Cthulhu Dreams 2

Yesterday I was Sister Maria…now I guess I’m just Maria.

No, I still believe in God. But now I believe in something else, too.

I don’t remember what happened. When they found me, I was writing a story, they said. I don’t know what it’s about, I don’t remember writing it. After the third one went mad, they stopped trying to read it. I’m afraid to open the notebook.

They’re saying I just wandered away from the convent, but I think I was kidnapped. I think something hit me in my head, or they drugged me…not just because of the memory loss. I’ve gone kind of color-blind, too. See, this was my favorite yellow notebook, but now it’s just grey to me…

It’s an odd coincidence. The title of my story, you can see here…it’s called The King in Yellow. I wonder what it’s about…

What’s that piece of grey cloth you’re holding? Is it important?

Cthulhu Dreams 2

All I Wanna Do, 2

Thunder rumbles from the smoggy horizon, loud enough to be heard over our topless Cadillac’s roaring engine and the wind rushing past my ears at some horrible number of miles per hour. The dirt is bright orange and the heavy air smells like a laundromat and the cries of wheeling birds of prey mingle with those of the cannibals driving the minivan in our rear-view mirror, hurling insults and laughter and obsolete plastic discs people used to store music on. Her tight white braids flutter and snap like snakes and I hold my hands in front of my face to keep from being bitten again.

The meaning of everything begins to wobble and spin out of control like a top winding down.

Our car bursts through the gates of the asylum past bored, mustached fat men in guard uniforms and fishtail to a stop in a wide, gravel-spraying arc. She shouts at me to grab “the package” and together we carry the squirming, straightjacketed savior up the worn sandstone steps and down the checker-tiled hallway, scattering howling, red-faced nurses and hoary patients who stare and fumble for words, while behind us the cannibals and the guards brawl like Valhalla.

We thrust our package back into his Lazyboy and spin him to face the fire and a slow smile creeps across his beard like a plague and we catch our breath for a minute, listening to the sounds of the universe grinding back up to speed.

“Matreyia, Jesus, whatever, it’s all the same,” she claims, waving her hands to validate her excuses. “We had a party with too much water and not enough wine, it seemed like the obvious thing to do.”

“No more kidnapping deities,” I panted as I stumbled out the door, and looked up just in time to see the stars coming back on.

All I Wanna Do, 2

Cthulhu Dreams 1

I don’t know how many groups there are. One of them is trying to kill me. Well…both of them are trying to, kind of. But one of them is trying to kill me for my own good.

I really thought I was safe this time. I went to sleep on the floor behind the couch with a dummy under the blankets. I left an honest-to-god bear trap on the floor in front of the locked front door, and I have a loaded shotgun in my hands. But they still got in. It’s like they can walk through walls.

Okay, that sounds like I’m going nuts…but she told me it’s still not enough. There no longer is any such thing as too paranoid.

I wonder if the two conspiracies are really the same thing. If she’s just playing with me before she reveals herself.

Tonight I somehow realized, not just on the surface but as an emotional truth in the back of my lizard brain – it’s not a question of “if” they’re going to kill me. It’s just a question of “when”. They will never stop trying. Sooner or later, I have to make a mistake.

She takes the gun away from the back of my neck and tells me she wants me to meet someone. My new partner. A nun.

Before she leaves, she hands me a piece of yellow cloth. She says I should keep an eye on it. Whatever that means.

Cthulhu Dreams 1

Lily and the Girl

I scan the room while she scans me with her leg muscles tense, ready to bolt for the fire escape. She’s got one arm reaching toward a chipped kitchen knife on the chair nearby. Hopefully I won’t give her a reason.

There’s a guy passed out on the remains of a couch in the corner. He’s feeling no pain and might have even worked a steady job some time in the distant past. I wonder if she’s ever told herself she loves him. He snorts and whines in his sleep, scratching at blotchy skin.

The scattered pile of money on the coffee table gives off a bad vibe. Some hapless clerk in a convenience store got shot for that money, or maybe a little old lady in an alley got smacked with a wrench a little too hard so somebody could grab her purse. Or a junkie injected drugs cut with a little too much rat poison. Or all of the above.

“Your mom wanted to know where you were,” I explain. She relaxes a little when I mention her mom, so I try a little more of that. “She’s worried about you. She thought maybe I could talk you into going home.” I smile just a little. “I bet I can’t.”

She sneers. “You’re right. I’m never going back.”

Never is a long time, I think. “This glamorous life everything you dreamed of? I can see why you couldn’t give it up.” I watch a rat dart across the floor from one pile of garbage to another.

“You can judge me all you want, but you don’t know anything about what I’m going through.” Sure. You love it here.

Then she makes up her mind about the situation, turns half away from me, and starts stuffing clothes into a backpack. “You running again then?”

“If you found me, someone else can. I need to keep moving. That’s what I do now. You wouldn’t understand.” Maybe not. Running was never really my thing.

I decide to try one more trick, and take a couple of steps forward, snagging a quarter off the coffee table. She whirls and stiffens, reaching toward the knife again.

“You tryn’ to steal my money or what?” she asks, stretching out her free hand.

“You know somebody died for this, right?” I try, holding the quarter up in our mutual line of sight.

Her hand stays steady. “Whatever. It’s mine now and that shit’s not my problem.” Shocking.

Holding her gaze, I rub George’s head with my thumb, then flip it and rub the architecture on the tails side. Somebody got killed for the bills, too, but I just fix the quarter. I’ve always found coins are easier to work with.

“Knock yourself out,” I say as I flip it back at her. She catches it out of the air and glares for a second before stuffing it into her pocket.

She turns and resumes rummaging in her rat nest. I lean back against the doorframe with my arms crossed and shape words with my lips without speaking, trying to hold not so much an image as an emotional state in my mind – betrayal, desperation, pain, regret. It takes her a minute to notice the warm dampness spreading down her leg.

“What the fuck?” she cries when she notices, grasping and slapping at her pocket. She slides a hand in and pulls it back out sticky with blood. Her eyes widen and she begins to hyperventilate, which makes accusing me difficult.

“Wha…you…you…d…did…”

“I told you it was blood money. I thought you didn’t care?” I fake a smile before I turn and walk away, a little too fast. She screams a bit and then I hear her crash into something. Melodramatic.

By the time she gets her pants off the blood’s going to be gone, but I think I made an impression. It might change her path. Probably not.

I’m a real hero.

Lily and the Girl

About the short ones

So every year, as previously mentioned, Boise Weekly runs a contest called Fiction 101, in which applicants submit stories of *exactly* 101 words.  I tried one year, and immediately realized what a wonderful writing exercise it is – or maybe, more accurately, what a wonderful editing exercise it is.

Try to get your story down to ~100 words and you will learn how to recognize where you were saying something important to the plot and where you were just rambling.

Accordingly, I’ve made the attempt to write a few more ~100 word stories now and then, whether there was a contest to submit them to or not.  I now plan to post some of them here, under the category “100 words”.

The one I posted just before this meta post, 101 Gumshoe, was submitted to Boise Weekly a few years ago.  While perhaps not particularly deep or insightful, it was still fun to write.

About the short ones

101 Gumshoe

As she sashayed away I contemplated her … case. Hubby was worried about arson with that fire burning under his nose? Half a bottle later, I sauntered down to the warehouse – only to find his smoking ashes.

I comforted the grieving widow on his leather couch, twice. Later, I did some snooping – and thinking. Insurance fraud? It seemed too obvious, until I found the paperwork. Then something heavy found my head.

Woke up tied down, smelling smoke. This can’t be good. Hubby’s blood and hair was mixed with mine on her hammer. “Sorry detective … those weren’t the papers I hired you to find.”

101 Gumshoe

About This

So, some Facebook friends saw me mention that I’d submitted some stories to the annual Boise Weekly Fiction 101 contest, and asked to see my work.

You’re probably not going to see those stories here or anywhere, because I didn’t think they were really that great.  (Boise Weekly apparently agrees with me.)  However, there is no good reason that I don’t occasionally share some of the stuff I’m working on.

So I tried to throw together a blog, and here it is.  I’ll stick short bits of stuff here once in a while, especially stuff I don’t plan to try to submit anywhere.

The first piece, which I stuck up right before this notice, is related to a novella thing I wrote, called Grey Planet.

Grey Planet is the first installment of something I wanted to be a kind of serial or pulp story, with larger-than-life heroes having weird, mostly-unrelated adventures.  It’s actually kind of finished, but it’s currently sitting in limbo because I suspect that no one, anywhere, is interested in publishing a novella-length anything, and I’m trying to write a couple more installments and submit the whole group as something novel-length.

Anyway, the basic premise is a very boring guy whose name is not really John and his nameless, dimension-hopping kidnapper, a strange white-haired woman who may or may not really be an angel.  It’s heavily inspired by several things, the most obvious of which will probably be Doctor Who and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I’d like to think it’s at least vaguely original.

This piece, “All I Wanna Do”, might fit between Grey Planet and its sequel Red Angel in some timeline in the Polyverse.  It doesn’t really fit anywhere in ours if you care about things like continuity.

Comments and suggestions are very welcome.  I reserve the right to delete anything I decide is off-the-rails inappropriate.

(Edit: I’m new to WordPress but it looks like the easiest way to browse right now is going to be via that menu thing on the right.)

 

 

About This