Category Archives: Paranormal

The Fault of Underlings: Prompting Shakespeare

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wall

THE FAULT OF UNDERLINGS

Prompting Shakespere #1

The wall, the big, honking wall, blocked their way. This troupe of merry wanderers, The Misfit Players, Inc., was mightily perplexed. Their GPS systems failed them, one and all, as they came to a stop, looking agape at the deterrent before them.

“Odds Bodkins,” Nick Bottom, vexed, said as he removed himself from the VW Microbus that he shared with Peter Quince and Robin Starveling.  Quince had to remind Bottom to turn the engine off and headlights.  With a low whistle and a moan, Peter left the van.  Robin followed on his heels. Reaching Bottom, all three stared at the wall in front of them.

“Tom Snout! Get your earth-vexing, fool-born, rank tush over here.” Bottom looked back, grimacing as he noticed the three still sitting in that gleeking, weather-beaten Caravan that only gets 19 MPG. “Now, Tom!”

Tom turned to look at Snug, who sat beside him and then at Francis Flute in the back. Huffing a jarring huff, Tom nodded to them as he creaked the door open and stepped out. The others left the vehicle, careful not to slam any of the doors. Flute and Snug fell in behind Tom.

“Uh, look, um, Bottom. This maggot-pie of a wall was not here the last time we, um, passed this way.”

Nick Bottom glared icy death at him. Tom could only shrug his shoulders, the second time higher and fell with dead weight precision, drawing out a sigh that came from his toes. He scratched his head and chin, looking beyond Bottom and Quince and up at the wall.

The other Misfits followed his gaze up, then swiveling their noggins in all directions. None saw an end to this ungainly wall; the height of it was bewildering. Most felt their reasoning mind begin to fritz out. Diverting their eyes to anywhere else but the wall was in order.

They were all dumb-founded and verklempt. This once merry band of performers, one and all, turned their attention to Peter Quince.

His face was redder than any one of them had ever seen before; or when they were honest with themselves, since their last performance of “Thisbe loves Pyramis.” And, truth be told, the one before that. And, so on.

As Quince’s gaze fell upon Tom, he felt it was a good idea to retreat as best he could. He took two steps back. “No yelling. Good,” he thought and resumed his retreat. With a snap of his fingers and a motion to the other, Robin and Snug, who were behind him, halted his running away progress. The three others came closer, creating a circle around Tom. He gulped three times three as his body went cold and sticky.

Muttering, but loud enough for his fellow misfits to hear, spoke: “Something wicked this way comes.” Hands shaking, Tom needed a way to hide the motions. His left hand went into his tunic’s pocket, but his right hand…o, his right…raised itself to Tom’s mouth. Without realizing, Tom Snout bit his thumb at the same time he locked eyes with red-faced Quince.

“You dare bite your thumb at me, Tom Snout?”

“No, um, no, no, Peter. Uh, it is not you I bite my thumb, at or for.”

Snug growled. “Then who do you bite that thumb at?”

Francis complimented Snug on a most fierce growl, and added: “Or for, Tom?”

“Look, brave and stalwart friends, um, I just booked the gig, got the info…”

“And forgot to get the deposit for said gig!” Quince growled even more fiercely.

Robin whispered to Francis: “If anyone in our audience heard a growl of that magnitude, they would grow afeared and most likely faint.”

Francis just nodded,

“Yeah, uh, sorry about that, Peter Quince. Um, well, we were rehearsing most diligently. Then Nick started going on and on as usual…” Tom was interrupted by the sound of Bottom’s fist hitting his other unclenched hand. The withering glare did not, for once, deter him from finishing: “Um, as usual, braying like an ass.”

Tom broke the eye contact and turned to Quince.

“And you, Petey, were nowhere to be found.” Tom Snout stopped biting his thumb, lowering his arm from his face only to cross it across his chest, joined by his other arm. “And I did haggle us a handsome fee for this appointment.”

“An outstanding and just fee, Peter Quince,” added Francis Flute. The daggers that flew out of Quince’s eyes sent Flute to take refuge behind Snug, a sharp squeak sounding out.

Before any other word, growl, or threatening look was tossed out, this ruffled merry band of gentlemen was startled by what fell before them.  A growing luminescence broke through a chink in the wall that none had noticed before.

“What light through yonder chink breaks?” Bottom pondered obtusely. The sniggering behind him stopped as he twirled to face them.

Peter patted Bottom on his shoulder.

“Nick, I say this for truth, as we all know we are facing East.”

Robing Starveling chimed in., “And the man in the moon is fading away, away towards the West.”

Snug cried out. “Look!”

The opulence of the growing light spread before them. The moods that had fallen on them all we lightened as if a veil of cobwebs were lifted and dispersed to the cloudless sky. No one heard the muffled guffaws from the copse of trees off to their side.

Tom threw his arms out wide and grinned, turning to his fellow thespians.

“See? We can still make the performance with time to spare if we hasten.” Turning to look back at the pathway that was now evident thanks to the morning sun. “This night’s troubles have been much to do about nothing.”

Everyone cheered — even Bottom.

“To your vehicles, my stout and sturdy fellows. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; before this lane close to the wall is strewn with rush hour traffic.”

Tom Snout took the driver’s seat of his Caravan, Snug taking the passenger seat, Flute resting across the back in comfort.

As Tom started the engine and began following the VW, Francis began to sing. Snug and Tom joined in wholeheartedly in this roundel of a Fairy song.

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

Author’s Notes:

If you are even a passing fan of Shakespearean fare, the above is a mashup, of sorts. I “stole,” and played with, the following plays:

    1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    2. Hamlet
    3. The Scottish Play
    4. Henry V
    5. Romeo and Juliet
    6. Much Ado About Nothing

If you click on the links, they will take you to the full script. The Complete Works of William Shakesapeare is a wonderful source to find all of his plays. Free of charge. If you want just the cliff notes, every play has a Wiki page. 

The above characters are from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They are the comic relief, the “mechanicals,” who perform the play-within-the-play of Pyramus and Thisbe. These men are laborers (tinker, weaver, carpenter, etc.) who are looking for their big break: to perform at the Royal Wedding and receive money and a name for themselves.

Most of The Fault of Underlings is grounded in AMND. Some dialogue I tweaked from the plays listed above. As to some of the words used, you can thank Master William himself. If you’re not familiar with them you can use Google.  It’s good to learn something new every day.

The Big Honking Wall has NOTHING to do with Game of Thrones.  In AMND, Tom Snout plays the Wall with a Crannied Hole or Chink in it so Thisbe and Pyramus can speak to each other, and maybe steal a kiss. This all happens in Act 5 during the play within the play. The following are Tom’s lines as the wall:

Snout. In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

You’ll notice there is a discrepency with Thisby’s name. In searching, it’s Thisbe. In the above monologue, it’s Thisby. I just went the former route.

This came about from a prompt at a weekly writer’s group I attend. Our mission was to use secondary characters as the leads, going wherever our writer’s minds would take us. We share what we wrote with the others in the group.

They laughed. I hope you do as well.

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Gentle Into Night: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Five

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

 

AtoZ2019GGENTLE INTO NIGHT

1963

There was a car in the woods.

Schatzi was standing at the edge of the grove. She was barking continuously, growling in turns, but she would not advance any further. Timmy finally caught up to her, got down on his knees, and threw his arms around her. Deb was not far behind.

“Schatzi, stop barking. Schatzi!” Deb yelled out as she approached. Their dog went belly down, whimpering cries replacing the barks. It wasn’t until she came up behind Timmy that she saw.

“Oh shit,” she said, covering her mouth with her right hand. “Oh, shit. Don’t. Don’t start with me, Timmy. We have to get out of here.”

Timmy, focused entirely on Schatzi, was stroking her head. “Shh. There, girl. Relax. I’m here.” Deb put her left hand on his shoulder. “We’re here. Shh. Shh.”

“Timmy, we really really really need to get out of here.”

Her hand squeezed, Timmy yelped, and then he looked up.

“Oh. Wow.”

The cherry red Thunderbird was facing them. Timmy stood, and Schatzi followed suit. Tail tucked, she growled, staring down the car.

“Is it?”

“I think so,” she answered. “It’s the TBird. Timmy, c’mon. We’ve got to…”

The engine came to life, revving in place. The sound increased, tires spinning out on the patch of ground it was on. The smell of burning rubber and oil filled the area, choking the three of them.

“Deb,” he choked out, “there’s no one there.”

The convertible roof rose from the half closed position and smoothly dropped open. The revving continued, building in stationary speed. Clouds of dust started to rise around the car.

The driver’s door opened.

Schatzi hurtled towards the car. Deb and Timmy yelled out at the same time, but Schatzi didn’t alter her attack. Teeth bared, she dove through the open door. As her teeth sunk into the seating, she ripped away at the leather red and white. She tore out a chunk of the backrest. With the speed of the revving the roof closed, the door slammed shut, and the howl that came from the interior of the Ford pierced Timmy’s heart. Deb was streaming tears.

It had happened so fast that neither had time to react. Timmy tried to rush forward, but Deb held onto him tight.

“Let go of me. Let go!”

She was stronger, but Timmy was working on pure adrenaline. Just as he came free, a shooting wind sent the dust into a frenzy, kicking it up and, covering the entire area. When she wasn’t coughing her lungs out, Deb had the image of the last snow story, coming down so heavy it was nothing but a wall of white. She wrapped her arms around her brother, pulling him close, and turned their backs to the car so the flying debris was not in their faces.

“Deb, let go. Deb. Let. Go!”

Her arms opened, slowly. The wind was dying down, allowing the dirt and grit that had been airborne to fall back to earth. They turned to look at the car.

Trees, torn up grass, glinting ice on the outskirts. This they saw.

But no car.

But no Schatzi.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia left the hospital against the doctor’s wishes. Sheriff Will’s wishes as well. He had deputized a whole mess of townspeople to search for her kids. He knew Pat; there was no way she was going to stay in the ward as long as she could walk. She just got in the front seat of his Fairlane, and that was that.

As they were hitting the roads to add to the search, the radio squawked every other minute or so. Every report came back with a disheartening “No.” Pat didn’t say much as she devoted her energy to looking where they dovetailed off the road. It hadn’t helped that the wind drifts covered any broken snow.

The tree that had waylaid them was gone now, cut up and making its way to the lumber yard. Pat knew they were there by the number of cars parked along the sides. Getting out, she took brief notice of the variety: Will’s deputies; townspeople’s private vehicles; and a brief shock of State Troopers in the mix.

The Sheriff got an update from one of the Troopers, and Patricia got an earful from those taking a break. She asked where they looked, how far out they went, did they see any tracks, any signs. The same bleak responses fell on her heart.

A final question made most folks uneasy, some sad, but all gave Patricia a side look when she left them to talk to another grouping.

“Did you notice, or see, anything out of the ordinary?”

Patricia and the Sheriff joined a group just heading out again. They were all carrying things the kids might need, if. Patricia steeled herself, didn’t cry out, didn’t make a scene, but that needless “If” was a sore that ate away at her as they walked and called out.

The sun was bending to the west when the walkies-talkies sang out. The kids had been found and were alive. This was repeated along the searchers. A huge mixed yell of happy acknowledgment rang through the trees. Pat and the Sheriff started to run once they got the whereabouts of the rescue. The others raced alongside.

The kids were bundled up in blankets upon blankets, drinking hot tea from thermoses brought just for them. A small bonfire was roaring, giving off just enough heat. Behind them was the ravine with their dead Chevy.

The three of them met in a flying bear hug. Timmy “ouched” but he didn’t break free.

“Mom,” he said. “Mom. We didn’t know what happened. We…”

“We went looking for you. You’d been gone way too long. I was…we were afraid something might have happened to you.” Deb looked and saw the bandage that peeked out from the wool cap her mother was wearing. “Oh, something did happen.”

Patricia didn’t answer. She kept hugging, kissing them on their foreheads, rubbing their backs, and the moisture in her eyes did not quit for a second.

“Let’s not talk about what happened to me until later. Some things happened that I have to think about; try to make sense out of.” She paused, realizing someone was missing.

“Schatzi. Where’s our girl?”

Deb started to tell her what had occurred. Timmy was reluctant to say anything, his head hanging low. He got elbowed and interspersed the details as best as he could.

“We searched. Couldn’t find anything besides the stirred up dirt. Deb and I backtracked, got lost once or twice, but we found the car.”

Deb continued. “It was cold in the car. We scrounged up two of Schatzi’s blankets, one hidden under the front seat, the other squished in the back. Our best find: a box of long matches from one of our cookouts during the summer. Timmy and I searched for dry wood. It wasn’t easy, but there was a grouping that worked just fine. Cleared the snow with our feet built the wood up, and started the fire.”

“Deputy Doug said he saw the smoke. That’s how we got found.”

“Sweeties, we need to get moving out of here before it gets dark.” Patricia’s face darkened. “Let’s put out the fire, grab your school books, and let’s get home. The Sheriff said he would drive us there.”

They did as she asked, no questions, no fighting, no stubbornness. Her heart felt shattered that they would be returning without Schatzi. “That’s two I’ve lost to this place,” she said to herself. “No more.”

Moving quickly, they reached the Sheriff’s car in no time. Almost all the cars had already left, getting the passed around good news. The remaining few gave Patricia and the kids long hugs; cheek kisses went around, hands were shaken. Timmy hated the kissing part, except when he got one from a classmate, Becki. He blushed and tried to hide. Becki just smiled.

Last to leave, the Sheriff turned the engine over and made sure all three were secure. The sun had been going down by this point. It was near dark. Putting the car into drive, he crept onto the road and headed to their home.

Everyone was quiet. Deb had nodded off. Timmy had his head leaning on the window, a sorrowful sight when the Sheriff looked in his rearview. Pat had scrunched down, head back on the car seat, staring at the interior ceiling.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” she softly recited.

Sheriff Will gave her a side glance. He knew that poem. He and Pat had been in the same classes ever since first grade. High School they wandered off in different directions, but English class was one they shared in Senior Year.

Looking briefly, he noticed that Patricia’s head lolled to the side. “Good, she was asleep,” he thought. It’s been a rough day for her, if not a rough four years. He focused on the road as they made their way back.

“Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” Will repeated. He was glad to be leaving the woods.

Behind them, a chorus of clicking sounds blended with the settling winds.

 

Present Day

 What are those clicking sounds?

Where was the deadly red car?

And Schatzi.

Where was Schatzi? Was she?

There was a car in the woods.

 

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The poem Patricia and Will  were referring to:

Do not go gentle into that good night

Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.

 

Elegiacal: #AtoZ Blog Challenge

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A Car In The Woods: Chapter Four

2019 AtoZ Blog Challenge

AtoZ2019E     ELEGIACAL

1963

“Schatzi. C’mon. This way.”

She had been too large for Timmy to carry out of the ravine. He scooted along the edge, finding a rocky path just out of site where the Impala landed. The German shepherd followed him; she found the outcropping and jumped from rock to rock. Schatzi stopped a third of the way from the top. Sitting down, she barked until Timmy’s head crested the lip of the gorge. With Deb crabbing behind him, Timmy found another set that looked more like planned steps. He gulped and went over the side.

Deb screamed, then called out some choice words.

“I’m telling Mom.”

“You idiot, I’m going to tell Mom,” she paused. With a lowered voice: “When we find her. After. We will find her.”

She watched as Timmy guided Schatzi up the new path. They both made it up to the last ledge, but it was too much of a distance for the dog. Deb laid down, her arms dangling over the edge; Timmy boosted Schatzi up as far as he could. It was enough. He pushed, Deb lifted, and Schatzi was on solid, icy ground. Timmy climbed out, also with Deb’s assistance.

They looked at each other, brushing off the dirt and snow that covered them.

Walking back to where they originally climbed out, Deb started looking for any sign of their mother. There were some footprints that cracked through the ice cover. She smiled and pulled Timmy along.

~~~~~   ~~~~~   ~~~~~

Patricia walked, slid, fell, repeating the pattern more than she liked. They had gone further off the road than she at first thought. It could have been a lot worse. Somehow, they missed all the trees. If that huge bank of snow hadn’t settled in the ravine, well, she didn’t want to think about that. The kids were banged up but fine. Her head hurt like the dickens, and she had a pull in her left side. She wanted to stop and rest a bit, but that was not going to get the help they all needed.

The wind gusted up and then died down just as quick as she moved along. What skin showed on her face hurt, her eyes teared up, and it was a losing battle trying to protect them. Patricia plodded on, looking for salvation.

Then she heard her name. Thought she did, but…no, that was impossible. She stopped to listen, but the howl of the wind came instead. “Pat, no. It wasn’t him,” played on a painful loop in her head. Her body shuddered, pushing her to keep on. Patricia hadn’t wanted to admit to herself that they wound up in the area she never wanted to see again. Looking towards her left, she saw the horrible familiar sights. “No, no, no.”

Patricia. Sweetie.

“STOP THIS,” she screamed, breaking into a dash. The tears fell this time, soaking into the scarf just wrapped below her eyes. “Stop,” she cried out.

Looking behind her as she ran was a mistake: Patricia thought she saw something, someone, but that thought was cut short as she stumbled into a tree and knocked herself out.

If she had been awake, she would have heard the crunching of the icy ground coming closer.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Schatzi went sniffing, cutting between Timmy and Deb, running behind them, surging ahead. She’d jump into a pile of snow and then pop out, tongue lolling out as she investigated a new tree, bush, and a log. When she was told to heel she did, but it only lasted a few eye blinks, and then off she went again.

Deb’s voice was hoarse, and Timmy was getting quieter, as they called out and looked for their mom. They had come to a dead end, losing sight of her footprints at a small copse. She didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to tell Timmy that.

“I’m cold,” he whined, leaning over, looking for any prints that continued past the tree. Deb did the unmentionable: she took him in a big bear hug. He returned it in kind. She thought she’d start crying, and almost did. Schatzi stopped that before any tear fell.

She began barking like mad, intermittent with low hissing growls. Timmy went to her, but she bounded off across the icy ground and into the trees beyond where they rested.

“Schatzi, get back here, now,” Deb yelled. Timmy called as well, but when their dog didn’t stop, he broke free of his sister and started running after.

“Timmy. NO!” She kicked the tree, a little too hard, and gave chase. Her big toe began to throb; it didn’t slow her pace.

Schatzi was faster than either of them. Timmy lost sight of her as she jetted away, but he followed her barking. Deb kept Timmy in her sight, begging him to stop. Schatzi barked. Timmy ran. Deb followed.

Then the barking stopped.

“This way, Deb. She’s this way.” He was pointing off to the right. She caught up to him, and they both stopped, catching their breaths. Deb took notice of where they were. The trees are larger than when they started out. How close they all were to each other. Looking up, the canopy of branches were thick and intertwined. It filtered the sunlight, breaking it apart into hundreds of solo rays.

“We should not be here, Tim. C’mon. Schatzi will find us. C’mon.” She pulled his arm. He resisted.

“Stop it. I’m not going anywhere. Schatzi! Schatzi!”

He broke free and ran into the gathering of trees.

Deb had no choice but to follow.

~~~~~    ~~~~~    ~~~~~

Patricia groggily came awake. Her eyes fluttered, not wanting to open them. She realized she was warm, very warm. There was no howl from the wind, only some beeps, someone moving around.

“Pat, sweetie, hi. Wake up, ok? It’s ok.”

Patricia came to, her eyesight a bit fuzzy but soon cleared enough to see June standing over her. June, her neighbor, her friend. A nurse. Patricia’s face began to scrunch up, tears beginning to fall.

“Shhh, you’re ok, sweetie. You’re in the clinic. You were near frozen solid when the Sheriff brought you in. We got you just in time.” June stroked Patricia’s hair, sitting down next to her, then took Patricia’s hands in hers and rubbed them tenderly.

Patricia looked around the room. There wasn’t anyone else there besides the two of them.

“Where? Debra. Timmy. Where are they?”

“Sweetie, they should be in school. The Sheriff went to fetch them just a little while ago. The roads are bad. A tree fell and it was the dickens removing it. Took way longer than it should have.”

“No. They were with me. In the woods. They missed the bus. We skidded off the road. Fell into a ravine. In the woods. I went to find help. I…I…what time…what time is it?” Her voice rose in pitch, coming out faster. She was shaking, but not from the cold.

When she heard the time, Patricia screamed and tried to get out of the bed.

A bit more than two hours had passed since she left them. June tried to hold her frantic friend down, tried to calm her, but Patricia’s frenzy was too high. A needle pierced her skin.

“Please. Get the Sheriff. Anybody,” she drifted back against the pillows. “My babies are out there. June. Please.”

June left in a hurry. The beeping and behind her, the noise outside by the nurse’s desk, her breathing slowing, her eyes feeling heavy, Patricia whispered: “Please, God, Please.”

Patricia. Sweetie.”

“Ju…June?” She looked through half closed eyes.

June wasn’t there.

“No,” she mumbled. “You’re…” and the sedative did its job.

 

Present Day

There is more to this tale, and it will be told.

The tempest to come will soon unfold.

Patience, patience, the time will soon fall

When the rest will be given, given in all.

 

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…

63334-atoz2019tenthann

do do do do, do do do

 

AtoZ Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal

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#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

AtoZ Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Starting Monday, April 1, 2019, the AtoZ Blog Challenge begins again.

This will be my sixth time that I am throwing my creative hat into the challenge. I have mainly produced serialized stories that work as short chapters. They have been of various successes, judging by the commentary and friendships I have developed through the challenge.

I am working on taking last year’s story line (The Abysmal Dollhouse) and re-working it into a novel. I’ve been working on it since May/June of last year. That’s why there haven’t been any TAD stories here since the end of April.

So, surprise.

I still love The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas (April 2016) and The Apartment Building: Swan Rise series (April 2012). I hope to return to both of those one day and take them  to the next step, as well as The Kitsune-Mochi Saga (not an AtoZ story).

AND NOW, THE 2019 THEME REVEAL

A CAR IN THE WOODS



1959. An abandoned car is found in the woods, not near any road, surrounded by trees that left little room for a car to wind up where this one did.

It was discovered by hunters Todd Wilson and Barry Carter. They were following an 8 point Buck for a long winding chase. The Buck kept his life that day. Todd and Barry stopped in their tracks when the sun, which could barely peek through the dense foliage, glinted off something shiny where nothing shiny should have been.

The car they found was in near pristine condition. A cherry red Thunderbird convertible with a 430ci Lincoln Interceptor J-code engine, power steering, power brakes, power windows, a power seat and a new power top.

Nothing was found to identify the owner or even how it got there. Retracing their tracks, they made it back to their truck, eventually, as they got lost once or twice,  and high tailed it to the sheriff’s office.

Inquiries were made. Nothing came of it. It was a puzzle to Sheriff John Miner for the rest of his life, which wasn’t as long lived as he had hoped it would be.

Todd and Barry, meanwhile, made their find profitable, earning free drinks at the Barn House Bar from folks who wanted to know all the details.  As the tellings went on, the story…grew. And it spread to nearby towns, especially one where Todd and Barry went drinking.

People searched for the car. They traveled the forest, thought they saw it, but didn’t. It was the talk of the county. The searching went on for a short while.

Until a group of four High School students did not come home. Neither did a couple of people from the first search party. Then a few more in the second group, looking for both the kids and the two adults who were nowhere to be found.

Then, the stories began.


I hope you return for the 26 parts of A Car In The Woods. Comments are always welcome.

If you are interested in joining the AtoZ Blog Challenge, you still have time to sign up. Just click HERE and you will be directed to their home page with all the info you will need. Good luck if you do. It’s a lot of fun. Either way, I hope you come back and see where the Car takes us, as well as visiting other blogs that have joined in the fun.

Car In The Woods: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

CAR IN THE WOODS

There was a car in the woods.

Charred. Rusted. Busted.

Picked clean. Shell just a reminder.

No road. No reason. Just there.

No one knew anything, the how or the why.

Tales grew around it.

Some said haunted, hearing revving sounds, seeing blazing headlights. Sounds of a crash.

Some, young lovers discovered, then dispatched.

Others, drug deal, bullet ridden bodies strewn over dead grass.

Demons, suicides, maniacs, spectral beings, even UFO’s dropping the car into this nowhere space after the abduction was done.

No one knew. Not a one of them.

I knew.

There was a car in the woods.

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Author’s Note:

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 Talisman Of Mara: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

THE TALISMAN OF MARA

Stolen, traded, gifted, lost, the Talisman of Mara journeyed across the globe, across time. Many hands wielded it; many died doing so.

Naomi found it at the shul’s fundraiser. The piece of colored glazed stone drew her eyes. It wasn’t anything she’d ever buy when Seth was alive. She bought it.

Hanging it, she’d see it when she descended the stairs, turned off the lights, went out.

It was the one piece of color she claimed in a beige house.

Tumbling down the stairs, Naomi broke the glass door.

It was only the first of many nightmarish events to come.

 

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Author’s Note:  I made mention in the comments previously that when I do use names in these short pieces, they have meanings associated with the story. Some drive what I’m writing. So, if you’re curious, look them up. If not, hope you still liked this.

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.

In The Cavern Of Transmogrification: #FridayFictioneers

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PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

In the Cavern of Transmogrification

The screaming battered my ears into a never-ending, throbbing pain. I tried…I tried, but I couldn’t shut them out. Nor I. Weeping red droplets, streaming down onto what was left of our tattered clothing, onto the cavern floor, mixing with the dirt and rocks, creating small pools that, out of the dismal light, appeared black. Driven to our knees, I knew that we were at fault, disturbing this forsaken place; a place that should never have been walked, been wakened. Never.

From nowhere, iridescent globes consumed the darkness. Many-hued we became as well.

Yog-Sothoth, Yog-Sothoth, you have come.

Take me.

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Author’s Note:

1)Hopefully this homage to HP Lovecraft works.

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.