Friday, August 19, 2011

Say what you mean (or at least what your characters would) and Last Stop Part 10

Before jumping in to the next installment I feel that I should caution you about the use of expletives. You know, dirty words, vulgarity. This part has one, as does the next (which by the way is the conclusion). Stephen King, often imitated, never duplicated, says to keep it real. Write what your characters may say, think and feel in their situation. Don't sugar-coat it. And so I take this advice as golden as many writers in the genre do. Real people say vulgar things, some often, some occasionally, and some only in certain situations, particularly when angry or terrified, as is the case here. So with that warning in mind, I caution you to continue with Last Stop.

Last Stop Part 10

          Upon returning to the kitchen, David had run several scenarios through his head as to what he might do in case he came across William. David was fairly certain he was capable of injuring the man enough to incapacitate him and allow escape. The worse case of course was to kill him, and when it came right down to it, regardless of all that had happened, David was unsure if he could take the life of another human being. Who was he to make that decision, and where would the nerve come from? What part of his psyche would he tap to put human emotion, right or wrong, and everything he had ever been taught about it aside and tap that primal instinct that was required. He was sure that if a confrontation presented itself, and particularly, depending on the state of Carrie’s being, which he didn’t even want to think of, his inner rage and will to live would take over leaving him safely on autopilot.
            As David approached the door at the far end of the kitchen, he noticed that the plot had changed once more. The door stood slightly ajar, unlocked, and uneasily inviting. Did this mean that Carrie was now free and safe? Did it mean she was harmed and either incapacitated or worse, and no longer a threat to run? Did this mean that she was no longer behind the door, and taken elsewhere so this ridiculous and mind numbing game would continue? David prayed the first question was the one that would be answered but knew that, based on the night’s events, it wouldn’t be that easy.
            David slowly eased the door open, the tenderizer still in hand and ready to be used. It seemed to be heavier and it made David aware of how fatigued he was. No doubt, aside from the mental exhaustion, he had put a lot of ground on his still bare feet throughout the night traipsing around the peculiar hell house, up and down stairs and running about. He wanted nothing more than to find Carrie, get them out and just return to their normal life, if that would even be possible, and sleep for three days.
            As David passed through the door, there was no light to allow a visual inspection of the room. The light afforded by the kitchen behind him gave just enough to see a fifteen foot pathway straight into the room, where David spotted a light bulb with a pull chain. Although the room was dark, it seemed rather unstill. David could hear shuffling-like noises and squeaks and scrapes, like metal on concrete, and it made him feel even edgier if it were possible, hearing these things in the dark and being unaware of their origins. His only recourse was to bolt for the light, pull the chain and hope that it worked, and be ready to retaliate against whatever or, more specifically, whoever, came at him. There was no doubt in his mind now that it would be William, and for the first time this evening, David gave thought to the man’s size and build, assessing how substantial he might be with what David could recall of the man, memories that already felt like they were from a year ago. Could he overpower him? William had the home court advantage, not to mention he probably wasn’t going about in his pajamas and barefoot, hoping that a kitchen utensil would suffice as a weapon.
David scoffed at how ludicrous this all seemed, and heard a noise suddenly that sounded remarkably like a person sniffling, then more scuffling and squeaking. Was Carrie hidden in the darkness somewhere in this room, gagged and bound? If he called her name, she might be able to make enough noise for him to locate her, and it occurred to him that he had been standing here for a vulnerable amount of time, silhouetted by the kitchen light, holding what could appear to be small sledgehammer. Perhaps Carrie could see him and, mistaking him for her captor, thinking he was here to finish her off, has remained subdued. David had no choice but to run for the light and hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.
David bolted suddenly into the room, his bare feet stamping damp footprints onto the cold concrete. He swung the tenderizer around him haphazardly to block and defend against any would be assailant, and as he drew nearer to the light, the weapon clanged against something metal causing whatever it was to shift and scrape against the floor. The light was within reach and David groped at it, tried to grasp the pull-string, hit it and sent it circling. He could hear shuffling and now grunting noises nearly upon him as he grabbed at the string and yanked. The light fluttered on and David swung the tenderizer around in a wide arc around him. It connected with nothing.
The dingy, concrete-walled room seemed to disappear into darkness beyond the light’s illuminating capability, cavernous and stretching further then the house’s foundation. David glanced around and then downward and then sank to his knees, his lip quivering as he was about to shed tears at the sight before him.
Sitting on the cold concrete floor was a semi-circle of six, large, dog cages. Some of them had stains under and around them, dark and unidentifiable. Two in particular were what brought David to his knees and to tears. Two of them were occupied. Dirty and disheveled, but rather quite plump, one boy, and one girl, perhaps around the age of seven, sat locked in cages with thick foam pads under them and blankets to cover with, staring blankly at David. Neither one spoke but just kind of uttered word-like sounds. It seemed they may have been rendered mute by some barbaric, surgical method. Heavy padlocks on the cage doors held the poor children captive. David noted that Carrie was nowhere to be seen and drew his attention back to the kids. He felt utter sorrow and instant rage. What kind of monster would do this? Again, the blame goes to William.
“I’m going to get you out,” David squeaked, his mouth and throat dry. He grabbed at the lock on the girl’s cage, yanked at it knowing it wouldn’t simply open, then reached into his pajama shirt pocket where he had stored the keys he found in Muriel’s room. David felt pity for all the unfortunate souls he had come across this evening, and for the one that mattered most to him that he hadn’t found. Yet, he told himself. His mind began to wonder how he would continue his search for Carrie, be on the watch for William and now tote along the two children to safety and try to protect them from further harm.
He set the tenderizer onto the floor and sorted through the small ring of keys, trying to choose one that looked like it would fit the locks, found one and reached for the padlock on the girl’s cage. The two children watched, then became panicked and grunted protests, their eyes wide and David realized they were both making pointing gestures, not at him, but apparently behind him. Oh shit, David thought as he turned, attempted to grab the tenderizer from the floor, saw a pair of slender, bare legs and feet, and then felt a tremendous force clock the side of his head and upper ear, splitting it open. Darkness swirled around in his vision and as he fell backwards, the light bulb came into view overhead, seemed to steadily grow dim, and then everything went dark.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

North vs South, seperation anxiety, and Last Stop Part 9

I must say that this blog was never intended to be a textual manifestation of my personal life, and I will attempt to keep it that way. At least as much as possible. But the past two weeks have been a mind-boggling, stress inducing, tumultuous roller coaster ride that seemed the car would certainly jump from the track. The transition of this Yankee to the south has been difficult to say the least. From exuberant optimism to complete disgust and disappointment in a matter of days. From all hope was lost and throwing in the proverbial towel to a complete reversal of fate in a single day. A bonafide horror story in itself. And one that I hope soon to turn around and have the ever so glorious Hollywood ending. Well, early Hollywood anyway. My family has gone back up north sans myself and now I face struggling and sacrificing to maintain our dream and yet not go Overlook Hotel alone.
On a less personal note, the situation will at least afford me the opportunity to read more (reading Scott Sigler's Infected currently), and to write more (which as I have a few ideas and stories currently underway, the aforementioned issues of the previous paragraph I must now overcome and return to a creative state of mind. Get back into my right mind. Or is it write mind?).
We shall see what the future holds. North vs South, left vs right, success vs failure. I'll attempt to keep that more to myself and get back into the task at hand; the horrific, both in print and in film. For now let us get back to our unfortunate protagonist, David, and Last Stop Part 9.

Last Stop Part 9

          David advanced down the darkened hallway to the next door. He stood outside a moment, listening for any noise beyond it, and fearing what the next disturbing discovery may yield if any.
            Nothing more than heavy silence permeated the area and David readied himself again with the kitchen utensil. He glanced down and noticed a sliver of light coming through from beneath the door. Reaching out and sampling the doorknob, it turned easily and David swung the door open.
            Another lavishly decorated room, so ridiculously contrasted to the establishment’s outward appearance, welcomed him. And as David stepped into the room, scanning the dark spaces which the small lamp that sat upon the bedside table failed to illuminate, another grisly scene presented itself. David gasped and put a hand to his mouth, yet managed to hang on to the tenderizer this time. William had obviously gone berserk. It was the only thought that registered in David’s mind as his eyes moved over the sight upon the bed.
            One could easily have mistaken the bed sheets to be a rich, silky, red velour, but upon a more thorough examination, would conclude, as David now was, that the linens were saturated with blood. Lying in the middle of the bed was Muriel, who if not for the visceral state of her being, would seem to be sleeping. Long gashes ran diagonally across her face, and her nightgown was riddled with holes that David could only assume were from where she had been stabbed repeatedly. Blood soaked the gown and ribbons of it were splashed across her face, neck, and arms. Her bare feet, pointing to the ceiling were all that was spared.
            David realized his stomach was about to purge itself, and it did. He vomited onto the floor beside the bed, the liquid and bits of undigested food from the great meal earlier, mixing with blood that had soaked the floor. He wiped his mouth along the sleeve of his pajama top.
            “Oh God,” he managed, attempting to comprehend the doubtless seriousness of his situation. Was this the same fate that he and his wife were to encounter? Did Carrie already?
            “No,” David said, “I can’t accept that.”
            And if the gruesome scene weren’t enough to process, there was a sickeningly sweet smell about the room that David just couldn’t place. He attempted to will his wobbly legs to walk and remove himself from the room, almost feeling a little remorseful for the woman lying on the bed. Obviously she wasn’t a player in the evening’s events and all the blame could be placed upon her disturbed son.
            David glanced around the room, unbelieving that there still seemed to be no telephone to call for help with. And then he noticed something shining upon the nightstand alongside the lamp. Keys. A small ring of them, and David was certain that one of them had to match the padlock on the door that held his wife captive.
            Still determined to release Carrie to safety and get them out of this place and away from the psychotic William, David reluctantly walked closer to the bed to retrieve them. As he approached the bed, the odor became stronger. It smelled almost like cake icing or candy which made no sense at all. He again looked to the poor woman’s face and could have sworn her eyelids fluttered just slightly. Could she still be alive? He leaned a little closer, the sweet smell nearly causing him to be sick again. Muriel still remained motionless and David guessed it was just the light and his confused and panic stricken mind toying with his senses.
            He leaned back, snatched the keys from the table and left the room, closing the door and the unfortunate fate of the old woman behind him. David prayed that he would encounter William and get the upper hand upon him and bash his skull in with the tenderizer. With the keys in hand and feeling rather confident, David ran back down the stairs, heading for the kitchen.