Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weirdly Contest - Day Six

Contest for Weirdly: A Collection of Strange Stories (Tales) closes Midnight (EST)) tomorrow.

Rules of the road posted December 7.

Many thanks to those who have blurged the contest.

Entry # 17: Rob McMillian of Looselogic:

A man stood before an abandoned orchard. Black, twisted trees stretched out of the ground like fingers from a shadowed beast trapped below, a stark contrast to the pale grey sky.

He pulled a crumbled mass of paper from his pocket and unfolded it, flattening it with the palm of his shaking hand against a rock on the ground. His eyes burned as he focused on the picture. The colour from the field had bled up into the trees, striping them a yellowish green and blending the image together, yet it still revealed the exact scene he saw before him. Every time he closed his eyes and tried to drift into sleep, that image haunted him.

He rose to his feet and stumbled from the path toward the nearest tree. After six days without sleep, his legs moved like thin, brittle twigs. He brushed his hair back. It clung to his fingers like wet moss.

“What am I to do?” he asked in a weak voice. “Why bring me here?”

His questions were met with a cold silence. No birds in the sky called out, no insects buzzed below, and no branches creaked in the wind. It was the silence of something waiting, the silence of expectation.

He reached the tree and ran his hand down its leathery bark, his fingers leaving a trail in the moisture on the surface. Laying down at the base of its trunk, he watched the sky disappear as he sunk deep into the grass.

Entry # 18: by "Nothingman" of A Story A Day:

"Love And Hate"
Love was dead. Death had done her artistry on the body and by the way it looked, he had been dead long time back, not yesterday.
The dead body lay in the grass under the Tree of Life, unclaimed, unknown and un-mourned for. Vines of lost faith crept like snakes in his eyes and split open the mouth which now looked like a grin with the bottom half missing, a joke which only Love got. By now the teeth had loosened from their sockets and fallen in the muddy grass where the grass of lies made them her own. The two strange birds called Mistrust and Betrayal pecked the meat from the hole in his chest where his heart once was.
The skin which once contained desire now rotted fast in the pallid winds of despair.
The bones of love laid bare for the world to spit upon.
Then, the girl finally found Love out.
Why do you lie here Love? she asked him.
I'm dead, said Love.
Oh, that's very nice. Can I lay with you and play this game?
Do as you will, Hate, Love said, do as you will.
Hate lay down besides Love and held his rotting hand, waiting, for Death.

Entry # 19: Istvan, aka Emperor Ropi:

Canadian Panda
Once upon a time there was a poor lumber who had to feed 4 kids and a wife. One day he strolled to the forest as usual. He planned to cut a huge oak tree standing in the middle of the forest. He started working on it but once he heard a strange sound. "What's that?" asking the question in his mind but he didn't stop working. The voice became louder and louder till the lumber stopped cutting the tree. He walked around but the forest was abandoned. He went back and he looked around once more. He started the engine of the chainsaw up. The strange voice came back again and it was even louder than it used to be. He started to be very annoyed and when he reached the half of the oak a shade emerged from the ground. It was a panda. But it is impossible in Canada. The lumber was scared to death and ran away. He has never cut any tree since and found a new profession for him and the oak hasn't been harmed again.

Entry # 20: by Marcy

The branch scraped my cheek as I turn to find where the noise was coming from. My legs were tight and cramped. I had been sitting here all day waiting. I didn’t yet know what I was waiting for but Sam told me to wait, so I waited. Sam had told me he had a surprise and to climb the menacing black tree in the apple orchard and wait. I was beginning to doubt what I had been told when I caught a dark figure approaching from the left. I watched as the figure strolled along kicking a can as he came nearer. I reached for the large rock Sam had instructed me to bring and waited, the sweat trickling down my cheek. I started to tremble from the weight of the rock and just when I thought I couldn’t hold on anymore I let go. The rock fell and hit the dark figure square in the head, the figure fell, twitched and lay motionless. “Nice shot”, said Sam. I held up my hand and waited for the high five which of course never came. You see Sam was my best friend but for the life of me I could not describe Sam, his hair color, age, nothing. I have never seen Sam, I’ve only ever heard his monotonous voice giving me commands to follow. Which I always do, how could I not Sam was my best friend, my only friend.

Entry # 21: Jamie Smitten:

Everyone remembers before. "You should have seen it. Why it was the pride of the county! Folks came just to walk down Main Street and take their picture in front of the falls." Why that town was nothing short of paradise, to hear them tell it. That's how it got its name anyway. Eden Falls, in case I forgot to say.

When they talk about after, they always shake their heads and lower their voices, like somebody died. Some families were just gone. Just like that. My granddaddy says if he had skipped school like he planned, he'd be deader than a doornail and missing to boot. He always says that when I miss the school bus. Sometimes if I ask him just right, he'll drive me over to see where Eden Falls used to be. There's no more Main Street, that's for sure. The government men that came after said only a fool would build that town back up. Just a matter of time before those falls did what they done before.

But you know what? Those falls never have done nothing. I've lived here my whole life and all I see is a waterfall and a field and bunch of ugly old trees. Joe's granny says that each of those trees is the soul of an innocent that got washed away when the falls broke through and came down Main Street. But I don't think that's right. Those trees would be pretty if they were.


Charles Gramlich said...

All from one picture. Inventiveness is immense.

Jaye Wells said...

Rob, I love the legendary feel here. Your descriptions are so vivid."Like fingers from a shadowed beast trapped below." I love that line.

Nothingman, I like animistic approach to the characters. It reminded me of mythology from some African cultures. Nice job.

Istvan, the panda was a surprise. Obviously it was to the lumberjack as well.

Tanya, something about describing Sam's voice as monotonous scared the crud out of me.

Jamie, have you read Anne Frasier's Pale Immortal? Your story reminded me of the town in that book. You capture the small town storyteller's voice very well.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I like how you portrayed the effect of being haunted by a recurring nightmare.

Nothingman, a fascinating allegory. Sometimes I miss that literary style.

Istvan, this story sounds like an oral tradition passed down the generations. I liked that feel.

Marcy, the way the diabolical nature of the voice is hidden behind the character's matter-of-fact demeanor was great! One thing that strikes me from a technical standpoint is how many times the word "I" appears. Avoiding that is always a struggle with first person POV.

Jamie, an vivid introduction to a much larger story. I'm ready for the novel!

Sarah Hina said...

Rob, this is such an accomplished portrait of a dark devolution. It reminded me (in spirit, anyway) of Waiting for Godot. All questions, and no answers.

Nothingman, nothing less than the Death of Love, and the Death of Eden, for you. This was very artfully written and compelling for its allegorical qualities. I thoroughly enjoyed your unique take.

Istvan, yours was an interesting interpretation of the tension between human survival and our environment's. I wish the panda, and the lumberjack, well.

Marcy, that was a great twist to your story! Really spooky stuff, and like the other have said, the creepiness is amplified by Sam's total flatness. Nice!

Jamie, very authentic voice here, and I really enjoyed the storytelling. I liked the little bit of humor mixed with the darkness of the tale, and the last line was perfect. Great job!

writtenwyrdd said...

I like all the entries, but I think the image of Love lying down with Hate was haunting. Ought to be a song, probably by NightWish or Evanescence or some goth rock band, anyhow.

Nothingman said...

Thanks, Jaye, Jason, Sarah and writtenwyrdd :) your words mean a lot to me! :)

I like the canadian panda story the best, it says what it wants and it says it in the face. Killer!

Lovely stories all over!

Thanks Bernita:)


Rob said...

Thanks everyone! And thank you for hosting this, Bernita. These writing prompt contests are a great way to give your creativity a kick in the behind.

Really enjoying the entries so far. I thought Marcy's was fantastic today. I have a soft spot for insanity, though.

Church Lady said...

Rob, I love the eerie feel to this one. You set the mood immediately. Kudos on a nice job.

Istvan, I enjoyed the talltale feel of this. There was a similar story I read to my children about a woodcutter and a tree. But that one had a happier ending.

Wow, Nothingman! This is really good. It's a dark nod to romance and passion-a tribute to love scorned. Love it!

Marcy, I enjoyed this as well. A creepy mixture of the childlike with the psychotic. Kudos!

Jamie, Smoothly written. I love the voice here. Very distinct. Nicely-woven textures here.