The Plain Beyond

17 08 2015

The summer months are for demons and devils they say. Hot weather and hellish humidity offer stinging previews for the evily inclined. Its hard to disagree, looking back at those days. June was disastrous, July was no better. Hell found its way into every crack and crease of life those first few months. But as they say, it was a sick preamble to the woes to come. 

There wasn’t much left out in the reaches already. War had laid the once bustling orbitals low. The great rings of iron dock and post no longer hugged the planet close at its waist. Now the greatest constructions in the history of that world hung like rusted halos around the necks of long dead angels. The armistice that followed paled in significance to the fallout. Some of that iron plummeted to the surface, smashing cities and townships alike, scarring the earth and killing its people. 

Doomsday became the official religion, cannibalism became kind of vogue, and coveting was the mildest thing you could do to your neighbors’ ass.

The day to day is a real bitch.

As the great doors to the vault swung ponderously outward on their hinges, the event was heralded by the torturous screech of metal that hadn’t been oiled in decades. Light spilled into the cavern beyond bathing a filthy face in gold. 

Shilo stepped beyond the portal doing his best to cover his eyes. At one time he had worn sunglasses on these rare excursions but they had been smashed to pieces on the last trip out. He was much like the rest of his neighbors; thin and frail wearing a dull gray jumpsuit that had belonged to who knows how many people. His hair was the color of dirt and about as clean. His face was smudged with motor oil and sweat, and a sad canvas pack hung from his back. 

Two others joined him. They weren’t much better off. 

Shilo turned to his companions, “Any idea how many?” He tightened the shoulder straps, eyeing the others. They shook their heads, preoccupied with what might be around them. 

Their complex was cut into a single mountain that dominated the surrounding landcapes. The magistrate likened it to a beacon he learned about in a book from a place on the old world; a city built on a hill that attracted people from miles around. He had never seen it. No one had.

It was just a mountain to Shilo. A mountain that hid his home, much like the rest of the complexes spread around the plain. The three began the trek down the low trails that would lead them amongst great boulders, big as houses, before giving way to the rolling fields of grains and tall grass beyond. There were others out there. 

Today they might finally find one. 





Friday Night Fire Fight

12 09 2014

Well look at that it’s Friday. What say we just make the whole week a fiction week, yeah?

Oh and this one is kind of messy.

trailer

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The whining of strained hydraulics weren’t enough to drown out the screams.

“Someone put her out already!” A man in a white coat stained with blood spatter shouted at a half dozen women around the table. Upon its surface the screeching, bloody highlight of the night’s latest casualties writhed, batting away restraints and making the administration of drugs a near impossible prospect.

“Fuck it.” Came a static encrusted voice as another man pushed his way through the women, his massively armored frame making the nurses seem like children. The man hefted a huge pistol over his head and brought it down hard into the face of the screaming patient. At once she was silenced, not having the opportunity to register her orbit shatter before losing consciousness.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” a nurse grabbed at the large man’s arm trying to usher him away. He knocked her back without difficulty, aimed the pistol and fired. A thunderous boom and blinding flash filled the room momentarily before the remaining staff was hit by fresh red mist and chunks of meat as the nurse’s head exploded like a hammered grape.

The medical staff recoiled and backed away from the giant. “Today doctor.” The armored suit spoke before returning to his place on the wall. The team resumed applying restraints and running IV’s to administer a massive cocktail of pain killers and antibiotics. No one dared a glance at their number that now lay dead on the floor.

This was best. This woman wouldn’t have lived long enough to get drugs if that monster of a man hadn’t stepped in. She was tiny, even compared to the medical staff, all normal human beings; her frame was particularly petite. Standing she was less than five feet tall, her young face was scarred with more battle field hours than should ever be visited upon a child.

“She’s set doctor.” Said a nurse.

“Okay, start popping the mods, everything below the neck and above the waist needs to come out.”

The girl’s clothing had been cut away to allow the staff unimpeded access to her most serious injuries. There was so little flesh in parts of her torso that a selection of drills, saws, and welders that wouldn’t typically see the inside of the OR had to be brought in. Only the tiny girl’s breasts and part of her midriff was still flesh, the rest having been given over to mechanical replacements; flashy ones.

“Mods are out, everything left is hardwired.”

“Shit.” The doctor started drilling into her abdomen, above the flesh of her belly, deep into the metal cavity that held her heart. He stumbled when it broke through. That was the hardest part. He removed the drill and snatched a long fiber optic cable from one of the nurses and started snaking it in, staring at a monitor suspended from the ceiling that let him see her insides.

The lights flickered. An explosion rocked the doors into the OR. The two armored behemoths standing watch near the operating table nodded to each other, unslung huge rifles from their backs and made for the door.

The doctor wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his sleeve, eyes glued to the monitor as it struggled to maintain functionality. The auxiliary generators were already running, if power was interrupted that would be that.

The bloody vision of the girl’s heart loomed into view.

“Holy shit we were right, it was the heart. Quick, get the cells in there before we don’t have juice to run the little bastards anymore.”

A nurse screwed a thin vial into the end of the cable. A metallic, mercury-like liquid sloshed around inside. “Go.” She said, and the doctor plunged the contents into the cable. A moment later the camera feed registered the liquid dispersing into the cavity, coating the girl’s insides with quicksilver.

The OR shook as another explosion threw pieces of ceiling and floor tiles around the room, knocking the doctor down. Another of the nurses fell dead beside him, a disgusting amount of shrapnel lodged into her face, throat, and chest.

Gunfire pulled his attention to the OR entry doors were one of their monstrous guards was blazing away at an unseen foe beyond. The other of the pair lay motionless on the ground. One of his pauldrons had been blown away, little arcs of energy flicked between the door and his helmet visor where a long metal rod had forced it’s way through.

“Charles what do we do?” Another of the nurses screamed to him from around the other side of the table.

“What?” his attention was pulled back and forth between the door and the nurse. He didn’t know what to do; this wasn’t something he was trained for. He was scared. He was breathing far too quick to think clearly.

There was a loud gritty scream ending in a sharp gargle.

He saw the remaining guard impaled by an impossibly long sword.

The giant’s torso was separated from his legs with a single flick of the man-sized blade.

Another explosion rocked the building, the horrifying sound of twisting metal and collapsing structure screamed from the floors above them. Then there was light, hot, and bright, and a thunderous clap of another detonation.

And sleep came rushing in.





Wednesday Fictioning Day

10 09 2014

Hey there. Its Wednesday. I have decided once again to assault you with another random bit of short fictioning.

I know ‘fictioning’ isn’t a word. I’m a professional though so it’s okay. 

Trust me.

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It was only when he began to slow unintentionally from exhaustion that he realized part of the problem was that he was rushing against a crowd trying very hard to get away from wherever he was headed. Seeing it as the best way to lose the crazed old Prefect he pushed on eventually exiting the rush of bodies into an open hall that ended in two massive iron doors. Across the center of each warnings flashed in a recessed strip that bathed the immediate area in pale orange light. Below the caution symbols were the words ‘pressure doors’.

What the hell?

“Governor!” came a tired scream from behind him. Albert had caught up. “That’s it.” He continued. The old man was in rough shape, the loss of blood finally seeming to have begun to affect him. The lower half of his robes were entirely red now, the tips dripping a red trail behind him.

“You don’t have to, it doesn’t need to be like this.” Said Joss.

“Give me the damn data card!” the Prefect screamed. He was frothing at the mouth, crimson bubbles popping at the corners of his mouth. 

As he continued to stumble his way onward, Joss finally noticed that the doors were not exactly the same. A pin prick of light caught his eye along the exterior of the blast door to his left. A scratching sound followed along with it.

Albert slowed to a stop, eyes fixed on the same door. Apparently he had noticed it too. Without warning another set of thick steel doors slammed shut further down the hall separating the two men from the large open area they had fallen into. An automated voice chimed a warning over a speaker system in the hall.

“Explosive decompression imminent.” It reported.

The two looked at one another, the fight suddenly drained from the old man. He dropped the knife. It clattered beside him on the ground.

The blast door exploded forward, halting as the sudden change of pressure pushed it back the other way. It caught on something and tipped flat against the floor before being sucked out into another large area, littered with broken glass. Joss lost his feet and he and Albert tumbled out together. On the other side , a ship with cargo ramp open hovered, an odd collection of men in respirators and maintenance suits crowding the ramp.

Joss could feel the oxygen rush from around him, his breath threatening to do the same. As he and Albert were blown out of the hall, the crowd gathered at the mouth of the ship jumped and grabbed to catch him.

A heavy gloved hand wrapped around Joss’ arm and he was pulled down onto the ramp which he could feel start to incline beneath him. The sound of rushing air blasted past him and the last thing he could hear before slipping into a black state of forced sleep was a familiar voice screaming over a crackly speaker.

“Hench! Get us the fuck out of here!”





TOTALLY RANDOM FICTION

8 09 2014

Hey it’s Monday!

Have a random story snippet!

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The tune started like so many others. It was drunk and melancholy, drifting through back alleys and dark places, wrong turns, and dead ends. Notes, creeping like a serpent searching for a meal, hung on the coat tails and cloak hoods of any poor soul they could find. It was a heavy and oppressive music, a wonder that it could float at all from the twisted, hateful pipes that hung from the top of the old lighthouse, deep in the bay. Every night it would yawn over the harbor enrapturing sailors and drunkards and anyone else that would listen.

“It calls to me.” The meek would say.

“Rubbish.” The drunk would declare.

Repent, repent!” The pious would scream.

Garabaldi kicked a can off the edge of the pier, a sharp metallic sound echoing a short way out over the water before being drowned out by the dirge from across the harbor. The waves crashed against the old stone dock so high as to breach the top, soaking his black trousers and boots with salty splashes. He ran his hand down his shoulder wiping away an ever-present slick of water from his leather jacket. It was long and embroidered on the back was an iron nail on a field of red, the symbol of justice in what passed for a place like Bergen’s Bay.

Across his back was an old rifle, fitted for an army of an age long gone. At his side was a pistol of an entirely different era and a machete made from salvage metal. A wide brimmed hat, brown and beaten kept the rain off his face. He thumbed the machete handle, watching the light house torch spin about illuminating dark clouds in the sky. It was mesmerizing when paired with the droning of the pipes.

“And what brings the Bay’s youngest law man down to the pier?” the voice was deep and crackly; a smothered tone that hinted at ages of smoke. “I don’t imagine you’re just down for a visit, eh Garabaldi?”

“It’s too early. The house ain’t piped up at this hour in forty years. We got any traffic so far Bob?” the raspy sounding man cracked his knuckles and started to button his jacket. It was long and grey and torn; a family heirloom that once meant a whole hell of a lot more.

Things take on whole new meanings in Bergen’s Bay, usually empty ones.

“Actually no, nothing in the harbor near as I can tell.” He said, pulling a fat moleskin notebook from an inside pocket. He thumbed through the pages and said, “Looks like this may be the first time in a long time. According to the old records, hey look at that – forty years.”

Garabaldi plucked a cigar from a little belt pouch and lit it.

“What’s it mean?”

“Don’t know, Bob.” Garabaldi said. “You better see if you can call over to the light house. See if Bo knows something.”

“Me? Why do I have to call?” Bob choked.

“You’re the only one with a phone that works, now call him you damn fool.”

Before either could move the pipes stopped. Calm settled over the water in the bay. Only the lapping of water against the old pier could be heard. Not even the usual sobbing that accompanied the night was heard, no sign that the usual thugs and no good cancerous people of Bergen’s Bay were out.

But it was not to last and no sooner had Garabaldi resumed prodding the old bay master than the pipes let out another unexpected blast of sound. The noise wasn’t the usual droning, it was deep and angry and violent. The dock shuttered beneath them, the vibrations rumbled deep in their chests, numbing their bodies. The stone began to splinter and crack, the furthest reaches of the pier crumbling to dust, spilling into the water.

Deep in the harbor, beneath the surface, something stirred.





Terrifyingly Frightening Horror

15 03 2014

What makes you afraid?

The dark? Closets? THE DARKNESS IN CLOSETS?!

I remember one of my classes sophomore year of college touched on fear on our desire to explore it. It was literary theory, criticism, or philosophy. It was one of my history courses; The Rise of the Nazis.

Yeah you heard me.

Nazis.

Weird right?

Well aside from the fact that Nazis are kind of terrifying if you really think about it, there was a lot going on in Europe that contributed to the horror mindset. During the years prior to Nazis being any sort of a thing, Germany was in rough shape. Living there post WWI was a nightmare in and of itself.

Hyperinflation destroyed the mark, which made it good for fire kindling and not a whole hell of a lot else. The government was about as unstable as it gets and unemployment was spiraling out of control. The government released cookbooks on how to use sawdust to make your bread go farther for gods sakes.  

And yet, with its growing list of ailments, Germany flourished in a creative sense. Horror was on the rise. We saw scary movies the likes of Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari.

My take away from that class was the idea that as a nation’s poverty and economic turmoil grew so did the propensity to explore the Macabre. People turn to it in some depression-fueled reaction. Is that why we like horror stories?

It’s illogical. It’s primal. Somewhere in the dark and wacky recesses of your brain, where the primal urges and cautions lurk, you want to see this stuff. Your animal brain wants you to feel like that animal again. It wants you to be that primitive creature you once were that needed it so much.

Or maybe it doesn’t. I’m just rambling at this point.

This post is inspired once again by my tandem-writing project. I won’t give you details as we are still figuring it out ourselves, but we have arrived at a place that has me…stumped? I don’t think that’s the right thing to say. I know where I want to go with it.

Here’s the thing.

Where the story has left off, I have been presented with the opportunity to introduce something frightening. I have the lobby of a ruined skyscraper, a naked girl, and a shotgun-toting mountain of a man to assault here.

I need something that lurks in the dark burned out places in the world waiting to snatch you into the black ala Darkness Falls. Remember that movie? It sported a tooth fairy-esque-witch-monster-thing. Yeah.

 

So that’s what I’m thinking about; creature creation. How shall I go about building something original and suitably terrifying?





Doing It With A Friend

10 03 2014

What do you enjoy doing with your friends?

Lately for me, it’s been writing.

I recently began a little writing project with one of my close friends. Wasn’t my idea sadly but I am thrilled to be participating in it nonetheless. It started off as an endeavor in cooperative storytelling. It still is mind you. I realize that phrasing makes it sound like it took a terrible turn for the worse but that is not the case.

The whole thing was very well planned out ahead of time. I think the conversation went something like:

Friend: “Hey man, you know what we should do?”

Me: “What?”

Friend: “We should totally write a story together.”

Me: “Done.”

And now you have the inside details.

Seriously though, we didn’t plan this thing at all. He fired an email off at me one day with a paragraph of what would start this monumental undertaking of literary, uh, genius. At any rate it didn’t take us long to run off with it and start to expand.

What started as an exchange of paragraphs has now grown into the exchange of larger chunks of fiction churned out amongst the cries of small children, the sometimes angry buzz of wives/girlfriends, and other such obstacles one runs into during such projects.

What I find most interesting about this whole thing is where it is going. In the beginning of this thing we decided to eschew any sort of plotting, world building, story boarding or any other sort of thing ending with ‘ing’. The idea was to build as we went and see what the other could come up with.

It’s been a sick game of back and forth challenges. I picture him at his computer sometimes screaming, “Ha, finish that thought Brindle!”

Sometimes.

It’s been enlightening. We are moving along at a reasonable pace and honestly it has been a rewarding exercise so far. In a sense I feel like I’m receiving a bit of instant feedback in my storytelling. A literal example of ‘I think it would be neat if this happens next.’

What are we going to do with it? Don’t know. Publish it and make millions of dollars to share between us maybe!

And by maybe, I mean, naturally.

Now. Go here and read this. It’s a little something over at Ermiliablog that made me think of what I’m doing here. Oh and don’t worry, my friend and I aren’t so focused on tea.





Scrawling a Bit of Fiction

17 02 2014

So it seems to be the time of week where Ermilia provides us another visual writing prompt. Some people may find a bit of unpleasantness ahead. Here at the press? Well, we’re all adults…by legal definition. Nontheless mature content is ahead.

You’ve been warned.

As always the picture is provided by the ladies over at Ermiliablog for their regular Picture it and Write prompts.

water-mask

“So you come to libraries much?”

Lewis looked up from the copy of House of Leaves he had been buried in for the past hour. A young girl, probably a teen, with a fiery red mane squinted at him through a pair of thin framed glasses.

“What?” he said.

The girl sat down across from him and leaned on the table. She looked over her shoulder around the rest of the library like she was hiding from someone. Lewis followed her gaze around.

“I know what you are.” She whispered.

The scent of brimstone and burnt hair filled Lewis’ mouth and nose. Reflexively he was thinking of smiting this girl. Commencing her to a life of pain and suffering the likes of which she would have only experienced in her worst nightmares. He had sworn off the old ways but if anyone was going to try and stop him from moving on with his life he just might have to make an exception.

“You’re one of those guys who hangs out at like, libraries, and coffee shops, and those weird clubs with saxophones where they wear sunglasses all the time trying to pick up girls.”

Suddenly the imaginative tortures occupying his imagination took a seat to wait for the explanation that was hopefully on its way.

“Why would I want to do that?” said Lewis.

“I don’t know. Maybe you were like, raised in like, maybe, a really religious home or something so now you’ve got really repressed feelings.”

Lewis thought about the long hours talking to God about the condition of the human spirit. The stories that he would tell about time before time. Before any of the world was yet made, even before Lewis’ existence; the really old time.

“Something like that.”

“Right, so you think that the hole you have in your life you can fill with stuff like beer and sexual conquest.”

For a moment he pondered her proper use of the word ‘conquest’.

“You’ll have to forgive me, but why are you talking to me in the first place? I don’t even know who you are.”

The girl stood and brushed off the front of her skirt. “My name’s Girl and I’m here because I think you can do better with your life. I’m here because I could tell you were in need of something. Have you heard the good news of our Lord and Savior?”

Oh sweet irony.

Lewis leaned back in his chair and scratched his head. It was something he had heard humans did when they were attempting to sort out particularly complex problems. It hadn’t worked for him so far but he continued when faced with things he didn’t yet understand hoping that he just hadn’t mastered the process yet.

“Did you say your name was Girl?”

She gave him a single sharp nod. When it became apparent he wasn’t going to be able to focus on anything else she sat down, adjusted her glasses and told him about her parents; Diane and Keith.

He tuned her story out almost immediately. There wasn’t much that Lewis couldn’t tell you about a person. Given a name he could recite every single sinful act a person had ever committed right down to the date and time of day, public or secret. At least so far as the current framework of sin was concerned. And then only the people who subscribed to that particular belief in the first place.
 
Diane and Keith Klemp were a couple that had been fond of engaging in some of the more serious sins during their married years. Major thefts, pride in their criminal ways and of course a slew of sexual nonsense that flooded their part of earth in the 1960’s. Also he felt that he might be able to make a strong case for naming one’s offspring ‘Girl’ as being a sinful act.

Lewis felt her grab his arm and in a flash he was back in Hell.  “Are you listening to me?” she asked. Between them the table still stood, burning and turning quickly to ash. Girl was unaware of the sudden change in environment, a terrible landscape of black stone and fire stretched infinitely outward from them. Volcanoes rained magma and flaming boulders down on throngs of people in the distance. Nearby a bony devil shoveled hot coals into a pit of the recently deceased.

He hadn’t had a reaction like this since he’d retired. As it was, particularly evil acts would stain a person and even the slightest physical contact would offer him a front row seat to the particulars. This little evangelist was suddenly becoming more interesting.

He checked Girl. As expected she had become motionless, frozen in time, her mind likely unable to make sense of the sudden break down in physics and natural law that was occurring around her. Lewis released his arm from her grip and started to walk.

He stopped at the shore of a lake of magma that flowed freely from the ground. Globules of the stuff drifted about over the surface and floated lazily off into the sky with a sentience all their own. These lakes were the start of the whole thing. The source of why he retired. There were three in Hell. Lucifer’s Reflecting Pools is what he had decided to call them. It was a subtle nod to an English monk he used to delight in torturing. That was his name for them and Lewis decided that he’d liked the ring of it.
He skipped a stone across the surface and each time it contacted the magma would tremble and transform into water as clear as a high-mountain stream. He kept skipping stones until the whole thing had changed and a series of rocky steps floated to the top leading out to the center. He continued his walk across the water.

The path led him to an island at the very heart of the lake. It was only about the size of the kitchen in his apartment. He laughed out loud at the thought. Here he was in the middle of Hell thinking about an apartment he rented on Earth. How things were changing.

In the center of the island a stout basalt altar stood. Upon it was a golden cup filled with fire that burned from an invisible source. He dipped his fingers into the flame in the cup and rubbed his eyes. He blinked hard until the sting subsided and walked to the edge of the water where a memory was starting to take place.

It wasn’t much of a memory but it was enough. A young girl maybe seven or eight stood cowering in the corner of her room. Lewis stepped in and instantly became a part of it. The lake, the fire, the little piece of Hell was gone and he found himself standing in a house that smelled like cigarettes and cheap perfume.

He squatted and looked down at the memory of the child. Tears streamed down her cheeks, her eyes fixed on the bedroom door. From another room, screaming and the sound of terrified tears carried down the hall.

“What happened to you?” Lewis asked. The memory didn’t respond of course. For the young Girl, he wasn’t even there. As he asked she gritted her teeth and walked slowly to the door. Girl pushed it open and headed for the source of the noise. Lewis followed.

The hallway was a mess. Pieces of glass littered the floor. Broken picture frames and family photos added to the chaos like bits of sad confetti. The volume of the fighting increased sharply and Lewis looked to see that Girl had opened another door. Profanity and desperate cries poured out. He walked over and peered in as Girl entered the room.
This was a bedroom. Broken furniture was scattered everywhere. Torn curtains lay draped over smashed up chairs and a splintered table covered the bed, the sheets of which were stained with little pools of blood. He followed Girl into an adjoining room, the true source of the commotion.

Her father, Keith, towered over her mother who lay crumpled up beside a bath tub three quarters full of water. His fists were bloody and her mother’s face was bruised and clearly broken. Lewis couldn’t make out what Girl’s father was yelling – that bit of the memory was too fuzzy.  But as he raised his fist to strike her again, Girl lunged at him, the unexpected force hitting him in the back too great to maintain his balance and he fell into the bath tub.

It was easy to tell from the way he fell that he struck his head on the way into the tub. He didn’t move after he hit the water, even so Girl rose to her feet and held the motionless form of the beast that was her father under the surface for several agonizing moments before realizing that it wouldn’t be necessary. She stepped back from the tub and rushed to help her mother, the memory fading as she did.

And he was back on the shores of the old reflecting pool. Lewis remembered the father’s arrival as a particularly satisfying day. He had prepared a delightful table of punishment for the monster that was Keith Klemp. He had never seen Diane though. And that thought brought a smile to his face as he walked back across the lake, to the table and sat down again.

Hell faded away, the world righting itself once more around them. Girl stared at him as if nothing had happened. “Are you listening to me?”

Lewis stood and stuffed the books he had checked out into his backpack.
 
“May I ask you something, Girl?”

“Sure. I’d love to answer any of your questions.” She said, excitedly producing a Bible from her bag.

“When you have nightmares do you ever see your father’s face staring at you from underwater?”

The excitement fled from her. She stared open mouthed as she dropped her Bible on the table. A couple of times she started to say something but seemed unable to piece together a coherent thought despite what seemed to be a monumental amount of effort.

Lewis walked around the table and set his hand on her shoulder.

“People like you are why I retired.”