Die Writing

The graying morning

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 12, 2016

Aside
 This is another piece inspired by mishearing song lyrics. This is based off the song “Heathens” by 21 Pilots. The actual opening line of the song is “All my friends are heathens, take it slow / Wait for them to ask you who you know.” I thought it opened with “All my friends are here, so take it slow…” Which led me to a story for which the following is the ending.

Are you hip enough?
 Chelsea leaned against the glass and closed her eyes. LA was gliding past outside the limo. A breeze slipped in through the cracked window and tussled her gorgeous hair. The gray morning light made her look pale, sickly, and fragile. She was smoking, with her eyes closed, and when the car stopped at a light, she ashed the cigarette in the window.
 Robbie sat on the opposite side of the cab. He was stiff and still, with his hands on his knees. His heavy tweed jacket was in awkward contrast to her fleeting white dress. The silence that filled the cab was stunned and woozy from too many cocktails. It also echoed with booming music. Robbie was facing Chelsea, but his eyes weren’t focused on anything in particular.
 ”Did you get what you wanted?” She finally asked, still without looking at him.
 He did not answer right away. He was sobering up, from the alcohol, from sleep deprivation, from the sensory overload of it all, and nothing felt real. Sensations of his own body from five minutes ago felt like they belonged to a stranger.
 Robbie focused on Chelsea, and for a moment, he again saw the lanky Wisconsin schoolgirl. It didn’t last.
 ”How?…  Why?” His words were hoarse. It was hard to talk with someone else’s throat.
 ”Fuck you, Robbie.” She opened her eyes and looked outside, eye darting between gas stations, beauty salons, and greasy food stands. “We fit each other, this life and I.”

The Loss of Magdalene’s Star

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on October 25, 2016

Aside
Participating in another writing contest – The Great Flash Fiction War, this time. The prompt was “I can’t leave her now. She’s already gone,” with quite liberal constraints on its use.

I’m presently reading Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and I think her writing bled over a bit into this story. It also resonated with all those Jules Verne books I read as a kid.

CRASH

 “Get to the boat!” Captain Faulk thundered over the storm. Again and again he eyed the distance to the Ethebian Gate, two colossal pillars of ancient basalt guarding the narrow entrance to the harbor beyond. He spun the wheel, commanding the cutter away, toward the open sea. Magdalene’s Star lurched, her hull pierced and bleeding.
 “Captain, you must be away with us!” His passenger, the doctor, pleaded, wiping away the frigid brine. Around them, torn rigging beat and snapped in the wind as a host of maddened vipers. One of the sailors slashed the cord securing a tarp over the lifeboat. The storm immediately ripped the canvas away, and it flew off, flailing like a nightmare hag.
 “If she drifts, she’ll overtake and spoil the boat before it reaches the Gate.” He regarded the doctor with a level gaze. “You are needed ashore. I am needed here.”
 “She is lost!” With his free hand, he motioned toward the wounded sails and the broken booms.
 “Then I’ll follow her to Hades! Mr. Creene, get the doctor to shore!” The sailor gathered up the doctor in a heap, and clearing half the deck in a single bound dumped him into the lifeboat.
 Presently, the sea began to draw itself up. The coming swell was so massive, it seemed to tilt the horizon, as if the globe itself struggled under its largesse.
 “Mr. Aldour!” The second sailor appeared, his loyal eyes upon his master. “Cut loose on my command. Once free, race like hell. If the crest overtakes you, all will be lost in vain.”
 “Aye, captain.”
 “Get on with it.”
 The sailors leapt into the lifeboat and drew their hatchets, aiming for the lashes holding it in place. The dull grey steel glinted dimly in the early dawn. The storm thrashed and howled around them. The doctor, his pleading eyes still turned toward the captain, pressed himself into the bottom of the lifeboat, his bone-white fingers grasping tight his leather valise.
 As the sea surged upward, it drained the water away from the Ethebian Gate, revealing its treacherous and craggy maw. Magdalene’s Star, faithful to the last, rushed and sliced up the glassy slope. The crest nearing, Captain Faulk laid the cutter to starboard, shielding the lifeboat from the crest, turning it toward the distant hope of the Gate’s passage.
 “Now!” The captain commanded. One, then the other, the hatchets sounded, severing the lashes and letting the boat free. The sea began to boil all around, but in its wake, Magdalene’s Star left a brief window of calm. The lifeboat slipped into the rift of relative security, and darted into the watery gorge below. Creene and Aldour leaned into the oars with fiendish strength.
 Above them, Magdalene’s Star briefly cut a silhouette against the foaming ridge, illuminated by the first rays of the breaching sun. She listed to port, water broke over her deck, and the graceful cutter slipped onto the far side of the swell. The doctor caught one last glimpse of Captain Faulk, who stood motionless, rooted to his deck, his countenance serene, and his hands resting gently on the wheel. As the green bank rose between them, the captain raised a hand to his lips, and tenderly transferred the kiss to the rudder wheel.
 The sailors rowed with back-breaking power. The oars bent and creaked as they struggled against the water. The slope rose ever more, opening the vast chasm beneath them. With their own strength and the sea pushing behind them, the miniscule boat flew toward the Ethebian Gate with astonishing speed.
 The surface of the water around them changed, from taut to ruffled to bursting. Above them, the crest bisected the darkened sky. The swell clashed with the outward cliffs of the Gate and the surge began to collapse inward toward the narrow entry. The sea, with the madly sprinting mariners at its fore, thrust itself into the close confines of the Ethebian Gate.
 Everything became a furious roar. The sea, the very air transformed into an icy, stinging, whipping mist. Deafened and blinded, the men cried out, though not to each other, but merely giving a voice to their terror and anguish.
 The boat swept to the left. An oar was caught between the hull and the rocks. Crushed, it burst into splinters. In brief flashes of visibility, the wicked black rocks would manifest themselves, arrayed against the beleaguered travelers as battle lines of pikes, only to vanish in the foamed brine an instant later.
 Then in a moment, hell receded, and the three found themselves safe in limb and body, save for the burning salt filling their lungs and eyes.
 They turned their gazes back, toward the Ethebian Gate and the riotous sea beyond. The monstrous wave had dissipated, and momentarily, the sea appeared level. Yet no sign of Magdalene’s Star could be sighted.

A breath of whiskey – Charles Dickens

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on November 13, 2015

Aside

This is an iteration of a writing exercise, based on a short story I wrote earlier. The suggestions – including Charles Dickens for this one – were given by my kind and enthusiastic friends.

I endeavor with this ghostly little story to exercise the ghost of an idea, and pray it shall not put my readers out of humor with myself, themselves, or the time they have given so generously. May my literary attempts haunt them briefly and pleasurably.

Blow off the dust

Part I

“Jen, would you like the rest of this posset? There’s just a breath of warmth left in it, if you’d like,” said Alex.

Jen and Alex, each no older than a tender thirteen years of age were confined to the unlit vestibule, ordered there in no uncertain words by that most unsparing of all overlords – their orphanage mistress, Mrs. Tawdridge. A wintry draft has slipped through the full-length glass double doors, chilling both children to their frail bones and robbing the posset mug of almost all of its heat. Neither of them was actually able to drink much of the milky concoction – the vile, malodorous rum dumped into it by an equally vile and malodorous cook turned their stomachs more cruelly than the hunger.

A fire had been lit for the guests occupying the distant, opulent dining room, separated from the entryway by the dim and sparse waiting room. The distance dissipated any and all heat born by the flames, and the only impression that reached Jen and Alex were the faint, shifting flickers of illumination. Just as the jovial and cordial company only reached them as an unintelligible cacophony of hearty voices, and the nourishing feast merely as tantalizing scents.

“No, you hold on to it, dear Alex,” she said. The poor boy was trembling sick, pale as the fresh snow outside.

Part II

“Where are these blasted knaves!” Mr Samuel Reedy boomed as he propelled his overflowing figure into the waiting room, and squinted while his eyes adjusted for the dim entryway.

“There now, you wee scoundrels,” he grabbed Jen by her shoulder. With the other hand, he relieved Alex of the cup of untouched posset. “Let’s just set this over here, lest it fall into someone’s pocket by some preposterous accident.” He lowered himself slightly, his eyes bulging and the folds of his neck battling the stiff starched collar. As he spoke, his voice effused with a palpably false sweetness, he squeezed little Jen’s shoulder ever harder.

“Now, children, these are good Christians in here, and they wish to hear nothing but good Christian music. I don’t wish to hear any of those shanties you ruffians may have picked up from the other villainous rascals. There is a warm meal in it for you, and if you perform as well as you have been trained, perhaps some good may yet come of the two of you. And remember, it is only by good graces of my humble self, and the good and kindly Mrs. Tawdridge that you are here, in the company of proper men and ladies, and that you may, one day, turn out something worthy of yourselves.”

Part III

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Reedy spoke in the most saccharine voice, “we have with us tonight two lovely angels, two poor souls aggrieved by cruel fate, and whose only happiness now comes from the gentle care afforded them by the ever-saintly Mrs. Tawdridge, who is also with us tonight.”

As Mr. Reedy went on, the children gingerly arranged themselves. Alex stood on the granite slab at the foot of the fireplace, took off his cap and held it tightly in his hands, crushing its woolen rim. He would occasionally dare a glance at Jen, but otherwise kept his eyes affixed firmly on the extravagant rug covering most of the floor. When Mr. Reedy ushered the children into the room, he was careful to guide them around its edges.

Jen unclasped a worn leather case, its hinged stiff with rust and age, and retrieved a violin. And what a beauteous instrument it was! It possessed a varnished body the color of deep amber, a dark and slender neck, its form elegant and light. The case was marked with a simple brass nameplate, bearing the letters C. E. A. The violin seemed much too large for young girl, yet she handled it with confident dexterity.

Their moment finally upon them, Jen and Alex exchanged anxious glances. Jen managed a radiant smile, and it reflected in Alex’s gaunt face.

“Alright, Alex,” she said, and softly tapped off a one-two-three on the violin.

Part IV

Their performance complete – to an exuberant satisfaction of Mr. Reedy’s guests – Jen and Alex once again found them in the frigid vestibule, with Mr. Reedy himself towering over them, and the warm meal never materialized. He held Jen’s violin in his hands, inspecting it as one would inspect a prize ham. Candlelight condensed and smoldered in the rich golden amber of its grain.

“Jen, my sweet darling, that was a lovely performance, but anyone with even a grain of musical appreciation – such a man as myself – can see that this instrument is much too advanced for someone as young as yourself. Its voice much too powerful. It is even the wrong size for someone as minute as yourself! It is plain as day. I shall, of course, preserve and safekeep this extraordinary article, until the day you are ready to play more advantageously. In the mean time, Mrs. Tawdridge will provide you with a temporary instrument, better for you to practice with. Now, off with the both of you.”

Alex, exhausted nearly to the point of incapacitation half-turned toward the door, still Jen remained rooted where she stood, her eyes on the violin. She had neither words nor deeds to protest the unjust circumstance. However, letting it out of her sight felt like a complete impossibility, an action as violent as severing a limb.

At the very moment, the doors burst open, and a man clad in a naval uniform hurried in. Two others, dressed similarly but of lower rank, stood statue-like beside. Behind them, a dark carriage with gleaming headlamps rested in the street. The man examined the faces of those before him – Mr. Reedy and the two children – and when his eyes affixed on those of Jen, in an instant his countenance was illuminated with joy. He knelt before the child and embraced her.

“Who in the nine hells are you that you may invade a private home in such manner!” Mr Reedy demanded, suffocating with outrage.

“Captain Charles Edgar Avery, of Her Majesty’s Naval Service. This young lady is Jennifer Murrow, my niece found at last, and I am here to retrieve her, so that she may be reunited with her family and kin.”

As Captain Avery led Jen outside, she clasped Alex’s hand with every intention of never letting go and pulled him along into the carriage, where a pile of thick woolen blankets awaited them.

Pausing by the door, Captain Avery addressed the stunned Mr. Reedy once more,

“The violin you are holding, Mr. Reedy, I am certain, is the one I have gifted to my young sister, Miss Murrow’s mother, many years ago. It belongs to Miss Murrow, and shall remain with her.”

Stay

Posted in Uncategorized by erdaron on February 28, 2011

The small army of friends cheered, waved, piled out the door, until just one remained. Groups of boxes, big and small, lounged about the apartment. Filled with loud talk and jokes just moments ago, the place fell silent.

He leaned on a wall. She dithered by the door.

“Stay with me tonight,” he said. She didn’t answer.

“The bed isn’t put together, but we got the mattresses… I’m pretty sure I know where the sheets are.”

“Listen…” she started, but didn’t finish.

“I’ll have you home in the morning before you have to leave for work.” It took him the length of the sentence to realize she wasn’t concerned with logistics.

“If I stay tonight,” she started again, struggling, choking on the anxious words. “If I stay with you tonight, I’ll want to stay every night.”

“What’s to lose, then?”

“You.”