Tag Archives: horror

Unremembered (Part 2)

 

The sun was just beginning to dust the sky in pinks and greys and we were still on her doorstep, a modest collection of empty beer bottles at our ankles. It was early October, the air clean and brittle, and our voices floated unnoticed into the still sleeping morning. She tucked her chin into my shoulder and I inhaled her – sweet, floral, like home.

“My parents will be up soon,” she said. I knew it was time to tear myself away from her, at least for now.

“Will I see you again?”

She smiled, effortlessly mysterious. I hung on her gestures, the constant, brilliant glow of her.

A month passed before I saw her again. I’d deflated weeks before; intoxicated after one long, hazy night, I’d drifted through the week with nothing more than silence on her end. One phone call attempt went ignored, and so I quickly gave up. Obsessiveness never looked good on me.

I was trekking back home with a sandwich and a carton of milk when I saw her, smoking a cigarette and chatting with a friend outside of a brick-walled corner bar one block from my place. She wore a wool scarf that swallowed her neck and chin, black leather boots that hugged her legs just below the knee. I didn’t remember her smoking when we met.

After a second of debate I tucked the milk and sandwich under one arm and approached her.

“Lily?” I forced a smile. There was something different about her now – instead of comfort I felt purely uncomfortable. She turned to me and for a moment there was a look of concern on her face as she scanned over me, as if she was trying to remember how we knew each other. Internally, I was collapsing. Quickly I began to feel small, pathetic, and childlike. How could she forget?

Then something changed, like the imaginary light bulb had clicked on and her lips parted in a sunburst of a smile.

“Matt!” She yelled, and threw her arms around me like an old friend. My own arms hung limply at my sides for a moment, then slowly I wrapped them around her waist. I couldn’t stop myself, even in all the confusion. Her friend, a pale girl with long brown hair, looked bored as she pulled out another cigarette.

“How have you been?” she said, stomping out her own cigarette with one leather boot.

“Um,” I opened and closed my mouth awkwardly, ransacking my brain for words, for anything. “I was surprised I never heard from you.” I couldn’t help but get to the point.

“Sorry,” she said, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. “I’ve just been busy, I guess.”

She didn’t look busy now, standing on the corner, beer on her breath. Still, that warm, familiar rush began to return until I’d forgotten the strangeness of it all and we were melting into each other on two bar stools in the middle of the day, my milk souring on the floor beneath us.

***

Click here to start from the beginning; follow along for more installments!

Click here for Part 3.

 

 

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Unremembered (Part 1)

 

Lily went missing on a Sunday, the day of rest. On Sundays we’d drape ourselves on tables and chairs around the house, drinking coffee from mugs adorned with our alma maters, cooking luxurious pasta dishes even though we rarely dined in (she could burn boiling water, I could barely make condensed soup), if only to match the hushed euphoria of the neighborhood that came with the sinking of the sun; stress was set out with Monday morning’s clothes, and on those evenings our cul-de-sac glowed with golden lamplight and blue-hued television screens. By dawn we were always heavy in sleep, a tangle of limbs and breath, a lasagna still cooling on the kitchen counter.

We were always together those days, except the day she disappeared. The weather was a Summer tease in early Spring – the first week of April and seventy degrees, a baking sun – and Lily wanted to take advantage with a jog.

“It’ll bring out those awful freckles on my shoulders, the ones you love so much,” she’d said with a laugh.

Her laughter was always so strangely appealing, like the blocky music that churned out of a Jack-in-the-box; it excited you, even if you already knew what to expect. She was a constant of beautiful predictability. So when she hadn’t come home by three I felt the knot in my stomach pick itself up, twisting slowly at first with caution, worry.

By four I was worrying a trail in our galley kitchen’s floor.

At six I was roaming the trails near our house like a tourist, arms stretched out in front of me as if it might get me to her sooner. I called her name until my throat felt like sandpaper and the trees began to taunt me. By eight I was somewhere deep in dirt and foliage, my head between my knees. I wailed and darkness swallowed me.

When I woke the curtains were tightly drawn. Days could have passed. I stretched my arms out over my head and sighed, my eyes barely open before the remembering began. Lily, the woods, the faceless jogger who’d found me flailing helplessly in a clearing, alone. Somehow I’d gotten home, and the procession of worried family and friends had begun; then there was an officer on our couch, drinking coffee from Lily’s mug. Somehow I’d ended up in bed.

This was the start of day two without her.

My legs felt like lead as they hit the floor, and suddenly the guilt that I’d fallen asleep while my wife was missing washed over me. It was pure exhaustion, at least. My insides remained frantic. Downstairs my parents and hers were perched around the living room. Each head turned my way as I walked in; every eye was ringed in bright red. They said nothing, and looked away. It was all I needed to feel the blame that floated towards me past the coffee table. Not even my own mother got up. Mechanically I took to a chair in a corner and fell into it, fading into the wedding photos that hung slightly crooked, slightly dusty, behind me.

We’d met three years prior, in a place most don’t head to looking for anything bathed in solidity; the bar was poorly lit, as most are, making everyone beautiful even before the blurred lines that come with drinking whiskey. I’d noticed Lily first, the way her face maintained a sort of ethereal glow even in the darkness of the room, as if a candle were being held below her chin. I saw a flicker in her eyes as she laughed in that way that made me joyously anxious. When she noticed me watching her she paused for a moment, then smiled and lifted her martini glass in an airy cheers. I raised mine in unison and began to weave through heavy waves of shoulders and conversation to the other side of the bar. When I’d made my way to her we clinked glasses and drank.

“Matt,” I said, smoothing my tie with one hand.

“Lily.” Her name fell from her lips like snow.

 

***

This is Part 1 of a I-don’t-know-how-many-parts-there-will-be short (maybe) story. It came to me in my second glass of vino last night, and demanded I give it life. I hope you’ll follow along as I make more installments here and there!

Click here for Part 2!

 

 

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Taking In the Night

I couldn’t quite figure out what had brought me to the moment – a road less traveled, a flip of a switch, fate? Yes, good old reliable fate. It was the only explanation, anyway, that managed to place a roadblock in my racing mind while I lifted the last shovelfuls of soil into the ditch.

I’d rolled him in face down – or he happened to land that way – and I was grateful for only having to look at the back of his head. My arms and back throbbed from hours of digging into the earth so I planted the shovel into a patch of grass and sat down for a cigarette. I fumbled for a lighter in the pocket of my jeans and ignited a tiny flame that brought one last spark to the dying afternoon.

I scanned the area, breathing in images of reds and oranges and the hard scent of early autumn that always reminded me of highways at night and the coming of snow. Memories washed over me as I assumed they always do when you lose a loved one, of holidays and one of kissing Charlie in our driveway. I blew them away with the smoke and flicked the butt into the ditch. It landed on his pant leg; I used the shovel to get it off.

Another hour’s worth of packing dirt and he was gone, and I stood looking for my own hands in the dark. I took out the lighter again and gave one last look at where I’d left him.

“Thanks for nothing,” I whispered to no one, and let the flame go out again.

We’d married young, as most did in those days, living off of whims instead of income. Soon after we’d already checked “home” and “baby” off of the list, and I’d grown bored. He worked in a factory, taking in sweat and metal and the whirring of giant machines, telling dirty jokes at lunch; I made batches of iced tea and looked forward to afternoon naps.

Our whims were quickly sealed in concrete. My hair had not yet grayed, but I had already lost the energy to break them free. “Yes dear” “No dear” were the only things that parted my lips with the exception of lullabies and a bottle of vodka in a stray kitchen cabinet. Wake up, feed child, feed husband, clean house, rinse and repeat.

I hadn’t thought much about what would happen after the sun went down, and now I’d found myself in the thick dark of the woods, ten miles from home but much further in the night. The lighter illuminated only my face and the hanging tips of tree branches, so I shoved it back in my pocket and resorted to finding my way as a zombie, arms straight out and stiff, rows of cool bark at my fingertips. I staggered through brush and remnants of a bonfire that crushed aluminum cans and paper plates beneath my feet. I smiled through pitch black. Charlie was packed in deep, the barricade of silence he’d always tried to build finally on his side.

Things got less boring as we grew older; I added heavy layers of powder to my daily makeup routine, and Charlie had become the one wielding a bottle of vodka. He didn’t bother with a cabinet to hide it in, and instead had it by his side as he enjoyed his morning paper. It doubled as mouthwash at night. I made an effort only to stay out of his way, tiptoeing through corners of my own home, cooking dinner and trying hard to disappear into the walls.

My breathing grew shallow as time passed. The darkness grew closer to me and every direction soon looked the same. Mentally I scolded myself for my lack of preparation. Finally I’d had the nerve, finally I’d freed myself, and there I was trapped in the very place I was trying so desperately to rid myself of.

He’d complained loudly about the red sauce I’d used. I told him it was the same brand I always bought – the truth. He hadn’t asked if I’d added something new.

Eventually I gave up on finding direction. I could feel my face grow hot with embarrassment although there was no one there to witness my failure as a first-time criminal. I felt below me for a patch of ground and lowered myself to my knees. I sat still, taking in the night, calm in my new-found glory and the serenity of the unknown draped at my feet.

“At least I’m finally alone,” I whispered.

I had time for one last panicked inhale before his hands were wrapped like vines around my neck and I was flailing like a rag-doll in a dying sliver of moonlight. He smelled like earth, that sweet must after a rainstorm. I thought of the grit on my skin and how my entire life had been a series of exciting beginnings and disappointing ends. I think I smiled as the moon disappeared. I think I thanked him.

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A Crossroads

cabin

We are all, at some point in our lives, handed an envelope of sorts. In that envelope – sometimes crisp, sometimes worn and wrinkled, depending – are two decisions. One from your bones, one from your brainwashed head. If you lack passion, go for the head. But I say go for the bones.

Always go for the bones.

I met my first crossroads when I was eighteen. The day after graduation I was behind the wheel of my father’s pickup, winding my back way from a friend’s, when I spotted her: sweat pants, loose tee, the curve of one shoulder on point in the sinking sunlight. An old handbag clapped against her side as she weaved through trash and high grass on the side of a back road. Before the stop sign I’d already noticed her thumbing it like clockwork. I still don’t know what pressed my foot to the break pedal instead of the gas.

A jumble of words filled the air and she was in the leather cab, the handbag on the seat between us. I cleared my throat, she shifted and rested an elbow on the windowsill. The window was up and she turned her head towards blurred houses. Her fogged breath sprayed in circles on the glass. I focused on green lights until there was a red one and I asked her name as the truck idled.

“Nancy,” she said. She had some kind of accent, something nasally. I though of the city, what she was doing here. I nodded and twisted my grip on the steering wheel. “Take me to the nearest motel,” she’d asked. I managed to avoid passing any in town, and headed far out with methodical turns. She stayed relaxed. My mind raced.

“Here” I said, parking. A tan, rectangular building and a neon sign, that was all. The highest curve of the sun was peaking from behind it. I smiled. “Let me pay, it’s the least I can do.” As if the ride hadn’t been enough, she didn’t object.

I slipped the credit card back into my wallet, we headed through the parking lot to 32B, I opened the door. She had nothing but the handbag, nothing I could offer to carry. “Thanks,” she mumbled, holding the knob. Suddenly her face was a landside of realization. I stared at the navy carpet from the doorway. Her grip loosened like the waving of a white flag. Her whole, complicated life, had it all come to this? Maybe it was nothing new.

I stepped inside.

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“Aaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

He used to scare me most of all.

Did I get your attention?

Good.

Alvin Schwartz gave me nightmares at ten years old, and at 23, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark still makes me want my mommy. The illustrations – done by Stephen Gammell – are even enough to make one sleep with the light on. I recently discovered the boyfriend’s 25th Anniversary Edition when he said he finally, “remembered to bring my book of scary stories we used to read when I was a kid!” during our trip to the Poconos. Turns out, it’s the same book I used to read (and listen to on tape) with friends, curled up in  a corner of the library during recess or after school.

The Hearse Song was our favorite – and we memorized every line, of course – but nowadays, the book (and its 2 sequels) probably wouldn’t go over well with most parents, with lines like:

“A big green worm with rolling eyes

Crawls in your stomach and out your eyes.

Your stomach turns a slimy green,

And pus pours out like whipping cream.”

I probably shouldn’t have eaten before writing this post.

“Hey kids! Who wants to sing about decomposition?”

“Oooooh! Me! Me!”

"A boy was digging at the edge of the garden when he saw a big toe. He tried to pick it up, but it was stuck to something."

How about the story of a slightly deformed young boy with a bent shovel, who discovers the toe of a man that was apparently buried in their garden, then gives the toe to his mother who puts in in their soup for supper? Now while I might read something like this to my child before bedtime, with some hot chocolate and a nightlight, most parents probably wouldn’t.

I've got dinner!

One of my favorites was always “Me Tie Dough-ty Walker”, the story of a boy and his dog who spend a night in a haunted house, where every night it was said that a bloody head fell down the chimney (not too scary, right?). I think I was more terrified by the fact that the dog could talk.

“For a while nothing happened. But a little after midnight he heard someone singing softly and sadly off in the woods. The singing sounded something like this:

‘Me tie dough-ty walker!’

‘It’s just somebody singing,’ the boy told himself, but he was frightened.

Then his dog answered the song! Softly and sadly, it sang:

‘Lynchee kinchy colly molly dingo dingo!'”

"Suddenly a bloody head fell out of the chimney. It missed the fire and landed right next to the dog. The dog took one look and fell over - dead from fright."

My God, never mind the fact that a bloody head is about to fall down the chimney, or what lynchee kinchy wolly molly dingo wingo means…THAT DOG JUST TALKED!

And as terrifying as these stories are, they are a sentimental part of my childhood (and the illustrations would make some amazing tattoos). I suggest picking up a copy of this book and reading it (not necessarily to your children) around a bonfire or in the dark with a flashlight and a bottle of booze.

And with that, I leave you with The Hearse Song. Memorize. Enjoy. Sing it to the kids who won’t get off your lawn.

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I Spit On Your Grave (And Other Ye Olde Thoughts).

Writers can kick butt, too!

Last night I peeled myself off the couch (I had been there for several hours by that point) and drove to our local Redbox with the intention of renting Paranormal Activity 2, since I forced Joe into watching the first and wanted him to see the second before he is dragged to see the third in theaters.

::takes deep breath::

So anyway, of course they did not have the movie I had been craving all day. But since I was already standing in front of the machine, 11:00 at night, hair messy, no makeup, a baggy thermal shirt with snowflakes on it hanging off one shoulder, I figured I’d get another movie. And this is how I came across the gory goodness of I Spit On Your Grave. Yikes, right?

The cover features the main character Jennifer Hills (played by actress Sarah Butler), but I opted to post a modified version of it because I wasn’t interested in having a girl’s booty splashed across my page. Sorry boys!

Jennifer Hills is a novelist who rents a cabin in the woods for a few months for some peace and quiet while writing her second book. But then she is attacked and (brutally) raped by a group of local men (the town’s Sheriff included); Jennifer disappears for a month – the men believe her to be dead – living off the land and in a nearby abandoned house, before she finally returns with a vengeance. After playing mind games with the men, she hunts down each one of them and gets her very own writer’s revenge – x10.

Of course my next pick after Paranormal Activity 2 was the gory horror tale about a novelist that kicks some serious butt. I think it’s worth a rent, if you’re interested.

However…it definitely turned me off to ever isolating myself in the woods in order to write, if I ever played with the idea in the first place. Writers’ Retreats are great, but driving into the middle of nowhere alone isn’t.

I soon discovered that this movie was released in 2010 as a remake of a controversial cult film from 1978, with a title that was eventually changed to I Spit on Your Grave but began as Day of the Woman. (Not sure which title I enjoy more!) The original film was condemned by critics for the heavy amount of violence, including the lengthy rape scene. The 2010 version was listed as one of Time’s Top 10 Ridiculously Violent Movies. So if you can’t handle extreme amounts of blood and guts, this movie isn’t for you. Even I found myself covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers at times. (The rape scene is definitely uncomfortable.) But if you can handle it – and are also a writer who wants to see another writer show ’em what she’s got – then seriously, watch it. You can’t help but cheer her on.

So! In other news, Joe and I have slowly been getting our things together for another mountain retreat. And for a whole week this time! With 2 friends and a child coming with us, it’ll be hard to keep myself from being distracted from writing, but I am promising to make time for myself to write and run (I’d rather not come home with an extra 5 pounds on my hips). There’s so much beautiful scenery to work with out there.

Also: On Sunday we will be gnawing on giant turkey legs and rockin’ our lederhosen during Oktoberfest Weekend at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire! (This post contains a lot of links…) I’m sure that will make for an interesting post.

I may also memorize some of these Elizabethan insults in honor of the occasion. Thou be a distempered bunched-backed lout!

Such elegance, even in insult. We’ve gotten lazy!

Exactly!

I woke up on the right side of the bed today (it was actually the left, but you get the drift) and I’m feeling revived and ready to write! Could it be the pumpkin spice coffee? It’s time to go pick up some Halloween decorations!! The leaves are changing and so am I.

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Stained

Let's start this out right.

A short horror-fiction piece written about a year ago, for a Fiction course. Very sexual, for anyone reading this.

Comments?

 

 

 

I live alone in a small suburb of New York, surrounded by privileged white families that wear cashmere and mothers who keep their children on leashes during walks around the spiraling streets and cul-de-sacs with names like “Apple Way” and “Sunshine Court”. I comb black hair to the front of my scalp in an attempt to camouflage a withering hairline and the most expensive suit in my closet was bought for my Uncle’s funeral three years ago and was never stained with tears. My home on Woodland Drive is no different from the other dull models that fill the neighborhood, aside from one or two unruly bushes that curtsy onto the stone walkway. I do not watch children play through a break in the curtain of my bedroom window and there is no smeared, red attempt at escape on the inside of my front door.

While a degree in business did not shoot me to the top of the corporate latter, I did accept a customary position as a bookstore manager and have spent the last twelve years taking in the semisweet aroma of paper, ink and glue, and the last eleven pretending it is my priority. During that first year I met Gloria, a delicate looking girl who spent hours filing leather spines in the Horror section. Gloria was fresh, with a Bachelor’s and an interest in the macabre that fascinated me.

Although we barely spoke at work, we often watched documentaries together, squeezed side by side on the small leather couch in my muted living room, caught in our curiosities of the dead more than we were in each other; sometimes she told me her fantasies, when images of fleshy rot and severed limbs began to bore us. This was routine, until our relationship became sexual and tiny Gloria would beg me to hurt her. While reluctant at first, that year became a date-rape blur of blackouts and leather; Gloria would take the bus, hiring a leather corset beneath a cotton dress, and slink into my front door just after midnight, a look of business on her porcelain face.

I’d close my eyes and reach upwards, struggling through a tangle of thick hair until I met warm skin, then tracing the curve from her shoulders to her neck until I found my destination right below her jaw line. It became familiar, with two grooves that developed with time in the places where my thumbs rested each night.

The first few times began with a light push, the anxiety of thwarting her breath draining the strength from my fingertips. But the lack of pressure would turn her attention to me, and she would ungrip her thighs from my sides just long enough to cover my hands with her small ones, pressing my thumbs heard against her trachea. In these moments, Gloria was no longer delicate; she loomed over me, forcing what little I had to offer inside of her while I struggled to take it all away.

One evening, after three bottles of Shiraz and a struggle to the bedroom, my kitchen was dressed in maroon, two wine glasses stained at the stems and left abandoned on the counter. It began with the usual haze of teeth and nails, an impression of Gloria’s incisors left behind as she tore away from my bicep. We continued with accustomed force until Gloria suddenly stopped, quickly detaching herself; the abrupt crashing of our wave startled me, and for a moment I found myself thrusting upward, but only into the thick air of the bedroom.

“Get on top of me”, she managed between gasps.

As I quickly sat up she was already next to me, shoving me to the side of the damp bed with excited hips. I swung myself on top of her and looked down; her broad lips were coated in sweat and two strands of hair lay plastered across the top one like a mustache. I brushed them behind her ear as she grabbed my wrist and I tumbled inside of her, cradling my weight between my left arm and the stained sheets. My fingers found her neck and she closed her eyes, wrapping her legs around my back in approval. I had never handled her from above, and the power I was given in this position worried me.

Slowly I began to squeeze, careful to balance the majority of my strength in the opposing hand.

“Tighter!” she moaned, bear-clawing my chest.

My abs trembled and so did the arm that propped me up. My legs remained outstretched and slightly spread as I rocked in and out of the small space between her thighs. Gloria lifted her chin towards the ceiling and tightened the muscles that surrounded me, so I gripped her tighter until I felt her struggling to swallow beneath my palm. She choked out a small “yes” as I quickened my pace and leaned my face down into the puddle of sweat between her breasts. Slowly my left arm had began to shake, giving out under the pressure I had put on it, but I didn’t notice; my eyes were blurred with the salt that ran into them and my own deep pants crowded my ears. I dove into the odor of Gloria’s skin, my brain becoming hazed with sweat and spice.

It was in those next three minutes, when my own weight switched to the hand that I had clasped around her neck and I put the world on mute just so I could get off, that my life would begin to change. As I was preoccupied with the friction between Gloria’s legs, I mistook for pleasure the desperate heaves for air and scratches left on my back that broke skin.

After I finished I lay in a slump, my right cheek against her left breast. It took a few deep breaths of my own before I realized her chest was not rising and falling as mine did.

“Gloria?” I whispered.

Maybe she didn’t hear me.

I said her name a few more times, slowly, loudly, wondering if she had fallen asleep, although I knew she had not. I stayed there, one hundred and seventy pounds of dead weight suffocating her small frame, for several minutes, until I rolled off of her body and onto the bed beside her, my own blood inking trails into the pillowcase.

I did not look at her until I stood up, the chill of the oak floor stinging my bare feet. I moved to the farthest corner of the room before turning around to face the bed, as if I was going to be looking some very dangerous animal directly in the eye.

Gloria was not asleep. She lay with her arms spread out at her sides as a sacrifice of herself, and her eyes remained open and were suddenly too large for her skull. I stared at them until I was sure she was not going to blink.

Her red cheeks were now flushed to a dark purple and her mouth hung open to expose a dark slug that used to be her tongue, and had died trying to escape from between her lips.

I stood, frozen, trying not to move or blink or let my own breath be heard, certain that someone would hear me and come running to my bedroom, finding me exposed and still erect standing over a very naked and very dead Gloria.

I waited for the tsunami of panic to come hurdling down on me – it was surely the next step in these situations. I replayed the previous moments in my head as I waited, mentally scolding myself for my gluttony that had now left my girlfriend inanimate and me with a serious problem. These thoughts repeated in my mind, but the panic never came. Soon I found myself annoyed by her death rather than  upset; she left me with the need for an alibi, among other things that required immediate care to avoid my own possible demise.

In death, Gloria resembled some of the victims we had read about and seen pictures of: her green eyes were stuck in place with a look of permanent surprise, exaggerated by their bloating from her sockets. Her last view must have been of the ceiling, and the brown outline of a water stain that crept out from a corner of the molding. As I moved closer to the bed the only human feeling I cradled was sadness, but not at what I had done. Gloria was a pretty, young girl who had died beneath a stained ceiling and the sweat of an older man, choked to death in his carelessness and need for orgasm. I felt bad for her.

I threw on my boxers and a white t-shirt, not concerned about the open wounds on my back that would seep into the cotton. I did not bother to dress Gloria before I slid my hands beneath her, one at the middle of her back and one under her buttocks. She was already beginning to stiffen and I had to turn sideways in the doorway, so her legs would not catch on the frame. I struggled with her down the stairs and to the kitchen, planning only with each step. I laid her directly on the grey tile, not worried about a mess with no blood. I then scanned the room, hoping a plan would spring to life in front of me. I noticed the wine glasses first, standing just as we had left them hours before. I suddenly grew anxious, grabbing them by the stems, and flew to the sink, furiously scrubbing Gloria’s lipstick from the rim and her fingerprints from the rest of the glass.

I opened the cabinet beneath the sink and ran my hands through a mess of chemicals and paper towels until my fingers found a box of extra-large trash bags. Without the grace of an experienced murderer I placed one of the bags over her head, pulling it down to her navel; I pulled another over her feet, meeting the top of the first bag in the middle. I stood over Gloria, considering my work, before moving her to the basement. In most documentaries we had watched, it seemed the most popular place for the temporary storage of a body. As far as I knew, only Gloria and I knew of our relationship – I do not think an interest in whips and leather collars is something to be advertised.

Gloria remained in a far corner of the basement for several days, before I spread her over the grassy knolls of my New York suburb, using the first real prayer of my lifetime on the hope that this would make her harder to find. Officers did eventually come by with questions, but only because we had worked together; others had seen us putting books on shelves side by side but no one ever suspected that she kept my company each night.

I keep my fingers crossed each time the doorbell rings, but I am always left alone with memory of her smell and the scars on my back.

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How far do I take this makeover?

A healthy reminder.

I mentioned The Journal of Unlikely Entomology in a previous post, as well as the story I planned on revamping and submitting.

So after lunch today I lit a pumpkin spice candle (mmm) and dusted off the two pages of a would-be horror story, ready to go to work. I figured it would be a piece of cake to work on something that already has some sort of foundation to it. But, as I sit here staring at the tiny manuscript I’m becoming as overwhelmed as I would be starting from scratch.

And why is that? Because it sucks. It really does. It sat in a dark drawer for two years and with good reason. But, deep down, I do believe there is some potential here. A professor of mine referred to the piece as having a sort of pulp-fiction feel, which I didn’t realize it had at the time.

But it certainly needs a ton of work. There’s no real story here. My main character turns into a praying mantis and eats her lovers. Why? Sometimes, in my opinion, the reasoning can go left unsaid, and a great story can still be produced. But in my case, I feel as though it needs some sort of explanation. And maybe more dialogue? Dialogue never was an easy task for me.

The piece starts off a bit slow:

“A thin ray of light kissed the wall, displaying the outline that formed between the arch of her back and the curve of his stomach. Black hair swept his knees and she dug her nails into his fleshy thighs. He gasped, a puff of air escaping between thin lips as she drove him to heaven.”

That is the opening of two years ago. While I will say I appreciate the seediness I created, I think it feels too forced. A quick clean-up today gave me this:

“A ray of light scraped the wall and threw their outlines on display. Her black hair swept against his knees as she dug her nails into his fleshy thighs. He gasped then, as she drove him to heaven and a puff of air escaped between his thin lips.”

“Drove him to heaven” may seem a bit much, but it reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino film and works with the mood I’m trying to create.

However, a few paragraphs down digs right into the “good” stuff:

“She lifted herself from him, the suction-cup sound of parting flesh lost among groans and cries. The white walls were decorated in a contemporary splash of red as she raked at his face and chest.”

So, I was thinking, maybe diving head first into the action is a better idea. Draw the reader in from the beginning, so they don’t have time to wonder what the hell is going on. Catch ’em off guard! Eh? It’s something to consider. It won’t be her first victim, after all. There will plenty of other opportunities to explain.

It’s a welcomed break from banging my head against the wall whilst novel writing. So instead I’ll bang my head against the wall over this piece.

I’ll post something a bit lengthier once I feel confident enough to do so. This baby needs a lot of work! Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Happy writing!

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How do you flesh out a murderous, drug-addicted, overprotective stripper in 1985? I’ll tell you how.

In this story, the hair doesn't matter.

Or at least, I’ll try. Angel Vasco is 25; young, hot, can have any man she wants and knows it. It’s 1985 in Queens: sex, drugs and rock & roll, baby.

Angel lives in a cramped apartment with her sister, Sarah: 23, naive, already defeated. Angel and Sarah lost their mother as children, and were forced to care for themselves when his wife’s death emotionally disconnected their father. Sarah allows a long line of boyfriends to take turns beating up on her, and even Angel isn’t able to knock some sense into her sister’s head, so instead she ignores the problem.

Until something happens that almost wipes away Angel’s former identity as a female powerhouse. After a performance at Angel’s club, Half Moon, an admirer enters her dressing room, and refuses to leave until he gets what he wants.

(Excerpt)

“I’m gonna head home.”

I stood up, somewhat uneasy now, pulling everything into my arms as quickly as I could. He had moved to the doorway, and when I looked into his face the features had changed. His green eyes were muddy, and his lips had thinned and lengthened across his face. A layer of sweat glistened between his eyebrows and an erection throbbed against his zipper.

“I said I have to go.”

I attempted authority, raising my chin to the air, but I could feel the walls tightening around me. No one had ever tried to follow me back to the dressing room, but the men who took to the other girls were always nervous or eager, pathetic – middle-aged and grey-haired, smoking a cigar to look important. This man had a messy confidence, and a stone face that never doubted he would get what he wanted.

I tried to squeeze under one of his arms that blocked my exit, but he lowered it against my breasts and I felt its strength against my own weight.

“I don’t think so. I haven’t gotten my money’s worth yet.”

Angel is traumatized by the incident, and almost loses herself in the aftermath. But she quickly bounces back, and has one thing on her mind: revenge.

This is a very quick look into what I am working on, to hopefully gather more interest and motivation towards finishing. Let me know what you think, and if you’d like to know more!

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A quick and bloody post.

Reposted from Albert Berg's Unsanity Files. Ouch.

Last week, a blogger I subscribe to asked his fellow writers to post a short story in response to this rather disturbing picture he posted (and had received quite a reaction to). So, in honor of my love for all things bloody and gory, I came up with the story below. Quick, to the point, hopefully somewhat entertaining.

 

Thank goodness I remembered the pliers.

 

The hammer I found in the bottom drawer of her dresser (beneath the socks and a sachet of lavender) wouldn’t get the job done correctly; why was it there in the first place? She didn’t seem like the type to worry about intruders. She let me pass by her in the doorway on the notion that I was there to fix the plumbing. She hadn’t even called the landlord to complain of a clogged drain.

She begged for her life a few times (I’m only assuming here) through the lace pair of underwear I had stuffed in her mouth, and may have said something about a brother or a boyfriend. A roommate? I’m still not sure. If there was one, they didn’t show up during my brief visit.

She moaned and slid across the bathroom floor like a fish gasping for air, while I hummed my favorite Mozart piece and pulled a fresh pair of latex gloves up around my wrists. I gave each one a snap (my favorite part) and sighed. I picked up the hammer and turned to face her.

She looked up at me, slumped against the gleaming porcelain and panting. The walls, the toilet, the sink, blinded me with their purity; she kept a very clean house. I felt sorry to make a mess of it.

“Now, this will only take a second.”

One swing and she was quiet. The hammer turned out to be good for something.

The panties out of her mouth, her teeth gleamed as purely as her surroundings. Just another day at the office.

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