Lover’s Leap

I always thought you had rescued me from the chaotic darkness, with your graceful light. I admired you for how well you knew all the rules, that social dance that overwhelms me. With just a few flashes of your smile and steady handshake, you waltzed us right into the large house on the hill that makes mother green with envy.

You’ve always known what to say, what to do. I’ve never seen you angry. Ever. Not even when I ruined the stove. But there was always something I could never pin down, something that always made me wonder about how perfect your responses were, something that left me feeling like you might not be fully sincere, but I tried to have hope and tell myself it was my past making me nervous.

Now that I am to be a mother though, I feel some other instinct is making me watch you a little too carefully. I think maybe I’m beginning to see what I’ve been seeing all along. The young women that have been on the news have all been so familiar, in a way that bothered me but I tried to dismiss.

I asked about my favorite cashier that I hadn’t seen for a while, hoping she had made it into the school she applied to, and I found she was one of the missing. I just hadn’t recognized her out of context. It opened my eyes. So many faces around me just aren’t there anymore. We knew them all, didn’t we? Shadows from the corner of my life, girls I noticed yet never saw.

And then last night, the blood in your hair, but I could not see a cut. I went through our closet today, and there are too many of your clothes missing that I can’t find in the laundry. Were they burned? Dropped in a river?

I can tell that you know what I’ve realized. I see my time is getting shorter. So I came here, were you proposed to me while we watched the sun set over the ocean. The overlook where the waters are too rough for swimming, were fishermen won’t sail.

I look at my own hands on the wheel and I remember how true it felt when you said I was nothing without you. I could not survive. You are right. You’ve clipped my wings to ensure it. You will not shape your daughter as you have shaped me.

We idle the car near the edge of the world and watch the sun set, and chat pleasantly while you try to figure out exactly how much I know. I smile, and evade as my heart fills with sorrow. As the sun blows a kiss to greet the oncoming night, I let my foot slide and we drive.

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Archeon Tarot Prompt: Three of Cups, reversed. 466 words. More tarot stories.

P.S. – This is my Archeon Deck. Much more serious, dark, and beautiful than my tongue in cheek zombie deck. Perfect to explore the dark hearts of human monsters while I dive into my research on serial killers and enjoy whole new levels of understanding on my latest Criminal Minds marathon.

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The Student

The love songs of the night gave way to the chatter of birds as the girl made her way across the prairie to the hut. Dew drops reflected the overcast sky, turning the field into a dreamlike silver, cut through with a green brush stroke winding behind her as her toes tickled the dew to the ground.

She watched a butterfly opening its wings in the rising dawn, fluttering lazily, enjoying a few more minutes in its silky floral bed. She was tempted to tease it on to her finger, but catching butterflies was a child’s game and she was too old for such things now.

Father had stopped howling. He was likely either dead or sleeping. The virus didn’t grant him much peace, she wasn’t sure which one she preferred.

Inside the hut, the smell had quieted down, grown more earthen. She would have expected something sour. Like when fruit turns to wine. This smelled more like mushrooms. He sat quietly, observing her as she observed him. He wasn’t breathing.

“I promised Mother I wouldn’t kill you. Do you remember Mother?” He was still enough to be made of stone. Except for those eyes, which were darker now. The irises were larger, large enough to be seeing rather well in the dim light. That explained why the monster had stuck to the shadows, his eyes were likely sensitive.

She opened the curtains, letting the dawn creep closer to the thing that used to be her father. The chains rattled as he shifted his weight away from the light, but there was no other reaction. Interesting. That implies physical distress, but not at a critical level.

“We never did spend a lot of time together, Father. I think I will remedy that. I propose a partnership. You shall teach me exactly how to defeat the plague. I pray I don’t cause you too much discomfort in the process.”

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Zombie Tarot Prompt: Page of Swords. More tarot flash stories over here.

Run

“Stop! Look at her! Look at her in the light!” I could see his face, he was older than I thought. I doubt he remembers where he got all those battle scars.

I turned to her, not trying to obey him, but wanting to make some comment, some suggestion, that I forgot as soon as I saw her face. I couldn’t understand what I saw, she was beautiful as always, but there was something creepy and whispering, like a mask was cracking and something gray and shadowy was underneath, but I didn’t actually see anything wrong with her at all.

She raised a hand and touched my face. “Shh, he speaks in lies and can make people see things.” Her whisper sent thrills of delight down my spine, and her touch was warm like sun glowing through honey. I calmed, and she grabbed my hand, and we ran into the shadows.

As we ran down the crumbling stone tunnel, our footsteps reverberated in my head with my heartbeat, weaving together to make a beat of panic, and I realized I could almost hear someone singing in the background. Was that here, was it real?

I realized I couldn’t remember what we were running from, or where we were running to. Then we left the tunnel and the moonlight hit her skin, and she was so beautiful. It didn’t matter anymore, so I followed.

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Zombie Tarot Prompt: Justice, and the Lovers. This week I decided to do a two-card draw to represent the predator and the prey. More tarot stories.

Regret

We never would have taken him for a witch. He seemed so steady, a reliable type, paying his bills on time and mowing his lawn. He never had any kids, his wife died young. He was real generous with the neighbor kids, helping out some to get their kids nice stuff.

We figured with all that hard work and no family to support, he probably could do that kind of thing because he had a stash of money somewhere. A guy like that probably invests and does responsible things with his money. He came home early when we were looking for a safe.

He came home right after we found some kind of altar in the basement, and he kind of came home by popping right into place, in this little circle on the floor right behind us. Scared the fuck out of us, but Kim, she never was one to freeze in fear, and she just started moving and got her knife right in his eye socket before I knew what was going on.

He didn’t die right away, he started twitching and all the lights flickered. Fucking electricity or fire or some kind of light started pouring from his fingers and his eyes glowed with it. I couldn’t move. I don’t mean I froze in fear, I tried to run but my feet were stuck to the floor, and Kim’s too.

He spoke, and it wasn’t loud but everything around us kind of rang with his voice anyway, I did too, I felt like a guitar string plucked deep inside me. And he says, right before he dies, he says, “Die from regret.”

I didn’t end up feeling a lot of regret right away. Kim, I was worried about her though, she was so eaten up by it, and that ain’t the first man she’s offed, but I never saw her so torn up. She ended up eating a bottle of pills.

I figured maybe it was a curse, but I was in the clear, ‘cause she did him, not me. But as soon as she went, the nightmares started. Every time I eat, I feel bad that man can’t taste anything anymore. Every time I get tired and cranky at work, ‘cause I can’t sleep, right? I get all tired and cranky and sore, but as soon as I think about how good it would be to go home and sit in my chair, I remember that dude was a hard worker, and he probably liked that feeling of relief too.

Today I got a headache, and I felt bad because that man would never get a headache again, even though it was pain. All those rough moments just make the smooth moments sweeter, and he can’t have either. I don’t think I’ll last out much longer.

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Zombie Tarot Prompt: King of Hazards, Reversed. More tarot stories.

The Moon, Reversed

The living room looked familiar, but when I stepped onto the carpet it felt like I had two sets of feet. One pair I could feel brushing the fabric, the carpet was soft and plush but my feet were definitely on it. Then it felt as if there were another pair over that pair, one floating a few inches off of the ground, toes dangling lazily and only just brushing the fuzzy carpet.

My stomach revolted from a sensation that reminded me of driving too fast in the country, hitting a dip that bounces the car just enough to unseat you and thrill you a little. I didn’t feel thrilled though, I felt a sense of dread.

Shadows around the room seemed to grow thicker, maybe a little undulating, as I realized I had seen this room before. This was the room in that dream I kept pretending wasn’t happening. That meant he was right behind me, and yes, there are the hands around my throat lifting me, and that’s not a thrill I feel.

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P.S. – I added a little guide to this game that I’m playing here, if you want to play along or get a better idea for how I’m coming up with prompts.

P.P.S. – Aunt Robin, if you made it here, this is the Guided Tour page. Make sure to see the brownie story I accidentally showed Mom (I did get out of her that I never told her what kind of brownie I wanted to be). Over here is the Staten Island post I was talking about. Maybe one day I’ll come stay in a haunted hotel near you and it won’t have to be twenty years until we chat in person again.

The Chase

The crunch of the snow was too loud. Yes, they could see my footprints, but they’d have to find what direction I went first. That would be easy to do when I’m clomping though the barren forest like a deer drunk on rotten apples.

There had to be a way, I had to have a chance somehow. They could see me through the winter trees, they can hear me on the snow, hell they could probably smell me on the wind. The lake. I could try the ice on the lake, it’s thick enough this time of year. It would be slow, but I could try moving like I was on skates.

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I remembered that the northern side of the slopes nearest the lake tended to be slippery, something to usually avoid but I could use to my advantage, dropping down to slide. Would they know to do this, or would they run at the slope too fast and be surprised by the treacherous drop? I could hope, maybe they navigate the woods by instinct rather than reason, they seemed more like animals, not rational enough to maintain a mental map of potential dangers in the woods.

That could be my advantage, my reason, my logic. I don’t jump to act with blind passion like they do, I’m not prone to fits of rage that cloud my ability to perceive. This could be my saving grace. I could run them through treacherous areas, navigating them safely, using my reason, my human advantage.

***

“There he is, the foul child murderer. He’s headed for the ice slopes.”
“Good, the weakest part of the lake’s surface is there. It is warmed by the current from the city’s drainage. He will break the ice with his fall. We will be on him in seconds.”
We ran, amazed at the foolishness of humans who considered themselves woodsmen, who hunt the innocent for sport and call us monsters.

 

P.S. – I am madly in love with my new book idea, so spending less time wondering about interesting blog posts and continuing the zombie flash thing is probably a trend that will continue for a while.

Zombies Just Wanna Be Loved

I am mortified at my lack of presence here lately. Every day I’ve been wanting to write, but couldn’t. Besides moving back to Tulsa (sigh), there were the holidays, and a few dashes of the kind of drama I don’t really want to go on about here.

And the unpacking, oh man the chaos. We left the trailer looking like a tornado went through it. I had to deep clean everything and start reorganizing before I could unpack. The two year old “helped”, so naturally it went painfully slow. I only found where she put my hair brush yesterday.

It wasn’t just that I couldn’t write, I couldn’t even find my coat and shoes for two weeks after we got back. I had to run around in my bathrobe and slippers that I was wearing for the drive down here. I’m still not done cleaning and unpacking. At a couple of points I was down with the flu. Also, with fibromyalgia, winter is always a struggle. And as I said in a brief update post, I didn’t even have a laptop cord for a while.

I’m throwing out a list of excuses, but there’s a point to it. I feel so guilty for missing so many posts, but the main reason is not how busy I was (that happens to everyone). It’s because I used up my emergency posts during the packing, move, and surrounding chores the first time we relocated in October. I figured my stash would build up again the way it was created, by occasionally writing an extra piece or two as relevant ideas occurred to me.

I mean, surely I wouldn’t need to dip into my extra writing folder too many times so quickly after depleting it, right? Sigh. I’m old enough to know better, and how tempted fates get mischievous. I want to be a professional writer and here I am skipping posts frequently.

So, I learned. I shall apply this lesson immediately. My next few posts will be brief, just a simple bit of flash, so I can focus on building up my stash again (during cleaning breaks). I’m going to pull a single tarot card out of my deck each week and use it as a prompt, posting the resulting story without any of my usual blathering on about aspects of my life that impact my writing, until I have a safety net back in place and my house is less chaotic. I mean, I’d say clean, but I love writing too much for that to happen.

P.S. – Post title is a song reference.

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Cake

I can hear their cries for the boy over the incessant banging. I know the ancient chest of doors barricading the door is heavy and sound, but I’m worried about the bookshelves covering the windows. Can they be tipped over the couch that locks them in place?

I smile at my new little friend, cold and muddy from his run through the forest. “No reason to worry,” I lie, “We only need to hold out just a little longer and help should arrive.”

“That’s what my dad said.” My heart sinks with grief at the insane cruelty of the human race. Whatever madness caused this mob, at least it will be easy to get justice for his family. “Well, help is even closer now. I tell you what, we don’t have to listen to them. Let’s turn up the radio really loud and go eat cake in the kitchen while we wait for the police.”

He held my hand and followed quietly, but I could tell that trying to turn his crisis into a party was a mistake. I didn’t know what to do other than to try and be chipper though, it’s what I’ve always done.

I pulled out the leftover cake I was fortunate to have on hand, and placed the chef’s knife next to it. “Would you mind setting the table?” I asked as I rummaged in the dishwasher for a pair of forks.

“M’am?” He asked shyly. I looked over my shoulder and froze as I saw the blade in his hand. “I’m not hungry for cake.” He smiled, and I realized I had been wrong to assume the blood on the corner of his mouth had been his own.

Crush: Also A Tarot Story Prompt.

This week, I will post just a little early, because this is my favorite day of the year, so I thought I’d show you a trick that might kick your inner muse in the butt if she’s being stubborn.

Seeing as how I have a little bit of the heavy flirtation with all things Goth in my well-spent youth, I seemed to have picked up the skill of reading tarot cards.

There is an ongoing dance of elemental archetypes going on in the cards, something that storytellers should be aware of.

If you care to start browsing well written books on the subject, such as 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, you might find that there is a magnificently complex dance of psychological archetypes throughout the cards. They are built to reflect the story of man’s spiritual journey from birth to death, as well as aspects of our intellect, passion, emotion, and material world.

They are built to remind us of different aspects of being human and the lessons we learn along the way, which is exactly what writers try to communicate.

Do I believe in the tarot? I’m not going to answer. It’s more fun for me that way.

I DO believe you can use the tarot for therapeutic introspection. I will always admit that.

Also, story prompts. Which you don’t have to know how to read the tarot to use, every deck comes with a little reference booklet. In the description of the spread, I paraphrase one of my booklet’s suggestions – my booklet is seriously awesome because it suggests how to best survive a zombie apocalypse and it has just the most wonderful everything.

I use a 3 card draw that some people interpret as “past, present, future”, but I say:
The Seed: 7 of Swords reversed. Theft, sabotage, deception. Beware of the person who keeps fondling your ammo.
The Tree: VI The Lovers. Romance, sex, blinded by passion. Warning: undead lovers may rip out your heart.
The Fruit: 6 of Hazards (Pentacles). Generosity, favors, rewards. Beware of false generosity; they may expect something in return later.

So what you do next is interpret the meaning in the context of the position. It may take a few minutes of brainstorming up a few and narrowing it down to your favorite. I came up with this as my prompt:

The Lovers grew from failed deception, then bore the fruit of false generosity and entrapment.

So I have:

Crush

He liked it when I didn’t call bullshit on his stories. He liked that I smiled demurely, and took it as flirting rather than modesty. He believed himself the cure for whatever it was I needed. With his magic wand.

He thought himself the hunter of me, he thought me kittenish and conquered. He thought I would lay down and be his prize, and in the morning, he would leave with my heart in his pocket.

He did not like it when I showed him I intended to leave with his instead.

Come to think of it, the story has a lot to do with adaptation itself…

I miss one major thing about the trailer. Magnificent childproofing from one end to the other. Even if I didn’t get time to retreat to my writing desk where I could write uninterrupted, I could still place my laptop on the bar, out of her reach, and write while sitting on a bar-stool. All within reach of my coffee pot, and an easy view of Princess Tomboy wherever she may be.

It is not so easy to write around her here. Every room has nooks and crannies I need to keep her out of, there is no spot where I can see all the places she likes to play. And chores keep eating up my “yay, the baby is sleeping” time.

I mentioned recently that I realized I can get writing time on walks, but it’s starting to get cold, so walks will get shorter and then non-existent soon. But I will persist.

I’ll carve the time out relentlessly, until I find enough solutions to give me what I need to focus. In the meantime, I have tricks to try to keep reminding me of my current story-lines, so I can work things out in my head.

This sounds better in theory than practice. Most of my papers in college were worked out in my head during chores and showers before I sat down to write them once my son went to bed. He was older though, and she is at an age where she is far more distracting and exhausting.

Thankfully, my tricks will let me keep the motivation to snatch whatever time I can, and when she distracts me I have continual reminders to pull my head back in that game, so that hopefully (by the third or fourth try), I can finally manage to finish a train of thought.

Ambiance noise is a big part of it, sounds of wolves in a thunderstorm kept me company when diving into The Raven, sounds of busy urban settings are helping me nourish this particular story.

I go about my day with my noise-canceling headphones helping me maintain a suitable environment, and I doodle in small bursts when she lets me, something easier for me to pick up and put down than writing. Though the distraction does seem to decrease the quality of my art.

Ah, the sacrifices we make in the joy of raising our little chaotic monsterlings.

Here is how I’m maintaining focus on a story to illuminate the word Grim, for my Poe’s Raven Eggs project.

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I doodle on this and keep my notebook near, jotting down bits and pieces to organize and develop as soon as I get the chance.

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This particular bit was me focusing on sensory details, in preparation for an exercise I like to do based on what I learned in the book A Writer’s Guide to Active Setting: How to Enhance your Fiction with More Descriptive, Dynamic Settings by Mary Buckham.

My next step is to come up with a setting and put my character in it, and just imagine it from their point of view for a little bit, allowing the passage to show characterization through how they react with the environment:

The air is turning crisp, each breath slightly sharp and refreshing, with the bright scents clear from the morning dew. Low clouds blanket the sky, allowing me to stray a little further from the safety of the tunnels, to stay in the open air just a little longer, enjoying the fetid breeze from a nearby dumpster, ripe with the heady aroma of aging meat.

The comforting scent of wet stone, the quiet hollow shadows, glittering glass reminding me of the old caverns and their hidden sparkling treasures, a home lost to me so long ago.

The occasional echoing screeches from the heavy machines, twisting and echoing in the tunnels to distort like the cry of raptors singing the joy of the hunt, cheer my soul.

At this point, I know where I’m going to go with the story, and I do have to say that this process has helped. Only because it’s chaos here as the toddler grows stronger, faster, more cunning.

I was really worried as I worked on the picture of the Raven’s nest (which I want to redo soon). Ideas didn’t seem like they were coming, and I was in dismay that I might have to face the possibility that I had the dreaded writer’s block.

Thankfully, It looks like I’m carving my own way out just fine. Slowly, but I will persist and I will adapt.

The Eggs Are Starting To Mumble

I may not have done a lot of writing for this week, but my enjoyment of this poem just keeps going up. I figured that by this time I’d be wanting to move on to my own words, but instead I decided I want to memorize it, write it down, make it pretty, and carry it with me everywhere.

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I know the colors are a little saturated for a lord from the Night’s Plutonian shore, but I’m wanting to do a wax resist. It’s been so long since I’ve tried that, I might as well say I’ve never done it before because I don’t remember a lick about it. If I ruin my raven in the process, I’m gonna cry.

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And then do another one because I might ultimately be wasting my time, but let’s face it, I’m a housewife with a very active baby girl who seems every bit as adventurous as her momma. I just want need something to do that keeps me sane in the middle of chaos, even if it’s not churning out a lot of writing at this point.

I will though, I have shadows of meaning lurking in the corners of my imagination, tantalizing me, whispering my name from the branches of barren, twisted trees shrieking in the wind.

A few brief pieces have fallen from my head this week. I was browsing around and ran across a prompt for a beautiful sentence, and right then and there I surprised myself with this:

In silence, I caress the silk, months of my strained eyes and pricked fingers as I stitched the delicate symbols, stained with the blood of my labor, and now my fresh tears as I know that as I finished the shroud I must finish his life as well.

So my ability to come up with flash seems to be improving. That’s nice. Not sure if it was because of this project or the skill books I’ve been reading lately. I’ll be writing up a page on those soon, a recommended reading type page.

P.S. – I have decided that rather than posting with a loose deadline of “sometime on Thursday”, I’m going to make it a scheduled posting at noon on Friday and see if that doesn’t help me reach more people.