field of home grown fruits and vegetables.

    Dan Granville sat at his usual table next to the windows, looking out on the field and smiling. He looked up at Rick and his smile widened.

    “Rick, my friend. Sit with me. Will you take some tea?” He took a sip, “ahh the tea here is so lovely. Home grown you know.”

    Rick nodded. Everything at Blossom was organic, homegrown, and vegan. He could hear Norton’s diatribe now, “Liberal communist hippie…” and on and on. The tea was bland, like watered down grass. He swallowed and bit back a frown.

    “I talked to that young man of yours this morning. Todd. You know how to pick them, Rick, you really do. He’s a good one, diligent and hard working.” The man nodded, his round-rimmed glasses swaying forward to the end of his nose. He pushed them back up and looked at Rick. “Not very persuasive though. But who could be when we speak of this election? Rick, you know I won’t drop out for Norton.”

    Rick nodded again. The sat in silence for a time, Dan equally comfortable with peace and quiet as Rick.

    “Is that why you’ve come to see me? Todd failed, but Rick will prevail?”

    Rick smiled, “I know that is a dead end.”

    “Indeed. Norton wants to bulldoze the trees from existence – he wants Weston Pond to be a business park. Oh, no, the thought makes me sick. Norton will ruin us.”

    “He will.”

    Dan raised his eyebrows and leaned back from his precious tea. “Really? Then why send Todd to me this morning. No, don’t tell me, you needed to show Norton you weren’t favoring one of us over the other. I understand. Tonight, at the vote, I’ll act as surprised as anyone.”

    He leaned forward again and raised his small teacup to cheers. Rick shook his head. “Dan, what if there was another candidate. Someone who wasn’t looking to expand at all costs, someone with an appreciation for the environment, but knows when and where to build to keep the town thriving. Could you support such a person?”

    Dan intertwined his fingers, thumbs rolling over each other as he thought. He reached to push his glasses up. “You know that I never wanted this position, Rick. I’m not entitled to it.”

    Rick took another sip of tea, letting the hot grass-water sit in his mouth before swallowing. He looked out of the window as another leaf fell, a red one. Drip.

    “Yes, Rick, I suppose I could support someone with a bit more brains than Norton. I’m glad you know, I never wanted to take this burden on my back, but it was necessary, you understand?”

    “Of course, Dan. I’ll see you tonight.”

    “Sure will. Thank you.”


    He strolled from Blossom feeling happier than he had in some time. He even had a bounce in his step and what might pass as a grin, though no one could call it a small. His watch showed 10:00 a.m. Rick let his feet take them where they would, wandering past the small bike shop on Oak Street, hailing the pastor as he stood looking out from the Presbyterian Church, window shopping at LaPerla’s Jewelry and then the local candy shop before turning down Pond Circle.

    He realized where his feet were taking him before his destination appeared. Weston Pond, long and rippling in the autumn breeze, lay beside a sharp bend in the street, just visible through a small gap in the thick brush. He stood to the side of the road, watching the reflections of the trees sway in the water. The leaves themselves took on an almost liquid quality as they fell. Drip. His thoughts flickered to across the pond, gently sloping hill, the rock markers, the soft earthy smell of freshly dug soil. Drip. He closed his eyes and was there for a moment. Soon. Drip.

    Café Main’s patio seating was bustling and crowded in the November chill. Space heaters glowed red under their metal hoods. Rick sat quietly, leaning back in his chair, watching as a spider wove its web beneath the radiating warmth and comfort of the heaters. It spun its web systematically – each strand had its purpose – but it was not without grace.

    “Mr. Steele. How are you this afternoon?”

    “Jerry, I’m doing well. Please, sit.”

    “Excited for the election tonight? People are saying that if this war between Norton and Granville doesn’t get worked out, someone’s going to put your name forth.” The young man leaned forward expectantly, unblinking.

    Rick smiled and sighed. “No, Jerry, this sort of leadership role isn’t for me. Leaders are so bound, don’t you think? Puppets tangled in the strings of what other people want.”

    “Well, they all think you’d be great, Mr. Steele. Just letting you know.”

    The waiter stepped up dutifully and took drink orders. Seltzer water for Rick, a Yuengling for Jerry.

    “Who else then?”

    “How has Spencer been lately? I haven’t spoken to him in a few weeks.”

    “Oh, you know him, he’s got tunnel-vision. You put a thought in his head and he’ll steamroll forward ‘til it’s done. His latest project, have you heard? His latest project is clearing out that old Boy Scout camp from the State Forrest and moving it out to Meridan or somewhere. I say he’s still infatuated with that idea that the Scouts can’t go on with that old water pump they have out there – when’d you tell him that? What, like three years ago? Tunnel-vision, I’m telling you. Almost done though, the Scouts finally agreed.”

    “Yes, I feared my idea might take seed in his head.”

    “Always has, Mr. Steele.”

    “Yes, yes. Well, as you know Jerry, this whole Zoning Board mess has to end, and preferably somewhat amiably. You know how I hate conflict.”

    “Just tell me you’re running, Mr. Steele, and I’ll throw your name out tonight.”

    Rick shook his head. “No, Jerry, you flatter me. But, no. For this, we need someone of a more singular mindset – focused, confident, unwavering in their duty. I am already spread too thin. No, Jerry, this job is not for me.”

    “Mr. Steele. Some coincidence, but we were just talking about the very man for the job. I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. Certainly Spencer is the man you’ve described.”

    “Well, Jerry, you know I think you just might be right.”

    The waiter showed up with their drinks. Jerry held his bottle up, “To Spencer Flemming.” They clanked glasses and drank to the future of the Zoning Board. The seltzer water bubbled down the back of his throat. Three.

    The town hall was the former middle school. The students had migrated to their new, high-tech facility a few years back and the town council decided to use the school as office space. Old gym floors now scraped under the legs of a hundred chairs as the crowd settled. Rick shook a few hands, made his rounds, and retired to a corner to watch. Todd sidled up next to him, bobbing.

    “Should we say something Mr. Steele? I mean, should you say something? To… to get your plan started?”

    Rick didn’t spare a look for Todd. “No.”

    “Well, then, Mr. Steele, well… What do we do now?”

    The corners of his lips twitched upward slightly. “Now, Todd, we watch them dance.”

    Order was finally called and the crowd calmed long enough to hear what they were voting for and how the vote would be conducted, but that’s as far as it lasted. As soon as the two candidates were announce a shout went up and the two sides were at each other’s throats, verbally punching and counterpunching, back and forth. A few stood off to the side, unsure one way or the other.

    A man stood from the pack of undecided onlookers and made his way to the microphone.

    “Hey,” no one listened. “Hey! C’mon, settle down.” The process of quieting was like a virus, spreading from those closest to the speakers outward in a ripple.

    “We’ve heard from two contenders, but not the third.” Jerry didn’t keep them waiting long. Young men were always impatient. “Spencer Flemming, step on up.”

    Spencer himself looked shocked. A hushed rustling went through the crowd as he stood and turned in a circle.

    “Well… Well, I’d never thought about this myself. Umm… I’m not really sure what to say.”

    “I’ll say it for you boy,” ever brusque, Norton got to the point, “If you can beat him,” his finger stabbed at Granville, “you’ve got my vote.”

    Granville smiled, “You all know I never wanted this, but I couldn’t let Norton ruin this town. But, Spencer’s got a good head on his shoulders, look at what he did for the Boy Scouts. I will concede to him.”

    It was over in a few minutes. A near unanimous vote for Spencer Flemming to lead the local Zoning Board. It was a victory that came out of left-field for most, but one that none found disconcerting. Spencer was, after all, a good young man.

    “Sir. Mr. Steele, why did we set up Mr. Flemming to win? I mean, shouldn’t we have tried to win. What good does it do not to be in power?”

    “Ah, Todd. It is not those who are in power who should concern you.” He held up his hands and began to move them here and there as if they were attached to strings, “But those who control those in power.”

    He thought of the dark rosewood puppet in his basement. It was a perfect replica. The small knife had done its work shaving and shaping the wood, as the long knife had separated flesh from muscle and bone. Each tool for its task. He would visit Weston Pond tonight, with its rocky outcrops and soft soil. The puppet would be buried next to its inspiration. Drip. Drip. Drip.
  8. Corbyn

    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

    Jun 9, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Waterford MI
    Puppet - Apprx. 600 words

    “Kate… It’s been thirty minutes, are you ready YET?” Tom yelled up the stairs.

    Life is hard and often cruel. I know that is a blanket statement and that I used to think it was a load of garbage. My mother might have even agreed, if she hadn’t been busy sucking up to my step father or beating me. I know millions of children have it so much worse than I ever did, and that I should count myself lucky to have even made it to nineteen. Most days I do a fair job of keeping the old chin up. Even if I do say so myself, and well… I just did.

    “Kate would you get off the damn computer already, we’re gonna be late!” Tom screamed.

    “I’ll be right down!”

    It never ceases to amaze me how impatient Tom can be about EVERYTHING. Oh that’s good. It should go in my next blog post… My fingers flew like a mad woman’s over the keyboard. I had to get this down… I HAD to tell my story.

    Mom and “Dad” never did understand my fascination with Tom. I used to think it was because he took my attention and time away from what mom thought I should be doing. It wasn’t that she didn’t let me have any fun… Oh NO! It was more a case of … She never let me live! I wanted more than anything to live, Tom did that for me. He let me live.

    “Kate come on already!” Tom’s usually level voice started raising a few octaves.

    At least he did in the beginning. I remember the flutter of my heart when I heard his voice, or felt his touch. God he made me feel. That’s it! He made me feel! I hated that numb feeling I had before Tom. I couldn’t go back to that, not ever. It would kill me quicker than any death I could ever imagine. I hadn’t thought of many, but that numb feeling had to be worse. I could feel it, a slow creeping chill that’s seeped into my life, strangling it from me leaving that cold emptiness behind. Empty is a lonely and constant companion with no embrace to give.

    I shivered and leaned back laying on my bed letting my eyelids grow heavier and close. My head felt thick with a mild buzzing much like a bee. I reached to my night stand tossing the little white pills labeled for migraine down my throat. The buzzing got worse, but no matter it would be gone soon. I could barely make out what I thought to be Tom’s voice.

    “Damn it Kate don’t make me…” The voice was a slurring of sound now.

    I thought of all the countless arguments we’d had. How I loved to be around him, and how nobody else I knew could drive me crazy like he did. How I hated it when he left, or was angry with me. I love him, but I hate him. I miss him, but I can’t stand to be near him sometimes. I lost myself in Tom.

    I had a great view as Tom barreled into my room. God he was beautiful, and mad. I snickered to myself, it served him right. I watched him lean over the bed toward me, shaking me. He looked too worried and it scared me, but still, it served the s.o.b right. Even I deserved to live, it wasn’t fair that he kept trying to change me, leave me, kill me. I guess I finally won one.
  9. Corbyn

    Corbyn Lost in my own head Contributor

    Jun 9, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Waterford MI
    Double post :(
  10. SupposedPolecat

    SupposedPolecat New Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Pulling The Strings. Searching For A False Purpose.

    [3,264 words]

    Ian looked around; distracting himself from the answer he had just received. Instead of just looking at the coin, Ian filled his mind with the city fair that was happening around him. He saw a plethora of food stands of all variety; Ian could have some teriyaki chicken, or perhaps a funnel cake. Off on the main stage a local band played country music and some popular rock. Ian could even mingle with some of the local woman, but none of that would satisfy him and Ian believes that nothing ever will. Ian is an empty man whose life is filled with loneliness. He strives to acquire the meaning of his life, the purpose in which he was brought here for, because Ian’s soul is beginning to fade. He only has enough left in him for another small journey.

    Ian final pulls his composer together long enough to take a look at the coins decision. The coin landed heads up. Ian bent down and grabbed the coin. He clutched it close to his chest and whispered “Then I guess a final journey is all that is left for me.” Perhaps, he had forgotten that heads meant he was to go kill himself, or perhaps, Ian just really wanted to take the journey. Either way his mind was set; Ian would take his final journey. Ian just was not really sure what that meant entirely. A journey with no clear destination has no clear beginning point.

    So Ian once again looked towards the coin he held in his hand for guidance. Ian had used the coin to decide whether or not he would start a journey. Now that he has made up his mind, perhaps the coin will lead him to his first step. Ian did the only thing he thought he could do, he would make a wish on the coin and throw it into the fountain that marks the center of the festival.

    Ian made his way through the thickets of people. Groups of children were playing with balloon animals and eating cotton candy. Some of the older kids were gathered on the steps where they smoked cigarettes and bullshitted to one another. An elderly man was playing a game trying to win a prize for his ancient wife. These sights made Ian sick; were these people truly fulfilling their purposes or were they just wasting precious space for the people who deserve it. In Ian’s mind people should live up to their fullest or die. The only way the world could have any hope of changing is if everyone evolved.

    So when Ian finally made it to the fountain he thought very deeply about his one wish. Ian knew that if he made it too specific it would never happen, but just the same if he made his wish to vague he may never be able to find the response. Ian brought his clutched fist to his chest and held the coin there for a very long moment until it had finally come to him. Ian knew just how to word his question.

    “Please let the first step to my journey find me and be captivating enough that I have no choice but to follow.”

    Ian dropped the coin into the fountains water and waited. He stared at his coin for several minutes until finally he decided that he had no idea what to do next. Fate is a strange game and you never know just exactly when it will pass you by.

    With no real plans for what to do next, Ian took a seat on the side of the fountain and stared off into the crowds of people.

    “That wish must have been important.” A girl’s voice had come from Ian’s side. Ian met her gaze and saw that she had the most peculiar eyes he had ever seen. The mystery girl’s right eye was blue; however, her left eye was brown. Ian had never seen such beauty in all of his years. “I just mean that you held the coin for so long before you threw it in.”

    “Well you are not wrong. Somet hing very important happened to my life when I threw that coin in.” Ian smiled to the mystery girl and she smiled back. Her teeth were almost perfect except for one tooth that seemed to stick forward a little more than the rest. It was the sort of mark that would appear on an antique sculpture to let you know it was unique. “I had to make sure that I made the right wish and worded it perfectly. I was hoping if I did that, then it would have to come true.”

    “So what did you wish for?” The mystery girl seemed to genuinely be interested in Ian. That was something he was not used to. Ian is mostly awkward around people and girls in particular.

    “Well…I can’t really tell you or it won’t come true.” Ian couldn’t risk such a chance. “Did you make a wish?”

    The mystery girl’s reply was short, “I did.”

    “Would you tell me what your wish was?”

    The mystery girl tilted her head back and started scratching her head as if she were thinking. Ian noticed two very interesting things about this girl when she made that motion. There was a thin scar across the middle of her throat and she wore gloves on her hands that went halfway up her forearm. “I guess not.” The mystery girl finally confessed. She then stood up and began to walk away.

    “Hey,” Ian called out. “Where are you going? I thought we were going to have a nice conversation.”

    The mystery girl curled up one side of her lip and walked back to Ian. “Maybe later, but right now I’ll get in trouble if I stay too long.” The mystery girl took a pen and a receipt from her purse and handed it to Ian. “Write your name and number.”

    Ian hesitated at first but eventually did what she had said.

    The mystery girl took the receipt from Ian and read it, “Ian. I like it. My name’s,” and then she paused for a moment, “April.” She placed both the slip of paper and the pen back into her purse and left Ian sitting on the side of the fountain. Ian took a cigarette out from his pack and lit it up.
    Several days had gone by and still Ian did not hear a reply from the girl named April. He began to wonder if he had just made her up in his mind. As Ian skewered his looks in the mirror he couldn’t help but think that she was only being nice if she was in fact real. Ian knew he wasn’t considered a “catch.” He was slightly pudgy all around, his nose sat just a little too large on his face, and his fashion sense wasn’t just outdated, it didn’t exist. Ian has never kissed a girl and as each day passes forward he loses faith that he ever might.

    So Ian continued on his mundane life, for now.

    Moe was a stocky man, but short in stature. He had a large nose that had become crooked after a fight in prison. His hair was black and it always got worn slicked-back. Whenever you saw him out in the city he wore a modest, but respectable, business suit. Overall he looked like a man to be respected, which he was. Around the Cincinnati area there were two drug lords that ran the city and Moe was one of them.

    Moe grew up in Dayton, Oh (just a short drive north), but around the age of 19 made his way down south through a series of poor and unwise decisions. Once in Cincinnati he met a few street thugs that took him in. They took care of him and in return all he had to do was help out with their “business.” Moe would do whatever it took to get the job done and ended up taking charge of the operation with the help of his quick thinking and commanding presence. By the time he was 22 he had made a small fortune that was quickly taken away from him.

    Seven years in prison should feel like punishment enough to never want to go back; however, for Moe this was where he would find his passion. Inside the pen Moe learned everything he ever needed to know about acquiring and distributing drugs discreetly to the people and once he was released that is exactly what he did. Moe excels in this particular path by going to any means necessary to get the extra dollar and keep his ass safe.

    A mysterious woman enters into Moe’s life.
    She comes knocking at his home late one night. One of Moe’s guards answers the door and tells her to get lost, but she just won’t listen. The mysterious woman keeps yelling to let her in causing more noise as the seconds go by. Moe isn’t quite asleep yet so he goes to the door to see what all the commotion is about and the second he sees her he stops dead in his tracks.
    “Boys!” He barks with authority, “Let this beautiful woman in if she desires so badly to speak with me. Where are your manners?”
    All the guards can muster up to say back to their boss is, “Sir.”
    “Please, Miss, come in and have a seat on the couch and inform me of this late night obtrusion.” Moe had such a smooth time with the ladies. “Your name is Mindy right?”

    “Um, close. My name is Miranda how did you know that?”

    “Your right eye is blue; however, your left eye is brown. You are Mike’s wife correct?”

    “Not wife, but yes I am her.” Miranda corrected.

    “So why are you here, Miranda?”

    Miranda began to tell her story. Up north in Dayton she lived with Mike, the leading dopeboy in the area. Mike was into more than just cocaine, but that isn’t the problem. Miranda tilted her head back so her neck was exposed in the light. She told Moe that it happened one night after she caught him cheating. He had held her down that night and told her that she was his property and slit her throat. The cut wasn’t deep enough to kill her but she now had a scar so show for the incident.

    Miranda told Moe that it was the final straw and she would have no more of it. She wanted to leave him, permanently. So she told Moe about what he really wanted to hear. In one weeks time Mike was getting a shipment of cocaine worth half a million dollars. The cocaine was coming through from Chicago and the whole operation was a four man job; two guys with the cash and two guys driving the truck with the merchandise. Mike was the one driving the truck. Miranda explained that she knew this because it was often her who would tag along as the second.
    Moe was listening but was growing weary of the details. Miranda could tell so she jumped to the end.

    “I want you to kill all four of the men and take the cocaine.” Miranda bargained

    “What do you get out of this operation?” Moe thought she would want more than his death.

    “I’ll take the money. I can’t sell the coke I wouldn’t know anyone who wants it.”

    Moe and Miranda went over the details more finally until Moe agreed that in one week’s time he would do the job in turn for the cocaine and half of the money.

    It had been one and a half weeks time since Ian had seen or heard from April. Ian had begun to insult himself brashly to the point where had once again thought of bringing the end to himself.

    Luckily, April did eventually call.

    She apologized that it had taken her so long to call him back but she told him that if she met him down at a diner in the city she would explain everything. Ian was so overjoyed that he had no choice but to accept April’s offer.

    Ian got dressed and hurried to the specified location. He had made it before April so he got a booth in the corner. The place wasn’t what Ian had pictured in his mind. Everything was dark and lit up in patches from hanging lamps. There were two guys off on the other side playing cards and the cook was reading the newspaper. No music was playing and Ian couldn’t help but think that this small dreary diner is the perfect metaphor for his despairing life.

    When April entered the room Ian felt like the whole diner and his hear lit up at once. She was dressed in such a way that didn’t match the atmosphere. April had on a black cocktail dress with a pair of low height high-heels on. Her hair was let down and hung just on top of her shoulders and again she wore a pair of gloves that went mid-way up her forearm. She walked over and sat across from Ian.

    “I’m sorry that we had to meet at such depressing sight but I had to make sure I wasn’t being followed.” April said with a look of panic in her eyes.

    “Who would be following you?” Ian had trouble believing that a woman of such high caliper would be involved in a dangerous situation. Although, Ian confessed he knew little to nothing about April. It didn’t matter very much though because this was the closest thing to a date he had ever been on and he wasn’t going to chance losing the opportunity.

    “It’s my boyfriend. He is just so horrible,” April paused as if remembering the horrible things that her boyfriend had done to her. “It just keeps getting worse, but thank you for seeing me. When I looked into your eyes I knew you were honest and would help me.”

    “Of course, I’ll do anything I can.” Ian did think of himself as a very noble man. “Please tell me everything you can and we’ll think of a way out of this.”

    April started her story off with the worst of it. She displayed her scar on her neck and told him how her boyfriend and a group of his friends had held her down and raped her. When she tried to escape one of the thugs drew the knife across her throat not enough to kill her but enough to leave the scar. Ian was disgusted by the behavior and began to grow wet along the bottoms of his eyes as she spoke.

    April continued to tell Ian about how when she tried to escape with her son that he had beaten her so badly that she was in the hospital for two weeks. April cursed as she told the stories of her brutal background and Ian sat still in shock grabbing every word she had said. Finally she got to the worst of it all.

    April peeled back her gloves and showed Ian her hands. They were scarred and disfigured. Mike, April told, had held her hands in a deep fryer when she had misused the one in their house while cooking his dinner.

    The night went on and April told every part of her life. Eventually she was so happy to have someone so genuine to talk to that she went back to his place.

    Ian lost his virginity that night, but when he woke the next morning April was gone.

    Kris was the other drug dealer in Cincinnati and was considered to be the calmer of the two. Kris was also considered to be quite the ladies man. When he saw the mysterious woman with her right eye blue and her left eye brown he couldn’t help but walk up to her and start talking.

    “You are a beautiful woman, why do you sit alone? Please, this is my club, come upstairs and sit with me.” Kris was from Russia so his English was a little off.

    The mysterious girl with the two colored eyes smirked a little and picked up her drink and followed Kris back upstairs to the VIP room.

    Once they were alone the mysterious girl started to talk. “Kris, right? My name is Samantha.”

    “That name is very sexy, just like you are.”

    “Listen Kris I came up here to talk to you about something. I have a deal for you.” Samantha took a sip of her drink and looked away.

    “What kind of a deal?” Kris didn’t like the sudden change of mood, but was willing to listen.

    Samantha continued on with her story. She explained to Kris that she was Mike’s wife, the cocaine dealer that had taken over a good portion of his Dayton business. She Told Kris that Mike needed out of the game and wanted to make a very generous offer for their previous run-ins. Samantha explained that in just four day Mike would have a shipment of cocaine worth a half a million dollars that he would sell for 30% under profit so that he could quit dealing.

    The conversation went on for a little while but eventually Kris agreed to Samantha’s offer.

    Five days after losing his virginity to April, Ian gets a call in the middle of the night. April is crying and screaming. “Please I need you to come help me!”

    Ian had fallen madly in love with this woman and would do anything to help her so he asked, “Tell me where to meet you?”

    April had given Ian the address and the second he had gotten off the phone Ian raced to the address provided.

    When Ian arrived he was met by a hysterical April that handed him a gun out front of a small wooden cabin that didn’t seem to have any neighbors.

    “I’m going in to grab my baby, wait right here until I get back, then I’m going to need a ride out of town.” April commanded to Ian. She then ran inside.

    Ian waited for five minutes before he started to worry, but he sat vigilant. It wasn’t until about 15 minutes later that Ian left his post and headed inside. As soon as he did he heard a truck start around back and take off. Inside the cabin Ian spotted a cell phone open and on the hook with 911. He picked it up and closed it. Ian then walked into the back room where he saw several dead bodies all holding guns.

    Nervous Ian took off to leave, but upon his exit he noticed a note on the counter.

    Dear Ian,
    I am truly sorry to have done this but you were the only one who could help me. Because of you my child and I will get away. Thank you.
    Love April.

    That night both Moe and Kris lied dead in that cabin.

    Ian went to jail and confessed to the murders, although even the prosecutors didn’t believe it was really him. Ian refused to say any different though because he had finally thought to himself, “I have fulfilled my purpose in life, April and her son will now live peacefully.”

    April, however, made off with one million dollars. Sold the cocaine for another half of a million dollars and then moved into Canada where she eventually marries a respectable lawyer named Tom. Seven months after their marriage April has her first child.
  11. Zack Winchester

    Zack Winchester Member

    May 1, 2011
    Likes Received:
    San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Road of the Mute (Apprx. 3,130 words)

    The dim headlights didn’t helped much with the darkness of the road. Fantastic time for the power to go out, Jeremy thought. One moment the light poles illuminated his way, the other they didn’t. And it couldn’t had happened in a better place: camino del mudo (road of the mute), a legendary dangerous road in which very bad things happened.

    Jeremy’s heart was pounding. His hands were shaking. This road was seldom traveled in this small town. Everybody knew how bad of an idea was to use this road. Jeremy knew it as well-it had been one of the first things his neighbors had warned him about when he moved here with his wife a month ago-but it had not been his decision to travel this road tonight. The police had redirected the traffic because of what looked like a car accident on the highway, and Jeremy didn’t knew of any other route he could take to get home, so he was forced to take this one.

    He was tempted to floor the gas pedal and hightail his way out of here, but he didn’t. The road was too dark and you never knew when someone or something would get in your way. More so in a road where it was common for homeless people to use these woods as their resting place for the night.

    Relax, nothing’s gonna happen, Jeremy thought. He couldn’t understand why he was so nervous. The rumors he’d heard about this road were so ludicrous only a child could believe them. Then why was he feeling like this then? Ridiculous rumors indeed, but one thing was for certain - the people of this town seem to believe these rumors themselves. They’re probably all a bunch of nutcases, he thought. What else can you expect from neighbors that welcome you to town with the exact same gift? I could understand if they had all brought me homemade pies or something like that, but all of them with DVD’s of Romeo and Juliet in hand? That’s just… not normal.

    He glanced at the speedometer and noticed he was driving at twenty miles per hour. Okay, a few more minutes and I’m out of here. Two minutes. Three minutes passed and his heart was still pounding. His hands were still shaking. Okay to hell with it. He pushed the gas pedal to its limit; the car went to 60 and up.

    His cell phone rang. Without looking, he pulled it out of his pocket, raised it to face level, and pushed the button. One glance. Stupid advertizing.

    Next thing he knew, a man appeared in front of the road. The car collapsed with him with a dull sound; the man went airborne. What had just happened? He stopped the car and glanced at the mirror; he couldn’t see anything, it was too dark. He popped open the glove compartment, grabbed a flashlight and went out. The small light of the flashlight spotted a man face-down behind the car wearing a dirty trench coat. Shock paralyzed him for a long moment. Dread overtook him. He used all his strength to snap out of it; the man could still be alive and he might be able to save him. At least that was what he wanted to believe.

    Jeremy reached for the man's neck to check his pulse. Alive. But maybe not for long: he was lying on a pool of blood. Taking this man to the hospital could result in him dying on the way. If he called an ambulance, the man was going to be dead before the ambulance got there. Either way, Jeremy was going to have to face the reality that he’d just killed a man. He felt like swooning. His stomach lurched. Suddenly he felt like throwing up but was able to stifle the feeling.

    What was he going to do? He glanced left and right, forward and behind. Nobody around… The road was empty.

    “I’m really sorry man,” Jeremy said in a rueful voice.

    He strode to his car, got in ,closed the door, slammed the key in the ignition and turned it. The car wouldn’t start.

    A heartbeat later, he heard a load bang. Glass sprayed on his face. A hand circled his neck and squeezed. The bearded bum on the trench coat pulled him out of the broken window, and once outside hit him on the head with something metallic. Everything went dark.


    Jeremy awoke to the coldness of a steel floor. He inspected his surroundings. The light of the moon that filtered through the window revealed the oxidized bars that surrounded him. His head was throbbing. His lips hurt as if they’d been stapled together, and it turned out that his assessing of the pain was not far from the reality. He tried to scream, but no scream came, just a whimper. He ran a finger through his lips. A crisscrossed arrangement of thread was holding them together. Oh my god, what the hell is this? Jeremy thought.

    When he searched his pocket he learned that his cell phone was gone but his wallet was still there. He didn’t knew where he was or how had he got there, but then everything started to come back to him. The bum.

    A door opened. The lights of the room went on. A demon crossed the threshold and walked to the cage. It wore a brand new purple suit and a white scarf on its neck. Its bald head shimmered as the ceiling lights reflected on its scalp. Five-inch pointy horns ornamented its baldness. Once beside the cage it crouched to its knees.

    Jeremy crawled back to the end of the cage and clenched his fists. The rumors were true. If this was going play out the way the stories were told, he knew he was doomed. The only thing he could do to safe himself was to kill the demon whenever he had the chance.

    If he knew one thing for sure in his mind was that tonight he wasn’t going to let himself die. Tomorrow he had a date with his wife to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary and he was going to get there not matter what. He would get there or he would die trying - and dying was not an option.

    “Hello, Jeremy. May I introduce myself? My name is Peter… but you may call me Mr. Johnson. I’m going go get straight to the point. Jeremy… have you acted in theater before?"

    The expression in the demon’s eyes made him know that it expected him to nod or shook his head, but he did neither. He just stayed still glaring at the demon.

    “I guess your silence means no. Well, no problem with that. Anyways, talent has nothing to do with experience: either you have it or you don’t. I suppose you have to be wondering why am I doing this to you. Why you? Well, wrong place, wrong time my friend. I’m going to tell you a story,” Mr. Johnson cleared its throat.“In hell, the destiny of a condemned soul is assigned randomly. If you’re lucky, you get to be a demon. If you’re unlucky, you get thrown to the pit. If you were one of the lucky ones, you get to be demon, right, hooray. Not so fast.

    “Your life as a demon will be wonderful or boring depending on how evil you had been in life. If you were really evil…you get to be a high ranking demon. On the other hand, if you were evil, but not evil enough, you get to be like me: a lesser demon. In my case a dull, boring life, boring everything imp. Worse still, low ranking demons aren’t assigned big demographic areas like the high ranking demons. Oh-no… They’re assigned tiny areas… That’s also my case.

    “My job is to dress as a human and stand in front of cars to get run over. By doing so I create a situation in which people will have to decide between right and wrong. To sin or not to sin, that is the question… They’ll have to decide whether to sin by letting me die, or not to sin by getting me to the hospital. Lame, I know.

    “And my job description gets even worse, because that’s all of it! That’s my day to day life! Good news for me: I’ve found a way around it. First, I discovered that imp blood is addictive to humans, so I get bums to do my work for me. You’ve already met Alex, my best employee; he is willing to get run over by cars as many times necessary just for a drop of my blood.

    “It gets better… Throughout the years, I’ve noticed that nobody gives much attention to what the imps do. So I decided to have a little fun! Life in this lonely road can be utterly boring, so with my victims-the ones that decide to sin-I started arranging plays for me and my fellow imps to watch! And guess what? You've just landed the lead part for tonight’s play!! The show starts in twenty minutes, so I advise you to dress quickly. Everyone’s already here!”

    Mr. Johnson slid garments between the bars and threw them on the floor: shirt and trousers. Jeremy didn’t moved, he stayed where he was scowling at the demon. If the demon saw that he wasn’t cooperating, at some point it was going to have to open the cage to made him cooperate, and in that moment he was going to show Mr. Johnson what hell really tasted like.

    When the demon realized that Jeremy wasn’t going to obey, it let out a sigh and waved a hand. Jeremy’s hands started moving on their own. He couldn’t control them. The now unknown hands attached to his limbs started taking off the clothes he wore. The same hands-his but not his anymore-grabbed the clothes from the floor and put them on his body. He watched his hands acting on their own in horror. The rumors he’d heard had let out this part. Once the clothes were on, his hand picked up one more item that was on the floor: a sheet of paper.

    “You have twenty minutes to learn your lines. For your convenience I can cut the threads on your mouth now, but please… don’t scream,” Mr. Johnson made an annoyed face like if it really loathed screams. “If you do, things are not going to be pretty for you. I hope you can understand the subtext behind that. Now, will you scream if I cut the threads on your mouth?”

    Jeremy shook his head. His pupils were dilated, his mien horrified.

    “Very well,” Mr. Johnson said and waved a hand. The threads on Jeremy’s mouth were cut like if an invisible hand with scissors was doing the job.

    The demon continued, “It’s a short monologue; I guess you’ll have no problem with it. The play is composed of one act and that act is only the ending. We just like the ending.”

    The cut threads hung from Jeremy’s swollen lips. He tried to pull one off but it was somehow stuck on his lips.

    “I’m going to let them there just in case,” Mr. Johnson said.

    “What are you going to do with me?” Jeremy asked in a low voice.

    “This is how the game goes: If you’re able to act the part successfully… I’ll let you go. Unharmed. And you’ll probably even get a round of applause! However, if you don’t… well, you’ll lose the game. I guess I don’t have to explain what will happen to you if you lose the game.”

    Jeremy was going to talk but Mr. Johnson stopped him. “No more talking. Just learn the darn monologue. You’re up in nineteen minutes and the clock is ticking! Hurry up!”

    Mr. Johnson left the room and shut the door, taking with its departure its control over Jeremy.

    He looked at his hands with dread in his eyes for a second but stopped, he had no time to feel fear. He switched his attention to the script and watched it for a long moment while pondering his options. That was when he realized he had no options. How could he fight a demon that was able to control his movements? If he wanted to get out of there, his best bet was to do what it said.

    He started reading the script. Repeating and repeating every sentence as fast as he could. Trying to carve all the words in his brain. Drops of sweat poured down his temple. Again and again, he repeated the words. Why was this happening to him? Oh, lord why to him?

    Jeremy felt five minutes pass, or were they ten? He put the script away and tried to say the entire monologue from memory. No! Why can’t he remember anything!

    “I have to calm down. Calm down Jer!”

    He picked up the script again and tried harder, focusing on learning just the first paragraph. A few minutes later, he tried again to say everything aloud without looking at the script. Yes! Now he was able to say the entire first paragraph from memory. How much time he had left? No, he mustn’t think about that… he had to learn this script now! Jeremy continued working on the second and last paragraph. His bloodshot eyes ran through the lines in a desperate effort.

    “It’s time!” Mr. Johnson said blasting the door open in a flamboyant manner. “Your audience awaits you! And if you want to live, you better give a heartbreaking performance!”

    The cage door opened slowly with a creak. Jeremy’s legs started walking on their own. He crossed the threshold, and walked down a dark corridor. After ten steps his legs halted. A curtain went up to his left side. A big hall came to view. He was standing on a stage dressed as a church and in front of him a woman laid down on a bed surrounded by candles.

    “Sa…Sarah?” Jeremy said in disbelief.

    His wife… They had gotten her too. He ran to her and grabbed her hand. He didn’t realized the control of his body had come back until he felt her hand on his. Sarah's eyes opened wide and watched him in horror. She was lying there still, only her eyes moved. Her lips had been sewed together.

    “It’s okay baby” He whispered,“I’m going to get you out of here. I swear to you I will get you out of here.”

    He veered his head to his left. There were rows of chairs on both sides of the hall with an aisle separating them in the middle. Fancy-dressed red skin demons with horns sat on them. But not only demons sat on the chairs: His neighbors, the same neighbors who’d warned him about the dangers of the road of the mute were sitting with the demons drinking from their wrists. They wore clothes akin to the ones he wore. He stood paralyzed staring at the audience. Everyone watched him expectantly.

    Jeremy took a deep breath. Now not only his life depended of his performance - the life of the woman he loved was in his hands too. With his eyes closed, he exhaled slowly, then opened them and started saying his lines. How much he wished he’d seen the stupid movie. He put all the feeling and emotion he could muster to his act. At least he already had the required tears in his eyes.

    The audience started booing.

    “Stop!!!” Mr. Johnson shouted. “Bad. Bad. Bad. Horrible! Not up to DiCaprio’s performance at all!”

    Mr. Johnson strode to the stage with a palm on its forehead and mumbling inaudible words between its teeth. Once there, it stood beside Jeremy facing the audience. It cleared its throat before talking.

    “I’m really sorry ladies and gentlemen. My most sincere apologies. Definitely NOT what we expected, but don’t panic, the night is not over yet. Since our “actors” can’t play the parts right,” The demon eyed Jeremy in disappointment.“and thank the evil one I foresaw this situation, I was able to put together a plan B. So tonight, instead of having a theatric version of the Romeo and Juliet movie…we’re going to have a puppet show!”

    The audience came to their feet and cheered their lungs out. Invisible strings coming from the ceiling wrapped themselves around Jeremy’s and Sarah’s limbs. The cut threads hanging from his mouth rearranged themselves the way they’d been before. Jeremy’s body was hauled up and suspended two feet in the air; three-feet tall demon puppeteers flapping their wings on the ceiling pulled the strings.

    “Showtime!” Said the demon director.

    Romeo shed his heartbroken tears seeing the body of Juliet. A voice full of sentiment of a demon puppeteer delivered the lines with ease. With a tone so sweet it could melt a heart of stone. The voice of a broken man who’d just lost the love of his life.

    A little bottle appeared in Romeo’s hand. The demon pulled the string. The poison entered his mouth… Oh no! Juliet was not really dead! The strings were pulled again raising Juliet from her bed. A gun appeared in her beautiful soft-looking hand. The demon pulled the string. Her finger pulled the trigger.

    “Bravo!” Mr. Johnson cried.

    Everyone stood from their seats. Cheers and applauses filled the room. The director came up to the stage and bowed to its audience still cheering and applauding.

    A five star performance.


    A man and a woman woke up to the coldness of a steel floor. They inspected their surroundings. A dark room. Oxidized bars conformed the tool of their imprisonment.

    “Stacy, are you all right?” Said the man and embraced his wife.

    “Yes…I’m okay,” The woman said with a voice on the verge of tears. “Whe…where are we Michael? That…that man…He came out of nowhere…And then, and then he-”

    “It’s okay baby. It’s fine,” He embraced her harder and raked his fingers through her hair. “I’m going to get you out of here. I swear to you I’m going to get-”

    A door opened. The lights of the room went on. On the wall, the mounted head of a stuffed bald demon came to view. A couple entered the room and approached the cage. They crouched to their knees when they reached it.

    “Hi, Michael and Stacy Donovan, right?” The demon asked. “My name is Mr. Thompson, but you can call me Jeremy. No last names with me. She’s my wife Sarah. ”

    Sarah waved her hand and wagged her tail with a smile on her face.

    “Say, have you guys acted in theater before?” Jeremy asked.
  12. pattycat

    pattycat Member

    Aug 14, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Tina Connors (2200 words)

    It was only later, when we thought back on the incident, that we remembered it was Frank Bowman the stagehand who had started it all. We’d met that night at Cogney’s Bar on Meridian, all of us guys from the Gansonville Players. Sandy was up to his usual antics at only two drinks in and already talking real loud and spitting out racial slurs like chewing tobacco. And the rest of us had been drinking fast and heavy and thinking we were real smart, acting like a load of wise guys and flirting with every girl that came in that place.

    It was then, after a lot of us were real smashed, that our Bowman started saying things about some of the girls in the Players. Started saying how so-and-so looked real good in that little skirt thing she’d worn to rehearsal that night. And about that new blonde with the real big tits. But then he got started on Tina Connors, who had just been cast as the lead in the Gansonville Players’ new production of Bebe’s Rendezvous.

    Tina was, without question, the best female actress the Gansonville Players had ever seen in its eight years. Sandy, who’d been around since their first production of Death of a Salesman, nodded in solemn agreement.

    “And she’s got that real curvy, Marilyn Monroe body.” Bowman used his hands to imitate the hourglass shape of her figure in the air. We all chuckled and nodded in agreement. I tossed back the last of my beer and then walked over to the bar to order another. When I came back, everyone was huddled in real close and quiet over one of the booths with Bowman sitting in the center of them all.

    “No way!” Miller was saying next to me, a big grin on his face. “No way she said that.”

    “Sure as hell she did,” Bowman spat. “I’m telling you, she wants it real bad. She said so.” He leaned back into the booth and looked up into the swinging lamp over his head. “All any of you fellas have to do is get real nice and friendly with her at rehearsal. Give her a couple of laughs, maybe take her out for a drink, and I’m telling you, easier than candy from a baby, or whatever it is they say.”

    Kenny Taylor stood up straight. “Well now if she’s really, you know, wanting it like you say, and even telling you about it, why aren’t you moving in on her yourself?”

    Bowman smiled and threw his hands up. “Well, I wasn’t going to tell you fellas this, but I have got myself a girl. And not just any girl. A real keeper, you know.” We all stared hooing and whistling loud until Bowman put his hands up to quiet us down. “I’m serious y’all, come on now. I’m even meaning to ask her to marry me real soon.” He reached into the pocket of his sports jacket and pulled out a ring box without opening it. “So you see? I can’t be messing around right now. I’m putting all that behind me.” We all exploded then in drunken cheers, cries of congratulations and pats on Bowman’s back, and then several rounds of drinks to celebrate his impending engagement, and the Tina situation wasn’t mentioned again for the rest of the night.

    Looking back on it now, it all sounds so repulsive and so ridiculous. The idea of a woman we knew, a respectable and talented one at that, going around saying that she was looking for a good roll in the sack. And saying it to Bowman of all people. I mean Bowman had always seemed like a decent enough guy, I guess, but he could be real crass at times and not the smoothest with women, and it was hard to see someone like Tina spilling her guts to him, even if it was after a whole load of drinks.

    But that night as we left the bar, cheering and carrying on, none of this really occurred to any of us. And we all walked home that night with thoughts of Tina Connors still lingering in our minds.


    The next practice for the Gansonville Players was the following Thursday. Everyone was still learning their lines for their new parts, and the few scenes we made it through were rocky and awkward.

    “Why do I have to be cast as a fat old lady again!?” Sandy was complaining backstage.

    “Because the passenger bus has no lines!” Joe B. laughed obnoxiously. I came out of the prop room to join in their conversation when I saw someone in the shadows leaning against the back wall. When I came closer, I saw that it was Tina.

    “Hey there, kid,” she said and nodded me over.

    “How’s it coming with your lines?” I asked, squinting down at my own script.

    “Oh, well,” she said, “I’m just trying to figure out the voice right now. She’s such a sultry, sexy woman with a lot of power to her. I don’t want to make her sound too naïve or girlish.” She laughed softly and looked at me a long time before saying, “You know?”

    Maybe I was just imagining it, but her eyes were looking at me so hard and intense, like she was trying to see right through me to the other side. “Oh, yeah.” I laughed awkwardly. “I mean, yeah, that would be hard.”

    “You know, I wanted to ask you, Tom…” She tilted her head to one side. “I was thinking of inviting some of the Players over for drink at my place tonight.”

    I held my breath for just a moment, a vision of Tina’s bare thick thighs flashing in my mind.

    “Would you like to come over for a bit?” She smiled, and the curtains moved so that the stage lights glinted off of her soft pink lipstick. “I promise it will be a good time.”


    The little white house that Tina rented was on a stretch of farmland out toward Clarksville just outside town limits. When I knocked on the front door, it swung open on its own. I took a step up into the kitchen and blinked my eyes, trying to adjust to the pitch black dark.

    “Tina?” The house was silent apart from the heavy wind blowing up sand against the windows. I had just decided to go back and wait in the driveway when I saw a glint of light in the next room. And there she was, just sitting there in the dark with her legs crossed, holding a full martini glass to her lips and wearing nothing but a single strand of pearls.

    The next morning I awoke alone in a sparsely decorated bedroom. I looked around bleary eyed and called out, “Hello?”, but there was no answer. I stood slowly and rubbed my chest, trying to think back to the previous night, but all I could remember were those pearls and the way Tina’s long, chestnut hair fell over her breasts.


    In the weeks that followed, I tried to call Tina a few times, thinking that maybe we could go out for drinks. But mainly I just wanted to ask her about that Thursday night. At rehearsals she avoided me and was usually surround by a cloud of men hanging on her every word. And it wasn’t long before I started hearing whispers from some of the other Players who had driven out to her place in the night, and just like me, had found her naked and waiting. I wanted to be upset at Tina, and jealous of the guys she’d been with, but somehow I couldn’t. I caught myself thinking about her often, and finding her as mystical and desirable as that first night walking home from Cogney’s bar.

    The night of our first performance of Bebe’s Rendezvous finally came after months of endless rehearsals. Most of us were waiting around backstage as the seats filled, laughing nervously and muttering our lines under our breath, when Jonesy, our director, called out for our attention. We gathered in a crowded circle around him as he stood atop a chair and put up his arms.

    “Now listen, folks. I know you’re all very excited to get this performance underway, but I have a bit of bad news. It seems our starlet, Miss Connors, has become very ill and will not be able to perform tonight.” Groans and gasps sounded through the crowd, and we all looked around at each other with expressions of disappointment and fear. What would we do without her? Surely the whole thing would be a disaster without Tina.

    “Now just wait one minute, folks, calm down. I know you are all worried about Miss Connors, but I’ve been assured that she’s fine and just needs some good, quiet rest while she recovers. So, our Miss Carringer, here, yes, Betsy, will be taking her place, and as Miss Connors’ understudy, she is perfectly well prepared for the job. So, I am confident that tonight will be a smashing performance and the perfect opening to our new show. So, let’s get going, shall we?”

    It was then that we all should have been suspicious, should have known that things were off. We should have found it hard to believe that something as insignificant as illness could stand between Tina and performance we all felt she had been born to give. But it was our love of Tina, and our apprehension over our first performance that blinded us. And after the play was finished and we had all crossed the stage and bowed to roaring applause, wiped off our makeup, and hung our costumes carefully for the next night’s performance, we headed home to find what our blindness had cost us.


    I stood alone in the living room of my empty apartment. Television set. Cash. Vases, dinnerware, candlesticks, record player. It was all gone in one night. All of it. In total there were six of us who had been robbed while on stage at the Gansonville public high school. And each us knew the culprit long before the police arrived and had her name ready on our lips. “Tina Connors.”

    There was no record of any Tina Connors in the phone book. No gas bill in her name. No bank account at the First National. After taking down our reports, the sheriff took a force of four men out to the white house on the edge of town, only to find it empty and abandoned. Bowman was picked up the very next morning at a gas station on Route 47, just one town away.

    It was several days later that the six of us had the courage to drive up and visit old Bowman. And maybe to beat the heck out of him, if we could fit our hands through the bars. But as soon as we saw him, thin as a rail and sad as a sack of dead rabbits sitting there in his cell, we couldn’t be too hard on him.

    “How’d you do it, Bowman?” Joe B. asked.

    “Well,” Bowman said slowly. “It was all her idea, fellas, I swear it.” He swallowed once and then told us in a flurry of words of how the plan was for her to lure us out to the house on the edge of town, drug us, and then hand our keys over to Bowman who had been hiding in the next room ready to take a mold of them.

    “What I don’t get, Bowman, is why us? I mean there’s gotta be loads of other guys out there with way more money than this lot? So if she didn’t do it for money, what was this all about?”

    Bowman was quiet for a moment before answering. “She said that the world needed to be shook up. That things were upside down, and it was up to the two of us to make it right side up again. She said we were going to change things. Together.”

    We left the jail that day without talking about what Bowman had said. The first round of auditions for our new production of Singin’ in the Rain were taking place on Thursday.

    “You going to try out for a singing part?” Miller asked me as he slid into the passenger seat of my convertible.

    And before I could answer, Sandy shouted across the parking lot of the Gansonville Sheriff’s department. “You kidding me? Tommy singing?! We’d all be running for the arms of Tina Connors just to get away from his hideous voice!” We laughed and waved and revved our engines real loud before pulling out of the parking lot one by one. And I found myself trying once again to be upset with her, to feel anger and hatred at the fact that she’d used me, used all of us. But I turned my car off onto Route 47 thinking not of poor Frank Bowman or the Gansonville Players or even my upcoming audition, but of Tina Connor’s soft pink lips and the way her chestnut hair fell across her waiting breasts.
  13. Solar

    Solar Contributor Contributor

    Jan 27, 2011
    Likes Received:
    The Price is Riot (wc:2100)

    The coffee went down a treat, so did the caramel slice; not the cheap stuff from supermarkets, but the real deal, freshly made by craftsmen, reserved only for those with class and not for the mindless, feral mob.

    And it didn’t take much for them to come crawling from the woodwork. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a race issue; I promise you wholeheartedly that the pond-slime came from all manners of backgrounds and cultures; in all shapes, sizes and colours.

    Perception is a funny animal; many a right-wing lunatic will focus on predominantly black areas, and say ‘See, it’s always black yoofs!’ but he’ll completely ignore the predominately white areas where it’s always white youths.
    I couldn’t afford to have that kind of narrow perception, it just simply isn’t profitable; in a society filled with perceptually narrow consumers, to maintain one’s advantage in the market place, one has to see the Whole.

    You must realise, society is nothing more than a silly vaudeville act, where plates are spun on wooden sticks as the showman darts to and fro, along the line, keeping them aloft and spinning; he does this with precise timing and utmost concentration, but he himself is too focused on each plate to be aware of the Whole. That’s how most people spend their lives: focused on their own petty prejudices, on their own spinning plates, blinkered and hardly aware of the bigger game played around them.

    Though, I must confess, I’m ambivalent. On one hand, I despised the horrid youths and yobbos, but on the other hand I loved them, I needed them. We all did. They were exceptionally good for trade. Copies flew off shelves at rates unheard of; calls jammed switchboards; thousands of online comments flooded in by the second. Chaos on the streets of London had the public flocking for news, gawping at photos of blazing cars, flagrant looting, vandalising, copulating, drug taking, muggings and burglaries; scenes of people fleeing their homes as pondscum frothed and bubbled in the face of polite society. It was a spontaneous and unprecedented outpouring of base, criminal behaviour.

    All round, we could’ve kissed the stupid bastards. The whole drama diverted the public’s attention from evil, jack-the-hacker journos to even wickeder criminals, making us look like honest men. Some people pegged the label ‘insurrection’ on the riots, others called it ‘despicable’, but in all honesty, for journalists, it was more of a shot at salvation. We had to keep this crisis going.

    After brunch, I made my way to Manchester, on a mission to Scallyville.
    The place had benefit scrounger written all over it. I mean, I may be a dodgy fish, but at least I work hard for my pay, at least I contribute tax and national insurance. Yeah, we dirty our hands in the sleazy world of scoops and scandals, but that’s what people want. It’s supply and demand. It was good to know that my work had some kind of legitimacy, whereas these mindless thugs had no excuses. The baying multitudes loathed them and called for tougher action: ‘Shoot the scum!’ - ‘Send in the army!’ - ‘Show no mercy!’ - were just some of the twittered slogans, echoing the sentiments of a public too focused on spinning plates to see the Whole.

    Manchester was a spinning plate, teetering on the verge of chaos and we had to make it a certainty. We did a honourable job: we rooted out the scum and drove it to the surface so the appropriate action could be taken, with the full backing of the general public. So don’t be preaching to me about morals.
    I watched the youths, the way they spat everywhere, dropped litter and swore in every sentence. These people had no morals, no respect, no conscience. They drained our society and something had to be done. No no, I won’t have you talk to me about morals and ethics, this is the modern day equivalent of the ‘noble lie’. We had to extirpate the disease; our society was a sick person, and the riots were the fever - the body’s way of ejecting nasty elements. I saw plenty of nasty elements in the heart of Manchester as I pulled into Trumpton Rise, the infamous council estate.

    In the background, several grimy tower blocks loomed over the forecourt. The middle one looked like a huge Lego brick blocking the sun, casting a rectangular shade, slant across the car park. On the other side, a couple of young scallies played on a smashed up Volvo, tireless, precariously balanced on paving slabs.
    I knew exactly whom I needed: Mickey Adams, a miscreant, local hero to some.
    Being a street-respected livewire, he was fully capable of rousing the feral yobs into a frenzied night of crime. All he needed was a nudge. But first I had to find the bastard.
    I acquired his mug shot from one of my police connections, so I knew what he looked like: thickset, shaved hair, stern face with tough, ruddy skin and beady eyes buried deep in his skull. I was well aware of his violent nature. He had a short fuse, and I didn’t plan to light it at such close proximity. However, I knew his weakness.

    My luck was in. Mickey Adams stood amongst the youths, soaking up kudos. Perhaps he was already inciting riots, and the need for a nudge had dispelled. But I played it safe. This plate had to smash.

    I imitated those African tribesmen who steal food from lions. You have to walk straight up to them, shoulders squared with an 'I'm bigger than you' expression. The lions run away bamboozled, and before the beasts realise it’s a trick, the men are already walking off with a big chunk of meat.
    In that spirit, I approached the youths, chin held high and bold as brass. ‘Afternoon lads, you out looting tonight?’

    They changed their posture, puffed their chests, and bobbed as if itching for a row. A couple of them circled on BMX’s, like hungry piranhas. Mickey remained calm as you like, centre of the crowd, arms crossed, regarding me with a look of amused suspicion. A weasel-faced lad, sporting a baseball cap, walked up to me.
    ‘And what of it? Who wants to know?’ His shrill accent grated my ears. He had a look in his eyes: I was a test, and he wanted to prove himself in front of the local scum-hero.
    ‘I want to know cos I think it’s funny as hell. The London riot was a big party, from what I hear. Everyone smashing the shops and helping themselves. Man, wish I coulda made it, wanna get me one of those fifty two inch plasma screens,’ I replied.
    They laughed and quite noticeably seemed more relaxed. Weasel-face nodded upwards. ‘Might be, but those phucking southerners have phucked it, the dibs’ll be over us like a rash, yer get me.’ By dibs he meant dibble, Mancunian slang for police.
    ‘Nah mate,’ I replied, trying to sound common, ‘the police can’t do nothing. They’re way overstretched what with London kicking off. If ever there’s a time to fill your bags, tonight is it. Those kids got away with vanloads of phones, laptops and Xboxes, Christmas came early; and I tell you what, the police stood back and watched it all unfold. Some old bill got chased, outnumbered ten to one. How about that? One nil to the people. They can’t do shit to you or anybody, except issue fines for speeding. Those bastards in London have shown the public that street-people own the cities. I don’t wanna miss out. Who would?’
    The younger ones in the group began singing mock Christmas carols of a crude nature. A lively chatter commenced with talk of being upstaged by London, talk of computer consoles and trainers, and fights with the dibs. My job was nearly done.

    I gave Mickey a knowing look with a subtle head movement. He understood the body language, and approached me.
    ‘I got a job for you,’ I whispered.
    ‘Yeah, worth it?’ He discretely showed his gun.
    ‘Easy, man. This is business.’

    We sat inside my car. I said nothing. Handed him a crisp envelope.

    ‘What’s this? My birthday?’ he grinned, showing a rotten set of teeth. I made a concerted effort not to frown or show any sign of disgust. A faux pas round there was likely to land you a bullet in your brain.

    ‘Just have a look.’
    He opened it and the grin widened. ‘You having a steffi?’
    ‘It’s yours. But keep it down.’
    ‘Don’t sweat - I own the place. Ain’t nobody snitch-worthy bold nuff to come round Trumpton. Just tell me what’s inside those wraps.’
    ‘Four grams of powder, uncut, pure as the driven snow.’
    ‘Whoa, hold on a minute. There’s gotta be a moody somewhere. You trying to feed me anthrax or what kid?’ He smiled. I laughed at his little attempt at humour, making sure to sound confident. I wanted to give him the impression that I’m not someone to mess with because I could make him wealthy, if he played his cards right.
    ‘Like I said, I’ve gotta job for you.’
    ‘And those are real fifties?’
    ‘Of course. Consider it an advance.’
    ‘Sweet. Ta very much.’ He slipped the four red notes into his pocket, as if to bank them. ‘You mind if I have a little nose-up? Wanna make sure it’s the real deal.’
    I nodded and watched him unfold the thumb-sized parcel with a nimble ease that can only come from years of practice in pub toilets. Using a two pence coin he scooped a rock on to his thumbnail, crushed it, sniffed it, held his breath and exhaled with a nod. ‘That’s good stuff.’
    He was right where I wanted him: charged and dangling on a string.

    ‘What job you got for me?’ he spoke faster.
    ‘We – and don’t ask who “we” is – we need Manchester to upstage Tottenham.’
    ‘Ha! We do that every week in’t premiership.’
    ‘Joking aside, we need riots. We need looting. The thing is, you can get away with it. Majority of the country’s police have bussed it down to London; the floodgate is ajar. Manchester is yours to pillage.’
    ‘But, I’ll get banged up. I just come off parole.’
    ‘Trust me, the police can’t do anything; they can’t touch any of you, not if you follow the London examples. I got sources, they tell me the pigs don’t expect Manchester to kick off, that’s why they’ve sent half of them down south. They’re taking a huge gamble. If hundreds raid the city, create chaos and havoc, have the emergency services all over the shop - like they did down south - you can loot the whole place. You’ve basically got a license to thieve.’

    ‘What you want me to do?’
    ‘Can you get a couple of hundred boys together?’
    ‘No sweat, I’m known on every estate round here. If I ring around there’ll be at least five hundred lads ready for a rumble. Word on the street was buzzing with riot talk, but a lot of muppets need a big-boy to follow. I can make sure it happens.’
    ‘That’s good news. Go for it hard. Attack every shop, cause as much trouble as you can. If you pull this off, my word, you needn’t worry about going to prison ever again or paying for Chang. You’ll have a seat aboard the gravy train for life. But it needs to be chaos, absolute carnage. There’s gotta be cars on fire, I wanna see big flames, and if the old bill try to block you, I want the mob to have-it, and you’ll see how quickly the pigs back down. Tell the lads they’re untouchable; drill it into their minds. Make sure they talk to journalists and blame the government. You know what to do, I’ll leave it in your capable hands.’

    We parted on friendly terms. I could see in his face that he dreamt of joining the big boys, away from the feral mob and the grime of council flats. He wanted to be a Hollywood gangster; he wanted status and power, big house and fit women. Some people, no matter how hardened they are, will always be gullible, especially if you know what makes them tick.
  14. MarmaladeQueen

    MarmaladeQueen New Member

    Aug 1, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Puppet Dreams (1171 words).

    When Rick told me what he did for a living I just didn’t believe it. I mean, what were the chances, here in this forgotten backwater of a seedy Victorian seaside resort, where nothing ever happens except dogs shitting on the beach, and the occasional drugs raid?

    I grew up here in this town, in a flat above a fish and chip shop, overlooking the cold North Sea. You’d think it would be idyllic growing up right by the sea, but you’re probably thinking of clear blue waters under a baking hot Mediterranean sky, not the chill North East of England. Half the time the sea frets meant that if I opened my bedroom window I’d be able to smell the sea, and hear the see, but not see the sea, so thick was the fog.

    All along the front there were cafes and fish and chip shops and betting shops and gaming shops full of the electronic cackle of one-arm bandits and the jingling of fruit machines. On sunny summer days people would come and squeeze their cars into the council car parks and then drift along the seafront, eating and drinking and dropping litter. Kids would whine and parents would shout. Teenagers would get pissed and puke all over the pavement. People would just leave their crisp packets and coke cans and sandwich wrappers wherever they’d sat on the beach. They even left used condoms. We didn’t see the best of human nature, stuck in our run-down has-been seaside town.

    And stuck we were. We all went to the same dead-end no-hope secondary school and when we got to 16 we left school and went on the dole. There really wasn’t much to do except sex and drugs. You didn’t have dreams in our town. Your life was pretty much mapped out for you. Most girls, single or married, had kids by the time they were 18 and were grandmothers before they were 40. Some of the lads would down south to find work but many just dossed around. A few got jobs at the car works in Sunderland but even those jobs were hard to get, and they were deadly dull. One guy just spent his whole days moving cars from one place to another. Nothing else. Day in, day out.

    I’d have been exactly the same as all the others, except I had this crazy dream.

    “Have you thought what you’d like to do when you leave school?” the careers teacher asked me. We all had careers interviews and we were all asked the same damn silly question. As if we had any choices. It must have been pretty depressing for the teachers too.

    “I want to make puppets,” I said.

    The careers teacher looked at me as though I’d just said something incomprehensible in Mandarin.

    “You mean like glove puppets? For children?” she asked.

    “No, I mean string puppets. Big ones. For puppet shows.”

    “I don’t think that’s really a career, is it Jacqueline?”

    I hated the way teachers used your full name when they want to make you feel small. I hated the name Jacqueline for that matter. It was all fancy and posh-sounding. Everyone except the teachers called me Jackie.

    But I knew there had to be puppet makers because I’d once seen a real live puppet show. Up in Newcastle, in a proper theatre. It was in Mum’s bad patch when me and my brother were sent to foster-parents for a while. I can’t remember a whole lot about it, except that we were split up. I’m not sure where Wayne went, but I went to this old couple who had grown-up kids of their own and even grand-children. I don’t know why they’d want to foster other people’s children on top of that, but they did. They were nice to me but I missed my Mum and Wayne dreadfully. I remember crying at night after they’d switched the bedroom light off. Anyway, when it came to my birthday I had a proper cake, except it was a homemade one, not a bought one like Mum used to get, and they took me to see this puppet show in Newcastle. It was Hansel and Gretel plus some shorter pieces. Nursery rhymes. And the puppets were big. Nearly as big as a real person.

    So if there were puppets, someone had to make them.

    I did try making my own puppets. I found some bits of driftwood on the beach, and bought a ball of string at Woolworth’s with my pocket money. I made heads and bodies and arms out of papier maché, and cut up some old clothes to make dresses for the puppets. But in all honesty, my puppets were pretty crap. They didn’t look at all like people, and I couldn’t get them to move the right way. In the end Mum got fed up of all the mess and clutter and she chucked them out.

    When you’ve left school and are on the dole you have to attend what they call “work focussed interviews”. You have to show that you’re really trying hard to find work and are applying for lots of jobs. It’s a bit of a joke since round our way there are no jobs. That’s why we’re all on the dole. But they ask you what sort of work you’d like to do, to try to get you onto one of their training schemes.

    “I want to make puppets,” I told the careers advisor at the dole office.

    “We don’t have any training schemes in puppet-making,” the woman replied. I could see that she thought I was taking the piss.

    “No really, I’ve always wanted to make puppets.”

    To give the woman her due, she did make some enquiries.

    “You’d have to go to Art College. And for that, you’d need A-levels and then you’d have to do a year’s Art foundation course before you could go to college.

    No-one I knew had ever done A-levels, let alone gone to college. So that was that.

    I met Rick one day when I was busy doing nothing. It was early summer and he was, unlikely as it seemed, moving in to our sorry little town. He’d rented the flat above the Sea View Café which was three doors down from the fish and chip shop where I lived.

    You’ve probably grasped by now that people move out of our town, if they can, but no-one in their right mind would move into it. I was hanging around when he pitched up in an estate car and started unloading boxes and carrying them up to his flat.

    “Want a hand?” I asked him.

    “Thanks” he said, looking a bit surprised. He hadn’t yet realised that living here means being bored, and being bored means taking any opportunity to relieve the monotony. His accent wasn’t from the North East. It was Southern. London, maybe.

    “I’ll buy you coffee,” he said when we’d finished. His stuff was still in boxes, but at least the boxes were now up in his flat. I was dead curious to see what was in the boxes, but he clearly wasn’t going to open them while I was there.

    So we went and had coffee and a doughnut at the Sea View Café. I felt a bit silly, not being able to think of anything sensible to say. But I never really met strangers so didn’t really have much practice at getting-to-know-you type conversations.

    “So what do you do, Jackie?” he asked.

    “Nothing much,” I replied. “There’s nothing much to do here.”

    “There’s always something to do,” he replied, and I thought perhaps he was taking the piss too. That seemed to happen to me a lot.

    I didn’t know what to answer so he went on.

    “You can always watch people. People are endlessly fascinating.”

    I thought about my Mum, and my Gran, and Wayne, and Wayne’s girlfriend and their little baby, and all my friends. Then I shook my head.

    “Not when you’ve known them all your life, they aren’t,” I said.

    “So what would you like to do, Jackie?”

    ““I want to make puppets.”

    “What sort of puppets? And why do you want to make them, rather than be a puppeteer?” he asked. Now no-one had ever asked me anything sensible about puppets ever before. My jaw nearly dropped off.

    “Big puppets. String puppets. Ones that are nearly life-sized.” I felt I was gabbling in my excitement that someone was actually interested in puppets.

    And so we sat there in the café talking puppets. I told him all about the puppet show at the theatre in Newcastle, and all about how the careers teacher at school said that making puppets wasn’t a job, and all about the dole office careers advisor who said I’d need A-levels and then go to college. And incredibly, he seemed interested in it all.

    “So what do you do, Rick?” I asked him at last.

    He smiled, as if he’d been waiting ages for me to ask him that.

    “I’m a puppet master. I run puppet shows, like the one you saw in Newcastle, although not usually that grand.”

    I gawped at him.

    “So what are you doing here? There aren’t any puppet shows around here”

    “Not yet, there aren’t. I’m going to spend a few weeks doing shows on the beaches up and down the coast. And then I’m off up to Edinburgh to do the Fringe.”

    And that was how it happened. He said he couldn’t pay me anything, but I could work with him and he’d teach me a bit of puppeteering. You’ve got to really know how to work them to be able to make them, he told me. I made myself useful and after a few weeks he said it was only fair that I got a share of the takings. Once it got to winter the puppet shows tailed off and I went back down to London with him and he started teaching me how to make the puppets. And it’s all happened from there.

    I’d love to look that careers teacher in the face and tell her that you can, after all, have a career as a puppet maker.

  15. thakid87

    thakid87 New Member

    Aug 13, 2011
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    Another World... (1304 Words)


    “Saphris has returned to the hands of it’s true people! My genius and preparation combined with loyal subjects ready to meet death for our cause; all of these resulted in our great victory. However, this is only the beginning. The people of Saphris will attempt to retaliate. We must anticipate every move and hold those in charge accountable.” These were the words of Frederick Knowles, the dictatorial general who recently orchestrated the overthrowing of the current government of Saphris.

    There was barely any lighting in the room. There were no windows, just a small lamp hanging in the center of the room. The stench could be compared to that of a morgue in the medieval times. Brick upon brick adorned the four barren walls. In the middle of the room there was a drain, as if the original purpose of the room was associated with the disposal of liquids. There was only one point of entry to the room and that was the door. It was made of a very strong, heavy metal and rust spots found all throughout the door hinted that it was made of iron.

    Under the small lamp was a stout man bound by his hands and feet to a chair. The man was in a semi-conscious state of mind. Was he awake? Was he dreaming? Was he dying? He was wearing a light gray suit with a white business shirt and a tie. In spite of the low lighting in the room, it was evident that there was blood on his shirt. A closer look at his face revealed that he had suffered a thrashing. The attacker must have been right handed as the majority of the blows were on the left side of the hefty man’s face. His left eye displayed to have received the hardest blows of all. The eye was struck with such unyielding force and innumerable strikes that it was swollen shut. The mustache that he donned was also laden with dry blood. The pummeling brought him within inches of death.

    Footsteps were heard approaching. The sound gave of the footsteps indicated that the hallway outside of the room was large and narrow. Those who were walking down the hallway marched with purpose. As he hears the footsteps get closer and closer, the man in the chair awakens from his debilitated state. Fear and recollections of the events that lead to him being tied up in this chair ran through his mind. The beating of his heart scurried to a faster and faster pace until the large iron door was opened.

    Through the door walked a tall, shadowy figure. The figure stopped before the light could reveal his face. Two guards followed the figure into the room and stood at opposite ends of the doorway. The small amount of illumination the lamp provided divulged the clothing he wore. The attire made it obvious that the figure was that of a man. Fresh mud covered the black military boots and there were spots of dry blood on the pants. Was this the man responsible for the beating of the fellow in the chair? Even more blood covered the shirt of the man. Standing with his hands held behind his back with a nonchalant mood, the man spoke.

    “This is the last time we come in here to get find out the location of the document. If you do not speak now, your wife and son will be lined up in front of you like the oxygen-sucking pests that they are to be killed in cold blood.” These words were voiced with such sincerity and lack of remorse that it instilled fear even in the guards standing behind him. While he was speaking, his face was exposed to the light. The man in the chair recognized him. It was Frederick Knowles, the self-appointed dictator of Saphris. “Sooner or later, you will speak, Hughes!” The man in the chair was Vincent Hughes, the president of Saphris until Knowles overthrew the national government with his army.

    Hughes face displayed a fear and horror the likes of which the guards had never seen before. They were accustomed to Knowles’ unorthodox means of extracting information from his enemies, but today was different. Knowles was after something special, a document of unprecedented importance and significance to Hughes and the citizens of Saphris. “Where is the original CRSR document?” The CRSR is the Civil Rights of Saphrins in the Republic. This document expressly stated the liberties each citizen had within the Republic. Knowles was completely against it. “All along this is what I’ve been after. You could have saved the lives of the thousands of peasants, those which you called soldiers. Those lives were sacrificed in vain for what? To protect a document that is now pointless. During my reign, I will ensure that the people know who is in power, who to respect and most importantly, who to fear.” There was an aura of evil in the room after Knowles finished his statement. While he was as close to death as could be imagined, Hughes mustered the strength to retaliate, without fear of what Knowles would do, “those who died, did it for a higher purpose. They believed in the need for the CRSR. They fought for their children, their grandchildren and all generations to come. Unlike your soldiers, my peasants fought for a worthy cause. My life, the life of my family, is not worth the lives and freedom of all future generations of Saphrins. The CRSR is the key to keeping the Republic intact. The Republic is much bigger than you or I, Knowles. It’s a set of beliefs that have been passed on for generations and will continue to happen.”

    Outraged and speechless by the reaction of the badly beaten Hughes, Knowles stood quietly for some time. It was time. “Bring them in, now!” The guards scurried out of the room to get Hughes’ wife and child. “I hope you know what you’ve done, Hughes. I sincerely hope you are aware of the decision you’ve forced upon me.” After a few minutes the guards returned with May and Kevin Hughes. Both had their hands tied behind their arms. The little boy was so afraid that his pants were wet with urine. The smell of it filled the room quickly. Upon seeing his family, Hughes said to himself in a low voice, “forgive me Lord, but we cannot submit to an evil of this kind.” May and Kevin were knelt directly in front of Hughes. “Any last words?” Those words came out of Knowles mouth with a conforming tone. He was disappointed that he would not get the CRSR, but it brought great joy to him to see him in pain. “I love you both. We will always be together. Forgive me.” As Knowles pulled his .45 M1911 pistol out, Hughes closed his eyes and thought of the wonderful memories he had shared with his wife and son. Next thing he heard was the loud firing of the pistol in the small windowless room…

    BANG! “Order! Order in the court!” Hollered the judge to the get the small courtroom to be quiet. “Jury, will you please read the verdict one more time?” The lead juror stood up and said, “Yes, your honor. In the case of the State of Minnesota v. Frederick Knowles, we find the defendant, on two counts of murder in the first degree, not guilty by reason of insanity.” The judge banged the gavel once more and stated, “Frederick Knowles, please rise. The state of Minnesota sentences you to lifetime in a full security mental institute.”
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