Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 2.23
Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Year 2, Week 23.
This is a flash fiction challenge. The prompt is a song. You are not required to write about or even mention the song. It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan. If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.
500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.
Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.
MAKE SURE TO PUT YOUR TWITTER HANDLE NEXT TO YOUR WORD COUNT AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POST. IF YOU’RE NOT ON TWITTER GIVE ME AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR SOME OTHER WAY TO GET A HOLD OF YOU!
The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at MIDNIGHT Pacific Time on Friday. You read that right. Pacific Time.
This week’s song prompt is a great tune by Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons.
It’s called, “Home In the Woods”. Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/ITE0yz8Wjwo
We’ve got a first-time Judge reading for us this week. Say hello to Jessica Marcarelli, everyone!
The challenge opens the moment you read this post and runs through MIDNIGHT PACIFIC TIME on Friday October 10th.
Now… go write!!!!!
Posted on October 7, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.
Dust motes swirled and danced in the ray of sunshine that flooded the bedroom, and Eli gazed at Aoife’s tumbling dark hair as she stood by the window. The sun glinted and bounced off the silver hairbrush she swept through her curls. His chest rose and fell with a heavy sigh and he relaxed back upon the white cotton pillows. The sheet she clutched slipped a little as she tugged at a stray tangle, and Eli imagined it dropping away from her shoulders altogether. The corner of his mouth twitched in a lazy smile and he wondered what she looked at every morning through the window.
“What d’you see out there, angel?” he asked lacing his fingers behind his head.
Her arm paused, mid-stroke and high in the air then she put the brush down. She pulled the sheet up and rested her hand against the window pane. “Trees, as green as the Emerald Isle, tall woods, stretching back as far as you can see…mountains, huge, snow-capped mountains…” she paused, her hand still flat on the glass, “and lakes,” she added, “up in the mountains. Rivers…blue ribbons of rivers and waterfalls cascading down – can’t you hear them? The water rolling and gushing, icy and cold…”
Eli grinned, his eyes still fixed on her bare back, her spine disappearing into the loose white sheet. Her lies filled the room as the air-con’s chill spread goose-bumps across his skin. He could hear Monday morning traffic, hurrying and bustling through the city streets, and the only green was bright traffic light go. Tower-blocks filled the view as far as the eye could see and the distant mountain ranges had been disguised by a film of smog for as long as he could recall.
“Waterfalls cascading…” she continued, “down to…” Her voice caught and her hand trailed down the glass, leaving an imprint that faded as quickly as her words.
She turned, slowly, the sheet bunched about her body, and her eyes met his. He drowned in her clear blue depths, and his own breath caught in his throat.
“Waterfalls…” she repeated, her yearning eyes filling with unshed tears. “Cascading down to the ocean… To the salt water, the sea, to waves crashing upon beaches and wind dancing atop the foam.”
She stared straight into his heart, salty tears slipping silently down her cheeks.
Conflict battered his soul, as compassion and desire fought to surface. His base passions won and he beckoned her to the bed. “Come, sweetheart, come…” He patted the bed beside him. “One day, my darling, one day I’ll take you back… One day we’ll run away from the city together, we’ll own a cabin in the woods, and we’ll follow the river down to the ocean… One day you’ll swim again in the sea.” He gazed at her, as her white fingers clutched tightly to the sheet about her body. She sat lightly on the bed and he rubbed her shoulders leaning in close to kiss her neck. He whispered as he feathered tiny kisses across her shoulder and down her arm. “One day, angel, but until then you’re mine, and until then we’ll play together…”
He pulled her down onto the bed and gently stripped away her sheet. He ignored her wet cheeks and the way her eyes glazed over as he caressed his prize.
Her expressionless eyes remained open as she slipped away to a far, far ocean and his promises faded, lost and buried in the same place as her pelt.
Oh Lisa that was…fantastic and sad and brilliant.
Beautiful! And I love how you held everything back until those final two sentences!
Orson Holloway’s Reunion
Back home they considered Orson Holloway a hero, but he couldn’t care less.
He was one of several researches sent to scour the stars for new medicines. He had been more successful than anyone else, mostly because he was reckless. He landed on planets without completing safety scans, and brought materials aboard before the sensors cleared them. They told him his carelessness would kill him. He hoped so.
Orson had gotten this callous, after his wife died. She contracted Colozoidal Fever. They rushed her into isolation and 24 hours later—she was dead. He couldn’t even do a normal funeral, it was too risky to release the body.
Delilah died and he chose to follow her. Only his body hadn’t cooperated. He took the researcher position because they promised him he could spend his time alone in the stars. He wondered sometimes if he had visited any of the stars Delilah would point out to him through their bedroom window.
Approaching Malchus A 17, his computer console told him there was a life sustaining planet below. He instructed the craft to land. When it asked for an authorization code to permit the breach of protocol he simply said, “Whatever.” The computer logged his response and started to the surface. It would take about two hours, so he took a nap. Let the computer handle any emergencies.
On the surface, he looked out and saw what appeared to be grasslands. He checked the atmosphere readout and discovered the air had suitable oxygen levels to breath and no poisons detected as of yet. It would take a couple days to complete the reading. He opened the hatch, again over-riding protocol.
He breathed deep of the fragrant air, enjoying the perfect temperature and relishing the star’s warmth on his face. He thought how Deliliah would have loved this place. He went back inside, unable to escape the torture of his thoughts.
Delilah was there. Standing by the piloting station, in a formal gown that he thought he remembered. He gasped with delight, then again in frustration. He had the computer close the hatch and then began pumping air out of the ship, replacing it with artificial atmosphere. As soon as the process was started he stood up and went to the illusion and wrapped his arms around her. He was surprised he could feel her as a solid thing. He held her and they cried together until the hallucinogenic atmosphere was purged. Then his arms collapsed to his chest and she was gone.
He moped for the next fifty hours. He refused to allow the computer to perform a standard physical. Finally a little bell rang and he examined the results. In the air was a pollen, probably from a tree, that would create realistic delusions. He would have to use a respirator for the remainder of his work here.
First day out he brought back several specimens with medicinally desirable qualities. The computers would run simulations against thousands of known diseases, viruses and cancers. If they were beneficial the computer would send a report back to home explaining how to synthesize an equivalent medication.
Second day out he found a forest. It was peaceful and he dallied there. To his surprise he found a small cottage. Immediately suspicious, he took his weapon out and had it ready. Then Delilah came out the door and called him in. They laughed and cried and talked. Finally he admitted to himself the respirator needed to have its filter changed. He said good bye and after making the switch found himself on a rock instead of a chair.
He took a flower off a nearby tree to analyze. He found no medicinal qualities, but it could create realistic visions. He named it Reunion and sent the results off. Then he went back to the forest, without his respirator or a plan to ever return.
With each mile he felt his shoulders loosen. The dusk came in and as the land opened up the clouds reflected the last few rays of the day, colouring the clouds a rusty orange and reminding him to pull off for wood at a gas station before he reached the cabin, so he could get the fire going.
He needed this weekend. He’d been holding on for a long time. City life always took more than it should, but so had the woman he’s been foolish enough to start dating.
She was from the office, Melinda, and all his colleagues were hot for her. But she’d only had eyes for him it seemed, and what eyes they were. He was no better than them, and couldn’t resist them. He wished he had.
She’d used all her wiles on him, although they hadn’t been necessary. She would sidle up to him at the coffee machine.
“Hey Gary, how you doing today?”
And he would try and not choke on his coffee, and coolly reply, “Good Melinda.”
He’d been told before that he was a magnet for women. He didn’t see it. He thought he was too big and clumsy, and too quiet. But they seemed to like it; they would come and chat to him about their lives, and he would listen and try and understand as best he could. He struggled to relate to city folk, even though he’d lived here all his life. They were all so busy with so much stuff that wasn’t important. He didn’t get it.
It was why he’d bought the cabin, his place of refuge. He didn’t get there as often as he’d like. He dreamt of being able to save enough to move there permanently, but city life was costly. And not just financially, emotionally too – Melinda had taught him that.
She’d been so easy in the beginning; their first couple of dates a delight. Then on the third they’d spent the night together. He couldn’t have been more bowled over by how incredible she was and he was pretty much suckered after that, even though he tried to keep his distance at work.
But she wasn’t having any of it. Everyone knew. The guys all wanted details, the girls started complimenting him on romantic details from their dates, and they considered them a hard and fast couple straight away, no longer two individuals who were dating.
Gary struggled with that. He needed privacy and to keep his work and home life separate. Then she started to be invaded too. More and more often she would turn up unannounced, and he couldn’t refuse her. She would bat her eyelids, give him the come on, and he’d relent. They’d spend days in bed, or out walking in the parks, drinking coffee, whatever she wanted, because he couldn’t say no to her.
Until one day he noticed how much stuff she had in his apartment. He went looking for a sweater and found she’d moved his clothes around to make drawer space. Then he spotted her ‘spare’ make-up bag on the chest of drawers, her ‘spare’ toothbrush in the bathroom, and her music CD’s in the lounge, stacked on top of his.
He wasn’t ready for this. He didn’t want this. That was when he knew he had to go up to the cabin. He’d thought about taking her there a couple of times, but hadn’t ever mentioned it. And now he was glad he hadn’t; the less people that knew the better.
He saw the lights of a gas station ahead, and pulled in. He found stacks of firewood outside and grabbed a few, along with a bag of coals; he needed a long burning fire tonight. And after paying and exchanging pleasantries with the owner, he took them round to the boot of the car, saying he’d be fine; he could load them up himself.
He opened it and tucked the bundles in around her, touching her cold face for a brief moment, wishing it could have turned out differently, and that she’d had an idea of the boundaries she had crossed.
Silence wakes him. Her pillow is cold. His breath stutters and his heart pauses.
Maybe it was the noise that woke him. Seems like there was heavy breathing, footsteps receding, and then nails – or claws – on metal.
Or was that the dream?
Four hours of sleep makes a man unsure.
He grabs his jeans and buttons up, heads down the hall, baseball bat in hand.
Kitchen is dark except for the light spilling out of the refrigerator, across the countertop, where a package of hamburger is torn open, the plastic shredded and the meat gouged, as if sharpened fingernails – or claws – had raked through it.
He turns his head away from the light and the meat, only to see the back door open.
The bat slips out of his hands.
His hip catches the sharp corner of the tile counter as he races for the door, pushing through it and rushing into the night.
The moon is a spotlight, big and bright and bold, and she is the main attraction, dark hair swirling in the autumn breeze, white linen and lace nightgown fluttering around her ankles, beautiful rosebud mouth fastened around the throat of a jackrabbit.
He drops to his haunches, elbows dug into his thighs, tries to contain the wail but can’t.
Her head turns, eyes fasten on him, and she drops the animal, coming to crouch beside him. “I’m sorry.”
He hugs his legs, rests his cheek on his knees. “You can’t keep doing this to me.”
She brushes his shoulder with hers. “But I’m hungry.”
He pushes his sleeve off his wrist. “Then take more.”
Her fingers skim the twin puncture marks in his skin, careful to keep her claws from
scratching him. “it’s not enough. So long as I want you to live and breathe, and god help me I do, you will never have enough blood to keep me fed.”
His eyes are desperate now, wide and wild. “We’ll raise rabbits and chickens.”
Her mouth curves but doesn’t quite smile. “Sweet. You’re so sweet. But that’s not the same.”
“But you were just tearing the throat out of a rabbit.”
Now the smile blooms, though it’s small and tight. “A feeble attempt to keep from taking more from you.”
“Take more. Take it all. Only don’t go into the city to hunt. I can stomach the killing but the thought of your mouth on someone else’s skin …”
Her hand cups his cheek. “You’re a good man, but you knew what I was from the start. Neither of us can change what is.”
He tips his head, kisses her palm, and closes his eyes, resigned once again. “When you’re done, my love, come back to me through the dark tree line.”
He watches her go, like a bird in the wind, and prays to the devil that she’ll come home to him – again.
– – – – –
@bullishink / Words 478
The Red Dress
The smoke seemed to part as she walked into the room, her presence drawing the male attention her direction. She was a throwback to bygone time when women had curves. Full lips dressed her smile in velvety softness. Her dress (yes, she wore a dress) hugged her curves in delicious rose red silk. Of course she wore red, Mike thought. The other women in the bar were forgotten, clouded illusions in her presence.
Ember Leon spotted him in the corner and narrowed her eyes in intent. She knew he was there for her, even as he chewed the pipe thoughtfully. He watched her movements, her approach like a cat hunting its prey. He knew he was caught in her trap but the prize she dangled before him was well worth the risk.
Mike reached for her hand as she joined him in the booth. Her voice greeted him with deep notes of promise. He knew the promises were empty, still he could deny her nothing. She slowly removed the gloves from her hand as he ordered her drink. When it arrived, she slowly drank the rum and coke and it seemed as if the tendrils of her words ensnared him as the alcohol wound its way through her body, loosening her inhibitions just a wee bit more.
He found himself wrapping his arms around her, dancing to the slow ballad, and as her lips brushed against the pulse of his throat, he knew this was a bad idea. Yet, he followed her out the door. She looked back, encouraging him with her smile. “Mikel, dearest…you know you want to finish this dance.” He was gone, lost in her spell, and she wove it well.
Their steps carried them to the edge of the walk where an unpaved path carried them further from the lights of town. The smoke that shrouded her before was now replaced by mist. He continued to trail after her, trusting her perhaps a bit too much. Still, she offered him a dream. And he wanted to slip into that trance with her.
The cabin seemed to appear out of nowhere, simple in design and not very spacious. He reached for the catch on the door and held it open for her. She stepped inside and he followed. He was surprised when she struck a match and lit a lamp rather than flipping a switch. The lamp revealed little about the house and kept the light closely bound. She led him to an iron bed where her kisses guided him down to the quilted surface. As his eyes closed to take in her touch, the unfamiliar coldness entered his soul. He opened his eyes and realized she had stolen his heart.
Days later a body was recovered at the end of the trail. The cabin had faded into the charred foundations as daylight flooded the wood. The siren of the woods had taken yet another victim, feasting on yet another heart.
Kelly hadn’t said no. She hadn’t said yes, either. She hadn’t said much of anything, actually, but had merely picked up her fork and resumed eating her Cobb salad. I stirred my bisque, afraid to lift it lest I spill pureed tomato on my only suit. And we both ignored the shiny ring in the center of the table.
We didn’t talk the remainder of the meal, other than muttered pleases and thank yous to the wait staff. The champagne sat unsipped, though there was a part of me which desperately wanted nothing more than to pass out and hope this was some sort of a dream. And then without so much as a throat-clearing or deep sigh, she spoke.
“Five years ago, I would have said yes in a heartbeat. I was younger then, and I still believed in miracles. Five years from now, I might say the same thing. There will come a point when it won’t matter anymore.” She stopped, tightening her lips. “That’s not what I mean. It matters. You matter. I matter. But I don’t know how much I matter to you.”
“A lot. You matter a lot.” I spoke because it was my turn, not because I was expecting my words to change anything. But there was a rhythm to this kind of conversation.
“I know you think I do, or you want me to, but I’m not sure. There’s too much of you locked away in that cabin in your mind for me to really know what I mean. I’ve always hoped you would let me in, but I don’t think that will happen, not now. Do you?”
And now I paused. Too long, and she’d think I was stuck in that cabin. Too little, and she’d think I wasn’t being serious. The thing was, she thought she knew what she was asking. We’d talked about honesty, intimacy, all the things loving couples shared, early in our relationship. And that was when I’d told her about the cabin.
There was too much in the world that shouldn’t be shared. We each had those thoughts – the things that were best left alone inside our heads. The fantasies about coworkers. The nightmares about our deaths. The hate. The loneliness. The lust. The fear. Those weren’t things that good people shared. But too many people let those things out, and that led to misery, and heartbreak. My parents told me that complete honesty was crucial in relationships, but they’d died on opposite coasts, surrounded by no one.
So I’d made this place for me to store my demons, far from the vulnerable bonds between people which, when severed, could never be repaired. I could visit the cabin when I needed, or when the demons needed, to release the dark when the pressure got too much. My parents were interred there. And my first girlfriend. And Marlene, who I’d thought I might marry but who hadn’t been able to keep her darkness to herself. And over the years, I’d perfected it, so that I could love and be loved without the risk of letting things out, and no one had been the wiser.
But once I began to think that Kelly might really be the one – someone who didn’t share her dark places, as I did not, I told her about how I was able to be the man I was. And she tried to steal that from me.
She wanted into the cabin, to walk through the pines and the birch, past the willows, and to feel the heavy oaks surrounding her. She wanted to walk barefoot on the rough-hewn floor, and to smell the decay that never left old-growth forests like this.
It had been a mistake to let her know about the cabin, I knew. And I’d hoped she’d forget about it, or decide that she loved me enough to not know all my secrets. But that wouldn’t happen.
I didn’t really have a choice anymore – I would have to let her in.
It was a shame, I thought as I hefted the shovel into the loamy soil. I did so love her. But at least this way she’d always be with me.
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