Friday, September 14, 2007

An Exorcism


Mother and Child,
Frederick, Lord Leighton,
Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery.

The piece from which the following is taken is on submission. In addition to whatever other faults it may have, the story may be considered entirely too dark for its intended venue.


I hoped the legends were right. That this time, surely, he would stay dead.

Burn the body. Spread the ashes on running water that flows to the sea. Those were the instructions for dealing with the corpse-pale, the draugr, the zombie.

Which was why I was standing there below Cemetery Hill on a narrow foot bridge in the chill dusk of a solstice afternoon.

Legends were all I had to go on. All any of the Talents had to go on, really, in this new paranormal paradigm, where spectres walked with impunity, though not always with malice, and where creatures out of myth and legend and nightmare were increasingly commonplace. Like Revenants.

I was here because I sought a diaspora of his very essence. A purification from his taint. A final exorcism. Let him go into the darkness of the year's midnight. Only light is re-born on the wheel of the year.

The water below slid shiny black and smooth in the dying light. It lapped and hungered around the rocks of the rapids and between the icy jaws of the steep ravine. I did not view it as malevolent - for water is a natural beast and stronger than magic.

Like cross-roads, bridges are unchancy places, balanced as they are earth to earth, between past and future - and therefore risky; but I didn't want to wade in the fast-moving depths below, no mater how natural. Things sometimes lived there.

I picked up the cardboard container that held my husband's ashes, broke the morturary seal, and checked the direction of the wind. From the north. Fitting. And safe. I did not want anything blowing back in my face. Then I leaned over the rail and dumped his evil dust into the moving water. Without ceremony.

Exeat. Sic transit. Finis.


Pimp Report: Award-winning duo, C.T Adams and Cathy L. Clamp, also have stories in Weirdly. I'm in good company. Their official website is here.

39 comments:

Angie said...

Bleak, and just a tiny bit shivery, especially at the very end. This makes me want to know what's going on in the larger story.

Angie

Bernita said...

So far, so good, then. Thank you, Angie.

SzélsőFa said...

I'm looking forward to read the finish of this story, or rather, the beginning of it...
I liked the description of water the most.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Szelsofa.
Sorry, I should have said this is the beginning.

Jaye Wells said...

I really enjoyed this, Bernita. Good luck on the submission. May the response be swift and the news be good.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jaye. Very much.

Cynthia Bronco said...

oooo! I like this, Bernita! Especially at this time of year.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great warping of expectations with how the woman thinks of her husband's ashes at the end. I always thrill when I come here and see you've put up another piece of your fictional prose. Iknow I'll be entertained and my imagination fired.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Cynthia!

He was the persistent type, Charles.
Thank you. That was a charming thing to say.
I feel that way at your blog.

Scott from Oregon said...

Sometimes the associations one gets when reading are, by chance, unhelpful ones.

"The Big Labowski" vhas a very comical scene that involves ashes blowing back into one's face.

You had me in your grip until those fateful words "in my face".

Your ghostly tales always make me feel like I am getting an education in the comings and goings of those that hide in the back of my bookshelves.

December/Stacia said...

Bernita, if you don't have an agent and a multibook contract, I honestly don't see what chance the rest of us have. This is lovely, and spooky--just the thing for a chilly October night.

Bernita said...

One can't be to careful about ghoul-type ashes, Scott, and she's the practical sort.
I hope the "education" is suitably indirect.

Don't be silly, December, and you with several books either out or contracted!
But thank you for those kind words.

Kate Thornton said...

Bernita, the image of ashes on cold water is a particularly bleak one. I love it.

I'm with december/stacia on this, too. Oh, and I remeber the scene in "The Big Lebowski" - too funny!

raine said...

I agree with December--if you don't, I sure as heck don't know why!

It lapped and hungered around the rocks of the rapids and between the icy jaws of the steep ravine.

Absolutely love it...sigh...

The Anti-Wife said...

Wow! You're good!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Kate, Raine and AW!

Maybe Lilly read/saw that scene too, Kate.

Raine, I was afraid those lines might be too "purple."

jason evans said...

I liked the voice here. It carries it nicely.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason.

Jeff said...

It captures the readers attention and interest right away and holds it.
Very nice, Bernita! Good luck with your submission.

Bernita said...

Jeff, thank you.
That is encouraging!

Sam said...

I love this - very intriguing!
I'll have to read the rest now. You've whet my appetite for more!
And fingers crossed for the submission!!!!

Bernita said...

Pleased you like it,Sam. Thank you.

Posts on my blog automatically show up on my gmail.
Would anyone know why the gmail is suddenly showing all sorts of codeing instead of the usual plain text message?

Robyn said...

I once lamented that there were no stories anymore that made me think twice about going into the woods at night.

I am, quite happily, wrong.

Bernita said...

I didn't think the opening was quite that grim, Robyn, but I'm pleased to hear it.

Jon M said...

Bwarrrr! Is all I can say. Which is more chilling the writing or the water?

Ello said...

Evil dust! How cool is that?

But you know, I'm starting to get really bummed out with being teased and tantalized with bits of amazingly good story openings that leave me hungering for more... I would like to read the rest of the stories you posted first lines for on Nathan's contest AND I would like to read the rest of this story. At least I know I can finally read Stone Child in 3 days, but I've got to be honest. I am not a patient person and the suspense is killing me!

Jane said...

Implicatuon and anticpation. That's what any writer needs and this piece has loads of it. I like it a lot. Is that supposed to be *paradigm*--I can't help it. (G) I spellcheck the writing on birthday cakes!

Jane said...

And look I misspelled a word, too! Laughing.

Jane said...

Goodness, two words, I've been here too long today.

Bernita said...

Nicely turned compliment, Jon. Thank you.

And another one, Ello!
Actually, an early draft of Soul Stone appears somewhere in the archives of this blog. So do a few draft scenes from A Malignity of Ghosts.

Jane, you are right to do so - have had my name mis-spelled on birthday cakes!
Thank you. I'll fix that.
My fumble fingers - fortunately, I did spell it right in the submission.

Bernita said...

Ello, I'm sorry! Just remembered that I deleted the Soul Stone draft a few months after it was posted back in 2005.

spyscribbler said...

Wow, I like this! Very atmospheric and dark. It totally pulled me in.

Good luck with the submission!

Bernita said...

Thank you, Natasha.
Romance isn't all sweetness and light, after all.

Ello said...

Drat! I guess that means I have to wait!

Welshcake said...

"Things sometimes lived there..."

I like this extract a lot. Intelligent writing and an attention grabbing opening. Good combination!

Thanks for the thanks, by the way Bernita.

Chumplet said...

I feel the cold and the grey light. I've never seen ashes mixed with water, but I imagine they float on top and don't immediately sink into the depths.

He husband was a zombie? Or is that just her opinion of him, heh heh...

The blogger thing is acting up today. EE mentioned his email posts were showing up with gobblygook.

Oh, and the word verification is so squishy I hope I can read it!

Bernita said...

Sooorry, Ello!

And thank you, thank you, again, Welshcake!

Indeed he is, Chumplet, among other things...

Blogger has been an absolute bitch since Friday. Email arrives in text format, which is annoying to try to read.

Rob said...

Great way to start a story, really grips your attention.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Rob.
Now, to keep it...