Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Haunted Forest

I've been writing, but haven't had anything I could include on my blog in a while.  This is in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge at Musings of Alissa Leonard.

The Haunted Forest

Well, that was the stupidest thing I've ever done.

People who've known me for a long time would challenge that.  They know how many stupid things I've done.  There was the time I tried to create a slinky dress using duct tape.  I even bought the designer blue.  Hey, it was a thing on the Internet.  To be honest, it wasn't totally stupid until I wore it to a club one night.  Who knew one small tear in just the right place could wreak so much havoc?  At least I met the cop... Joe ... mmmmm I have goosebumps.

This time, however, I think I've eclipsed my previous follies.  

Last night I couldn't sleep.  I tossed and I turned.  Finally, I stumbled out of my bed and plodded into the kitchen.  As I stood at the sink and gazed out the window into the dark, a faint light, shimmering beyond the trees, caught my eye.

I'm not sure what possessed me, but I pulled on my belated father's old wool hunting jacket and headed outside.  The crisp night's air carried a promise of snow, but I didn't bother returning for shoes.  My feet sunk into grass, goo sluicing up between my toes, yet I continued.  The waning moon played with the fall breezes, the trees joining with them, creating nature's symphony, casting shadow dancers past the forest's edge.

Everyone in these parts knows the forest is haunted.  It even says so on the local maps - "The Haunted Forest".  But I didn't let that stop me.  Perhaps it's more accurate to say I didn't care.  The light was growing brighter.  I could not stop.

With my next step, though, an eerie silence descended.  Trees stilled, crickets quieted.  My mind registered only my harsh breathing, although I couldn't say whether it was ragged because I was hiking or because I was scared.  Another step and a huge owl swooped down, the tip of its wing fluttering not more than three inches from my eyes.  My cry seemed to wake the forest.  A cacophony ensued, so loud and discordant I covered my ears.  Moving forward, the forest answered with a trio of raccoons, grunting and scurrying across the branches above my head.  I shuddered and approached a glade I'd never seen.

There, in the middle of the woods, which I tried to remind myself were in my own back yard, stood six, no nine, perhaps even twelve creatures, surrounding a flickering fire.  Even now I hesitate to call them elves, despite their pointed ears and decidedly greenish skin.  Whether it was my gasp that alerted them to my presence, or the clumsy way I'd tripped over a branch to sprawl into their midst, I cannot say.

I will tell you this.  No matter what books tell you, elves are scary, especially when firelight reflects from their too large eyes and their lips draw up to show you pointy teeth.  Probably the guttural noises coming from their mouths didn't help either. 

I ran.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Last week's Flash Friday story:

Red Sky in the Morning

The sun exploded above the horizon, its brilliance sending jolts of pain through my head. The sky, previously an ominous red, flashed to white.

My head began to throb.

“Let’s take a wine cruise,” she said. “It’ll be fun.”

The deck of the big ship rolled, my stomach with it. Such was my misery that I didn't notice the dark clouds forming overhead until they opened up, drenching me instantly. The boat lurched, I lurched with it, over the rail, plummeting to the sea, the barrel which had held last night’s libations following me down.

“Nothing to do but row,” I said.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Pawn

Ok, I got honorable mention for this story.  I wrote it for Mysti Parker's May Blog Contest.  Feedback is welcome.

Welcome to the Call Me MAYbe Flash Fiction Challenge!!
All stories begin with "The phone rang" and are no more than 1,000 words. 

The Pawn

The phone rang.  I jumped and my heart began to pound.  I stared at the device as if it were a weapon of mass destruction.

"Is this Corinne Montague?"

My back straightened as I heard the unfamiliar voice.  No one ever called me Corinne, I'd been Carrie since I could remember.

"Who is this?"  My voice was harsh, the words clipped.

"That doesn't matter, Corinne.  You will meet me at the abandoned theater down on Old Mill Road in exactly 30 minutes.  Failure to do so will result in consequences you will not like.  Bring the package."

"Wait, who is this?  What do you want from me?"

It was no use, he had hung up.

I jumped to my feet and began to pace, twisting my fingers through the long blonde curls that danced over my shoulders.  This was bad, this was really bad.  I had had a feeling that Joel wasn't being entirely straightforward with me.  This was proof.  At least, it must be about Joel.  I mean, what else could it be?  My life was beyond dull.  I was a supermarket cashier.  I drove an old VW Rabbit.  I volunteered at the library twice a week.  My two sisters were happy homemakers.  Nothing exciting ever happened in King's Mill.  That is, nothing except for Joel.

From the first time I'd seen him, I knew he was different.  It was obvious to everyone that he wasn't from around here.  There he was, though, tall, dark, and handsome, with a devil-may-care smile, a cowlick pushing his hair up and off his forehead.  Dressed in a tight t-shirt and even tighter jeans, his swagger accentuated the well honed muscles of his rear.  When he arrived in town, there was more than one female with her tongue drooping, a bit of drool dripping down her chin.

The day he struck up a conversation with me is etched in my memory.  He was in the store, buying, of all things, food.  Don't ask me why I thought this was astounding, perhaps I didn't think Gods needed to eat.  He waited until I was off work, then took me across the street to get an ice cream sundae at the Five and Dime.

We'd been going out for about three months when one night he bounded up the stairs to my boarding house and began pounding on the door.

"Carrie!  Let me in, come on come on, open up!  Hurry!"

I opened the door and he nearly bowled me over.  He slammed the door and locked it with all three locks, then rushed to the windows and drew the drapes.

"Joel?  What's going on?"

The wild look on his face was indescribable.  It was a combination of determination and fear.  I could smell the sweat that was pouring off of him.

"I don't have much time.  Listen, I can't explain right now, but I need you to keep this for me.  Give it to no one unless I'm dead.  In that case, go to the FBI in Charlotte.  Don't go to the locals, you can't trust them."

He thrust a small box into my hand.

"Whatever you do, do not open it. Promise me you won't open it!"

"I... Joel... what is going on?"

"I can't tell you right now, there's no time!  I'll call you when I can.  I love you, Carrie, don't ever forget that."

With those final words, he opened the window and slipped out.

It had been two months and I hadn't heard a word.  I feared he was dead.  I feared he told me he loved me to get me to do what he wanted.  Now, I feared what was coming.

I grabbed the box and my jacket and headed out to the car.  My fingers trembled as I tried to shove the keys into the ignition.  It cranked once and then died.  I tried again, it coughed and sputtered and died again.

"Come on!"  I screamed at the dilapidated vehicle.  I never screamed at my car, I loved my car, it was nearly my best friend.  I cringed and apologized.

"I'm sorry, Pilar, I didn't mean to yell at you.  Please, just start one more time, that's all I ask."

Sure enough, I turned the key, the engine caught and purred, and I exhaled a sigh of relief.  I put it in gear and headed toward the main road, trying to think of what to do.  What would Joel want?  Was he in more trouble?  Was he dead?  Who was he anyway?

The shaking of my hands got worse as I neared my destination.  I still had no idea what to do.  I grabbed a canister of mace out of my glove box.  Everyone in Kings Mill had one, although the worst crime that ever happened here was jaywalking.

I pulled up to the theater.  It had closed 15 years before, and no one had done anything with it.  No one did anything with this part of town and it showed.  Trash littered the sidewalks, rats scurried to and fro, very few street lamps remained lit.  I shuddered as I stepped out of my car.


A large man stepped out of the shadows.  Multiple scars crisscrossed his face, and it was obvious that his nose had been broken many times.

"Give me the package."  The words came out as more of a growl than a statement.

"Who are you?"

He crossed the distance between us in two strides, moving so quickly I didn't have time to react.  His hand, the size of a side of beef, wrapped around my neck and began to squeeze.  Stars danced before my eyes.  I couldn't see, I couldn't speak.  I knew it was the end.  I could hear sirens, but I knew they'd never rescue me in time.

I opened my eyes to the sight of my beloved Joel cradling my head.

"Shhhhhh my love, it's over.  You just helped save the world.  Rest, baby, rest.  I'm here now."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I've been writing again, mostly flash.  I have submitted a couple to various sites.  I doubt I'll win, but I'm going to wait to post until I find out.

I am, however, going to post today's.  It is a story based on the prompt "Use 'The opening' in a story".  It's for F2K, the writing course I'm interning for.  It's rather lame, but I still like it. :D

The Opening - WC 399

Captain's Log Stardate 9X327

Our leave on the planet Santorina was an immense success.  The crew is well rested, with only one member in the brig.  We have set course for Jalaipa, our mission to escort the medical ships supporting the rebels from EC5.  From there we embark on a journey critical to the future of humankind - the exploration of the planet Zyxus and the precious metals it...

Sirens shatter the cabin's quiet, the gritty growl of the ship's communication officer quickly following.

"Captain, please report to the bridge.  Unknown object on our bow, heading 358.92.  Captain, please report to the bridge."

I struggled to my feet, setting aside the tumbler of scotch I'd been sipping.  The job was getting old, my sense of adventure lost.  I thought back to my childhood, watching reruns of Saturday Night Live, where the One True Voice struck a chord with me, again and again.

"It's always something.  If it's not one thing, it's another."

Sighing, I slipped out of my slippers and slid my feet in boots I'd worn so long their stench had died.  Heading out of my stateroom I was at least partially mollified by the fact that my crew was performing at top efficiency.  I mentally kicked myself in the rear and hurried to the bridge.

Once I had visual, I saw the cause for alarm.  This was no ordinary supply ship, nor was it any warrior vessel we'd seen before.  It resembled a scorpion, huge pincers extending from either side of its maw, the opening large enough to swallow our ship.

"Any contact?" I slid into a lush leather captain's chair that enveloped me like a glove, its contours perfectly matching mine after years of being together.

"None, Captain.  We've tried all frequencies, they are not responding."

"Captain!  Incoming!"

The cry came a scant half-second before the missile, or torpedo, or shot, whatever it was, struck.  Lights flickered, sirens screamed.  I could feel the ship lurching to port.

"Get us out of here, Lieutenant!  NOW!"

I felt rather than heard the huge overdrives kick in, then the surge of the warp systems.  We tore through a rip in the veil of the universe, securing our escape.

Before we could catch our collective breath, we hit an invisible wall.  The ship shuddered and ground to a halt.  Things went dark.  Things went silent.  Perhaps our escape wasn't.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dancin' in the moonlight, singing in the rain, oh it's good to be back home again

I returned to San Diego a week ago.  I wrote my first story since Christmas last night (which is probably how you found my blog).

It is indeed good to be back home again!  So many things fall back into place when I'm here.  My first tai chi class was this morning (although we did do World Tai Chi day on Saturday).  Tai chi is amazing and so good for your body and mind!  Tomorrow there's more tai chi, then Friday Zumba (*groans* I've been so bad for so long, I'm going to die, I just know it!)

Anyway, the reason I started this post like this is because I've found that when I'm settled, I can write.  When I'm facing difficulties, when life is uncertain or painful, I can only write things that are horribly introspective, and that is not something that's fit for human consumption. ;)

I see that I started a story in November and never finished it.  I may have to, I really dislike leaving things undone.  I'm also going to pull Merry and Inky out of their hiding place - in the two years that I've been traveling, they've never left my side.  (They even survived the sailboat trip!)  At this point they deserve closure!

Which reminds me, recently I found - I tend to lose details, and then I fret as I'm writing, which is not conducive to continuing to write!  So I'm going to use it as I go back through Merry on Mars and ... well..... get'r'done!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dinner and a Murder

VJ's writing prompt for today is rather intriguing.  Essentially, think of something that evokes a conditioned response - fright, happiness, dread, whatever, and write about it with the opposite response.  Invite a murderer to dinner?  Happy to!

I've been thinking about it, and I'm not so sure I like the premise.  I mean, for the most part, we have conditioned responses because they're appropriate!  Some, of course, are not, such as phobias.  In the grand spirit of the prompt, however, here we go.

Dinner and a Murder

For months, my friends had been telling me to quit acting like I had to wait for someone to ask me out.  They kept insisting that I lose my old fashioned ways and step into the modern world where woman are equal.  So today, I finally shut them up.  I called all three of them - Alicia, Brianna, and Trisha, and I told them about the man I'd met and finally decided to invite to my place for dinner.

I did, however, leave out one small fact.  I neglected to mention the man is a murderer.  No, I don't know this because I saw him on TV, nor am I one of those prison groupies who always wants to pretend to be a bad girl by become a pen pal with a convict.  No, this man had never been tried or convicted for his crime.  Even better, he has no idea that I know what he is.

I stared at myself in the mirror, watching my expressions as I reviewed the events of the past few days.  There was a hint of excitement in my otherwise dull hazel eyes, the skin at their edges crinkling as I smiled.  I reached for the eye cream as Brianna's voice intruded into my thoughts, her constant nagging about proper skin care having apparently sunk in.  A laugh erupted from my mouth and I shook my head, letting the towel fall to the floor, then swiftly finishing up my post shower ritual.  Finally I was satisfied with my appearance.

(To be continued...)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Small Kindnesses

Fiona Robyn, author of Small Kindnesses, is hosting a blogsplash on Tuesday.  Everyone will be blogging about their own small kindnesses.  Since this is a subject near and dear to my heart, I decided I should participate.  Duh, right? ;)

I've been needing to get back to writing anyway, so this is going to get me going!

More information is available here:

I'm also going to start doing some daily writing prompts.  VJ suggested this site -  I think some of the "suggestions" are bizarre, but here's one I like:

elephants sliding down a slope for their morning bath

That thought really does make me smile.

The young boy sat on a rock, enjoying the coolness of the early morning, his mind unfettered by the worries of his parents.  He felt, even before he heard, the elephants approaching the small lake as they did every day at this time.  He watched, smiling as always, as the elephants slid down the hillside and splashed into the water, trumpeting and spraying water everywhere.  His eyes wandered over them, naming them off, noting how Darzi, the young male calf, had seemingly grown larger overnight.  Suddenly the smile froze on his face.  Arthola!  Where was Arthola?  The elder statesman of the herd, Arthola was the boy's favorite.  Where was he?