Monthly Archives: June 2011

And He Will Have Stars Forever

After a week hiatus, I’m back with the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge comes from Brad MacDonald. The challenge:

Forgiveness, reluctantly given.

I really liked this prompt, but unfortunately I was still busy getting settled into my new apartment (and cleaning my old one before the lease expired) that I probably didn’t give the piece the time it deserved.

This piece ended up becoming a sort of sequel to the first story (and probably most popular) I ever wrote for the Indie Ink Challenge, called Stars are Cool.

(The response to my challenge should be up sometime soon here.)

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I am a murderer.

Everyone tells me that that is not true. That it was an accident. That I didn’t mean to do it. And I didn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have killed a person. A human being. For God’s sake, I killed a child.

It’s true that it was an accident. I was driving in my car, and someone started calling me. I reached for my phone, looked down for just half a second. It was too late for me to stop by the time I noticed him running into the street. I should have seen the soccer ball roll in front of me, knew that he was going to run after it. He was just a kid after all. No more than five or six years old.

I went to the funeral. It just felt like it was something I needed to do. I needed to walk through that fire. I needed everyone there to see me, to know it was my fault and to hate me for it. I deserve to be hated.

The funeral was short. My feeling is that the parents wanted to keep it that way. They didn’t want to keep the pain going on any longer. It was a closed casket as well, thanks to me.

They put up pictures of the boy. And trinkets. I remember seeing the father walk in with a pair of bronzed shoes. The casket, it was covered with stars.

I made the decision to stay in the back of the church. Though I wanted everyone to know I was there, I didn’t have it in me to sit there, front and center for all to see. I was physically unable to talk to anyone there. My guess is that they didn’t want to anyways.

Actually that’s not entirely true. There was one person who came up to talk to me. The boy’s father.

He pulled me aside after the burial, as everyone began to leave. It is difficult to describe the way that he had carried himself at the funeral and when he spoke to me. The best I can do is say that it looked like, it looked like life was just a little too heavy for him. Like life wanted to squash his face in the mud and he was trying to stay standing.

The father told me that at first he wanted to be mad at me. That he wanted to hate me. But he couldn’t. He said that he had to actively try hating me but it never happened. He said to me that he knew that no one could possibly be more upset with me than me. There was no point for him to be mad, he said.

He said that there were no hard feelings and that he forgave me. Then he walked away.

But as he walked away he looked back and said, “The real hardship is going to be learning to forgive yourself. But don’t give up.”

I’ll try.


Virgil, Save Us From This Inferno

Here we go again, with the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My prompt this week comes from Greg:

Scant minutes remain until your home is engulfed 

by the raging forest fire…gather what you can

My first thought on the prompt was to do one of those, “I would save these possessions because they are important. This is why they are important” posts. Then I said screw that noise. I decided on less of a reflective piece and more of a frantic, survival piece.

On another note, I will be taking next week off from the challenge. I’m moving into a new place on Monday and frankly I’ll have no time to write anything up.

See you in two weeks.

(You can read the response to my challenge here.)

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I can still feel the room spinning as I rise from the bed. Spinning from a night out at the bar, a nice townie place. It’s the heat that woke me. This heat is stifling, hard to think, hard to breathe. I think I can see smoke coming from my bedroom door. An eerie glow.

The flesh on the palm of my hand sizzles on the doorknob as I try to exit. I scream in pain, it burns. It burns badly. Pus filled blisters begin to form immediately, each pulse from my heart is noticeable from my hand. There will be no relief from the pain anytime sure, I’m sure of it.

Kicking the door open, I stumble into a raging blaze. Fire engulfs everything, and the heat is growing more and more intense. There is no way that I can stay in here for much longer; my lungs are begging me, screaming at me to get a gasp of clean air. The visibility is two feet at most, smoke engulfs everything. When you’re in the dark walking around, it feels almost as if you’re floating. Smoke feels as if you’re swimming underwater, unable to surface and slowly drowning.

There is no time, there are things I need to save. Things that are important. Pictures, souvenirs, memorabilia; memories and monuments to past people and events. Things that need to be remembered. The closest thing that I can see is my diploma, hanging on the wall directly to my left. There are flames near the wall, but I can make it.

It burns too, the diploma. The glass almost feels gooey, as if it is slowly melting away. The pain is unbearable. When you touch something really hot, your hand instinctively pulls away without you fully realizing what has happened. Your hand actually reacts to the heat faster that the pain receptors can register to your brain that your hand is burning. If your hand waited for the pain to register, your injuries could be much worse. That’s how important a fraction of a second can be. I am unable to remove my hand from the diploma quickly. My hand sticks to the glass, unable to pull away.

I free my hand and realize that there is nothing that I would be able to save. There is nothing that I can protect. I was too late for that, too deep in a drunken slumber for too long. The only thing that is possible for me to save at this point is myself.

And seems it like that might be a challenge.

It is difficult to think through the pain. I’m unable to use either hand, trapped in the inferno. My only shot is through the nearest window, the only problem is that it is on the other side of flames. Oh well, no guts no glory. I guess.

My feet, bare due to the fact I was woken up, burn as I leap through the flames and out the window. I cut my arms and face from the glass. And there is no salvation out here. The forest, in my backyard, the forest is ablaze and it’s spreading.

Who knows, maybe I won’t need to worry about forgetting about those precious memories. I might not have enough time left to forget them.

Burnt, bruised and cut up, I run.


Hedonism, Among Other Things

Another Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge this week comes from Bewildered Bug:

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

I don’t really have much to say about the challenge this week. The story pretty much speaks for itself.

(You can read my challenge to Operamouth here: Helix)

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Everything has gone to shit, I never wanted this, fucking this going down tonight. All I wanted was to have a few drinks with just a couple of friends, but I guess the word got out that I was going to be doing some off-the-wall-crazy-ass-party or something. Why the hell would anyone think that I was okay with this.

I walk around my apartment and I see some guy I’ve never met puking all over my radiator, which is just delightful. Two others are vomiting simultaneously into my toilet, and missing, while some girl is snorting coke next to them, on my sink. I assume it’s coke at least. And who the fuck are all of these people? Where the hell did they come from?

The lights have been shut off, and someone must’ve brought a strobe light with them. The flashes are giving me a headache. Of course the thumping rave music doesn’t help. Also not my music. People on X keep ramming into me, thinking they’re dancing as I attempt to survey the damage around my home. The people I originally invited over are long gone, leaving me to the wolves. Some friends, I guess. Fuck it, I would’ve left too if it wasn’t my goddamn place.

There is no sanctuary in here. Not even my own fucking bedroom. I walk in and I see a bunch of people fucking fucking all over my bed and floor. More than two, but I honestly can’t tell you how many. Bodies and limbs were strewn about everywhere. A fucking orgy in my goddamn bedroom. I hear more thumping and moaning but I couldn’t tell you where it was coming from, only that I hear it through the walls. They’re not thin either, the walls.

I just want to sit, but I can’t. People are passed out everywhere, on my chairs, my kitchen table, several on my sofa, some on the floor who are risking being trampled by the unceasing dance party. I see this guy drop a pill into a drink before handing it off to some girl. They walk away and are now lost in the crowd. Charming.

Maybe I should have called the police, when 200 people showed up unannounced for a rave in an apartment. But it all happened so fast. And besides, I doubt my landlord would believe me if I told him that I didn’t want any of this and that I was the one who called the cops, especially after this amount of time. Plus I’ve been to fucking busy with whatever damage control I can manage.

Speaking of which, blue and red flashes begin to fill the living room, accompanying the white flashes of the strobe. People think it’s another cool effect until they notice the sound of sirens creeping up from under the music. They start to flee. Every last one of them. Most run for the door, clogging it for a moment while others decide to fuck the crowd and jump out my window. I’m on the first floor anyways, though one moron forgot to open the window as he lept out.

I shut the music off and turn my light on. Finally, there is some peace and quiet. I sit down and rest my eyes, and let the anxiety of the night wash over me. My place is my own again.

At least, until the police come crashing through the door.


In Which There is No Light

It’s time for another Indie Ink Writing Challenge. My challenge this week comes from K. Syrah:

Describe the violent death scene of someone, and describe as something beautiful.

This prompt was right up my alley, thematically speaking. I’ve always been of the opinion that writing, at least good writing, should be about finding beauty in things that are horrible. I had a few ideas for this prompt, and my biggest challenge was picking one. I ended up choosing the one that was the most unusual, someone describing their own death, and the challenge then was simply making it work.

(You can read the response to my prompt here.)

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In all honesty the only thing that you really need to know about me is that I am dead. It’s been 19 minutes and 34 seconds since a man whom I’d never met tried to rob me and shot me in the head during our struggle.

You don’t believe me, do you? That I’m dead. Well, it’s not like I can’t blame you or anything. Hell, if our roles were reversed I probably wouldn’t believe you either. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am indeed dead. So how am I talking to you right now? That’s something I’m not sure I can explain.

I’m also not sure how I can describe what being dead is like. Or what it’s like to die. It’s one of those things that you need to experience in order to fully understand. But I suppose you’re curious so I guess I can give it a shot.

The best place for me to begin is on the circumstances on my death. Like I said before, I was shot. In the head. Really it was my fault, I should have given him my damn wallet, but I thought that I was tough enough to subdue the man. A word of advice: don’t try fighting a man with a gun, you will lose.

It only hurt for the first split second, as the bullet started boring into my skull. I specifically remember the bullet being really really hot. Once it actually began penetrating my brain, I don’t know. It was like, it was like time began to slow down to a screeching halt.

Your life really does flash before your eyes, at least as the bullet is passing into and through the frontal lobe. My guess is that as your brain is being turned into a mushy soup by hot lead the memories just sort of flash. And flash is the right term, I think. You don’t see your life as a movie, you see quick snapshots. They aren’t in any sort of logical order either, and it’s stuff you don’t really expect to see.

Honestly, what you remember are the tiny insignificant details that you would never be able to recall no matter how hard you try. As the bullet first entered the frontal lobe I remembered the striped tie my Mom always had me wear to piano recitals. I remembered what I ate on July 18th, 1994 for dinner. It was macaroni & cheese, the kind that were dinosaur shaped. The perfume of the girl who I first said “I love you” to at age 16. There were hundreds of snapshots. Thousands.

And then the bullet began running along the line between the Parietal and Temporal lobes. My senses started to become mixed in my head, all the while more and more snapshots flashed in my eyes. Have you ever tasted music? The song that was playing when my brother and I got into a car crash tasted like blueberries. And chocolate. The apple pie I shared with my wife on our first date sounded similar to a piece by Bach, it started and stopped with each bite I took. And the colors, oh how they smelled.

Images disappear when the bullet hits the back section of the brain. It becomes more like, I don’t know, it’s really hard to describe. It’s sorta like those images cease being pictures and become sensations. You remember goosebumps during a snow day. Or sweat after a five mile run. You remember the joy of having your first child, but you can’t picture the child, just what it felt like to have one.

All of that stopped once the bullet exited out of the back of my head, spitting out bone and brain with it. The exit wound in the back of my head is approximately the size of a baseball. My brain is slowly oozing out the back as some birds begin picking at it. As I lay there, the authorities have yet to find me, and they won’t for another 7 hours and 34 minutes.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. As you die it’s just the memories. But it’s not simply nothingness after. It’s more than that. Much more. You actually transcend time and space. You are everywhere and everywhen. It’s really hard to explain. It’s like you’re witnessing all moments that ever were and ever will be and it’s happening simultaneously. I am looking back on my life, and I am also looking ahead on yours.

It’s not like you’re God, but it’s pretty damn close.