Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fiction teaser

"Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life." ~Simone Weil

Today I'm posting a teaser from my short story, Call Me Crazy. It's available in an anthology titled I'll Never Go Away (Volume 1), published by Rainstorm Press

 

CALL ME CRAZY






My shadow wears red mittens
Waving to all that pass
My shadow dances and sings
And stops to look at beautiful things
While I am trapped and bitten.



Joshua sits at the dining room table with every single window in his apartment covered. It's not the darkness he's afraid of. He never opens the blinds anymore, even during daylight hours.

On the table in front of him, his cell phone lays in pieces. It's his fifth phone in five months. They've all broken. Bad luck? Maybe, but he doubts it. He positions one of the miniscule screws into place and, as he's about to twist it home with a tiny screwdriver, his entire upper body jerks against his will. The screw falls to the floor, surely lost. He plucks up another one from the table, but the same thing happens.

"Damn it!"

A rapping at his door startles him and jolts his heart. It doesn't take much these days. Fear is his continuous and only companion. His few friends drifted away months ago.

He isn't sure if he should answer the door. He has no idea what to expect, but whatever it is, he knows it won't be good. Bad things plague him constantly. He anticipates them at every turn.

As he crosses the room, someone in the upstairs apartment follows him, stomping directly above. This has been happening for a while now.

His apartment building is old and low budget. No peephole graces the door.

With caution, he opens it, just a crack, and peeks out.

Sarah, his ex-girlfriend, stands on the other side. She shoves the door open and barges in as if she owns the place.

"Hey, babe. I got your note." She lets her purse slide off her shoulder onto the couch. Her skirt barely covers her ass. She looks around. This is the first time she's set foot in this apartment. He can't recall ever giving her his new address.

"What note?"

Her eyes are dark, like coffee grounds. She stares at him as though he's just recited a mathematical equation or made some other absurd outburst.

"You look like hell," she says. "Are you drinking again?"

"No. And I didn't leave you a note."

"Don't screw with me." She crosses her arms, moves her weight to one leg. "Are you sick or something?

You're, like, all emaciated."

"I'm fine." Except he's not sure that he is. "Someone else must've left you the note. What'd it say?"

"Okay. I can get into that." She peels away her tight sweater. As usual, she isn't wearing a bra.

"No, you don't understand." Joshua can't help but stare. One thing Sarah has going for her is her body. Even a young man with problems has libido.

"We can play your game first," she says.

"I'm not role playing."

She pulls a bottle from her purse. "You're right. Let's loosen up first."

Saliva pools under Joshua's tongue at the sight of the dark amber liquid.

Sarah chugs some and offers him the bottle. "You'll be okay with this, right? You won't, like, end up in AA again or anything, will you?"

He takes it. "Just a taste. I could really use it." The scent intoxicates him, makes him tremble.

For the first time in almost a year, he feels like he might have a moment of reprieve, one little pleasure in an otherwise tormented life.

As soon as the cool glass touches his lips, though, another involuntary jerk seizes him. Rum sloshes from the bottle and splatters onto the linoleum.

Sarah grabs it back. "What're you doing?"

"Give me the bottle."

Her look of disgust doesn't faze him. All he cares about is getting the rum into his mouth, feeling it burn his throat, its warmth wash into his veins.

"Why are you acting so weird?" she asks.

"You think this is weird? You don't even know the half of it."

So many unexplainable things have been happening to him for so long that they fail to shock him anymore. But the terror never goes away; it's his shadow.

"Are you taking drugs?" Sarah asks.

"You're the druggie, not me."

"I'm clean now. But you, you're a mess."

"I wish it was drugs. That would make sense. I have no explanation for what's happening to me."

His fear comes from not knowing. Maybe if he knew why these things happened, who was involved, then he could deal with it, do something about it.

He wiggles his fingers at Sarah. "I need that drink."

She extends the bottle to him, but he doesn't take it.

"Maybe if you hold it to my mouth it won't spill."

Grimacing, Sarah lifts the bottle to his lips; he jerks, can't get a drop.

"Geez, you're really messed up, aren't you?"

He looks into her percolating eyes, contemplating, then, "I'm being harassed, or something." He shakes his head, runs his fingers through his uncombed hair. "I don't know."

"You're, like, all sweaty."

"Yeah, I could really use that drink."

Sarah pulls down the hemline of her tiny skirt, still topless, and looks uncomfortable.

"Watch this." Joshua points to the ceiling and walks across the room. The creep upstairs chooses this moment to ignore him.

Sarah stares at the ceiling. "I don't see anything."

"Someone upstairs thuds across the floor in sync with my movements."

Sarah bites her lip.

"A horn honks every time I flush the toilet." He runs to the bathroom and flushes. Nothing.

"Joshua?"

"Look at this." He pulls a box of cereal from the cupboard, opens it and displays its contents. "This was full just yesterday when I bought it. Now it's almost gone."

"You must've been hungry."

"I haven't had any yet."

"Joshua." She inches toward the couch.

"They do shit to my mind, too. They talk inside my head."

Sarah wiggles into her sweater. "Have you gone to see anyone about this? A psychiatrist?"

"I'm not crazy."

She shakes her head at him. "God, Josh, you used to be the one I'd come to when I needed stability. You were the most together guy I knew."

Her words sting, not because he cares what she thinks of him, but because she used to be the messed up one between them, so screwy that he ditched her. How could he have sunken this low?

"I'll see you around, okay?" She heads toward the door.

"Wait. Please stay." Whoever's harassing him, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to want to play when she's around.

"Sorry." And she's gone.

As soon as she walks out the door, the creep upstairs starts up again.

Joshua collapses onto the couch, covering his face with his hands, still thinking about the rum. To divert his mind, he recalls the expression on Sarah's face. Despite himself, he laughs.



Monday's post - What are your characters' gestures saying about them

24 comments:

  1. Thanks! It was a very interesting story to research for. There's some creepy stuff going on.

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  2. what a great start. I already have ideas in my head of what the location and players look like. you are gifted.
    Steve

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  3. So my head is still fuzzy from my lung infection, and it makes my judgment a little questionable. But would you consider double spacing the paragraphs for readability? The clumps of text accidentally bleed together when formatted like this, especially in my Firefox browser. Your dialogue flows just fine (good choice!), it's just sorting the narrative passages that taxed my overheated brain.

    from John at The Bathroom Monologues

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about your lung infection! I will double space it, just for you. ;) I hope you're feeling better soon.

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  4. Wow, this is really good and I'm dying to know what is happening to this guy!

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  5. A wonderfully evocative story. I felt like I was there in the room.

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  6. You had me hooked there! You have left lot of questions open at the end of it making me want more of it! Needless to say, I enjoyed reading it!

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  7. "Teaser" is definitely the right word. This will haunt me until I read the whole story.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. If you read the whole story, I bet it will haunt you even more. Hehe. Just kidding. Maybe.

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  8. The cover of the book is quite creepy. Pulls you in, for sure.
    That was a great teaser!

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    1. Thank you. Yes, this book is full of delightfully creepy stories.

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  9. This story is so intriguing on so many levels, so creepy but not overtly out there. Makes me want to know what the heck is going on with this guy. I'm really glad you stopped by my blog during the A to Z Challenge because I'm happy to have discovered yours now too. Great cover, congrats on being included in the anthology!

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  10. Thanks Jenn! I hope I get to read more of your writing. :)

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  11. Congrats with the anthology, I really like this teaser! I am curious why he keep jerking. Not sure why I am most curious about that, out of all the creepy stuff going on lol

    Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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  12. Thanks, Jak! That's interesting that you're most curious about the jerking because I think that's what interested me most as the writer.

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  14. Oh, that sounds deliciously creepy and mysterious. What a good idea to post just enough of a teaser to pique our curiosity!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog--so glad to have met you via the challenge,

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    1. Thanks! I'm very glad to have met you as well.

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  15. Great writing. I've been skimming through your blog & am really enjoying it--both useful and interesting.

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