Category Archives: Flirting

Unseasonable Conditions: Prompting Shakespeare

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Unseasonable Conditions

Prompting Shakespeare #2

“Now is the Winter of our discontent,” Gloucester began but was interrupted in the harshest of ways.

As he cleaned the soggy tomato remains off of his face, he heard from the side of the groundling’s pit where the fetid fruit was tossed from, these chilling words: “It ain’t Winter, you daft foot-licker. We are in Spring, ain’t we?”

From the other side, another tomato was flung, but it missed its mark by a toadstool. Mumbles of agreement, noddings of heads, and a robust “Here! Here!” egged the tosser’s taunting on.

“We had our Winter. Not too harsh, no, not like the good old days.” More mumbled agreements met that statement. “Used to be piles and piles of the shite, big enough to toss a body under and scurry away. Bodies popping up all over the place come Spring. Not, um, like I would know anything about that.”

Another groundling piped up: “When we used to have us a real Spring, not this sodden mess we ‘ave been soaked with. The muck we trudge through on a normal day is bad enough without all this rain!”

A chorus of agreement sounded out. At the tail end of rabble’s babble, a lone voice could be heard from the back of the pit, close to the stalls. “Verily! Verily!” He was beaten to unconsciousness with a flurry of sausages on sticks.

Gloucester, aghast, was being nudged to go, make a good show of it.

He cleared his voice loud enough to draw attention back to the stage. The jumping up and down helped. The audience guffawed loudly, except for the few who were enjoying the sausage whipping they maintained on the “Verily” clotpole.

Taking his royal stance, https://www.shakespeareswords.com/Public/About.aspx once again tried to get his soliloquies started. He got as far as “Now is the…” before a shower of rotten tomatoes spread around, and on, him.

Breaking character, he stomped to the near edge of the raised platform. Tossing his arms up, he yelled: “Now, wait, you bloody wankers!”

Near quiet settled over the crowd. Before Gloucester continued, he eyed one snaggled-toothed crone by the stage. She was brandishing a reasonably large summer squash. Glaring at her, the squash slowly sank out of site.

“Cease and desist this vexing behavior. This is a play. We are merely the vehicles to voice the words of a true master of playwrights. The history we represent is our shared histories. This…”

“Is boring, is what it is,” yelled the first tomato flinger. A cheer went up from the crowds, both groundlings and those in the stalls. A tawdry red-haired wench was now at his side, snuggling up close, drawn by the attention this one was receiving from the crowd.

“Enough! Enough! If you lot would stop with the insults. And the rotten fruit hurling,” Gloucester noticed that the summer squash had reappeared. “And other propulsive objects, then the entire point of our play would show itself. We don’t always need sword fights and constant mayhem.”

The second pipper-upper bellowed out: “But we like them. Why we come. A little blood action on stage boils me own blood!”

Cheers rang out even more raucously around the domeless arena. The PU wound up with a devastating kiss, delivered by the pre-mentioned red-headed wench, who had wound her way towards him upon hearing “boiling blood.” They left in an abrupt hurry.

As they made their way, those left in the pit began a growing war chant: “Fight! Fight! Fight!” It grew in intensity. All the actors knew the stage was lost. Gloucester was last, dragging his feet. He picked up his pace as the summer squash rolled by.

Turning once more in the desperate hope of changing their minds, Gloucester could only fixate on the malicious grin from the hag in the front. He bolted offstage. A hideous cackle followed him.

The stage manager looked at him askance, then hurried off. It was a lonely walk back to the dressing closet. Gloucester didn’t notice, nor care, that the bear and its baiter passed him by. The boisterous cheers let him know; the battle was lost. The stage was theirs.

Shedding the bits and pieces of his costume, and character, sighing heavily with the removal of each piece, William was falling into a dark place. The remaining looked at each other, finally pushing Young Tim on.

“Master Shakespeare, they were just a bunch of ruffians. Huge uneducated ones at that, not hearing the poetry of your words before them.”

“But, the histories…”

Old Tim sauntered over.

“Willie,” he said, slapping his leader on the back. “This is good for the Royals. This bunch? They want fun and depravity. Come, let’s get out of here and put some beer into you.”

Half-heartedly, the company of players left to get malt-wormed.

**********************************************

Author’s Note:

Another prompt from a different writers group was the word “Unseasoned.” Make of it what you will and write. So, ten of us went to task. The above was my take. Stumped, the line from Richard III flitted through my noggin, and here we are.

For those who don’t know, Shakespeare did more than write his plays. He hit the stage with his troupes, as well as taking on several other roles. From what I’ve read, his level of performance was rated from “better stick to writing” to “he gave a good showing.” Make of that what you will for Will.

Click on the link for more facts on The Globe Theater, the groundlings, the stalls, and more.

A site I just found, and now love, is SHAKESPEARE’S WORDS, created in 2018 by David and Ben Crystal. If you are not familiar with some of the words in my tale, this site is an excellent place to find their meanings and much more.

One last thing: Shakespeare’s plays are BEST when you see a heartfelt performance. Reading them, as well, is vital for scholarly pursuits, other educational sharing, and all involved in putting on a production.

Remember: the play’s the thing.

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Unraveling: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Seventeen

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

New? This is a serialized work. Please start on A: A Car In The Woods

AtoZ2019U  UNRAVELING

1963

Eddie drove the T-Bird down the southwest corridor. He had his orders and knew what to do. Eddie passed the car graveyard, 19 rusting hulks that were experimented on and failed. They had success with #20-the Chevy Thunderbird that Eddie was riding in. TB was the shorthand all of the Taken used.

Rolling onto a platform covered in artificial grass and, in this case, artificial ice was step one. Eddie put TB into neutral and nodded his head. The nod was the only signal needed by the unseen operator. The Chevy started to rise the 250 feet to the surface. Step two; check.

Activity was spotted in area 12. The capture of new subject material, human or animal, was imperative. Eddie knew why but didn’t care. His last procedure amped up his aggressiveness; the one before cemented his obedience. It was necessary. Eddie was too integral to terminate, even though he slaughtered two of the newer Taken. Gary was Eddie’s focus. They were just in his way. The room was gassed. Eddie awoke again on a slab. When released from his cell, Gary was nowhere to be found.

Eddie was completely in compliance.

The actual ground cover slid silently open, allowing the platform to take its place. The whir of the locking system was quieter than snow falling. Eddie put TB on Automatic, something new they cooked up below. He flipped a switch, activating pheromone dispersal around the and inside the Chevy. The dial next to it was already set to five: the number of scents that would attract most wild animals. Some humans. Eddie got out, left the door open, and moved into the woods.

TB sat idling.  The car radio clicked on, a dial search ran, and a Country station twanged out of the sole speaker. Eddie stopped moving, wanting to turn around, go back and shut it off. Shaking his head, he continued ghosting away, barking a short laugh. TB knew enough to turn off her radio once she sensed prey in the area.

Eddie went roving.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1968

Everyone was gone. Patricia and Will were on their honeymoon, driving further upstate. Will had never been to the Falls; Patricia had, but she didn’t say so. He was excited, charming, and loving. She patted his knee and moved her right hand to rest on his thigh. Will tried to move her hand back to the steering wheel, but it was back only seconds later. The third time he let it lay. He watched Pat while she stared at the road. She noticed, leaning slightly towards him, eyes still facing forward. Will leaned in, planting a few soft kisses on her cheek.

Later, when Will was the one driving, he got the kisses. Pat was unsuccessful in removing his hand from her thigh even once.

Debra and Tim made sure the house was spick-and-span before they took off. Tim was desperate, bugging his sister over and over, to leave and go search for their father and Schatzi. Debra would just say “Not yet” and continued to clean and nudging him when he slacked off. The garbage was bagged and placed in the bins in the garage.

“Now, Deb. C’mon. Before it gets too dark.”

She looked at her brother. What she saw bothered her a bit. Tim had the same manic look, the same rushing when he spoke, the twitch by his left eye that had finally gone away: this was the Tim of seven years ago. Debra was hoping all of that was gone from his life.

Seeing all that resurface is what drove her to keep agreeing to go with him into the woods. She wanted to keep her baby brother safe as he deserved. Debra wanted to believe her Dad and dog were out there. Wanting did not always mix with the reality of things.

They both donned thick wool coats, even though it was still warm out. Enough of their blood had been shed by the prickly bramble that was everywhere they looked. Tim found old work gloves for Debra. He put on his new black leather ones. Two flashlights, one non-rusted canteen filled to the brim with water, a pair of binoculars, and, unknown to his sister at the time, their father’s old handgun. Tim had kept it oiled and clean all this time. He knew how to shoot. When his mom and sis were out, Tim practiced far from where anyone could hear him.

They set out.

Two hours, give or take, before the sunset and the darkness enveloped the woods.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

1963

Eddie found the Impala station wagon in the ravine. He checked: they were all alive. The need for new subjects was eating at him. Which one? All three? Eddie saw Schatzi in the back. It was too much. The need to bring someone back fought with who was before him. The inner conflict raged inside of his mind. He backed up out of the ravine, not taking his eyes off of Pat in the front.

He went stiff and numb as he waged a brutal battle against his conditioning. The realization of being controlled was the start. A thin crack in the wall they had built inside his mind, but still, it was a crack.

Hiding just close enough, Eddie’s augmented hearing heard their conversation. Hearing it meant it was transmitted to the lab. Eddie didn’t care. His heart did, though. His internal clicking began. Eddie ran further into the woods, his attention wavering until he got the unit to settle down. He stayed, hidden, becoming as still as the bark he leaned against, still able to see the car.

Pat climbed out of the pit, dusting the snow off of her. She found the tracks of the car’s journey and began to follow them. No kids. Advancing, he found them fooling around, Debra ordering Timmy around. Normal. The decision to follow Pat felt like the right thing to do.

He turned and began following her footsteps. He stepped in her indentations, walking only on the balls of his feet. A patch of ice demanded that Eddie had to look for where she went next. As he skated over the icy ground, he realized that he was holding something. He looked down.

His combat knife was in his hand. He had no awareness of drawing it out. He attempted to put it back in its sheath. Eddie fought with himself. Sweat began leaking down into his eyes. He stopped, focused, and finally, he heard the snap that bound the knife in.

The crack inside his head widened as Eddie continued after Pat.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Present Day

Nothing was as it should be.

Everything twisted upon itself.

Everything waited for things to straighten out.

Not everything did.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

 

Kaleidoscope In Her Eye: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Nine

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019K

KALEIDOSCOPE IN HER EYE

 

1967

Mouth agape, Samantha was stunned by what Lisa told her. Tied hands and feet, ass planted on the ground, her back thrust against the cooling VW Microbus, she had no options but to listen. Most everything she thought she knew about Lisa was a lie. She tried to run through memories of their sessions. Nothing stood out that sounded false, and there were the state and hospital records to back things up. She couldn’t understand how wrong she had been. Was still. Samantha’s confidence, already shaky at this point, crumbled even further.

Lisa went back into silence mode after she dropped the bomb. Testing? A glass-walled cell? Samantha was beyond puzzled. She hurt from the beating, the way the ride to this grove battered her along, and the fear she felt about her parents, then herself. It was all just too much.

Mocking laughter brought her attention back to the present. The slap that followed burned on her cheek, her head conking on the body of the VW. Anger welled up as she turned her head back to face Lisa.

“You went away for a bit, Dr. Sam. Isn’t that against your training as a psycho?” She grinned widely.

“Therapist. Psychotherapist,” Samantha spat out, immediately regretting that she let the other woman goad her like this.

“Yeah, yeah. Doesn’t really matter now, does it? So, where was I?” Lisa looked around the site, up to the sky, and turned back to Samantha. She cocked her head to the side. Waiting.

Dropping her gaze, Samantha reluctantly said: “Something about testing.”

“Oh, yeah.” She patted the ground around her, fidgeting a bit.

“Did you know I killed my first guy in this spot? Yes, this very spot. That never came up when we chatted. I think it was six or seven years ago. Yeah. Wasn’t like I meant to, really. Things just got a little out of hand. I wasn’t thinking very straight at that point. Dumped his body here. Blood was everywhere. Everywhere.”

Lisa’s voice faded, her eyes taking a glassy turn. Samantha waited. Moments passed before the narrative picked back up.

“I got back into my brand new car. The very first car I owned outright. Stupid but, again, wasn’t thinking very straight. My driving was just as crooked. Went too fast, hit a tree, and didn’t get much further after they got me.”

Silence.

“They?” Samantha couldn’t help herself from asking.

Lisa shook her head. The wrong looking smile returned to her face.

“Heh. I lied before, just a wee bit. There was no jail cell then. I was spirited away, but the jail? Nah. The glass cell, the rest? That’s what happened after I killed that guy, wrecked my car, and they snatched me up. Yeah, yeah. They. The guys. D Line. They were still controlled, then. Shame. We eventually had some wicked times together. Until it became my job to terminate D Line.”

Samantha bit back saying anything. Lisa went on.

“Boom. Bye Bye. That happened a few years ago. It’s funny in a way. I was their victim at first; in the end, they were my puppies. Rabid puppies, but still.”

Silence.

Lisa stood up, looking around again.

“What the hell is keeping them?”

Samantha continued staring at her.

“Yeah, I don’t know either,” she sighed, sitting again in the same spot. “After some time in the glass being gawked at the rounds of drugs began. Then the operations. More drugs. Physical work. Drugs. Sex. No Rock ‘n Roll. Heh. Things changed. Others got terminated. Weird shit went on in other labs, we heard.”

“My first task when I was deemed ready enough? They let me choose. Guess who I chose, Dr. Sam. Guess.”

“What are you talking about, Lisa. This doesn’t make sense.” Silence. “Lisa!”

This slap was harder than the first one.

“Stop calling me that. Stop. It’s not mine.” A long pause.  “Hey. You didn’t guess.”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. NO! Please, no more hitting. I’ll…I’ll try a guess.”

Samantha raced through all the things she knew-thought she knew-about her assailant. One person stood out as a possibility. It was better to play this insipid game then more pain.

“Your father?”

“Bingo. Right on the nose. Oh, nose. Yours, not so good right now.” Lisa reached over with both hands, wrapping them around Samantha’s swollen snout, and quickly jerked it. Samantha screamed.

“There. Never going to be as pretty as it was. Better than the smooshed thing I left you with. So, yeah. Dad. Two years later, he was still a bastard. Had a new plaything, too. I snuck onto the estate, waited until they were done, and drove my knife a few times through and through. The plaything I took with me. She was next in line.”

“Estate?”

“Yeah. He was filthy and rich. I know. I know. You thought I was trailer trash. Wrong. You got so many things wrong. You couldn’t see straight.”

“I don’t know what to think anymore. Lisa, please…”

“I said don’t call me that. Lisa. Not my real name. The plaything. She was Lisa. Right now, I have no idea what she calls herself. Last time I heard my name was from Daddy’s dying lips.” She laughed. “I bet you’re dying to know what it is, aren’t you?”

Samantha just nodded.

“He blubbered ‘You. Doris, you bitch. You bitch. You’ and then he bled out. It was worth it, in the end.” A noise came from the ground behind her, close to the grouping of the trees. “Ah, finally, damn took their time.”

A fog-like dust storm began to fill the area. It grew dense, and a strong wind circled around, adding debris from the ground to the swirling. Doris/Lisa stood up and brought Samantha up with her. It was hard for her to stand. She was held up by the others hand pressing into her chest and wedged against the Microbus side.

A continuous barking sound began, coming from the middle of the twister. The wind died away and everything blown about landed on the ground. In the center was a car. Red, shiny. Doris/Lisa was humming; a Beach Boys song, but Samantha couldn’t concentrate enough to remember the title. What she saw in the car frightened her even more then she had been a second ago.

It was a dog. Huge. Barking like mad. Samantha was shaking. She had never seen such a malformed creature. Lisa/Doris began laughing.

“Girl! Girl! Oh, this is just the icing.” She walked towards the car and beast. There was nothing to keep Samantha upright. She fell face forward, the pain knocking her out for a few moments.

She came to quicker this time. Something had changed. Her legs. They were all pins and needles, but they weren’t tied anymore. As she tried to wake them up, the barking stopped and became a horrible growl. Then there was a scream. One long shattering scream.

Her arms were being lifted.

A soft voice spoke into her ear: “Shhh, sweetie. Relax, relax. You’ll be safe now.” Samantha was crying; the man who spoke was rubbing her hands and forearms, helping the circulation move along.

The wailing scream began to die down and went silent. The barking started up again, turning into a piercing howl.

He spoke again: “Sweetie, listen. The keys to the VW are on the driver’s seat. Give yourself a few minutes. Your feet and hands will thank you. Leave here. Don’t look back.”

Her tears stopped flowing. Testing, she slowly began to rise. It hurt, but she could do it. Leaning against the van, Samantha looked around. No man, no dog, no car. No Lisa. She hobbled over the grove, searching in vain. Nothing was there.

The hobble turned to mild limping to walking by the time she reached the VW Microbus. Getting inside was a bit of a problem, but Samantha did it. She closed the door, started the engine, and drove away.

The hospital was her first destination. Once inside the ER, the fussing over her began: her nose was reset, a cut on her head was stitched up, and the hospital staff swaddled her in bandages. They finally put Samantha in the same room as her mother. She’d have a scar on her head after smashing it on the side window, but she’d live. Her father had one broken leg as well as his left arm. Scar too. He’d live as well.

Someone had called the Sheriff. He arrived as they were all together, tears mingling from the three enough to create a tiny river of their own. He was shooed away by all three. He’d get his full statement in the morning. Samantha assured him it really was all over. Details would follow. He nodded, smiled, and left.

Everyone was released over the next two days. Recuperating at home didn’t sit well with any of them; they wound up at their clinic helping others while the staff buzzed around the three of them. Samantha finally relaxed. Her parents would be ok. They’d live.

She booked a flight for the next day after a very long cry fest with Vanessa. She hadn’t known what was going on and was worried sick. Diving into the work in the Haight kept her as sane as she could be.

Vanessa met Samantha at the gate. They fell into each other’s arms and didn’t let go until the next morning. Samantha was dragged around, moving in and out between the throngs of hippies, avoiding the police and the protestors. Vanessa showed her the best places, in her opinion, to eat, drink, and make merry. Sammy shared those opinions.

A day at the street clinic rejuvenated Samantha. She kept catching Vanessa looking at her, smiling. She smiled back, and then it was the next patient to be taken care of.

That night, they went to the park and grooved with everyone else listening to some freeform rock. Vanessa even got Samantha to drop a half tab of acid with her. They flew together, sailing under the stars, letting the music fill them as they danced, danced, danced. This was magic. Everything else blew away.

Samantha didn’t notice that a 1958 red Thunderbird had crept through the crowded street just beyond the park’s border. The horn honked once. Then it was gone.

 

Present Day

Some would say “Poor Doris.”

I wouldn’t.

She overstepped one time too many.

Her master’s voice took on a different meaning after that.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Cravings: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods; Chapter Two

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019C         CRAVINGS

 

1960

It was a nice day for a drive.

Doris was still giddy, breaking in her new Ford Falcon. It was a far cry from the family sedan that her father, grudgingly, had allowed her to occasionally drive while she was living at home. He always acquiesced.   She went away for college, their ties fraying further. After graduating Doris dove into working with a local theater company. It didn’t pay much, but that really wasn’t an issue for her.

Her grandmother, Beverly, left her a nice trust fund that partially kicked in at 21, fully at 25. Her father ruthlessly oversaw the trust.  The allotted monthly allowance allowed Doris her own small apartment, with enough left for food and other incidentals. But not for what she desired. She wanted her own car. To move around freely, not needing a favor from anyone. He initially refused. Doris was fed up; it took some brutal persuasion with her father to change that. A ruthless haggling session soon followed. Her father swore he was done with her.

Doris didn’t care. She owned a car!

The day she set out was cloud free, the sun’s rays beaming brightly along the countryside she was passing through. Her scarf kept her long brunette hair in place, letting the wind whip through open windows. Doris had no firm destination in mind beyond “go north.” The new interstate road was an easy choice; it wandered up and around, passing through towns both large and small. Close to three hours into her expedition, Doris saw a sign for a town she had never heard of. The road to it veered off to the left from the interstate.

Doris pulled over to the side of the road, the Falcon purring as it idled. “Go adventuring, or stay on the interstate” she murmured to herself. Looking at the car’s dashboard, Doris noticed that she’d need gas sooner than she had thought. Her stomach’s grumbling sealed the deal. Checking for traffic, Doris put her left arm out to signal she’d be making a left back onto the road. The arm stayed that way as Doris made a left onto Outlook Road.

Twenty-odd minutes later, Doris nosed the Falcon into a spot in front of the Outlook Diner. She had already filled the Falcon’s tank at the station on the edge of the town. Putting the car into Park, Doris pulled up the emergency brake and turned off the engine. The pings of the engine cooling down sounded at her back as she entered the diner.

The waitress behind the counter pointed to the overhead letter board menu and told her to sit anywhere she’d like; she’d be over to take her order in a jiffy. A couple of booths were available, as well as some of the counter seats. Doris walked to the back corner booth, sitting, so she had a view of the entire Diner. The waitress soon glided over with a steaming pot of coffee, reciting the day’s soup and special.

It wasn’t a hard choice for Doris. First, she declined the coffee. Then she ordered her usual.

“I’ll have a grilled cheese with tomato, please. Oh, and a Chocolate Malted.”

The waitress wrote it down, nodded, and melted away behind the counter.

Doris arranged, then rearranged, the silverware that had already been set. She was reading the placemat, every now and then glancing around, taking notice of the various people, their clothing, and catching bits of conversations around her. The food and drink shortly arrived. Doris took a long sip of her malted, closed her eyes slightly as the taste hit her tongue, and she let out a very satisfied “Ah!”

A laugh came from the counter area near her. Doris looked over, and her cheeks went pink. She had noticed him on one of her glances: young, around her age, she guessed; cute, by what she saw of his profile; clean white shirt and JEANS; but it was his hair that held her at first. She didn’t know anyone who still wore a Ducktail unless it was in the movies or on TV.

It didn’t matter. She felt it looked good on him.

Doris started to turn away, cheeks blooming red at that point when he walked over.

“Hey, sorry, wasn’t tryin’ to embarrass you. Just thought your ‘Ah’ and the look on your face was really cute.” Once he realized Doris wasn’t going to speak, he added: “Mind if I join you? I’m Al, by the way.”

Al stuck out his hand. Doris lightly returned his strong grasp and nodded for him to sit. Doris fidgeted a little, finally telling him her name. Questions followed, back and forth, the where and whys, a conversation blooming about all the sorts of things that revolved around two young people attracted to the other.

Doris never touched her grilled cheese with tomato. The malted was drained dry. Al had dared her to steal something from the table; they had progressed that far. She complied.

Offering to play tour guide, Al showed her all of the two places that were of any interest in Outlook. “But,” he said with a wink, “there’s this area…”

Nestled in a grove of trees way off the road, the car engine was cold, but the interior of the Falcon was anything but as the sun started to let the evening sky approach. The talking and laughing slowly turned to light kisses, gentle hugs, the stroking of hair. Al didn’t want his DT messed with, which only made Doris go in for the attack.

Which led to deeper kissing, some fondling on her part, then his. Doris’s heart was pumping fast. It matched the level she felt during her last altercation with her father. Her hands were moving along his arms, behind his neck, traveling down his back. She bit his lip. Tongues met.

Then Al, whose right hand had been on her breast, moved down to her leg and slowly caressed her skin, from knee to thigh, to…

Doris pushed Al away, hard enough that the window handle and armrest were crushing his side and ribs.  She yelled “DADDY NO!” while he yelped in pain as he was being pushed into the side of the door. Panting, the two of them eyed each other. Al tried to slide closer to her, only to receive the same treatment. A string of uncomplimentary words left his mouth.

Doris hauled back and broke his nose.

He was on her in a flash, slapping her hands away, slapping her face. Doris’s dress tore as she tried to again push him away, exposing just a glimpse of the swell of her left breast. Her head thumped against the car door, leaving her prone on the bench seat. Al tugged her down further. Doris’s skirt rode up her thighs. They struggled against the other.

Al knocked her left hand away. Doris had been trying to scratch him, again. Her hand landed on her pocketbook. She reached in, fumbled around, not knowing what…then, she remembered.

He dared her.

Doris grabbed the diner’s knife and fork, moving them so that the pointy ends were turned towards Al, and as her panties were pulled off, she struck.

Again. And again.

And again.

The seats were slippery enough, making it easy for Doris to pull Al out of the car. She left him on the ground, backed up the Falcon, and wobbly drove the car forward.

Except, it was full dark, and she didn’t have the presence of mind to turn on the headlights.  Cutting through the trees at 45 mph, the Falcon met a large Basswood head on.

The car was dead when she came to. Grabbing her bag, she staggered out of the Falcon, blood from a head cut running down to meet Al’s blood on her dress. She was just moving, moving, moving…

Until the silence of the woods gave way to a bone-numbing clicking sound.

 

Present Day

The next night, two teenagers were heading to Make Out Point.  They did what they went to do, started to drive off when the headlights caught the wreck of the Falcon. They both looked: no one was there, but there was blood inside. A lot of it.

The Sheriff and his deputies found nothing, again. Asking around, the waitress told them about the pretty girl and Al. She never mentioned that the silverware was missing from the table.

Sheriff John had had it. Nine people missing, presumed dead, in the last year and a half.

He was going to take early retirement after the weekend.

He never made it.

There was a car in the woods.

 

 

Because The Night: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods; Chapter One

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

 

AtoZ2019B        BECAUSE THE NIGHT

1959

Gary slid down the ice-covered hillside, losing his footing, winding up in a windmill of freefall. The blood trail he left on the way down was nothing compared to what he had run from at the top. Bouncing along, the accumulation of cuts, bruises, and bones breaking, left little for him to think about.

Except fear.

Reaching the bottom, the wind was further knocked out of him as his progress was halted by a tree trunk. The moonlight was spotty, but bright enough for him to see the broken, jagged edges; the tree itself was on the ground. Gaining his breath in painful gulps, he realized that if he rolled more to his right, he might’ve been gored by one of its level branches.

Getting to his knees, the thought came that it was in that position exactly for that outcome.

Screams from above. Tommy? Ricky? He couldn’t tell. John was already in pieces, mixed in with what was left of his Studebaker Golden Hawk. Gary had told him he was driving too fast, but they all told him to shut it.

“Candyass,” Ricky and Tommy said at the same time, then “Jinx!” and punched each other in the arm. “Shut up, Maynard,” laughed John. It was the last thing John was ever going to say to him.

Gary tried to stand, but his body wasn’t having any of it. His pounding heart felt like it would burst through. The screams, getting less frequent and fading away, only made the night’s events explode in his head.

The four of them had been cruising around, taking hits off of the Mary Jane that Ricky scored. It was a school night, and they should have all been in bed, but John called, and that was that. It started out with them all lusting over that Tuesday chick from the Dobie Gillis TV show, as they did more often than not. John liked Dobie and felt he should have a Thalia on his arm, doing the Back Seat Bingo with her. The others teased him that he’d only get a Zelda. That’s when the nipple twisters and arm punches began.

John had started calling Gary “Maynard” first, the others following suit. Gary thought the character was the best part of the show and tried to act like a cool imitation around school. As much as he hated it, the nickname stuck.

From Tuesday Weld to school to Maynard G. Krebs, back to Tuesday Weld, the topic of conversation led to where their collective heads were at since October: the mystery car in the woods. This time, they were fired up enough. Tonight, they would find the car or die trying.

They were right on that part.

They were racing around the back roads, driving up and down dirt paths, laughing and smoking. Ricky reached from the back seat and gave John a Wet Willie. John turned around, an arm raised, and something got in their way.

The car somersaulted along a rocky outcropping, landing back on its tires. Gary had been thrown out of the passenger side window, which had been opened to lessen the weed smell. He landed flat on his back, hitting his head hard on the stony ground. Gary searched for the car, his friends, but his eyes weren’t going along with that. His focus was cutting in and out, so, laying there, he only heard what came next.

Whatever landed on the car was big. The sound was heavy, the Golden Hawk squealing as one by one the tires blew out. Gary heard a door opening, John yelling something. A flurry of wet clicking sounds melded into John’s screams, punctuated by the noise of his flesh being ripped apart.

As John’s wails passed, Gary’s eyesight was getting clearer. He wished they hadn’t. Blood, or what he thought was blood, was everywhere, black in the night instead of red. Ricky and Tommy were probably still in the car, muffled cries coming from the car, and Gary did his best to get up, hoping to help his friends.

But again a huge blob landed on the car. Metal was tearing, a car door was flung, and it barely missed. Gary was backing away, not sure what to do, not sure what was happening. A large thump near him startled him onto a patch of ice, which sent him over, and down, the hillside.

The screams on the outcropping dwindled, with one last yelp of pain. Gary knew that was Ricky this time. It was a solo scream and telling. The clicks were loud and all consuming.

The fear pushed him to move. Crunching, slurping noises now filled the night. A warm stream dribbled down his legs as he hopped from one tree to the next, dragging himself when he couldn’t. The woods were silent except for his exertions.

Pulling himself into a thicket of bushes, cutting and pricking himself more, Gary drew into himself. He was shaking all over, the cold finally reaching his awareness. He quelled his teeth chattering as best he could and attempted to take quiet, shallow breaths. Gary did not move otherwise.

The quiet was overwhelming after a short while. Waiting created anxiety; the anxiety grew until it flamed his fear back to the surface. The fear made him think he was better off trying to get out of the woods. That thinking pushed him to stand up, leave the thicket, and hobble away.

He didn’t get very far when the clicking surrounded him.

Present Day

The remains of the Studebaker Golden Hawk were found a week to the day once all four sets of parents realized their boys were missing. The Sheriff couldn’t put this one off, as much as he wanted to. Popular boys gone missing was not what he wanted to be remembered for. Especially if they were found dead.

Thing was, the car was found. Only the car.

The tires were in shreds. All the windows were just shattered glass, which was how they found the remains as the sun glinted off the pieces on the ground. The Hawk was twisted out of shape, squashed in places, gouged in others. But there was no trace of the four teens. There was no blood.

The search went on, officially, for the better part of a week. The parents and family friends continued a little while longer. Betty Joe Davis, who had wanted to be John’s anything, knew of his desire to find the mystery car. It began to make sense that that was what the boys had been gallivanting after, ending in every parent’s nightmare.

The tales kept growing.

There was a car in the woods.

A CAR IN THE WOODS: #AtoZchallenge

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Prologue

AtoZ2019A A CAR IN THE WOODS

1959

An abandoned car is found in the woods. No road leading in, the dense gathering of trees surrounding it close together. Sunlight barely broke through the thick cover of leaves. The grass was stunted, starving for the light. Prickly brambles grew everywhere.

Nothing the size of that car should have been in there.

Discovered by hunters, Todd Wilson and Barry Carter, who were where they should not have been. Following an 8 point Buck led them on a long, winding chase. The Buck kept his life that day, racing off onto Government land. Todd and Barry knew enough to let it go.

Needing to catch their breaths, both pissed their quarry bounded off, beer was a given answer.  Neither spoke as they chugged; they stared off in the direction of their lost prize.  Todd was on his second beer while Barry was hitting his third. They nodded to each other, tossed the drained cans over their shoulders, and started their way back.

But something shiny caught them both in the eyes. The daylight had moved along just enough. Nothing should have reflected with the intensity that hit them square on. But, something did. Barry nodded and took off in the direction of the glare. Todd followed.

Following the intense gleam, they passed, and ignored, a rusted “Keep Out/ Government Property” sign that hung crookedly on one of the trees. Moving through was becoming tougher, the trees squeezing together. Todd murmured that is like a tree fort. Barry told him to shut it.

The prickly brambles in between the trunks caught at their clothing, drawing enough droplets of blood and curses from the hunters.  They reached the clearing in the middle of all the towering wood. Both stopped, stared, and while Barry’s jaw dropped, Todd whistled. They both loved cars.

They loved this car especially. It came up in every conversation they had about cars. Their visits to the dealer wore out their welcome. Eleven times, with no hint of purchasing any car.

But, here. Their dream car was right before them. Not a soul around; not one they could see, anyway.

A Cherry Red Thunderbird two-door convertible! It was the model they drooled over: it had a 430ci Lincoln Interceptor J-code engine, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seat and a new power top. It had Kelsey Hayes wire rims, front to back chrome accents, and it was smear and dirt free. What made it a little off was the convertible top: stuck, half up, half down. Barry began a low round of giggles. Todd gave him the look, but laughed himself when Barry told him that it looked like it didn’t know if it was coming or going.

Nothing was found to identify the owner.  No VIN numbers, license plate, papers in the car. No stickers on the inside of the car doors, and nothing under the hood. Todd knew that the last of these beauties were produced in August of that year. It was too pristine to be any older. He thought it be something if this was the very last one made.

The inside was spotless, until Todd and Barry ran their dusty, greasy hands all over while they searched. They marred the doors, dashboard, red vinyl seats with white inserts, and even the shiny body. No matter what, the trunk wouldn’t open. Another thing that spoiled the perfection of this vehicle. .

The realization that the forest had been dead quiet didn’t hit them until a series of clicking sounds came from behind them. First one side, then another. The clicking grew in volume and then stopped. They saw nothing. No movement of any kind. There was hardly any wind to blow the leaves high above, no animals loping through, and no bugs buzzing. Quiet surrounded the duo as their nerves started to wither. The sun started its descent. That was enough. Barry and Todd made a hasty retreat.

They made it back to their truck, and sped home. Todd’s wife, Daphne, listened as they went into the whole story, the Buck a ten pointer, the extra miles they chased it, and the Ford, the Thunderbird that had assaulted Daphne’s ears way too many times. Her arms were crossed and her right foot was tapping away. She thought they just drank the day away. The boys insisted. Insisted very loudly and with enough conviction that Daphne had enough. Best way to get some peace and quiet would be to put this in the hands of the Sheriff.

She settled back with a cold one in her hand. She closed her eyes as she heard the Sheriff’s Fairlane start and drive off.

Sheriff John Miner was close to retirement. Close enough that he really didn’t care if there was a car or not.  If he hadn’t gone against his instincts he might have lived long enough to hand in his badge and retire someplace warm. In the long run, he didn’t make it.

The search for the car was a bust. The Sheriff fumed as he dropped the two dopes outside the local bar.

Todd and Barry, meanwhile, made their story profitable, earning free drinks at the Barn House Bar from folks who wanted to know all the details.  As the telling went on, the story…grew. It wormed its way to nearby towns by weeks end, speculations growing along the way. Wherever Todd and Barry went drinking, they set more wheels spinning.

The searching was intense. Many said they found the trees and the clearing, but no TBird. Reports were passed around: the car was glimpsed in Jeffery Hallow. No; it shone brightly at the opening of the large bear cave on Decry Hill. One group said it was by a stream, others in different parts of the forest. Never any proof; it started to slide out of their minds with each disappointment. People stopped looking for the car.

Until a group of four High School students went looking, and they did not come home.

Present Day

There was a car in the woods.

Charred. Rusted. Busted.

Picked clean. Shell just a remainder.

No road. No reason. Just there.

Not always in the same place, but there.

No one knew anything, the how or the why.

Tales grew around it.

Some said haunted. Some said the Devil parked it there. Maybe a UFO, with all the disappearances. Or not. No one was really sure. Most didn’t want to know.

I knew.

There was a car in the woods.

 

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Author’s Note:

Welcome to the 2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge. This is my sixth year participating, going back to 2011, the year I started Tale Spinning.

My theme this year is A Car In The Woods. First installment is above. Not every post will be this long. Length will vary. I just needed the “prologue” to set the tone.

Each time I’ve participated has been very different, from Mystery to Horror, from an Apartment Building’s residents to Road Sign drabbles. I just let the creative juices flow.

A Car In The Woods, as stands right now, will be a serialized tale with some interludes. Kind of like last year’s The Abysmal Dollhouse, but, hopefully, a bit tighter. That’s my goal. We’ll see where it goes.

Comments/Feedback is always appreciated. Check out other blogs who are taking this April’s challenge by clicking on The Master List. You’ll find a variety of blogs that you might enjoy.

TOMORROW, #AtoZ…A Car In The Woods

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A CAR IN THE WOODS

Imagine this…

A writer of blogs, caught in the web of his own making. Unaware of the passing of time.

April 1st didn’t loom.

It pounced, claws sharpened and out, eviscerating the calm he thought he had.

This was a writer with ideas, semi-plans, an insidious inner laugh that sometimes made its way to the surface.

What happens when said writer, so caught up in the travails of his daily life, his existence teetering on the edge of the basest of sanity and the fathomless abyss of madness and despair, is faced with producing 26 tales designed to strike deep in the souls of his readers?

Tune in April 1st, for he is about to enter…

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do do do do, do do do

 

An Ear For It

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“Ladies, gentlemen, Willkommen! And Bienvenue! Welcome! I am your hostess, Ginny Sinclair.” She paused for applause, or some recognition. “Thank you. Well, you are all in for a treat tonight, and I am glad you have taken that step, that chance, to fill your hearts with the music of love among those who love music. Welcome, to our twelfth “Speed Dating for Songbirds!” If I may paraphrase Pablo Picasso: “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

“Our previous get-togethers have helped many of the participants find their perfect duet partner; Contraltos find their Altos, Bassos harmonious with the Sopranos of their dreams. Tonight, I’m sure many of you will get to star in your own Musical of Love.”

Ginny looked out at her crowd. Many were obviously nervous, with a few more put-upon faces dotting around. The smiles of anticipation filled her enough. She hoped. Each gathering drew smaller crowds. Ginny smiled with outer confidence as she walked in the light of the room, her red dress’s sequins casting out tiny bursts, her idea of enchanting them all. Herself as well, as her insides were wavering and withering, counting how many First Seating envelopes she was passing out to the men and women.

Brave face on, she continued her spiel. “I’m glad, so many of you partook of the lovely Italian buffet that Mrs. Chang laid out for us tonight.” A smattering of applause went round, as Mrs. Chang went into the kitchen to take a nap. “Just a reminder, the food is included in your admission price, sadly the wine is not, but…” She looked around, making sure to make eye contact with all, “…but, your hearts, ears, and voices, they are the main course.

Please open your envelopes. They have your Opening Numbers seating. The first of your heartstrings to be plucked. Let the beautiful music of this night begin.” As the assemblage started to make their ways, she added: “Break a leg, but not a heart.”

Charles still had his small plate of linguini with, he thought, clam sauce, in his right hand. The left held a glass of red wine and the envelope. He fumbled a bit, trying to spill or drop anything, finally managing to open the envelope. Pulling out and unfolding it, he looked at a musical notation sheet. Charles saw that he had to find the Middle C/Treble Clef table. It was clever, he thought, and frustrating at the same time. The lighting had lowered when the hostess finished her into.

He was hoping to find the compliment to his clean Tenor. Looking around, he didn’t notice that he was walking right towards Ginny until he bumped into her, spilling some of his wine, dropping the sheet of paper, and almost dumping his plate of linguini. Her red sequins glittered across his face, hiding his blush, as they both knelt, gingerly, to retrieve the seating invitation.

Their heads bumped into each other.

His “ouch” came at the same time as hers, causing them to hold. There was a melding, a perfect counterpoint to the other, rich and, he felt, melodious. They grinned, stood, and Ginny pointed Charles in the correct direction. He nodded his thanks and set off to the table that had been right behind him.

Charle’s first partner was already waiting at the table. Leaning away from the table, he noticed the amount of black she sported, from hair to makeup to dress to fingernail polish. It was those nails that took in his attention as he sat and introduced himself. Silence, except for the drumming of her right hand’s nails on the tabletop, a staccato version of Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt Abhanden Gekommen.”

“Yeah, I’m lost to the world, too,” he thought. He introduced himself again. A long rest took place as she stopped tapping, placing her hand flat down. He waited for the return name. Instead, she took a deep breath, held it, and then purred belted out part of a musical number from “Damn Yankees.”

“Hi, Lola,” Charles answered, glad she forewent the Kinks song. So, he wanted to keep this going, took his deep breath, and sang out “I am the very model of a modern Major-General, I’ve information vegetable, animal and min…”

“DING! DING”

Ginny had rung the bell by her side. “Gentlemen, please move to the table to your right.”

As he got up to move, Charles saw Lola look over to her next. He didn’t say anything as he moved along.

The rest of the evening proceeded to fumble along. Every opening number was met with an interlude, some dialogue, a parting, and the next act would be dinged to change scenes. Some of the women there was really nice harmony going on, meshing but falling flat by the ring of the bell. Others were audition nightmares. Off tempo, musicals versus opera, pop versus blues, folk versus death metal; world apart styles.

In the end, he was a solo act again.

Charles realized he still had his plate of linguini, ice cold now and congealed. He had brought it table to table, losing the wine glass somewhere along the way.

A shrill “You leave. Now!” brought his attention to Mrs. Chang by the kitchen, bus bin on a table to her right where she was flicking ashes from her cigarette as she pointed to it.

Charles quickly moved to deposit the plate and food. At the same time, Ginny, who had been busing the tables at the end, came quasi-running with a single glass that held no wine, not even a drop.

They bumped into each other again. Again, their “Ouch!” rang out true, blending and moving into laughter. Apologizing to each other they continued to laugh.

Mrs. Chang harrumphed and moved them along, locking the door to her restaurant behind them. If they had looked, they would have seen her mouthing something that could have been a song, but in reality, was a string of very inventive curse words.

Ginny and Charles stood there on the sidewalk, smiles plastered on their faces that were slowly starting to fade. It was late, very little foot or car traffic around them. The awkward silence that dropped around them was broken by squealing brakes caused by the traffic light turning red. The glow from the headlights surrounded them.

Charles mouth quirked shyly upwards. Looking at Ginny, he thought of a song by Chicago that had held him ever since he first heard it. “Nothing to lose,” he thought, and began to sing:

After all that we’ve been through
I will make it up to you, I promise to…”

Ginny’s smile resurfaced as he sang. She picked up the next two lines:

And after all that’s been said and done
You’re just the part of me I can’t let go.”

They finished the song together in perfect mellifluousness.

When Nature Calls: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

When Nature Calls

Aphrodite and Helene were wiped out. The evening at Mont Olymopos Club was a success, both on the floor, dancing their tails off, and in the darkened alcoves doing…things.

Many times.

Upstairs in the restaurant, they had just finished an exquisite meal of Pan Seared Scallops with pureed turnips and shitake mushrooms, followed by warm Gaia Apple Pie topped with Dove ice cream. Wine flowed throughout.

Later, checking themselves out in the ladies room mirror, Helene asked: “Where’s next?”

“A descendant’s Science Fair project,” Aphrodite answered, fixing her makeup.

“Shells?”

“Shells, again. Sigh. But, afterward: RUM!”

“Party!”

They both smiled.

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It’s #Friday Fictioneers prompt time, as always created and hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields on her blog, Addicted To Purple.

The rules are simple if you’d like to do this:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt (goes up on Wednesday).
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.
  1. Add the InLinkz button (below) so your readers can find the dozens of other bloggers who have taken up this challenge.

The Tod Chronicles: Book 4

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

The Tod Chronicles Book 4

I. The Dangling Participle

It was the best of Tods, it was the worst of Tods, it was the Tod of wisdom, it was the Tod of foolishness, it was the Tod of belief, it was the Tod of incredulity, it was the season of Tod Light, it was the season of Tod Dark, it was the Tod of hope and despair, Tod had everything before us, and Tod blew it all to hell.

“Thanks, Tod. And your stupid monkey thing too.”

That became the call of the people. The saying could be found on a huge, I mean huge, number of things. Cups, mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers for your Space Vehicle, pencils, coasters (for drinks, not going up and downsy things), and it could even be found tatooed on certain parts of the body by those who were most miffed. Coke had to recall a wee bit over twenty billion bulbs of their product that had ‘Tod’ on the label.

Noone in the Acronym Research and Study Services knew who came up with the saying. TTAYSMTT was not the most graceful combo. It sent Ms. Belfar, acting head of ARSS, into a convulsive state upon its first appearance on a sign being dragged behind an FL 42U FE sky drone (otherwise known as a Fluffy).  TTAYSMTT, spoken, was a mouthful. Some headway was made when it morphed into TattysMit. The cool kids gave it the tweak it needed,  and “Ta-Tay!” became the flavor of the month and a half.

Ms. Belfar recovered soon after. She went into the Medial Circumference a wreck and came out engaged to Mr. Frank Bloom, the Circumference Custodian, and all around Dandelion Master. They will be hyphenated and brought to union by Commodore 71 on 210988 at 1500 hour of the clock, EST. The BB’s are registered only at acronym friendly stores.

“Ta-Tay!”, I mean Tod, was not happy about any of this. He wasn’t happy about what led to all of this: he was badly injured by the Man-Eating Space Ducks but, surprisingly, he survived; was eaten by a planet (whose name can’t be named due to legal issues) and summarily spit out by the (un)said planet; and finally escaping the clutches of a Galactic Orb Buster (Mrs. Belfar-Bloom was quite pleased with GOB) after infiltrating the GOB in three different disguises, and eventually vanquishing the intergalactic foe with the help of his quasi-simulated girlfriend Anouk and Darth, the stupid incontinent monkey thing.

Even with all this surviving stuff going on, Tod wasn’t happy at all at this point in his life. He definitely didn’t think he would survive this latest muck up. Just about everyone left alive hated him. Anouk and Darth weren’t quite sure at this point.

He had one job, and he incontinated all over it.  Push a lever here, press the three strobing globes in the correct sequence, and put Metal to the Peddle©™®. One job: the safety of the known universe.

If only he had a Spork ®.

How he messed up, partially atoned for the cataclysm that followed, lost his love then got her back again, and why that stupid Darth hid an ulterior motive in his bowls, are all part of this Narrative In Space (the NIS series, ARSS approved). It’s become my job to lead you on as the Narrator of the narrative.

Who am I?

I’m Jim. Welcome to my world.

Stupid Tod.

**Jim Notes: In case you missed that last three of The Tod Chronicles NIS series, the following blue letters below with jaunt you to their destination:

No Tod, You Just Lie There While I Fight The Man-Eating Space Ducks With A Spork

Mars Blows

Tinker Tailor Soldier Tod (Yanked off the shelves due to secretive thingies being worked out) 

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Author’s Note:

The above pulp cover prompt was “altered” by Author Richard Kadrey. He has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few story posts from Mr. Kadrey’s. So, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

Richard Kadrey is a writer, photographer, comic book writer, and an all-around interesting guy. His fiction straddles the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Cyberpunk worlds, and he’s pretty darn good with it all. I fell in love with his writing starting with his first Sandman Slim novels. Gritty, sometimes violent, often full of whimsey, and really worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

You can check out more fun covers by following him on Twitter @Richard_Kadrey.

To get into his body of work, visit his website: Richard Kadrey