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Lawyer

Lawyer: interrogation of John Cardoni by Detective Jones- Campfire Horror Stories

He had always wondered what it would feel like sitting in one of these chairs. The metal felt cold against his skin, despite the jeans that separated them. It certainly wasn’t a comfortable chair, but he supposed that was the point, why they kept them there for hours without resolve, before even considering questioning. It was part of the tactics, part of the breaking down of the walls, while containing them inside walls of their own.

He thought the handcuffs were a tad unnecessary, and they dug into his skin every time he tried to wriggle his wrists into a more relaxed state. The air was tepid and thick, artificial. It entered the room through a grimy vent at the top of one of the walls. The walls were the color of faded limes, same as the floor, like the color of hospital linoleum. That color made him feel queasy in hospitals and it made him feel queasy here, too.

The vent let out a low hum that intermingled with the higher hum of the fluorescent lights, creating a sort of white-noise harmonic. It wasn’t a pleasant harmonic, however, and he felt like all of these factors were calculated for the very purpose of culminating his discomfort.

There was a clock in the room, on the opposite wall to the vent, but he was unsure whether it told the correct time, or if it was correct in its pacing, either. He figured he had sat there, handcuffed, for multiple hours before the lone door clicked and opened abruptly. His elbows were raw from resting on the hard metal table, and his eyes felt the same from staring at his reflection in the one-way mirror.

“Comfortable, John? I brought you some water,” Detective Jones always had it out for John Cardoni, and that fact was written all over his smug fucking grin. He looked as though he was trying to stifle his laughter.

“I know the score, Brad, you know I ain’t drinkin’ that,” John gestured to the cup with his brow, as Detective Jones sat on the corner of the table after placing it in front of him.

“You know that just makes you look more guilty, right?”

“Save the script, Jones. You know I know what we’ve both done to close cases. You recording this, too, right? Bet that won’t make the final cut,” John stabbed at the air in front of him with his hands, “and get these fuckin’ cuffs off me, will you?”

“You’re a person of interest, John, nay, a prime suspect. Why would I uncuff you? You’re deemed dangerous, even when unarmed. Hell, I’m risking my safety just being this clos- this close to you,” he could barely finish the sentence before letting out a spitting, high-pitched laugh.

John narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips, “you fucking bastard, Jonesie, you always had it out for me,” he said with increasing volume while shaking his head, “you won’t pin this on me, I tell ya. You fuckin’ won’t.”

“We got all we need, Cardoni. This is all theatrics and formalities,” he exclaimed with outstretched arms as he circled the table.

“You ain’t got SHIT!” John stood with a vigor that sent the steel chair into the wall behind him. He was playing his own theatrics, just like he’d witnessed every other time he’d been in this very room. It was like walking a tightrope, walking the fine line between letting the truth slip out (at least, the words that could be construed to appear as a confession), and keeping a guise of innocence.

Detective Jones reached into his jacket and produced a plastic zip-lock evidence bag. It contained a twelve-inch, tactical blade. The blade was black steel with a saw-toothed back, and the hilt and handle were gold-plated, aside from the rubber grip, which was also black. It was a seriously nice blade, and John knew it well.

“Now, you know this blade, John,” Detective Jones placed it on the table and tapped it with his index finger, “you know there are only two.”

“We both got awarded one for the Mackenzie case, yeah,” John’s demeanor weakened. His shoulders dropped, as did his face. He knew where this was headed. “I didn’t kill them, Brad. You know I done some stupid shit in my days, but I didn’t kill your girls.”

“We got prints, John. You’re done.”

“How do I know that ain’t your blade?”

“You sayin’ you can’t account for the whereabouts of your own knife, John?” He put his hand into his jacket again and produced an identical knife, unbagged and in a black leather sheath.

John looked at the faded lime linoleum floor, “lawyer.”

“Ah-ha. Are you serious, John?”

“Lawyer,” he looked up from the floor to lock eyes with Brad, “lawyer.”

“You see, there’s a slight problem with that request; we’re not playing that game, John. Oh, no. That’s not how this plays out. Theatrics and formalities, remember? I wanted you to know what it felt like on that side of the table; what it felt like beneath my interrogation. I wanted to hear you confess. . . CONFESS!” saliva sprayed through his teeth as he slammed a hand on the table.

“Lawyer.”

“I told you, John, it ain’t PLAYIN’ that way.” He turned his back and laughed under his breath. “You still think we’re at the station, don’t you?”

The hairs on John’s nape stood up. His skin began to shudder at the thought.

He had buried his blade after he gutted the prostitutes. Perplexed at how Brad could have possibly known where to look, he watched him open the door just enough to reach an arm out and flick a switch. The room suddenly felt much smaller, and much colder. Nauseating white light filled the expanse of a warehouse on the other side of the mirrored window. “What the fuck is this, Jones?”

“Redemption,” he spoke quietly, as he turned around with an expressionless face, stepped forward and thrust his blade into John’s torso.

John felt Brad’s fist hit his diaphragm, almost lifting him off the ground. He felt winded, he felt his lung deflate. His eyes bulged and his mouth called out in silence. It didn’t feel like getting shot, at all, he hardly felt anything but the punch. He was choking on his own blood and disbelief.

“Say hello to my cheating wife, fuckboy,” Brad whispered into John’s ear before letting go of his back and watching him fall off the blade.

John gurgled to the floor and painted the tired lime linoleum a rich maroon.

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Rebel Hunger

They couldn’t help but feel perplexed. It didn’t make sense. It had been two hundred and fifty-seven years since they killed this many people in a single night. They were just so damn hungry. The witching hour was pressing on, and they were getting messy. Red-tinted clothes and smeared shoes. This would not do at all, they thought, not only do I look horrendous, but hideously suspicious, to boot. Nevertheless, I don’t have luxury to change. WHY MUST I HUNGER, SO?

The last victim was just left in the street; a lonely drunk possibly without a home. Probably wouldn’t be missed at all, either. They could still taste the whiskey in its blood. The first one of the night was a dancer that fancied them. They didn’t even have to pay it. A good show and a meal, one could not ask for much more. Except that the meal was unsatisfactory, and this was unacceptable.

Even during the Great Race Wars, they didn’t slaughter out of unquenchable hunger. It was sport, more or less. Some called it pride, and recompense. If all the sides of a conflict call on recompense for every loss, however, then an eye for an eye would leave the world blind. All except the one who deals the final blow. They slaughtered because they wanted to be that one, not for petty recompense.

Sirens began to ring out through the corridors of the city. I’ll have to flee, they ordered themself, there’s no way I can continue feeding here without being found out. They puffed out their chest and let out a heavy sigh. If only I wasn’t so damn hungry I’d be able to escape to the countryside or anywhere else but here. They couldn’t concentrate while the roaring sound of blood rushing through tasty veins echoed throughout the street. There was another sound creeping closer, though. It was the clanging of enforcer’s boots, but they couldn’t make out how many there were. It all seemed hopeless.

There was a half-wall flanking the entrance to a less-than-popular public house. Shame, really, because in its day it was the bustle of night life. Perhaps not the first public house in the city, but certainly the first of its kind. Vamps built it, just like most of the town. Ironic, really, that they should find themself in a situation of inevitable persecution in a city designed for feeding. More so, that they find themself unable to quench the hunger in such a city.

They crouched behind the half-wall and ran their fingers down its face. “Shhh. . . I need your sustenance, human,” it had a gaping jaw and trembling lips, and wells where its eyes were, “I need to taste your soul. I need you to fill my veins with your life and end this aching torture. You don’t understand, how could you? You’re only human. One day has felt like an eternity, and you would hardly know that, either.” They clutched its hair and pulled the head back to sniff its pungent jugular. They tugged with too much vigor and tore out a hunk of hair. The human let out a screeching yelp as they gripped its hair again and yanked some more. It tore out like straw from a scarecrow. They felt good to express such animosity again, but the hunger still raged. And the enforcers still searched.

They covered the human’s mouth with one hand and felt the ground with the other. They ran their nails across the stone. One-by-one their nails cracked and broke. The enforcers must have closed in after that screech. It was as clear as a blip on a radar. Despite pitchforks and torches not being a thing anymore, they still wouldn’t be able to fight off a whole mob of enforcers by themself. They would have to surrender and hope for the best.

At this point, execution is welcome. Anything to end this god forsaken hunger. 

At least twenty-seven enforcers appeared down the far end of the street. The sound of blood was deafening. Saliva was running like a river from their mouth. The best course of action would be surrender, of course, but they weren’t sure if the hunger would take over, which it did.

“I will come peacefully. . .” they tried to call out to the enforcers. The small human writhed about, kicking and flailing its arms. It went limp as they tore its heart from its chest in one swift moment of pure intent. The enforcers descended upon them immediately.

REBEL! You shall perish for your crimes, rebel. You shall be made an example of. Rebels do not belong in our city!”

“I BUILT THIS CITY, HUUUMMMAAAAAAAN!”

“You’re a savage, and a rebel, and your strength will not help you now. Neither will your kind.”

The elders were contacted and set trial for one year. This was not customary, but the elders were curious. What would they devolve into without feeding? Not one had gone so long without food. Not one had ever had insatiable hunger, either.

 

 

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The Best Medicine

strawberries, best medicine, campfire horror stories

They say that laughter is the best medicine. But it’s not. The best medicine tastes like strawberries. Not strawberries, like, real strawberries, but what some white lab-coat wearing men in a food research facility reckon strawberries taste like. It’s thick and gluggy, quite like venous blood.

Blood, of course, does not taste like strawberries. Unless the strawberries were carved out of metal, because blood tastes like a salty coin. I used to put coins in my mouth all the time, but now I’m not allowed. Mother said it’s bad for my fangs.

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22nd District

Dennis, 22nd District, fit into the machine, middle caste, Campfire Horror Stories

The steak was delicious, though, just like the salads were. Josh couldn’t understand why Dennis turned his nose up at him when the words escaped his lips, “we’ll start with the green garden salads, frites and poppers. For the main, we’ll have the eye steak, medium?” His query was directed at Dennis, who only retorted with a wide-eyed snarl. “Medium, and I’ll have it rare. Finish with the pumpkin pie.” At first Josh didn’t even notice Dennis’ body language.

“And to drink, sir?” The waiter asked, without so much as acknowledging Dennis existed.

“Why, your finest champagne, of course. And I don’t want to see our glasses empty, or it’s your tip.”

Dennis shifted his weight in his seat, but not because the chair wasn’t comfortable, it was incredibly comfortable. The cushions were a brilliant blue velvet that was soothing to the touch, and he couldn’t help but stoke it with his index finger as his eyes darted around the room. He didn’t want to be there anymore, much less make eye contact with Josh. He chose instead to admire the elegant carving in the ceiling, and the glowing gold lighting under the bar. They really had done a good job at mixing the old, traditional look of wealth with a new contemporary one. He did, however, wonder how many times the bartender would have to wipe the bar-top, to keep the reflective black free from fingerprints.

The night air was cool, but not cold. It was a refreshing change from the artificial warmth of the restaurant. This was Josh’s favorite time of day; night. More specifically, though, the early night, when the city was still bustling. Later, it would still be busy, but it’s chaotic, rather than the organised cohesion of the early night. Josh prefers order. Everything has its place, and everything works better when it stays in its place. The drunks of the early hours are only cogs that don’t fit into the machine anymore. They drink their last days away before being forcibly escorted into a lower district, where they belong. Dennis could fit into the machine, though, if he stops turning his nose up, and sits quietly in his place. Without Josh, he never would have dined in the 22nd District. He never would have set foot in the 22nd District. And if he’s smart, he’ll take Josh up on his offer for a night-cap, where he can put something else in his mouth, and more champagne.

The 22nd District was for the high-class. Dennis had never set foot here before tonight. He found himself conflicted. He did not enjoy the dinner, and he did not enjoy being treated like a pet. The roads here were so clean, though. They looked like they were made of glass, and you could see your face in the sidewalks. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw a tree in the metropolis. You didn’t even need to walk to the trashcan, because it walked to you. Dennis found himself thinking he should be grateful, and wanted to apologize for his performance at dinner. His cheeks reddened as he looked down at his matte shoes. Clearly not made for this part of the metropolis. Even the driver’s shoes were as reflective as the sidewalk. There were some things that he would certainly need to change as he climbed the social ladder. The cool air slipped down the neck of his shirt and he shivered for a moment.

“It’s okay, Dennis, you don’t have to come if you’d rather go home,” Josh said as he stood on the other side of the car with his elbows on the roof and his face resting on the backs of his hands.

This was, of course, not true. It was a sly statement that actually meant the opposite of what it sounded like.

“No, of course, I know where I fit. I’ve no one to kneel to back in the 42nd. I’m sorry for how-”

“Don’t, I know. Takes a minute for some to come around. Just get in the car.” Josh’s eyes caught the street lights when he tilted his head and flashed a sharp smile. Then he got in the car.

Dennis felt his blood burning through his veins, which made the night air feel even colder. He swallowed his pride with an audible gulp and put on a smile. Despite what he would endure tonight, it would all be worth it.  It was a genuine grin, and he wore it the rest of the night.

Josh had it all: his own driver; a fleet of cars, all different colors of the rainbow; a penthouse apartment in the building he owned; an army of staff that all worked like an automated assembly line. People flocked from all over to stay in his building. It was one of the few that still employed human staff, which served as a luxury niche in the market. He hadn’t worked for any of this, though. Josh didn’t work a day in his life. The staff beneath him work for the company, they would tell you. But Josh would proclaim them his own, of course. This life was his birthright. His father, who also never worked a day in his life, left it all to him. Without the cares or worries of the lower caste, Josh always wore a smile on his face. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. He lived a life of desire. Tonight, he desires Dennis. Dennis, however, does have worries of a different caste.

“Not anymore,” according to Josh, “I’ll take care of you.”

“How very admirable of you,” Dennis said through gritted teeth.

It was sickening, really. How high he thought he was. How did he feel so natural, so entitled to flaunt his wealth? He only lived in the 22nd. It is impressive, sure, but it’s not the top. It’s not where Dennis wanted to be, and it wouldn’t be where he ended his night. He wasn’t going back to the 42nd, either, of course. He had other plans. Orders, in fact. Orders that would see him in a higher caste than Josh. Not that this petty system ever concerned him. After all, he was only playing the 42nd because there was more excitement down there. The trash know how to live, not like the middle caste, who order for their dates, as if they cannot speak for themselves. That treat their staff like slaves. The high caste treat their synths better, for goodness’ sake. No, Dennis never did like how the middle caste decided to treat others or live their lives, but he sure did love how they taste. And the dumbfounded expression Josh had when he realized he’d been lead on.

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Whiteout

whiteout-campfire-horror-stories-old-rickety-bed-sweet-corn-writing-prompt

It was the first snowfall of the year. I sat up and my bones creaked as much as the bed did. That old rickety bed made of pine, just like that cabin. Made with my own two hands, mind you. I swung my legs around and lay my knotted feet on the cold, grained floor. As I drew in a deep breath and rubbed my wrinkled face, I thought about building that cabin twenty years earlier. A slight chuckle escaped my cracked lips when I reflected on my oblivion; not knowing all those years ago that I was, in fact, building a coffin.

The windows were foggy, which made it difficult to know at first, but the sight was unusually white. My back was aching as it did the previous day, and the one before that. As hopeful as I was that my old, rickety bed would do it good, my first conscious expression of every day was a grimace. Rubbing the glass with the sleeve of my night-shirt was a futile task, but it did not matter, really, because what else could a white wilderness be, besides snow? Nevertheless, I sought to open the front door and investigate.

The animals in the main room stared at me from their high vantage points upon the pine walls. Each day they detested me more. They looked down their snouts and turned the corners of their mouths toward the floor. Glassy eyes narrowed. I hardly acknowledge them any more. The fire never judged me, though. It enveloped me in a warm embrace and told me not to leave. The embers of yesterday’s fire still glowed a faint orange behind a grey façade. My modest pile of firewood was down to seven sizable logs, or six if you discount the one I picked up and dropped onto the ashes as I hobbled passed. I would have to check the store at the side of the cabin to fetch some more before the week was out.

I don’t know what else I possibly expected to see when I opened the front door. It was, indeed, the first snowfall of the year. The ground was painted a blinding white, and had engulfed the four stairs that lead up to the front porch. Icicles dangled from the eaves in the light morning breeze. One sprung loose and fell out of sight. I scanned the trees and the ground beneath them. The whole scene was still. Not a branch faltered. Not a sound uttered. My view was then obscured by my breath, which rose in front of my face as a cloud. I could feel the sting of winter on my cheeks. They were surely redder than usual, though I had not a mirror or reference to check. The thought of restocking the firewood inside seemed, in that moment, a monumental task after briefly considering the need to put on appropriate attire and the prerequisite of shoveling the snow from the front stairs. I decidedly shook my head at the wilderness and muttered, “not today.” A chilling breeze licked my nape as I shut the door behind me.

Gurgles and rumbles emanated from my gut. I wondered if I had any sweet corn left in the cupboard, or only beans. Some meat would be a welcome change, although I’m sure my house guests would not approve. Besides, I had not seen any signs of life outside of the cabin, so without anything to hunt I would have no meat, anyway. What a waste of energy. I thought about it not a second longer and opened the cupboard in the kitchenette, which was adjacent to the main living area.

I suppose you would call this open plan living. It was all one room, really. The main room had the fireplace, quite central, but not directly in the middle. It was made of stone, mostly, except for the metal grating I had to prevent embers spitting. I scarcely utilized it, out of laziness, I suppose. In front of the fireplace was a small wooden table and two wooden chairs that had on them some cushions fashioned out of deer skin. The deer didn’t like it when I sat on them, though, so I did not often sit. Sometimes, if my feet were too sore, I would sit on the floor between the chairs and the table. It was actually a perfect height for that. On the other side of the fireplace was a small table and two chairs, also fashioned from pine wood. It sat two people. It has only ever had one to use it, however, but even now that is rather rare an occasion. I had been eating only once a day, for I can’t remember how long, and usually do that on the other table, where the face of fire breathes more warmth. There is a washroom off the dining area and a bedroom off the opposite side of the main room. The washroom has no usual plumbing, however, it has a tank that acquires rainwater and I have a bucket and a tub that I can use to clean myself or my clothes. It hasn’t rained for many moons, though, and I wasn’t about to dip into my drinking water before more rain. The animals are yet to complain about the smell, so I mustn’t be that ripe.

The cupboard creaked as it always did. The whole cabin creaked sometimes. Even though I thought I would be used to it after twenty years, I am not. It irks me every time I hear so much as a squeak. Like a claw digging into my temple, the sound, I fear, might drive me mad one day. There were only two cans left. They stood silently at the back of the dark cupboard, like the final two competitors to be picked for their sports teams. One can of sweet corn and one can of baked beans. I was faced with a dilemma. Which was I to choose?

“The sweet corn, obviously. You’ve been eating nothing but beans for weeks!” Barry exclaimed. He was the boar above the kitchen counter. He was right, too, I had only eaten baked beans for weeks.

I’m unsure just how long I stood there with the cupboard open, but my arm grew sore. I was pondering. Was I saving the sweet corn for an occasion? What occasion might it have been? Was my birthday approaching? It would be nice to have sweet corn on my birthday. “I shall save the sweet corn, and beans are not so bad.”

“Beans are terrible,” scoffed Deidre, one of the deer the cushions were made from.

“No, they’re not that bad,” I retorted.

“They most certainly are!” Dave interjected. He was the other deer the cushions were fashioned from. He stood above my bedroom door. What he had to say wasn’t very important, though, because I no longer respected his opinion. Not since the rug incident.

“You stay out of it, Dave.”

“Oh, he’s okay,” Deidre said in a softer tone than before, “if anyone should stay out of anything, it’s you. What did the beans do to you to be imprisoned in a tin can for god knows how long only to be opened up at such an ungodly hour of the morning and eaten by you. The likes of you.”

“You’re right. I should wait until later. Maybe put it off until tomorrow.”

“Don’t listen to them, buddy, they’ve just got something against beans. I still think you should have the sweet corn though. Do you even know how old you are, today?” Barry was right. The deer were never on my side. Always stirring shit. I swear they only talk to me because they don’t like Barry, either. I should’ve built a bigger cabin. We’re all crammed in here like the can of beans.

I sat down on the floor and held my head in my hands. I felt the callouses scratch my skin. It must’ve been red, if felt red. I was so hungry,

but I didn’t want to upset everyone,

but they already hate me,

but they still talk to me,

but they put me down.

“I don’t put you down, buddy. Just eat the damn beans, at least. You haven’t eaten in days, you’re going to die out here if you don’t eat, buddy.” I hadn’t eaten in days. So I must’ve drank water, which meant that I could put off eating if I drank more water.

I don’t remember eating the beans. Nor the sweet corn, for that matter. I do remember opening the other cupboard and finding the empty water canteen. I held it up to the roof and watched a solitary drop of water cling to the rim of the bore. My tongue protruded further from my mouth than I think it ever had before. It grew sore, like my arm had, and I licked the drop up. I licked the bore over and over. My tongue slipped into it and over it, and yet my thirst would not quench.

The last thing I can recall is crawling to the porch and scooping up warm snow to eat. It tasted better than the beans, too. And felt better between my teeth.


“And, how long did this happen before they found you?”

“I don’t bloody know, does it look like I can wear a watch?”

“Of course, I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just better to give the readers some idea of a timeline.”

“Yeah, I get it, the newspapers are always about the times. I’m sorry if there’s a flicker of resentment in my voice, but it must be the exhaustion. The doc said I’ll be fatigued for a while. I am grateful, really. I’m still here, aren’t I? Still kicking, well kind of. I can’t really kick anymore, either.”

I’m starting to realize there’s a lot of things I won’t be able to do anymore.

 


Writing Prompt: It was the first snowfall of the year.

To respond to this writing prompt, join the Facebook group Around the Campfire, where I post other prompts and encourage you to get creative with them. You can also check out all of my responses to writing prompts in the writing prompt category.

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Change

body aches change

My body aches, this is how I know I’ve changed. It certainly isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, but it feels different. As I start to become aware of my surroundings it makes me panic. . .

The light streaming in from the mouth of the cave stings my eyes. As I push myself up off the warm earth, I feel the breeze wash over my naked body. I begin to shiver. I am vulnerable. Have I come here before? The salty scent of my body filled my nostrils. Running my hand through my saturated hair, I draw in a deep breath and close my eyes. Remember goddammit. What. Did. You. Do?

Usually when I change, I still wake in my bed. At first, I was unsure if they were any more than mere nightmares. But I always woke the same: naked, sweating and with an unwelcome sense of violation. You know that feeling when you wake abruptly from an unusually vivid dream? But when you try to make sense of it, the memory falls just out of grasp before dissolving entirely? That has been my life for the past month. The dreams felt so real. Always so damn real. Without any tangible proof, however, I remained skeptical. Until one morning, while I showered, I noticed the dirt under my fingernails. So much dirt. There certainly wasn’t any dirt in my bed for me to claw at, nor in my dorm for that matter.

As it continued, I began waking with aching joints. I felt old, but not. I felt weak, but strong. I know that doesn’t make any sense. Heck, none of it makes any sense. My muscles constantly felt like they were surging with electricity. Despite my growing fatigue from seemingly sleepless nights, I had been feeling invigorated. Everything I knew about the world was beginning to slip away from me. Is it the stress of my assignments that I keep putting off? Is this my mental breakdown?

Just last week, I woke with sore fingers. God, they were so fucken sore. It felt like they were on fire. Some of my nails were cracked, and there was a piece of bark from a tree embedded underneath my left index fingernail. I had been bleeding, too. The skin on my fingertips was raw. I hadn’t been biting them, if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s what I thought. But that would be so out of character of me. Did I really get naked and leave my dorm to scratch at the trees on campus? It’s absurd, right? Try living this. I’m never going to get these assignments done. And do you really think Prof. Mrsir will believe me? You don’t even believe me.

But this time, I’m not in bed. I’m not in my dorm. Where the fuck am I? I didn’t know there were caves near the campus. I am faced with the lovely prospect of finding my way back to my dorm buck fucking naked. And I don’t even know what day it is. Or what time it is. I’m doomed. Everyone is going to see me, and I’ll be arrested for sure.

Was I running last night?  I recall panting. Heavy panting. The trees were rushing past me in a blur. I could smell the entire forest, but one scent was in my mind. One scent. I could feel it. I can feel it. She’s still here.

I begin to pant heavily as I exit the cave, one shy step at a time. I can smell the entire forest. The trees, the moss, the wet earth. Even the ducks and pukekos. If I had a map, I could likely tell you exactly where they are. But most prominently, I can smell Kelly. Not fifty meters from the cave lies her body. Well, half of it. My heart is stuck in my throat. Filled with the weight of my circumstance, my stomach drops to my abdomen.

As I lick the blood from my lips, I remember: it was a full moon last night. 

 


 

Prompt written by James McInroy for a creative writing exercise.

My body aches, this is how I know I’ve changed. It certainly isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, but it feels different. As I start to become aware of my surroundings it makes me panic. . .

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The Panda Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

panda-eats-shoots-and-leaves

The panda sat silently at the bar, pawing at a bowl of salted nuts. The only other patron looking on with a cocked head and raised brow. I don’t think he had seen a panda sat in a human environment before. I sighed. I knew what was coming. The panda comes in here about once a month and eats all my bar nuts. He doesn’t seem to like the gawkers. So, it’s a good thing my bar is always empty. Makes clean-up easier and leaves little explaining to be done.

The panda stands up, shoots the patron right in his stupid looking expression. My face scrunches up into a ball, my muscles solidify. I hold my breath every time. The panda walks out. It’s closing time, anyway. Better get cleaning.

 


 

Prompt – Facebook post by Sergio Pimenov from a closed writing group (so I can’t link to the post)

Punctuation matters!
Panda eats, shoots and leaves.

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Dear Writer’s Block

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t go on living like this. And I should start being honest with myself. I know you help me get things done, especially around the house. You’re brilliant at helping with the dishes and the vacuuming. My house is always dust free and the lawn is never too long, and that’s all because of you. You’ve helped me learn how to cook exotic cuisines and bake bizarre pastries. You make sure I’m always up to date with the latest and greatest news the world serves up on social media.

But, please, stahp. No more should you insistently refresh /r/all. And I can’t always play video games with you. Your lust for attention is insatiable and, as an icon of our generation once said in front of a green screen, “it’s time to stop!” Stop blindly scrolling the twitterfeed. Stop tentatively trawling YouTube. Stop shouting in my ear, breaking my train of thought. Stop changing the song. Stop constantly giving me new ideas that are better than my current story and stop making me start new stories before I finish the last. Stop telling me what I should have achieved by now, and stop fucking telling me I won’t amount to anything. Stop trying to convince me no one will ever read anything I write and, for the love of Poe, stop exclaiming that I am worthless.

Just get out. Get out of my head and cut out all of the “what if” conundrums. Get out of my head, get out of my house and get out of my life, please and kindly.

You’ll have to find your own way now, and I need to find my Writer’s Feet again. I know you know where they are. But, given the circumstances, I feel it is unlikely you will tell me the location of their grave. I will find them and I will find my stride again. You can do whatever you bloody well please, far away from here.

You’ll see. You will, because I’ll show you. I’ll show ‘em all. I’ll write until my pen runs out of ink and then I’ll buy a new pen. The letters will fade from my keyboard, but you know what? I know QWERTY, bitch, so it doesn’t matter. I’ll write and it doesn’t matter if not one person reads it or if not one person likes it or if it never amounts to anything. Because, damn it, I know what I’m worth and that’s what counts. Damn it all, and damn you, Writer’s Block.

I do wish you all the best in any future endeavours, but don’t be asking me for any references. I’ll be glad to see your tail. I don’t even expect a response from this, just to find the absence of you upon my return home.

Sincerely yours,

SalmonSlammin.

 

 

P.S.  leave the ice cream. I’m going to need it when I’m watching movies at midnight.

 


 

Prompt: Dear Writer’s Block. It’s not you, it’s me…

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The Effigy

the-embers-were-still-glowing-a-bright-crimson

He pulled the body out of the ashes and pried open its charred hand. The cave smelled like seared pork mixed with a lavish aroma of smoky wood and sea-breeze. Most of the walls were covered in a green moss. Some of the embers were still glowing a bright crimson, emitting a comforting, warm aura and revealing a stack of old tree branches piled up against a sizeable boulder. Joanie thought it was a strange feeling, standing in that cave, in the bubble of warmth. A few steps away she could feel a salty chill rush through her bones. Naturally, she wanted to stand in the warmth, but no one wanted to look at the grimace on what was left of the face of the corpse they had stumbled upon. Joanie turned her back to it in protest,

“Aren’t there any other caves? Wh-why do we have to pick the one with a b-b-body in it?” Her voice was shaky and broken.

“Not close by, no. And we can’t get across the marshlands until it stops raining,” Billy told her, matter-of-factly.

A tear rolled down Joanie’s face. She was still shivering despite feeling the warmth of the embers on her back.

Billy had to snap off three of the fingers to see what it was holding. She flinched when she heard it, recalling the sound her dollhouse had made that time when he had pried the walls off of it.

It was an effigy, which was somehow unharmed from the fire. Whoever this was must have held it very tightly as the fire ate their flesh, protecting it, like a last ditch effort to have something of themselves left in this world. The stiff arm was twisted in a peculiar way, after Billy had tugged on it with all of his weight to move the corpse. It was around the wrong way, and the hand remained elevated as he slowly let go, gawking at the effigy in his left hand. It looked just like her. The blue ribbon in her hair, her yellow dress, right down to her red wellingtons. It was uncanny. He glanced back at the hand, missing all but the index finger. Like it was pointing. He followed the finger with his gaze and it was pointing right at Joanie.

Billy was overcome with realisation. He knew what had to be done.

“Here, Joanie, hold this. Hold it as tightly as you can,” he said to her as he placed the effigy in her hand and began to rebuild the fire.

 


 

Prompt: Pull the body out of the ashes and when we pry open the palm…

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Don’t Drink The Water

don't drink the water, drinking water, pink goo, pink ooze, green light, pink glow

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My doctor keeps saying it’s dehydration, that what I’ve begun to see frequently are hallucinations and that if I don’t start drinking water again, I will surely perish. But I feel fine. Allegedly, a man should die after only 3 days without water, though many have been recorded to have survived almost two weeks without drinking water. It’s been six months, and I haven’t touched a drop. I’ve even altered my diet to consist of solely dehydrated and dried foods. I’ve been told it’s a marvel that I am still alive, a miracle that no one can explain. My parents have always insisted that I’m squandering my life, even more so since I seemingly cannot die from dehydration. Although, if dehydration does not affect me, why am I hallucinating? Is it just me, or is dehydration really a myth?

I can’t live my life how I was before; I can’t live it how my parents think I should, or how the infomercials on late night TV. tell me I should, or how my local body elect says I need to. Not after what I’ve seen. Not after what I see every day. But is any of it real? My doctor certainly doesn’t think so, however, he is eight feet tall and has a face full of tentacles. His voice is so loud and pounding, making it near unbearable to be around him and his tentacles, secreting his pink ooze all over everything they touch. It’s repulsive. But it’s unavoidable. He’s not the only one with tentacles, you see.

At first, I would have believed him, everything seemed a bit off, and some things looked a little askew, and these things could easily have been put down to dehydration, although at that point, I had only been without water for a few weeks. I could no longer sleep, and everything was tiresome. I felt incredibly fatigued every day, even small tasks proving rather painful. I stopped leaving my house, and I quit my job. But for whatever reason I had at the time, I still refused to drink water. It was only when I lost most of my strength and energy that I stopped eating hydrated foods, and that was when things began to get better. I could only muster a handful of puffed rice twice a day at first. My strength began to return and I no longer felt so fatigued. Once I had realized this I got rid of all the food in my house that wasn’t dehydrated. I still don’t sleep, but I feel incredible.

After almost a month alone inside my house, I decided to venture out again. I might as well have been leaving my home for the first time in my life, because nothing was the same as it once was, and nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.

As I opened the door and stepped outside I was struck by a gleaming green glow enveloping existence. I could not see the sun in the sky but it was not dark, everything was illuminated by this ominous green hue. Not a shadow in sight, as if there was no light source, the brightness just was. Every tree and plant seemed out of focus and fuzzy, like I was looking at them through a lens smeared with Vaseline. If I’m not mistaken, of course I very well could be, they also seemed to sway slightly, as if in a current. This seemed peculiar because I could feel no wind at all, almost like the atmosphere was devoid of any kind of movement. As I was observing the apparent stillness of my new found reality, I felt drawn to something, and was suddenly compelled to continue walking towards whatever centric force was pulling me in.

Every house and every car paled in comparison to the bright green light that encompassed everything, like they were absorbing the light but not reflecting enough to appear as bright and vibrant as the flora or the sky. If there is a sky, anymore, I am still unsure about that. The few people that I saw on my journey were so oblivious to all of this, just carrying on with their lives as they always had before, only now with what I can only describe as an utter lack of enthusiasm. It was so obvious to me at that very moment: everyone is a pawn and no one is aware, and I am probably in imminent danger.

Is my doctor in on all of this? None of the people I saw on the streets had tentacles oozing pink goo, nor were they abnormally tall. Perhaps he has notified some sort of superior overlord who will mobilise some kind of slimy enforcers to find me and silence me before I can speak out. These ideas are why I have not returned home, and never will. My home no longer exists and I have no sanctuary. Nowhere is safe. I have been doomed to a nomadic lifestyle, constantly looking over my shoulder for a tentacle-bearing stranger to take me away. And I know exactly where they would take me.

When I felt committed to that one place, I should have run the opposite way – as I am now – but you couldn’t possibly understand the feeling. The feeling of being captivated by a location that you must reach. It was merely an intrigue that morphed into a need to find it. Impossible to ignore because the feeling was inside me, it was in my head, it was my own desire. I had thought of it. And that’s how they get you. There is no sanctity any more, your thoughts are not only your own. Right now, none of your thoughts belong to you.

My pace increased and I began to jog towards the city, but it wasn’t long before I was in a full-stride sprint. Every person I passed looked less and less human, and every other evidence of humanity within this plane that surrounded me began to glitch and distort. The faster I ran, the closer I got, the less sane I felt. My head started to swirl and ache, but my vision was clearer than ever, aside from the anomalies I was witnessing. As I felt a strange combination of drunkenness and enlightenment, my head was about to burst with the heat of the sun that no longer resided in the sky. But I was so close. I could see the towers in the distance, peeking above the hills in front of me. They curled and flickered, but it was the glow that made me hesitant. That pink glow was the only thing that disturbed the green light which touched everything that could be seen. I slowed down to a power-walk pace as I ascended the hill, my eyes not wavering from that pink glow. As I reached the apex, it took every fibre of my being to halt. The number of creatures that wandered throughout the city, I could not say. Each one far taller than any house, some even rivalled the towers that were twisting in the sky. Too many tentacles to count. So much pink ooze that nothing was spared from their sticky substance.

I began to vomit. To my absolute horror, the bile that was ejected from my body was the same pink goo that covered the city. Although, I cannot possibly be one of them. I am one of you, and you don’t have tentacles, do you? Once I gathered myself together I turned to walk away. I should have just ran then and never looked back. As you can guess, however, I had looked back. When I looked over my shoulder at the slimy city one last time, one of the taller creatures looked over in my direction with one of its many purple eyes and a tentacle extended towards me faster than I had seen anything move before. It let out a great ungodly sound which tore my mind in half. I screamed silently holding my head and barely maintained my footing, tears streaming down my face, my intestines wrapped around my stomach and squeezed it like a noose. I stumbled and fell over, maybe rolled a little bit down the hill, but I managed to get back to my feet and I ran. I ran as fast as I could muster. I am certain it was faster than I have managed to move ever before. I ran and I did not stop until I could not recall just how long I had been running for. It seemed like an eternity. Everything seems like an eternity now. It’s like time doesn’t exist.

So, I found a computer that has internet access and now I’m writing this plea. I know they’ll see it, and I know they’ll find me. But I don’t have to be the only one. I don’t have to be alone. I can find others, if you’ll just listen to me. Please, you must, you simply must listen to me: DON’T DRINK THE WATER.


Prompt: Water is a drug which makes our sight see something different from what is supposed to be there, you have stopped drinking water and now you’re seeing some strange things

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