Writing prompts at random

“Describe an important item from your childhood. Why was it important and where is it now?”

It was her eleventh Christmas that she go the pink teddy bear from her grandparents. Pink wasn’t really her color. Her initial reaction was confusion and a touch of disappointment. Actually that disappointment was strong. Her parents were there and expecting something more from her so she smiled and laughed in what she hoped was delight. Her mother asked if it had a name and she said something akin to not yet. She hadn’t decided if was going to have a name yet. Did it deserve that level of personalisation? Perhaps. It was so pink, that pepto-bismul pink… It wasn’t fair to the poor bear for her to judge it so. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment for dismissing it so quickly. Sure it was a strange color but that made it stand out amidst her blues and purples.

She hugged it to her chest. It was soft and smelled of the cardboard box and fudge. Her grandmother so enjoyed sending things to them. It probably made her feel closer to them despite the infrequent and bridg trips her family made to visit. It wasn’t her faluth that she didn’t know her grand daughter well enough to know that pink was nearly as abhorrent as red or orange. She probably thought it was a safe color for a pre-pubescent girl. She likely was right and her grand daughter was too inflexible to be grateful.

That night the teddy bear stayed on her bed. It actually made a decent pillow. The size of the belly and arms, just a few inches larger than her head, made it comfortable to lean on. That and how soft it was though the fur tickled her ears and nose.

A week later she gave it a name. Lacie, the same as her half-sister. She loved Lacie, both the bear and her sister, in a rather abstract way. After all, it wasn’t Lacie’s fault she lived so far away and that her younger sister didn’t even know she existed until 3 years earlier. Lacie visiting always meant adventures and her parents taking time off from work. Lacie’s presence helped to bring them together. Her parents didn’t fight or get so angry. That bear could be a tiny piece of her sister and all the things she meant. Those nights when there was yelling and screaming and crying were the worst. The bear was there though, a tangible thing of comfort.

She would write to the bear and talk to it late night, imaging what it would be like to have her sister there instead. In a sense she was with a wee bit of herself within the bear, though her sister would never admit it.

A few months passed before her mother noted how much she fell asleep with the bear in her arms. “What’s your bear’s name?” she asked again.

“Lacie,” was all that the girl said. Her mother nodded slowly, understanding instantly the importance of that name. Fast forward fifteen years and she still has Lacie with her. She no longer sleeps with it, that right is now reserved for her cats who get as much comfort from the soft bear. They are smaller than it, a perfect companion for them to snuggle up to. Sometimes she still talks to Lacie, sharing her thoughts with that wee, tiny piece of her sister. She may not speak with the bear’s namesake but much like that abstract love her bear shifted into something deeper and real, so has the love for the person that is her sister. Each monologue to the smaller Lacie ends the same, “I love you, Lacie.”

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What’s worth doing even if I fail?

Look! Another post inspired by Brene Brown, this time from Daring Greatly. “What’s worth doing even if I fail?” She whispered this phrase to herself as she was walking out on stage at her 2012 TED talk. I think I have to step back further from where she’s at though and just start with “what’s worth doing?” What is something that needs to be done, what is something that I feel I need to do? I want to do some sort of deep introspection and thinking here but honestly I am too internally blocked to go that far. That will eventually be my answer to “what’s worth doing even if I fail?” but I’m not quite there yet.

That leads to the question of what is worth doing in a more general sense. Superficially I want to create whether it is to create a difference, create an object, or create a thought.

Creating a difference is important to me because I have always desperately wanted to be needed. So much of my self-worth and identity is tied into being a helper, being available for people when they have little else. It’s probably the primary reason why I’ve been entrenched in mental health nursing since I became a nurse nearly a decade ago. (Side note-holy shit that was 10 years ago!) If there’s one group of people that don’t have much it’s the people described as severe and persistently mentally ill. All of the agencies I have worked at served a population of people that were homeless or only one flat tire away from it. I could be something for them: a smile, a greeting, a “how are you?” with the actual desire to know, a quiet presence to cry with, or a guide when the voices, self-contempt, or anxiety got to be too much. (This is where my tendency towards over functioning comes in but that’s a blog for another day)

You see, in working at places where my need to be needed was satisfied with little effort on my part I was able to continue to do without having to stretch out and be uncomfortable. Sure there are always the discomforts of learning new systems, new people, and figuring out my place in the system but I could always figure out a way to create a difference because there was always at least one person around that needed something.

Creating things has become a large focus for me in my knitting and crochet projects. I can make things that are useful and have an art to them. They aren’t perfect but often I’m the only one that knows how imperfect they are. Other people see the things I’ve made and appreciate them and all is good in the world. I’ve even slowly been pushing past my fears of different techniques and projects because this is a challenge I can do. If it doesn’t work out I can just rip back the yarn and watch my work shrink away until the mistakes disappear. (Note that more often than not this is an accidental thing and results in cursing at the tiny loops until I get everything back to where it’s supposed to be.) I can take chances and risks with little waste except my time and patience. This is a safe place to challenge myself and do something daring.

Lastly, creating a thought is actually the other two forms of creating mixed into one. A thought is an unformed object budding from someone who has been bit by the inspiration bug. I’m still working on how to do that with any consistency. There’s an unhealthy level of criticism and fear around creating a thought… oh. Right. I think that is probably what I need to focus more on. A something that is so important and worth doing despite the risk of failure would be an act of creation so long standing as to inspire thought, discussion, debate. Writing is one of those things for me.

Perhaps that is enough honesty and being vulnerable for the night. I know that my something worth doing despite the risk of failure is doing something that can inspire thoughtful discussion, ideas, and perhaps action. It’s still a rather broad concept at this point in my journey but I now have a direction to wander while I let this percolate a bit more. Hopefully the process of finding out what’s worth doing even if you fail isn’t so vague or hidden from yourself as what I’ve found my something to be.

Rising Strong means writing

Earlier today, well yesterday by the time this is posted, I started a new audio book Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I’ve had it on my phone for several months now but only just recently felt like I was maybe ready to hear her words. I’ve got several of her other books and have read some, but not all, of them. Honestly they have been too much for me to process all at once. They inspire deep introspection and assessment of yourself in a most painful way. The primary focus is on shame, guilt, blame, fear, vulnerability, trauma, self-doubt, and avoidance. Heavy, heavy topics, especially for those who have, ahem, avoided such intense personal awareness.

Despite the heavy topics I felt that this book was easier to listen to than to read as the slower pace enabled me to process the implications more. Also, hearing Brene speak directly about her own experiences and stories that others have trusted her with makes it feel more intimate. There’s power in a person speaking their own story, their own struggles and triumphs. It’s also relieving to hear that someone with such a strong background in social work has to battle through understanding these hard concepts and that it’s not an automatic thing for her. She has been able to learn and gain greater awareness and understanding so that she can recognize when she’s falling into the trap of blaming, getting even, or avoiding what she is experiencing.

There are people who figured out how to be vulnerable and aware of their self-worth but there is at least one other person who hasn’t figured that out for every one who has. The ones that have already do something that is both obvious and hard; they write out their story each day. It doesn’t have to be for a particular amount of time or have a true focus or method of narration. Some people write short stories, some draw it out, some use blogs or diaries, some write letters that will never be sent. All of these are things I’ve encouraged patients to do in the past. “Write out what you’re feeling, give yourself permission to be honest with yourself.” It’s so easy to give the advice, not so easy to follow it yourself.

I’m going to try this idea. Writing for just a little bit of time, sometimes just for me but other times it will be to share. It may not always be on this blog but one of the others I’ve got, depending upon what’s more appropriate. Some of my stories for the day would be what Brene called “shitty first drafts” SFD for short and they won’t be shared. Some may be fiction narratives for me to explore what’s going on in my head. Others may be rants or complaints or pleas for understanding. Regardless I feel that bringing this whole blogging idea back to life is probably healthy. Plus, I’m starting a new chapter in my work life and since I can’t do something funky with my hair I can at least make some other visible change in my life. Blogging is visible, if less so than my hair, and is probably far more likely to result in moments of revelation. Those are pretty cool when they happen even if they are infrequent.

Anywho, writing, it’s a thing and a thing I hope to do more often.

Maybe Not So Crazy – Writing Idea

Mostly still not really edited but some revision to go with what the character wanted anyway. Still don’t know if I like the way the end went.

It had always been assumed I was crazy. My parents, friends, distant relatives, even me, we all knew I was crazy. Not the sort of crazy you see on street corners with people holding signs and talking to themselves and smelling really bad. Not like the crazy that rages against people and assumes the government is out to get them and that everyone is poisoning them. I don’t think I’m God or Jesus or a rock star or anything like that. But I have heard voices for as long as I can remember. I stopped talking back to them around middle-school. They never responded to me and never seemed to be talking about anything that was going on around me. They just… were. That’s all. I hardly notice them anymore to be honest. I stopped listening to them in high school. Well, mostly. I would listen to them at night sometimes, those times when I couldn’t fall asleep. It was my version of counting sheep. I’d listen to them ramble and soon would drift off to dream land and that was it.

Well, I guess that wasn’t entirely it. There are all the crazy, weird-ass dreams, too. Those don’t bother me much either. I do use them as jump off points for short stories. I’m told that I do talk when I’m dreaming. Loudly. My parents shunted me to the basement as soon as they could so they wouldn’t have to listen to me yammer anymore. That’s what they called it around me, but I’ve overheard them whispering about how scary it really is. Apparently I talk about assassination and plots and some sort of war that I don’t understand. Kind of fantasy stuff that only old school fairy tales are willing to hint at – Rumpelstiltskin sort of evil creatures. They’re really night-terrors actually. I don’t think of them that way anymore, but when I was little I did.

Really though, I’m not as crazy as I sound. I was a straight-A student all the way through school and college. I’ve got my bachelors in creative writing and have published most of my short stories and am in the midst of a novel. I have never been fired even though I have always worked at least one job from the age of fifteen and two or three jobs since college. Strangers at the bookstore and coffee shops I work at don’t know I’m different. My editor doesn’t know where all my crazy ideas come from. Publishers don’t care as long as my stuff sells.

So, I guess, in the long run it doesn’t really matter that I hear voices. According to psychiatrists that I’ve seen I’m not really diagnosable as anything because I lead a perfectly normal life. They’ve tried meds just to see if the voices will react but all that happened was that I slept. A lot. And felt really fuzzy in my head. My own internal voice was all jumbled and mumbling and couldn’t track at all (especially on Haldol, that stuff messes with you) but none of them fazed the voices. That was the part that really freaked out the psychiatrists. Nothing worked on the voices and I responded to the drugs the same way that a “normal” person would.

Thinking about that makes me feel even more crazy. A weird sort of crazy. The sort that even people who deal with crazies can’t figure out. That’s about when I stopped thinking about them at all. I wrote down my dreams when I woke up, went to the coffee shop, stocked books and answered the ridiculous questions customers came up with, went home to my cat and wrote then went to bed. The routine blurred the days and those blurred days dulled the voices.

Until about a year ago that is. Then they got loud. Really loud. Like I couldn’t move because of migraines and was having seizures and ended up in the hospital for so many tests that I am still paying for them even with decent insurance sort of loud. Again, the neurologists and psychiatrists were just as stumped as the previous psychiatrists were. According to the CT scans and MRIs and EKGs and sleep studies and whatever other tests they did my brain and body were perfectly normal. Absolutely normal. Like the sort of normal that is used in presentations that doesn’t really exist sort of normal. Well, there were some weird spots that would light up when I was asleep, but they’ve seen that in other people who have vivid dreams, so again, not really all that weird. Actually, I think they said that activity was absolutely textbook standard for night-terror brain activity. I think they were split on whether to use me as a case study, destroy all the evidence because it was too weirdly-normal or conclude that I was making everything up and just wanted a break from my dull life. I gave those last two a nicely worded letter telling them to go fuck themselves. Hindsight says it wasn’t the best idea but they pissed me off. Anyway, I sort of agree with the second group of docs. I basically think of my brain as so normal that it’s no longer normal but just on the other side of the dividing line between normal and freaking weird. Not schizophrenic. Not bipolar. Not depressed. No growths. No abscesses. Not even any concussions. Just weird. Basically the story of my life.

So I was crazy and weird but normal all at once. It probably should have freaked me out and led to some sort of breakdown at least sometime in my life. But that’s just not how I roll. Probably because my brain is too weirdly normal to accommodate such a normal response to so many weird things. Which sucks by the way.

I got out of the hospital after about a week when everything stopped. Just stopped. Migraine gone. Seizures none-existent. Voices missing. I never thought I’d say it but I was suddenly very lonely.

That lasted for about three days.

Then they started up again. Only this time they were aware. That’s the only way I can describe it. They started talking about what I was seeing and hearing and even feeling. They were violently loud the first hour then it was like a volume knob was dialed back. Not on my side, but on theirs. I don’t know how to say why that’s how it was, but I just know that my brain wasn’t capable of dialing anything down at that point. I was back in the fetal position and wishing I could find my way into a nice medication induced coma again. After a day or so to recover from that hour of arguing and my name being yelled back and forth, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they knew my name, didn’t I? Well, they knew my name and they were saying it for the first time since I can remember, and they seemed to be arguing over what to do about me. Like whether to kidnap me or kill me sort of what to do with me. Awesome. That’s not disturbing or anything.

After the volume got dialed back and I more or less recovered from the blast of argument I still heard voices, but it seemed like they were only saying things that they wanted me to hear. I wasn’t hearing just random crap anymore, but intentional stuff. There were even times when they seemed to be able to blur the words, sort of like if you’re at the beach trying to listen to someone talking twenty feet away but the waves and wind are too loud to hear more than that they are saying words in what is most likely a language you understand.

While there were fewer voices overall, I finally figured out that there were two groups, one wanted to kill me, the other kidnap me and both were trying to figure out how to do it without the other knowing. Or me.

I already knew I was crazy. That was never in question. But now… now I was edging toward the sort of paranoid crazy that the people on street corners shout about. People were after me. They wanted to hurt me. Only they were still all in my head. It’s really hard to ignore voices that talk about how you need to die. I tried, I really did, but there’s only so much I’m capable of, even with my supernaturally normal brain.

Then there came the voice that started talking to me. Well, there were two eventually. One guy, one lady. They seemed to think I should know them and they started talking about how they were sending some people out to rescue me and just to wait and I’ll be back home and some other bizarre stuff. I initially ignored them. Then I protested that I was home, that I didn’t need to be rescued. I tried asking them what in the world they were going on about. They told me. I think. But it was more conspiracy theory stuff only they claimed to be from some alternate reality. Yeah, I stopped listening at that point. Like I said, conspiracy theory crap. And we had already established that I am crazy. Was crazy. I was crazy. I’m pretty sure I still am. Maybe I’m in an asylum somewhere and just don’t realize it. Perhaps it’s better not to know for certain. I had always assumed the old saying was true, “Only crazy people don’t question their sanity” or however it goes.

One year. One whole year spent spiraling further and further into the real crazy realm. Fun times. I have a lot more sympathy for the dudes on street corners now.

So yeah, I stopped wondering about conspiracy theories around the same time that two incredibly beautiful/handsome/oh my, can I bang you now, guys show up at my apartment and try to tell me that I need to leave with them right away before I get murdered. I don’t know why but I invited them in for tea instead of running off with them. Maybe I was hoping for some action, it had been a while after all. Instead they drank tea with me, tried to convince me I’m some sort of inhuman creature called Sidhe or Fae or whatever. I didn’t believe them, stopped listening and was trying to figure out the best way to kick the pranksters out on their asses when they killed a man.

To be fair he did sort of have it coming. A man jumping through a window with a lot of wicked looking knives probably doesn’t want to sit down for a cup of tea. Two of those knives would have impaled themselves in my chest had one of my actually invited in guests not knocked me out of my chair while his buddy wrestled the other dude into my kitchen. Which he spent the better part of three hours cleaning up afterward. Or so I’m told. I spent most of those three hours plus another twelve in my bathroom throwing up every meal I’ve ever had. While my tea guests/rescuers slept somewhere out front, I slept in my bathtub clutching my cat. I think I slept. I’m assuming they slept. I don’t actually know. The next morning they were still in my apartment and insisted I leave with them. I refused at first, but then they pointed out the daggers that were still embedded in the wall and said something about more killers on their way and that I was lucky and yadda yadda yadda. I didn’t argue much more. I’m sure they disagree with my point there. They didn’t want me to bring my cat, Snickers. I refused to leave without him. Made sense to me at the time. I didn’t want to come home to find him dead waiting in front of the door. They complained, something about cats being a massive nuisance and not welcome where we were going. They relented after I told them they could go fuck themselves if they thought I was leaving without my cat. Apparently that’s my fall back when I’m pissed. I need to come up with something else more creative to say.

Three days and a lot of miles later we ended up in BFE (that means butt-fuck Egypt, just in case you were wondering) nowhere Pennsylvania and hung out there for days. I didn’t know what we were waiting for. They kept saying we’re waiting for the right moon or something, but I didn’t really understand why and they said they can’t tell me why until I see it for myself.

On the plus side I haven’t heard much in the way of voices in my head since they showed up. Oh, the occasional thing from the lady and man that keep trying to tell me that they’re so glad I’m on my way “home”. On the bad side I recognized both these guys voices when they asked to come in to my home. I forgot to mention that, hadn’t I? That was probably why I invited them in for tea. Why shouldn’t I? My voices materialized in the form of some of the most handsome guys I’ve ever seen, may as well take advantage of the eye candy before I get hauled away to the funny farm. In this case they were the ones that did the hauling rather than the police like I had expected.

You know, I’m sure you’re as confused as I am, well was. Let’s go back a bit. A little more detail would probably be good. It’s not like I don’t have time. It seems like all I’ve got is time.

So, from the beginning. Maybe not the very beginning. That’d be too boring. Let’s start with the day that I met my two rescuers, captors, whatever. The day that I found out I’m a Changeling and the daughter of ambassadors for the Seelie Court to the Unseelie Court. The day I found out I’m either crazy as a loon or never was crazy. Man, do I wish I was still crazy. That’d be so much easier than the other. I really hope I’m locked away somewhere, else this is going to be the most unbelievable thing ever. So here goes, story time.

Not so long ago a crazy lady was startled from her manuscript by three loud knocks on her front door…

Bits and Pieces of Thoughts While I Think on my Next Bit o’Fiction

First things first, or at least things that excite me – My English teach really liked my video game essay. There are a few teensy things I need to clean up, mainly a few awkward word choices and left over “on”s and things from my massive number of edits. Once I’ve done that, she wants me to enter it into an essay contest that happens at the school every year. The winner gets $50 and entrants get to put their name out there for teachers to get to know. When it comes to more subjective classes like English, psych, etc. I feel it’s important to have your name associated with the idea that you are a good writer before you enter a teacher’s classroom. Perception means so much and teachers are more willing to gloss over errors if they already “know” you can write, as humans are wont to do. Even my current teacher did something like that for my 2nd essay when I had two really bad cut/copy/paste-based errors. She didn’t take off points for those like what I would have expected her to because she knew that they were editing fails, not writing fails, if that makes any sense.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m going to use as my topic for my next argument essay, but haven’t really had anything stick out to me. Well, I’ve got two things, but I can’t decide if I really can argue either of them effectively because I am just a wee bit passionate about them.
The first is equal marriage rights. I’d end arguing for a case that would include marriage licenses being granted to two or more people above the legal age of consent who are willingly entering into the civil contract regardless of gender, sex, procreation status etc. Most people have an issue once the “more” part is added in, and to be fair, with the way current laws are written that affect civil marriage law contracts it would get really convoluted and tricksy. Especially things like inheritance and social security benefits and whatnot. Especially if the primary bread winner/head of house passes or decides to divorce one or more of the other parties. What happens to the rest of the contracts? Are they will that primary person or binding amongst all parties? Oy, such a headache and the primary argument against such marriages.
The second is abstinence only versus full disclosure sex ed. I (luckily) grew up in county that taught full disclosure sex ed by default and started in fifth grade. Yes, parents always had to sign permission slips to say “sure, teach my kid about sex” or “find them something else to do cause I want to be the one to educate them about sex” or not educate them as the case would likely be. I think I only saw maybe three kids not have permission to be educated in sex ed from fifth through twelfth grade. That’s pretty awesome in my opinion, especially considering that it was a requirement for every year of school up to high school and then was taught in bio and two or three other classes that were required for graduation.
Anywho, the point is that I feel pretty strongly about these topics, but think I could maybe argue either one of them. My teacher did give me the okay to write my essays on more divisive topics should I choose to because I could “handle” them maturely. On the other hand, this next essay is going to be sent out to the rest of the English dept. and I’m not sure that I want to write about anything so politically charged, no matter how well written, and be known as the student that is too opinionated/liberal/socialist/controversial at the end of my first semester of school.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m excited about the weather here. We’re supposed to get a pretty decent amount of snow between tonight and tomorrow night and I have nowhere to go and no one to meet until Wednesday morning, which means I get to just enjoy the snowfall. Huzzah! Pretty weather will be nice.

Writing Prompt: There Were Three, But Now There’s Only One

Again, unedited, first draft. This one is kinda meh, but could be worse I guess. Methinks I should stick with something a little more silly.

There were three, but now there’s only one.

The lump in his throat had been there for weeks. No amount of swallowing or drinking made it go away. Sometimes he could forget it was there, but that only lasted as long as it took him to find another bottle. Anna lectures… lectured me all the time about drinking this stuff. He didn’t know what else to do.
It had taken weeks to get courage to do more than stand in the doorway to their small bedroom. He stood at the foot of the bed, staring at bed covers that were still tossed back and rumpled. The mobile above the crib still spun, sending stars and moons running across the walls and ceiling.

They were gone. Anna and Tony, both gone.

This was the last place that had any bit of their presence, their things, their scents. He had scoured the rest of the tiny house the same night he lost both of them. He had gotten rid of everything, scrubbed and painting the walls and ceiling. He had bought only the most minimal amenities, an air mattress, a single set of dishes and a mini-fridge. He kept telling himself that he would toss everything from the bedroom and sell the house, go back to the days when he wandered. There was something he had to do first.

Vengeance was not typically his style. He had been a loner and had learned the hard way when he was young that the only way he would survive was if he kept his nose down and avoided all contact with the locals. He and Anna both knew that lesson. They had made sure to find a place that was considered free territory and kept out of the local and regional politics. They made a living doing normal things, he as a substitute teacher, she as an assistant librarian. Tony, barely 18 months old, was either watched by their neighbor down the street who had her own baby or happily played with the other babies at the library. Nothing they did ever drew attention. They even made sure Tony never overheard discussions or saw their less human tendencies so that he wouldn’t say anything out of his naivety.

He only had two leads: the rental car he had found outside town with their scents all over it and the small cross he had found around the neck of the third thing he had called. Few of their kind followed a human faith, least of all the Christian faith.

He expected that he would find them tonight. After all, it was a full moon. They had to be upset about losing five of their coven to only two wolves even if one had not made it. And they had forgotten that he could track them, even six weeks later. Witches always left imprints of their presence everywhere they went. Five together, well their trail would be there for months longer.

“Watch me tonight, love. Be ready to guide me home, please,” he whispered to the empty room. He turned around and left without touching anything, leaving this last tangible memory to keep them here. He needed them still. If he failed, he hoped they would understand.

Writing Prompt: It Was Just A Normal September Day, Except

Unedited, first draft, first writing prompt in forever and a day.

It was just a normal September day, except…

It wasn’t September. Or rather, it was September, as far as she could tell by leaves on the trees, but it wasn’t supposed to be. Last she knew it was April and she had just gone to sleep. She had no idea where she was or how she got there or what was going on. Actually, she did know what was going on; she was in her pajamas in the middle of the day getting robbed. She just didn’t know why.

“I don’t have any money, really! No pockets, no jewelry, nada, nothing, zilch,” she said in a rush. The man holding the knife did not look very impressed.

“Who the hell goes outside with nothing of value? What am I supposed to do, just let you go?” he said, frowning at her. She could only figure this was a foreign idea to him and she would have to work hard to convince him that it was a good idea.

“I didn’t mean to be outside. It just sort of happened,” again, she added to herself though she dared not say it out loud. “Last I knew I was going to bed and then I was, well, here. You wouldn’t mind telling me where here is, would you?” Maybe if she distracted and confused him enough he would just give up and go find a less difficult victim.

“So… You’re crazy then,” he stated more than asked.

“No, well, maybe? I guess. I don’t know,” she thought for a moment before deciding that was the best way to make him go away. No one wants to rob a crazy lady. “Yes. I must be crazy. After all, you pointed out that no one in their right mind goes out and carries nothing of value. Therefore, I must be crazy. Thank you for pointing that out to me,” she said and smiled brightly. It was better than the other explanation she could tell him. At least this one he could believe.

He thought for what was the longest minute of her life before coming to some sort of decision. He turned his whole body away from her and looked up the street before saying, “Listen, lady, I don’t want to get mixed up with nothing weird, okay? Just… forget about it. Don’t tell no one, bad for business, get it?” She nodded vehemently. He never saw it though. He had already turned around and was walking away. Fast. She didn’t really care. She was just happy the crazy lady argument worked so well.

Am I crazy? How many people wake up missing months of their lives? Maybe it’s the best explanation for what’s going on. Except she knew what really happened to her. She knew because she had lied to him about not having anything of value with her. There was the earring she had bought at some dusty, hole in the wall thrift store a few years ago. Ever since, she seemed to have started experiencing odd things. Like waking up on a different day besides “tomorrow”. Or finding notes addressed to her in someone else’s handwriting. Or setting things on fire on accident. Luckily the fire one had only happened twice. She figured out how to avoid that one at least.

“Come on, Toto, let’s follow the yellow brick road,” she said to no one in particular as she started walking.

Daily Prompt: Ghostwriter

John Ringo. He’s funny, he writes science-fiction set in this world and urban fantasy that seems just as plausible. I believe he could totally write a biography about a normal person and make their life something most could read.

If he wasn’t available I’d go for Brandon Sanderson or Neil Gaiman. Sanderson because he has come into his own as a writer in the “epic” side of fantasy and I believe could weave a tale of suspense of even the most mundane of things. Gaiman because his perception of this world and all those in his head are something like 217 degrees left of “normal” which is awesome.

So Much More Interesting Inside My Head

Please note that I have not editted this, nor have I done any sort of spellcheck or grammar check or anything like that. If you notice any gross errors, please let me know so I can correct them? Thank you!

Inspired by:

Kendra had no place to go, no place to be, and if she were honest, no place that she had been either. Oh she physically inhabited a certain more or less static volume of space and interacted with other things and people that also occupied their volumes of space, but she had never really been there either. She didn’t think she was crazy. She could tell the difference between what was going on inside her head and what happened in the rest of the world. Mundane as it always was, she never understood why others were so preoccupied with what happened outside their spaces and the places that only they could see.

She had been disabused of that notion and logic only after she realized that not everyone saw things, experienced things, took part in things inside their heads as she did. It took her 17 long years to understand that when others told her that they had no clue what in the world she was talking about that they were telling the truth. They truly had no idea. They couldn’t see like she could.

So she withdrew further into her internal world, seeing the fantastic happening all around her while those she passed by refused to acknowledge that anything fantastic could happen to them, around them. The only people who seemed to have some idea, saw some small portion of what she did were the very young or others on the fringes of society: street bums, whores, alcoholics or addicts. They saw portions of it, though often they were in such desperate situations and life states themselves that they were tormented. They could only see the pain, the suffering, the red that she shied away from in favor of more pleasant things. She felt sorry for them, but had no idea what to do to help them so she avoided them. The demons and torture around them scared her.

Which was why she had no idea how she had gotten sucked into where she was now. All around her was black slashed with red and the feeling of eyes all around her. She was walking as fast as it was possible to without actually running, bumping into people that she could barely see as shades within the world she had fallen into. Normally it was the other way around, but today it was different. Today the real was less tangible than the imagined and she was scared. So very scared.

The black and red world was full of trees, trees that seemed to be growing in front of her, reaching out for her, trying to tangle her up in their limbs and roots and piles of rotting leaves she had to shove her way through. She had no idea why the real people around her couldn’t see or understand her struggle, why they seemed to ignore what was happening right before their eyes.

Something finally managed to take hold of her backpack and pulled her off her feet. She landed hard on her butt, her teeth snapping together and setting off a ringing in her head while cutting off a scream. With barely a pause she rolled over and away from whatever had grabbed her, the trees she thought, and scrambled to her feet before setting off at a run. Her backpack thumped against her back several times before she thought to tighten the straps. She was already breathing hard and had barely gone more than a few blocks. The price she paid for avoiding actually running and instead reading while pretending to use the bike or treadmill.

She was stumbling more now. Tree roots seemed to move in front of her and she was getting scratched and her clothing torn from the damn trees towering above. If she didn’t know any better she would have thought it was something like Mirkwood Forest. As soon as the thought passed her mind she felt the presence she had felt earlier grow infinitely stronger. She wasn’t uncertain about the watchers. She knew they were there as certain as she knew that it was her thoughts that brought them into being rather than the shades they had been.

They moved now, following her, running ahead of her, jumping through the trees as though they belonged. Which if she thought about it, they did. She was the intruder here. She had stepped into their realm, their reality.

She no longer had any idea what was going on in the Real World. the street and buildings and few people around were barely outlines against the darkness. She had no idea how it was that she had not been hit by a car or bus or something. It would be the highest irony if a bus were to get her, at least in her opinion. No one actually got hit and died from that, at least not that she was aware of.

The problem was that she was tiring. Quickly. Her legs hurt. Her arms hurt from protecting her face and chest from getting the worst of the scratches. Her lungs felt on fire. Her right side was ready to split open. Her heart was pounding hard enough that she could feel it in her fingers, her head, hear it in her ears. What happens if I actually fall? If I stop… What happens to me then? she couldn’t help but wonder. She was certain she would find out soon.

Just then she saw someone else, a real person’s outline becoming stronger, less outline, more three dimensional. More real in this world she was struggling to escape from. A man who seemed just as startled as she was to be there with her, wherever they were. She was coming up on him fast, faster than she had thought she was actually moving.

“What…?” She could see the question on his lips and face more than she actually heard it.

“Run!” She called to him, grabbed his hand as she passed him. He didn’t really question, just stumbled as he turned to follow her before catching up and running besides her.

“Do you know this place?” He asked between deep breaths. She shook her head, not knowing if she could answer and still run, even if she knew the answer. He appeared to be much more accustomed to running than she was and asked another question. “Have you been here before?” Again, she could only shake her head. “Well, I have. It won’t end until we face them.” She chose that moment to fall, tripping over her own feet. She fell hard, the wind knocked out of her enough so that she couldn’t actually pull in any air. The panic that had been pushing her to run washed over her, freezing her further.

“No, no, no, no, no,” was all she could think. A century later, when her lungs finally started working again, it was all she could say. She was trapped, and so was this man and they were going to be killed, or driven mad or lost in whatever place had swallowed her and now him.

She didn’t see the transformation he went through, but she sensed something was happening. In her panic, all she could manage to feel was that the world was falling further away, something new was making it go away. However, he went from just another 20-something young man, a little on the skinny side, and definitely not the “hero” type to someone wearing leather and metal armor. He had a bow and a quiver of arrows. And a sword. And he moved like he knew how to use them.

She felt his arms pull her up from the floor of the forest or street, whichever it really was anymore and she was forced to see what had happened to him. All she could do was gape in dumbfounded astonishment and wonder. “How, what… I don’t understand.” He just shook his head and shrugged, “You don’t really need to. Just imagine. Use that wonderful head of yours that brought you here in the first place. Take control of yourself.”

She didn’t really understand him. Not with the part of her brain that struggled against fully accepting what was all around her. But that didn’t matter. Because there was another part of her brain that knew exactly what to do and the desperation she felt to the very core of her heart urged that part of her brain to take over. Her clothing shifted, became heavier, more sturdy, changed to a combination of leather and cloth, something like the man’s own clothing only lighter, no metal, just the leather. Her back pack became a quiver to match his and she knew a bow was waiting for her to grab it up. In her hands she found a staff as thick as the first knuckle of her thumb and at least a foot taller than she. But the thing that she noticed the most was that her fatigue and panic seemed to drain away from her through her feet and she could almost see it slithering along the ground, leaving her in her new-found power.

“Now that’s more like it! I’m Mark, by the way.” He gave her a wink as he turned around to look at where they had stopped so suddenly. “Kendra,” she said, her voice quivering far more than she liked. “Nice to um, meet you, Mark.” She had no idea why she said that, but it just slipped out. Her parents would be proud. She was in the strangest situation she could have imagined herself in, but at least she hadn’t forgotten her manners. “Likewise. Now do you know how to use those things?” he asked.

She looked at the staff in her hand, reached behind her and felt the feathers at the ends of her arrows. “No, not really. But… that’s not right. I think that if I just stopped thinking about not knowing, I feel that I do know how to use them.” She wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, but it was right. If she stopped thinking about what it was that she was doing, she seemed to be able to settle more comfortably into her new “role” whatever that was.

“You’re catching on quick,” he said as he nodded and smiled at her. “Now, I think there’s something big that was chasing you, and before you can go home, we’re going to have to make it go away. You up for that?”

Kendra didn’t really think so, but what else could she do? Give up and just let this world take her away? So she swallowed, breathed deep and nodded. “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

“Perfect. I do believe that we will be wanting to start with the bows yes? You can keep that magnificent quarter-staff close by at your feet, yes?” She nodded and dropped it, catching it with her foot and leading it down to land softly at her feet. Her hand reached back again and pulled the bow and an arrow out of the quiver. She saw that he had several sticking out of the ground in front of him and followed his lead again. How does he know what to do? she wondered. She didn’t have much time to wonder. The creature that had been chasing her down could be heard drawing close to them, the trees snapping apart and making so much noise it was a wonder she hadn’t heard it before.

“Steady… relax and just try to get out of your way,” he mumbled to himself as much as her she thought. Regardless, she nodded and pulled the bow up into a ready position, an arrow was knocked, but she hadn’t drawn it back yet. No reason to tire herself keeping tension when it wasn’t time yet.

The dreadful crashing came closer and closer, getting so loud that it was a wonder all the trees in front of them didn’t jump out of the way of whatever creature was causing so much damage. The thought that the trees could jump out of the way didn’t seem so odd after her long flight through them. She knew they were something more, something else besides mere trees.

Finally creature could be seen through the trees, charging directly toward them. She couldn’t stop the gasp that was a twin to Mark’s when they both realized what they were going to have to fight. “Of all the things you have to think of a Minotaur?” he said, managing to sound impressed, disbelieving, and resigned all at once. “It’s not my fault that damn thing is after me,” she responded sounding much more petulant and defensive than she would have liked.

At that time though, the creature was within bow shot for Mark and he loosed an arrow. It hit in the shoulder of the massive creature, but didn’t appear to actually cause any damage, but did seem to smart since the creature bellowed at them and if anything, moved faster. A second arrow from Mark and one from Kendra joined the first. Neither bothered aiming for the eyes or something silly like that. Even if they were mysteriously capable of using weapons that they had never touched before, or at least Kendra had never touched hers before, they were not foolish enough to believe that meant they could hit something that they couldn’t even see clearly. Not yet at least.

Seven times they fired at the creatures, four arrows for Mark, three for Kendra before they had to throw away their bows and take up their melee weapons. Kendra didn’t know how hers could be of any use in this battle, but she was going to try. At the very least she could distract the Minotaur while Mark did something real with the sword.

With a battle cry, or at least that’s what she hoped it was, she moved forward to meet the Minotaur. At least that’s what she wanted to make it think before she quickly ducked to the side and cloths-lined it with her staff. It didn’t fall, but it did stumble a step before turning on her. She was able to see quite clearly the red eyes and fierce face which seemed to suck all the courage right out of her. At that moment though Mark came in and managed to make a very nice cut along the Minotaur’s back. nothing deep, but definitely painful. It bellowed in pain and rage and threw out a hand with what appeared to be a hammer and caught Mark in the shoulder. The force of the blow knocked him ten feet away where he fell in a heap.

Kendra stared at Mark in horror for a second too long. The Minotaur rounded on her and swung the same hammer at her head. Agility that she had never before possessed saved her and even gave her the opportunity to hit the hammer-wielding wrist hard, hard enough to make the fingers spasm and refuse to obey the commands of its owner. The hammer flew a foot or two before thudding to the ground. The Minotaur screamed again.

Kendra seemed to dance with the creature, moving in and out of easy range for it, all the while hitting it hard with her staff, including shoving several arrows deeper into its body. She knew they had to be hurting it. There was no way that they weren’t, that two of them hadn’t now punctured its lungs and it would eventually drown in its own blood. That was neither here nor there apparently as it didn’t seem to be tiring and continued to come back at her with the same strength and ferocity as before.

She was so consumed with evading and hitting the Minotaur that she never saw Mark pick himself up, grab up his sword and manage to shake off his injuries enough to fight again. At least she didn’t see him and he stepped forward and jammed the blade into the creatures neck. It grasped at the sword, incomprehension obvious in its face. It started to fall and Mark released the sword, stepping away from the Minotaur. He grabbed Kendra and pulled her away too. They watched together as the Minotaur died from its multiple injuries. After a full two minutes of watching the creature’s chest and seeing no evidence of breathing, Kendra finally gave in to the overwhelming emotions she felt.

Her legs slowly gave out on her and she found herself on the ground and crying. Mark held her against him, telling her she was alright and safe now over and over. She knew he was right, but that didn’t stop the shock from taking over her mind. She was aware of what was going on, but was incapable of stopping it as much as she had been incapable of doing anything but run before she had tripped and fallen that last time. She was pretty sure Mark was as aware of it as she was. As her tears dissolved into quiet hiccups and sniffles, she finally managed to ask what had been going through her head for the better part of the last 20 minutes. “Who are you?”

“If I said your friendly, neighborhood Spider Man, would you leave it at that?” he asked, a half-smile and raised eyebrow showing that he was mostly joking. “Really though, I’m just someone like you. Or at least that’s what I would have to assume since I’ve never met anyone else who could be here too.”

“I don’t understand. How is it that you are here? Where is here?” Her only answer was a shrug. They sat still for another two minutes before he finally managed to stand himself up and pull her up to her own feet.

“All that I know is that if we start walking that way,” he gestured in the direction that had before only been more forest, but which now sported a pathway and an obvious light source beyond the dark blacks and reds that made up the rest of the forest, “we’ll eventually end up out of Here and back in the Real world.” He started walking, though he did make sure to pick up both bows from the ground before following the path. Once she caught up with her quarter-staff he passed her bow to her and they both put them away.

“I could really use a cup of coffee, what do you think?” He said, breaking the long minutes of silence that had fallen over them and the forest. “That would be lovely,” she said. The light was getting brighter and she felt her new clothing dissolving away, returning her to what she had been wearing when she left college not more than an hour before. Mark was now in his jeans and t-shirt and she could see outlines of buildings and the street and cars and people again. Those were becoming more substantial while the forest became less. By the time they reached the local coffee shop there was no evidence of the forest or their battle or her desperate flight.

“After you, m’lady,” Mark said as he held open the door for her. She smiled at him and passed into the coffee shop with him close behind her.

Prompt – “It was finished”

She slammed the door shut and managed to twist the knob for the deadbolt only a moment before the door began shaking and a heavy fist crashed on it over and over in a frenzied rush of energy. She backed away from the door, staring at it without really believing that any of this was happening. She wasn’t really seeing the door or the bright, encouraging words framed next to it or the flower wall stickers. She couldn’t feel the wall she had just backed into or the hard wood floor she had half-fallen, half-slid to. She didn’t realize she was rocking back and forth or feel the cold tears of her fear and pain or hear the high-pitched mewls interrupted by her fast breathing. She was frozen, unable to move or do anything more. It had taken everything she had to put that door between her and the man who was more demon than human right now.

“Fuck! Open this fucking door Denise!” More pounding, this time it sounded like a foot had joined the fist. That’s going to cost me part of my deposit. The thought was just as detached as she was from everything that was happening. Whatever that was. She hadn’t taken any time to process what it was that she had seen, what it meant, why he was so angry when she hadn’t done anything wrong. Not really. “I’m going to get the manager to open this door if you don’t open it now. Do you hear me?”

She heard his words, the last three sharp reports on the door before his heavy foot steps moved away. The silence was almost worse than the deafening threats and pounding of only moments before. At least then she knew where he was. She knew he was on the other side. Now… now she could imagine him behind every door, every wall, every window. Those thoughts shocked her into movement. She scrambled away from her entry way walls and crawled on hands and knees to all the windows and patio door, quickly locked all the latches and pulled all the curtains and blinds closed. Each closed and blocked window blocked more light until the entire apartment was dark, darker than it had ever been for her. Darker than the scene she had barely escaped.

The last room she found was her bathroom. There were no windows and the door was actually a heavy wood with another dead bolt. She quickly locked the door and fumbled in the dark to find the cabinet that held her towels. One was shoved under the crack before she dared turn on the light. Her cabinet, a heavy antique find from Craigslist, was pushed up against the door, every scrape and squeak and squeal making her heart pound a little more until all she could hear was the sound of her blood rushing through her veins, every heartbeat the sound of his footsteps on her floor.

It was many long minutes later-or was it hours?-she managed to calm down enough to remember that her phone was still in her pocket. Her blessedly charged phone that managed to get more than one bar of signal even in the middle of her old apartment. Her shaking fingers mis-dialed twice before she managed to hit those three numbers every child in America is taught by the age of four, 9-1-1.

“9-1-1, this is Karen, what is the nature of your emergency?”

“I think I witnessed a murder,” she whispered into the receiver.

“Are you in a safe location?”

“For now. I’m locked in the bathroom of my apartment. He knows I’m here. I think he’s going to kill me, too.” Her voice cracked on the last thought. He was going to kill her. She knew it. The police wouldn’t get here in time. He was outside her door. She hadn’t heard him, but he had to be. She could feel her heart racing again, reminding her that she wanted to live.

“What is your name and address?”

“Denise Woods. 8920 S Bellview Boulevard, apartment 52. Please, he’s going to get the manager to open the door.” A creak sounded somewhere in the building. Somewhere close by. Please, please god, help me.

I have police on the way to you right now. Can you tell me about what you saw?”

“It was in his apartment, he’s in 25,”-“In the same building?-“Yes.” Another creak, a child shouting somewhere above her. “He… he had a knife and she… there was so much blood,” her voice was shaking and she was no longer in the relative safety of her bathroom. She was there. Again. The bloodied apartment below. Everything was red, bright, shining red. Except for her face. Her face was white, the white of a ghost. Her eyes were still open, but nothing was there to see. Then the flash of something metallic. She had ducked out of instinct, pure, blind, terrified instinct. The same instinct that drove her away faster than she had ever moved, up the three flights of stairs and past her door and now here, locked away from the entire world, as likely to die of fear as a knife.

“Denise? Denise, please keep talking to me. Tell me what is going on.”

“I hear something, I don’t know what. I’m so afraid. I’m going to die.” A scrape, too close to be from another apartment despite what she desperately wanted to tell herself. “I think there’s someone in here with me. Someone’s behind the door.” Her voice was softer than ever, but it wouldn’t make a difference. He already knew where she was.

Then there was shouting. And screaming. And gun shots. Something falling on the other side of the door. More shouting. Multiple sets of feet running. And screaming. There was still screaming.

It took them ten very long minutes to convince her that he was dead. Blood, oh god, more blood, was staining her towel, what bit of it she could see on behind the cabinet. More blood.

The phone was across the room, a shattered heap of electronics. It was dead too. As dead as the woman.

At least the screaming had stopped. She had no idea that it had been her screaming.

It took another three hours before she was willing to move the cabinet, another five minutes to unlock the door. It was only her mother’s voice that finally convinced her it was okay, he was dead, she was safe. She knew, she knew it wasn’t true. How could it be true? She would never be safe, never again. He was going to find her and he would slice her up slowly, make her suffer for betraying him. Even as her mother wrapped her up in her old afghan she still kept on her bed and held her through the ambulance ride to the hospital she could feel his eyes on her, looking at her from everywhere. She heard the soft creaking of his feet on the floor. She felt his breath on the back of her neck. Her mother’s soothing words and tight arms around her did nothing to make him go away.

~~~~~~~~~

She was found on the bed in the bare room of the mental hospital. A gag made of one of her socks was stuffed in her mouth, her eyes still wide open and tracks of dried tears a silent accusation to everyone who didn’t believe her.

There was so much blood. So very much blood. Blood still dripped from the saturated bed to the pool beneath it. Plop. Plop. Plop. A knife pierced a note on the bedside table. The same message she had been writing over and over the last six months. With one exception. The very last line was different. Four new words, the black pen marks traced in cracked, brownish-red blood.

I hear something I don’t know what I’m so afraid I’m going to die oh god he’s here.