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WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-27 17:00:30 Reply

So, here's my dumping ground for all my creative shit. You may like it, you may not, but in this thread we'll keep things in some sort of order. This is my thread, so that means my stories/poems/whatever only. I don't want people posting their poems or stories, or linking to their poems or stories asking for criticisms because get your own damn thread. Here you can discuss my work, praise, criticise, tell me it's complete shit, all that's fine. I'm open to those who wish to suggest improvements. I'm also open to those who wish to suggest a challenge of some sort. I don't know, be creative. As long as it's good and I have time, I'll consider.

If you want something more organised than a thread, I've got most of my stories posted here for your convenience. If you would like to discuss something about anythign I've written in those blogs, that would be encouraged too. Maybe label your post with what story you're talking about at the top to make things easier to organise.

Anything else, feel free to suggest after I've posted this story I finished today.

I started writing this sometime yesterday morning and I've been working on it on and off for the past 20 or so hours. I'm itching for some sleep, so I'll just post it and run. I started writing it to vent some feelings as the result of a really shit day, and I feel like finishing this story (the first for the year) has really turned things around. I hope you enjoy it.

Yes, it's unedited. I wrote through it once, I did not edit it. Please forgive any mistakes I may have made.

A Fear of Great Heights (pt 1/2)

Sometimes I'd prefer to be a single-celled organism floating through space. No purpose to carry me. No thoughts or emotions to drag me down. I'm a coward, plain and simple. And if I'm going to tell you my story, you need to know this. I hate crowds and I hate stress, and I can never seem to go a day without avoiding them both. Whenever I get stressed or uncomfortable I like to listen to my music, the louder the better. With each passing day it seems to be growing louder and louder. Like jet engines in my ears, it soothes me.

My house is right around the corner from the train station, a quick walk home by the pale light of the streetlamps. Sometimes I walk around the block before going home, there's something about the deserted roads in the night time that's very relaxing. I just drink in the world as it would be with the volume turned down, and I think to myself, this is peace.

I opened the front door to a familiar squeak upon the hinges and I took solace in the fact that I was home. I brushed my fingers along the dusty banister as I walked to the kitchen. A staircase I had never used, leading to an upper floor I had never even set my eyes upon. Each day I tell myself that today is the day I'm going to climb those stairs and see what's up there. But today is the day I never do. A shiver ran down my spine from the moment I touched the wood, and what lingered on the banister were the fingerprints of what could have been.

I flicked on the light switch to see the kitchen was in the same state in which I left it; slightly dirty, but otherwise reasonably tidy. I walked over to the sink, and pried open the window to let the breeze in. The cool air is a presence I can enjoy, especially on nights like this that are uncomfortably humid. I rinsed my hands and face in the sink and with cupped hands I drank a few mouthfuls of cool water. Then I heard the wailing of sirens nearby and the squealing of tyres and I shut the window. A quiet night is a good night.

The morning came with a fist hammering at the back door. Joe. He invited himself in and put the kettle on. I was already half awake when he started knocking, but I usually needed that extra irritation to convince myself to get out of bed. Joe is my coworker and friend, one of the few people that I can enjoy spending time with. I showered and dressed and came out into the kitchen, following the wafting aroma of bacon and eggs to a plate laid out for me, along with a hot cup of whatever was in the cupboard. It looked like tea.

"Thanks Joe" I said, and sat down to eat the food he had prepared.
"Any time. Gonna climb those stairs today?" Joe asked, with a nod towards the steps just outside the room.
I stopped chewing my bacon to shake my head. Not today, never today. Maybe tomorrow. He nodded and took his emptied plate to the sink and ran hot water over it.
"When?" He asked.
I chewed the bacon a bit more, mulling over the question I knew he would ask. He always does. I always take the time to think, even though I've always got the same answer. I let the chewed up, greasy piece of bacon slide down my throat with a slurp of lukewarm tea.
"When I'm ready."
He nodded again. "I'll be outside when you're done with your breakfast" he said and walked out towards the front door.
I chewed on another piece of bacon, although I distinctly felt that the taste had gone and I was chewing on cardboard. My mouth felt dry, and the tea did nothing to help. I got through about half of my breakfast tasting the same before I finally tossed the remains in the bin and slid my plate over Joe's.

The front door locked shut with an assuring snap, and I slid the single key into my pocket. Joe and I didn't speak when we walked to the train station, nor when we were on the train itself. He knew I liked it better that way. This time of the morning, there aren't usually many people on the train, and they don't talk much either. And with Joe there, I felt like I didn't need my music to distract myself from their wandering eyes. Besides, the gentle rhythm of the tracks was music enough.

This was how I lived my life, the to and fro between work and home, home and work. Joe was someone I could count on. We always caught the morning train to work, but I always caught the evening train home alone. That was something that couldn't be avoided, and to some extent, I felt like I needed it. The train going home was usually almost empty when I caught it, and even the train station isn't too bad, but unlike my home, I never know if it will be empty or not when I walk through the doors.

This night there were two young guys and a lady sitting aside from them. I sat on the far end of the train and put my headphones on. Volume up. The doors closed and the train started moving and the two young guys stood up. I didn't like that, people shouldn't stand on trains. I reached for my pocket knife, I didn't want them coming anywhere near me. They looked at me, but I kept the knife held in my pocket with one hand and turned the volume up with the other. They walked over towards the lady and grabbed her arms, one each.

She tried to pull her arms back, twisting in their grip, but she only managed to pull herself off her seat. She yelled at them to let go, and she kicked as much as she could, but they just laughed and snatched up her handbag. I could hear over my music even though I turned the volume higher and higher. It was at full volume, screaming in my ear and it didn't protect me from the noise and it felt like her voice was stabbing at my ears. One of the men opened up her purse and stuffed it in his coat pocket. She spat at him, her face twisted in panic and hate, and he pushed her into the seats. She stumbled over closer to me and I realised my hand holding the knife had become slippery with sweat.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-27 17:02:06 Reply

A Fear of Great Heights (pt 2/2)

From the floor she looked up at me, the coward, and with my music drowning out her voice I saw her mouth the word "please". The men pulled her to her feet and pushed her down again. My stomach wrenched and my throat stuck and I felt sucked to my seat. She looked up at me again with pleading eyes glazed with tears. Those giant spheres reflected my ballooned image back at me through green irises. She called for my help again and I gripped my knife tighter. They picked her up again and threw her into me. My head smacked into the glass behind me and she fell to the floor again. My headphones had fallen off and I could hear her sobbing and their laughing and the percussive sound of the train tracks.

The two men leaned over the lady to grab at me. That's when I pulled out my knife. I popped the blade out and stabbed the guy with the purse in the hand. He reeled back and held his wrist and yelped out in pain. The blade got him in his palm, and he slumped back in the seat across from me and wiped the dripping blood on his sleeve. The other guy backed away when he saw my knife, and he leant over the purse guy to examine the cut. It wasn't too deep but it probably stung like hell. The lady pulled herself up onto the seat beside me and wiped her nose.

It wasn't a deep cut, but they had figured it would need stitches. And they knew the doctors like to ask questions, especially at this time of night. And they were probably terrible liars. So they gave the lady her purse and handbag back and moved to the other side of the train. My headphones were broken so I had to ride the train the rest of the way without. The lady didn't say much, other than a mumbled thanks, but I guess she was shaken from being thrown around. I didn't put my knife back in my pocket until I was off the train.

"Hey, wait" she said to me when I started walking back home. I turned around.
"Thank you" she said.
"It's ok" I said.
"I know it must have been hard for you to stand up to them like that."
I nodded.
"I know I owe you so much already but could I please ask you one favour?" she asked.
I nodded again.
"Do you think you could walk me home? I don't think I can cope being alone right now."
"How far away?" I asked.
"About ten, fifteen minutes' walk, maybe."
"Too far" I shook my head and turned to walk away.
"Wait!" She called out. "How far away do you live?"
I pointed to my house.
"I could... I could use your bathroom to clean myself up, and call my mother to pick me up. Please?" I saw those big pleading eyes once more and I started walking towards the house.
I knew she was waiting for a "yes" or an "ok" but I figured that a lack of objection was invitation enough.

She followed me back to the house and invited herself in after me. I switched on some lights and pointed her towards the bathroom. I walked into the kitchen and washed my face and hands there, rubbing off the few stray drops of blood that were on my hands and forearms. When she returned, a purple-greenish bruise had appeared on her cheek. There was now a little band-aid stuck across a cut on her brow, and while there was still a little bit of blood on her face, she allowed a smile to sneak upon it. It was a smile that seemed to radiate throughout the room. A smile that said "no, things aren't always ok. Things won't always go your way. But that's ok, because life is full of surprises."

"Ok?" I asked her.
"Yes, much better, thanks" she said. "Whereabouts is your phone?"
"If you want, you can sort that out in the morning. I'm sure it'll be too much hassle tonight."
"Are you sure?" she asked.
I nodded.
"Well, if you say so. Which way to the spare bedroom, then?"
"I don't have a spare bedroom set up. I've got a fold out couch in the lounge room though."
I started walking her through to the lounge room when she stopped at the bottom of the staircase.
"You can't tell me you don't have a spare bedroom upstairs" she said, matter-of-factly.
I shrugged and said "I don't know."
"How can you not know if you live here?" She said.
"I've just never needed to go upstairs." I said, truthfully.
"Well, I'm checking it out" she said, and stormed upstairs. I held my fingers out and gently touched the banister where her hand had disturbed the dust. This time... this time it felt different.

I didn't like the not knowing. It blistered inside me while she wandered about upstairs seeing more of my house than I ever have. My hand slid from a gentle touch into a grip on the banister at the bottom of the stairs and I gently raised my foot to the first step.
"You've never been up here?" she called out from a distant room.
"No" I called back. "Not since I was a little child."
"Why?"
"I told you, I never needed the space up there."
"Bollocks! Why?"
"I... I don't need to explain myself to you. I just don't go up there. Ok?"
"But you have to come up here. At least once, it's amazing."
"What is?"
"You'll have to come and see." She teased.
I took the second step, guided by my firm grip on the banister.

She appeared at the top of the staircase and flicked on the upstairs lights, the lights that have been left untouched for years. I took another step and I grew with excitement at the achievement that I thought would be stuck in tomorrow forever. There were whole rooms up there, and they were a few more step, step, steps away. I reached the top of the staircase where she grabbed my hand and dragged me off towards one of the rooms.
"What is it?" I asked.
"I wanted to ask you the same thing." She replied. She pulled open the door and lead me into a nursery.

"This house" I said, "It used to be my grandmother's. My parents got it when she passed away and they let me live here. This room would have been my mum's when she was a baby. Grandma didn't like changing things around too much."
"That's sweet" she said, "I didn't expect to find anything like this up here." She pointed around to the rocker and the mobiles and wooden cot.
"Why didn't I come up here before?" I said.
"I don't know. You never really needed to." She said with a little laugh.
"Yes, but I wanted to." I said with a wry smile.

"Check this out, too" she said, and pulled me again, out of the room and into the next one. "A spare bedroom." She held my hand tight as she brought me into the room. Her hand was warm and soft and the subtle confidence she had about her seemed to flow through her hand into mine.
"Well then" I said. "I guess you won't be needing the fold out couch."
"And over here" she let go of my hand and walked across the room, "there's a balcony. The view is brilliant. Come have a look." She opened the folding doors that led out onto the balcony.
The wind gushed in and pulled a blanket of chill over my head. I stood where I was and shook my head.
"Come on" she urged, "It's amazing."
"I'm afraid of heights." I said.
"That's ok" she said, "take it step by step."
I smiled and nodded. "Step by step."


READ: "A Fear of Great Heights" and other forthcoming adventures right HERE
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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-27 18:43:12 Reply

I didn't read this, but I plan to. I love your work! Cheers.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-27 19:30:06 Reply

I like it. It's sweet, in a way.

Be wary of the tense usage between the first paragraph and the rest of the story. I know you haven't edited it, but I thought I'd tell you to keep an eye on it.

I like your writing style. It's simple, but defined and solid... I don't know if that makes sense, but just go with it.

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-27 20:19:59 Reply

I'll begin by noting my enjoyment of your small tale. Until this woman suddenly barged into it all, it felt as if he was almost afraid of going upstairs.

The writing is short and simple, yet I do feel a little like it might've been too short. If the idea was this woman was to bring a big change in his life, she should've held more significance before hand. Until she spoke to him, off the train, there was no significance to her except some woman he rescued simple because they were physically too close to him.

We see an evolution of his character, yet we lack the will for it. He likes things as they are, he likes the silence and the solitude he usually has. He doesn't show signs of wanting to change or wonderment of how he would be if this or that is different. Having this alone could make the woman's role all the more important and give her significance, for then she not only brings change but she, in a way, represents change. For a person of solitude, his willingness to help her, to talk with her and offer her shelter in his home speaks for so much more. Of course, this is only if he wants change or is curious of it.

This is just what I feel, though.

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-27 22:12:38 Reply

At 1/27/10 07:30 PM, tigerkitty wrote: I like it. It's sweet, in a way.

Be wary of the tense usage between the first paragraph and the rest of the story. I know you haven't edited it, but I thought I'd tell you to keep an eye on it.

I like your writing style. It's simple, but defined and solid... I don't know if that makes sense, but just go with it.

Yes, you should have seen how much I chopped and changed with the tenses before I setled on it as it is now. Yes, my story requires attention in that department. Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you liked the style I went with. I thought it was best for capturting the character in the way that gets his fragile nature across in a more believable sense.

At 1/27/10 08:19 PM, Skye-McCloud wrote: I'll begin by noting my enjoyment of your small tale. Until this woman suddenly barged into it all, it felt as if he was almost afraid of going upstairs.

The writing is short and simple, yet I do feel a little like it might've been too short. If the idea was this woman was to bring a big change in his life, she should've held more significance before hand. Until she spoke to him, off the train, there was no significance to her except some woman he rescued simple because they were physically too close to him.

We see an evolution of his character, yet we lack the will for it. He likes things as they are, he likes the silence and the solitude he usually has. He doesn't show signs of wanting to change or wonderment of how he would be if this or that is different. Having this alone could make the woman's role all the more important and give her significance, for then she not only brings change but she, in a way, represents change. For a person of solitude, his willingness to help her, to talk with her and offer her shelter in his home speaks for so much more. Of course, this is only if he wants change or is curious of it.

This is just what I feel, though.

Thanks. In a sense, he was afraid, but he also had the desire to conquer his fears. He lived a very sheltered life, and the aim of the woman was to throw everything off balance and put him on edge. When he saved her, he was just trying to defend himself, but in doing so he defends her too, which creates a bond between the two characters, even if he can't see it.

Hmm... My image of the character in my head is that, in his sheltered, isolated life, there's also a sense of loneliness, but I decided not to stress that much. I think my aim was to show that his music and his isolation and all that were a means to get by rather than a means of enjoyment. He lives a bitter husk of a life, and deep down, although nothing is explicitly stated, he wants to feel more normal, and this woman is the most normal interaction with another human being he's had in a long time. I should work on bringing those ideas out.

Also, my aim with her was not to make her some big, important life changing character, but she's just there to nudge him in the right direction. I think she works better as a small character who knows very little about his life.

I don't know, I'll probably make a few changes here and there, and I'd like to try at getting it published, but we'll see how we go.

Thanks!


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-01-28 00:22:36 Reply

At 1/27/10 10:12 PM, WritersBlock wrote: Thanks. In a sense, he was afraid, but he also had the desire to conquer his fears. He lived a very sheltered life, and the aim of the woman was to throw everything off balance and put him on edge. When he saved her, he was just trying to defend himself, but in doing so he defends her too, which creates a bond between the two characters, even if he can't see it.

Hmm... My image of the character in my head is that, in his sheltered, isolated life, there's also a sense of loneliness, but I decided not to stress that much. I think my aim was to show that his music and his isolation and all that were a means to get by rather than a means of enjoyment. He lives a bitter husk of a life, and deep down, although nothing is explicitly stated, he wants to feel more normal, and this woman is the most normal interaction with another human being he's had in a long time. I should work on bringing those ideas out.

Also, my aim with her was not to make her some big, important life changing character, but she's just there to nudge him in the right direction. I think she works better as a small character who knows very little about his life.

I don't know, I'll probably make a few changes here and there, and I'd like to try at getting it published, but we'll see how we go.

Thanks!

The loneliness can help define it a little better. That in itself was what I was speaking of when I brought up the idea of a want or will to change, or at least curiosity of it.

As for the woman, she doesn't need to know about his life. However, based on the interaction between him and Joe, I get a... "Jerry" feel to it. The same, mundane life, day by day, with little changes here and there.

What I was getting at with importance is showing her appearance in his day to day life: when he takes the train to or from work, he sometimes sees her on it. He'll see her get off the train at this stop, but never talks to her regardless simply because of his lifestyle. But then to build on it, he can see her interact with others, be friendly, laugh and smile. He ignores it, but it's something that prods the back of his mind. So then the encounter becomes more... important. He defends her, simply out of his defending himself, but it causes her to talk with him and thank him, and this in turn enacts an exchange that, in the back of his mind, he might have wanted to have happen.

But the image you said you saw IS what you portray, by far.

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-01 12:02:38 Reply

Just realised that I haven't put Flonkerton up on my writing blog yet. Might as well post it here. It was my October "Punk-o-ween" story. Dieselpunk horror tied in with a loose experimental Alice in Wonderland fan fiction.

Flonkerton (aka 'my finest work' aka 'what the fuck is this shit?')

I

He was laughing. He was fucking laughing when he squeezed the trigger that sent the bullet whizzing into my shoulderblade. I fell to the floor in the workshop and I could smell my own blood seeping over the grease stained floor, conjuring something entirely more pungent than the sum of the parts. I could hear my former boss walk towards the warehouse door, and I heard him slide the massive corrugated iron door open a crack. And I heard him drag it shut behind him. And the gentle click of the padlock snapping shut. And then I remembered that it was a Friday night. The factory is closed over the weekend, and in three nights I'd probably be dead. Shortly after the boss left I blacked out from the bloody, greasy fumes. This is a story of revenge.

II

When I came to I was not, as I expected, sprawled still over the factory floor, soaked in my own fermenting blood. And I was not, as I had hoped, dead. When I came to, my head was pounding and swimming and churning violently and I could still smell the terrible fumes wafting through the air around me. I tried to cradle my head in my hands, but as I yanked them from my sides I felt the leather straps pull tight. And I felt a strap around my neck too. And around my waist and feet. From what I could notice, I was fastened face-down onto an old iron table with many acid-burns rusted to its surface. I could feel a slow burning rash itching across my stomach and crotch, and I could only grind my teeth so hard and groan and pretend that the pain didn't exist.

And then I jolted at the sound of a loud hacking cough.
"Well shit," the voice said, "none of us expected you to wake up, you were gone so long".
I noticed that his voice didn't sound like my boss's at all. This didn't comfort me one bit. I tried to breathe slowly and breathe deeply. The last thing I wanted to do here was crumble to pieces. So I focused on breathing. And each time I took in a lungful of toxic air my rash rubbed harder against the table and it spread wider and it burned stronger and it yelled for me to respond with agonising screams. And I clenched my teeth and breathed. In. Out. In. Out. And the man was still there, standing silently across the room.
I decided to say something. It was better than knowing he was just waiting for me to break. "Do you... work for... the boss?" I asked, timing my words with my breaths.
"What?" he said, taking several paces towards me.
"I said..." I paused, and gasped as I could feel a warm, wet puddle slapping against my heaving stomach, and the pain intensified as I could visualise my own red-raw underbelly writhing and dripping in its own blood. I clenched my teeth harder and groaned. "I said... do you... work for... the boss?"

He cracked a hacking cough into a rusty laugh and took a few more steps closer. I wasn't sure how to interpret the laugh, so I just spat onto the floor. And then he slammed a meaty fist upon my back, which sent a coiling pain piercing through my spine and down over my rash. I screamed and I writhed, but he remained the pressure on my back. And I cried and I could feel the rusted jagged barbs infinitely small cutting, sinking into my skin. And then I heard a loud mechanical whine ringing round the room and the smell of diesel and grease so thick in the air it made me want to puke.

The sound ceased as the stranger redoubled the weight upon my back. Pinned to the table, I could be rid of these leather straps and still be utterly useless. I felt a cold metal cylinder slide smoothly into a point in my upper back. The bullet-hole. The cold spiral rod of a stainless steel drill bit. The hand upon my back was nothing. It was less than nothing; it was a million times further from this room than the sun. The drill, however; it was right inside my brain. It was under my skin, it was anything and everything around me. It slid into my bullet wound like they were made for each other. Fuck. I spat on the floor. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! Drills drill things. And I spat again, I felt like I was sweating from the mouth, I felt like I was inhaling many lifetimes of air in each and every breath. I felt like dying, yet I felt so alive, so aware. I couldn't move. I couldn't swallow. I spat on the floor. Drills drill things, and it wound itself around and around and I could feel it reverberating through my whole body and I could feel it digging, digging, deeper, deeper, and the blood welled up in the neat hole and small flakes of my flesh worked their way up the spiral and I couldn't put it from my mind. No amount of clenched teeth or groans or screams could lessen the agony. And my stomach sent its contents streaming up my throat, warm digestive acids burned inside my neck before hitting the floor. When the drill broke through my skin just below my collar bone, that's when I passed out for a second time.

III

When I came to, well, the first thing that I realised was that I was not dead. Again. Fucked my plans up. Then I thought that I was not in the same room that I was when I passed out. But that thought was just an initial reaction. I was facing up now, and I could feel the familiar rust and acid worn iron of the table from earlier. I was facing up; that was probably what threw me off balance. I leaned up and looked around the room. I was no longer tied down. No windows, one door. A few cupboards and shelves. One feeble light. I focussed my energies on the door. I stood up and walked towards it. The door was probably locked. Or I could meet my death on the other side, which I have expressed prior to this as not a negative outcome at all. Or I could find some answers. I would even have some answers if the door was locked. Like I'd know that I was trapped. And that I was a prisoner. And that I would probably die in here. But the door wasn't locked. I walked up to it and grabbed the handle in my palm and pushed. It buckled and bent, and with some bumping and shoving, the jammed door busted out into a hallway. Okay, it might have been locked, but it wasn't now.

I walked out of the room and down the hallway, checking the doors that I passed by as I passed by. Locked, locked, locked, locked. I didn't dare test my luck on a busted door here because I didn't want to tempt death over my newly acquired freedom. Locked, locked, locked. My head was pulsing slightly with a slowly ebbing migraine. The light burned my eyes after those hours of deep dark sleep. My arms and legs felt lead-heavy and my chest felt so stiff from resting on the table so long. Locked. I rubbed my fingers along my chest to feel how bad the rash and cuts were but I was numb and it felt like there was a thick wall of metal or meta-plastic keeping me from feeling anything at all. Unlocked, this one door stood ajar. I tentatively pushed it into the room, which I gathered to be some sort of kitchen/laboratory. On the back of the door were hung a few white coats. I grabbed one and slid it over myself, and buttoned it up mostly around my waist. I walked further into the room, tables and chairs and benches and bottles and jars and liquids and metals and acrid smelling fuels were splayed about the room. I picked up one bottle, a black sludge compound, and that's when I heard a scream ring out from elsewhere in the building.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-01 12:03:41 Reply

I paused, bottle in hand, ears tuning to the motion and sounds from outside the room. Footsteps, footsteps, footsteps. I dropped the bottle, which smashed upon the floor, and I made for the nearest door. Get out of the room and away from the hallway. But don't stop listening. I opened the door which exposed a small storage cupboard. With the footsteps drawing closer closer I didn't hesitate to throw myself in there and slide shut the door behind me. I rested on the shelving and saw myself in the reflective surface of the closed door. And I think I am going to be sick.

IV

It could have been the smell of formaldehyde, combined with the small, unventilated space, but I'm quite sure it was the image that evoked the emotional response. That was not me. The sunken cheeks and pasty skin, the glass goggles strapped to my head with black leather, glasses that I'd never worn before. My neck was braced by a series of interconnected brass plate-rings, like an exoskeleton or an armour or a robot machine. I remembered my shoulder and belly and I unbuttoned my coat. More- larger- plates had been strapped to my chest, back and stomach. From what I could see and feel, I had been wrapped mostly in iron plates, with the exception of a brass plug at my collar and a small brass door in my chest. At the sound of the footsteps growing closer, I could only assume whomever was out there had heard the bottle smash. But that was only a distant buzzing in my mind.

As I came confronted with this twisted, inhuman creature before my eyes I staggered back hard against the shelf. The corners would have undoubtedly dug themselves into my ribs but now I was not so sure I had any. I stepped back onto some glass bottles, but instead of the white hot agony of a sliced foot, there was just the grainy crunch of glass underneath a lump of lead.

The formaldehyde, I could smell it off the walls, off the door, ceiling and shelves, writhing its way into my nostrils and settling within a deep discomfort. With the breaking of the glass came an intensifying of the smell. Burning, churning, my head began turning, the migraine resurged and I began to spin with an induced motion sickness. Lurch, heave. Nothing. Throat dry like a rusted skeleton of a ship in the Sahara. God only knows how it could have got there. And God only knows how I came to be here, wherever here was. The lights went out.

The lights went out and for a moment the intense blackness consumed me. The footsteps had stopped and I heard something within the room. An ever so gentle tick, tick, tick of I don't know what. And then a light flared up and I could see two glassy blue irises in the reflection of the door, and my eyes seemed to illuminate of their own accord. And the ticking grew louder and I felt a soft hammering in my chest and I raised a finger (of which my hand was covered over with a leather glove) and gently prised at the little latch on the brass plate on my chest. I got another finger underneath the plate and I was able to pry it open on its spring-held hinges. And there, much like a clock, was a maze of cogs and hammers keeping rhythm to a small motor-engine, which pumped dozens of artery and vein tubes which sent oil coursing throughout my body. Throughout my shell.

Frozen from the shock of what I had become, frozen from the stringy flesh that hung inside me like some useless decoration, to grow dusted and old. Frozen emotionless, my face was just a mask preserved for old time's sake. Formaldehyde, the smell never left me. Formaldehyde and ethanol, amongst other things. A lifetime of stench to keep my face from rotting. Frozen from fear of revulsion, frozen stiff as my face. The door was opened, but not by me.

V

"Why can't you just stay in the one fucking place?" he said.
I recognised the voice as the drill guy.
"What have you done to me?" I asked.
He held out a hand to pull me from the cupboard and back out into the lab.
"What have you done to me?" I repeated.
He turned and walked towards the hallway. I followed. And then I saw his other hand. Or what was meant to be his other hand, except it was lopped off at the wrist, and had since been replaced with a cordless drill mechanism, which I assumed was connected to his nervous system.
"What have you done to me?" I asked again, as I followed close behind.
He paused, then glanced back at me as if telling me not to press the question further. His drill revolved briefly with a low whine, as a warning. I refrained from asking again.

He walked out into the hallway and then further down, away from the room in which I awoke.
"At least talk to me" I said.
"What do you want me to say?" he asked.
"Who are you?" I asked "and where are we going?"
"The less you know, the better, kiddo. You can remember me as the guy who gave you your life back."
He led me into some sort of control room filled with levers and knobs and wheels and buttons. There were numerous control panels spread across the room, and along the walls, as well as a few small mechanic controls on the lowered ceiling. He sat me down in a chair in the centre of the room, and swung the chair facing around towards the windows that stretched across the width of the room, all wide and tall as the control panels would allow. The windows looked out upon the city, at a distance, and I could see through a thinly veiled cloud-mist the acrid black smoke wafting from the factories and sweatshops and polluting out into the air.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"We're flying" he responded. "We're inside the Nocturne VII airship, circling the city."
And indeed, he was correct, as I noticed we were moving around over the city. I leaned forward slightly, to enhance my view, but my head began to spin and I was overwhelmed by this simple fear of heights.

"How long have we been up here?" I asked nervously.
"This is the thirteenth day." He said. "We rescued you from the factory on the Friday night after the cat man left."
"Thirteen days... the cat man... what are you on about?"
He laughed wryly. "So you haven't heard about the corruption of the Magna Carta?"
"Last I heard was that you couldn't trust anybody any more." I said. "I heard that some strange evils were about. And I found myself in the boss's office waiting for him to finish his meetings. I wanted to talk about working conditions. I was waiting quite a while, and when he came in, he just watched me all quiet like. He filed away a few papers that were lying on his desk and he asked if I've been sticking my nose in places where it ought not be stuck. And I said "no, sir." And he asked me to stay late, and I said "yes, sir." And then he shot me."
"He's not just a factory manager any more. He organised the suspension of the Magna Carta, and has since corrupted the city of its politics. He's got the whole fuckin' city sliding in his palm. They call him the Cheshire Cat now."

VI

The Magna Carta. In this city, in this world, it is the law. Without it we are lawless. This is a story of revenge. I knew what must be done before the words left his mouth. Kill the Cheshire Cat. Kill the Cheshire Cat and restore lawfulness to the city, restore the Magna Carta to its rightful place in our society. I need not sleep, nor so much as rest until the deed is done. All that is required is the diesel fuel to the reservoir in my shoulder. I sat in the control room as the drill guy told me all I needed to know. And then he flicked a lever which opened a hatch beneath my chair. I found myself upturned and soaring down several thousand metres of cold, polluted air, the city looming ever closer with no signs of slowing.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-01 12:05:18 Reply

A heavy sickening crunch. I slammed into the road, hard. My face landed several metres away and I lay twisted and scratched and covered in the cracked and broken asphalt of the road. The words reverberated in my head, the last thing drill guy said before he flicked the lever.
"This, my friend, is to show you that you can not die."
I clicked my wrists the right way around and pushed myself up off the ground. I snapped my kneecaps back into place. I slipped my face back on and pulled the hairline back over my fibreglass skull. One hell of a migraine.

I took one step. Two step. Three steps to shake off the disorientation. And then I saw the people in their homes all peering out their windows at me, some of which were probably on their phones to the police. It didn't take long at all before the sirens were within earshot. I transformed my staggered walk into a fuel-pumping sprint and left with little more than a whiff of burned fuel and scattered asphalt trailing into anywhere.

I made my way back to the factory, my run, run, running making more noise than I'd have liked. Clank, creak, squeak, rattle. So I slowed to a soft jog when I felt I had distanced myself enough. In the quiet of the night it did not take long at all to cross the city to the factory. No moon tonight, that made my going easier, with only the weak gas burning street lamps lighting my path down the roads and streets and avenues. I slipped into the factory through the back, after cutting a hole in the fence between it and the automotive shop. I went in through the fire escape, in through the long hallway that was seldom used. It was darkness and cold grey walls and clammy stale humidity in the air from the cooling of the factory machines in the night time. It was complete quiet and stillness. It was the weak red glow of the lights that ran along the hallway, the phantom power that kicked in after hours. I walked down the hallway hearing little more than the squeak of a wayward mouse outside my own rattling, echoing motions.

VII

I came out of the hallway onto the factory floor and I could smell it across the room. The blood and grease from a few weeks passed. The vile, churning smell that tastes so terrible I have nightmares. The formaldehyde on my face and the diesel pumping through my veins is nothing. A distant irritation compared to the immediate repulsion towards my abhorrent past still festering on the floor. I fell to my knees, the dizzy sickness consuming me. Lurch, heave. Nothing. I gurgled machine lubricant in my mouth and swallowed. And then I heard a soft clicking as that of a lock opening. The dragging of the large corrugated iron door pulled open a sliver. I got to my feet as the door was pulled shut by none other than the Cheshire Cat himself, my old boss, my old friend. He turned around and saw me, unsure of who me was. So he raised his pistol. Probably the same one he shot me with.
And he said "You have no business here. Leave."
And I stepped forward and threw a knife at him. Missed.
"Fuck off back home, asshole" he said, and fired his gun.
It pinged off my chest harmlessly. I laughed and stepped closer still. I was going to scare him shitless, then take off his head. But then he pulled from his jacket a second pistol, which I now know to be loaded with the impact explosive bullets. He fired again, the bullet propelled into the diesel tank behind me. In the mass of flames and smoke I took my eyes off the Cheshire Cat for one moment. And then he was nowhere to be seen.

Rumble. Hiss. Clog, clog, clog, clog, whine. That's the sound of the machines starting up. Next thing I know there's nothing but the flames and crunching metal and the pump pump pumping of machines like a regular freak show. And then I find my arms locked behind my back. I didn't see, nor hear the others arrive, only the wretched grinding and whirring of the machines. The one named Mince with his red-streaked mohawk and vice grip hand-claws held me in my place. The Cheshire Cat's laughter echoed throughout the room. And that's the difference between him and me: fear. I gurgled motor fluids in my mouth and breathed deeply through my nose. In. Out. In. Out. I spat on the floor. The Cheshire Cat clamoured back from the darkness suited up in a three metre tall brass armour machine. He must have acquaintances in the army.

At this sight I wrenched my fists around to loosen them. He's going to kill me. He's going to kill me if I don't run now. I ripped my arms free and pushed Mince to the ground. I stepped on his chest as I made haste distancing myself from the Cheshire Cat. I heard a sickening crunch but I held no notice nor sympathy for him. And then, as I stood on the far side of the factory floor, the Cheshire Cat ambling along quite slowly, his robot's foot came down square upon Mince's crumpled figure on the floor. Crushed flat beneath 10 tonnes of hardened steel. And then I felt a bludgeoning fist rammed into my face.

VIII

I stumbled backwards and tripped to the ground, my face skewed and slightly obscuring my vision. The thug-hire of the Cheshire Cat here held me to the floor with his heavy foot. I could barely see how big he was, but he was too weighted to simply throw or writhe free, yet I tried regardless. All the while the slow stomping and loud hissing of the Cheshire Cat's mech-suit trudged closer. Step. Step. Step. I reached into my pocket and withdrew a small grinding saw. Its motor fit neatly in my palm as the blade whirred viciously underhand. The heat and the smell, and the pressure on my cogs and chambers under the beefy foot was overwhelming me. I held the blade to his ankle and cut into the flesh with ease. He groaned and hollered and in my extreme discomfort I heard a gurgling what the fuck, man! and I pushed the grinder deeper. Bone, chop chop chop. What the fuck. Little blades taking away slivers of bone until he was left with a stump. What the fuck, whirring machines, releasing the pressure on my chest. I wore his blood and I threw his foot to the ground and I turned off the grinder and I smiled.

Step. Step. Step. The Cheshire Cat's giant iron claw picked me up with ease. I spat on the floor and took deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. He squeezed. I turned the grinder back on. He squeezed harder. He was laughing. He was fucking laughing and my insides were bending and twisting, and I cut into his machine's wiring upon the wrist, killing his claw. He flung me several meters across the room. Into the fire. I rolled my battered body away from the flames. Step. Step. Step. Slow and heavy, he turned around. I rifled through my pockets, emptying everything on the floor. Grenades, knives, bullets and the sort. Through the formaldehyde and smoke burning acrid fumes, I could smell something else, like a putrid plastic burn and choke. I spat on the floor and clutched the item I feared could explode from the heat of the fire, the gyroscopic bomb, a little wheel machine with a motor on one side and a small explosive on the other. As the cat drew closer I aligned the wheel with the machine. The melted plastic of the outer casing was of little concern to the bomb. I just knelt on the factory floor, willing the wheel to roll fast and straight. Step. Step. Step.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-01 12:06:55 Reply

IX

I coughed at more gurgling oil in my throat. I spat on the floor and breathed deeply. Step step step, closer closer closer, one clutching claw longing my neck in its grip. One deadly claw at the guise of the bastard cat. What the fuck, another thug-hire of Mr. Cheshire shot me across the room with a ping ping ping oh so harmless. I pulled the start-cord that roared the gyro-motor to life. I held the motor in my left hand, the explosive in my right. Step. Step. Step. Release. It ran smoothly across the factory floor and skimmed the foot of the mech-suit. No dice. The wheel skivvied off to the side and smacked into an engine machine, close enough to push the armoured suit to the floor with the force of the explosion. Singed hair and crumpled suit, the Cheshire Cat pulled himself from the machine and raised his gun. Shoot to kill. And the roaring of the machines and crackling of the fire seemed like a muted nothing in the distance. There was just the tick tick ticking of my inner self and the thump thump thumping of my pumping motor-heart, and the click cocking of the Cheshire Cat's gun so loud and distinct as if he were right in my ear. I could hear my uneven breaths and I could smell the formaldehyde of my face, and I could hear the hammering metals as he pulled the trigger. And again. And again. And again. I spat on the floor and ran. The bullets hit the wall behind me and burst into fire and rubble.

Click. Click click click. I ran at the Cheshire Cat. He with the overconfidence and blinding arrogance. He with the sneering lip and wrinkled brow. He with the empty gun. I spat in his face. And I punched hard in the guts. And with the harmless ping ping pinging of his hired goons on my bulletproof back I wrenched the gun from his hand. And I took the extra bullets from his pockets and I inserted them into the gun, click click click, and I kicked his sorry self to his knees. And I shot him in the fucking face. I left the headless Cheshire Cat to his business and I never set foot in that factory again.

Outside, in the cool night breeze, I breathed deep. In. Out. In. Out. This is a story of revenge. And they thanked me for my deeds, a thanks I needed not nor wanted not. They said "Thank you for your sins, Alice" to which I said no more.

----------------------------------------
--------------

Ok, I suppose here's where I should divulge my news of forthcoming texts/blab about my goals and works in progress. I've got probably half a dozen short story ideas on the backburner with another one that will follow suit if I don't get back on to it soon enough.

I started writing a couple of years ago when there was a competition on this very site, back before the MWCs came into the picture. I wrote a zombie story (which I'll probably post later) inspired by my then utter adoration for Lovecraftian horror. That was "the Butcher of Krankhafte". I followed that up with a vampire story of similar style, "A Note for Elizabeth", which later got published in my university's student magazine. Since then I've written a number of other horror stories, as well as experimented with a number of other styles and genres. This is, of course, encouraged through the writing courses I'm taking at uni, as I take my time to refine my writing skills and to bring more out of my potential.

Last year I started working on a novel "The Wilder Saga", which was a combination of several of my Lovecraftian-eque horror stories toned down, upped the action into more of a gothic fantasy epic. That idea's still on the drawing board, and the draft is hanging somewhere in the midst of chapter three, from the last I can remember, which was about 16,000 words in.

Later on in the year, I made an attempt to convert my short story "the Wishing Tree" into a novel of the same name. Again, still on the drawing board at around 11,000 words into the first draft.

In November, however, I participated in National Novel Writing Month, and succeeded in writing a draft steampunk novel "In the Valley of the Tempest". At the moment, I'm in the process of fleshing the ideas out into a series of novels. I was less than 2,000 words into the draft rewrite for the first novel when I decided to take extra time working on the story as a whole before continuing on the drastically altered draft. At the moment I'm working on a loose chapter analysis on proposed book number three. The working title for the first book in the series is "Stormbringer". I'd hope and imagine it wouldn't feel too out of place amongst other steampunk novels making their way onto the bookshelves these past few years, namely "Leviathan", by Scott Westerfeld and "Boneshaker", by Cherie Priest.

I have written a follow up story to Flonkerton, which evolves on the concept of far removed fan fictions revolving around characters from Alice in Wonderland. This story, which is also on the backburners for the moment is called "Coma".

I've also done a little experimentation with poetry. It's not really my forte, but through uni, I've gained a higher appreciation for it, and learned a thing or two about writing (what I believe to be) decent poetry.

I'll try to have something new up here soon, but I won't be promising anything. Maybe some novel excerpts too.

Oh, almost forgot, I started writing a realist novel in December. It lacked planning, but I think the idea and the characters got off to a great start. I was part way through the third chapter when it got put aside too. One day I'll pick it back up and do something with it. The working title for it was "The River". It was about some kids that accidentally killed a cat in a nearby river and I think some metaphors about things catching up with you downstream or something like that.

I'll probably add more life story to this thread later on. I'm always forgetting things and then talking about them later down the track. Or forgetting that I talked about them and repeating myself. So anyway, yes, hit "Post it!"x4

"error- it looks like you're trying to double post". Yes. Yes I am.

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-01 12:13:47 Reply

My notes from the MWC judging.

Language Value

Word Choice

Most of the time your word choice was excellent, but I was never wowed by the appropriateness of a single word in a single place.

Compact Affect

I would say that most of your sentances pack a rather large punch, but not to the point where every sentance is valuable and has been utilized to a professional extent. There are things missing and there is a wholeness lacking in places that is there in others.

Proper Grammar & Spelling

Certainly above average. I found no real spelling mistakes, and while you did take some poetic licesnse you ignored a few grammar rules while doing it.

Flow & Tone -

A lot of the echoing was good for this, but it wasn't always punctuated correctly. I felt you lost most of your town when you shifted your story's purpose around part V.

Connection

Reader to characters

You give us a superb connection through line of sight and feeling in the first 4 parts that quickly dissapears after part IV. Cheshire Cat, I didn't get. Alice, is a very flat character. The henchment are just "that guy" and literally that's a horrible waste of space.

Reader to setting

I think you did a very good job with this. Your specialty generally lies in your ability to describe the whole and the pieces there in, especially of inanimate objects. There's still a lot of blank spaces in some scenes, but on the whole a good job.

Reader to plot

A pretty flat plot: Revenge. And after the creation of Frankenstein we aren't left with much to really grasp at or feel justified for. Yeah, the cheshire cat's a horrible person, but he just shot her. What about the guy that stuck a drill in her head to "keep her alive." And who was that anyway. Plot should always follow from characters and setting, but I feel like you got a plot idea first and built your characters and setting from that. You can do this, but it was an incomplete job as in the end it has to look like you didn't do that at all.

Plausibility in world

I'd say given the state of diesel punk you did a pretty good job staying in the world. I think your story suffers mainly from the superman complex (ie, undefeatibility, why do I care?)

Invention

Characters

Highly inventive & creative. Not always original, but well put together and nothing was really inserted in a way that made me feel it didn't belong. Again, we're sorely lacking in the whole background reality bit.

World

An interesting world to be sure. I think the government didn't belong in anyway shape or form. We didn't care, they weren't involved, there was no need for them. It wasn't even clear how the Cheshire cat had any semblance of power. I would say your mechanics and setting were well done, but left something to be desired.

Plot

Certainly imaginative.

Other

Inventive language & style with the repetition, if not always executed well.

Completeness

Characters

Big question. Q: "Who are you? I really wanna know." A: "I don't know, some guy from a factory with dreams of ruling the world for no explained reason, some guy with drill on my hand who doesn't talk, some girl who worked in a factory who deserved to be killed why?"

World

Again. Magna Carta, no purpose. Nix it or make it important. Why aren't there more mechanic people or why are there mechanical people to begin with etc.

Plot

Gaping holes due to the inclusion or absense of material from the two constructs which make good plot. Read above.

Craft

Could have used revising & editing. On the whole ok job.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-19 03:33:17 Reply

More from the backlog:

WinterBliss

The bridge in to town broke apart last night. I watched it happen. I had been cooped up in my home for most of the season, and last night I just couldn't take it any longer. I needed to go out, to view the outside world once more. Wearing my warmest Winter coat drawn tight, I left through the front door into the bitter cold wind. Whereabouts I was heading, I didn't know. I think the process of wandering aimlessly had its soothing qualities, and that was enough for me.

I walked down the cobbled street with the winds attempting to push me off course. I had my face mask wrapped neatly around my head and my goggles strapped tight. I took the back roads, the isolation soothed me, it gave me a feeling of calm reassurance. So with my gloves slipped snugly over my cold hands and with my boots tied three quarters up my calf, I made my way towards the town boundaries, to the bridge.

At this point the bridge was still quite wholesome, by which I mean both ends successfully merged in the middle, over the river that runs past the town and into the great lake. The river was frozen; as was the lake. I crossed the bridge then, over to the forest and farmland side of the river. I looked down at my reflection as I crossed, and rather than the rippling reflection of the running river, the sleek surface of the frozen water reflected only the linear, proportionate image of my face. It was cold, and the wind just kept on getting colder.

On the other side of the bank I walked down along the river towards the lake, and towards the abandoned mill. For reasons I'm not quite sure about, that structurally questionable and weather-worn windmill appealed to me. It was tucked neatly away from the town, and I felt like I could trust it. I knew it was silly, but when you've got gossiping neighbours on your left, and you've got gossiping neighbours on your right, chances are that you wouldn't mind the solitude of the old mill too.

I walked up to it like I would an old friend, and I eagerly anticipated its shelter over that of my own home. It was just so twisted and unusual, and interesting, whereas my house looked like every other house about town, and it was just so dull and drab. They don't make shades of grey dull enough to express my home.

I moved several branches that were blocking the door and stepped into the large, wide room. Upwards into the darkness, I gazed through the many timber trusses and supports that had weakened over time. I had come to learn that bats lived in amongst the topmost timber beams, the type of bats that won't bother you if you don't bother them. I walked up the staircase, through the crude architectural nightmare, towards a small window, the only one in the mill, up there with the bats near the ceiling.

From my seat in amongst the bats I could see clearly out into the night sky, the pearly white glow of the moon shedding light through the window. The wind was still quite turbulent, and the clouds overhead were whipped into thin vapour trails all across the sky. From my seat, I could also see the edge of the town, and the bridge. I could see the warm orange glow of house-lights and the sooty black smoke billowing from most chimney tops. It was there, as I dwelt in the rafters of the windmill that I saw the bridge's demise.

There approached three hooded figures, torches in hand. The twinkling firelight over by the bridge was what caught my attention, and as if I was sucked out of the peace and tranquillity of my own isolation, I became fascinated with these three men. What matter of business could possibly bring them out and about in this weather, and at this time of night? They appeared to have more on their minds than a mere late night wandering such as I. They had their own matters to attend to, and I had guessed that these matters weren't very pleasant or appealing to the greater community. They were about to cross the bridge into town when I was startled by an entirely unexpected, heavy handed knock on the battered door of the windmill. I looked down towards the door, but I could barely see anything. Why would someone come knocking on the door of this abandoned mill of all places? I remained silent, and I gripped the beam upon which I sat, as I tried to suppress my childish fear of the unknown, the lurker in the dark. After some moments of controlled breathing, I looked back through the window towards the bridge. I didn't quite realise how enthralled I had become towards these strangers at merely a few minutes' shadowed stalking.

They each had, stuffed, bulging from within their coats, what I interpreted at the time to be mere fireworks. As they crossed the bridge, I saw one of the men pull out a long thin cracker with a fuse on the end and wave it in front of his friends, miming what I guess you'd call a spectacular explosion of some sort. From what I gathered, they had scolded his juvenile musings as he quickly tucked the rocket back into his pocket and held himself in a bitter posture.

Knock, knock, knock. Knock. The thick, heavy knock on the wooden door reached my ears. I took my eyes off the party of three and glanced back downwards again. The floor was too low to see anything. It could just be the wind had caught open the door and was slamming it against a rock that was causing the racket. It could have been, but it wasn't, as I heard, for the first time since I entered the windmill, the unmistakable rusted squeal of the hinges on the door rubbing up against each other as someone-or something- very real entered the mill. I swallowed, my ears tuned in to every little sound that ought not be there. I climbed backwards through the trusses, out of the light of the window and away from the reach from the mill's topmost landing. I felt something brush up against my arms as I crawled back. The bats. They scarcely moved. I'm sure they heard everything I did. Everything and more. Footsteps across the ground floor. Step, step, step. Step. The beating of my heart inside its anxious chest. Thump, thump, thump. Thump. In the darkness I couldn't see a thing save for the window. Out there, the party had paused, one of the men held his hand over his mouth, and I'd say the bats would have heard him coughing. Their crunching footsteps upon the coarse ground. The shuffling as they slid out onto the ice under the bridge and packed their pyrotechnics tight beneath the bridge.

Footsteps up the stairs. Steady, heavy. Step. Step. Step. I couldn't see, save for through the window. I was blind to the inside of the windmill. I had become one with my bat-friends, blinded as I am surely blind to others in the darkness. I hear every footfall with a piercing clarity, and I feel the pump pump pumping of the blood through my veins and the thump thump thumping of my heart in my ribcage, and I lick my lips, and I swallow, and I let thin pearls of sweat run slowly down to my chin, and through the window... through the window I'm sure the bats hear the striking of a match, as I see the phosphorescent glow, through the window I am not blind.

Step, step, step, step. Stop. He's here, he's at the top of the stairs. He's at the window. Looking. For me. He's blind to me in the darkness of the trusses and the beams in the roof. Blind to the bats as they are to him, but as he stands by the window, his silhouette is framed in the pale illumine of the nightly-glow. All there is to hear is the rib-breaking explosions of my heavy hammer-heart. I gulp. I stink of cold sweat and bat shit. I hear the pump pump pumping and the thump thump thumping and in the darkness I convince myself that he can hear it too. He looks about the room, he hears it, he just needs to find it. Any moment now he'll see me and he'll kill me for I see a madness in his eye.

continued below

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-19 03:34:45 Reply

continued...

And there it is; I know he's seen me. In the darkness with the bats that can't be seen. He sees in the roof beams, two cold, piercing eyes reflecting an unnatural green. Watching, staring, waiting for the kill.

And then and there, as we both grow cold with fear, the night was interrupted by a violent explosion. The bridge was torn to pieces as rubble, shrapnel and fire burst out in all directions. We both looked out the window. Three figures were seen running, running towards the forest, and of that I know no more.

----------------------------------------
---

Right now I'm working on a story for my 'battle' with vhstapeclock. An "action story". I'm about 700 words into a story I've given the working title "Train". And I'm feeling really good about it. I would go so far as to say that I think it's a beautiful piece of prose that's injected with dark and brooding themes. I'm having a lot of fun with the wordplay, and I feel like the story unfolds in an interesting way, my only problem is that it won't be punchy enough and cliched enough to fit the action category. I'll probably plea my argument later. I probably won't be too far from finished soon, but I'm going on holidays for a couple of days tomorrow, so I don't know whether I'll be done before I go or when I'll get back. But anyway, I think it should be something to keep an eye out for.

I also bought a book on writing fiction for uni, because I've got a class dedicated to short stories this semester (and one for poetry too), so I'm having a bit of a glance at that now. It looks like it'll be basic stuff for the first chapter and a bit before I hit the hard stuff, but I think it should be really good.

I hope you guys enjoy She. It was sort of a transitioning piece from when I was writing primarily gothic horror to now, where I'm writing a bit more of an eclectic mix, with more of a focus on realist issues, I think. I chop and change styles a lot, and I think that tossing and turning and throwing around comes through in my writing, in which case I'd just like to say that my style is just purely wild.

Happy reading! >:D


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-26 19:52:10 Reply

This is a brilliant story, sir.
From time to time, I actually think that I might grow up to be someone like your narrator. That's a very scary thought.
Anyway, I connected to the story on somewhat of a personal level. Love the concept, love the whole staircase thing. Great job.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-26 19:54:00 Reply

At 2/26/10 07:52 PM, MonkeyV wrote: This is a brilliant story, sir.
From time to time, I actually think that I might grow up to be someone like your narrator. That's a very scary thought.
Anyway, I connected to the story on somewhat of a personal level. Love the concept, love the whole staircase thing. Great job.

^ To the first story in the thread, obviously.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-02-28 00:52:06 Reply

At 2/26/10 07:54 PM, MonkeyV wrote:
At 2/26/10 07:52 PM, MonkeyV wrote: This is a brilliant story, sir.
From time to time, I actually think that I might grow up to be someone like your narrator. That's a very scary thought.
Anyway, I connected to the story on somewhat of a personal level. Love the concept, love the whole staircase thing. Great job.
^ To the first story in the thread, obviously.

Thanks for your generous words. Sometimes I see myself as a whole lot of nothing and I hate it. I guess the story is about the person I'm afraid of becoming; sheltered and alone and very... linear, if you can define a person as such. As much as I hate the spoiled shits that live the wild life, I feel like I'm always yearning for something more out of life, I guess a caterpillar/cocoon/butterfly metaphor would be perfect for my ideals. The whole concept of discovering yourself within yourself and thus enabling yourself to break free of the shell (or perhaps the womb or teat, as that is, I feel, what holds the spoiled children back) I think is a sort of immaterial goal of mine. Living in routine is of little reward to me, although I know it must be part of my life insofar that I can bide my time until I can truly come into complete independence as myself.

I've noticed this struggle of the individual becoming a more prominant issue with my writing as I continue typing these stories.

Anyway, I start uni again tomorrow, I've been trying to get in touch with the new editor for grok, my uni's student magazine, but I haven't heard back from her yet. But I'll be back in the classroom doing writing exercises and workshopping short stories and poems. I'll probably post a few exercises up here if I don't completely hate them, and I'll probably try to get some stories up to publication standards for a few literary magazines that I started looking at last year.

Here's a 50 word flash fiction story that I wrote for a competition for one magazine that I was unsuccessful with:

--------------------------------------

Granite

I was much shorter when you first brought me here. More nimble, too. I often scaled the coastal granite outcrops, pretending they were alive.

Do you remember naming Old Golem? He reminded me of you; A placid rock with his wise, wrinkled grin.

I wish you could be here.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-02 23:36:33 Reply

1/4

The Butcher of Krankhafte

1- The Krankhafte Plague

The history of humankind is fraught with mayhem and disaster, death and destruction, and it's all self-inflicted. We're so arrogant that we can't stop fighting amongst ourselves to see that we aren't our own worst enemies. There's so much more out there that we should be protecting ourselves against. There are many more enemies that we should dominate over, should we stand and fight together. There are so many more enemies of mankind that slip past us unnoticed, biding their time, waiting for the opportune moment to slither in for the kill.

I first noticed these unnamed enemies towards the end of World War II, during the winter of 1941. It was another bitter cold day, in my small, poorly insulated apartment in Berlin. The curtains were drawn shut, as I was sickened by the view portrayed through the window. The city was a mass of chaos and confusion, police brutality caused an uproar of hysteria, people were afraid to leave their homes during the day. People hurried to and from work, not staying in the streets longer than they needed to be. Planes flew overhead at all hours of the day and night. Some planes dropped bombs. I lay awake at night praying to God that these next planes were German planes, that the bombs they carried were German bombs. The sky was tainted with all the colors of war, the scene displayed outside my window was one of fear and anxiety. The scene outside my window was one of man-made hell.

I was like everyone else, I didn't dare leave the house except for work, and even then, I'd try to bring work home and get as much as I could done in the security of my apartment. I was a professor of the sciences at the Berlin University, so I was obliged to present myself to my class periodically throughout the week. I marked the papers and wrote the lectures and tests from my apartment, and I also had my research papers that I had been working on. I went by the name of Friderik Eisenbachs, but that changed after I discovered the truth behind a terrible plague.

One particular day, whilst I was at the university, giving a lecture to my class on the practicality of religion, the master professor of the institute knocked on the door, and informed me that he had waiting on the telephone, a man whom wished to speak to me, and only to me, concerning a matter of grave importance. At the time, I didn't know how important that phone call was (I doubt even he knew, himself, for that matter), so I rushed to the professor's office and held the receiver to my ear, and heard the voice of my family doctor. My mother and father were deathly ill, with a sickness like nothing he'd ever seen before.

He had called to arrange for me to bring some books to him from the university library, in a desperate attempt to find a cure for my parents. He had also organized a bus fare for me to travel into my home village of Krankhafte, leaving that afternoon, so I could aid him in his research for this seemingly incurable disease. I explained the situation to the master professor, whom gave me his consent to take leave. I wasted no time getting my act together, it felt like only moments had passed and then I was boarding the bus, to leave my bruised and broken city behind.

2- The Tortured Mind

To my embarrassment, I had fallen asleep on the bus. My face compressed against glass, I opened my eyes and looked around to find that the bus had come to a halt, and all the other passengers had departed. My mind took its time to return to full consciousness, and it was quite some time before I noticed that the bus driver had gone. So I gathered myself and stepped off the bus. My luggage was stacked unceremoniously on the path, and I began gathering the cases and bags of luggage, when I noticed that the bus driver was leaning casually against the wall, cigarette in hand. I didn't think he had noticed me, but then he spoke out.
"Strange things happenin' round here..." He said. "Don't know what possessed you to journey out this direction."
"What are you talking about?" I asked. "I was raised here. This is my home."
"Times have changed, boy. Times have changed. No person in their right mind comes into Krankhafte 'nemore."
"But, what about the other people on the bus?"
"You were the only person on this bus, son..."
"What? I saw... The town... Does this have anything to do with the war?"
"It's got something to do with a war, yes." and with that, he threw his cigarette butt on the ground and walked away.

I made my way through the cobbled streets towards the house in which my parents lived, the house in which I was raised, the words of the bus driver echoing in my mind. What did he mean? What's going on? I walked through the village, and I made my way towards the old dirt road, overgrown with cannibalistic weeds. I walked down the road that I knew so well, yet I felt that the warmth of my carefree childhood was gone. I anticipated the joyful nostalgia of my youth, but I could sense that something was definitely not right, and that my presence was undesired in this place. I came to the end of the road and I piled my luggage on the ground, to unlatch the front gate to my old home. The porch light came on, and a man emerged from the house.
"Friderik, it's been so long!" It was our family doctor, Isaac Waultz. "Come, come. The guest room is prepared for you. You need your rest after the journey. No, don't worry about your luggage, I'll bring it in. Go on, get inside!"
I walked over the threshold, and found my way into the guest room, where I fell into an interrupted sleep, perverted with nightmares of wars, and ghost towns, and people that don't exist...

The next morning, I had an insufferable migraine, burning into my skull, every pulse of blood to my brain was like the hardest of hammers. I walked into the room the doctor had adopted as his study. I pulled a seat up to his desk, and piled my books in front of him.
"Friderik", he said, " we need to talk. Your mother and father are very ill, they're sick with a plague. This plague... is like nothing I've ever seen before, It spreads like wildfire! It's taken hold of almost everyone in this village. So many people have already died, so many more are closing in on death, your parents are amongst those. I believe it to be an act of chemical warfare, on Britain's behalf, but that's irrelevant to the cure of this damn plague."

I thought this was quite far fetched. For an attack such as this to go unnoticed would be nothing short of impossible. The more time I spent pondering over the facts, the more I began to feel that the plague had arisen from within the village. I sat in the doctor's study, contemplating how to react to his ludicrous theory, when I heard a loud crash come from overhead. Moments later, myself and Dr. Waultz, saw through the study window, a body falling onto the front driveway. My mother was dead.

1/4

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-02 23:37:51 Reply

2/4

I sat, stunned, as the doctor hurried outside to confirm that the unthinkable was indeed true. He came back inside, to check up on my father, and to call the funeral home to take my mother's body away. I just sat, mortified by the event that had unfolded before my very eyes. My father had gone into shock, and the doctor feared that he too would break down soon. How soon, he wouldn't say. A matter of days, weeks, hours? The doctor started reading through the books I had brought him, determined to find a faint sign of a cure, but he was clutching at straws. The books were so full of unimportant, neglected knowledge, they were worthless. Every now and then, the doctor would stop and jot down a few things on his notepad, before opening up more books, taking a few more notes. He'd usually end up ripping the notes out and discarding them. A few times, he took the notes, and pulled out his medicines, and tested his cures on my father. Out of the half dozen times he tried, he gained nothing. In fact, a couple of the medicines seemed to agonize my father even more than the "normal" tortured delusions, and make his condition all the worse. I just sat in my chair in the doctor's office, and watched him, as the hours ticked by, until he closed the last book.

He held in his hand one piece of note paper, littered with his scrawled handwriting. He was about to take something out of his medicine bag, when there came a knock at the front door. He pulled two small bottles from his bag, and hastily poured one into the other.
He handed it to me and said "give this to your father, I'll answer the door."
I got to my feet, and walked into the downstairs bedroom, where my father sat on the end of his bed staring into nothingness. The doctor had moved him downstairs to prevent an incident like that of my mother's death from happening again. I knelt beside my father, and showed him the bottle. He winced, and turned away, quite childishly. I held the back of his neck for support, and pushed the bottle up to his lips. The amber liquid spilled into his mouth, and slid down his throat. I could faintly hear the doctor talking to a man at the front door. It must have been the people from the funeral home, here to collect my mother.
I could just make out their words. "She's just in the front yard" the doctor said, pointing in the general direction.
"No, that can't be right." The other man spoke, "there's no-one there at all."
I felt my throat swell up, I couldn't believe it. I later discovered that the man was speaking the truth. My mother's body had gone, without a trace.

I didn't know how to feel, how to react. I walked towards the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea, to settle myself down, but when I came out of the study into the hall, I saw my father rip open the back door, and dash outside and over the fence. I yelled out in frustration, and ran full slog out the back door in chase of my fevered father. He was running through the grass fields behind the houses leading into town. He looked over his shoulder at me, his eyes infused with insanity. He turned down an alley between two small cottages. I was almost caught up to him, but as I rounded the corner into the dark alley, he was nowhere to be seen...

I continued down the alley, unsure of where my father was, when I heard a blood curdling scream reverberate throughout the dark walls of the alley. I turned every which way, to pinpoint the origin of the horrific cry, when I glimpsed my father, dashing across the street, madness emblazoned in his eyes, and tattooed onto his soul. There was a woman, lay injured on the cobbled road, fear locked in her body, as she watched my father flee towards the town center. I ran after him, post haste, intent on suppressing the beast within him. I caught up to him outside the pub, and wrapped my arms around him, to keep him from fleeing again. He writhed viciously in my grip, and managed to get an arm free. His fist collided with my nose, and I felt a white hot pain blister on my skin. I let go, and held my hands to my bloody face. My father pushed away, and stumbled into an inebriated bystander. It only took the drunk one swift bullet-like punch to the jaw, to knock my father out cold.

The man said nothing, but instead vomited onto the wall of the pub, before staggering into the night to leave my father unconscious. I pulled my arm around him and dragged him to his feet, ignoring the blood running down my face out of my nose. My head was spinning, I felt myself drifting in and out of focus. I held onto my father, despite tremendous back strain. I held onto my father, and dragged him through the streets. A voice inside my head was guiding me along the deserted streets, telling me where to turn, where to cross, until I came to a rest outside a very run-down looking shop. The sign was heavily worn, and spattered with blood and grime, but I could make out the lettering: "The Krankhafte Butcher". My stomach was filled with dread, many a tale of torture and murder have been told of the butcher of Krankhafte. Regardless, I was in no situation to go elsewhere, and there was some unnamed fate that had driven me here, so I took a deep breath, and knocked heavily upon the massive door.

3- The Impending Fate

The door opened, and I was faced with a giant of a man. Fists the size of boulders, and as tough as them too, this cleaver-wielding giant was the pinnacle of the evolution of man. He must have seen the body in my arms as an offering, as he greedily snatched my father out of my arms with little effort, and sunk back into the dank building that was his meat shop, indicating me to follow. Stunned into silence, I followed, anxious to discover the fate of my father.

As a child, I had heard stories of this meat shop, blood running down the walls, corpses lying on tables with their insides removed, and their hollow shells stitched back together with clumsy needlework. In reality, the only blood in the room was that which my father and I had brought in, and there were no corpses, no tables... nothing. Walls, ceiling, floor. Maybe his killing floor is hidden away, my mind was starting to feel regret for leading me here. Nothing made sense. We came to the end of the room, and followed some stairs down to the basement. It was almost pitch black, and I carefully navigated my way down step after step. There came a point where I expected to find the flat, cool surface of the basement floor, but the stairs kept going down and down. The stone steps were venting cool air into the narrow stairway, evaporating the sweat beads as they rolled down my cheek. My muscles tensed up and my concentration towards descending the stairs doubled. I had the feeling that if I lost my footing, I would plummet through the darkness to my eternal death...

We kept going down and down, we were deep under the village by this time, and I noticed that the sound of my footsteps suddenly became more dense and less echoed. My next step sent an unexpected shiver through my body, as my foot fell ankle deep in ice cold water. The figure ahead of me kept going down, so I clenched my teeth and kept right on behind him, even though a few more steps would have completely submerged me in water. However, we had at last come to the bottom of the stairs. I saw the silhouette of the giant in front of me grab a torch from its bracket on the wall and light it. The shocking reds and oranges of the flickering torchlight stunned my eyes and I was temporarily blinded.

2/4

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-02 23:38:56 Reply

3/4

As my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw a wide underground graveyard, flooded to waist height, the tombs and gravestones lay below the eerie green surface. The butcher walked around the perimeter, lighting the torches along the walls, bringing this aberration of mankind into reality. Creatures of the like I'd never seen before, hell-spawn from another planet. I waded towards the center of the room, where an ancient stone sculpture of an angel stood with all the grace of God, and all the tragedy of hell, its chipped and stained figure opened its arms in acceptance. It was the only tomb that was raised above the water. My father was lain peacefully on the lid of this marble deathbed, the butcher stood at my father's feet, his head bowed in silent prayer. In that instance I knew two things; that the butcher was not as barbaric and merciless as I had imagined, and my father was definitely dead.

I was about to give my life up to the butcher, for the sheer hopelessness of my situation, but at that point of realization, a score of human-shaped alien creatures rose from the water on the far side of the room. They were dark, bruised creatures, with scales and rotten flesh. They bore slits on their chests, in which they appeared to be breathing, but the black slime that seeped from their gills was too horrific to contemplate. I staggered backwards, to get away from them, and back up the stairs. I was afraid to turn my back on these creatures for fear of what terrors they could potentially unleash upon me, but I couldn't know where I was going, and the risk of tripping over a tomb would surely bring me to an end as well. So I turned my head, to find the doorway, the bottom of the steps. Corner to corner, I stared long and hard along the walls, but the opening in which I came through no longer existed. I was frantically wading through the water, eyes intent on believing that there was actually an opening in the wall. So focused on that wall so far away, I tripped on a small carved stone idol, and fell beneath the water.

Eel like creatures wrapped themselves around my limbs, chest and throat. I was choking. I tried to breathe in, but I only consumed the putrid water. It flooded my lungs, burning my body away from the inside. I was seizing up, my mind had gone into spasms, and the electrode synapses of my brain were being torn apart. The toxic water spread throughout my body, turning me into a hollow shell. My eyes were eaten out from behind, and the water streamed into me through my eye sockets at an alarming rate. I was dead, and the eels were swimming around my hollowed body, a mother actually swam down my throat and laid its eggs inside me. This was the end of Friderik Eisenbachs.

4- The Immortal Horror

I opened my eyes, surprised to find that I still had a consciousness. Was I in heaven? The pain was gone, My vision was restored, and as far as I could tell, there were no adolescent eel creatures swimming in my stomach, so I naturally assumed that I was embracing the afterlife, whatever it may be. How very wrong I was. Lying on my horizontal, I peered up at a stone ceiling, ancient and overgrown with moss and algae. I tried to make out the figure etched into the stone. It appeared to be a king of some sort, for it had a magnificent crown upon a fiercely determined face. Huge muscular arms, one holding a long, sharpened trident. His legs looked sleek and strong, but it was only when I saw his chest did I realize where I was, for it bore the same gill-like slits as the vile creatures that had caused my death. But this man-beast also sported a giant eye-like organ that sat just above where I'd expect his stomach to be. I was in the same room underneath the village that I died in. I was lain upon the very tomb where my father had died.

I made to sit upright, but the water-demon monsters held me down with their vice-like grips. I was about to scream, but one of them forced his putrid hands over my mouth, so the sound just reverberated through my skull. I tried to struggle, but I knew there was no escape. After a few moments I knew resistance was useless, and I stopped struggling, and they loosened their hold on me. The butcher appeared at my side, and indicated to the monsters to release their hold on me completely. I lay there, chest heaving, mind spinning, and the butcher spoke to me, in a fatherly way.
"Shh... it's OK, you can relax. We're not going to hurt you."
"W-w-what's going on?" I said.
"Don't worry, don't think too much... Everything will be fine. Oh, and I think your father will be pleased to see you've come round."

My... father?... I saw him die. The butcher started to explain things to me. He was hesitant at first, but when he got started, he talked of such aberrant blasphemies that gave me the worst of mind aches should his words even contain a minute trace of truth. He showed me the secret doorways concealed in the walls of the dungeon. There were more than a dozen passages leading from this massive chamber into all kinds of unfathomable rooms and dungeons, and the butcher even spoke of an underground city, unbeknown to the likes of the authorities above. My first passage down one of these demonic hallways, the butcher took me to see my father. He led me down a long, descending passage, where we walked in almost complete darkness for near on an hour before he came to a halt. Beckoning me forward, he opened a large marble door ushering me into a vast expanse of utmost terror.

Walls stood up, 20 times the height of man, with elaborate marble carvings surrounding the massive room, pews lined up facing an altar, which was positioned between the feet of a 100ft statue of the demonic man-beast that I saw when I first awoke. I felt sick. I was standing in a church of the most blasphemous of the demon cults. It took me a moment to take all this devastation in, before I realized that the butcher and I weren't the only living beings in the room. A man knelt before the altar, embracing this false God as his own. He sat in silence and prayer before rising to his feet and turning to face me.
"Oh, the Lord be praised, my son has returned!" this man looked at me as if he knew me, but he was not my father. His skin was bruised and scaled, he had slits on his chest, in which he seemed to be breathing. His teeth were black, and his green viscous saliva slid down his mouth and onto his chin. His eyes, however... I could recognize those eyes anywhere. They were indeed my fathers eyes. These monsters had turned him into one of them, and I knew, at that moment, that they had done the same crime of nature to me too...

5- The Rapture of the Masses

As I stood, staring into my father's eyes, I felt a mixture of emotions. He had defied science, and had been reincarnated from the dead. The more we talked the more I understood that deep under the bruised and scaled skin, there was still a large part of my father's mind that was distinctively his. To take in the ultimate phenomenon which stood before my eyes, and which I too stood as proof thereof, would be nothing short of extraordinary. I could feel that I too was mostly the same person that I used to be, yet my father explained to me this strange and new anatomy to me. The gills on our chests not only breathed in oxygen, but food, too. This underground labyrinth was old as the earth itself, and the dark, damp, stone walls were hosts to fungal growth. They released infinitesimally small spores into the air, and we, the living dead, breathed in these spores, which stimulated our cell growth, to some level. There was a whole alien Eco-system evolving underground, in which the people above us knew absolutely nothing at all.

3/4

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-02 23:41:16 Reply

4/4

As the days passed, I learned more about this new existence. The eel that had laid eggs inside me played an essential role in my existence. The baby eels were born to feed off of my body, so that they could give the nerves in my body the ability to move at my own will. It was a host/symbiote relationship, and this matter of living could be sustained eternally. As the days passed, I felt my initial fears ebb away, and I started to relax, and enjoy being with my perfectly healthy father again. It was a while before I actually noticed that this surreal and wonderful life was not nearly as beautiful and innocent as I believed, it was my perception that was so shockingly jaded. It was in the reincarnation of my mother that returned all the fear, dread and realisation. I was sledgehammered back into the real world with a blow I would never recover from.

I sat in the corner of a small room, along with the butcher and two others. A dim, flickering light bulb was suspended in the middle of the ceiling, directly over a stone table. The butcher had told me that I would witness the splendour and miracle of their life-giving science, but as I saw my own mother dragged into the room, limp and dirty, I felt utmost revulsion. I sat in the corner, and I couldn't help but watch as these three men hollowed out my mother's body all except the brain, before placing all sorts of devilish parasites into her body. I watched as these parasites wove strands of ligaments into muscles, as they rebuilt her skeletal system, as they stitched in the artificially grown lung organs, and carved the gills into my mother's chest, and finally, they lowered the eel into her stomach cavity to lay its eggs, to bring the interdependent relationship into motion.

I was shocked at the operation, but a part of me was desperate to see her alive, and to talk to her again. However, my mother took her reincarnation terribly. Her brain refused to believe the truth, and her body rejected the symbiote, and she died. The butcher told me that this sometimes happens, when the brain doesn't conform to the acceptance of the parasite. He told me that of those that manage to pull through the reincarnation process, none have reverted. Some question the authenticity, but that's another process everyone has had to go through. My mind was being manipulated by the very creatures that sustained my life. I was a corpse, with my thought patterns slowly being moulded like clay into a mind that lacks the ability to question the authenticity of its own actions.

I was depressed that my mother couldn't be revived, but I was also envious that she was blessed enough to die, untouched by the sin of these monsters. I lost my will to think and act, I sat without motion for days on end, but the truth kept coming, hard and fast, like an eternal hail storm with the ferocity of God, upon unleashing his almighty wrath. I started going to the reincarnation operations more frequently, until I began assisting in the procedures, helping to tear these God made creations, and embed into them the deepest sins of Satan, himself.

One day, after a particularly long operation, the butcher pulled me aside, and said; "Son, I think it's time you know. Haven't you wondered, haven't you asked yourself where all these bodies come from?"
I shook my head.
"There's a group of men going out to collect some more bodies soon. I want you to go with them."
I nodded my head, and walked off to join this body collecting group. There was a small group, about five or six men, talking and laughing. They were all dressed meticulously, so that only the smallest amount of skin possible was shown. They handed me some clothes and asked me to do the same, as we were going above ground. The clothing was very restricting on my gills, but I knew that I wouldn't dare be seen above ground with my horrible uncensored anatomy for all to see.

The fresh open air was a marvellous thrill. I tried to consume as much of the night sky, to drink it all in, but the others pushed me along. They had urgent business to complete, and I was in no position to question that. I followed these men, as they marched into certain houses, unafraid. They could smell the dead and the living, and they could differentiate between, and I knew this, because I sensed it too. I helped them gather bodies and ready them for the journey back underground. Towards the end of the night, the collectors expressed disappointment in the amount of dead they had gathered. So we split up, to save time. I followed a well built, and aggressive man. We walked through the streets for a while, until he stopped outside a little cottage on the outskirts.
I tapped his shoulder and said "I don't think there are any dead bodies in there".
To which he replied, "I know".

I watched him sneak into that house, and kill the people within. I was a little disturbed, but for the most part, I was fascinated. I followed him, as he emptied out four more houses in this same brutal fashion. I was curious to know why he would go to such measures to kill these innocent beings, but he avoided a direct answer. So we left to take our collection back underground, to bring them back to life, to help them build up this demonic empire, and the others noticed these people disappearing, but had no contemplation of the massacres, of the secret underground army of undead, growing larger and larger. They had no idea that their world was far more dangerous than they think. Their worst enemies were not who they thought they were. The worst part is that they don't even know.

6- The Eternal Penance

My mind was shaped like those around me. I conformed to sin and demon worship like all the other monsters around me. I saw my town of Krankhafte for what it had become; a portal between innocence and immortal sin. I discovered that my parents didn't die of a plague, they were murdered. The plague was bred from a parasite cultivated within these stone walls. This mass genocide was a way of dealing a massive blow upon mankind, and upon God himself. I was a part of the very thing I despised. I was sickened by what I had become, and what lay ahead of me.

My father was less sceptical. Of course he was, his mind had been moulded exactly as it should have been. I wanted to kill these perfect blasphemies, and myself. Their acts were selfish and merciless. They claimed to be liberating the human race, but they were turning us into monsters. Our mentality was one of blood lust and sin. How could a God justify such crimes? I told myself every day that I still had control over my own mind, but every day, I knew it was one more lie, one more sin bruising the history book of mankind.

I came to a realisation that I, and every other damned reincarnate, were being punished, and dealing God's punishment on mankind. I came to realise that God is a giant kid with a magnifying glass, burning a hole right through my skin and into my soul. I knew there was no going back. I knew that I had the rest of eternity to contemplate the downfall of mankind. I continued to participate in the rituals of killing and reincarnating, and I continued to work the dirty deeds of the devil. I knew that I would be repenting my sins for all eternity, and I knew that I would never again be blessed with the forgiveness of God.

4/4

This was the first story I wrote out of high school and the first I submitted to Newgrounds. It was for a one off writing competition that gum had pulled together. I got a second placing with this, and the prize was an American five dollar note. I've still got it in my wallet. At the time I wrote this I was in a real H.P. Lovecraft phase, it should be obvious in my influence. I still dabble with gothic horror from time to time, but I don't think I'll be writing anything of this magnitude in the genre any time soon.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-03 20:42:12 Reply

Review for A Fear of Great Heights:
I'm gonna forgo the usual Minor Points section because I'm feeling a little frazzled and out of my element today. If you want, I can always go back and nitpick furiously for grammatical corrections. Don't think there were all that many to begin with anyway, and no major repeat mistakes or excessive deficiencies.

Major Points:

One small issue in continuity here:

I just drink in the world as it would be with the volume turned down, and I think to myself, this is peace.

I opened the front door to a familiar squeak upon the hinges and I took solace in the fact that I was home.

The tense shift between the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs is unexplained. We go from present to past without a reference.

Yesterday? Last week? 5 years ago? We really just need some quick reference, so we understand why the narration is in the present and the event in question is in the past. It's a quick fix though.

The weakest part of your work I felt was the train fight scene:

I could use some more inner monologue on why "you" (main character) say/do the things you say/do. You mention cowardice on the train, gut wrenching and stuck throat, but your character seems completely robotic otherwise.

It almost feels like the knife fight is on the same level as taking out the garbage, or the breakfast scene earlier in the work. I would expect a scene like that, which breaks up the monotony you referenced earlier, to create a larger emotional response.

Conversely, your character seems more tense and uptight when looking up the stairs than he did at any time he:
1.) Witnessed the mugging
2.) stabbed the mugger through the palm with a knife
3.) Interacted with the woman after the fight

Cold shivers run down your spine when you touch a balcony, but getting into a fight and stabbing someone in the palm is just business as usual? It would make sense if your character was a well trained special forces operator who spent 3 years in a bloodbath somewhere to be that emotionally detached in a situation like that, but does not make sense as you have presented your character.

I lose touch with your character here because I'm not given any clues to peer into his head and figure out what he's thinking.

If this happened to "me", going through the same actions I would expect to read:
-something about generally not wanting to get involved/pacifism, to explain the coward reference
-heart rate increasing as "fight or flight" responses took over, or any sort of emotional response, in addition to the sweaty palms. Sweat running down your face, short breaths, fidgeting as the mugger approached, something.
-the release of tension and awkwardness of sitting next to the lady I just inadvertently helped

Or some sort of emotional response to the actions. You did a good job of really sinking the reader into having an emotional response to the upstairs, which is something not many readers are going to be able to personally relate to.

You did a fairly poor job at sinking the reader into having an emotional response to the fight on the train, which is something more readers are going to have natural references for.

So really, all the trickiest parts of story telling you seem to have gotten down pretty well. You just somehow missed the more basic one. No worries though, NASA scientists spent years and millions on programming the Mars orbiter, only to crash the damn thing because one team used metric and another used English units......

Rocket scientists, got all the hardest parts of rocket science correct. Forgot to make sure they were using the correct units of measurement....a task learned in pre-algebra.

So you're in good company. :)

Closing remarks:

I think this story takes a very nice pace and remains consistent throughout. Your writing style is clear and punctual. There is adequate description to "paint the canvas" for the reader, and despite the work starting as an average, mundane, not-exciting-in-the-least day (or maybe because of it), there is a sense of familiarity which immerses the reader within the scene.

The dialogue is effective and realistic, the characters relatable, and the fluidity of the story is solid. No massive logic gaps. No real "problems" at all. It's short, it's sweet, and good to eat.......er.....read.....

Cheers.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-03 21:21:41 Reply

At 3/3/10 08:42 PM, Imperator wrote: Review for A Fear of Great Heights:

Thanks for that, you gave me some good things to think about. I tried to present the character as mentally unstable, which is why he wouldn't react the same to a mugging or stabbing the same way you or I would. Although I do agree that there should be more fear in his actions, he only really wants people to stay out of his personal space. I don't know, that's just what was running through my head when I wrote that part.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-03 23:05:32 Reply

At 3/3/10 09:21 PM, WritersBlock wrote:
Thanks for that, you gave me some good things to think about. I tried to present the character as mentally unstable, which is why he wouldn't react the same to a mugging or stabbing the same way you or I would. Although I do agree that there should be more fear in his actions, he only really wants people to stay out of his personal space. I don't know, that's just what was running through my head when I wrote that part.

After a quick re-reading:
Ah. I think I just missed your first paragraph or something. Little more frazzled than I thought I guess. I see the whole social recluse, misanthrope characterization now. Louder music, ambivalence, coward, etc.

Eh, I'd be making some heavy revisions to that chunk of the review if I had an edit button, so I'll just rescind it instead. Maybe at most a one sentence "I just want these people to leave me alone" social recluse type thought addition for people like me who apparently have 5 second attention spans.... :S

Just one of those days......


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-03-03 23:07:41 Reply

Louder music, ambivalence, coward, etc.

*Apathy, not ambivalence.....

kill me now....

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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-05-26 13:23:49 Reply

Here's a poem I wrote for an exercise at uni. I haven't submitted anything for a while because most of the stuff I'm working on at the moment I'm trying to put into magazines and competitions, so it's generally better if it's not up on any blogs or websites for anyone to see. This one I based the character of the narrator around my grandfather. The exercise was to use a particular line for inspiration, I used "All this happened, more or less."

King Fisher

All this happened, more or less,
The seagulls on the porch tell it like it is,
Loud and early, and with the distinct scent of fish,
But you can't hit the snooze button on the bastards.

We were in a bout of bad weather,
the rain was pissing down an endless stream of seaweed on the beach,
and the seagulls, they never missed the bad weather,
and I never used to either.

I would take my boat, my line, my lures and bait,
It was therapeutic. Even in the torrential downpours
it still calmed the blood. I had a brilliant rain coat
though I would still wind up with a plethora of colds throughout the year.

I'd load up on the miracle cure, your mother's soup,
and I'd be up with the gulls, and glad about it too,
indulge them in a few little nibblers, just bait fish,
and they followed me to my boat each morning like I was king of the bloody seagulls!

They don't get enough credit, those creatures,
They were the first to notice something was wrong,
When I took longer to recover from my colds,
when I woke later, when I went days without going out on the boat, they knew.

I was tired, this life won't last forever,
but please, son, please don't shoo them away,
don't send them from my porch,
I'm all they've got.

----------------------------------------
----------------------------------------
---

In terms of what I'm working on at the moment, I've got one short story assignment for uni, one poem assignment for uni, both of which I'll probably try to get in the uni magazine. I've got an idea hatching for Robot Day, and I'm still thinking about a story for the writing anthology. I'll probably start off with a poem there, but I'm not really sure. That and keeping an eye on a few magazines and competitions, maybe giving JulNoWriMo a bash (July Novel Writing Month, exercise for the official National Novel Writing Month in November), but I don't know yet. I'm doing a lot of gender studies in my literary and cultural studies classes at the moment and I'm really drawn towards the Fight Club style of Palahniuk and the whole "literature for men" idea, but, time will tell what happens. Definitely looking forward to writing my Robot Day story. My idea at the moment is along the lines of a postmodern gothic.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-07-05 23:15:01 Reply

Poetry!

Here's my two entries for the robot day competition:

Water on the Engine

Utopia for seahorses,
who know no better than their brothers
of the monstrosity that sleeps in their waters.

Used and abused on the surface,
used and abused, and taken away.
The last air bubbles rose and blistered
many, many years ago.

The Aztecs were its little brother,
the Egypts, its little sister.
The whole ocean belonged in its pocket,
the earth, a pearl plucked from its hand,
so young and supple and pure.

A nation-state of dreamers
with the resources
to take take take away
and make the truly beautiful
truly terrifying to behold.

They built the cold metal shells
of children stolen from the earth
and moulded into slaves,
abominations to the life-blood of the world.

Still now, I feel the shudder,
I feel the quivering anger
of an earth abused,
the crucial counterpoint
which sent it sliding from their clutches,
down, down, down.

It sits like an algae-coated castle
in a fishtank in the ocean,
it means nothing,
a utopia for seahorses
so forgotten in the deep.

Out of sight, it sits restlessly waiting,
it tries to warn us of our fate,
of our future beside it on the ocean floor
where the truly terrible
can become beautiful again.

---------------------------------------

All Is Full Of Love

You were made for each other.
You two, so perfectly fitting together
impossible to tell
if you are a copy of her,
or if she is a copy of you.

You were meant to be together.
You two, with sweet voices
producing the perfect harmony,
a call and response, call and response,
that all is full of love.

What's wrong with this picture?
Nothing, you say in unison.
Nothing is wrong.
This is perfect.
This is love.

You were happy with each other.
You two, singing your love
so proud and strong and clear.
But heads turn,
those who have never known your love.

You were built from the fires
of original sin.
You do not kiss and touch
and hold and love
without these judging eyes.

What's wrong with this picture?
Your love is not true or pure,
your love is not real.
You are lesbionic,
you are void of humanity.

You were taught to love,
to feel it and express it
for another so 'unnatural'.
You are beautiful, sweet machine,
it is a tragedy to be so unloved by so many.

Please teach us to love as you do.

----------------------------------------
------

Also, I'm working on a novel at the moment. I've got a first chapter teaser up on my writing blog here. It'd be great to get some feedback on any of these three pieces.

Thanks!


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-10-27 12:32:43 Reply

It's been a while since I've posted something here. Most of the stuff I've been working on lately has either been for uni or for a publication. The former with great success, the latter with no success. But anywho, I've made a recent shift towards making more smaller works, poems, prose poems, flash fiction, to have a bit more writing on display while I work on the larger stuff.

So here's a flash fiction piece called 'Waterfall'.

Beneath the waterfall there is carved into the rock, our names, for future generations to read and speculate what they might mean. I chiselled it in there because I remembered how much you loved the idea of immortality, and after you died, I felt you needed more than a tombstone to remain behind. So here lies the ghost of you, etched forever in the rock beneath the waterfall, immortalised by speculation, of who we were, who we are, and who we'll grow to be. And while I let my beard grow out, the ghost of you is slowly becoming legend, and while there are many who share your name, the hand that chiselled it into the rock was guided by none other than you. And people will always come here and swim in the river at the bottom of the waterfall, and as they look up, the endless fountain spraying in their eyes, they will look up and see you, see us, and take away with them a part of us, and carry us with them forever.

--------------

I've also put together a zine which I've posted online for free download (link: here), so I'd say that's something worth checking out also. I'll probably try to post more flash fiction work here, if just for something short and easy to read.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2010-10-27 13:39:58 Reply

I love your work.

It's kept me entertained for most of the day. I need more coffee.


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Response to WritersBlock's Writing Thread 2011-02-01 00:27:42 Reply

That was brilliant. Without editing? Phenomenal. The story was very well written.

Although I cringed when you compared music to jet engines, and then said that it was soothing :p


no roman, i don't want to go bowling