“I’m Sick of Prose”
“I’m sick of prose.”
“What?” Ellie’s lips curled into a frown.
“I said,” I repeated, “I’m sick of prose! All this fancy language and nonsense is driving me insane!” Emphasizing my point, I shoved my laptop away from me, the empty screen crying out its neglect with insufferable blankness.
Ellie’s eyes widened, her silver-tongued mind struggling to comprehend that some of us can’t appreciate the nuances of English.
“You can’t be sick of prose! It’s the outlet of our minds, our way to illustrate the thoughts of others.” She paused, tapping her chin contemplatively. “In retrospect, you very well could have worded that more eloquently. Perhaps ‘I’m rather put out with frilly tongues and babble, these linguistics shall hurtle my conscience to the borders of mental health.’” Ellie finished with a self-satisfied grin.
Stupid Ellie. Always being so smart.
“That’s exactly what I mean!” I whined, tossing my hands into the air. “Can you even hear yourself? You speak like some dead poet from three-thousand years ago! Agh!”
Ellie perked up. “Are you in earnest? Oh, how marvelous! Akin to John Skelton, Edmund Spencer, oh!” A flush dusted her cheeks and dimpled. “Even Shakespeare himself?”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” I sank deep into my chair and reluctantly considered the empty page before me. To write or not to write, that is the question. Articulate sayings and words jumbled and clanked between my ears, trying, (and failing), to phrase themselves aesthetically. A throbbing headache ensued.
Ellie looked up from her writing.
“I said, I quit! I’m done trying to sound smarter than I am. I will no longer slave under peer pressure! No more fancy writing!” I punched the table, causing Ellie’s tea to spill. She sputtered, providentially at a loss for words. Miracles happen every day, I thought.
“From this point onward, I will write in the laziest, cringiest, stupidest way I can!”
Ellie was stunned. Then Ellie frowned. Ellie was not happy. I was not happy, either. Ellie realized what had happened. She saw how the writing had changed. It didn’t sound nice. It sounded bad. And repetitive. And not nice. Almost redundant.
“Change it back!” She said.
“No,” I said.
“This is dreadful!” She said.
“I kinda like it,” I said.
Ellie was angry. She looked at the reader.
“Assist me! Hear my plea!” She said. “This fool is orchestrating a show of her ignorance, and causing undue harm! You must-”
“That’s enough,” I said, “I’m no longer writing down what you say.”
Ellie got even angrier. She kept talking, but no sound came out.
“You can’t just break fourth wall like that, Ellie,” I said, “It’s not good for prose. You and your stupid prose… You’re causing issues. I think I’m going to delete you.” Ellie paled. She clasped her hands together and silently begged. I am not amused.
Click click click
Now I am alone. It’s peaceful.
#prose #4thwall #fourthwall #thatescalated #trippy #homicide? #suspense #challenge
My phone is dead.
On an ordinary day,
This would be fine.
But today was not
Is in the hospital.
I need to call her.
Sir, I don’t care
About your cheap ass phone.
She’s scheduled to die
In six minutes.
She might live longer,
But she might die sooner.
So mate, please
Give me the phone.
I’ll do anything.
Don’t try to play those games with
Give me the phone.
Hands it over.
I frantically type in my mother’s number.
Sends alarm bells off in my heart.
Will I make it in time?
Will I make it in time?
A pick up...?
“Fuck!” The word slips past my teeth
in a rush.
I grab my phone and run to the nearest
Apple store. I hope to God that
They still carry iPhone 5
I need to call my mother.
Desperate, I buy
The cord I need
And I plug it into
The low battery symbol is displayed.
Inside, my intestines scream in agony,
My heart burns.
I stare at the screen.
Will I make it in time?
Two minutes, and at last
My phone begins to restart.
I type in the numbers with
The speed of light
100 seconds left.
I click on the phone icon
Please pick up, Mom.
“Hi, you’ve reached Worthester Hospital.”
“Hook me up with my mother. Marie Cartigen. Room 1754. Now! It’s urgent!”
“Please wait a moment...”
There is the beeping tone of being out on hold, and
I scream in frustration.
But only in my head.
All that comes out is
A small suppressed moan.
Mom, hold on,
Stay alive a minute longer.
“Lauren?” My mother’s raspy voice
Comes over the phone perfectly.
I can hear the disease in her throat,
Why’d you have to smoke?
“Mama?” My voice is weak.
“Lauren, I’m still here, baby. I’m pulling through. The doctors say I might be okay. I might be okay!”
I’m crying on
The floor of an Apple store.
My mom is okay.
My mom is okay.
Implications held, stammering along seemingly plain. Incandescent lights glaring down hospital like walks. A surer occurrence than birth, remembered a song. Tuning in and out of touch, smeared walls of colorless blush. Draining the night away, like blood loss, cold. Heaters tucked away, like corners shadowed by ominous stances. A slower feel to reaching up, strokes of death, as slender strips are peeled. A coarse kind of sound shrieking deeper, like long scars. A follicle at first and raining still the paint chips grab your lung. As if to cough out lungs of steel, you echoed hell with sweat in your tears. The room is done. The paint has dried and you have yourself a boring night.
#poetry #imagery #paintinghorror
I refresh the app on my phone, eyes squinting against the obnoxious white-blue glow of the screen.
2 minutes (GPS)
Shit, I think, slipping out of my seat and making for the door. The train’s not even stopped yet; the brakes have just started to whine.
It takes, at best, a full sixty seconds to speed-walk from the platform to the bus stop. Speed-walk, because if I try anything faster in these heels, I’ll be eating pavement—i.e., doubly screwed.
I refresh the app once, twice, three times. Still, it reads:
2 minutes (GPS)
The brakes are really screeching now, and I feel my hopes rising against my will. I can probably make it. The train gives its final lurch.
I tap the refresh button.
1 minute (GPS)
Shit, shit, SHIT.
The doors open ... and I’m off to the races.
I shift my weight to the balls of my feet to compensate for the heels, and then it’s one foot in front of the other, quick as I can without breaking into a jog.
The path is at an incline and within seconds, my calves are burning from the strain of hustling on tiptoe. I’m flitting between commuters, brushing shoulders and panting breathless apologies. Up above, on my right, I see the red and white of the city buses and I know I’m close, so I put my head down and focus on my feet.
I glance up—and there it is, rolling to a stop past the crowd.
I weave as best I can through the mass of people craning their necks and checking their phones, so, so close—
And it starts to pull away.
The shout comes out hoarse, drawing stares and raising eyebrows. Past the point of caring, I wave my arms over my head frantically, rapidly approaching the curb and hoping beyond hope that the driver will spot me in their mirror and take pity.
For one long moment, the bus keeps rolling forward, and my heart plummets.
Then, a gorgeous sound greets my ears: that distinctive, pneumatic hiss of the brakes.
A triumphant peal of laughter rips itself from my throat. Of its own accord, my face breaks into a full-fledged grin—the kind that sets your cheeks to aching.
Jubilant, I jog the last few steps to the parting doors.
As my foot makes purchase on the floor of the bus, the driver smiles at me, chuckling lightly.
“Just made it!” she quips. “Good on you.”
“Thank you,” I manage between harsh gasps of air, hand fumbling in my pocket for my pass.
The driver shakes her head and turns her attention back to the traffic with a lingering smile. I can tell I’ve been dismissed.
Letting my shoulders drop in relief, I slap my card to the reading screen, watching as it lights up green.
That was a close one, I muse, laughing quietly as I head to my seat, ready to go home.
Just Another Mundane Monday
Oh, my God. I'm losing my grip. My hands are so slippery; I don't know if I can hold on much longer. It's such a precarious position. I look down, then quickly switch my weight from one side to the other in the hopes that I can hang on. I can feel my fingers further losing their tentative hold, so I reach out my other hand to grab the plate before it crashes to the floor. Thank goodness my reflexes are still good because I then throw that plate at the...oh, wait! There's nobody there; it was just a shadow. Damn. There goes the plate. I watch it crash on the floor, turning into a pile of glass and shards. I shrug and leave it there for later, then return to washing the dishes.
Based on a True Story
Time was almost up. I looked around frantically to make sure that I had assembled all that I needed, (and cleaned up what I could) because, if I didn’t, the outcome would be quite unpleasant. I went over the directions in my head repeatedly to ensure that I hadn’t forgotten anything. I was alone. There was nobody to ask for help. Thus, I had to make sure that it was all beyond perfect. There was no room for error, and time was quickly passing.
I heard a low rumble that sounded way too close for comfort, but I couldn’t figure out from where it was coming. I heard it again, only this time it was louder, almost as if it was right below me or (gasp) coming from inside me. I felt my heartbeat quicken, and my palms began to grow clammy. My eyes darted around, trying to find something upon which to focus to take my mind off the inevitable.
The suspense was palpable, and I caught a faint scent in the air. As my trepidations grew so did the aroma of what was imminent. I wrung my hands and licked my lips. I swallowed once. Twice. My throat felt uncomfortably dry.
I opened the microwave and voila...success. My cake was perfect. Lemon. Yummy. I knew I could do it!
#shortstory #flashfiction #suspense #challenge #humor
Two teenage girls clung to each other as they stumbled down a dim, narrow hallway. It was so dark they could barely see a few feet ahead, and the slightest sounds had them nearly jumping out of their skin. The girls frantically looked from side to side, their eyes searching desperately for any sign of danger. The tall, brunette teen stepped forward, only to be met with a squelching noise that made her stomach flip.
"Oh, God," the teenager turned to the shorter blonde gripping her side. "Is...Is this blood?"
"Please, Len, let's just keep going. It doesn't matter if it was blood or piss, whatever. We have to get out of here!" The petite blonde exclaimed, a look of pure horror on her face.
"Yeah...You're right, Ana. Let's just move on, and try to stay calm."
"Pfft. Yeah, I'll try my best," scoffed Ana.
After that, the girls were quiet for a while, continuing down the dark passage until they came to an opening. It branched into a large, spacious area. It was better lit, with several lanterns dangling from the low ceiling, and with a quick glance around, the two friends could tell they had entered some kind of workshop. Various tools, all honed to peak sharpness and stained with a red, dried substance, lined the walls. Ana took in their surroundings, a shiver wracking her frame.
"Jesus, this is insane," she muttered.
Len sighed, "Come on, Ana. Let's just keep going."
The girls were almost out of the room and into the next passageway, when a strange, rumbling sound emitted from nearby. The consistent buzzing came closer with each passing sound, and finally, realization dawned on Len.
"Is...Is that a chainsaw!?"
At the same moment, a huge, burly man burst through the wall behind them, revving chainsaw in tow. Wasting no time, he charged forward. The girls spun around and sprinted down the hall, both yelling, "Run!"
Len and Ana huffed onward, breath punching out of their lungs. Their assailant was still a ways behind; it seemed his imposing build and the chainsaw had slowed him a bit, but one tiny mistake could still spell death. Suddenly, Len heard a garbled yelp behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to see Ana collapsing to the cold, cement floor, terror plain on her oval face.
Immediately, Len turned, ready to help her friend. But Ana frantically shook her head, screeching a plea of, "No! Just go!" The man thundered ever closer, and although it deeply pained her, Len twirled back around and ran. Guilt clawed at her chest knowing she'd left her best friend behind, but Len charged forward regardless. When she'd just made it to a wood door, a blood curdling scream erupted from behind. Begrudgingly, Len looked back. The chainsaw man was still rushing down the hall, Ana's body lying motionless behind him.
A part of Len wanted to cry, but she knew Ana would want her to escape. She had to be strong and keep going. With a stilted gasp, Len threw the flimsy door open, and just like that, she was surrounded by crisp autumn air, the luminous moon shining above. Len leaned over and placed her clammy palms on her trembling knees, sucking air back into her lungs. The sound of the chainsaw faded and ground to a halt. About a minute later, Ana burst through the door wearing an exuberant smile. She jogged over, slinging a sweaty arm around Len.
"So, Babe, how was your first haunted house? Fun, right?"
"Um...Yeah. But, maybe a bit too much for me," Len chuckled.
"I can't believe you left me behind, though!" Ana snickered.
"I'm sorry, I felt really bad about it. But in my defense, you did tell me to keep going," reasoned Len.
"True enough. I can't argue with that, Babe." Ana pressed a gentle peck to Len's crimson cheek, and with a fond glance exchanged, the two girls walked into the night, hand-in-hand.
The Monster Within.
That's all I can focus on as I clutch my middle, slightly hunched while standing on the train.
Heat comes in waves and my eyes nearly roll back. I grip the pole tighter, but my slick palm finds no purchase.
A moan nearly escapes me, but I manage to stifle it. The car is quiet, everyone politely plugged into their phones, minding their own business.
At once I am terrified to attract notice, but also secretly desperate for a kind stranger to discover my plight.
I'm only one stop away, yet the two-minute train ride feels like hours. At last the train slows and I stagger to the door. Suddenly, an elderly woman insolently cuts in front of me and I nearly lose it; can't she see my condition?
I rush out the doors, nearly toppling the old biddy in my haste.
I fear for my life, my sanity. Each step is one closer to sanctuary, but I have no hope for salvation.
All I can hear now is a panting, rasping breathing I'm horrified to discover my own. The change is near.
This isn't the first time and I doubt it will be my last. Yet I continue to hope for a cure one day.
My apartment is within view and the sight, rather than tame the beast, only intensifies its rage.
Three flights and five doors down.
The end is near and the monster within knows it. I feel it clawing from my insides, attempting to escape the confines of my body, but along with a sob and plea for clemency, I reach my door in time.
I relaxed too soon.
I can't bring myself to walk in there alone. I swear I heard something in there! But nobody believes me... what can I do? Should I just risk my life and walk in? Should I play it safe and go get someone? Should I just wait here until morning, and avoid the whole situation? Why is it getting so hard to breathe? My legs are shaking and I'm not even moving.
"Hi sweetie, what's the problem?"
"Oh, mom! Yah, uhh... nothing. I'm just going to bed now."
"Ok honey, sleep well. Good night!"
"Good night mom!" That was it, and my mom disappeared into her room across the hall, leaving me alone again with the door ahead of me. The room that brings so many bad thoughts, the room that seems as if it crawls while you sleep.
"Hey champ! Why aren't you in bed already?"
"Oh, dad! I'm just doing a couple exercises before I head on over to bed."
"Atta boy!" My dad gave my a pat on the head. "You're gonna be running circles around everyone on the field! Just don't stay up to late!" There he went. Disappeared into the same room as my mom. Leaving me alone again with the room that seems to speak me name, luring me in. I decided that there was no other choice, I had to walk in. Slowly turning the handle, I prayed that nothing sprung out in front of me threatening my life. Cautiously, I pushed the door inward. The loud creaking of the door could be heard throughout the house. Looking inside it was pitch black. The light switch was on the other side of the room. Step by step, breath by breath, I made my way across the room. Not looking at anything other than light switch I could see just above my stack of my comics. Not daring to turn my head even an inch in fear that the shadows watching me would drag me down into the depths beneath. I reached my hand out to flip the switch, pausing just before I did to slowly catch a sight of the room behind me in the darkness. There it was behind me, a tall dark figure watching me. I couldn't make out any details. I screamed, neglecting to turn on the light, and fell to the floor crying in fear of the inevitable. He should have gotten the help of his parents. It's all over now, nothing matters now. The figure slowly walked me. Grabbing and lifting me up, I thought this was it, all I've done was in vain. "What are you doing?"
"Boy, I thought you were wokring out still, I came to get a little work in too! Instead I walk in on you crying your eyes out on the floor!"
"What's the matter?"
"Umm... can you turn on the light?" My dad reached for the light switch and flicked it on without hesitation. There it was, my dad's face before me with serious disappointment. "I need to go to bathroom." I got up and sprinted to the bathroom.