Saturday, June 25, 2011

100 Word Challenge: Game Change

Whiskey Glass. Dstagner - Flickr.

Continuing on from last week's One Moment In a Day.

Sometimes, she played a game after a hard-won scavenge, challenged herself to find the most frivolous use of her time.

Tonight, it was five-token whiskey, a plush chair in what was once a luxury hotel’s lobby and a half-doze under a barely powered ceiling fan.

Only tonight’s game was interrupted, by a rough voice growling, “Boss wants a meeting,” and the voice owner—a large, ugly man, wearing an M-shaped burn on his cheek—dragging her, blinking, bewildered, through the dusty, dank labyrinth of hotel halls.

And the only coherent thought in her mind was: I don’t have a boss.

Next: "On the Trail"

For Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge. (Guest Poster: AurorarLee.) This weeks' word was "Game." (And I actually used it in the piece this time. Unusual for me.) This week's prompt was a bit difficult. I had a different scene in mind and it didn't pan out... (I also realized I was coming up on the deadline at about midnight last night [being out of town threw me off schedule], so I scrambled my grey matter trying to find something that would work.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Georgia Interlude

Via Indigospider - Title/Artist unkown,

Sweat slid down Kora’s spine, tickling like insect legs and sealing her shirt to her skin; she quickened her pace, heading for the big shade trees and the residential area.

Oak Hollow, Georgia hadn’t changed much in the years since she’d left it. Still unbearably hot on a July morning, still eerily quiet on Sunday, the streets empty of adults or children as everyone stayed snug inside the Baptist church over on Pinehill Crest.

Everyone except her. And the mechanic.

She wondered if God was laughing at her, considering that she cursed him one moment—when the Neon choked to death just outside of a town she’d just as soon not set foot inside again—and thank Him the next when she discovered that Jack, Oak Hollow’s single mechanic, was laying out of church.

He’d been able to haul the car in and diagnose the problem pretty quickly. Unfortunately, he had to drive to pick up the new EGR valve, so that added an extra hour on to her wait time.

Which left her trying to find a shady spot, where she wouldn’t attract too much attention from old acquaintances, while she waited for the repairs to be done.

Reaching the shade of the trees, she considered paying a visit to Miz Jeanette, but changed her mind; sometimes, you just needed to let old ghosts rest.

Instead, she walked another block and came to an empty house with a For Sale sign tacked up in the yard.

The front porch was catty-corner to the road, half hidden from view by a copse of low hanging tree branches and nicely trimmed hedges. But as she went to take a seat, she found someone had already discovered her hiding spot.

A little boy, who couldn’t be more than 8 years old, sat on the porch, dressed in a long sleeved shirt that was far too warm for a July day, jeans, and scraped up Chuck Taylors. He held his head in his hands and sat so still that he seemed almost a part of the scenery, until she said, “Hello, there.”

He raised his head; his eyes were red rimmed and she could see the sheen of tears on his cheeks.

“Do you live here?”

“I did,” he said, voice so tinny and faint the cicadas nearly drowned him out.

“Why didn’t you go with your family when they left?”

“They didn’t want me,” he said. “They were tired of all the trouble.” He met her eyes, plaintive, eager. “I didn’t mean to make things break. But they didn’t listen to me. And …I got so mad.”

Kora said, “That happens sometimes. It’s not your fault.” She glanced at the windows, saw where dust had settled, where spiders had spun across the glass; the crevices and corners of the porch were filled with dried and dead leaves. The house had been empty for a while.

When she looked at the boy again, he was staring at her, wiping one sleeve covered arm under his nose.

“No one else has talked to me in a long time,” he said. “How come you are?”

“I like talking to people like you.” She smiled, soft, a little brittle at the corners. “Would you like to come with me and meet a friend of mine? I think she’ll like talking to you too.”

The boy sat back, eyes wary, looked around for a moment and then nodded faintly.

Kora cocked her head. “C’mon. Her house is just down the road.”

As they approached the hulking form of Miz Jeanette’s old Victorian-style house, Kora could see the old woman seated in her rocker, moving in a smooth and steady rhythm and she raised her arm in greeting.

Miz Jeanette stood and returned the wave, moving toward the edge of the porch, into the bright morning sunlight that slanted through her hand, made her arm and half her body almost imperceptible, even to Kora.

Glancing down at her elbow, Kora saw the little boy raise his own hand, watch the way the sunlight filtered through the illusion of flesh, then look back at Miz Jeanette with a look of wonder and relief.

As he rushed ahead of her and up onto Miz Jeanette’s porch, Kora decided that God was laughing.

This is for Indigospider's Sunday Picture Prompt. I didn't think I'd get it finished. And it's still not quite what I'd intended when I started out. But, I beg myself for leniency since I've been occupied with packing/cleaning/prepping for a move. I'm glad I wrote even this much.

Friday, June 17, 2011

100 Word Challenge: One Moment In a Day

Lucky Tokens by Stefan via Flickr
Continued from my last 100 Word Challenge response: "The Scavenger."

“O.K?” Gerald grunted.

“Scrounger attack,” she said, fingering the goose-egg on her temple, “collapsed a roof on me, stole my pack.”

He winced, cast a furtive look at the empty spaces on his shelves. And she, shaking her head slightly, opened the pouches on her belt, said “Wasn’t what I went out for, but…” and slapped several plastic bottles onto the counter with a flourish. “Antibiotics.”

“You do come through.”

“Can’t come back empty-handed. And I won’t,” she insisted. “Now, howsabout my tokens?”

Gerald, grinning, retrieved the lock-box, counted a shining array of plastic and metal coin into her palm.

Next: Game Change

For Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge. This week's word, by guestblogger Purple Moose, was "Perfectionism" (and its variations).

Went a little light with the word this week, more of a faint theme than anything.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Morgue File: "The Illusion of Free Will"

Long dark hallway by Ortizmj12

I will suffer the consequence of this inquisition
“Forgiven,” Alanis Morissette

It was black as pitch inside the confessional.

She scratched her nose and could just make out the movement of her hand in front of her face.

2 a.m. There had been no one on the street to help her—though she doubted anyone could or would have even if it had been midday—and that’s how she’d ended up in here.

Rounding a corner, she’d seen the church door hanging open, half off its hinge. A peculiar invitation, but one she’d welcomed, racing inside and pulling the door closed behind her. Its hinges shrieked and it wouldn’t latch, but it was something else between her and Them.

The church was cold, dark, the air stagnant; no one had been there for quite some time. The pews were littered with pages torn from hymnals. A few lonely bibles lay scattered on the floor. A fine layer of dust had settled over the candles near the pulpit.

The moon light coming in through one of the stained glass windows cast a cold blue hue across the expanse of the room. She wrapped her arms around herself, shivered.

Walking around a steady trickle of water falling from the ceiling, she made her way to the confessional, finding security in the surroundings of the small and familiar space.

She sat still and quiet for some time, until her fingers went numb and her back stiffened up, and she finally had to shift and stretched before her muscles became completely locked.

Her foot connected with something at the bottom of the booth, sent it clattering against the closed door.

She froze.


Heard nothing but her own heartbeat, the blood rushing in her ears.

Letting the breath she was holding rush out, she leaned against the wall; sparing a glance at the lattice work on her other side, she could make out a hulking shadow, then the sulfur yellow sheen of eyes.

Maybe it didn’t see me, she thought, just before the Tracker’s eyes met hers. There was a gleam of teeth and spittle; if the thing had lips, she would call it a smile.

Muttering, “Son of a bitch,” she threw herself forward, tumbling out of the confessional. She got her feet underneath her in record time, but not before she heard the scrabble of claws on the linoleum, the low, wolf-like growl.

(Continue reading, after the jump.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

100 Word Challenge: The Scavenger

By Chris LeCroy (Flickr: IMG_2626) via Wiki Commons

First, she was aware of the bitter mélange of blood and dust on her tongue. Then the weight of broken sheetrock on top of her.

When she dug her way out from under the collapsed ceiling, she realized her pack was missing.

“God damn it.” There went a week’s worth of scavenging. The depot store, well hidden by half an overpass and a copse of trees, had been a gold mine. She doubted anyone had set foot inside it since the world went to hell.

That doubt led her to break her only real rule: Be paranoid. (You’ll live longer.)

For Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge. (This week's word is "unconscious.")

All images are copyright to their respective owners and used according to Creative Commons agreements.