genre fiction

Diseased horror – the complete draft

Hi, all. I’ve finished the first draft of my flash fiction story. It’s definitely outside my usual fare, though with a certain connection to my life. Input is always welcome. Thanks for reading.

 

The day dawned through weepy fog, yielding a blinding whiteness empty of warmth. In the early morning light, Eloise dressed in yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt. The formerly tight pants slid down her hips, sagging and bunching along the length of her body. She shuffled past the mirror with her eyes on her worn running shoes. Her lean fingers traced over the letters embroidered on her sweatshirt, the initials of her former university. Once she had been so proud to wear them, before appearance and prestige had ceased to matter. Many of the threads hung loose, stained brown in areas where the tips of her fingers had bled as she picked away at the letters until they were indecipherable.

Before leaving the house, Eloise pulled her mask over her face. She adjusted the straps until the mask sealed around her nose and mouth. The claustrophobic too-shallow first breath panicked her and her fingers clenched in her hair around the straps. She dragged her hands out of her hair as her breathing returned to her new normal, regular but rasping. Grabbing her car keys from the bowl by the door, she registered without interest the clumps of hair that fell from her fingers.

In her car, Eloise found herself in heavy traffic. The early hour was no deterrent. The grocery store was receiving a delivery today, one of the few events to bring people out of the their homes. The fog was liquid as she drove, shifting and swamping first her car, then the next lane over. Each car was a quarantine unit, its driver and passengers isolated and dreading contact with the outside.

The radio played droning pop tunes until the first of the hour brought on the news. The distant voice of the newsreader turned to the only real matter of concern in today’s climate.

“The government estimates that confirmed cases will reach 250,000 by the end of the month,” the voice said. Eloise’s skeletal hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Symptoms include drastic weight loss, wet cough, loss of hair and nails, and general wasting. You are urged to avoid contact with uninfected individuals and report to authorities if you experience these symptoms.”

Eloise pulled her car into a parking space at the back of the lot and walked up to the supermarket. The exertion turned her rasping breath into a wet rattling. Her mask fogged over with her labored breathing. She pressed her lean frame against a wall as wary shoppers filtered past, each face obscured by a mask. Finally, with her breathing under control, she made her way to the back of the store.

The pet food aisle was full of shoppers, piling bags of dry food and cans of wet food into their carts for the only friends still safe to have. Eloise picked up a small bag of dog food. As she shuffled toward the checkout lines, the unfamiliar heat of so many bodies combined with her difficult breathing.

The cough started deep and quiet, but gathered strength. Her mask did nothing to contain the sound. It did nothing to reassure her fellow shoppers. As her cough wracked her thin body, the people around her stared and backed away. Their eyes took in the ill-fitting clothes and the patchy hair. The wet cough and general wasting were clear.

Eloise felt the panic rising as the area around her emptied of people. She saw retreating customers reaching for their phones. Her voice croaked out between coughs. “No, please,” she said. “I’ve been tested. I’m virus-free.”

She knew there was no hope of avoiding the authorities for long out in public. As quickly and quietly as she could, she paid a reluctant, worried-looking cashier for the dog food and made her way out to her car. The fog had burned away and she felt exposed in the bright sunlight of the car. Long minutes passed before she was composed enough to drive.

When Eloise arrived home, she was greeted only by the musty smell of the unaired house as she removed her mask. The dog had ceased running to meet her. Instead she remained in the corner, mourning a master that was not yet dead.

The phone that Eloise had been inseparable from in a former life was buzzing on the counter. She looked at the message from her mother.
El, please call me back. Doc says you’re def virus free. It can’t be your project. Please please call. Love, Mom

 

Eloise put the phone down and refilled the dog’s food and water. She hadn’t eaten in days. Her cupboards were empty.

The doctors said she didn’t have the virus. But she would always have the virus. She only hoped the general wasting would lead to eventual death before the virus reached pandemic levels, before they traced it back to her thesis work and labeled it with her name. She crawled back into bed.

flash fiction challenge: diseased horror

Hello, folks! It’s been a long weekend of putting together Ikea furniture here. Not to brag, but I think I may be the best hammer- and mallet-wielder among us. Unfortunately, that means I haven’t had too much time for sitting, thinking, and writing. I have started my next flash fiction challenge from terribleminds, however. The challenge is as follows:

“Last week: horror as spam.

This week:

The country’s in EBOLA PANIC, going so far as to elect an Ebola Czar. (Did you know that vending machines kill 13 people a year? I look forward to our new Vending Machine Czar to address this grave concern.) Disease of course freaks people out. And next Friday? Halloween. The time of horror!

Which means it’s time for you to freak people out with disease.

Write 1000 words of flash fiction.

It should be horror.

It should feature disease as an axis of that horror.

That’s it. That’s the mission.

Write it at your blog or online space.

Link back here.

Due by Halloween, noon, EST.”

 

I thought I might skip out on this one as I’m not much of a horror writer or reader. I did get an idea, though, that just might fit the criteria. I’m still working on it, but the first paragraph is below. I should have the draft complete by Friday. Here’s the opening bit.

The day dawned through weepy fog, blinding in its whiteness but empty of warmth. In the early morning light, Eloise dressed in yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt. The formerly tight pants slid down her hips, sagging and bunching along the length of her body. She shuffled past the mirror with her eyes on her worn running shoes. Her lean fingers traced over the letters embroidered on her sweatshirt, the initials of her former university. Once she had been so proud to wear them, before appearance and prestige had ceased to matter. Many of the threads hung loose, stained brown in areas where the tips of her fingers had bled as she picked away at the letters until they were indecipherable.

flash fiction challenge – spammerpunk

Ok, I decided to go for a quick turnaround this week. The flash fiction challenge at terribleminds is as follows:

 

“So, I’ve been getting some weird spam comments and emails these days.

They are vaguely tinged with horror.

Goofy horror. Worthless, not-scary horror. Poorly-written horror.

But horror.

For instance, a strong vampire theme runs through, as in this one:

My name is Clavin.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email: [redacted] or phone number +[redacted]

No, I have no idea.

What I do know is that I enjoy when you can take one mode of communication and turn it to use in storytelling. (Example: HORRORSTOR, a recent horror novel that is framed as — no, really — a catalog from an IKEA-esque store. Or! HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY, an anthology of stories written as crowdfunding campaigns — which, not coincidentally, features a story of mine.)

So, what I want to see from you is:

A horror story framed as a spam email.

Right?

Take that assignment, run with it as you see fit.

How scary can you make a spam mail? That’s the challenge.

I’d keep it to the shorter side — 500 words or so.

Post at your online space.

Link back here.

Due by next Friday, noon EST.

I’ll pick three entrants randomly to get some free e-books from YOURS TRULY. (Though as I’m gone next Thurs – Tues at the Surrey Writer’s Conference in Vancouver, I won’t pick the random winners until Wednesday or so.)”

 

Now, in case you haven’t guessed, this is a challenge well outside my usual writing, or reading, genre. I thought of a horror-y concept, which is hopefully executed in a non-scary horror spam fashion. It is extremely short, but I think it suits the style. Let me know what you think…

 

HELLO!!~

 

Hello,please to meet (again!!). I know makes sad,so sorry to remember you. I was brother to you before born. You know when their has more than one babies in Your mom’s stomach, he can eat his brother (not with knifes and forks haha!!). We was together but you eat me so it’s only you born. Probably mother is sad so no talking about it. It is sounding so crazy!!but it is truth. Baby with no body needs new home,so I’am finding Mr. Norbert Jones. Two souls in one body is so many, you are agreeing I think, so Norbert hope I am leaving to you. I am to learn for making a jump to you (you are able learning everything on the internet!!haha). But Mr Norbert is saying I can stay when you are sending your bank details for having moneys to support us. Please for sending your informations to {email redacted}. Else I coming to you soon. Please to respond soon. Love from your brother

Bits and bobs

Below are the starts to three separate stories, each inspired by a writing prompt. I apologize for the unfinished nature, but one of my earliest goals with the blog is to just keep the writing momentum flowing. Thanks for reading, and please drop any thoughts or favorites in the comments section.

 


 

 

Apocalypse just sounds so final

 

“Apocalypse just sounds so final, you know? It’s not the end. Everything will just be different now,” Cat said.

 

Jillian shrugged. “The end of life as we know it has always ranked pretty high in the List of Undesirable Things.”

 

The two women sat on opposite ends of a designer knockoff couch, tastefully upholstered despite its discount origins. Covering the ground was the cheapest rug from a middle class pricey home decorating catalogue. The sunlight was taking a turn for the dusk. In the dim light, it was easy to overlook the ever thickening layer of dust accumulating on the carpet and the sweat stains growing on the sofa cushions.

 

Cat pushed up off the couch, an elderly Bucket taking her first creaky steps after years abed. “We still have electricity. And hot and cold running water. We better shake a leg. We’re burning daylight here.”

 


 

 

Jess and Vicki

 

Jess tapped her fingers on the desk in front of the keyboard. There were dozens of mandatory questions remaining to be answered before her dating profile could go live on the site. She ticked off answers to several multiple choice questions, then turned to Vicki.

 

“Vick, would my body type be curvy or a few extra pounds?” Jess asked. Although she had half turned to face her friend, her left hand maintained its insistent tapping.

 

Vicki shook her head. “Other options?”
Jess glanced back over her shoulder at the monitor. “Nothing else seems appropriate. I guess curvy is a positive spin, at least.”

 

Leaning over Jess’s shoulder now, Vicki read through the options. “Not that I don’t think you’ve got some delightful curves, but I recommend you click average and move on. You’ll have photos. Get to the interesting bits.”

 


 

Captain Cassie

 

Cassie cursed her carryon, doing its best impression of a grocery cart with one wonky wheel, as she made her way to the arrivals area. The bag at least had the virtue of weighing next to nothing. After all, what does one pack when traveling internationally to meet one’s anonymous sidekick and start a life as a superhero.

 

Patting her pockets, she located the passport tucked into a back pocket. I curse you too, she thought. The little blue book, with its inspiringly patriotic design, was a one-way ticket to the epic non-EU line at passport control. Cassie came to a stop near the luggage carousels to put her passport in a more secure location.

 

Looking up from her shoulder bag, she made eye contact with a man across the arrivals hall. He waved and her shoulders sagged. Oh, great hairy balls, she thought. Her father started moving toward her, revealing a teenage girl trailing behind him.

 

“Oh, great hairy balls,” she said.

 

As he reached Cassie, her father started and then curtailed a handshake. A hug, some 18 years after their last meeting, was never on the table. He smiled, looking older- of course, 18 years! than Cassie remembered, but not old. And so familiar.

 

“Cassie,” he said, his shoulders moving in an uncertain shrug.

 

The teenager popped up a hand in greeting. “H’lo,” she said. “I’m Cassie.”

 

Cassie, the older Cassie, the original Cassie, looked back to her dad. After a moment of open-mouthed indecision, she said, “Are you frakking kidding me?”