Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Time To Write… Vacant

Looking around the room would leave most with the impression that no one lived here. It would be a kindness to call it a sterile environment. Furnishings were sparse and bare, one drab grey colored rug in the center of the floor, a solitary wooden chair sitting in the corner. An ancient television on a plain wooden stand against a wall and one of those tall lamps with a nondescript beige shade and a brass strand you pull to turn it on.

There were a couple small windows letting in a sliver of light. Off white curtains were hung up on both blocking most of the light, with a hint of a cobweb in the corner of one.

The place was too quiet. It was eerie. You expected poltergeists or something, maybe bats or mice, or something to crawl out of somewhere. Slam a door, or wind to gust creepily in from an open window. Instead, everything was silent.

The report stated that a small pale face was seen peeking out one of the windows. In a place that had been vacant for years. It was assumed the child was a runaway, or a homeless waif, or perhaps was a scared lonely little soul that had been lost or was abducted. But, there was no trace of anyone. Dust covered the floors and corners, and the fridge was empty, except some mold from something long ago. There was no bed, or table.

The county records show the property had been foreclosed on, and it was repossessed by the bank and had been listed for sale for quite some time. There were water stains on the ceiling, and some water damage behind the toilet. Otherwise, there wasn’t much that was in disrepair. It was just empty.

There were no crumbs, or fingerprints in the dust. Perhaps the person thought they saw someone when they didn’t? Perhaps, I hated to say it, as I waved the flashlight around the small room, it was a ghost?

A preposterous idea. I almost wanted a sound, any sign of life. Something, anything. We waited a few minutes more, before we took another walk around the property. The yard was overgrown. It looked like an old swing set was somewhere in there, but the black berry bushes had grown to the point where most of it was hidden. A child lived here once, but it did not look like it was recent.

“What do you think, Andre? Is it possible to have multiple sightings of someone that was never here, or is it more likely we have a small person who leaves no trace behind them? Maybe the witnesses are

in on some weird prank. If so, I do not think it is funny.”

“No one is that bored. Why waste our time? Besides, I would hope they would do something at least a little bit funny. This? A waste of time, and boring as hell.”

“Well, I guess we should examine the yard. There could be someone hiding in this mess, and we probably wouldn’t know it. It seems the bank gave up on selling this place.”

“I think they have it listed as land. I think the house is pretty much toast, but then I am no realtor. So, who knows.”

We both scanned the tall grass with our flashlights, listening for something small and scared. It was getting darker, and if there were a child out here it would be getting awfully cold soon, with no heat in the house, or blankets. And, who knows what out here.

Coyotes for sure, and maybe something much worse, I thought to myself, part of me hoping to find something or someone just to have the day have some kind of achievement. A meaning, we were doing this for a reason and not wasting our time or resources.

Someone’s child may be out here, alone. Starving, freezing. scared. I was that child once. I remembered it all too well. Parts of it, anyway. Some parts, I sealed off from myself. Some families do more harm than good. That was why I went into this business after all. I wanted to help children who were in horrible situations. Like I wished someone had done for me.

 

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Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt — One Possibility

*This is inspired by James Mascia’s Other Worlds: Writing Prompts for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer.

 

“It is so beautiful here, isn’t it?” Aimee swung her feet casually over the ledge back and forth enjoying the whooshing sound.

He held back, reluctant to look down. “Come on, there is nothing to be afraid of. Where you come from, is it so different?”

“Well, Aimee, I came from a dirt town, on the ground. We would be lucky if we had a tree tall enough to climb. This place is beautiful, and I am not used to it. That is a long way down. Wouldn’t your mother be scared to know you were sitting on the edge like that? I mean, shouldn’t we be heading back?”

“My mother isn’t worried. She knows I won’t fall.” Aimee smiled an innocent friendly smile. She had short blonde hair, freckles and green eyes that were large and luminous. Butterflies and birds flitted about and the majestic birch trees added to the picture of intense beauty.

They were on a very large platform way above the earth where the air was still pristine, where plants and animals could breathe and flourish. Not like the deserted barren place he had been living.

He won a lotto pass to live here. Every now and then the elite threw a bone to the lower classes allowing a fraction of them to ascend to the cloud cities. He was one of the lucky few. It was breathtaking but frightening.

And then there was the task left to him by his brothers. He looked away from Aimee. Her family was his foster family. He was staying with them, eating with them. Sharing little moments like this. Yet it was all a sham.

When it came time to have a position here, he would at best be the janitor while she would be a councilwoman or Professor or some other such profession where her hands wouldn’t need to get dirty. He was here for the grunt work, the work they didn’t want to do.

He was also older than Aimee. Older in years, older in experiences, older in all ways. He felt like he had lived a couple lifetimes all ready. Sometimes it was too much. What was expected of him by his family. What he wanted to do, versus what he had to do.

There were others here who were also planning, and they had contacted him not long after he arrived. He watched Aimee kick her legs a few more times, the birds chirping above them. It seemed like the garden of Eden, paradise on Earth. Only this garden could come crashing down all too easily. Maybe more Tower of Babel, Or Sodom? Not all here were as innocent as Aimee.

In fact, it was the fact that there were Aimee’s running around, laughing skipping, and jumping that gave him pause. His mission would be so much easier, so much  more fulfilling if somehow God could come down and save all the Aimee’s. All the innocent children could somehow be spared.

But that was  a fool’s dream. God doesn’t work that way anymore. Besides, these children would grow up to be monsters. Perhaps it is a kindness, he rationalized. Yes, better for them to leave the world pure of mind and heart. They will go straight to heaven like the angels they are.

They will not ever know suffering, starving, pain. They will not know what it is like to watch your baby brother be burned alive by bombs, or have a mom who is crippled by a landmine that wasn’t defused from some past conflict.

Or a sister who was raped repeatedly and eventually ended her own life in shame. A father who no longer spoke, having witnessed most of this. And, then like magic, his family perhaps because of all their sufferings gets the elusive and rare lotto pass. But why did he not feel lucky?

Sometimes he felt that some strings had been pulled; he was not put here by accident. He was here to serve a purpose. God himself may have willed it. But, there was definitely some mortal man’s hand on it. He could not believe his family would ever be so lucky. Luck had left them a long time ago.

“Aimee, lunch time!” He heard a voice call out. Aimee reluctantly got up, brushing the grass off her leggings. “Aimee!” The call came again with  a tinge of annoyance added. “I’m Coming! Sheesh!” She yelled back, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.

“You don’t know how lucky you are, Aimee. To have a mom that cares about you.”

“I am sure your Mom cares about you too. All mom’s care.”

“Oh, of course, my Mom loves me dearly. But, she needs to be taken care of, she cannot take care of me anymore.”

“Is she sick?”

“In a manner of speaking. She stepped on something that blew up her leg. So, now she is bedridden, and we take care of her.”

“I’m so sorry that happened to you. That must be awful. I will send some good thoughts her way, that maybe she can be healed and good as new.”

“That would be very kind of you.” Aimee gave him a strange look and ran in the direction of her mom’s voice. He watched her recede. He knew no one would be calling or waiting for him so he took his time taking the view in. He took a step toward the edge and looked down. He could see clouds, and sky and a receding base of metals and vines going into nothing, for eternity.

His heart started to beat fast, and he backed away. It was too much. Man should not reach out to heaven like this. There was something artificial and wrong about this. That his people should be starving and these people should have paradise. What did they do to deserve this?

They had a birth lottery, where they were born into paradise. Maybe it was time to even things out. But Aimee’s smile. She didn’t deserve this. Why was he chosen for this mission? He just wanted to be a kid himself and not have a care in the world, run after Aimee and have cheese sandwiches and juice and then be sent out to play once again.

That life appealed to him. It would be so simple. Just agree to everything, and then not do it. Just act like the kid he was supposed to be. Just play. Live and play. Forget the past, forget that others are still out there suffering. Just enjoy his lucky situation.

Would the others let him walk away? Probably not. They might tell on him. He was just a kid. Who would believe his word over an adult’s? He felt stuck. He had to follow his mission, but he didn’t want to. What was the right thing?

Aimee ran up to him out of breath, her blonde hair all over the place. “Aren’t you hungry? We got peaches and cream, and orange juice, and some grapes. Why didn’t you come? The food is for you too.”

“I’m sorry, Aimee. I’ll be a long in a few minutes, okay? I just have a lot to think about, and if you could tell your Mom to just save the food for later? You’re a good person, Aimee. A good friend, I hope you know that, and never forget that. You have helped me more than you will ever know. ” She looked at him confused, and ran back, shouting, “Okay.” on her way back to deliver the message.

He walked over to his backpack that had some crayons and a coloring book and some trail mix in it. He ripped out the last page out of the coloring book and took the black crayon and started to as carefully and simply as he could write out his brief story, and who were the conspirators in the plot to blow up the suspension system. He made sure and wrote names down so they would know.

It wasn’t our job to end life, that was God’s. And, he felt that Aimee had shown him the way to what he must do. He added at the bottom, ‘Please do not blame yourself, Aimee. You are the best, and you showed me the path. I will miss you. God Bless.’  He put it on top the coloring book where it would be seen and carefully zipped up the backpack.

He placed the backpack carefully where he knew she would see it when she came back. He walked up to the edge, and looked straight ahead, and calmly, walked off the edge of the world into the clouds. People would believe him now he knew. He would be with the angels because his conscious was clear.

 

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Minor Update–plus writing prompt:The Resilience of Children

*Inspired by James Mascia’s Other Worlds Writing Prompts.

I like to give credit to him because it is a book of sci-fi/fantasy writing prompts, and I am working through them to get the rust off so to speak, and help spark my creativity for my new novel which has hit a wall.

So, in a sense, I am giving away his content for free if you can figure out the prompts which is pretty easy to do. So, the least I can do is give him the credit so that maybe someone else will buy his book and get inspired. Or at the very least he will get the recognition for the prompts as any writer should get recognized for their work.

As far as the new novel is concerned, I feel like I am reaching the big important event a bit too early. It is kinda like setting up a fireworks show; you have things go off at certain times to really make it work. Same with this novel, and if it hits its stride too soon, it may be a hard thing to organically fix.

I can add events and lengthen it, but my worry there is that it won’t flow properly. It will seem stretched out, which is bad pacing.  I am a bit stuck, trying to figure out the best path to fixing this, or altering it now, so hopefully, I won’t have to make a Frankenstein’s monster later. I all ready have one of those in my fantasy series. I’ve got six books sitting in binders, some need to be entirely rewritten. So yeah, trying to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them.

*Anyway, this prompt :

Candice lay still in the hospital bed, eyes closed, drifting out of a deep sleep to beeps and steps in the hall way and birds chirping out the window. A TV was blaring on the other side of the room and she could hear a fan going someplace nearby. She opened her eyes slowly, adjusting to the artificial fluorescent lighting.

She looked at the side table, propping herself up with her arms, glancing at the pink carafe and a small plastic cup of water and a multi colored bouquet of flowers that seemed relatively fresh. She saw a bench along the wall, a coat left draped on it lazily, one of those thin grey jersey hoodies. Her brother was here recently, or maybe he would be back soon, she thought recognizing his coat.

How long have I been here? Which hospital was this? She craned her neck toward the window, concrete parking lot, street lamps, cars parked here and there. No remarkable landmarks from there. She looked around the room, no neighbor next to her, just an empty bed. She hit the call button and waited.

A nurse walked in and nearly stumbled from shock, taking a seat on the bench. Candice looked at her startled by the reaction. “Nurse? Where am I? What happened to me?”

“Oh you don’t know poor child? It was awful, so many children didn’t make it, so many people. Everyone thought it was the common cold, but then people would fall asleep, and just not wake up. And, then a few started to, but not many. But a few. Least that is what I heard, but, you are the first of the fallen ones I have seen with my own eyes. Your family will be so happy, especially considering…Well. I better let them know. Are you hungry?”

Candice nodded. The nurse left and Candice reached for the water, taking a sip slowly. She felt the water go down cooling her insides. She suddenly felt very thirsty, refilling the glass and taking another gulp. She grabbed the remote for the TV turning it down. She heard steps down the hall, hurried steps. She glanced toward the door just as her mother and father ran in. Their faces were wet with tears and they looked a little scared. They ran in and hugged her tightly, kissing her roughly. “Stop. I’m okay. Where’s Jeremy? I see his coat over there?”

They both took a seat on the bench slowly. Her father grabbed the coat into his arms, clenching it in his hands. “Jeremy fell ill right after you did, but, he didn’t make it. Seems mostly children were affected by this virus, and the elderly, and people who were all ready sick, but even some healthy people came down with it in the end, and most people that fell asleep, never came out of it again. You are lucky, Candy. We were losing hope, you seemed to be drifting away. They don’t know what changed, it is just all so sudden. We are just so glad we still have you, we never dared to hope, or dream. It was just too much to bear. To lose you both like this.”

“Jeremy’s gone? I can’t believe it. He was my older brother. I can’t imagine a world without him in it.”

“The city is also under quarantine still. They don’t want this spreading, so you will have to go to school when you are deemed fully recovered in a special place for other kids like you. They don’t want to take any chances, because they still don’t know what this is or how it happened here. Right now, you just have to get well, and eat, and get strong for us, okay?” Mom’s voice sounded worried and confused, and didn’t seem reassuring at all. A special school? Quarantine?

“What about my friends? Becky and Josie? Did they fall ill, are they okay?”

Her parents remained silent a moment, looking at each other before her dad spoke. “They did fall ill. They didn’t make it, Candy. You are the only one at this hospital. The children’s hospital has a few others. There might be a few more who are being treated at their homes because for a while there was no room. The sick lined the floors, it was terrible. Then, people started to die. Now there is room again, but, the whole city seems empty, and food is starting to run low. The government sends some in, of course, but just the staples. No luxury items, basic stuff like blankets and food. Things are looking up now though. They halted the disease here, so it could have been worse.”

“New victims are down, and have been falling every week, so, pretty soon the city will be declared safe, and things will go back to normal,” her mom adds forcing a smile, her eyes still appearing kinda vacant.

A doctor came in saying, “Sorry, for interrupting, but we would like to watch her for 24 hours, just to make sure, and then we can see about discharging her to home care. Watch for signs of a new onset, if she gets the all clear, as I expect she will, we can release her into your care. But, we want to make sure, before we send her out. So, we’ll give you as long a visit as you need, but I would like her to get plenty of rest.”

The doctor  gave her parents some paperwork and nodded at Candice,  leaving abruptly again. She can hear his shoes as he walked down the hall. She can hear the nurse at the nurse’s station tapping at the keyboard, and the birds chirping loudly. She can hear her mom fidgeting with her hands, rotating her wedding band, and her dad cleaning his glasses for the tenth time, the slight sound of microfiber cloth on glass.

“Honey, why do you have the TV so quiet? You can’t hear it.”

“Oh, I can, please, leave it.” Her mom looked at her, and puts the remote down. “Okay, dear. Maybe we should let you rest, I am just so glad you are okay.”

They got up and reluctantly leave, her dad turned to her and says, “We are just going to take a nap downstairs, we’ll be here if you need us. Okay?”

“Okay.” She watched them leave, and shut the door quietly behind them. She looked back to the window and saw a boy’s face in the glass. She got up and opened the window to let him in. “Thanks, the name is Charlie. I came as quickly as I could. I am a survivor too. I came from the other hospital, we are going to break out. Are you in?”

Candy looked out the window, and saw that it was a long way down. “How did you get up here, by my window? I’m on the third floor, at least.”

“Same way you could hear me coming, and Abbie knew you’d be here. We are special. When we awaken, we awaken different. Thing is, the adults won’t understand it. They will try to study us, they will hurt us. I know, my sister Mirabelle, she was the first. She had a special gift, and it was discovered pretty quick. So, now they have her in some special facility. I know they are doing bad things to her. Abbie can feel it. She can feel things, and sense feelings. I can fly.”

“Like Peter Pan?”

“Sort of, see.” The boy lifts himself a foot into the air, hovering. “It gets tiring though. So, I cannot do it all the time, and I can’t keep myself up for too long. Besides, we can’t let them know.”

“Them?”

“The doctors, the nurses. They are in on it. They did this to our city on purpose. They wanted to test something, they had this planned. That is what Abbie says. Abbie is our leader. She is fourteen. The oldest survivor so far, and so very wise. You will like her. She is a red-head, very tall and thin. Kinda freckly. But she knows the adults, she knows what they are about.”

“My parents are downstairs, and they would be worried sick about me. I can’t leave them. They all ready lost my brother.”

“They will lose you anyway, as soon as they figure out you can hear things so well, and who knows what else, they will take you away, like Mirabelle. Mirabelle can move things, like that water, she can move it all around without touching it. Or she could, I don’t know what has happened to her.”

“I will help you find your sister, but can I leave a note for my parents? I don’t want them to worry.”

“Sure, but don’t mention me or where you are going. Just say you are helping a friend and stuff.”

Candy takes the hospital stationary and writes a letter carefully, making sure it was legible, stating her love and how she hopes she can explain and they understand she loves them.

“I don’t know if I am making a mistake by leaving, or if I should stay.” She looks at Charlie’s eyes. “Come on, we don’t have a lot of time, the Doctor will be back, and who knows what he will do. He will be looking for something special, he will know about this, and if he discovers you, I don’t know if we can break you out again.”

Candy hears the door make a clicking sound, Charlie dives under the bed, Candy forces out a loud cough to cover the noise, a nurse comes in with a tray of apple sauce and crackers and some apple juice. “We want to start you off slow, since it has been a while since you had a real meal.” The lady smiled at her, smoothed her bedding and left closing the door again. Charlie scooted out from under the bed as soon as the steps receded.

“She seems nice, are you sure they are all in on it?”

“They are probably watching us, we better go, now.” He looks around the room suspiciously looking for cameras. Candy shrugged. “That seems a little crazy.”

“Come with me, if you change your mind, I promise I will help you come back myself.”

“Okay.” Candy got out of the bed slowly, and her legs wobbled on the floor. “I can’t seem to walk.”

“It’s because you have been in bed a long time. Here, let me help you.” He put his arm around her and walked over to the window. She opened it again, looking back at Charlie with concern, gulping and breathing in deeply. “Here goes nothing.”

“Just hang onto me, we will drift down.”

He helps her scramble onto the sill, “I’m scared.”

“Think of Peter Pan, okay? Or Superman, that’s okay too.” And he pulls her out into the air with him drifting like clumsy birds. “How is this even possible?”

“I don’t know, I’m only ten.”

“I can’t look anymore.” She felt some of her crackers coming back up and her head feeling strangely light.

“We’re almost there, just stay with me a little longer.”  When their feet touch the ground her knees buckle, and he attempts to break her fall and they both fall in a heap. “You’re heavier than me, sorry.”

She elbowed him. “Hey now.”

“It’s the truth. Sorry.” He got up brushed the grass off his clothes. “Can you get up, I’ll help you walk, the others’ aren’t far.”

“I’ll try, but I feel like all rubber.”  The boy  again put his arm around her and gently walked her in a direction away from the hospital.

“Trust me, I know where I’m going. If they were watching, they will be after us, but they won’t know how far I drifted, so, we may have a little time, plus, I know this town pretty well. I’ve got a map in my head from riding my bike tons.”

“What am I doing? My parents are going to be so worried.”

“Look, you would be disappeared one way or another. That special school, yeah, no one goes there and hears about the people again. We are trying to locate it through Abbie’s power. But, there are still a lot of people around, and she can’t  choose what to tune in or out of very well, she is still working on it.  She found you because you just woke up and she says it is like a beacon, a flare goes up when one of us wakes up. It is like, we are part of something, a plan, something bigger than everything else.  And when one of us wakes up it is like it sends a message to the others.”

“What about those that didn’t make it?”

“Well, whatever experiment this was, we were phase one, the kinks weren’t worked out yet. I guess that is what they call collateral damage. Cost of doing business, sort of thing?”

“How far do we have to walk, I’m not used to it?”

“Hey,I’m doing most of the work here, don’t worry, it isn’t far now.”

A car pulled up beside them, slowing down to a crawl, a door opened. “Come on, get in.”

“What? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it is Abbie’s mom, she is with us, they tried to take Abbie away, so, she is on our team. We can’t waste time.”

“For someone that is suspicious of things, you are asking me to trust a lot of strangers.” Candy got in the car reluctantly after Charlie. The woman driving seemed anxious, eyes darting; hair a mess, with a crumpled blouse. Another girl was in the car. A tall girl with red hair and freckles.

“You must be Candy. I am Abbie. You have met Charlie. My mom is driving, she can be trusted. She saw Mirabelle taken. She knows what is happening with us, or at least that much. There is still a lot we don’t know. Please, don’t be frightened. None of us chose this, this was thrust upon us, and we must come together. We are each others’ family now.”

“Easy for you to say, you still have your mom.”

“My dad died from the virus. He was sick all ready, and he got it from me. So, I do understand. I know about Jeremy. I feel your pain, and your loss. And the loss of so many here. I feel it every minute, every hour, all the time. I am tired of the pain, but I know, I have a purpose. This was no accident, and until I fulfill that purpose, I must live with this pain, and this knowledge of everyone’s pain and frustration and fear, and hatred. I must bear it all,  do you understand what that can be like?”

Candy said nothing after this, Abbie’s mom locked all the doors from her driver’s panel and sped away taking a circuitous route to wherever they were going. Eventually they end up out of the city proper and in a quiet suburb area. “Who lives here?”

“This is the property of a friend. They gave us permission to use it, me and Abbie. Abbie and I cannot go home, they will take us for sure, we cannot stay here long, because they will find us, but we have a temporary headquarters in the barn over there. We use the house sparingly, just in case. Mostly at night, but can’t get used to routine too much. That’s how you get found out.”

“Has someone been found out, before?”

“Yes, we lost a couple kids, that way. Mirabelle didn’t get to leave the hospital, but there have been others. The special school isn’t a school. It is a laboratory. The government is behind all this. For military purposes I am sure. We aren’t people to them, we can be stated as dead from this illness at any time. That’s how they cover this up.”

“Does that mean, that when they say someone is dead, they  may not be?”

Everyone looked at each other and looked back at Candy.

“Could Jeremy be alive? His coat was in my room, if he had died, how would his coat have gotten there?”

“Child, there could be a lot of explanations, your parents could have kept it as a memento and left it there, perhaps he visited you before falling ill himself and left it there. I would assume him to be dead, if he isn’t then he is being experimented on some place, and I am not sure I would wish that on anyone.”

“Abbie, can you search for him?”

“Hope is a dangerous thing. It can make you do crazy stuff. He fell ill after you, so, it is possible they could be declaring him dead to move him someplace else, early. But, if he woke up, surely I would have felt that.”

“Well, even if it is a slim possibility, I’m in, if finding Mirabelle means possibly finding my brother. I need to know for certain. I feel like I would know if he were dead.”

She unfastened her seat belt with a click as did the others and quietly got out of the car heading toward a large barn with one light burning brightly.

The light beckoned and called to her, flickering as the sky started to darken a little and she could hear the crinkle of the grass beneath their feet and the hooting of owls in the trees, and the animals scurrying in the brush. She could hear the others’ breathing and hear other cars in the distance crunching gravel.

She knew in her heart that her brother was alive. He had left his coat to let her know this. Her brother would never leave her unless he had to. Maybe it was crazy, but she could not believe he was dead, the coat was there for a reason, just like she woke up for a reason. Candy smiled, someday her family would be reunited.

In her heart she knew this and it felt real, almost like she would find them all happily waiting for her in the barn before her right in this moment.