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via Episode 1 (Butterflies in the Garden): Danger Above by Vivian Munnoch

Episode 1:

Butterflies In The Garden

Danger Above

by Vivian Munnoch

 

jessa-crisp-08l8_ffsgje-unsplash-inverted

Photo by Jessa Crisp on Unsplash (edited by Vivian Munnoch)

The dully gleaming ebony feathers of the crow seemed to absorb the daylight into its black mass. The motionless bird stared unblinkingly at the motion below from its perch in a tree, looking more like its deceased and stuffed counterpart than a living creature.

Below him the little butterfly flitted weightlessly, bobbing on its wings over the flowers in the garden, oblivious to the danger above.

The crow blinked just once, the thin membrane moving across its cold emotionless eye a heartbeat behind the eyelid in a slightly off double motion. The bird tilted his head.

Spindly legs reaching, the little butterfly landed on a flower. Its wings moved slowly to some soundless rhythm. It tasted the air with its antennae, picking up only the sweet pollen of the flowers.

Feeling safe, the butterfly stilled its wings, letting them soak in the delightful warmth of the sun.

With slow languid motion, the crow spread his wings and took flight, his shadow passing on the ground below.

The fleeting shade was a cooling pulse across the insect’s back, the warmth returned as quickly. Only its antennae moved in response.

Landing soundlessly on a wooden post closer to the flowers, the crow ruffled his feathers and settled to watch the little butterfly.

 

More…  Episode 1 (Butterflies in the Garden): Danger Above by Vivian Munnoch

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The Gypsy Queen

Coming Soon, a paranormal drama

Help.  I’m stuck.  I don’t know what to write.  My writing sucks.  How do I write better?  I hate my writing.  Nobody likes my writing.

“Help me write better.”  It is the clarion call of the writer.  It does not matter what form or words it takes.  The plea is the same and every writer has at least thought it at some point.  Many published authors still do.  How do I improve; make the reader love my story? How do I matter in the book world?

In the big picture, none of us truly matter.  Not really.  The world will go on and the reading world will fall in love with books and authors even if any one of the most famous author names never existed.

It is in the smaller picture that the author becomes something more.

It is that small moment, the brief smile on the reader’s face, the emotions they are moved to until they move on, that is what the author exists for.

We touch the lives of others in a way no one else can.  They are drawn into the worlds we create for them alone.  They feel what we tell them to feel.  Yearn for what we urge them to yearn for.  We make them laugh and cry, filling them with joy, fear, or sorrow at our whims.

How do you do this?

 

Feed your imagination.

Each moment feeds your imagination.  When you cannot put words to paper, observe how the world around you reacts to itself.  Everything is connected.  Every look, word, walk, thought… each thing matters.

Every moment touches the next and the one before.  A stranger’s mood is affected by the angry scowl or bright smile of another passing by them.

Emotions around you can be felt, as though their very scent fills the air to infect anyone near.  And perhaps it does on a level we are not aware of.

 

Allow no excuses.

“I can’t write because…”

Poppycock.  I love that word.  It’s an old out-of-use term from before my time.

Merriam-Webster defines the word as “Empty talk or writing: nonsense.”

It comes from the Dutch word pappekak, which translates to “soft dung”.

 

You make excuses because you don’t want to write.  Stop it.

  • I can’t write because I’m stuck at this place in my book.
  • I can’t write because if I write something else it will ruin what I am writing.
  • I can’t write because I can’t feel it.
  • I can’t write because I have writers’ block.

 

The list of excuses is endless and writers’ block is a self-induced syndrome of the mind.

 

You write.  Write always.

It doesn’t matter what you write.  Just write something.  No, not the grocery list.  Now you are just being silly.

There are limitless resources out there for word prompts or story prompts. If you don’t know what to write, use them.

Pick an item.  Any item in the room.  Imagine a story where it is the centerpiece of that story.  That item is the only witness to the events unfolding around it and has no voice to share what has seen except through you.

I started one with a simple single red mitten.  It ended with kidnapping and cannibalism, the single red mitten a metaphor for blood, abandonment, and loss.  Go figure.

A simple tin cup becomes a story of famine, survival, and both the terrible things people do and the goodness they hide within.

When an idea hits you, a thought for a scene, an image for a character or event, write it. It does not matter if it is for your story in progress or not.  Just write it.

There are two ways to improve your writing, just as there is to improve any other talent.  Learning and practicing.  You don’t learn to play an instrument without practice.  Only with practice can someone become a good artist.  In writing that means learning by reading good quality stories and practicing writing your own.

The more you practice writing, the better you will be.  So, write.  Always.  Write.  Write every day or as close to it as you can.

 

What you write matters.

There is no doubt about it. And if you hated playing Hot Cross Buns in music class, you are not alone.  But those few lines of music serve a purpose to teach you something important about how the song is composed.  And as lame as the song sounds, that repetition is the basis for what you will learn later.

The same goes for writing practice.

Just like those short music verses, writing short brings the point home.

Nothing teaches you to say more with less than flash fiction.  While the definition of flash fiction could be described as a story of 1000 words or less, the flash fiction E-zines take it who a whole new level where the challenge of shorter is better becomes the norm.  Flash fiction itself falls into categories from the longer stories of 1000 words or less stories, to shorter variations of micro fiction or postcard fiction.

Can you write a compelling story with relatable characters and defined plot in less than 500 words?  In less than 300?  Can you meet the 99 word challenge?

 

Short stories are the J. R. R. Tolkien of flash fiction.  Because it’s short, typically 1,000 to 7,500 words, you need to use a lot of what you learn writing flash fiction to write a compelling full-bodied short story.  Because, at over 1000 words, your readers will expect a complete story with all the elements and arcs of a novel-length story.

 

It is with the practice in the shorter stories that you will become ready to write a full-length novel that does not lag and lose your readers’ interest.

 

If the idea of writing a full-length novel scares you, start small and work into longer stories.  The more you practice, the easier it becomes.  Myself, I over write.  If my goal is 100,000 words, I will write 130,000.  Once I edit that down to 100,000, the story has become much more gripping, the reader flowing with the story without all the word clutter that always finds its way into earlier drafts.

 

Don’t be in a hurry to publish everything you write.

When that moment comes that an opportunity is there to submit a story, you don’t want to be dashing off a last minute story.  As painful as it might be, keep unpublished stories to yourself in a variety of lengths just for that reason.  If you are always writing, exploring new stories, new story matter, new genre variations, that won’t be a problem.

You will also be a much better writer for all those stories you explore.

 

The message is simple.  Write.  Always.  Write.

 

L.V. Gaudet, author of

The McAllister Series:

Where the Bodies Are

where the bodies areAre you ready to step into the twisted mind of a killer? What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions?

A young woman is found discarded with the trash, left for dead. More bodies begin to appear, left where they are sure to be found and cause a media frenzy.

The killer’s reality blurs between past and present with a compulsion driven by a dark secret locked in a fractured mind. Overcome by a blind rage that leaves him wallowing in remorse with the bodies of victim after victim, he is desperate to stop killing.

The search for the killer will lead to his dark secret buried in the past, something much larger than a man on a killing spree.

 

The McAllister Farm

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]Take a step back into time to meet the boy who will create the killer and learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are.

William McAllister is a private and reclusive man who does not like to have attention drawn on his family. His family history is as dark as the secret hiding in the woods.

Just as he begins to bring his troubled son into the family business, a serial killer starts preying on local young women. The McAllisters quickly find themselves drawn into the spotlight when the town decides William McAllister is the killer.

The attention is a threat to both William McAllister’s profession and his family. He has no choice but to find the killer himself.

He might not like what he learns.

 

Hunting Michael Underwood

Hunting_Michael_Unde_Cover_for_KindleThe third book in the series, Hunting Michael Underwood follows on the heels of book one, Where the Bodies Are, bringing the reader back to the present after a diversion to the past in The McAllister Farm. Hunting Michael Underwood brings these two stories and their characters together as the search for the killer continues.

Step deeper into the twisted mind of a killer as he slips further into madness.

Michael Underwood has vanished and everyone is searching for him. Detective Jim McNelly is determined to not stop until he finds him. Working with the detective, Lawrence Hawkworth is still chasing the bigger story he knows is behind the bodies. Jason McAllister knows he must stop the killer he created before he goes too far. He may be the only one who can stop him.

Unable to let go of his barely remembered past and the search for his sister, the killer goes looking for Jason McAllister’s past, and his family.

 

Killing David McAllister

Killing David McAllister (Coming)

Sometimes the only way to stop a monster is to kill it.  He has gone by many names, but he was raised as David  McAllister, and finding what he is looking for is not enough to quiet the darkness inside him.

 

 

Other Books:

Garden Grove

Garden Grove Cover - Amazon ebook - front coverWho wants to stop construction at the new Garden Grove residential development? Everyone, it seems. Garden Grove is a hotbed of complications from costly mistakes and petty vandalism to sabotage and the poisoning of the work crew.

While the construction crew struggles to stay on schedule, they face growing problems and, with them, a growing sense of unease.

A group of local housewives drawn into the growing mystery uncovers a secret that brings Garden Grove deeper into a new mystery connecting all the suspects.

When all attempts to have the site shut down permanently fail, two long time local elderly residents step up their own efforts. Each with their own family secrets, the pair of quirky old birds are pitted against each other and their longstanding family feud is brought to the boiling point.

The mystery deepens with the discovery of old human remains that have their own dark past recently planted at the jobsite.

 

The Gypsy Queen (coming soon)

The Gypsy Queen1952

When a young man with an enthusiasm for get rich quick schemes discovers an old abandoned paddle wheel river steam boat, he has dreams of the riches and glamour she will bring.

His best friend and unwilling business partner sees only rot, decay, and their ruination in the old boat.

Struggling to rebuild her, they are pitted against everyone from the Shipbuilders’ Union to the local casino boss. Meanwhile, strange accidents and a sense of dread falls on those who enter the boat as she awakens with a hunger for her ounce of blood.

The Gypsy Queen’s dark past will not be forgotten.

 

For the middle years grades check out:

The Latchkey Kids

The_Latchkey_Kids_Cover_for_KindleWhat would you do if you came home from school alone and heard noises in the basement?

Five kids, twelve and thirteen years old and on their own before and after school, each faces their own struggle. A broken home, illness, crushes, bullying, depression, absent parents, suicidal thoughts, broken friendships, and fear of being only a kid and home alone.

There is also the strange noises houses make when they are quiet and you are alone, particularly the noises in the basement.  Something is down there.

Madison, Andrew, Kylie, Anna, and Dylan are brought together by circumstances that feel overwhelmingly out of their control.  The temptation of exploring an old abandoned brick building, loneliness, and fleeing an attempted abduction, each is drawn to the old abandoned building for different reasons.

There, they will fight for their lives, where the monsters in the basement nest.

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Waiting (Short Story)

Waiting

By L. V. Gaudet

© March 2010

     It was a busy street where it all happened.  At least that’s where my earliest memory begins.

     You know the kind of street, where cars whiz by fast, people of every description come, go, or stop a while, and the air is filled with more smells and sounds than the senses can take in.

     We waited in the sometimes shelter and sometimes shade of the concrete at the base of the brick building next to the bus stop.  There was an almost plaza-like feel to the place, with the large open paved area squeezed in among the streets, sidewalks, and tall brick buildings all around.  There was no sidewalk between this particular building and the busy street it nestled against.  Pedestrians trying their luck on the street side of the building took their lives in their hands.  I was surprised by how many people did that.

     It was a very busy bus stop.  A nonstop tide of cars, buses, and people came and went constantly.

     I don’t know how long we waited, but it sure seemed like a very long time.  People came and went, buses came and went, and yet we waited, always waiting.  Would our bus never come?

     My mind felt like I was looking through a fog.  Everything was confusing, my memory somehow lost in a haze I just couldn’t quite see through.

     “Why was I here?  Where are we going?  What bus are we waiting for?  And, why won’t that bus ever seem to come?”

     I remember looking around at the people of our group.  There was a certain familiarity about them.  Standing about, watching for that bus that never seemed to come, watching the people come and go.  Idle chat seemed to be the activity of the day, leaning casually against a wall, sitting on the ground with backs pressed against the side of the building, or just standing around.

This was “our” spot, somehow.  I don’t know how.  It just had that familiarity about it, as if we were always here in the sometimes shelter and sometimes shade of that building’s wall, waiting.

     I knew that I know these people, but I couldn’t find them in my hazy memory.  Rubbing my eyes and shaking the clarity back into my head didn’t work.

     Who are these people?  I know them, so why don’t I know them?

     I couldn’t even tell who among the crowds of people gathered, forever shifting and changing as people got on and off buses, arriving and leaving, were a part of our group.  Was our group small?  The four or five people I suspected might really be all there was to our group?  Or were there more, as I also suspected, but with a sense of confusing doubt?

     There was a couple sitting with their backs against the wall, chatting and seeming oblivious to the world around, except for the occasional glances at people in the crowd.  I thought of them as the “Casual Pair”. A boy and a girl, both teenagers, though I couldn’t place their ages any more than I could their faces or identities.

     There was the “Lurker”.  He was a young man who just couldn’t quite seem to decide where he wanted to be.  He stood leaning against the wall a while, then pushed off and meandered through the crowd to stand somewhere else.  He watched the crowd, the cars, the members of the group, and kept wandering to the edge of the road to look up and down for the bus.

     The worst was when he looked at me.  That was when I got the feel that he was lurking more than he was waiting.  At those moments the confusion spun a little faster inside my head, making me dizzy.

     I got the odd vibe from others that they too were part of the group.  It was a vague feeling, like that feeling someone is watching you when you are sure you are alone. I’d turn to look, trying to identify who in the crowd the vibe was coming from, but, like those phantom movements you catch in the corner of your eye, they just seemed to melt into the crowd, unidentifiable.  That just gave me the heebie-jeebies and made the fog of confusion eddy and swirl in my mind.

     I didn’t know what to call them, or even how to think of them.  The “Crowd Phantoms” might come closest.

     And then there was “The Man”, the watcher.  He was older, though I couldn’t tell how much older.  He didn’t look terribly much older, but he felt a great deal older.  His dark hair hung in longish strands to each side of his face, a short black beard, and Genghis Khan-like moustache.  He wasn’t a bad looking man, but when I looked at him I felt darkness, the darkness of his hair, his eyes, and a dark kindness too.  He watched the crowds, the traffic … and us.

He liked to kneel down on one knee a lot.  That struck me as a little strange, but somehow seemed entirely normal too.  I sensed a feeling of authority about him.  I suspected he was the leader of our group; that somehow he was charged with keeping us together and all accounted for.  Was he a protector looking after us?  A captor guarding us against escape?

     The more I looked around at our group, at the throngs of people coming and going, taking no notice of us, that we were a group, the greater my confusion grew.

     Why did no one seem to notice that we were a group?  Why did I even care?

     Who were we?  Who was I?

     The fog in my mind eddied, swirled, and thickened.

     My mind spun, though my head seemed to stay still.  I started feeling sick.

     A frantic feeling of panic started in my gut, slowly snaking its insidious way up, growing, swelling inside me until I choked on it.  It seemed to fill my throat, blocking it, preventing me from breathing.

     Everything felt wrong somehow.  The light was wrong, the smells, the sounds.

     I glanced at The Man, wondering if he could see the panic in my eyes, willing him not to see.  Somehow, I felt that would be a bad thing.

     He looked up, kneeling again, and smiled at me.  He turned his head away again to watch the people coming off a bus as it rolled to a stop and opened its yawning doors.

     I had to get out of here.  I didn’t know why, or to where.

     It was just a niggling feeling at first; that urge to bolt, to run, to make a break for it.

     The feelings grew.  Panic, confusion, nausea, and the urge to flee; they filled me, overwhelmed me, making my head feel like it would explode if I didn’t get out of there.

     I watched.  I waited.  The waiting seemed as endless as our forever wait for the bus that never came.

     And, when no one seemed to be noticing me; that was when I made my move.  I ran.

     I didn’t really run, at least not at first.  That would have been too conspicuous, bringing unwanted attention to me.  I ducked behind people, moving with the crowd, hiding behind first one person and then a next as I slowly made my way away from the bus stop.

     I kept careful watch of The Group as they became more distant, afraid someone might look my way.  I especially watched The Man, terrified he would sense my intention, carefully watching that his attention was on something else.

     The next thing I remembered was being in a strange and entirely deserted place that had a confusing familiar feel to it.  There was a field, where perhaps kids played sports, though there were no goals or nets or anything else to suggest it was a field for sports.  There was a wooden structure.  It had a narrow L shaped building that perhaps housed groundskeeper’s tools, a canteen, or something else.  The roof of that little building filled in the rest of the square, covering a little concrete patio filled with rows of benches.

     Did people eat here?  Was it some sort of amphitheater, like the kind you find at some campgrounds?

     I had the strange feeling that I had been here before.  With it came a vague sense of horses, although there were no signs that horses had ever been in this place.

     The fog of confusion still filled my mind.  Even the memories of The Group and the bus stop seemed to be growing insubstantial, evaporating, and disappearing like the memories from before the bus stop did.

     Scared and alone, I hoped The Group was looking for me, that they would come here and find me and take me away from this place.  I longed to see the face of The Man, the reassurance of his ever watchful presence.

     I was terrified The Group was looking for me, that they would come here and find me and take me away from this place.  I dreaded to see the face of The Man; that he would come to claim me and take me back to the bus stop, back within the fold of The Group.

     I wanted to disappear within the folds of myself, become invisible, become … not.

     Night came quickly, too quickly.

     I huddled into myself, wrapping my arms tightly about myself, and lay down on one of the cool hard wooden benches.  I fell asleep.

     I awoke with a start to a face close to mine.  My heart lurched, gripped by fear.  I almost screamed.

     “They found me!” my panicked mind cried.  I looked around desperately for The Man, Lurker, and Casual Pair.  A part of me hoped for even a glimpse of one of the Crowd Phantoms; that I was found and my flight was finished.  I could go back to simply waiting, forever waiting for that bus that never came.

     The thought tore at me, filled me with dread.  I was terrified of being found, being brought back to rejoin The Group.  Where were we going?  And why did that bus never come?

     I moved to bolt, to flee, to make a run for it.  Something about that bus, the bus stop, and The Man terrified me.

     Gentle hands held my shoulders.

     I looked up into the face.  He was older than Lurker, younger than The Man.  His eyes and ruddy face were filled with concern.  His light brown, almost blond hair had a slight curl to it, giving it a softer look.

     He stared at my face, into my eyes.

     “Are you ok?”  I could hear the worry straining his voice.

     I didn’t answer.  I couldn’t answer.  I felt frozen, unable to move, to talk, a part of the bench.

     I saw that he could see the fear in my face.

     “Are you lost?” he asked, “hurt?”

     I stared back mutely, unable to respond with anything more than a blink.

     “What are you so afraid of?”

     He looked around, then back to me, staring into my eyes as though if he stared hard enough he might see the answers.

     I shook my head, trying to clear the fog of confusion.  Where were my memories?  Why couldn’t I remember anything before the bus stop?  Why where the memories even of that place, The Group, slipping away?

     I looked past him, dreading seeing any of The Group, hoping and fearing seeing the face of The Man.  I wanted this over, to be back to the place I knew, the only place I knew, the bus stop.  I was terrified The Man would find me and take me back there.

     I saw people beyond this man’s face.  They looked worried too.  They shifted uncomfortably, perhaps embarrassed for me.  They held no familiarity.  They were not part of The Group.  I was safe, for now.

     I looked back at this man’s face, the “New Man” I thought of him as.  I sensed caring, concern.  I felt safer with him.  I liked him for making me feel safer.  I felt strangely drawn to him and sensed he felt the same towards me.

     “I’ll be right back,” he said to me, staring deep into my eyes.  “Don’t move.  I just need to talk to my group.”

     And they were his group, I could sense that.  They were together, a family perhaps, or friends, or maybe a group like The Group.  Only this group didn’t make me feel confused or lost in a memory-eating fog.

     He walked over to the other people.  They huddled around him as they talked.  I caught snatches of conversation, words.

     “Lost.”

     “We can’t.”

     “Scared.”

     “But, what if.”

     “Have to.”

     “No.”

     They were going to leave me here, alone.  I longed for that solitude, was terrified of that solitude.

     “Please don’t leave me,” my heart cried while my mind begged them to just go and leave me alone.

     He came back to me, knelt down, gripping my shoulders again in that firm but gentle grip.

     “We won’t leave you here,” he said.  “I won’t.”

     I hadn’t moved this whole time, still laying there with my arms hugging myself desperately, folding into myself and trying to vanish.

     He gently sat me up, sitting beside me and putting one arm gently around me in a protective embrace.

     We sat there for a long time.  We talked.  His group became impatient, but continued to wait at a distance.

     I can’t remember what we talked about, not a single word of the conversation.  I only remember that we talked for a really long time.  Sometimes we got up and walked off into the field as we talked.  Sometimes we came back and sat on the bench again.  My mind is still full of holes, hazy mists of fog hiding my memories and spinning me in a web of confusion.

     Night came again, much too soon.

     Finally, he looked at me gently and said, “Let’s go.”

     He led me to the group.  They all looked at me, their faces reflecting his concern.

     My heart lifted.  The “New Man” wouldn’t let “The Man” find me.  He’d keep me safe, hide me.  And if he did come for me, “New Man” would come for me, rescue me, and take me back again.  I was his now.  I think I love him, though I only just met him.

     We started to move towards the road.

     Then I saw him, The Man, his smiling face staring down at me.  Just his face, floating in the air above, there but not.

     “No!” I wanted to cry.  Tears rushed to my eyes, burning them.  I wanted to run.

     New Man looked down at me.

     “I’m here,” he said, taking my hand in his, the warmth of it flowing to me with a feeling of safety.

     It wasn’t enough.

     I could still see The Man, his smiling eyes, his lank longish black hair, his beard.

     “You found her!”  I heard The Man’s voice happily call out.

     I wanted to hide, to cry, and to beg New Man to not let The Man see me.

     “She’s safe,” The Man called to someone.  “Everybody, she’s safe, she’s here!”

     Then I saw their faces, Lurker, Casual Pair.  I saw the bus stop with the busy crowds of people who I could never pick the Crowd Phantoms out of, those who I suspected might be part of our group, but just didn’t know.

     I saw the anger in the New Man’s face, protectiveness, the desperate need to hold on to me.  And at that very last moment, the terrible anguish of someone who has just lost everything in their life that mattered.

     Suddenly, I was back at the bus stop as though I’d never left it.

Casual Pair leaned against the wall, chatting idly, their occasional glances towards me somehow feeling nervous now.

     Lurker leaned casually against the wall, wandered to the edge of the street to watch for the bus, meandered through the crowd, ever lurking, careful now to not glance in my direction at all.  I sensed a new jitteriness about him that wasn’t there before.

     The Man knelt on one knee, watching the crowds, watching the traffic and the buses, and watching us.  His glances towards me seemed guarded now, a fear lurking behind the smile.

     I looked around, unsure.  How did I get here?

     I spotted New Man at the edge of the plaza bus stop.  He stood motionless, staring at me, his face filled with concern, longing, and confusion.

     I knew he was afraid to approach.  Afraid of The Man?  That I would reject him?

     “Please come and take me away from here,” I begged silently, my lips as frozen as my ability to speak or act.

     I watched him watch me, both of us desperate, both of us yearning to approach the other, both of us frozen in place.

     I knew he wanted desperately to take me away from here, to rescue me from this place, from the endless wait for the bus that never came.

     I knew he couldn’t, that he was powerless to do anything, that The Man was ever watching, watching me more closely than ever before.

     I turned away from New Man.  I couldn’t watch anymore, bear witness to the helpless concern in his eyes, on his face.

     I longed to run, to make a break for it.  Fogs of confusion eddied around in my mind, eating my memories, dissolving them into wisps of insubstantial fog.  I was losing that place, the hard wooden benches, the feeling I was there before in a place I don’t think I’d ever seen before, the vague sense of horses.  I was losing New Man’s group, though I occasionally glimpsed them hovering beyond the crowds of people coming and going for the bus, carefully staying beyond the plaza.

     I wandered towards the road, the cars, the buses constantly coming and stopping and leaving again after belching passengers and gobbling up new ones.

     I looked up and down the road, cars whizzing by, buses barreling past unstoppable and not stopping.

     I thought about throwing myself in front of one of those buses that never stopped.  Was one of them ours?  Was that why it never seemed to come, but everyone else’s did?

     I sat down on the curb instead.  The Man came and sat down beside me.  He talked to me.  He talked to me of love and loss, games and happy times.  He talked of losing me and finding me.  I have no idea what he said or what we talked about.  It’s all lost in the memory-eating fog.

     I remember his hand accidentally touching mine, his keeping it there after, feeling his entire body trembling through that hand.  Was it fear?  Relief?  Something else?

     I felt confused, lost.  I just wanted to run away.

     Why did no one seem to notice my distress?  New Man’s desperate looks my way?  That we were a group, together?  That we were here always waiting for a bus that never came?

     Then I came to realize.  They didn’t see us.  They just didn’t see us, nobody did.  We were invisible to them, a part of the crowd coming and going, but ourselves never moving.  Why?

     “See us!” I wanted to scream.  “Why don’t you just look at us and see us!?”

     “The bus is here,” The Man said.

     “Finally,” Lurker spat.

     Casual Pair got up and hurried for the bus, its yawning doors waiting for us, its dark interior waiting to gobble us up.

     I felt swept up in the tide of people moving for the bus, unable to stop my forward movement.

     New Man took a desperate step forward, craning to see me through the crowd, one hand silently reaching for me, his face twisted with concern and desperate need.

     The Man smiled down at me as I was swept up into the bus with the tide of people, following Lurker and Casual Pair, unable to stop the tide of people that seemed to push me forward, forcing me onto the bus.

     I turned back, taking one last look at New Man’s sad face as the yawning doors closed behind me.

     He watched the bus lurch away and speed up down the street.

     I watched him through the window, desperate.

     “Save me,” I whispered.

     It was a busy street where it all happened.  At least that’s where my earliest memory begins.

     You know the kind of street, where cars whiz by fast, people of every description come, go, or stop a while, and the air is filled with more smells and sounds than the senses can take in.

     We waited in the sometimes shelter and sometimes shade of the concrete at the base of the brick building next to the bus stop.  There was an almost plaza-like feel to the place, with the large open paved area squeezed in among the streets, sidewalks, and tall brick buildings all around.  There was no sidewalk between this particular building and the busy street it nestled against.  Pedestrians trying their luck on the street side of the building took their lives in their hands.  I was surprised by how many people did that.

     It was a very busy bus stop.  A nonstop tide of cars, buses, and people came and went constantly.

     I don’t know how long we waited, but it sure seemed like a very long time.  People came and went, buses came and went, and yet we waited, always waiting.  Would our bus never come?

     My mind felt like I was looking through a fog.  Everything was confusing, my memory somehow lost in a haze I just couldn’t quite see through.

     “Why was I here?  Where are we going?  What bus are we waiting for?  And, why won’t that bus ever seem to come?”

     I looked around.  Casual Pair sat against the wall chatting, Lurker meandered through the crowd.  The Man looked at me, smiled.  I spun my head to look, a Crowd Phantom?  But I could not pick anyone out of the crowd.

     On the edge of the plaza-like bus stop a ruddy faced man watched me with concern in his eyes and face.  His light brown, almost blond hair had a slight curl to it, making it seem softer.

     I didn’t know him, but he somehow felt familiar.

     The confusion grew as I looked about, at the cars and buses, the people, The Group, the man watching with such worried eyes.  I had a vague feeling that he was an outsider; that he didn’t belong and shouldn’t be here.  I sensed that he was here for me, the tickle of the feeling that almost wasn’t there, of a bond between this strange man and me. “New Man,” the name came unbidden to my mind.

     Why didn’t he approach?  Why didn’t anyone seem to notice him, us, to see?

     A tiny twisted knot of fear began in my stomach.  It slithered its way up, growing, filling me, and choking me.

     I wanted to make a run for it, to bolt.

     Would that bus never come?

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The Woods

By L. V. Gaudet

© February 2009

 

 

                It was an ordinary forest, as far as spooky looking woods go, filled mostly with craggy twisted oak trees, their gnarled branches reaching like skeletal fingers and deeply wrinkled cracked bark.  They clustered together, their branches twisted and tangled together, daring any to enter their midst.  The land here lay low and wet in the spring, leaving the stand of trees, stick-like saplings, and sparse tall yellow grass invaded by wild roses with their sharp thorns standing in a shallow bath of melt water throughout the springtime months.

                These were far from a silent stand of woods.  A small stretch of thick growth surrounded by fields of crops interspersed with some stretches abandoned to grass, weeds, and stray crop seeds.  Against one side of this stretch of trees, amidst the farm fields, was also nestled a small happy community.  The woods teamed with life, red and grey squirrels, rabbits, mice and voles, and a range of birds.  With the damp ground, they were a haven also for frogs and toads, and of course, the ever present blood sucking mosquitoes.

                It was a typical small town community lying nestled against the miniature forest.  It had grown from centuries old land of grasslands mixed with forests.  The old forests and grasslands were slowly chopped down, turned over, and settled as the world slowly populated with mankind; the landscape of humanity changing from hunter-gatherers to farms, towns, and villages.  Eventually towns and communities grew together to become cities, family homesteads populated into small farming communities, and untouched land became rare pockets of unsullied old growth forests scattered about in tiny fragments bordering farm fields and stretches of small community homes.

                Some of these tiny pockets of untouched woods still held secrets.  Some of these secrets were perhaps best left that way.

#

                The woods sat silent and brooding, an ugly tangle of dead looking leafless skeletal branches that looked like they belonged in a darker and more sinister world, the world of the dead.  The clouds hung heavy, dark, and grey on this day; a suffocating thick blanket hanging low in the sky to cast a pall over this small piece of the world.

                The snow lay heavy and wet, crystalline flakes shrinking and melding into a dirty slush as the temperatures slowly warmed.  In time, the snow would vanish and be replaced once again by the murky stagnant melt waters that would take a few months to dry up.

                Most of the rodents, birds, and other small woodland creatures were conspicuously absent on this day, having chosen to hunker down and wait out this gloomy day.  Nevertheless, a few squirrels and birds still flitted about the skeletal trees, a small rabbit nervously twitching its nose as it sat motionlessly waiting.

                Two children playing in their back yard off the woods dared each other to go exploring into the spooky trees.

                “I bet you can’t go to the fallen tree,” said the older and taller of the two boys.

                The younger boy blanched, his stomach turning sickly, but stared stone faced at the fallen rotting tree laying nestled within the narrow strip of woods.  He was not going to let his brother know how scared he was.  He could already smell the mossy rot of the long dead tree, although he had never been near enough to it to catch its odor.  It smelled in his vivid young imagination like death and decay and something even darker.  He watched a small red squirrel flit around the trees, untouched by the dark brooding sullenness and the spooks, ghosts, and monsters his mind screamed must surely lurk hidden inside these scary woods.  He swallowed.

                “Can too,” the younger boy said, his voice cracking with fear.  “I bet you can’t go stand on that ole’ stump,” he countered.

                The old stump was a rotting remnant of an even older fallen tree that had long ago vanished into the mud and scraggly growth of the woods.  The stump remained, standing defiant and threatening beyond the fallen tree now laying discarded and tangled in the woods, sharp splinters and points of shattered wood sticking up as though waiting to impale any foolish boy who tried to climb it and fell.  Its wood now was soft and crumbly with rot, its sharp jagged edges unlikely to be capable of impaling anything for years.

                Kevin “humphed” at his younger brother.  He was just as scared, but certainly was not going to let his little brother know that.  He nervously hiked up his pants, which did not need it, and stepped forward on a mission.  He marched purposely into the woods, careful to keep his back to the younger boy so he would not see the paleness of his waxy fear-filled face.

                With a scuff and a shrug, Jesse reluctantly followed his older brother.

                The little red squirrel scampered up to the high branches as they passed, pausing to chitter down angrily at the boys.

                They reached the first point, the fallen tree Kevin had dared his younger brother to venture to.  It was no victory for either boy.  On a forced march of pride, determined not to reveal his fear of some silly trees, Kevin continued on.  He crawled over the fallen tree, its rotting length sagging with a soggy cracking beneath his weight.  His forward march slowed more the closer he came to the wicked looking ancient broken stump.

                Unable to let his older brother face the woods alone, Jesse followed.  As he drew near the old stump where his brother had stopped to stare motionlessly at it, he noticed something unusual looking at the base of the stump.

                “What’s that?”  Jesse asked nervously.

                The boys would never be seen again.

 

 

***********************************

 

 

Bookmark The Woods by L.V. Gaudet (Horror Flash Fiction)

 

 

The Woods – published Feb 15/09  at Patchwork, an online horror e-zine bringing attention to domestic abuse through the horror genre.

http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

  

 

 

 

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Ghost Ship 2 – Return the Illopogas
by L. V. Gaudet
(C) February 2009

 

     The waves licked wetly at the dock, muted and dull.  The pale moon tried to illuminate the world below with little success.  Dark clouds looming on the horizon drifted in, the first tattered fingers splaying across the moon like skeletal limbs.  Wind drifted across the sandy edge of the water where the tide lapped the sand like a thirsty beast, drawing up specters of dancing sandy ghosts cavorting across the narrow ribbon of beach.  Beyond the reach of the sandy ground tall dry grass whisked and danced stiffly, whispering secrets as the slender stalks rubbed together.

            The incessant buzzing and chirping of insects stopped suddenly as a new duller tone joined the symphony of the waves licking against each other, the dock, and the water’s edge.  It was a duller sound, of water gently lapping at rotting waterlogged wood.

            Somewhere a dog whined, cowering and shivering with fear.

            In the houses the people slept, unaware.

            The dull shadow of an ancient ship silently crossed the surface of the waves, followed by the blackened rotting timber of its bulk.  Tattered shreds of what had once been sails hung limply from the masts, discolored and rotting.  Cracked and pealed, the weatherworn paint of the ship’s name was barely readable, “Illopogas”.  The very air around the derelict ship seemed to darken and grow heavier, stiller, as it slipped silently through the water toward land.

            A homeless old man sleeping in his makeshift shelter at the edge of the beach groaned woefully in his sleep, his face twisting into a grimace of fear.  He was an old salt of the sea, having spent his years from a teen until he grew too old and feeble to tow a line working on various ships.  He had seen many seas, many places, and many strange things.  Only once had he laid eyes upon the ill-fated ancient lost ship that forever sailed the seas empty of crew and cargo except for ghosts and memories, the ghostly Illopogas.  Unfortunately, he lived to tell the tale.

            Of course, none believed him.  Since that fateful day Jebediah, Jeb to his long lost friends and crewmates, had been lost to the ravages of the whiskey bottle, withering in body, mind, and soul.  Jeb had been the sole survivor of his ship, remnants of which later washed up on many beaches, the lumber strangely rotted and darkened.  He had been pulled from the murky waters by a fishing vessel, babbling unintelligibly and lost in a waking nightmare that only the soothing burn of a bottle of whiskey seemed able to quiet.

            He had tried to tell them what happened, had tried to warn them all.  However, they just shook their heads sadly at him, an old sailor who had apparently sailed a few seas too many.  He babbled to anyone he thought, hoped, might listen.  Jeb had become a common sight in the sailor’s watering holes, sitting in a darkened corner, withered and marinated in a brine of stale whiskey, muttering unintelligibly to himself and occasionally entertaining the other drunken sailors with his inebriated ramblings of ghostly ships and monsters of the seas.  He had tried stopping people in the streets to warn them, but invariably they wrinkled their noses with a look of distaste and hurried on their way, trying to avoid the pathetic drunken old man stumbling about in a cloud of delirium and fetid odor.

            A low moan drifted across the surface of the waves, sorrowful and lost, rolling up the narrow strip of sandy beach.

            Jeb woke with a start and stumbled out of his makeshift shelter, staggering to the water’s edge.  His rheumy eyes stared out, empty and haunted, at the expanse of water.

            Tonight the Illopogas returned for him.

            Tomorrow an empty husk of a man would be found on the beach, lost forever within the tormented depths of his mind, a victim of a ghostly apparition.

           

  

Published:

Feb 15/09 online at Patchwork
http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

Bookmark Ghost Ship 2 - Return the Illopogas by L.V. Gaudet (Horror Flash Fiction)

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Knock On Ginger

By L. V. Gaudet

© January 2009

 

 

                The doorbell chimed, its ring bouncing merrily off the walls.

                The old woman pulled herself from her chair with difficulty, pulling her walker to her to use for support.  In the slow shuffle-walk of the infirm, she carefully placed the walker ahead then shuffled three little steps.  Thump shuffle shuffle shuffle, pause.  Thump shuffle shuffle shuffle, pause.

                When the old woman at last pulled the door open with shaky arthritis knobbed fingers and looked outside, no one was there.  She looked up and down the street in confusion, rheumy eyes squinting to see.

                From behind a bush around the corner of the old woman’s little house came the sound of giggles and snickers of children.

                Her eyes blazed with anger and her face turned red.  Feebly, the old woman raised one gnarled hand, trying unsuccessfully to make it into a fist to shake.  She shook it anyway, the loose skin of her arm flapping below the bicep.

                “You kids leave me alone,” the old woman yelled in her croaky old crone’s voice, spittle flying with the anger of her words.  “Leave off my bell!”  She shambled backwards with some difficulty and slammed the door closed, muttering and shaking her head angrily as she did so.

                Great guffaws of laughter burst from the bush and kids rolled out from behind it, holding their stomachs as they rolled, so hard were they laughing.  One, two, three, four kids; three boys and one girl.

                One boy got to his feet, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

                “That was great,” he exclaimed.

                “Did you see her face Billy?” another boy grinned eagerly as he joined the first boy.  Billy just nodded enthusiastically.

                The girl, Samantha, Sam for short, joined the boys with a sheepish grin on her face.  She did not feel right about doing this to the old woman, but that old woman always yelled at the kids when they played in front of her house.  Besides, it was fun!

                The third boy, Justin, finally stopped rolling on the ground and joined the other kids.

                “Billy, Evan, Sam… that was great!” he exclaimed.  “Did you see?  I swear she was gonna have a stroke, the old lady looked so mad!”  He looked at the other kids, eyes blazing with excitement.”

                They all stood around grinning at each other.

                “So, who’re we going to knock-on-ginger next?”  Justin asked.

                Just then, Sam’s mom came walking down the sidewalk towards them.  The kids all froze, staring at each other nervously.  Had she heard?  Did she see what game they had been playing?  They were all in trouble now, they thought.

                “Hi, kids,” Sam’s mom said as she paused on her way past the kids.  She looked at them, then at the old lady’s house, then back to the kids with a strange knowing smile hovering on her lips.

                “Kind of weird, isn’t it kids,” she said, looking at each child in turn.

                The four kids just blinked at her, fidgeting with nervousness.

                “Yes,” Sam’s mom said, answering their unasked question, “old Mrs. Wierdar has been part of this neighborhood forever.”  She looked at the house with a strange look, almost as though a vague sense of unease filled her.  “The house seems so… empty… since they took her away.”

                “Um, took her away,” the kids asked in unison, staring at Sam’s mom with very strange looks on their faces.

                “Yes,” Sam’s mom said, “didn’t you know?  She was taken away yesterday.  Her home care worker found her…”  She swallowed, a little uncertain now if she should be telling the kids this story.  “They think she might have been dead for two days before her home care worker found her … possibly a stroke.”  She reddened, embarrassed by the looks on the kids faces.  “Um, I have to go now,” and she hurried off down the street.

                The four kids just stared at each other, their faces white and eyes filled with fear.

 

 

 

Published:
Jan 20/09 online at MicroHorror http://www.microhorror.com/microhorror/category/author/l-v-gaudet/

Feb 23/09 online at Patchwork
http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

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Ghost Ship (The Illopogas)

by L. V. Gaudet

(C) January 2009

 

 

  

     A pall hung over the moon, misty clouds stringing across the sky like the tattered remnants of a ghostly sail.  The endless sound of the ocean forever in motion whispered ceaselessly like the incomprehensible roar of a far away stadium crowd.  Pale light from the moon reflected weakly off the constant gently rolling water, illuminating the upward motion while casting faint shadows on the downward movements of the water’s ceaselessly flowing surface.

            A sound moaned softly somewhere in the darkness.  It was the creak and groan of ancient lumber flexing and bending with the pressure of the waves pressing upon it, trying to bend the wood to its will.  With it came the soft lapping of the waves licking against the slowly rotting timber, carrying it on an endless voyage across the sea.

            Within the dark confines of the ancient ship’s hull, the air hung heavy and stale.  Dead.  Throughout the empty cargo hold was the rotten wood remnants of long ago stalls and pens for the transporting of livestock.  The spaces between these broken lumber remnants were filled to capacity with tightly packed rows and rows of shelves from ceiling to floor.  Littered among these shelves were shackles.  Some were red-brown with the rust of ages, some seemed black as a new cast iron pan and freshly oiled.  Many lay within the ranges in between.  There were shackles on the shelves and lying discarded on the floor like dead metal vipers.  Still more hung down from the low ceiling, swinging casually with the gentle rolling of the ship on the sea, swinging silently except for the occasional light ching when two touched briefly in their never-ending dance.  A thick gritty and greasy dust clung to everything.

            “Is the cargo secured?” a voice called out.  The captain was feeling nervous about the dark clouds looming on the horizon.

            “All secure,” called back the first mate.

            “Secure the masts,” the captain called out, “bring in the sails.”

            The sounds of men scurrying about the deck, voices indefinable and vague, echoed down to the hull below.

            On the vacant deck above, the pale light of the moon caressed across the ship from bow to stern.  The sails hung limply, tattered and shredded, stained and rotting.  The planks of the deck lay clean and dry, repeatedly washed by the waves as though by invisible deck hands.  Endless days under the sun had left the timber bleached.

            The moans and groans of ill and discontented souls oozed up from the bowels of the ship with the creaking and groaning of the timber, the only sound other than the waves and shifting of what remained of the rotting tack that touched the deserted deck.  Sometimes a terrible scream would be carried on the wind, fleeing the terrors locked within the weeping timber of the ship’s hull.

            This is the Illopogas, a cargo ship that was once used for transporting many different types of cargos over the years, the last of which was livestock that was not of the four-legged variety.  Stories of the Illopogas migrate like some of the denizens of the waves, travelling from port to port, whispered in the darkened corners of inns and pubs by sailors who have drunk too much.  Even in the telling of these tales, these drunken louts eye the room suspiciously through narrow slitted eyes, making protective gestures behind their backs, wary of jinxing themselves and bringing the Illopogas across their path when next they sail.

            Few sailors have crossed paths with the legendary ghost ship, The Illopogas, and lived to tell the tale.  None has been able to hold on to their shredded sanity.  Some say that the ship is haunted by vengeful ghosts, others that the ship itself seeks revenge.

            There is something about ghost ships, forever sailing the seas manned by an invisible crew, which strikes fear into the hearts of men.  None as much as the Illopogas.

            Beware the ghost ship.

            Beware the Illopogas.

 

 

Published:

Jan 19/09 online at MicroHorror

http://www.microhorror.com/microhorror/category/author/l-v-gaudet/


Feb 23/09 online at Patchwork
http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

 

 

 

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Creature (Flash Fiction)
by L. V. Gaudet
(C) December 2008

The naked figure crouched low to the ground as though trying to hide in the short stubble of the freshly harvested wheat field. Her hot steamy breath wafted out in a white mist between lightly parted lips as she exhaled gently into the chill fall air. The crisp coolness of the night enveloped her body in a silky blanket of frigid darkness. Alone in the center of the field, she raised up from her crouched position on the ground to her full height. Pale face reaching for the sky, she watched as the moon danced out from behind a bank of slowly roiling clouds to bathe her in its eerie white glow. A cold breeze tickled across her bare back, making her shiver, catching her long flowing ebony hair and teasing it up into the air like the swirling skirts of a dancing lady.

From a far distance her form was breathtaking, surreal beauty as you would expect it to appear in a nymph or a fairy that you just discovered, real and in the flesh. Glimpses of pale flesh through a cloak of thick shiny black hair that trailed all the way down to her knees teased with a promise of what this creature might look like up close; an exquisite being that had just walked flesh and blood out of the mists of myths and legends. If, however, someone had been present to witness this creature from a distance far enough to leave details to the imagination only.

Up close her appearance was different. Very different.

All alone in the field not so much as a field mouse dared to invade on her solitude. Even the crickets would not have made a sound had they not been already slumbering from the cold.

Turning slowly like a broken carousel, wobbling slightly, face to the sky, she raised her arms like elegant featherless wings as she turned. Barely moving, she turned slowly, silently, ethereally. Turning and turning in one spot, ever so slowly quickening her pace. Faster and faster she turned, spinning like a slowly winding up top. Faster and faster she turned, trampling the wheat stubble beneath her feet to a flattened nest. Faster and faster she turned, dizzily, spinning wildly; face reaching for the sky, staring down the moon and the stars. Faster and faster she turned, a wild shrill cry erupting from her throat, getting louder, higher, as she turned faster. It was a bone chilling, spine tingling shriek of someone who has just lost everything that ever had any meaning to them. All at once, devastatingly; all loves, hates, needs, wants and thoughts; the high wailing howl of death.

Silence and stillness crashed into the field at once when she suddenly stopped still, silent. Her dark eyes blazed with such intensity they should have glowed in the silvery light of the moon. Violence filled that heated glare. All the rage, hatred, fear, and loathing a world could hold filled those all too human eyes at once. Breathing heavy, her breath rushed out to meet the cold night air; a cloud of mist roiling out like the dust from a battle field as hot moist breath clashed with the freezing air.

Her face twisted into a demonic grin of hatred, a death’s mask. She dropped to sit on her haunches, unable to stand any longer. She was not accustomed to being able to raise herself to more than a low crouch due to the limiting confines of the cages she was cruelly kept in.

On hands and feet like a four legged animal, she fled. Racing from the field with a surprising grace and agility similar to a long legged lanky wolf, her hideousness bathed in the moon’s glow. The long flowing hair was not a wondrous mane of human hair, but a scraggly pelt of longish dirty fur covering much of her body as well as her head. Bald patches gave her the appearance similar to an animal with mange. She was a creature that walked on two legs with a human-like body and very human eyes, with the face of a creature spawned from a cesspool of genes not of this world. Lesions, welts, and deformities twisted her body and features into a Frankensteinian creation. Hideous. Evil. Terrifying.

Frightened, she cowered in the little crawl space under the stairs of the house on the edge of the woods. The darkness of the night was a small comfort to her. She had already discovered that her senses were keener than most of the creatures she has encountered so far.

She raised her head alertly at the sudden sizzling sound in the distance. An acrid smell she couldn’t identify that made her nose tickle drifted to her on a breeze. What could this be? What are those two-legs gathered in a large herd across the open space up to? Was it dangerous for her? They didn’t act like they knew she was here, but her experienced had taught her these creatures could not be trusted.

There was a popping sound on the ground on the other side of the open space. Something leapt into the sky with a shrill whine.

Curiosity took over where fear climaxed. She cocked her head, listening, scenting, and watching.

Suddenly the sky exploded with an earth shattering crackling boom, and a flash of bright colorful lights.

She cowered lower to the ground, screaming in terror, eyes wide. Her nostrils flared with the pungent smell, her night vision was shattered by the bright blinding light. Blinded by the colored spots that danced before her eyes, she struck out with a hiss at a foe that wasn’t there.

Another pop and hiss. The sky roared with another boom as more lights erupted in the sky, the ground beneath her trembled with its shock.

She screamed again, trembling violently.

Hairy four-legs from all sides began barking and howling.

She recognized that they too were crying their fear.

***********************

Bookmark Creature by L.V. Gaudet (Horror Flash Fiction)

Published online at:

Flashes in the Dark January 14/09
http://flashesinthedark.com/2009/01/14/creature-by-l-v-gaudet/

The Patchwork Project

http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudetuntitled.html

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Blood

By L. V. Gaudet

© January 2009

 

 

                He dipped a finger into the pool of blood.  It was a casual gesture, dabbing at it lazily like paint in a paint cup.  Careful not to drip the crimson wetness from his fingertip, he brought it to the canvas.  Gently and with great care, he spread the blood about the canvas, creating a brightly splashed picture.

                He didn’t know who’s blood it was, nor even if it were human, animal, or something else.  Where the blood came from did not matter.  It was the magic, the life that once throbbed through the veins of something living and feeling; that is what mattered.  The odor of the blood filled his nostrils.  It was a little sharp, kind of salty.  If he tasted it, he knew it would taste salty, red, and a little bit like smelted iron.  It smelled good, fresh.  It had to be fresh or the magic would have faded away.

                The canvas he painted always changed.  Sometimes it was large, an entire field of battle.  Sometimes it was smaller, a group of marauders falling upon a caravan, or an attack in the dark dirty recesses of a city’s worst areas.  Sometimes it was tiny, the sweet breath of an infant drifting through tiny pouty lips.

                The canvas he worked today with such care was the rocky crags of a mountain.  As he painted, the canvas vibrated with a dull rumble as of a thousand distant hooves stampeding.  This was no stampede, however; at least, not one of living creatures rushing across the ground in a frenzy of fear.  A few pebbles clattered across the rocky terrain, kicking up tiny puffs of dust as they went.

                The group travelling low on the side of the mountain paused, looking around with startled eyes.  They felt the faint vibration of the ground, their ears barely picking up the distant rumble.  A child stared curiously at a small rock that rolled and clattered past.

                With a deliberate and practiced hand, he painted the mountainside, coloring bright red trails down the rock face.  The rumbling grew louder, the ground shaking with increasing fury.  The pebbles and rocks already lightly clattering down the mountainside were chased by larger rocks, boulders, and clouds of billowing un-breathable dust.

                The small group, related families forced to relocate, began to scramble in a frightened panic.  They grabbed at children, dropping some belongings, keeping only that which was essential for survival.  They ran this way and that, growing confused with fear, running for their lives.  One woman tripped and fell, her infant clutched protectively in her arms, scraping her arm and leg on one side on the sharp rocks.  A little stunned, she lay there breathing hard, staring at her husband who had been hurriedly picking through their meager belongings, discarding anything they could not eat.

                He gently dabbed a spot of red upon the head of the man.

                Looking almost bewildered, the man stared at his fallen wife, pleading with his eyes for her to hurry to her feet and run.  A boulder flew by them as if hurled from the mountain by a giant invisible hand, flying past between the two with unstoppable momentum.  After it had passed by, the man’s headless body stood there, wavering slightly, his head now a small red smear being painted down the mountain by the rolling boulder.

                So intent were the terrified people on fleeing the rockslide that most of them did not even notice the dark and terrible winged creature that swooped down silently from the sky, its tattered cloak flapping like the rotting sheet wrapped about a corpse.  The creature seemed somehow indistinct, as though only a shadow of it could touch this world.

                The man’s wife watched in horror, a terrible scream tearing from her throat as she watched the monster swoop down and grab her husband’s headless shoulder with the long fingers of one taloned hand.  It turned its faceless head towards her as it reached down with the other hand into the new orifice that used to be his neck, and tore away the shadowy shade of the man writhing and fighting to remain sheltered inside the dead body.  The creature’s blood red eyes remained motionless and locked on her as it stole her husband’s soul.  With incredible speed, it lifted off, swooping away into the sky with its still struggling cargo.  The man tried to scream as he fought the powerful monster that spirited him away, but could not.  He was but a shadow, without form or a body.  On the ground his body still stood there, wavering slightly, then slumped slowly to the ground, its heartbeat slowing, slower, stuttering to a stop.  Perhaps half a minute had passed.

                He continued to paint his canvas of rock and lives.  Very few would survive.

                The mountain shook violently, those who missed being crushed by the falling rocks found themselves gasping and choking on air that had been replaced by dust, unable to breathe, suffocating.

                The black creature swooped down from the sky again and again, stealing souls from the broken bodies as their life ebbed away.  Always it moved swiftly and silently, with deadly precision.

                When the violent shaking of the ground stopped at last, the rumbling faded away into the past, and the dust began to clear on the soft breath of the air, the aftermath became apparent.  An ugly gash scraped down the mountainside, a trail of broken debris showing the path the rockslide had taken.  Red smears of blood marred the scene, a gruesome testimony to the death and destruction, matching exactly the red smears of blood he lovingly painted on his canvas.

                A child wailed.  A woman’s hand poked feebly from the ground, waving weakly, smeared with blood and dust.

                He had a name once.  It has been so long since he has heard the name uttered that he could no longer remember it.  Most called him by another name.  Death.

                His dark cloaked shoulders shook, the rotting fabric shreds moving as though its tattered remains were made of delicate gauze.  He wept for the newly collected souls.

 

 

 

 

Published:  

Jan 23/09 online at Patchwork

      http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

Jan 30/09 online at Flashes in the Dark

      http://flashesinthedark.com/category/l-v-gaudet/

 

 

 

 

 

Bookmark Blood by L.V. Gaudet (Horror Flash Fiction)

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Behind a White Curtain

By L. V. Gaudet

© December 2008

 

 

                It was quite bright and tranquil the day it begun, snow lazily falling and blanketing the world in a soft downy blanket of fluff, drawing a white curtain over all the ugliness of the world.

                However, there was a dark storm brewing somewhere, deep within the breast of one soul.  For some reason he came out only with the falling snow, his catalyst, harbinger of unpleasant memories and dark urges.  Otherwise, he hid away in his quaint little home, safe, a victim of agoraphobia, living life unseen.

                To everyone else it was a day as any other day, Saturday, and only days before Christmas.  The muffled scrape of shovels clearing driveways and sidewalks did not so much echo in the air as it seemed to be carried on the wings of the very snowflakes themselves as they slowly drifted down.  Other sounds hung in the air too; distant sleds bounding across the fields, the sudden grinding of a snow blower rattling like a lumbering abominable chain saw, and the shlish and scream of children tobogganing down a hill somewhere.  Somewhere a dog barked.

                To one man it was a very different day.  He paced restlessly, pulling at his hair, rearranging his safe little nest in agitation.  It was coming, the memories, and the urge, unstoppable.  Today he would leave his quaint little house.

                One boy played alone, trying to build a fort in the white downy fluff.  He kicked at the fluff in exasperation, unable to make it stick together to form walls.  When next his mother looked out the window, the boy would be gone.

                The man who took the boy was not a large man.  He was skinny and balding and had an air of impotence cum invisibility.  This was the sort of man most people did not even notice, forever overlooked and ignored.  Even his name was nondescript, ‘Ted’.  Then again, psychoses do not care about size, looks, or names.

                Ted’s slash of a mouth was frozen in a wide grin, eyes sparkling maniacally.  A giggle bubbled up like the bright red blood of the boy.  Red oozed warmly down, creating a gentle uprising mist as it soaked down into the pristine white snow.

                A scream bounced from snowflake to snowflake.  It did not sound right.  It was not the fun filled happy shriek of a tobogganing child.  It was shrill and desperate, torn violently from the throat, frantic and terrible.  No one noticed the scream, so lost were they all in their own activities, in their own private little lives of their own little worlds within this winter wonderland.

                The dogs heard it.  All around the little town, dogs barked and howled.

                It would snow again.  Soon.  And so, too, would Ted come again out to play.

#

                The air tasted crisp on his tongue, so intense was the cold.  It bit at his fingers and toes within their protected confines.  His nose stung and his lungs burned with each inhalation of chill air.  Wincing, he rubbed his hands together, blowing into his cupped fingers, trying to warm them.

                The cool light of the moon seemed colder, more distant, shining with an ethereal pale light wrapped in ghostly light circles as its light refracted off the invisible frozen air crystals hanging suspended in the atmosphere enveloping the earth.  The stars, their light much dimmer, tried feebly to point their little beacon lights to the ground below, like a distant warning.

                Ted looked up at the sky, the clouds rolling in, drawing a shroud across the sky, shutting off the moon’s pale light.  The snow had started to fall again.  Barely at first, scattered tiny flakes drifted down, growing bigger and thicker, multiplying in number, and turning into a dreamy soft down gently touching every surface.  With the snow came the memories.  He winced as the memories crashed through his head like a multi car pileup, unstoppable, uncontrollable, a shrieking dance of mental chaos.  Next came the urge, insistent, insatiable, and unstoppable.  He had to fix it.

                This time there was no scream bouncing off the gently falling snow, just a wet sort of gurgle, low and quiet, and the pristine white virgin snow slowly turning bright red beneath the pale night light of the moon.  This time even the dogs did not notice and the people mostly slept, safe in their own little lives and oblivious to the other little lives all around.  All except one man who did not sleep, but now slumbered forever.

#

                The dog came first.  It stopped, snuffling deeper, nose digging down, snorting into the snow.  Ted’s heart raced, eyes dilating, and nostrils flaring as he watched the dog.  The dog had found ‘the spot’.  He was about to act when the dog startled with a yip, turned tail and ran away, its trail following like a shadow.  The snow in the hole dug by the dog’s questing nose was stained crimson.  Like a soft sigh, snow continued to fall.  He followed the dog; he had to fix it.

#

                People moved about, safely cocooned in their private little lives, each doing their own thing and oblivious to the lives around.

                The woman walked with some difficulty through the snow along the edge of the trees where the snow was less deep.  Every now and then she cupped her hands to each side of her mouth and called.  She was looking for the family dog that had escaped off the rope tethering the animal safely in the yard.  She came across the tracks in the snow, thought for a moment and decided to follow the track into the woods.

                He watched as the woman found what was left of the dog.  He could almost hear her heart pounding faster, feel the constriction of her chest, and see through her eyes widened in horror.  The snow continued to fall in a lazy downy rain.

                He pounced on the woman.  Soon a crimson stain slowly began to spread across the pristine snow.

                It was not about killing; he just had to fix it.

 

 

 

 

Published:

Jan 7/09 online at Flashes in the Dark

        http://flashesinthedark.com/category/l-v-gaudet/

Jan 23/09 online at Patchwork Project

        http://www.patchworkproject.com/lvgaudet.html

 

 

 

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