1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.

    Past Contest Submissions CLOSED for contest #185 "Whisper"

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Jan 11, 2016.

    Short Story Contest # 185
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Whisper" courtesy of @datahound2u

    Submissions will be open for 2 weeks.


    To enter the contest, post the story here in this thread. It will show up as an anonymous author.

    The contest is open to all writingforums.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will link to this thread from the voting thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 24th of Jan, 2016 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time.

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

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

    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 basis to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere** on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.
    (**We tried one that had been posted for critique before entering but it defeated the anonymity so I've gone back to no stories perviously posted here in the forum.)

    PLEASE use this title format for all stories: Title bolded [word count in brackets]

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation).

    After the voting ends, posting in the thread will re-open for comments.

    ***And thanks to even more long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Be sure to preview your entry before you hit 'reply'.
    Check italics and bolding as sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text.
    If you need to fix the formatting, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Watch those extra line spaces. PLEASE delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'.

    The point of consistent titles and line spacing is to avoid having those things influence votes, sometimes for worse.

    Thanks, and good luck!
  2. Charis Anwyn

    Charis Anwyn New Member

    Dec 23, 2015
    Likes Received:
    An end before a Beginning. [635]

    Darkness swept over him. The grooves of his face dusted in ash, smoke dancing into the light, drowning all the life outside with its thickness. Eyes fluttering, bewildered about the situation blazing around his body. The pain ripping its way through his skull, was enough to force his body to curl into a fetal position, hands blindly grasping at the pain as if trying to pull it out.

    It was then his lungs started to wheeze, lady smoke had found a new toy, and he was unfortunately going to be played in this evening of life or death. Faint noises screamed out, commotion that seemed to be miles away yet in reality were so close to his location. If it wasn't for the roaring voice of the fire he would surely be able to hear them.

    No one here had ever helped, none had even mentioned nor come near him, since, she had passed, so why now were they outside? Perhaps they were thanking the fire, maybe they had started it. A once happy household that was filled with laughter, squeals and the occasional snort had fallen silent and with that came the distrust and hatred towards him. His old heart didn't think much more could befall the small household, after what happened, he was sure that it would've stopped beating.

    His cheek was kissed by a flame, the shock caused him to gulp the smoke, and with that lady smoke had her hands clasped around his throat. Tightening her grip, forcing him to choke and gag under her relentless attack. He tried to crawl away, through a small passage that called to him, he new it would lead him to his pantry and from there freedom. Destiny had another idea however, a loud snap, and a beam fell from the ceiling stapled his legs to the ground.

    Tears fell from his gray eyes, silver hair dusted with black snow flakes, singeing the tips of his hair as their little lights burnt out. Perhaps this was his undeserved penitence. Maybe he had been the rope that held her in the sky that night. Maybe he had been the hand that pushed her too far. None of them saw what it was like to be with her, he had only ever tried to help. He never wanted her to leave.

    'Heloise... I'm so sorry' Tears now streamed, lady smoke had her hold and it wasn't long until her game would be finished and she fed his body to the fire, and yet that was all he could think. Face down in the dirt was the way he would die. Yet oddly a feeling of calm seemed to lay itself upon him.

    “Blaxton” A sweet gentle whisper called to him

    “My dear sweet Blaxton, don't fight anymore”

    Blaxton recognized the voice, Heloise... What a fitting end to their story. Both to die within a house that once seemed to be a dream and now, all the memories that had been forged to be burned along with the sole survivor of the family tree. His hand reached out, and for him it felt as if she were holding it. His eyes could see her, smiling, beautiful as the first day they met. Standing with her, their children. All as angelic as the day they passed. Beckoning him to join them. All whispering to him the joys they could finally live out together.

    Shallow breathes, Blaxton laid his aged head down upon the ground, letting the smoke consume his lungs no longer fighting against them. The fire consumed his body and scattered the little village they called home in ash, small pieces of memories that the world had ripped up and destroyed. Allowing non to ever find out the true story behind Blaxton and his beloved Heloise.
  3. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Betty Baxter, Space-gineer. (667)

    So, there I am. No, not there. Over there. No. Okay, you see the space ship. No, not the big one. The little one. The little one that's attached to the big one. Okay, good. Now, do you see the tiny space ship attached to that one? Do you see the little person tethered to it? Yeah, there you go, in the blue space suit with the bowl helmet. That's me, getting dragged through space like some kind of Xen'dellian ocean worm on a titanium docking claw. Or just a regular worm... On a regular hook.

    I know I'll be okay. Around here it's typical to let someone drag behind your spacecraft if they mess something up, and man, I tell you what, I have seen the behinds of a lo-o-ot of spacecraft. I'm always messing stuff up. But, no matter what I always seem to survive. I think it might be my can-do attitude, or my skill at checkers. But really, when I step back and look at it all, what always saves my butt is probably my insatiable love for tacos.

    What kind of intro is that, you ask? Well, settle in, cause this one is a doosie. Here's me ten minutes ago.

    "Heya boss, what's up?"

    That's me, in the blue overalls, surrounded by the big, friendly, muscle guys with happy black clothes and neat guns.

    "Miss Betty Baxter."

    That's my boss. He's a super guy. By the way, I am a woman.

    "Aw, you look great, boss. Is that a new space tie? Or regular tie?"

    "Why did you release the omni-directional heavy-load relocation device into space?"

    "Hm. That's an odd name for a dollie."


    "Uhm, no, actually it's Betty- HURG"

    Jethro is showing me his fist. It's pretty big.

    "Oh, man, Ima feel that when we leave orbit."

    "That piece of equipment cost me over ten billion dollars."

    "I'm sorry, what is that in space money?"


    "Man, that just rolls right off the tongue- DUR!"

    Jethro sure is the informative type.

    "You're fired. Turn in your License."

    "Darn, there goes my Job."

    "Why does this say 'Space-gineer' on it?"

    "Uhm... heh... I..."

    "You're a danger to this vessel. Turn in your Alltool.

    "Lazers. There goes my lunch."

    "You're sense of style is stupid and I hate it. Turn in your clothes."

    "Okay, now this is getting ridiculous."


    "What? Hey, no!"

    Jethro's helping me display my inner beauty.

    "Man, space sure is cold."

    "You're a waste of air. Turn in your oxygen ration card."

    "Can I at least keep my dignity?"




    "Yes sir?"

    "Whoa! When did you start talking?"

    "Release this nude idiot..."

    "Oh, good. I'm glad that at least I-"

    "...Into space."

    "... Aw, man"

    Jethro is helping me find the airlock now. He sure is nice. His fists are huge, you know.

    "Yo, Jethro. Buddy, friend, homie..."

    "Whisper, stupid."

    "Oh. OH! Ahem, so, what's the plan, Mr. Man?"

    "I've got a space suit you can wear."

    "Aw, that's it? Man, I appreciate your moral standards, but I don't know what a space suit is going to do for me right now-"

    "No. No, you idiot. Not a 'space' space suit. A space suit."

    "... I'm confused. Is the suit out in space right now?"

    "A space suit!"

    "I thought we were whispering...O-o-h-h, space suit, not 'space' suit. Bro, you're the best. See you at lunch?"

    "Yeah yeah, you making tacos?"

    "You bet'cha."

    So, here I am. Stuck in space. Jethro will let me in as soon as the boss thinks I'm dead. The boss'll forget all about me, I'll fix space-bots, get some ration cards, and boom: Tacos. So, you're probably wondering. How, Betty? How can you be so nonchalant about floating through space on a little tether? Aren't you worried about radiation, or aliens, or space particles, or regular particles?

    No. I'm not worried. I have something to look forward to. I have tacos, and someone to eat them with. I have hop- Oh! Space tacos.

    The End
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2016
  4. lackofyag

    lackofyag New Member

    Nov 9, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Middle Town

    By lackofyag

    The sudden shock of fatigue and the unknown was leaving me in a state of puzzled excitement and confusion, the darkness that left my eyes traveled into the far corners of the room bonded with the atmosphere to further elaborate on the field of my unawareness. I would've begun a beckoning for the search, there should've been some headache combined with the nerve impulses of the urges to break free from my bonds, but I felt nothing. As if hope had already decided to leave my spirit before I ever had the chance to forsake it, this was a new chapter in experience, a new tale that deemed to be the last.

    Wait for the whisper

    The room looked like a small dark cube, with nicely arranged gray tiles that spanned the walls and floors, the ceiling was also covered in the design too, making the entire room look like some pale-feeling science testing lab. Sort of like the things you see in movies, with the crazy person locked up on the inside and the 'normal' people looking in from the outside. I felt like the crazy person, and I felt that if I looked around enough my eyes will come across some sort of two way mirror that supported my theory on insanity. I wanted this odd conclusion to be the truth, because a recent thought had occurred to me earlier that had a much scarier consequence.

    There wasn't any two-way mirror to ward me of that thought or the calming presence of another human to show that things were still earthly.


    This was clearly something else, not a dream, for those were always forgotten and short. Not a kidnapping, for the room felt more significant that a mad ramblers attempt at depraved sex. Something here truly felt heavenly, in a God sort of significant way. The early thought came back as a new sudden approached sense of realization and I could feel a grin slowly forming on my face.

    You're dead, I'm dead.

    I should have jumped up and yelled, screamed into the eternity of the black box I was in, kicked the walls for an answer and screamed a prayer to the guardian of my depth. I had to be scared, I should've been scared, I wasn't ready for this to happen to me. Just in the last few hours I was getting married, about to live the rest of my life engaged to a lover that truly expressed what I felt in my heart. The new job promotion was coming in and we were going to be happy, cheerful and glee to live the rest of what we considered paradise till we became old and faded. Life would have been perfect, perfect without him...

    He was probably laughing at me as these thoughts rolled around in my head, I wasn't sure of this but my human sense felt a tingle of guilt and a 'told you so' preface. I wish I could just call him into the room now, tell him how moral I was in my lifetime, maybe bargain my soul for another chance at life. Wasn't he supposed to be a merciful entity? I tried to garner up the hope to shout for his name, or some other spirit that was in my place, but it never came up to the surface, you see I hadn't realized that this new array of thinking was causing me to keep my mouth shut. It felt like the thoughts of calling him down here were useless garbage, earlier if not left in such a state I would've said that was the atheist in me saying something, but now it was just an epitome of fear. I tried to calm myself with thoughts of my wife and the unborn child but all that came were the ramblings I received from the churches and the apocalyptic brothers, the ones I called foolish and despised all now crawling up to the lightest parts of my dark matter for a chance to skew any hope I had. Tears of regret and shallow hatred began to fill up behind my eyelids but they never came out.

    The crying comes later”

    The whisper came in through a crack behind my right ear, I abruptly shifted towards the right to get it into perspective.


    It was the first time I said something ever since this experience had begun. The crack seemed to hide nothing as if it was just another empty door in the new household, but I felt something in there, something that wanted to talk to me.

    “Can you tell me where I am?”

    I already knew the answer to that question...

    You already know the answer to that question”

    I hoped I was wrong, that the new session I had of thinking I was in the afterlife was nothing but a ruse of lacking discipline in my self control, like the sort of thing I would call a madness in spite of not believing in a higher entity. But sadly the case was still in the spotlight, like a visible red cherry in the blue calm sea.

    I'm dead,

    This time the thought was much louder and piercing, and the fear of never seeing my wife came back to haunt me. The last grin I had was the cause of thinking it all of a dizzy imagination, however the message was now much bolder and visible.

    I'm dead..




    Repeating the thought will not offer calmness”

    It had read my mind, I would've been surprised but the revolution oddly felt a little calming.

    “Where am I going?”

    Where the others go”

    “Can I see him?”

    What makes you think he'll want to see you?”

    “I'm his creation, surely he has the time despite my consequences”

    A wheezing laughter erupted from the cracks, and brought along the feeling of uncertainty and the disparaged sense of safety in my gut.

    “What are you?”


    “What do you want?”

    Nothing man, I'm just here temporarily”

    “Why do you want to see me?”

    Don't deem yourself important mortal, I just passed by and felt your soul”

    Unlike my other guests you really seemed interesting”

    This room had no light source, yet I could still see it's surroundings.

    Did you want to die today Micheal?”

    “Please leave me alone”

    I wanted him gone, his very essence reminded me of my mistaken life posture that brought me here, I doubted he was going even going to take the message.

    Are you commanding me? Have you not grasped your situation”

    “Please, I lived a good life, I-”


    You know what truly pleasures me Micheal? Seeing your kind suffer in this place, I love to see the happy fare down here, it's when the darkest regrets and discomfort in self begins to pull out into the shallow depths of your spirit. It's so wonderful, just seeing all their life plans drown into non-existence, their so-called fates, vanish!”.

    I remembered Claire

    What do you want now Micheal?”

    “I want to see him!”

    He sighed, and I felt his presence leave.

    “Wait please come back!”

    Let me ask you a question Micheal, why do you want to see him now?”

    “I want to make a bargain, please I have no business here!”

    I truly didn't, I had lived a good life.

    I donated to the poor

    Loved my wife and kids

    Lived morally and hardly lied

    Gave my patience to the homosexuals

    You don't understand the question Micheal, why now?”

    Good Bye fallen flesh”

    I got up and shouted at the crack, peering widely into it for a chance to see this mystery that daunted me with questions.

    “Please don't go!”

    I'm sorry Micheal, but now is my time to leave, the matchstick man is coming around”

    The matchstick man?

    “Who's the matchstick man?!”, I cried out loud

    The gray panes suddenly took a lighter shade of color, seeping reflection from a flame that suddenly appeared in the middle of the room. It gave only a minute of visibility for soon the entire room became engulfed in flames, they singed and clutched my skin tearing it off for my eyes to see. I screamed in pain at their whips and lashes before falling unto the floor into the wisp of such a painful seizure, this was the end for me, my body was burning, my soul hurt. And it happened that past the crack I heard a voice calling me out for such an ungraceful life I had lived...

    Till this day, I honestly don't know what saved me from that moment of terror, whether it was the large hand that pulled through to help me up, or the adrenaline shot that came in from the doctors jab...
  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Word count on the above ~1470
  6. kateamedeo

    kateamedeo Active Member

    Dec 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Cornwall, UK
    Whispers [1.657 words]

    Heavy raindrops fell from the tar-black sky and crashed into the windshield, hammering the roof of the car. The windshield wipers scrubbed the rain off of the glass, allowing the driver to see the narrow dark road up ahead. Occasional lights from the neon signs of local businesses and rare lampposts blurred behind the grey water curtain. Helen drove slowly, both hands on the steering wheel, fingers wrapped tightly around the faux leather upholstery.

    Far away in the distance, a flash of lightning cut the graphite sky, the roar of thunder joining the quiet voice of David Byrne on the radio.

    I can't seem to face up to the facts... I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax...

    Helen stopped at a stop sign, her dark blue Ford the only car on the road. The sign of a local video rental went off, melting into the surrounding darkness.

    She looked left and right, making sure there were no other cars, and pressed the gas pedal. The car slowly moved onwards. The sign on the left side of the road read ‘Somerset Bridge 500 m’. She didn’t want to take the bridge, not this one, not any other. It reminded her of Joe. It wasn’t just this particular bridge. Any bridge brought on the painful memories. It’s never easy to lose a brother, especially when he chooses to go in such a way.

    Her phone rang inside the handbag, which she’d carelessly thrown onto the passenger seat when getting into the car. Eyes on the road, she reached into the bag with one hand, trying to get the squealing thing.

    ‘Shit,’ she cursed. Why did they have to make women’s bags so damn capacious, one could never find anything in them when she needed to. The phone blared louder.

    Finally, Helen managed to get it out. Richard’s smiling face stared at her from the screen. Can’t he do anything without her? She’d even left him a note on the fridge with step by step instructions about what to put inside where and how many minutes it takes to warm it. Sheesh, at times, men are worse than children, she thought.

    As she tried to slide the answer button with her thumb, an inner feeling - call it intuition - made her look back onto the road up ahead, which now curved to the right. Dropping the phone, Helen jerked the wheel all the way to her right, barely managing to stay on the asphalt and to avoid a straight-on collision with an old oak.

    The last thing she wanted was to stop on a deserted road in the middle of the night. How many horrible urban legends had she heard, some of them must’ve been real, right?

    But as she felt her heartbeat all the way up in her throat, her foot involuntarily slammed the brake pedal, forcing the car into a full stop. She sat there, motionless, for a couple of seconds and then with a sigh lowered her head onto her hands, which were still tightly latched onto the steering wheel.

    The phone was still ringing from somewhere under the passenger seat. Then it went silent. The music on the radio was accompanied by the heavy rainfall.

    I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire... Don't touch me I'm a real live wire...

    Helen lifted her head and through the fast wipes of the windshield wipers saw the bony skeleton of the bridge up ahead. As she looked deeper into the darkness, her heart shrunk to the size of a pea.
    There was a silhouette of a man on the sidewalk of the bridge. Her fingers dug deeper into the upholstery of the wheel. What was he doing there?

    The man grabbed onto the railing and then put one foot on top of it, soon followed by the other one. He stood up, holding onto one of the beams which supported the bridge and, when she already feared the inevitable would happen, he turned his head to face her.

    She could not see his face, the headlights of the car leaving him out of their gaze. A voice deep inside her screamed, ‘It can’t be real! This isn’t happening! Not again!’

    A giant wave of memories came crashing came crashing down on her, drowning her in the ice-cold sense of guilt. If only she would’ve paid attention to his call that day, if only she would’ve heard it in his voice...

    Everything that followed happened in an instant. She found herself outside in the freezing rain, moving towards the man, who now was looking into the dark void in front of him.

    ‘STOP!’ she screamed, her voice joining the hissing downpour and the quiet sounds of music coming from the car.

    Psycho Killer... Qu'est-ce que c'est...

    She saw him teeter but his hand was still grabbing onto the support beam, keeping him on the railing.

    ‘Please, stop!’ her heart skipped a beat as she saw him still there, still holding on.

    The man turned his head back toward her. She could not see his face but she could feel him staring at her.

    ‘I...’ she stuttered, ‘I can help, let me help you,’ she pleaded.

    The man continued staring. Her nerves were at an edge, as she kept guessing the outcome of this cruel game of faith.

    ‘No one can help,’ she heard him say, his voice deep like that of a Jaz singer. Strangely enough, it sounded calm, somewhat determined. These notes of determination were the ones that she feared.

    As she moved closer, one step at a time, blinking off the heavy raindrops off of her eyelashes, she kept one arm outstretched as if she could've caught him if he were to suddenly jump.

    ‘I can try. Tell me what can I do to make it better, and we will try to sort everything out together. Me and you,’ she spoke, some part of her pretending she was speaking to her baby brother, guessing how she would’ve spoken to him, what she would’ve said to change his mind and keep him away from taking that step.

    ‘Please, don’t do this,’ she was almost begging, now just a couple of meters away from the man. Just a little bit more and she would be able to touch him, if that could do any good.

    ‘You would want me to jump if you knew,’ he said in his calm voice and then added as if they were having a casual conversation, ‘trust me.’

    ‘It doesn’t matter, nothing matters. Anything you did, it does not matter anymore,’ she felt that she was starting to babble.

    ‘Please, give me your hand,’ she was so close. Helen did not feel the cold or the rain on her skin, nor that it had soaked through the thin blouse and jeans.

    ‘A call,’ the man said.

    ‘A call?’ she asked him.

    ‘Could you call someone for me?’ the man asked her casually as if he was asking her a simple friendly favour.

    ‘Sure, yes, yes,’ she started searching through the pockets of her jeans only to remember that she’d left the phone in the car.

    ‘My phone is in the car. I just need to go get it. If you got off we could both go and get it and then call whoever you want,’ she smiled, her eyebrows arching all the way up high onto the forehead, her nerves so tight her face muscles were aching.

    ‘No,’ he said and turned his head to face the river rushing below his feet.

    ‘Okay, okay, all right,’ she put both hand in front of her as if that would prevent him from taking that one step too far, and backed away a couple of steps.

    ‘I’ll just go to my car and call whomever it is you want. Can you tell me the number?’

    ‘77879345439,’ the man said, staring down at his feet.

    ‘Aa,’ she stretched the sound, angry with herself. ‘Could you say that again,’ she shifted from one leg to the other, feeling as panic was starting to take over.

    ‘77879345439,’ the man called the numbers as Helen quietly repeated every one of them.

    ‘All right, I’ll be right back. Just stay here, don’t...’ she didn’t finish the sentence. What was she supposed to say, don’t jump? ‘Just don't do anything foolish. Okay?’ her hand made a movement, first pointing the index finger and then withdrawing the hand into a fist.

    She ran back to the car, turning around twice to make sure the man was still on the railing, every time fearing that she won’t see him there, all the while chanting the phone number to herself.
    She’d left the car door open, the radio was still on.

    You start a conversation you can't even finish it... You're talkin' a lot, but you're not sayin' anything...

    Helen dived over the driver’s seat and fished for the phone under the passenger’s seat, ‘Shit, oh shit, shit...’

    Her hands were trembling as she finally got a hold of it. Two happy faces, a little girl and a man, stared back at her from the bright display.

    Psycho Killer... Qu'est-ce que c'est... fa fa fa ...

    ‘778793...’ she repeated the numbers as she dialled them. She put the phone to her ear and waited for a voice but instead all that she heard was a short signal before the connection was cut off. The phone was either off or it did not exist...

    As the thought crept over her she felt someone’s hand clasp over her mouth and something sharp run all the way across her throat, cutting deep into her skin. She could feel his warm breath on her ear as he whispered in the same calm, deep voice of a Jaz singer - so softly, so quietly - ‘I told you that if you knew you’d wish I did jump.’

    Run, run, run, run, run, run, run away...
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  7. Electralight

    Electralight Member

    Jan 6, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Unknown (1712)

    Dean stroked the girl’s long golden hair. He could feel her terror. He could hear her rapid breath, see her trembling hands. She couldn’t be more than fifteen; a small fifteen at that.

    “What do you want from me?” The girl whispered, shrinking away from Dean’s soft touch.

    Dean leaned down to her small ear and smiled. “No, girl, I don’t want something from you.”

    The girl turned to face him. Dean could see faint streams of tears running down her face. “Then why am I here?”

    “I can’t tell you that,” Dean said, turning away. He looked down at his hands and scowled. He would not tell the girl anything. He couldn’t.

    “Please,” the girl begged, placing a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Just let me go.”

    Dean flung himself around, slapping her on the cheek. “Don’t you dare touch me!” He roared. The girl shrunk back, tears springing from her eyes once again. “I don’t want to hear another word from you.”

    Dean walked to the wall of the small shed and grabbed a rope. He tied the girl’s hands together, and secured her to a bar on the wall. She whimpered, but he ignored her.

    “Don’t even think of doing anything stupid,” Dean growled, then walked out the door, locking it behind him.

    The girl shrank to the floor defeated. Her whole body shook. Sob after sob escaped from her. Her skin prickled from the cold. How long was Dean going to leave her here? Where did he go?

    She wondered why he had taken her. There were so many girls at the park, and many were prettier than she was. Why had Dean run up to her; begging for her help? Why did she fall for it?

    The door opened, and Dean walked back inside. The girl shrank backwards, raising her bound wrists in defense.

    “Put your arms down, girl,” Dean said in a soft voice. The girl obeyed, slowly lowering her arms to the floor. “Now tell me your name.”

    “Why am I here?” The girl demanded in a shaky voice.

    Dean’s eyes darkened. “What is your name,” he said in a steely voice.

    The girl shuddered. “Fae,” She whispered.

    “Fae what?”

    “Fae Marsland.”

    Dean smiled, sending a shiver down Fae’s back. Dean slowly approached her and squatted, so they were eye to eye. “Now tell me, Fae, how much do you know about your mother?”

    Fae looked at him with bewilderment in her eyes. “My mother?” She asked, forgetting to be scared. “What do you want with her?”

    Dean made a low growling sound with his throat. “I asked you a question, girl.”

    “I never knew her,” Fae whispered, starting to tremble yet again.

    “And your father?” Dean demanded.

    “He died before I was born,” Fae said. “Why do you want to know this? Who are you?”

    Dean stood up and started pacing around the small room. “Who raised you?”

    “My grandmother. Please just tell me what is going on,” Fae pleaded.

    “Shut up, girl!” Dean screamed. He became very still for a moment. Fae stared at him with wide eyes and shrunk down, trying to disappear. “Don’t say anything unless I ask you a question,” Dean said in a low, icy voice.

    Fae nodded. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest. Dean started to pace again, softly talking to himself. How was he going to tell her? How could he show he didn’t want to hurt her?

    Dean needed to tell her that she was special. He needed to tell her that she was capable of things beyond her wildest dreams. But how? How could he show this terrified young girl exactly what she was able to do?

    “Listen,” Dean finally said. Fae looked up. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but there is something you need to know.”

    Fae cocked her head to the side, trying to put on a brave face. Maybe if she played along with this crazy man’s plan, she would have a chance to escape.

    “Your parents,” he started, “aren’t dead.”

    “How could you say something like that?” Fae exclaimed. “How dare you-“

    “Shut up!” Dean yelled again. “I said don’t talk.”

    Fae shrunk back down. Tears teetering on the edges of her eyes.

    “They were taken by a warlock known as Dakari. He wanted their power,” Dean said, watching as Fae shook her head in disbelief. “He didn’t know that they gave their power to you.”

    “I don’t have any powers,” Fae whispered.

    “Not yet, but you will,” Dean said. “Your parent put a spell on you, suppressing your powers and hiding you. But it’s wearing off.”

    “No,” Fae shook her head harder. “This isn’t right. There is no such thing as magic.”

    “You know nothing, girl.”

    “Please, just let me go,” Fae pleaded again.

    “Listen to me,” Dean growled, grabbing her by her hair. “He will come for you, and he will cause the end of the world. You are the only one that can stop him.”

    “Why? Why me?”

    “You are the last descendent of the Sorcerer Shyphira. You have more power than you know.”

    “No, I can’t believe this,” Fae said. “Grandmother always told me magic wasn’t real. She said believe what you can see, and nothing else.”

    “Of course she did,” Dean sighed, throwing his hands up.

    “What is that supposed to mean?” Fae asked.

    “She’s not your grandmother,” Dean said. “She is a fairy. A godmother to be exact. Everyone with sorcerer blood has one.”

    “What does that even mean?” Fae asked. Her head was starting to hurt.

    Dean took a step towards her and she flinched away. “I’m going to untie you,” Dean said, “if you promise to hear me out.”

    “I promise,” Fae lied. This was her chance.

    “Okay,” Dean said softly. He walked over and unbound her wrists. “Now-“

    Fae leapt up and ran towards the open door. Her heart jumped as she moved. Suddenly she froze. She couldn’t move. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t feel the beating of her heart.

    “I told you not to move,” Dean growled. He moved so Fae could see him. His fist was clenched, and he slowly released it. Fae could feel her movement returning.

    “What did you do to me?” She asked as soon as she could speak.

    “I used magic,” Dean said. “Now sit down and listen to me.”

    Fae sat, shocked into silence. This couldn’t be happening. This shouldn’t be possible.

    “You are a Sorcerer, a user of light magic. I am a Warlock, a user of dark magic. I worked for Dakari once, but your parents helped me find light. You need to let me train you. You are the only one that can stop Dakari.”

    “You knew my parents?”

    “Is that the only thing you heard?” Dean demanded. “Yes, girl. I knew them.”

    “Where are they?”

    “Dakari has them,” Dean said. “that’s all I know.”

    “How do I know I can trust you?” Fae asked.

    “I didn’t kill you, for one,” Dean shrugged. “Just trust me. It won’t be long before Dakari finds us. I need to start training you now.”

    “I don’t think I can do it,” Fae whispered. “I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong girl.”

    “I don’t, Fae.”

    “Then find someone else to help you. I need to go home.”

    “Please, Fae, you are the only hope.”

    “I’m sorry,” Fae said.

    Dean started pacing again. “We need you.”

    “Just let me go,” Fae begged.

    Dean sighed. “Fine, go,” he said, defeated.

    Fae didn’t waste a second. She leapt up and ran out the door. She ran down a gravel path to the road. Fae knew where she was. It was close to home. She turned left and ran, not looking behind her.

    Fae’s grandmother was waiting for her when she barged through the door.

    “Grandmother,” Fae exclaimed, collapsing into her frail arms.

    “Fae, I need to talk to you,” Grandmother said in a grim voice. “I know you met Dean.”

    Fae yanked herself away. “You know Dean?”

    “Fae, I think you should sit down.”

    “No! You better tell me what’s going on right now.”

    “Fae, please, I can explain everything,” grandmother whispered, reaching out for Fae’s hand.

    “It’s all true, isn’t it?” Fae asked softly.

    Grandmother nodded, looking down at her feet. “I was trying to protect you. You were safer if you didn’t know.”

    “Am I really the only one that can stop him?” Fae asked in a soft voice.

    Grandmother nodded again.

    Fae was silent, her mind reeling.

    “You have to help us,” Grandmother said. “If you don’t trust him, then trust me. You are our only hope.”

    “That’s what he told me.”

    “Because it true, my dear.”

    “Are you really a fairy?” Fae asked.

    “Yes,” Grandmother sighed.

    “What can you do? Can you use magic?”

    “I can’t. Fairies can talk to nature, and change our appearance, but not much else.”

    “Your appearance?” Fae asked.

    “Yes, we live forever, so we can change what we look like.”

    “So what do you really look like?” Fae asked.

    “It’s not important,” Grandmother said. “Right now, all that’s important is you learning how to use your powers. They will start to return, and you must be able to control them.”

    “I don’t think I can do this,” Fae whispered.

    “You can.”

    “How do you know?”

    “Because I know you, my dear,” Grandmother said. “Now go back, and learn.”

    Fae bowed her head. Grandmother drew her into a hug, then pushed her gently towards the door.

    Fae walked slowly down the street. Her mind spun out of control, trying to grasp her new reality. How could her grandmother -or, whoever she was- keep something this big from her all this time?

    Dean was sitting on the front porch of his house when Fae walked up. She sat next to him and cleared her throat. He gave a small nod, waiting for her to speak.

    “I’ll help you,” she said. “But no funny business. No secrets and no lying.”

    Dean nodded. “Okay,” he agreed.

    “And if I don’t like something then we don’t do it. And I never want to see the inside of that shed again,” Fae demanded.

    Dean put his hands up. “I promise.”

    Fae looked into Dean’s grey eyes. “When do we begin?”
  8. -NM-

    -NM- Active Member

    Mar 19, 2008
    Likes Received:
    The Silence of Space [874]

    My cold breath coalesces in front of me like a tiny silver cloud, riding weightless on the recycled air. It didn’t used to be this cold, it shouldn’t be, there must be something wrong with the air conditioning. Still, there’s so much wrong with this place now that it’s barely worth noting. I have no idea how to fix any of it and I’m the only one left to care.

    As I step through the cloud of breath and into the corridor – the smooth metal of the floor sending a chill through my bare feet - the lights ahead of me flicker into life, registering my presence on their little sensors, whilst behind me the room begins to dim and will soon be returned to darkness. A good way to save a little extra power. Smart. Who knows how much juice is left in this thing.

    The long rectangular bulbs overheard hum with a barely perceptible buzzing that sets my teeth on edge. It thinks it’s so clever, so quiet, hiding itself amongst the general background hum of the ship, but I hear it – the endless static buzzing. There’s no hiding here.

    The corridor bends around to the right, following the painted lines on the floor that guide you toward myriad destinations - blue takes you to the crew’s sleeping quarters, red to the medical bay, yellow to the engine room, black to the bridge, but I follow my own path. White paint on white floor, drawing me forward with each step. The dull thud of my footsteps never faltering in their rhythm, like a heartbeat running through the ship – dum...dum...dum...dum.

    Somewhere in the bowels below the engine roars – I can feel the vibrations in my toes - as it completes another cycle and settles into its next brief period of hibernation, just letting me know before it returns to its slumber that it’s still here, still functioning.

    My path twists and turns, leading me through the endlessly repeating corridors, until I find myself in front of the door again. Why must they continue to bring me here? Look, they tell me. Look. They urge me. They force my eyes to focus, but nothing has changed. Nothing does. The room is as it was – a snapshot of a moment seen through the fogged glass window that adorns it, like a photograph in a frame. Why did you bring me here?

    A light behind me flickers off and the pitch of the humming changes just slightly, whilst somewhere behind the walls an alarm sounds, filling the air with a muffled claxon cry, daring me to ignore it and face the consequences. It’s been doing it for days. Every time it thinks I’ve forgotten it starts up again, following me around the ship, always out of sight in some distant hidden room, wailing at me.

    Beside me, the wall shivers as a stream of liquid coolant gurgles down the pipes, which creak and squeal in protest as it races round the walls, heading God knows where.

    I don’t understand how there can be so much noise. It just won’t stop. The buzzing of the electrics, the steady beat of the engine, the creaking and thumping and screaming in the walls. The endless whispers in the night. Why won’t they stop? They are in my head, in my chest, running through my veins. I can see them like a grey filter across everything, feel them beneath my skin like an itch that makes me want to rip open my wrists and dig them out with my fingers. They whisper to me. They plant words in my head – ideas, accusations. I had to do it, there was no other choice. Just leave me alone.

    But they won’t. They can’t. They need to live just as I do and to them silence is death. No, I don’t believe that. There is no silence, there never was. It was a dream; a promise soaked in lies, drowning in them. But maybe… Maybe in there it’s different. Through the foggy glass in the room where time daren’t move but disturb itself. I can feel the silence through the glass, radiating through my fingers, calling to me like a red hot flame in this frozen tundra as it warms the blood in my heart and settles atop me like a mist.

    The light on the door panel shifts from green to red and beyond the glass the airlock hisses and bursts open, taking the room with it, purging its contents, casting it all out into the black vacuum waiting beyond to gobble it up. Nothing survives. The moment is cracked and shattered, the photograph torn and burnt, scattering the ashes across the infinite expanse beyond. Everything, even my screams are lost, slipping through the walls and disappearing into the darkness.

    The airlock slams shut and the lights around me flicker and die. The distant alarm has ceased and the engine beneath my feet rumbles to a halt. There is nothing. I hold my breath and the silence moves in, teasingly at first, tickling my skin before enveloping me like a cocoon, holding me tight. A light flashes red on the wall and a whisper of something brushes gently against my throat.

  9. Jeff Countryman

    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

    Aug 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Whisper – A New Brand Of Moonshine Whiskey (1,732 words)

    My brother and I make moonshine whiskey on the weekends – ain’t no secret about that. Sure, it’s illegal but most of the cops on the force are customers so they don’t come snooping around too much. The thing is, the moonshine business is getting crowded. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has taken it up and some of them’s got a high school degree which doesn’t bode well in our favour.

    So, driving out to Brad’s moonshine shack a few weeks ago I got to thinking things over. What we needed was more customers, not more moonshine. How does one go about doing that when the population around here is meagre to begin with? There ain’t no jobs so ain’t nobody moving to these parts no more. While I was driving along I passed by a hitch-hiker that set my mind in motion. She looked like a citified hussy and I don’t stop for their kind. I don’t stop for any kind of woman to tell the truth; but that’s another story that gets Brad’s dander up most every day – back to this one for now:

    Like I said, the hitching girl gave me an idea. Women don’t buy moonshine. They like them dainty drinks with bubbles in it. Now, I can’t make bubbles in my whiskey but I sure as heck can make it dainty. All I had to figure out was how. And with what. I drove another mile before turning around to go talk to the hussy on the side of the road. She’d know. All hussies knew stuff like that, especially the city ones.

    I crossed the centre line and pulled up in front of her on the gravel shoulder. She put her thumb down and sauntered over. “You going to Hollywood?” she asked, pushing her bosom out and placing a hand on her hip.

    “No. I’m going up to my brother’s shack.”

    “Is he a movie star or a director?”

    No one in their right mind would think such of thing of Brad. I got all the looks in the family and everyone says so. I guessed she wasn’t from these parts. “No. He fixes junkers down at Ed’s. Do you like vanilla?”

    She blinked. Then blinked again. “Vanilla Ice you mean?”

    I’d never heard of an ice cube made of vanilla but that’s city folks for ya. “I guess.”

    “Sure I do! You know him? I’m his biggest fan!”

    “Him who?”

    “Vanilla Ice. That’s who you said.”

    I shrugged. She must’ve been spaced out on drugs. “What about cinnamon?” I asked, instead.

    She stepped back, insult and distaste on her painted face. “Cinnamon Spice? I don’t play that side of the fence.”

    Not remembering a fence in this particular stretch of road, I looked around for a new one. I didn’t see one but maybe them drugs was affecting her vision – like delusions of grandeur I’d heard about. “Okay. So, you don’t then?” I inquired about the cinnamon.

    She gave me the finger , turned, and walked back to her hitching spot. Given such a dramatic response I concluded that women didn’t care for cinnamon all that much. I’d just done what they call market research (I graduated grade ten and learned that from Mr. Kinear in science class).

    Given this new information, I tried to think of some more lady-like flavours and by the time I got to Brad’s moonshine shack, I had a plan. I didn’t tell him though, just kept it myself. Later that week I went to the library to hook up with a guy who’d put an ad in the person columns. He must have got scared because he didn’t show up but I grabbed a hunting magazine off the rack, and when no one was looking, I snuck one of them women’s cooking magazines and tucked it into the center so no one could see me reading it. I found what I wanted in the ads in the back: Faye’s Flavour Infusions . . . Inject your meat with the Orient. I didn’t want to inject my meat with nothing, sounded awfully painful, but figured I could inject into my next batch of barley mash for our moonshine. I ripped the page out and sent Faye a money order the next day from way over in Durham Town so as not to be recognized.

    And that’s how we got to today. I collected my order at the Post in Durham and drove directly to Brad’s shack. Being Friday, we needed to get the mash fired up. I opened the box from Faye and spread all the little bottles on the table. Using my brain, I drew pictures of ways to inject the flavours into the mash to show my brother so he’d understand.

    He came in just as I was finishing my latest, and bestest, drawing. He stopped dead in his tracks, the door smacking his butt on its way shut. “You get yourself a lab kit from the hospital or something?”

    I handed him my drawings without a word. He turned them every which way except North before scratching his head and tossing them on the nearest counter. “Want a beer?”

    I declined and waited patiently for him to get one out of the fridge, open it, and guzzle the darned thing. He never settled until his second was open. I pulled out a chair. “Come sit,” I invited. “Got something to show ya.”

    He stepped around the chair to inspect a few vials scattered on the table. He didn’t read so good but he puzzled out some of the labels before scowling. “Could you possibly get any gayer, Adam? What the hell is lavender and ginger infusion? What you playin’ at boy?”

    “Gayer ain’t a word. I’m gay and you can’t be gayer than nobody else.”

    A sneer wrapped around his bearded lips. “Wanna bet? Ever see that guy down at Annette’s Beauty Parlor? The one that wears them tight pants and rhinestone tank-tops? I heard he been offering to give us good o’le boy perms. And let me tell you, that’s gayer, so it’s a word.” He cuffed my head to make sure it got into my brain then sat down. “I only like your kind of gay. The normal kind,” he said, less harsh – his way of showing of love and support, God love him.

    I ignored his rant and got down to business. “Whisper,” I said.

    Gut reaction made him lower his head. Bullets through moonshine shack windows made me cringe the same way. He looked around suspiciously before straightening up. “Why the hell should I whisper in my own shack?” he growled loud enough to wake a bear.

    “Not you,” I began, handing him a vial of something called vermison spring infusion. “For the ladies.”

    He handled the vial as if it were dynamite and carefully set it back down. “What ladies? There ain’t no lady within two-hundred miles of this hell hole.”

    I sighed. “Okay, the women folk then. Think about it! They don’t buy no moonshine ‘cause they don’t like the taste. So, I figure we infuse a few batches with this female-flavoured stuff they like and we’ll get us a thousand more customers.” I reached over to the counter and nabbed the drawings he’d discarded. “See?” I asked, putting them in front of him. “Like this. I can make another evaporator and connect another line with a Y-joint to get the flavour in. I got it all worked out. I’m going to call it “Whisper” because it will only have a whisper of the flavour.”

    Brad studied the drawings some more, chugged more beer, farted twice, then smacked the back of my head. “By God, you’re a genius, bro!”

    I smiled. “I know.”

    He picked up one of the vials and took off the top for a sniff. His eyes watered as his belly heaved. He capped it quickly and set it as far away as his arm would reach. “Maybe not. That’s disgusting.”

    “I said it’s called Whisper. It’s just a hint of the flavour, not the whole damned bottle.”

    “Ain’t no one gonna buy it,” he said, getting up for another beer. He offered me one with a look and I nodded. It was Miller time by my clock.

    “Let’s just try it with this batch,” I suggested hopefully. “We can afford to take a loss if it don’t work.”

    We chugged our beer as he considered it. “Only this once,” he decided. “I’ll call Mikey and we’ll get this show on the road.”

    By and by, our best friend, Mikey Boyardee came over to give us a hand. Being Italian, he didn’t care much for my new-fangled notions and said so in plain English infused with Italian cusses, but he was hot to look at so I tolerated his jibes. “Whisper,” he taunted. “You need more imagination. We make it good and you call it ‘Dainty Whisper’ and it will sell. Then, you infuse it with manly flavour like bacon and mushroom and call it ‘Gruff Whisper’ and it will sell. This I tell you,” he stated firmly, hands and arms gesticulating as Italians are prone to do.

    Brad and I laughed because the first sample was ready and smelled disgusting. Brad brought the jar of clear, foul-smelling liquid to his lips but couldn’t stomach a taste. “Let’s get Mikey to try it; he likes everything.”

    Not daring to breathe the noxious fumes, I nodded and he passed it over to our Italian comrade.

    Mikey sipped cautiously, smiled in heavenly awe, and downed it.

    “Hey, Mikey!” Brad clapped him on the back, then looked at me. “He likes it!”

    I could only try to hide my smug smile. I knew it would work.

    And wouldn’t you know, Mikey got himself more educated and became a real chef. He opened his own Italian restaurant over in Durham Town and his ravioli in tomato sauce was so good that he canned the stuff and sold it in stores all around the country. Chef Boyardee, can you believe it? Ain’t that a rib tickler?!

    As for me and Brad, our ‘Whisper’ moonshine flopped. Turns out the women folk want bubbles in their drinks. I don’t know how to make bubbles.

    But the last time I went tinkles in a flush toilet I made bubbles in the bowl . . . and it's got me thinking . . .
  10. Ex Leper

    Ex Leper Member

    Jul 25, 2008
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    Whispering Lee [2911 words]

    Is death the end? The oldest question mankind has ever asked, and the most elusive. Nobody has an answer. Many have theories; some based on science, others based on faith. Fewer still have come face-to-face with the Grim Reaper and lived to tell the tale. And, of those who have stared in to the eyes of the angel of death and survived they inevitability succumb to babbling madness. The truth is nobody knows for sure.

    It was five summers past when I met young Susan Hartnell. A pretty, if boyish, young lady in her early teenage years. She was on holiday with her father and brother. I later enquired about the whereabouts of her mother. She informed me that she had had two mothers and cancer had taken them both. Death was familiar with this youth.

    Of the father, Edward, he had a strong and rugged air about him of a man who had lived and bore the wounds on his hands and face. Despite the tragic losses he had suffered in his life, here was a man who looked forward instead of dying a slow death in the past. For someone with such a positive outlook, I half expected him to be a man of faith. Surprisingly, he was not.

    The boy was a little scamp named Iain. Full of imagination and a love for adventure. His mother's demise was not fully understood to him yet. It would hit home sooner or later. I prayed that his family would be a rock for him when that time came.

    I first met Susan after we bumped into each other one morning. It was as much my fault as hers, and despite losing a fresh cup of coffee, I let the matter go. I was daydreaming about eating squid rings at lunch (a personal favourite). Susan was walking down the steps at East Cliff, her eyes faraway and distant, recollecting wondrous and thrilling ancestral memories from aeons past. She made her excuses and, rightly, admonished me on the dangers of talking to strangers before quickly leaving.

    A fleeting passing of souls that happens many times in a day. Most become nothing, barely a remembrance in long future days when casting a look back through ones life. Hopefully one will become significant and stay with you until your last breath, an act of creation causing a miraculous multiplication of souls. Some come and go, staying for a brief moment, but leaving a momentous imprint on your life like an ancient fossil pressed in stone. Susan Hartnell was of the latter category.

    It was a couple of hours later as I sat drinking alone at the Red Lion, that I noticed the family arrive. They ordered lunch and then sat before a sea view window. I went over and introduced myself to the family. Edward was very polite and patient. Susan explained the coffee incident to her father and he insisted that he buy me another coffee. I, equally politely, asked if he could make it a pint of bitter instead.

    While Edward worked his way through the lunchtime rush, Iain busied himself with coloured crayons and a piece of paper, and I decided to question Susan. "What was you dreaming of when we bumped into each other?" I asked.

    An embarrassed pause. "Vikings," she said.

    "Why Vikings?"

    "I asked Dad what country was on the other side of the sea. He said Denmark. I immediately thought of Vikings. We did them at school a few years ago," she said.

    "Harbingers of death," I whispered. "Wherever the Vikings go, death follows. Actually, there's no history between Vikings and Cromer. You see, Cromer wasn't established until around the 13th century. The Viking age had long gone. Norwich, however, was raided by Swain Forkbeard in 1004."

    "Are you a history teacher?" Edward came back and handed me my pint.

    "I used to be. Retired now. I still study local history, though."

    "Maybe you could help us," said Edward.

    "Oh, how?"

    "The house we're staying at, over by the Overstrand. It's full of paintings of Cromer. There is one in particular that caught my attention. It's an oil painting of Cromer beach in a storm. Little fishing boats near to capsizing are riding the waves. It stands out from the other paintings in the house because it's so dark and violent."

    "Did the artists sign them?" I asked.

    "Yes," said Susan. "All the paintings are signed L.T."

    "Ah, yes. Lee Troughton," I said. "Bit of a local legend. Not necessarily for the right reasons.

    "Troughton was born in 1777. The date is a bit murky. Some sources say January 1st, another says 20th of March, and yet another says December 21st. I'm inclined to go for the latter date. There was a painting he completed the day he died called Birthday. It is unlike any of his other work. You see, he was famous - around these parts, at least - for painting fishing scenes. You might see some of his work around town. Pubs and restaurants buy them, despite the stigma of the man himself, to emphasise the fishing history of Cromer. But, Birthday is land based. It shows a blasphemous image of the nativity. Instead of three wise men around a crib in Bethlehem, the picture represents Troughton's house with him as a baby surrounded by three drunken lechers. In the upstairs window of the house a woman is seen hanging from a noose. It is widely believed that this woman represents Troughton's mother. Not much is known about his early life so we have no way of knowing if this picture represents truth, or is metaphorical. But, the fact that it's called Birthday, and the nature of the scene - the nativity - leads me to suspect December 21st is the correct date of birth.

    "We do know about Troghton's father. He was a fisherman, as were most men in Cromer in those days. He died in a terrible storm after his boat capsized. That's what the picture in your holiday home represents. It's called Goodbye To The Bastard."

    "Not a big fan of his dad then," said Edward.

    "No. By all accounts Troughton senior was a heavy drinker and was very free and easy with his fists. Some sources suggest he was the cause of his wife's death. But, these sources came about after Troughton died so we must treat these claims with suspicion. But, it gives some hint to the darkness in Birthday. I'm sorry. A lovely day like this and I'm telling ghastly tales."

    "Please carry on," Susan said. "This is interesting. What was Lee Troughton like?"

    "I'm afraid it gets a lot darker. You see, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Troughton also drank heavily. Fought frequently. And, he kept decidedly unpleasant company. In 1807 a stranger came to Cromer. The locals called him The Mad Arab. He was a pariah. It went so far that people crossed the street to avoid him. You could put it down to racism and prejudice - and I don't doubt there was an element of that in the people's attitude - but there may have been something to their fear.

    "His name was Al-Harthi and from the very little we know of him he was an exile from the Ottoman Empire. He was due to be executed for blasphemous beliefs, but seems to have befriended a British diplomat who smuggled him from the country. The diplomat was found hanged and skinned at his home in London in 1799.

    "Al-Harthi disappears from the history books for the next eight years until he shows up in Cromer befriending our man Troughton. Around this time it is reported that Troughton stopped drinking alcohol. Some scholars are of the opinion that he converted to Islam, but others are not so sure."

    "What do you think?" Edward asked.

    "I'm of the latter opinion. Maybe he had found a god, but it came from no Abrahamic tradition. Al-Harthi apparently possessed an ancient scroll. Some said it was made from human flesh, and written in human blood. I think that's a load of old poppycock. There is no evidence of such a scroll. That, I'm afraid, is urban legend. But, it adds a nice bit of colour to my story, doesn't it?

    "The story gets much stranger and more sinister from here. Some locals reported seeing The Mad Arab instructing Troughton to bathe in seaweed and silt. According to Al-Harthi's creed it was meant to cleanse a man's soul in order to receive blessings from God. Children and pets began to go missing from the town. Predictably they blamed the foreigner with the strange customs.

    "Not long after the disappearances began, Al-Harthi disappeared - from Cromer and the history books from this point on. But, he left Troughton one final gift, as he called it. Al-Harthi cut out one of Troughton's lungs and burned it in sacrifice to his god."

    "Why would he let Al-Harthi do that?" said Susan.

    "Remember, Troughton was enthralled with this man. Al-Harthi was no better than an evangelist, or phoney medium who preys on the weak-minded. Mildly talented as Troughton was, he was very much controlled by his vices. Before he was enthralled to The Mad Arab, he was a slave to the bottle."

    "From this point on Troughton's work became mildly more popular. I put that down to coincidence, or a placebo effect that boosted his confidence when selling his work. What I do know is that from the moment his lung was removed he was forever called Whispering Lee. With only one working lung he found it hard to talk. He never spoke above a whisper again."

    I looked at Susan. The blood had drained from her face. I asked her if she was okay. She said she was. Shortly afterwards they left to continue their holiday. I never saw Edward or Iain again. When I saw Susan next, she would be a very different person, and she would be in a very different place.


    This morning I saw Susan for the first time in five years. It was not through lack of trying. Doctor Davison, who was looking after her, had decided that the young woman had not been fit for visitors. He warned me that Susan still held on to the disturbing fantasy she had constructed whenever anybody confronted her about the events in Cromer. Yet, that was precisely why I was visiting her. Call it selfish if you wish, but I call it curiosity.

    She had been transferred from a high security mental hospital to the medium risk hospital last week. A security guard followed her everywhere and never left her sight. I was frisked before entering the room with Susan, and I had my pencil removed from me. Luckily I had a Dictaphone to hand.

    What I learned I am loathe to repeat, but as an historian and collector of the life and works of Whispering Lee I feel it is my duty to write this up. Forgive me if my sensibilities offend you, but I firmly believe this needs to be put down for future historians to consider. I am also fully aware that what I am about to report will open me up to ridicule amongst my peers. However, like the Dictaphone, I am only relating the facts as they came to me.

    Susan told me of her first night at the holiday house. It was, as I had suspected upon our first meeting, Lee Troughton's house. The same one from Birthday. Although, at this time, Susan had no idea who Whispering Lee was which makes her story all the more fascinating. Of course, it is entirely possible that she could have constructed this fable after the event with the knowledge I had shared with her in the Red Lion.

    The Hartnell's arrived at the house in good spirits. They settled in and spent the evening on the seafront. Susan had chosen the room on the third floor. There are several things one should note about this room. First, this was the room with the hanging woman in Birthday. Second, the top room was decorated for children. Knowing that missing children were linked to Troughton and the Mad Arab gives one an uneasy feeling. It is reasonable to conclude it is a coincidence. After all the current owners of the house have no connection to Troughton. But, then there is the lock on the door. For this lock is not on the inside to keep people from coming in, but is on the outside - one must assume - to keep people (children?) from coming out.

    Susan endured her first night of unspeakable terror that night. What she described was akin to what scientists call sleep paralysis. Indeed, Doctor Davison diagnosed it as such. She heard, or thought she heard, the bedroom door brush quietly across the carpet as it opened. At first, Susan thought it was her brother come to visit her after a bad dream. This had been a common occurrence in their own home. But, when she made to roll over to see him she discovered she couldn't move. She was certain that something in the room with her for she could feel it's presence as it crept across the room to her bed. Susan recalled a faint smell of putrid fish and rotten eggs. Curiosity compelled her to move, to see, to discover what was silently inching towards her. But, her body refused to respond. Her eyes were fixed on the street light outside her window, her arms were fixed to her sides. A fear she barely had the vocabulary to explain consumed her as Susan felt it's weight on the bed beside her. Spectral hands reached around her waist and she screamed silently in her head for words that would not come out. And then, a word whispered in her ear: "Hush."

    Susan did not remember falling asleep, but around dawn time she woke up. This encourages Doctor Davison's theory that Susan suffered Sleep Paralysis. This does not explain what happened on the second night, however.

    Brave, or embarrassed, or ashamed, I could not tell, but Susan kept the events of that night to herself until I turned up to question her. Maybe it was the familiar face that brought it out of her after five years of white walls and strangers. I guess she trusted me.

    It was on this second day that I met her and we had our lunch time discussion in the Red Lion.

    On the second night, Susan slept on a mattress on the floor beside Iain. She slept peacefully at first. It was around one in the morning that she claims she was woken by the sound of footsteps in the room above. They paced back and forth for how long Susan couldn't specify. She slid under the bed covers in the thin hope they would protect her. Eventually the footsteps stopped.

    Susan was on the point of falling back to sleep when she heard the upstairs door open and close. Her eyes shot open. Her ears alert to the smallest sound. The footsteps came slowly down the stairs. Deliberate and unrushed. They continued across the hallway. Susan prayed they would continue down the next flight of stairs. Instead they stopped outside the bedroom. She shut her eyes tight and fought hard to keep the whimpering in.

    She could feel somebody standing over her. The smell of putrid fish and rotten eggs got stronger as she felt someone leaning over her. "Hush," a voice whispered.

    The footsteps retreated, back out the room and down the corridor. They stopped before the stairs. They stopped outside Edward's room.

    Susan curled up into a tight ball under the covers and quietly released the whimper of fear. As soon as the first rays of light came in through the window, Susan jumped out of bed. Her first thought was Iain, but when she checked his bed he was not in it. The bed didn't look like it had been slept in.

    The true horror of the night was waiting for her in her father's bedroom. She never told me what was in there, but it was widely reported in the news at the time. For those of you who don't know I shall spare you the worst of the details.

    Poor Iain Hartnell was never found. Susan received death threats and hate mail from a misinformed public looking for a scapegoat to a crime that shamed the country. I don't believe, for one second, that Susan is responsible for her brother's disappearance. I believe her when she says she didn't do it. If people would only open their minds and study their facts the culprit would stand up clear as day.

    Some people say that Susan killed her father. If that is true, then my tale may have influenced her. I doubt that is the case, however. In all the ways I play this out in my head I cannot see how a teenage girl would be capable of the grotesque mutilations bestowed upon Edward Hartnell's body. For me, it was clear that the real culprit was Whispering Lee Troughton. I never believed in ghosts nor spirits before now. The key piece of evidence that convinced me otherwise was that one of Edward's lungs was missing. It has never been found or accounted for. I can only assume that the ghost of Lee Troughton no longer whispers.
  11. Aidan Stern

    Aidan Stern Active Member

    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    My Awefull World Inside My Head
    Acquiescence [568]

    I can hear him in my head.

    Why? Why wouldn't you listen to me? You knew. You knew and you ignored me. How could you do that? How could you do that to me, your own family, your only family? I told you, I told you everything. Bared my heart and soul to you. Hid nothing, kept no secrets. I thought you would help me. Why didn't you? You always helped me before, so much you were over protective. But the second I told you, the second you knew, it all changed. Why? Why?

    I look around at my surroundings. It was only six months ago when I first stood at this place. Then, the trees were green, bright, and full of life. Now, the trees are on fire with crimson and saffron leaves, creating that dry and scratchy whisper. Their bright piercing colors still seem to mock the darkness obscuring my thoughts.

    I remember when I stood here only that short while ago. It was warm and welcoming. So cruel for the occasion. I hated it. I remember friends and relatives talking about him. How great he was, how wonderful. How none of it made sense, how his life was perfect. Each statement and memory a believed in lie. But, I knew the truth, the honest story. Yet, I didn't speak, denied him even that. After his death, when nothing would matter anymore; and still I kept my silence. My betrayal continues to this day.

    I stand before the black marble slab of stone marking where his bones rest. Rest, I don’t think he’s at rest at all. I think, no...I know, he is angry, hateful, and tearing whatever world he’s in apart. They kept trying to convince me that he’s not here anymore, that he was in a better place just beyond the horizon, but how could I believe that when he was right there strangling my mind, screaming. The hurt in his voice, the anger and despair at my betrayal. I was supposed to watch over him, take care of him. But, when he told me those words, I rejected him, shunned and ignored him. I knew, he’s right. I knew - I know everything, everything that drove him to his grave. And I can’t say that I did anything to stop him.

    I turn and walk into the forest of fire behind the church graveyard. I can still hear him, but he’s no longer screaming. He’s given up. Now he just cries.

    I continue walking, the breeze filtering through the space between each leaf and blade of grass. In the silence I can hear every breath and whisper replacing his screams with prompts and urges. I sit down at the base of one of the massive trees and reach in my pocket to take out what he had used. I remember when I found him. They were different, one in each hand. I knew instantly which he had used and they didn't find it. Because I had, and I've kept it for…

    It was so simple. Thin and small with barely an inch of silver steel. I read the inscription. X-ACTO 11. That’s what he used, the X-LIFE no. 11 Classic Fine Point Blade with a #1 precision knife; an artist’s tool. A dainty artist’s tool.

    The wind whispers to me again, accompanying his staggered breath.

    Finally, I speak.


    Then, silence reigns again.
  12. blueheaven

    blueheaven New Member

    Jan 24, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Voices [869 words]

    “He’s bored for now”

    “Yeah, he is going to crack soon”

    “Nah, boredom won’t be enough”

    Bryan looked around the office. He’s sure he heard whispers but the last he has checked, no one was around. At least no one was supposed to be. He stared at the clock, it was almost 5. Probably everyone has already left work, leaving him solitary there. The rain prevented him from going home.

    He dismissed those voices to be some echo from people down the other hall and proceeded to stare blankly at his computer screen.

    “He is confused now”

    “Boy, what problems he is facing right now”

    “But he seems to have no cares at all”

    “How’d you know, I bet it is turmoil in that skull of his”

    Bryan left his seat to take a short stroll. He couldn’t go very far because the area where he worked was like a small shaded island surrounded by places where he would get wet if the dare thread amidst this rainy weather.

    Pit pat pit pat, falls the rain. He stared at the falling drops of water, captivated by anything that moves in any sequence. There was nothing he wanted to do right now but stare blankly.

    “I wonder what is in his mind”

    “Nothing I bet, just emptiness”

    “He must be thinking of something, pondering or musing probably”

    “I doubt it, he is going to crack I tell you”

    Suddenly, the rain stopped. This is his chance, it is now or never. Bryan proceeded to his office to pack up; he didn’t want to stay in that confinement of an area anymore. Dreary steps commenced as he headed home.

    He left his stuff at home and went out to meet a couple of friends to hang around.

    “Oh look, he has friends”

    “Looks like a fun life he is having right now. All jokes and smiles. I don’t get why you think he is going to crack”

    “Like you said, looks like fun. Looks can be deceiving. Watch closely, something is amiss”

    Bryan looks at his friends conversing happily talking about their day. He tries to join in, but he didn’t really have much to add on to.

    Amidst that, he wonders, it seems like his friends don’t even hear a whisper. The voices only appear to him. He smiled back at his friends.

    It has been almost a month living like this. He always had a nonchalant disposition. His friends can’t help but admire his ability to face every problem without complaints. Some reckon his life was perfect having no troubles with school or work at all. He just kept on smiling.

    “Look, he doesn’t look like he will snap anytime. Lucky we didn’t bet on it, or else you would have lost”

    “Not yet is what I’ll say. I’m up for a bet if you want”

    “You mean, despite this you think that he’ll…”

    “Of course I do”

    His days passed like the usual routine. Nothing much has changed. He still went out for errands or to just enjoy time with friends. No one would suspect his true feelings because he would always wear a happy face, without a hint of troubles inside.

    “Why doesn’t he smile when he is alone?”

    “Who smiles to themselves unless they are mad?”

    “He will be in due time”

    Everything was fine. Till one evening.

    That evening, Bryan stayed in his lab past working hours. This time, it wasn’t rain that stopped him from going home. Neither was the lack of activities. His friends wanted to hang out, but no one could reach him.

    All he did was stared blankly at his screen. No strolls to clear his mind this time. All he did was stare. From time to time, he heaved a sigh of exasperation, but nothing changed. He was there for quite a while. His problem finally got to him.

    “He is going to blow”

    “I never thought he would snap but now it looks inevitable”

    “Like an eruption....”

    Just then, Bryan stood up with bloodshot eyes, and walked towards the front of his desk facing three individuals, “Who in the world are you? Why are you following me?!?,” he shouted rather harshly.

    “You mean you can see us?”

    “Why are you surprised? Of course he can, he is in our wavelength now. He has snapped. He can see us, and his other persona.”

    Just then, the three men he saw initially were suddenly surrounded by ten. Wait, now there are twenty, maybe even more.

    They came in all different ages, ethnicity and sizes; old, young, short, fat, thin, tall, angry, happy, grumpy, sad, black, white, brown.. but what intrigued him the most, he noticed, was that every single one of them looked the same.

    They all seem to have the same face. They all looked like Bryan.

    He panicked, “What are you guys? Have my problems finally driven me insane?” he screamed.

    “Yes, you have snapped’

    “But with regards to your problem, that’s why we are here”

    Then it struck him. This is it, he thought. He was blocked for quite some time, but this is it.

    Thus, he picked up his pen, and penned like he never did before.

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